đź“… January 29 - February 04 | Weekly update

I got a bonus day… because I forgot something

I had a full week and week that brought some surprises and a great opportunity. We submitted our proposal to Stanford on time and just have to wait now. I started blogging about the project and how we came around to our question, the process and how we’re working together. You can read about it and follow along as (if) the project progresses here. This will be the central repository for any research work I do in the future, too.

I spent a few days in the week teaching. I love it, but it is tiring, and by the end of a full day of teaching, I feel a little tired and in need of a good rest. As anyone who knows me, I don’t do things by half. I’m pretty binary. It’s either full-on or full-off.

I spent quite a bit of time preparing for a class I thought I would be teaching on Friday and was behind in my planning, so I needed to catch up. I worked late, at lunch at times, and then I decided to recheck the planning. To my surprise and delight, I was not teaching, so I got a bonus day to catch up on other stuff. And I finished the lessons, so I can get ahead of the planning if I play my cards right.


My reading list doesn’t stop getting longer and longer. I’ve added many papers and reports to read for the learning I’m doing in the Virtual School of Internet Governance (VSIG). I’ve completed two of the modules so far. The questions on the test are not that difficult. However, you must spend a lot of time reading the materials. There are videos to watch, but I find I don’t learn well through videos. I prefer to read. It seems to work for my brain type.

I still haven’t finished Naomi Klein’s Doppelgänger as I have been busy reading other things, particularly documentation around the courses I teach. I try to get as much knowledge as I can and share as much as possible with my students.

Of note

There were two big stories last week.

Apple released the Vision Pro to the public, and the reviewers had theirs a few days earlier so they could write their appreciation and opinions on the device. It will be an interesting product, but I remain sceptical about its real use case as the product currently stands. I get the draw for the ultimate productivity device, but I think it is too separating from reality —only to bring you back to reality— to have any significant impact. Some have complained about the price, but honestly, it doesn’t shock me one bit based on how it is marketed. It is sold as a “Spatial Computer”. If you take a MacBook Air and add a Studio Display, you’d need to spend just over 3000€ in France for an entry-level device and screen. Apple Vision Pro goes much further in some respects, so it could even be seen as a bargain… until, that is, you realise you need a Mac to use the Mac desktop screen feature. Ouch!

The other big story was Congress’s circus around Social Media platforms. I’ll be first in line to help destroy Facebook if I ever get the chance, but even I could see this was nothing more than YouTube and TikTok fodder for politicians to boost their political campaigns. These events are tiring because it doesn’t they don’t produce anything. There are no next steps, no final report, and no nuance to the various arguments. It is gladiatorial and, frankly, resembles a pissing contest. All of the problems associated with all social media platforms can be solved (or appreciably solved) by banning individually targeted surveillance advertising. We know they don’t perform as well as they’re supposed to, so the question remains. Why are they allowed when we see so much harm done by them through the unintended consequences of allowing them, especially as they are necessary?

Have a great week.

Matthew Cowen @matthewcowen