Quarantine Journal: Public Matters (The Point Magazine)

“People roved about, at once aimless and with purpose, vigilantly avoiding one another—as if in an absurdist video game where you rack up points by maintaining a bubble of isolation at least six feet in radius. It seemed to us remarkable that so many have simultaneously awakened to how their bodies take up space in relation to others’, when just weeks prior they might have barreled through the landscape, ritually oblivious. Invisible forces tethered all of us in the park to one another: one individual’s movements adjusted the course of another individual’s movements, subsequently altering another’s, and another’s, resulting in a cascade of shifts and accommodations that rippled through open space.” Read

The Google Bus (The Point Magazine)

“Once, a taxi driver asked if I was ‘one of those intelligent San Francisco techies.’ It was neither a benign question nor a compliment. ‘Techie’ had become a dirty word, a way to flatten the identity of one’s presumed foe. While I was standing in the tech-bus queue at 8th and Market one Monday morning, a wiry man with wisps of gray hair stopped a few paces away and hollered, ‘Good morning, kids! How is Satan, your owner, today?'” Read

When Michael Jackson Came to Malaysia (BuzzFeed Reader)

“When Michael Jackson came to Malaysia in October 1996, fans mobbed the old Subang International Airport and ran after his motorcade; little boys and grown men emulated his moves at shopping mall talent shows; and grandmothers stood in line for hours outside the concert venue for front-row seats to history. The nation’s four television stations faithfully reported his whereabouts on the nightly news: Here’s Michael signing autographs on his way to Toys ‘R’ Us; here’s Michael getting sprayed with Silly String by kids from a children’s home; here’s Michael waving from the balcony of his 18th-floor suite at the Hilton while streams of multicolored balloons ascend through the hundred feet of air separating him from his giddy, starstruck congregation.” Read

Michael Jackson in Malaysia

My Mom Had the Cancer Gene. So Do I (BuzzFeed Reader)

“To be inducted into this matrilineal dynasty of bald women, you must first offer up your buccal cells, gently stripping them from your tongue and the inner lining of your mouth with a sharp-tasting rinse and whipping them into an alcohol-soaked squall, then expelling the resulting wash into plastic tubes. The motion is performed twice, for 30 to 60 seconds each time. You do not question the repetition, the length of time required for each iteration, or the need for procedural compliance; instead, you aspire to thoroughness because you pride yourself on your scientific rigor, like the woman in the white coat who insisted that you do this.” Read


Google, Amazon, And Apple Don’t Want You To Fear AI Anymore (BuzzFeed Reader)

“As with many of Apple’s most iconic ads, this one doesn’t just sell a device; it sells the possibility of self-transcendence. And here’s the genius of Apple’s simplifying conceit: In a hero’s journey to self-transcendence, the individual in all her uniqueness is its star, technology is ostensibly secondary — and so are other people. In the commercial, other people’s faces are perpetually obscured by umbrellas, blurred in the background, or turned away from the camera such that you see them only in the slightest intimation of a side profile or the backs of their heads. When Twigs finds herself confronted with her reflection in the mirror while in the midst of her technological trance, she literally steps through the looking glass and dances with a parallel-universe version of herself. The suggestion here is almost a kind of Emersonian self-reliance, a closing off from the world. There is no society, and thus no larger societal consequences, to consider.” Read

Voice AI HAL

The Most Interesting Part of “Fortnite” is What Happens After You Lose (BuzzFeed Reader)

“By the time you’ve followed a player from one town or patch of rural farmland to the next — sprinting across back lanes, crouching behind tall grass, foraging for raw materials, and running up miles of makeshift wooden staircases as quickly as they can be laid down amid a hail of explosions — the thrill of voyeurism has mutated into a sense of identification. You begin to feel invested in the stranger who, not too long ago, did you in.” Read


Jeff Bezos’ Techno-Utopia (BuzzFeed Reader)

“To say that tech billionaires like Bezos are apathetic to the problems of common folk because they’re too rich, too insular, too selfish, too singularly interested in endeavors that turn a profit, or too eager to cement their personal legacy for human posterity, belies a much more practical calculus: Many, though not all, of the tech industry’s elite would rather stay away from directly tackling poverty, or access to education and health care in their work, because these are messy, complex problems that cannot be fundamentally served by techno-utopian solutionism.” Read


Remember Pandora Radio? (BuzzFeed Reader)

“Logging on to Pandora, I discovered, amid its virtual dust-caked shelves wrapped in a modern interface, a record of my twentysomething sensibilities and existential anxieties.” Read



On Language, Power, and Simply Making the Visible Visible: An Interview with Tash Aw (Triquarterly)

An interview with Tash Aw on his fourth novel We, the Survivors and its interrogation of ordinary life under capitalism in contemporary Southeast Asia. Read

Where Your Private Story Could Have a Public Purpose: A Conversation with Meghan O’Gieblyn (Tin House)

An interview with Meghan O’Gieblyn on her debut essay collection Interior States. Read