Category Archives: Essays

Hacktivism

Malcolm Gladwell’s critique of social media as a tool of cultural revolution, published in October 4th’s New Yorker, was agreeable. And unsurprising. Gladwell, author of — as you know — The Tipping Point, is interested in masses and trends and … Continue reading

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First Bite: Burger King’s Search for Purity

“The final paradox of the search for purity is that it is an attempt to force experience into logical categories of non-contradiction. But experience is not amenable and those who make the attempt find themselves led into contradiction.” —Mary Douglas, … Continue reading

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Reality and documentation: Interview with a Real World camera operator

While looking for more permanent work, I worked briefly as a production assistant for The Real World during its second tenure here in New Orleans. I lasted only three weeks before quitting. (When pay is good, I have a higher … Continue reading

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Marketing’s New Calculus? Data mining and commodity fetishism

This week, NPR’s Marketplace spotlights “data mining.” To be clear, the term data mining refers both to a process (the accumulation of demographic information through electronic interactions and transactions) and an industry (the firms that traffic in this demographic information, … Continue reading

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“Go Forth”: The post-industrial landscape, blue jeans, and the power of aesthetic politics

Five years ago, no one had heard of the Allegheny County borough of Braddock, PA — a decaying steel-town suburb of Pittsburgh; population: 2,900. Since then, the town’s mayor, John Fetterman, has put Braddock on the map. Clearly an unusual … Continue reading

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