What I Read This Week - 4th February

Things I enjoyed reading online this week. - The Data Self (A Dialectic) (Nathan Jurgenson)

we cannot continue to view the Person as the temporal and causal antecedent and the Profile as something that is the subsequent result. We have clear evidence that the person is also being co-constructed by the Profile. Experience creates documentation and documentation creates experience.

- Off-Season Road Trip (Bill Glucroft)

The weather is nicer in the summer, but the country is cheaper in the late winter, and more interesting.

A nice little photo essay by a friend of mine. It reminds me of the time in college when I drove up to New Hampshire with my boyfriend at the time for a late winter weekend 'away'. I don't know what we were trying to get away from, what we thought we'd find further north: we lived in Boston, which should have had all the attractions a pair of 18-year-olds needed. But then again, we were 18, and playing at being grown-ups was almost as much fun as actually being irresponsible college students (it was, it turns out, certainly more fun than actually being a grown-up). Driving up to a hotel in the White Mountains as winter gasped its final frigid breaths, the snow still hard on the ground, the air still painful to the skin, seemed grown-up in a funny way. I don't remember what we did or whether I enjoyed the excursion - we hadn't planned on skiing and it was too cold to do anything but drive aimlessly around, looking at the trees, the tops of mountains - but I do remember the drive back, a detour along the coast, passing through a few funny seaside towns, all patiently waiting for the arrival of summer. And I wondered if they were any less empty in summer.

- On (Not) Learning to Code (Alan Jacobs at the Atlantic)

So let's go back to Daniel Jalkut's definition of "literacy": "learning the basic tools to get a job done." Is there a kind of literacy -- knowledge worthy of that name -- that stems not from being able to use the available tools with any degree of skill, but rather from being able to find out who can use those tools and then making good use of the experts' abilities? I'd like to think so.

- 'Stop the Clock!' (Roman Krznaric at the School of Life)

we are colonised by clocks, on our bodies, phones, computer screens and the walls of our homes.

I was thinking about this the other night. I'd wandered around the corner to a yoga class (a particularly gentle yoga class, as it turned out, which was probably good for my muscles but which gave me altogether too much time to think). As we lay listening to the instructor say meaningless things in that soothing yoga-instructor voice ("really feel the ebb and flow of your breath") I became aware not of my own inhale-exhale-inhale rhythm, or the soles of my feet pressing into the grey mat, but of something else in the room: the ticking clock. As the instructor fell silent, asking us to lie there, with our bodies and breaths, savouring something, "living in the internal world", the ticking clock went on ticking. Why have a ticking clock in a yoga class? Marking every second made the hour feel urgent; I couldn't wait to move on to the next thing, the next posture, the next part of my day. (This was shortly before my mobile phone began buzzing away in the corner, which some might say is a much more tangible distraction. I pretended I didn't know whose phone it was, of course.)

- Eden (Kristin Hersh)

My band also carried a very low price tag: the World didn’t value our world. Not enough people cared enough about our music to allow us to play it for a living any more. This was confusing, as our band was ubiquitous to us. It was like someone telling you that your left arm wasn’t cool enough.

- Why the Places We Live Make Us Happy (Kaid Benfield at the Atlantic)

I find that it provides empirical strength to those of us who believe that “the environment” is concerned not just with traditional pollution or land conservation (both of which remain important) but also with what and where we build; and not just with parts per billion of this or that but also with the quality of human relationships and well-being.

Interesting thoughts on people's relationship to place.

- On my best (greatest) skirt (Jean Hannah Edelstein)

Every time I wore it I thought, this is a skirt that I earned from writing. I am a writer. Even though by now I’d worked out that most people in England did not dress like Mitford sisters.

- Writing Rules (Open Culture)

10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing

Henry Miller's list is just beautiful.