This one really pissed me off. Three pretty ordinary people (a prop artist, a molecular biology professor and a physician) had their names, images and likenesses swiped in the service of COVID-19 conspiracy claims. Three ordinary people just using the internet to conduct and publish their research, to entertain, or to connect with others.
After my wife and I had a miscarriage earlier this year, Dr. Rockwell’s story in particular makes me pretty furious. People post publicly about their vaccination statuses in an effort to encourage others to get the jab. People post publicly about their pregnancy loss in an effort to de-stigmatize something that a lot of people go through, but not a lot of people feel comfortable talking about. Dr. Rockwell could very easily be any number of women we know.
I get disgusted knowing that some anonymous people are making money by deceiving others. They are also leading people to an early, preventable death or infecting others during a global pandemic. Furthermore, this behavior gets rewarded by social media companies in the form of likes, shares and other engagement metrics.
Not sure if it was all the 20th anniversary coverage of Sept. 11, but I felt like watching the 2004 documentary I Like Killing Flies this week. The film is about famed NYC cook Kenny Shopsin and his idiosyncratic family-run restaurant Shopsin’s General Store. The film is not so much about the trauma of 9/11 in Lower Manhattan but the casualties of the real estate trends that change a neighborhood’s character. In this case, the gentrification of Greenwich Village in the late 1990s/early 2000s.
Eve Shopsin passed away during the making of the documentary, and Kenny died in 2018, but the restaurant is still around, run by the come of the kids at the Essex Market on the Lower East Side. Covid can’t keep the Shopsin clan down, and their website says they are doing take-out and delivery (something you could not get in the 2002/3 incarnation of Shopsin’s) to stay open.
I went in the Essex Market in 2014 trying to find the place, but I must have walked past the booth–I read it was tiny. There are a ton of vendors and its easy to get lost in the place. Not sure if I was secretly hoping to get kicked out by the famously cantankerous waitstaff or secretly relieved I saved myself the embarrassment of trying to fit in.
Not being in New York and able to eat at the place today, I could read daughter Tamara Shopsin’s graphic memoir, Arbitrary Stupid Goal. It’s about growing up in a larger than life family and the disappearing way of life of her 1970s/80s West Village childhood. Or I can pick up Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin, a cookbook that famously advises you not to follow the recipes too closely.
This presentation by Melanie Edwards and Greg Whitworth is a great introduction to the Open UI project and its goals.
Today, component frameworks and design systems reinvent common web UI controls to give designers full control over their appearance and behavior. We hope to make it unnecessary to reinvent built-in UI controls, but for those who choose to do so, we expect that these design systems will benefit from Open UI’s specifications and test suites.
Long term, we hope that Open UI will establish a standard process for developing high-quality UI controls suitable for addition to the web platform.
With the sheer connectivity and externalization of interior emotion in the 21st century, there’s probably a sharper awareness of the grand totality of angers flowing around at any given moment, and what it’s like to feel, get indicted by, or caught up in them. The social platforms give us this neon cat’s-in-the-cradle paradigm where you can see how X leads to Y, and pulling here tightens this over there. Whatever problems existed before the pandemic, they just seem to have been frozen in time and deepened, along with all the new iterations.
I also think the oft bandied about trope that: to disengage with social media is to retreat to some bourgeoisie bubble of privileged la-la-la-I’m-not-listening, is not only nonsense, but a dangerous framing. In fact, the main beneficiaries of staying with your eyes glued to the Doom Stream are the companies producing the streams. That’s why they’re so seductive. (Not because the streams are righteous, but because the streams are super duper profitable; the paperclip machine will make paperclips at all costs, will enchant you into the Church of Paperclip.) The greatest trick modern internet giants played on us was making us believe that political engagement — to be an ally, as it were — requires sacrificing our own health (physical and mental). When, in fact, the most capable (and, paradoxically, tuned into the world) and tangibly influential folk I know are those disengaged from that dopamine-cortisol loop.