FB and the happiness arms race

Facebook encourages a sort of ‘happiness’ arms race, where most people seek to convey the brightest possible interpretation of their own lives to match the same projections they see in others…

The reason this hits the [Harvard Business Review] crowd particularly hard is because it adds another, ubiquitous front to the battle of positive image. It used to be, you only had to be an assertive, bright, shining star when you were around people or talking on the phone. Then you could go home, pour yourself a belt of Glenlivet, and be miserable for a while to blow off steam. Now you have to keep it up ALL of the time, on a medium that’s everywhere and never stops. It hits hard, particularly when you’re a hard charger whose career depends on being perceived as relentlessly successful and upbeat.


— from HN; discussion otherwise unexceptional.

Russian photography bans: just like the UK

Sane FT article about net politics in Russia.

I love that their example of inane Russian bureaucratic rigidity is something increasingly familiar in the UK. Namely, the banning of photography in all kinds of public spaces:

Chief among the inanities in his sights is something most tourists in Russia have encountered: the screaming security guard or elderly woman telling you that you cannot take pictures here, as if your photograph of that supermarket compromises Russian national security. Ternovskiy has used his blog to mobilise Russians to inform these guards and grannies that they are the ones in the wrong: by Russian law, photography is allowed almost everywhere. “Despite the fact that there is no legal basis to ban photography in all the places it’s banned, people will still tell you it’s forbidden,” Ternovskiy says, pouring himself a cup of thyme tea as we sit in a Moscow café. “It’s like a Soviet phantom limb.


Sheila, revisiting a book by method-acting guru Lee Strasberg, talks about


as a primary virtue of the actor

Lee Strasberg was obsessed with consistency and could it be taught. Were there ways to HELP an actor to be able to repeat himself? Certainly there are. Techniques of relaxation and concentration are the bread-and-butter of any regular acting class, and – like an athlete working out every day – like a singer doing scales – like a ballerina at the barre … these things must become rote.

actors need to know how to relax WHILE under stressful situations. Some people do it naturally. They come to life ONLY in clutch situations. These are the great talents. They always “show up” when it is demanded of them. They live for it. But many actors need to learn techniques. Relaxation is the key. Learn how to relax while surrounded by a jostling movie crew and you can relax anywhere.

David and the stegosaurus had learnt a lot about each other

The internet is


. In my lunch break I started reading a blog on (er, mostly) Chinese politics, and within 5 minutes was confronted with slash involving David Miliband

and a stegosaurus


[no link, because it wasn’t very good porn. I hope in the fullness of time somebody will do better, and occupy that particular niche in triumph]


I find it hard to tell how much Runet has migrated towards twitter. You’d certainly think so from the international media coverage — but that can partly be blamed on the journalistic bad habit of only reporting tools the hacks themselves use.

Global Voices does provide a list of tweeple:

@MiriamElder, @ioffeinmoscow, @shaunwalker7, @A_Osborn, @oflynnkevin, @agent_Alka, @courtneymoscow, @PeterGOliver_RT, @mschwirtz, @markmackinnon, @tonyhalpin, @Amiefr_Reuters, @RolandOliphant, @niktwick are tweeting live in English from the big protest rally that is taking place at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow right now; @agoodtreaty is monitoring Russian-language Twitter coverage of the protests in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia.

But Livejournal, even in senility, still seems a far more potent location of protest. It’s where Navalny hangs out. It’s where Vladislav Surkov, Kremlin insider and puppetmaster of “

Managed Democracy

“, popped up to propose an urban liberal party.

But I can’t tell if LJ really is still important, or if I’m just noticing things there because of familiarity.

25000 is a crowd

What’s really hilarious about last Saturday’s protests is how tiny the numbers are. Perhaps 25000 people on the streets. Anywhere else, protests short of a hundred thousand will barely be noticed. But Russian democracy has been ‘managed’ so well, that even a few thousand demonstrators can constitute a shock to the system.

Guttenberg as Net Activist

I’ve been enjoying the latest installment from Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Defence minister and rising star, he was forced out of office this spring, when a cluster of online activists discovered that he had plagiarised his PhD thesis.

Now he’s attempting a low-level comeback, advising the EU’s internet commissioner on online freedom. In particular, he’ll be looking at how the EU can support bloggers and online activists in authoritarian regimes.

Netzpolitik has mostly been having fun with all this (“

More Guttenplag-wikis for dictatorships?


But they also home in on the more important point — the inanity of separating “internet freedom in authoritarian states” (Guttenberg’s beat to be) from internet freedom in the EU. Telling others to be free while cracking down at home — it does have the kind of arrogance which Guttenberg does so well, but that surely doesn’t mean he should do it.

On the other hand, I do have a grudging admiration for Gutenberg’s willingness to accept humiliation. He’s chosen to go straight back to the world which saw through him, rather than the one overawed by his smooth rich-boy background. Perhaps also, over fading away into a world of business or conference-speaking, the usual stamping-grounds of the disgraced politician.

Apathy is acceptance

Holly might sound as though she’s talking about sex education. Maybe she is. But this is wider:

I don’t think this apathy makes the lab okay. I think it makes it insidious. “Yeah yeah, sex is dirty, sluts have diseases, just copy the answers off the board and we’ll get out of here before ten” is a much nastier and more dangerous thing than if we’d had an overtly ideological discussion of the subject. It makes it a given thing, a thing not needing discussion, that sex is dirty and nothing can be done about it.

A Conspiracy of Bores

Henry Farrell:

It is tempting to see the procedures of

the EU as a long-term conspiracy to bore

the public into submission. The truth is

more mundane. Europe’s leaders fell into

technocracy by accident rather than design.

Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t the party

This article on Lester Bangs is sharp and appealing:

No, sorry. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t the party. It’s what you do when you’re home and miserable alone because you weren’t invited to the party. It’s what you do to make up for not being at the party. That’s why it sounds like a party. A guy wouldn’t break out one of those rubber fake-vaginas in the middle of actual fucking, would he? Rock ‘n’ roll is social masturbation.

It’s sort of appropriate for it to be less about Bangs himself than about his position and meaning, about his impact on his readers. After all, that’s much of the appeal of Bangs, as far as I can tell. It’s hard to know; he’s by now so frozen into the hall of fame that I can’t really get excited about him.

Still, I’m not sure I quite buy the idea of Rock ‘n’ Roll as the antiparty. Because unlike music or poetry or painting, music makes far less sense alone