Quartz: A Marshall McLuhan expert annotates the Google Doodle honoring the internet visionary

https://qz.com/1035889/a-marshall-mcluhan-expert-annotates-the-google-doodle-honoring-the-internet-visionary/

For journalism students at New York’s Fordham University, the shadow of Marshall McLuhan looms large. A media theorist and digital visionary, McLuhan taught at Fordham…

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Quartz: A Marshall McLuhan expert annotates the Google Doodle honoring the internet visionary

qz.com/1035889/a-marshall-mcluhan-expert-annotates-the-google-doodle-honoring-the-internet-visionary/

For journalism students at New York’s Fordham University, the shadow of Marshall McLuhan looms large. A media theorist and digital visionary, McLuhan taught at Fordham…

Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief: bit.ly/quartzdailybrief.

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Google, which honored him with a homepage Doodle this week, centers its corporate rhetoric on the “global village” McLuhan famously envisioned.

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Marshall McLuhan, the late Canadian philosopher and intellectual, is celebrated for predicting that digital media would tilt our communication toward a culture centered on interaction, a style closer to ancient storytelling than the silo-building printed word. Google, which honored him with a homepage Doodle this week, centers its corporate rhetoric on the “global village” McLuhan famously envisioned.

McLuhan was off by a little bit, in ways that now mean a lot. The internet came to be essentially controlled by businesses, which use data and cognitive science (and our own tastes) to keep us spellbound and loyal, fueling the relentless rise of hyper-personalization.

Google just rolled out a new news feed driven by your particular search history. Amazon launched its Spark shopping tool, an Instagram-like mobile app that combines the company’s personalization algorithm with the power of social “likes.” Netflix, its stock soaring, uses a thumbs-up, thumbs-down feature to better match viewers to what they’ve enjoyed in the past, ensuring we’ll be unchallenged by the kind of movies we rarely watch—and undelighted by random discoveries. On Twitter and Facebook, algorithms collect all the updates from the people you’re already talking to, fortifying social-filter bubbles. (Sorry, town-crier types, you’re probably still posting to the proverbial choir.)

Some critics argue that it’s time to rein in the code-making behind those filters. Alternatively, we could leave the internet giants free to experiment, and hope that digital literacy saves us. (We may be more curious and concerned about the experiences of others than we’ve acknowledged, and more than our tech masters would like.)

For now, though, be prepared for one version of the future, that each of us creates in our own image. Deep-learning powered services promise to become even better custom-content tailors, limiting what individuals and groups are exposed to even as the universe of products and sources of information expands. If only we happened to have Mr. McLuhan right here. —Lila MacLellan

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NYTimes: Getting Radical About Inequality

Getting Radical About Inequality nyti.ms/2vwZvl0

I’m not in the habit of recommending left-wing French intellectuals, but I’m beginning to think that Pierre Bourdieu is helpful reading in the age of Trump. He was born in 1930, the son of a small-town postal worker. By the time he died in 2002, he had become perhaps the world’s most influential sociologist within the academy, and largely unknown outside of it.

His great subject was the struggle for power in society, especially cultural and social power. We all possess, he argued, certain forms of social capital. A person might have academic capital (the right degrees from the right schools), linguistic capital (a facility with words), cultural capital (knowledge of cuisine or music or some such) or symbolic capital (awards or markers of prestige). These are all forms of wealth you bring to the social marketplace.

In addition, and more important, we all possess and live within what Bourdieu called a habitus. A habitus is a body of conscious and tacit knowledge of how to travel through the world, which gives rise to mannerisms, tastes, opinions and conversational style. A habitus is an intuitive feel for the social game. It’s the sort of thing you get inculcated with unconsciously, by growing up in a certain sort of family or by sharing a sensibility with a certain group of friends….