Digital culture

The world of online hate

Published on: Wed, 30/10/2019 - 10:09
Author

Cathy Nugent

In 2013, the Australian journalist Ginger Gorman became the subject of an online hate campaign.

In 2010, she had interviewed two gay men, seemingly an ordinary couple, about their adoption of a young boy. Three years later the men were convicted of child sexual exploitation; they had been involved in an international paedophile network.

Naturally Gorman was mortified that she had, however inadvertently, given these men a platform. But a few days after the conviction Gorman began to be inundated by tweets from ″conservatives″ saying she was a paedophile collaborator, and, equally horrifying to

A new humanist politics?

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 11:02
Author

Matt Kinsella

Paul Mason’s latest book, Clear Bright Future, is written as a defence of humanism and human-centred politics, against the resurgent threat of the far-right, from Trump to Bolsonaro, Le Pen to Salvini. The title is a reference to Leon Trotsky’s testament. Mason entreats us to fight “all evil, oppression, and violence”, and shares Trotsky’s optimism for the future.

Mason draws a convincing link from the financial crash in 2007-08 to Trump’s election. Mason emphasises how the monopolisation of information (think Google and Facebook) has led to systems outside our control, for example, of online

When left-wingers say: “be normal!”

Published on: Wed, 15/05/2019 - 11:10
Author

Janine Booth

This is an article about the “autistic screeching” image posted on Twitter. It is not an article about how the image is “offensive”. That wouldn’t need an article. It’s pretty much self-evident to anyone who considers the feelings of others.

The problem here is not so much the image as the politics behind it — a political outlook that sees autistic people and others as fair game for mockery, that lionises a stereotypical “normal” and weaponises it against people who dissent or diverge. That’s what this article is about. It’s an appeal to take this shit seriously and to oppose it.

This image

Reading or stagnating?

Published on: Wed, 01/05/2019 - 11:52
Author

Daisy Thomas

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or book long enough to suit me.” – C. S. Lewis

When I was a young child, I learned an appreciation for the written word through both of my parents reading aloud to me and through listening to audiobooks on long car trips.

Somewhere during the dreaded forced reading during my secondary and tertiary schooling, I lost my fascination with reading. Then, over time, with that lack, I noticed other things were lacking.

There are so many reasons to read: to inform, to amuse, to connect, to understand, to critique, and so on. Reading is a fantastic way to

Capital rules by exploitation not by nudging

Published on: Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:33
Author

Matt Cooper

A review of Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power (Profile Books, 2019)

In 2014, a new toy hit the shops, My Friend Cayla. This doll was unlike other dolls: responding to its playmate’s voice; programmable with the names of family and pets; and, through its Bluetooth internet connection, giving spoken responses to questions.

But Cayla had its own agenda: collecting data from the child's speech for targeted advertisements including product placement in its speech. The spy-doll was banned in Germany, but “the smartest friend

Letters

Published on: Thu, 07/03/2019 - 08:30

Mike Zubrowski's letter in the last issue of Solidarity makes a strong case for the importance of reading long texts.

I agree with the main thrust of what Mike writes, and would agree with it as a critique of my article if I had actually argued what he claims that I did. But I didn't.

My article argued that "We can not just rely on a text-heavy newspaper any more." I did not write that reading long texts is not important, nor that other media could replace newspapers.

Mike partly acknowledges this by stating that my article 'implied' these things rather than claiming that it actually argued

Messing up our minds

Published on: Tue, 16/01/2018 - 12:20
Author

Martin Thomas

"Steve Bartlett, the company’s 25-year-old co-founder, regularly boasts to potential clients that he can make any hashtag trend on Twitter before he’s finished his presentation".

The Observer (14 January) reported on how Bartlett and his now multi-million pound company Social Chain shape how marketing is done on social media.

The report also sheds light on the low quality and corrupting effect of political argument carried out on social media - how it smothers real debate and investigation, and replaces it by constant churning of scandal and flame-warring.

"People share feelings, not

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