What I Read This Week - 22nd July

What's "real"? - How the Gorgeous, Sometimes Fictional Sound of the Olympics Gets Made (Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic)

The television broadcasts from the Olympics aren't merely an act of capturing reality, but an act of creation. TV sporting events are something we make, and they have a tension at their core: On the one hand, we want to feel as if we watched from the stands, but on the other, we want a fidelity and intimacy that is better than any in-person spectating could be. Our desire is for the presentation of real life to actually be better than real life.

- A Visit to the World's Most Remote Antarctic Outposts With Google 'Street' View (Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic)

According to Google's Alex Starns who works on the Maps and Street View projects, Google brought these Antartica sites online as part of its bigger desire to make remote and inaccessible regions of the world more familiar, more knowable, for people's research, education, or just plain enjoyment. [...] Starns says that in his estimation, Street View provides an experience "almost as good" as being there in person.

- The President as a Brand (PJ Rey at Cyborgology)

Obama’s mediation through these new technologies does not somehow create a cyber-Obama distinct from the “real” Obama. There is only one Obama—one mediated by a whole host of technologies. Again, the existence of this sort of mediated presidency is not new. Before Obama was born, Roosevelt was defined through the performance of his fireside chats on radio, while televised debates made Kennedy. Both were carefully scripted representations.

- The Junk Food Attitude Toward Place (Sarah Goodyear at The Atlantic)

Compare that to the typical American big-box store, I replied, the kind of building that aspires to nothing and achieves it. The space around it is usually a vast surface parking lot completely stripped of life, human or otherwise, except perhaps for a few sad trees that are nothing more than a developer’s empty gesture toward "doing the right thing."

True enough, he said. But that doesn’t matter, because the parking lot is not a real place.

The problem is this: That parking lot is, indeed, a place, as is the store inside it. It is the only type of public place that many people use on a daily basis in this country. And yet it is completely invisible. It is not meant to be enjoyed; it is not meant even to be endured. It is meant to disappear

- A New Privacy, Part 3: Documentary Consciousness (Whitney Erin Boesel at Cyborgology)

More and more, we are attuned not only to possibilities of documenting, but also to possibilities of being documented.