Reading List: November 18

Each week, we put together a reading list of the best articles on technology, new media, and religion from across the web.

Here’s what we’re reading this week:simple_answers-xkcd

On the xkcd Philosophy of Technology, BrieflyThe Frailest Thing

“Similarly, pointing out that human beings have always used technology is perhaps the least interesting observation one could make about the relationship between human beings and any given technology. Continuity of this sort is the ground against which figures of discontinuity appear, and it is the figures that are of interest. Alienation may be a fact of life (or maybe that is simply the story that moderns tell themselves to bear it), but it has been so to greater and lesser extents and for a host of different reasons. Pointing out that we have always been alienated is, consequently, the least interesting and the least helpful thing one could say about the matter.”

Relearning the Lost Skill of PatienceThe Atlantic

“Her intention is to show students that extended attention reveals nuances and details unavailable to the casual student or rushed museum-goer. She notes that ‘just because you have looked at [a painting] does not mean that you have seen it. Just because something is available instantly to vision does not mean that it is available instantly to consciousness. Or, in slightly more general terms: access is not synonymous with learning. What turns access into learning is time and strategic patience.'”

Our Promised Land: Silicon Valley and Its Prophets of ProfitMashable

“As with any religion, the Internet provides us with “connection” that allows us to experience community, transcendence and loss of self. Our belief is tested when, as with the healthcare rollout, it is proven to be fallible. Our conviction shaken when, as with the NSA, it is proven to be less than benevolent.”

Why We Click Stupid LinksDesiring God

“All together, vain curiosities of the fourth century offered themselves non-stop. Long before the curiosity of watching someone die was made available on YouTube, wrote Augustine, ‘the contemptible things that solicit our curiosity every day are past counting.'”

The Internet Is Making You Smarter, ReallyDigiday

“There were plenty of people who were shallow and trivial and not interested in the long-form thought. But I would say that 50 percent of the op-ed pieces dissing the Internet are written by novelists like Jonathan Franzen: They have jobs that require you to sit in a room for three years with no interruptions or social interaction. That downplays how much real-world thinking is deeply social. I don’t think they understand how catalytic and exciting and mind-opening it’s been for everyone else to suddenly be able to connect and talk with global audiences.”

Other articles

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About the Contributor

Benjamin Robertson

Benjamin Robertson
Benjamin Robertson is a founding editor at Second Nature. He has worked in advertising for the Chicago Tribune and Gannett, and now is a web developer at Mediacurrent. He studied Communications and Media Studies under Dr. Read Schuchardt at Wheaton College in Illinois. He has presented papers on Marshall McLuhan, media ecology, and Christianity at the Media Ecology Association, National Communication Association, and the McLuhan's Philosophy of Media Centennial Conference in Brussels. He lives with his wife, Ruth, in Greenville, SC. His personal website is

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