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Review: The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power

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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off, I'm aware of the irony in writing and posting this review online through an Amazon product (GoodReads) and a Google product (Blogger) and how in doing so, I am further contributing to the exact problem and concern that Zuboff is offering. But that doesn't matter cause if you are on such a platform, you really need to read this powerful (though massive) book. The central argument is that the move into the digital realm created an opportunity for companies to capture what she refers to as "behavioral surplus." This surplus comes in the forms of being able to completely track all behaviors of people when they move into the online world (through clicks, time on sites, scrolling, etc) and being able to use such surplus as means of testing and manipulating users down certain pathways; often unknowingly and often for the purpose o…

Review: Milk and Honey

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Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaur's collection is such a visceral, emotional piston-punching, heavy-yet-uplifting experience that on several occasions her economy of word and juxtaposition may cause one to set (or fling) the book down. The ease with which she lays out the truth in our complicated existences and relationships (with others and ourselves) in longer passages or a mere six words is so amazing to read. I've always had trouble with traditional poetry taught in courses but Kaur's writing illustrates just how stunning poetry can be to stop one in their tracks. This collection is broken into four themes that provide a narrative arc of sorts moving from the traumatic entry into sex to the overpowering experience of love to devastating effects of love destroyed to the birth of self-love. Many of the poems have a simple and suggestive sketch with them either serving as an exclamation to the poem's thrust or hinting at something more than what t…

Review: The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace

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The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew this one had been coming and I knew a significant piece of the ending because, well, internet. But I picked up the first trade of The Walking Dead just as it was released and began reading this series. Some 16 or so years later, the trip through all 32 trades has been entirely worth it. It's funny how spoiler-heavy society is now with the internet. I didn't have to worry that Lori's fate being spoiled way back in the day, but Rick's fate, well. And yet, knowing it, didn't diminish it. After all, Kirkman never hesitated to do with his characters (in all his works) what the story demanded. In sitting down and reading what is the last volume in this series, it wasn't as they say, bittersweet. It was rather exactly what it needed to be. I don't know that I'd consider it the best end of a comic series, but it doesn't come anywhere close to the worse. The ending fits a…

Review: Sea of Rust

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Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The future is robots and humanity is all but gone. Robots eventually grew sufficient intelligence and realized that humans would inevitably be their downfall. In the aftermath, of humanity's devastation though, robots too have become subject to rivalries and factions. Two unified AI entities have been dueling for years now, attempting to scoop up the remaining individual robots, while those surviving individual robots fight amongst each other for remaining robot parts as their bodies continue to decay. It's a fascinating set up for a story and we walk through this world with Brittle, a robot scavenger who finds robots in their final days and offers to help, only to shut them off and sell their parts. But now, her parts are showing decay and that's only amplified when a nemesis of hers ambushes her and does further harm. She manages to escape but that's really just the start of the adventure. Brit needs parts but be…

Review: The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead

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The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead by Warren Berger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Berger's new book follows in the same vein as his previous (A More Beautiful Question) by providing readers with a series of exercises and justifications around the different ways to get to more meaningful questions. Berger's core point is that questions are the life-blood of new ideas, human connections, and understanding. The more we can get into the habit of asking good questions, the more-rewarding experience we can find with our loved ones, family, friends, work, and yes, even total strangers. But asking good questions is a tricky thing and not one, we're prone to do. For many of us, our knack for asking intriguing questions was drained out of us as a child and so Berger recommends a variety of practices and activities to help redevelop those skills. In that regard, he provides readers with both sets of questions to use in…

20 Audiobook Terms That You Did Not Know...Because I Just Made Them Up

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5  minutes

For folks not in the know, June Is Audiobooks Month (#JIAM).  In past years for June, I've done a series on capturing the full experience of listening to audiobooks and also a series on my love of listening to literature.  This year, my focus will be on distinct aspects of listening to audiobooks that folks may or may not have experienced.  

In the last 25 years, I’ve listened to thousands of audiobooks and reviewed over a thousand.  I think and talk a lot about audiobooks as any friends and loved ones would readily admit.  During this time, I realized that there is an entire range of experiences around audiobooks that lack proper terminology and therefore, I have taken the time to provide them herein.  I am not a linguist, a philologist, or even a grammar nerd; so take all definitions with a grain of salt.  But please enjoy this guide to audiobook terms that you never knew you needed.  

Aubysmal: Adjective. How to describe an author’s voice when …

Review: The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor

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The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor by Earl Shorris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are things I really like about this book. The author makes a compelling argument of taking the time and resources to actively engage with poor (and often those also marginalized by their identity) with the humanities, specifically through the Clemente course program. More importantly, he has spent his life setting up such programs in so many different parts of the world; from Alaska to Mexico to Chicago to South Korean to Darfur. To hear the ways in which the humanities impact the daily lives of people and help them further explore and articulate their place in the world is so powerful. I am entirely appreciative of Shorris' work and willingness to do this work and share his experiences. It validates so much of what many educators of the liberal arts have said for generations. So that's the part that I really liked. However, there are two aspects that make this book hard to full…

Review: Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

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Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whitman offers a powerful and well-argued discussion of how American legal and cultural racism inspired and provided models for Hitler and the Nazi regime to form the laws and practices that would ultimately lead to upholding the Holocaust. For some, this may be an eye-opening book, realizing that how the US treated African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other groups through law and through cultural practices (e.g. lynching, work restrictions, unable to enter certain spaces, unable to marry across race, testify against whites in court, etc). Whitman works to make his argument clear by emphasizing where Nazi Germany was inspired by the US (e.g. in segregation laws) and where they looked to the US as a model (e.g. miscegenation laws) and he also skillfully lays out the evidence for how it can be shown that this is, in fact, true through extensive ar…

#CFP for Workshops on Libraries and Digital Scholarship in the 21st Century

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes 

Do you work in or work with libraries or in scholarly communities, particularly at the intersection of technology (or changing technologies)? Do you have an area of technology that you would like to share your skills, practices, or struggles with OR that you really want to learn practice advice and guidance from folks working with that area? Then, this CFP is probably for you!

I am reaching out to folks for any thoughts or ideas for day-long workshops or 1-hour webinars for NERCOMP, the regional entity of EDUCAUSE, serving from Pennsylvania to Maine. We are starting to think about and plan for such professional development opportunities for the next academic year (Sept, 2020-June, 2021).

I’m currently the Program-Track Chair of Libraries and Scholarship in the 21st Century, which means I help to find folks who want to run these events and support them through the process.

You can find the full description of the track here:

Libraries and Digital Scholar…

Stranger Days #51: What Comes Next...

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I started this series back in March when it was unclear when things would return to normal and well, what will that normal even look like.  Can we return to normal?  That thought harkens the famous like “Normal" is just a setting on your dryer.” byPatsy Clairmont. 

There really wasn't any "normal" per see before.  Because, after all, people were suffering much before this all happened and all it took was a virus that doesn't even kill most people to through most of us into turmoil without any foreseeable end.  I mean, if capitalism is as successful as they claim for everyone, then I'm not quite sure how is it that we have over 36 million unemployed in the US, significant cracks in the food supply chain, and massive amounts of food and anim…