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Facebook’s director of media tries to appease news industry

Facebook’s Patrick Walker assured a room full of journalists that Zuck’s strategy to combat fake news will work. The plan (released previously by FB): stronger detection, easy reporting, third party verification, warnings, related articles quality, disrupting the economy of fake news, and listening. Also speaking at the conference was Espin Egil Hansen, who in September posted an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, slamming Facebook for censoring a photo of the…

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How to Deal With 2016 Despair

Don’t let a TV screen make you live a life of fear. Be thoughtful participants, not passive consumers, in your culture. Create something. Improve something. Maybe yourself. Maybe the Wikipedia page for your hometown. Share your creation. Encourage and appreciate and critique and applaud what those in your community have created. Increase the sum total of good things in the universe by participating in the life around you. Heavy TV…

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Almost all the traffic to fake news sites is from Facebook, new data show

I think and post about fake news a lot. Just the other day, I came across a Tweet that seemed to show evidence that a very public figure had flip-flopped on a divisive cultural issue. First I had an emotional reaction, then I checked who shared the post I was reacting to. I didn’t recognize the name, but then I noticed it had been shared to the Snopes Facebook page…

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Emily Dickinson’s Singular Scrap Poetry

There’s never enough time to cover Emily Dickinson in an AmLit survey course. Only ten of her poems were published in her lifetime, all anonymously; publication was, as she put it, as “foreign to my thought, as Firmament to Fin.” Not that she intended her poems to go unread—she often sent them in letters to friends, sometimes with other enclosures: dried flowers, a three-cent stamp, a dead cricket. She also…

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I Never Would Have Guessed I Would Be Able to Complete a Close Reading

I started my American Literature class by assigning students to listen to 40-minute audio lectures that provided context and walked them through the literary texts we were to discuss in class. As the semester drew on, I had students write podcasts to introduce texts to each other, and by the end of term I was asking students to read scholarly articles in which literary scholars aren’t introducing the texts to…

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What TV journalists did wrong — and the New York Times did right — in meeting with Trump

The Times played it right…. Off-the-record was a mistake for the TV people, and it would have been a mistake for the Times. The paper successfully called Trump’s bluff. As much as he professes to despise the Times, he remains in some ways the Queens boy who lusted after Manhattan success and acceptance. In many ways, Trump can bypass the traditional press — using YouTube or Twitter to take his…

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Astaire Unwound (Ceiling Dance from “Royal Wedding”)

My high school physics teacher, Admiral Peebles, showed us episodes of this nerdy, awesome science video, which demonstrated what various common motions (a falling ball, a rolling ball) look like from fixed and moving frames of reference. The 1969 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey featured a huge rotating set, a realistic representation of artificial gravity in the interior of a space ship. I pored over stills from this scene a few years…