“IT’S BEEN A BAD WEEK FOR SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES.” So started Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble’s keynote speech at Rhizome’s Ethics and Archiving the Web conference, hosted at the New Museum from March 22 to March 24. Noting that Mark Zuckerberg’s apology over the Cambridge Analytica revelations sounded “like an old boyfriend or lover who’s like, ‘I’m sorry I let you down and I won’t do it again,’” Noble also observed the language of perfection that surrounds technology companies and their supposed mistakes, which are often discussed as glitches, bugs, or viruses that mar “an otherwise perfectly operating
IN SOME WAYS, a church is the perfect setting for a discussion of Zadie Smith’s new essay collection, Feel Free. Hosted by Books Are Magic and held at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn on February 7, the event reflected the high esteem Smith is held in. In fact, she is close to being known as “Saint Zadie” among some readers. Her work is regularly described as “generous” and “universal.” A benevolence shines through her writing, allowing nearly all readers to find something in her thoughts to identify with, as novelist and Books Are Magic owner Emma Straub expressed in her introduction. “Although you might
“TRUMP APPEARS TO BE OBSESSED with people who embody choice,” said Masha Gessen in her New York Public Library talk on the night of December 18, pointing to his administration’s preoccupation with immigrants and transgender people, among others. Even their representation in words can seem threatening: Why else would his administration ban the Centers for Disease Control from mentioning fetuses, diversity, and the transgender community?
Gessen embraces choices, seeing them as “adventures.” Her Robert B. Silvers lecture, “The Stories of a Life,” recounted the ways in which decisions, both those