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Net Neutrality is a New Deal issue

by Astra Taylor on January 9, 2018

First, a sincere thanks to the Crooked Timber gang, especially Henry, for inviting me to join the party. While I’ve been a long time lurker, I’ve never left a comment on this site—but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment anywhere online outside of Facebook or Twitter. Which is a sure sign that I’ve never blogged before. But what better time to start then at a moment it seems quaint, even antiquated? From what I can tell with a quick Google search, blogging has been dead since 2014. So writing this isn’t exactly like being one of those guys who sit in Washington Square Park writing poetry on their typewriters, but close enough.

I’ll also admit that I did briefly entertain the idea of blogging a few years back, and my basic concept was that I would write about things only after they had totally exited the news cycle, reflecting on whatever was in the headlines 30 days, or maybe even 365 days, prior.

So in honor of that not very good (and thus left to languish) idea for a blog and the fact I’m writing my first post approximately two decades after the word “weblog” was invented, I thought I’d share some recent thoughts about the Internet, specifically net neutrality, and the major blow dealt by FCC chairman Ajit Pai just before the new year. [click to continue…]

Virality is a double-edged sword

by Astra Taylor on April 28, 2017

Is Walkaway a novel? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but as long as I thought about it in terms of literature I’ll confess I found the book a bit confounding. Once I re-categorized it in my head as a book of political philosophy, something in the mode of Plato’s dialogues (which even get a couple of shout outs from Doctorow), I was able to accept, and even enjoy, the text in front of me. The long expository and ideologically-focused conversations (all composed in the same rather pedagogic voice no matter which character is speaking) are extremely engaging by the standards of political theory, and there’s plenty of action—sex, violence, raves, and hanging out in saunas—interspersed with the arguments and explications. And the arguments are thought provoking, if not wholly convincing. Which is fine, because it is a novel, after all. [click to continue…]