by Eli Lambe
Dave Eggers’ The Circle, both the book and the recent feature-length adaptation, is a dystopia formed around a Facebook/Apple/Google/Amazon-esque corporation, one which hosts and shares almost every aspect of its users lives. The novel does a remarkable job of capturing the subtle ways in which this model is marketed to us, how this format of data-as-product is often shrouded in apparently progressive buzzwords – community, accountability, transparency, participation – whilst the company which operates under this model does so under the same values as every other corporate entity.
There is a veneer of progressivity and respectability that companies adopt in order to retain and gain customers – like Facebook making it easier to harass trans people, or implementing guidelines that protect white men but not black children, and at the same time, for one month of the year, patchily providing a rainbow “pride” react to the users who liked lgbt@facebook. Perhaps not as extreme as Eggers writes in The Circle, but eerily close enough: “Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal.”Continue Reading
by Hannah Rose
Virginia Woolf stated in her 1929 seminal essay A Room of One’s Own that, because women remain unequal to men in society, they are less likely to succeed as writers. A writer has two basic requirements in order to write productively: an independent income which provides basic necessities—food and shelter— and uninterrupted writing time. In 1929, the majority of British women were either working to provide the basic necessities for others, and did not have a private space in which to pursue a creative life or an independent income. This, says Wolf, is why the literary canon is dominated by men. “Intellectual freedom,” she writes, “depends upon material things.”
Almost a century later, some women are still having to argue their right to a creative life.Continue Reading
by Colin Hynson
Uber and Airbnb, the two poster–children of the ‘sharing economy’, have found themselves in the public spotlight for several months. One reason for this is their rapid growth. Uber, an on–demand taxi service, is now operating in 290 cities worldwide, over one million Uber trips are taken daily and the number of new drivers registering with Uber is growing by 50,000 a month. Airbnb, the room–rental service, now has vacancies in over 190 countries and has been used over 35 million times since it started in 2008.
This growth has led to both companies being described as ‘disruptive’. They have come in and shaken up taxi and hotel businesses across the globe. This has led to a backlash. In London and Paris taxi drivers have held rallies protesting that their livelihoods are being threatened. There are also legal challenges as cities from Delhi to Montreal and Brussels have clamped down on both companies.Continue Reading