Cellphones in Hand, Saudi Women Challenge Notions of Male Control

Excerpt from this article:

The three cases are part of a campaign by Saudi women, who have been broadcasting daring videos with their cellphones, using Facebook to organize street protests and posting Twitter messages to challenge the very idea of male supremacy in their famously patriarchal society.

The campaign, started by a loose network of activists who have enlisted young, media-savvy women, has gone far beyond earlier protests against the kingdom’s reaffirmed ban on female drivers, and has become a challenge to the pervasive guardianship system. In this entrenched system of guardianship, a male relative — usually a father or a husband, but sometimes a brother or even a son — has the legal right to control a woman’s movements.

What use is the right to drive, the young activists ask, if a woman still needs a man’s permission to leave the house?

Even among some of the activists themselves, there has been surprise at the response. “I’m very impressed; a few years ago I thought I was the only one who thought this way,” said Moudi al-Johani, 26, a Saudi woman who said she was locked up by her family when she returned from Florida during a college vacation.

How to Make an Amazon Dash Button That Gives the ACLU $5 Every Time You See Something Terrible

Excerpt from this article:

Typically used to order household staples like detergent, garbage bags, or macaroni and cheese at the push of a button (which is kind of depressing in and of itself), Amazon also created a hackable version of its Dash buttons last year. And it was that Amazon Web Services IoT button—with a custom label attached—that programmer Nathan Pryor used to make it incredibly easy to donate to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has its work cut out for it as of late.

 

This Weekend Showed How All Politics Is Now Global

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This new globalism — as Steve Bannon calls it — has not totally found its shape, but you see its outlines: feminism, internationalism, a deep concern for the rights of minorities and especially Muslims, the canaries in the coal mine of Western nationalism.

So far, Trump hasn’t shaved off much of that lefty protest tradition. And the mirror-image global movements have a lot in common: they spread and define themselves on social media and globalizing media companies — BuzzFeed and Breitbart, Huffington Post, the Guardian, and the New York Times. The protests of 1968 — from Paris to Washington — had their common features, but the tight and instant emotional connection through media is something new. Social media proved powerful and fickle in the only recent precedent for these international movements, the Arab Spring. In the United States, the new social media politics has homogenized and polarized. Will the apparently secular Trump movement follow Russia and Poland toward traditional religious values? Will the whole left embrace the notion of a unified intersectional struggle that ties social and economic values together?

 

 

Thanks To Apple’s Influence, You’re Not Getting A Rifle Emoji

Excerpt from this article:

According to sources in the room, Apple started the discussion to remove the rifle emoji, which had already passed into the encoding process for the Unicode 9.0 release this June. Apple told the consortium it would not support a rifle on its platforms and asked for it not to be made into an emoji. “I heard Apple speak up about it and also Microsoft,” one member present at the discussions told BuzzFeed News.

This is a somewhat unusual decision, as most accepted candidates get approval to become full-fledged emojis. However, the member said the debate wasn’t all that contentious, perhaps because a handgun emoji was encoded into the original emoji release. “Nobody in the room seemed to mind not encoding the rifle.” The other candidate the consortium rejected during the meeting was “modern pentathlon,” which depicts a man firing a pistol.

 

Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

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Those on the left who worry that Facebook and Twitter have been a breeding ground for climate-deniers and Tea Party fanatics should remember that #occupywallstreet and #blacklivesmatter both began as hashtags on Twitter.

The same holds true in the Presidential race. Historically, the most striking thing about the campaign so far is not Trump’s ascension, but the fact that a self-proclaimed socialist is running a close race with heir apparent Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has three times as many Twitter followers as Republican establishment candidate Jeb Bush, despite the hundred million dollars Bush has raised for his campaign. Sanders, much more than Trump, is a pure-bred social media phenomenon. Trump has obviously used Twitter effectively, but his name recognition derives from network television and his real estate empire.

But until that time, I think we shouldn’t be too worried by the noise of the new public sphere. There are more dividers with a soapbox thanks to social networks, but so far it is the uniters that are actually getting things done. The price of politics in the social media age is that the crazies get a place on the playing field. The test is whether they win.

What Google can show us about our reaction to mass shootings

12-08-2015

Excerpt from this article:

You and millions of others turn to Google, where you type in the location of this shooting. You tweet or update Facebook about your rage, your frustration that this has happened again, your despair that politicians will still do nothing to protect you or anyone else from the next mass shooting. Because there will be more. The pattern will repeat itself. We know this. We’ve seen this.

Then you probably forget about it for a bit. Until news about the next mass shooting breaks.

According to Google Trends, interest in a mass shooting peaks on the day of or the day after, and then almost immediately drops off the day after that.

We care about these tragedies. We care about gun control. Why do we lose interest so fast?

A Note on Call-Out Culture

Photo: The article’s writer, Asam Ahmad

Excerpt from this article:

Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and language use by others. People can be called out for statements and actions that are sexist, racist, ableist, and the list goes on. Because call-outs tend to be public, they can enable a particularly armchair and academic brand of activism: one in which the act of calling out is seen as an end in itself.

What makes call-out culture so toxic is not necessarily its frequency so much as the nature and performance of the call-out itself. Especially in online venues like Twitter and Facebook, calling someone out isn’t just a private interaction between two individuals: it’s a public performance where people can demonstrate their wit or how pure their politics are. Indeed, sometimes it can feel like the performance itself is more significant than the content of the call-out. This is why “calling in” has been proposed as an alternative to calling out: calling in means speaking privately with an individual who has done some wrong, in order to address the behaviour without making a spectacle of the address itself.