Blogger Anil Dash says we tend to trumpet the tech revolution, with its vast social networks and slick smartphones, as a triumph of usability and empowerment. But Dash says a spirit of collaboration and emphasis on the user experience has been lost along the way.
“There is an ignorance or a lack of history to the way that a lot of people that build the social networks, especially the young engineers, think about this because they weren’t around to see it any other way,” Dash told Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC’s New Tech City.
I’m fascinated by the cover of yesterday’s Sunday New York Times. Fixated on the image of Boston Marathon suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, I was momentarily unable to notice the words surrounding it. I was a little stunned, then angry, then captivated. The image, not just the Instagrammed selfie of Dzhokhar, but this photo within the culturally significant New York Times front page, is endlessly sociologically fascinating.
Beyond just right or wrong, the fact that the paper chose an Instagrammed selfie is novel and interesting in and of itself. The image does capture well the story it accompanies. The article is, in my opinion, a well-told and intriguing story about Dzhokhar’s efforts to cover a disturbing set of motivations with a likeable exterior. The faux-vintage Instagram glow on an attractive selfie might very-well be a paradigmatic modern example of the sort of identity “face work” we all engage in. The selfie is, of course, face work in the literal sense that it is a photo of one’s face, but also in the way Erving Goffman famously discusses “face work”: as the demonstration and maintenance of positive social value and attributes in an effort for acceptance and approval. Goffman notes that this is a “’working’ acceptance, not a ‘real’ one”, which is precisely what theNew York Times story describes Dzhokhar attempting to pull off in this front-page selfie.
All the leaders depicted are of the nondemocratic sort that some might label dictators—the kind who might restrict the freedom that journalists enjoy in other parts of the world with the kind of gleeful “f*ck you” depicted here.