At Yale, Campus Social Media Debate Turns into Cesspool

Can social media conversations contribute to productive outcomes? Yale students tried. (Vanity Fair)

But this being 2017, a familiar drama began. A student posted an image of the flyer on Overheard at Yale, an intra-college Facebook group with over 20,000 members and one of the grand student hubs on campus. The “Reform the Savages” announcement was peppered with inane jokes about colonialism, and capped with a picture of a generic Native American chieftain in a headdress. The Party’s chairman, Quinn Shepherd, attempted to apologize, in private, to the Association of Native Americans at Yale, but the overture was rejected, according to a screenshot of the conversation posted by the student.(“So can we apologize…. but like in /private/[?]” The student described the interaction.) Within minutes, the comments section exploded.

Social media threat: People learned to survive disease, we can handle Twitter

Will there be a cultural learning process with technology? Placing the spread of bad ideas and the threats of social media in a historical context alongside disease in early communities. Full post here

(In Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, the elites of the future consume their news on paper, and send each other handwritten notes; electronic communication is for the plebes.) But that will take time.

The Pnyx and the Angora

Richard Sennett discusses the use of space that contributed to the political richness of ancient Athens and suggests modern designers could follow suit.

“Difference” today seems about identity — we think of race, gender, or class. Aristotle’s meant something more by difference; he included also the experience of doing different things, of acting in divergent ways which do not neatly fit together. The mixture in a city of action as well as identity is the foundation of its distinctive politics.

Mona Lisa’s Smile

Walter Isaason’s beautiful account of how Leonardo’s expertise in human anatomy and art combined to make him the only person who could’ve painted Mona Lisa’s smile.

Stand before the Mona Lisa, and the science and the magic and the art all blur together into an augmented reality. While Leonardo worked on it, for most of the last 16 years of his life, it became more than a portrait of an individual. It became universal, a distillation of Leonardo’s accumulated wisdom about the outward manifestations of our inner lives and about the connections between ourselves and our world. Like Vitruvian Man standing in the square of the Earth and the circle of the heavens, Lisa sitting on her balcony is Leonardo’s profound meditation on what it means to be human.