What happens when you dispose of the classic structures for television viewing, production, and dissemination? 


New Way to Deliver a Drama: All 13 Episodes in One Sitting


Television producers have turned bingeing, hoarding and overeating into successful prime-time shows for years, but now they are having to turn their attention to another example of overindulgence — TV watching.

Binge-viewing, empowered by DVD box sets and Netflix subscriptions, has become such a popular way for Americans to watch TV that it is beginning to influence the ways the stories are told — particularly one-hour dramas — and how they are distributed.

….In some corners of Hollywood there is deep skepticism about Netflix’s all-at-once release of “House of Cards.” Mr. Willimon acknowledged the advantages to stretching out a season — it’s a format viewers are used to, there’s more time for marketing — but said that as a storyteller (he’s best known for the play “Farragut North,” which inspired the film “The Ides of March”) he prefers the “House of Cards” approach.

As television becomes less beholden to the schedule and more acclimated to the Web, he said, “it might even dispense with episodes altogether. You might just get eight straight hours or 10 straight hours, and you decide where to pause.”


This naturally reminds me of a very funny Portlandia sketch/episode 


GQ: …There’s a sketch in the new season about Battlestar Galactica that really captures what happens when a TV show takes over your life. Was that born from an experience you both had watching that show.
Armisen: Definitely. We are huge Battlestar Galactica fans. And with couples particularly, we were talking to our director Jonathan Krisel about him and his wife, where you just get into this thing where you have to finish watching all of the episodes. And that’s certainly happened to me. Whenever I like a show like that, my eyes get very salty, you know what I mean? They start stinging because it’s three in the morning. It’s that feeling. And also, Battlestar Galactica is just the greatest.

Brownstein: Yeah, I remember when Six Feet Under ended, actually missing characters as if they were my friends. Like, I miss Nate. And that’s such an unnatural feeling, but it’s relatable. People binge on these shows and they become all-encompassing and obsessive about it. I’m a little jetlagged right now because I just came over from England and I’m watching that show Homeland right now. I got up at 3:30 this morning and watched four episodes of Homeland. I feel like I am a CIA agent now.

Aaron Swartz, Dead at 26



 ”The Nation’s Rick Perlstein:

I remember always thinking that he always seemed too sensitive for this world we happen to live in, and I remember him working so mightily, so heroically, to try to bend the world into a place more hospitable to people like him, which also means hospitable to people like us. I like what the blogger Lambert Strether wrote on my Facebook page (in Aaron’s memory, friend me!): “Our society should be selecting for the Aaron Swartz’s of this world. Instead, generous and ethical behavior, especially when combined with technical brilliance, turns out to be maladaptive, indeed lethal. If Swartz had been Wall Street’s youngest investment banker, he would be alive today.”

Jstor’s Statement


Aaron Swartz

We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Aaron Swartz. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Aaron’s family, friends, and everyone who loved, knew, and admired him. He was a truly gifted person who made important contributions to the development of the internet and the web from which we all benefit.  

We have had inquiries about JSTOR’s view of this sad event given the charges against Aaron and the trial scheduled for April. The case is one that we ourselves had regretted being drawn into from the outset, since JSTOR’s mission is to foster widespread access to the world’s body of scholarly knowledge. At the same time, as one of the largest archives of scholarly literature in the world, we must be careful stewards of the information entrusted to us by the owners and creators of that content. To that end, Aaron returned the data he had in his possession and JSTOR settled any civil claims we might have had against him in June 2011. 
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service and a member of the internet community. We will continue to work to distribute the content under our care as widely as possible while balancing the interests of researchers, students, libraries, and publishers as we pursue our commitment to the long-term preservation of this important scholarly literature.
We join those who are mourning this tragic loss.

The Great American Signature Fades Away

NPR Link

Walt Disney

Salvador Dali

Neil Armstrong

Nearly Useless

Stephen Mason, author of Electronic Signatures in Law, writes that “the function a signature performs remains as valid in the electronic age as when the use of an impression of a seal was considered to be the best means of authentication before the advent of widespread literacy.”

