“We could desperately use a clear-eyed assessment of the messy, complicated country that ruled much of the world not so long ago.”
Public Books 101
Public Books 101 turns a scholarly eye to a world worth studying. In each miniseries, world-class scholars and writers examine a single topic from many angles, opening a window into the conversations that experts are having with one another about some of the issues, problems, and cultural curiosities facing us today.
Where did the internet come from? Who gets left out of dominant stories about its origins? And what can history teach us about how to make the internet better?
What exactly are we doing when we’re spending time online? Who profits from our presence there?
What kind of social space are we inhabiting when we’re online? How do practices like data collection, data brokering, and surveillance underwrite the “free” services we enjoy?
What new cultural forms are developing in the vast universe of the internet? How can observers and scholars keep up with the accelerated pace of human creativity online?
What we can learn from Silicon Valley’s history as we envision more just technologies for the future?
A resource for teaching and discussing the internet, including a reading list, podcast, and discussion questions.
What are some of the most notable novels published in the 21st century, and how do they reimagine what novels do?
How do novels provoke readers to wrestle with complex, even dangerous ideas?
How does reading novels affect our understanding of the power dynamics that shape our lives?
How can novels expand our understanding of sex and intimacy in the digital age?
How do novels help us see the present in a broader historical perspective?
How can reading novels affect the way doctors and patients communicate?
A resource for reading about, teaching, and discussing the novel as an artistic and cultural form.
How long has human life been quantified as data, and in what contexts? What are some major implications of humanity being measured as data?
How do people show up in data, and what are some of the inequalities that can result from data collection?
How has data been used to organize labor, and how do we make ourselves visible to data-centric systems?
What harms can result from AI and automation, and how might we address and prevent those harms?
Whose values get embedded into the algorithms that increasingly govern our lives? How are these data infrastructures complicating what it means to be human?
How have data-centric systems perpetuated racial capitalism, and how have different communities, particularly in the global South, resisted this datafication?