Bookmarked The Moral Rot of the MIT Media Lab (Slate Magazine)

Over the course of the past century, MIT became one of the best brands in the world, a name that confers instant credibility and stature on all who are associated with it. Rather than protect the inherent specialness of this brand, the Media Lab soiled it again and again by selling its prestige to banks, drug companies, petroleum companies, carmakers, multinational retailers, at least one serial sexual predator, and others who hoped to camouflage their avarice with the sheen of innovation. There is a big difference between taking money from someone like Epstein and taking it from Nike or the Department of Defense, but the latter choices pave the way for the former. It is easy to understand why Jeffrey Epstein wanted to get involved with the Media Lab. Unfortunately, it is also easy to understand why Joi Ito got involved with Jeffrey Epstein. The only bad donations were the ones that weren’t received.

Justin Peters discusses the history associated with MIT, the birth of the Media Lab and the choice to soil its specialness, rather than support activists like Aaron Swartz.

According to the Abelson Report, MIT had chosen not to aid Swartz in part because doing so could have sent the wrong message to its institutional partners, which might have interpreted the gesture as MIT coming out as soft on content piracy. And then Swartz died, and the Media Lab was the site of an ice-cream social in his honor. The Media Lab and MIT were capable of anything, it seemed, except meaningful self-reflection.

In a Twitter thread, James Bridle questions the ethics of MIT’s Media Lab and their history in building products to improve people’s lives, only to then pivot into market products.

Liked How would Aaron Swartz be an activist in these times? by Frank Meeuwsen

What if Swartz would have experienced in recent years? If he had seen how algorithmic news distribution provides polarization, how Facebook is co-responsible for the genocide in Myanmar, the scandals surrounding Cambridge Analytica, the political forces that play on the web. How would he react to that? How would he take action?

Listened Ep. 109 “A Pirate Bay of Knowledge?” by an author from Team Human

Playing for Team Human today: Jason Schmitt. Jason looks at the big business of for-profit academic publishing in his new documentary Paywall:The Business of Scholarship. Should the the world’s research be locked behind closed doors? Jason makes the case for open access on today’s Team Human.

Jason Schmitt and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the way in which knowledge and scholarship has become locked behind paywalls. The irony of this is that so many of the articles and journals published are written by academics who get little gain out of the time and effort they put in. Schmitt and Rushkoff touch on the open-access work of Aaron Swartz and Alexandra Elbakyan. It is an interesting discussion in a world where many are arguing for more research, yet so much of this research is inaccessible. I remember Karl Trsek, my history teacher in high school, telling me that he continued to maintain a subscription with the university library. I did not understand why this was so important, but now more that ever this is the only means of gaining any sort of access.
Bookmarked My name is Wil Wheaton. I Live With Chronic Depression and Generalized Anxiety. I Am Not Ashamed. by Wil Wheaton (Medium)

So another step in our self care is to be gentle with ourselves. Depression is beating up on us already, and we don’t need to help it out. Give yourself permission to acknowledge that you’re feeling terrible (or bad, or whatever it is you are feeling), and then do a little thing, just one single thing, that you probably don’t feel like doing, and I PROMISE you it will help. Some of those things are:

  • Take a shower.
  • Eat a nutritious meal.
  • Take a walk outside (even if it’s literally to the corner and back).
  • Do something — throw a ball, play tug of war, give belly rubs — with a dog. Just about any activity with my dogs, even if it’s just a snuggle on the couch for a few minutes, helps me.
  • Do five minutes of yoga stretching.
  • Listen to a guided meditation and follow along as best as you can.

Finally, please trust me and know that this shitty, awful, overwhelming, terrible way you feel IS NOT FOREVER. It will get better. It always gets better. You are not alone in this fight, and you are OK.

In this address to the American National Alliance on Mental Illness, Wil Wheaton reflects on his experience with chronic depression. This includes accounts of living through years of anxiety until he admitted it in his thirties and did something about it. There has been a bit written about depression lately, especially with the suicide of Anthony Bourdain. Kin Lane credits Bourdain with providing him the confidence to be open about his own struggles with drugs and mental illness. I was also reminded of the suicide a few years ago of Aaron Swartz. A recent report suggested that depression is on the rise across all age groups in America. Responding to Wheaton’s post, Doug Belshaw suggests that in 2018, we need to open up about these things.