On Shaming and Harassment: The Limits of Speech in the Digital World

By Michael W. Harris

Justine Sacco might be the unintentional poster child for our digital communications era. Over Christmas vacation in 2013, while travelling to South Africa, she tweeted a joke and then boarded an eleven hour flight from London to Cape Town. By the time she landed, the then director of corporate communications for IAC was in the middle of a public relations nightmare. Just the sort of thing she would normally be in charge of managing the fallout from. Despite her meager 170 Twitter followers, her tweet had resulted in a worldwide trending hashtag, a feverish watch of #HasJustineLandedYet, and an internet mob piling onto her simple, albeit incredibly insensitive and racist, joke of: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” The fact that she was completely unaware of what was going on in real time while her plane was traversing the length of the continent she had insulted with her tweet created the perfect storm for internet schadenfreude. Continue reading “On Shaming and Harassment: The Limits of Speech in the Digital World”

FOMO NOMO: Or How I Learned to Stop Trying to Keep Up With Everything

By Michael W. Harris

I’m pretty sure Danny Rand broke me…

Perhaps it came while struggling to get through the final arc of Agents of SHIELD season 4, or perhaps it was in the depths of Iron Fist with Defenders and Punisher looming in my cue. Or maybe it was the realization that I was buried under a mountain of anime and other TV shows I wanted to watch on Funimation, Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. Or maybe it was all the videos piling up in my YouTube “Watch Later” playlist. Or maybe it was all the other things I knew I wanted to do in my life with research and writing and the realization that there were only so many hours in the day. Somewhere in all of that, in between all of the content that I felt like I had to consume to stay relevant in “the discussion” and what I increasingly felt like I wanted to do, that I had a moment of clarity and started deleting things from my various playlists, cues, and checklists. Continue reading “FOMO NOMO: Or How I Learned to Stop Trying to Keep Up With Everything”

Fighting for the Future: Archival Work in the Post-Truth Era

By Michael W. Harris

On Saturday as I sat in a local coffee shop working on coursework for library school, I was also constantly updating my Facebook feed and checking in on my friends around the country who were marching in protest of the comments, policies, and intents of the incoming US Presidential administration. These friends were joined by even more people around the world (including Antarctica) in what is now clearly the single largest day of protest ever seen in global history. It was millions of voices crying out with a single intent: we will not be silenced.

I sat there and wished that I could have been with them. I ultimately turned down a friend’s offer to accompany them to Denver for many reasons: schoolwork, a creeping cold, a general aversion to congregating in groups larger than 5-7. But I do think I might look back with some regret. However, in between being inspired by my many friends protesting in Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, and even D.C., I was also reading a speech given by archivist F. Gerald Ham from 1974 that has reminded me of why archival work is so important, especially right now, and it energized me once again for my newly chosen profession. Continue reading “Fighting for the Future: Archival Work in the Post-Truth Era”