LLLotW 2022.18

Requiem for a Tweet – Is there a future for the academic social capital held on the platform?

Mark Carrigan on what Twitter entering platform death means for academia. This is an interesting analysis throwing up some challenges and important questions, but for me the key section is this:

Rather than take responsibilities for an infrastructure upon which their operations depended, universities encouraged the narrow and unreflective use of these platforms in a way which entrenched the existing competitive individualism within the academy.

Why this? Because “these platforms” could apply to nearly every digital platform or software used in academia. Technological solutionism has already arrived in the Fediverse, and publishing papers via ActivityPub won't make universities democratic and diverse any more than everyone getting a Twitter handle did.

Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online

Turns out large language models and “artificial intelligence” will spout garbage no matter what you feed them with, because they're not actually intelligent. Plenty of people have been pointing this out for some time, but there's plenty of money available if one chooses to ignore them.

LARPing your job

Something a little different, specifically about being a professional journalist/critic, but generally about being an “information worker” which more and more of us are:

You can LARP your job in person (holding lots of meetings, staying late and getting there early as a show of ‘presentism’) and digitally (sending lots of emails, spending a lot of time on Slack, or whatever group chat platform your organization uses).

We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.

Libraries and Learning Links of the Week is published every Thursday by Hugh Rundle. If you like email newsletters you might also like Marginalia, a monthly commentary on things I've read and listened to more broadly.