But critics, such as Chris Hawkins, founder of SignNow — a company that focuses on digital authentication — believe that the Age of the Handwritten Signature may have run its cursive course. “The signature has traditionally been a scribble on a page to indicate you agree,” says Hawkins. But that scribble “is nearly useless for identifying a person or proving something later.”

Nowadays, Hawkins says, “We already don’t need to sign anything on paper. I signed my marriage license electronically — on an iPad — and my company does electronic mortgage notarizations every day. Our most emotional life events are already electronic.”

Still, Hawkins admits, “people do have a deeper emotional attachment to a signature than an ‘I Agree’ button.”

But the question comes up: As we wrap ourselves more and more in the digital life, what will happen to the once-essential signature?”

Darwin Was Wrong About Dating

NYTimes - Darwin Was Wrong About Dating 

"…the fact that some gender differences can be manipulated, if not eliminated, by controlling for cultural norms suggests that the explanatory power of evolution can’t sustain itself when applied to mating behavior. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve pushed these theories too far. How many stereotypical racial and ethnic differences, once declared evolutionarily determined under the banner of science, have been revealed instead as vestiges of power dynamics from earlier societies?"

When Ignorance Kills

A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said.

“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.

In a statement, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.”



I agree with his claims that anthro needs to make sure it doesn’t loose its rigor and empirical emphasis. His critique (+ a glance at his research interests) seems to emphasize harking back to an older more bio-scientifically focused anthropology in content and methodology for its interdisciplinary and “erudite” nature. I am in the same boat as the woman in the q&a session that told Boyer that this aspect of his lecture made her feel uncomfortable. How is scientifically rooted erudition the best kind/only kind of erudition?

research interests:

In my work I combine experimental (laboratory) studies with field research to answer the following question: What cognitive processes are engaged in the acquisition, use and transmission of cultural knowledge? One way to answer this is to study cognitive development, the period during which initially similar brains receive information that will make them conversant with a particular set of cultural norms and concepts. In the past I have used such developmental studies, combined with fieldwork, to describe and perhaps explain some aspects of the transmission of religious concepts. More generally, the aim of all this is to show how human brains, by virtue of their evolutionary history, share certain conceptual dispositions which in turn make certain kinds of cultural concepts particularly easy to learn and transmit, and therefore very frequent in otherwise diverse human cultures. I also use these psychological and anthropological techniques to describe the interaction between “collective memory,” how people in a group remember their past, and “individual memory,” in particular autobiographical memory. My most recent work bears on the early development of concepts of agency and personhood (what makes persons and animals different from inert objects) and on early mathematical concepts, as well as on the specifically human neural structures that support such competencies.


where’s the cultural semantics?

Pascal Boyer explaining why anthropology is largely irrelevant.  If you are an anthropologist, a sociologist, a culture studies kind of person, a hyphenated American studies person, etc, you really REALLY need to watch and listen to this.

Hundreds Of Suicides In India Linked To Microfinance Organizations

"MUMBAI, India (AP) — First they were stripped of their utensils, furniture, mobile phones, televisions, ration cards and heirloom gold jewelry. Then, some of them drank pesticide. One woman threw herself in a pond. Another jumped into a well with her children.

Sometimes, the debt collectors watched nearby.

More than 200 poor, debt-ridden residents of Andhra Pradesh killed themselves in late 2010, according to media reports compiled by the government of the south Indian state. The state blamed microfinance companies — which give small loans intended to lift up the very poor — for fueling a frenzy of overindebtedness and then pressuring borrowers so relentlessly that some took their own lives.

The companies, including market leader SKS Microfinance, denied it.

However, internal documents obtained by The Associated Press, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, independent researchers and videotaped testimony from the families of the dead, show top SKS officials had information implicating company employees in some of the suicides.

An independent investigation commissioned by the company linked SKS employees to at least seven of the deaths. A second investigation commissioned by an industry umbrella group that probed the role of many microfinance companies did not draw conclusions but pointed to SKS involvement in two more cases that ended in suicide. Neither study has been made public.

