Required Reading

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  • For Vox, Rebecca Jennings distills why “chronically online” discourse has become tiresome, and what makes the social-media-drama hamster wheel so exhausting for participants and spectators alike:

It’s become something of a sport to unearth these sorts of replies, the ones where strangers make willfully decontextualized moral judgments on other people’s lives. We give these people and these kinds of conversations names: “chronically online” or “terminally online,” implying that too much exposure to too many people’s weird ideas makes us all sort of lose our minds and our sense of shared humanity. For years, people on TikTok and Twitter have delighted in recounting the most “chronically online” takes they’ve ever seen; the compilation below includes a disabled woman being accused of elitism for using a grocery delivery service and a 21-year-old Redditor being accused of “grooming” her 20-year-old boyfriend.

  • The North Pole was once covered by a lush forest inhabiting many species, including mastodons, according to a new study that sampled two-million-year-old DNA. Isn’t that a beautiful image? Carl Zimmer sums up the study’s findings for the New York Times:

The researchers lined up the fragments with DNA sequences of living species to figure out where they belonged on the evolutionary tree. They found 102 different kinds of plants — including 78 that had previously been identified from fossils and 24 new ones. The plant DNA painted a picture of forests dominated by poplar and birch trees.

Other sequences come from land animals, including caribou, hares, mastodons, geese, lemmings and ants. The researchers also found marine species, such as horseshoe crabs, corals and algae.

  • A whopping 49% of top news outlets are now on TikTok, according to a new Reuters Institute study. That raises questions about the democratization of journalism and censorship on the platform. The study reads:

But TikTok is not an obvious choice for all. Some public broadcasters such as BBC News have been ambivalent, initially staying off the platform to focus on other networks such as Instagram. Other public broadcasters, including NRK (Norway), NHK (Japan), DR (Denmark), and Yle (Finland) have been slow to engage, partly due to worries that the tone may not be conducive to serious news or because of free-speech concerns related to the Chinese ownership of the platform. Many subscription-based publishers, such as the New York Times, have also stayed away, with limited prospects for monetisation a likely additional factor.

But other subscription publishers we spoke to are interested in TikTok because it offers the opportunity to build a relationship with younger audiences that they hope will pay off later. ‘We’ve done a good job developing a really large Instagram audience and the aim is to replicate that on TikTok,’ notes Liv Moloney, Head of Social Media at The Economist. ‘Also, with the trend to more vertical video on Instagram and YouTube, we thought why not push ourselves and go onto TikTok.’

  • Have you seen Hyperallergic’s TikTok channel, by the way? Here’s our latest video:
  • For the Guardian, novelist Isabel Kaplan writes about her experience with a literary boyfriend who was incurably jealous of her success:

I know how it sounds to suggest my boyfriend dumped me because he’s scared I’ll become like Nora Ephron. You’re thinking: that’s what you’re going with? Or maybe: what’s her name?

The truth is, I’ve gone with that line because it sounds as deranged as the breakup felt. Because the absurdity of it feels safer than alleging that my boyfriend was uncomfortable with my success. That it triggered an ugly competitiveness and insecurity in him, even though we write about different things, even though his own career is going wonderfully. He said he tried very hard to respect the kind of writing I do but the truth is, he doesn’t respect it quite as much as writing that doesn’t draw from life – or, rather, from the writer’s life. He is a journalist and historian, so he writes about other people’s lives. He concluded he’d never feel safe with me due to fear that I might someday write about him. Also, I wasn’t supportive enough of his writing.

  • Lux Mag’s Kim Kelly profiled Bhairavi Desai, a longtime New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) leader and luminary of union organizing:

Behind this battle with lenders and the city stood one of the most powerful labor leaders in New York City: a petite Indian woman with a cloud of gray hair and chic spectacles. She’s well-known in New York City (catch her on New York 1 explaining the latest battle over taxi regulations) and nationally recognized (she’s visited the White House a couple of times). Her organization has long straddled the line between traditional, legally recognized unions and the types of creative organization developed by precarious workers who can’t legally unionize. The NYTWA is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and the first one in its history to be made up entirely of independent contractors. Despite her efforts to blend in with the workers she represents, in a moment when new industries are struggling to unionize, Desai stands out.

  • Today, the New York Times staff began a 24-hour strike following 20 months of bargaining attempts. Freelancers Bryce Covert, Jillian Steinhauer, and Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein explain why they are striking in solidarity with the publication’s employees for the Nation:

It’s crucial, now more than ever, that freelancers refuse to be used as scab labor, serving as replacements when staff employees go on strike. The pitifully low rates offered to freelancers exist in part because media work overall has been so devalued. This also goes for the work of staffers at publications like the Times, which is among the few financially stable and profitable media companies, raking in $51 million in profit in the most recent quarter, even after recently acquiring The AthleticEmployees are seeking their fair share of the profits they’ve helped create. But bosses know that they can easily supplant staff work with inexpensive freelance labor—if we let themThe only way to improve working conditions for some of us is to improve working conditions for all of us. If we don’t, the media will continue to consolidate and shrivel into a legacy industry populated solely by those with the generational wealth needed to live in expensive cities on low salaries.

  • In other New York City union news, students at the New School created blackout poems from one of the university’s email responses to the adjunct faculty strike. Here’s a look at one:
  • And finally, this video from 2009 by the comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates predicted Kanye West’s (or Ye) love affair with the Führer:
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Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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