Facebook Announces $300 Million Project, Allegedly to Support Local Journalism

Once upon a time, local newspapers could depend upon a steady stream of local classified ads — people advertising looking to hire a handyman, or to sell their old sofa or used car. The income from local ads in locally-owned newspapers would go back to the communities, in the form of the paychecks for the reporters and other employees of the paper. Now, that income is being swept out of…

Sears Reshaped America, From Kenmore to Allstate

We just bought a new refrigerator from our local Sears. As a kid, I remember circling toys I wanted in the Christmas catalog. Pages of Legos, Matchbox cars, sleeping bags, remote-controlled cars. There might have been no Sears at all if Richard Sears, a 19th-century railway agent, hadn’t received an unwanted shipment of watches. He sold the watches to station agents up and down the rail line and then teamed…

The Decline of Humanities Enrollments and the Decline of Pre-Law

It’s a myth that humanities majors don’t care about post-graduation employment. What changed was the safety valve of subsequent law school enrollment.

Law school was long the default post-graduation plan for majors in qualitative fields. As long as you had the prospect of a lucrative legal career after college, you could safely major in English or poli sci. Those students didn’t ignore the vocational imperative; they just postponed it. And for a long time, that worked pretty well.

But the Great Recession, combined with AI and offshoring, did a number on law as a career option.

Social Media Companies Aren’t Liberal or Conservative. They’re capitalist.

Facebook cares more about scalability—that is, the ability to serve billions of users with a minimum of human labor—than it does about making the right call in every case. It would rather get lots of things wrong, but do it with a veneer of consistency and neutrality, than entertain nuance or exercise human judgment. (It would also, in the long run, prefer to do it via machine-learning software, to keep…