Both reports said SKS employees had verbally harassed over-indebted borrowers, forced them to pawn valuable items, incited other borrowers to humiliate them and orchestrated sit-ins outside their homes to publicly shame them. In some cases, the SKS staff physically harassed defaulters, according to the report commissioned by the company. Only in death would the debts be forgiven.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/hundreds-of-suicides-in-india-linked-to-microfinance-organizations-2012-2#ixzz1nSlCWnjj


London’s museums can do more for UK tourism

The national museums should be encouraged to market the rest of Britain through their collections

Crisis or not, this is Olympics year in London and the media is already bursting with optimism and pride. The stadia are ready on time and on budget; the tickets are nearly all sold, and we are hearing a well orchestrated crescendo of marketing themes. Paradoxically, however, this may not be so good for the economy because it looks as though it will hit tourism, and this matters, because one in 12 jobs in the UK is supported directly or indirectly by tourism, a £16.6 billion-a-year industry. Apparently, the Americans, French and Germans—just to mention those who top the list of big-spenders visiting the UK—may decide to give Britain a miss this year because they expect London to be too crowded.

This is serious, because London attracts 52% of expenditure by foreign tourists, compared with, for example, Yorkshire’s 3%. The same research shows that people come to the UK mainly to experience its culture and heritage, but few ever get beyond London. Of the top 20 UK visitor attractions, only three are outside the capital, and when you discover that they are Lake Windermere cruises, North Yorkshire’s Flamingo Land, and Chester Zoo, you realise that the world is not seeing the best of Britain. Research shows that the main reason why foreign tourists often stick to London is that they do not know where else to go….

But the instrument to get tourists out of London already exists, unused—all it needs is lateral thinking and a little money. 

The national museums should be encouraged to market the rest of Britain through their collections. London’s British Museum, the Tate galleries, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the National Gallery top the list of the 20 most visited destinations and they all contain art that come from other parts of the British Isles or that are related to places beyond London. They all have popular websites (in 2009-10 the V&A came first, with 20.5m hits, then the Tate with 18.8m, then the British Museum with 15m).

So when the British Museum writes on its site about the famous 12th-century walrus-ivory chessmen from the Isle of Lewis, it should add some information about the Outer Hebrides and a click-through to the isles’ site describing how to get there. When Tate Britain describes its Turner collection, it should tell people about Petworth House in Sussex, a National Trust property where Turner painted, and where there is the greatest holding of the artist’s works in private hands. 

The Tate should direct its visitors to the newly opened Turner Contemporary at Margate in Kent, a gallery designed by David Chipperfield commemorating the painter’s association with the seaside town, with intelligent exhibitions of contemporary art (neither Petworth nor Margate are mentioned on the Tate’s current website). The 12th-century enamelled Becket casket in the V&A should lead people to Canterbury Cathedral, where they can stand on the spot where Thomas à Becket was murdered by the three knights represented on the reliquary. The V&A’s 15th-century Devonshire hunting tapestries should tell you how to get to Hardwick, the great Elizabethan house in Derbyshire where they came from. The Robert Adam room from the Adelphi should recommend that, in order to see Adam’s work at its finest, you should get on a train to the home of the Earls of Harewood and the National Trust’s Kedlestone Hall, both in Yorkshire. 

For one of the glories of Britain is that we still have more historic houses complete with collections and their landscaped parklands around them than any other country. Three hundred of those in private hands are open to the public, as well as 330 belonging to the National Trusts of England and of Scotland. Between them, they represent one of the greatest museums in the world, without the disadvantage of actual museums, which is that they are full of works of art that have lost their human background. Surely it is in our national museums’ interest to give this information in order to enrich their visitors’ experience. 

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has pledged £50m to VisitBritain, formerly the British Tourist Authority, over four years in the hope that another £50m will come from alliances. British Airways and the shipping lines P&O and DFDS Seaways are contributing financially. The museums could contribute their “leads”, know-how and websites, and VisitBritain the money to adapt them to this additional function. A crisis becomes an opportunity if it makes us more ingenious and more collaborative.”