Data issues, racist photography, and Korean grandmas

Kodak’s Multiracial Shirley Card, North America. 1995
Kodak’s Multiracial Shirley Card, North America. 1995. Credit: Courtesy of Dr. Lorna Roth, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada & The New York Times

Today I edited another 4000-word document, wrote over 1000 words, and had a late lunch of teriyaki chicken and a bowl of miso soup. Despite all of these achievements I haven’t managed to think of something to write here for the day, so I thought I’d share what I have read (and still reading) before bed:

  • “The poor experience these two extremes — hypervisibility and invisibility — while often lacking the agency or resources to challenge unfair outcomes. For instance, they may be unfairly targeted by predictive policing tools designed with biased training data or unfairly excluded from hiring algorithms that scour social media networks to make determinations about potential candidates. In this increasingly complex ecosystem of “networked privacy harms,” one-size-fits-all privacy solutions will not serve all communities equally.” On the devastating consequences of being poor in the digital age.
  • Some heavier and longer read to follow the above: The struggles of marginalised communities falling under the “surveillance gap”.
  • “Three papers in the last year — one by the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative, one from the Roosevelt Institute and Duke University, and another in development from Roosevelt — suggest maybe the automation we’re seeing now is little different from the technological advances we’ve seen in every other era. Instead, the problems of inequality, stagnation, and unemployment (which get blamed on the robots) are due to policy choices and power dynamics in the U.S. economy.” On how robots became a scapegoat for the destruction of the working class, distracting us away from the real problems.
  • “We have a problem. Your jacket is lighter than your face,” the technician said from the back of the one-thousand-person amphitheater-style auditorium. “That’s going to be a problem for lighting.” Sarah Lewis received this remark from a technician as she was preparing to speak on images and racism, how very apt, so she writes on the relationship between racism and photography.
  • A really fascinating project that beautifully highlights the camera’s role as a colonial race-making technology.
  • “Women don’t step back from work because they have rich husbands, she said. They have rich husbands because they step back from work.” Women did everything right, then work got ‘greedy’.
  • “He felt underappreciated in psychology. He also had more pragmatic concerns, suffering periods of ill health and financial difficulties. Key figures in the management community saw him as a guru and rolled out the red carpet. They gave him the recognition he felt he deserved.” Maslow’s hierarchy of needs isn’t actually a pyramid at all, and even though Maslow had found out about it he decided it was not exactly a bad idea.
  • I am currently reading G. Willow Wilson’s new book The Bird King, a beautiful book set in 1491 during the reign of the last sultanate in the Iberian peninsula. It tells about a royal concubine, Fatima, and her best friend, Hassan, a queer cartographer, who could conjure places out of maps he had drawn. When a party representing the newly formed Spanish monarchy paid a visit to negotiate the terms of surrender, one of the delegates saw what Hassan could do and wanted to capture him under the suggestion of sorcery. The adventure starts as Fatima and Hassan escapes from the palace with the help of a jinn called Vikram. I have always loved Wilson’s writings since Alif the Unseen and her graphic novel Cairo, and I have been highlighting some very beautiful and resonating passages from the book. It’s one of the first time in months I have been looking forward to finish work as soon as possible so I could reward myself by reading a few chapters from this book before bed. Also, I have never visited Granada before though it has been in my list since forever. I guess I need to make it happen soon.
  • It’s only Thursday, but it’s the cutest thing I have read this week: ““I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to me,” she said. “Carrying a school bag has always been my dream.”” South Korean grandmas go back to school.

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