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The Fall 2020 Munk Debate

The Munk Debates
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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The 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology

The 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology

A Selection of the Shortlist
edited by Hoa Nguyen
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Reset

Reset

Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
edition:eBook
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Excerpt

CHAPTER OUTLINE:
Chapter One: Social Media Is Surveillance Capitalism. The economic model of social media is organized around personal data surveillance.
Chapter Two: Social Media Are Addiction Machines. The science of targeted advertising and the “engineering of consent” at the heart of social media.
Chapter Three: Social Media Propels Authoritarian Practices. The rise and spread of authoritarian practices worldwide.
Chapter Four: Social Media Is Environmentally Destructive. The negative environmental impacts associated with social media, from electronic mining to energy consumption to cloud computing’s contributions to CO2 emissions (which now exceeds that of the airline industry) to the growing problem of electronic waste.
Chapter Five: What Is to Be Done? A comprehensive strategy of long-term reform is required, extending from the personal to the political, from the local to the global. We need to imagine a better world and start making it happen before it is too late.

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Excerpt

Wish you were here. But don’t worry because I’ll be visiting soon. When the boat can’t come to the sea, the sea will come to the shore.

Isabella. She is coming. The handwriting is unforgettable. Like a birthmark.

Her postcard balances on my fingertips.

It is a vintage card, with pale colours, two girls in a wooden boat. Rowing on the Annapolis River at High Tide. Nova Scotia. It’s not far from where my father grew up, from his childhood town he took me to that one summer. The girls are wearing white dresses. The girl in the stern has the oars and she is facing away from the camera, looking at the girl in the bow. That girl is facing the camera, not her captain in the stern. She is serious, as though she sees something on shore. Children have boated and canoed and sailed on that river for generations. The Indigenous people thirteen thousand years before Champlain came in 1605, before the settlers arrived. It is an old part of the new world, a world built on a society which existed long before.

There’s a moment, a slack tide, where my breath stops, and my mind is empty, where everything stops. Then the beating of my heart, a rush in my ears as though it’s a dream. Sound is simultaneously amplified and muffled. The moment turns. Sweat creeps over my skin, tiny waves undulating down from my hairline, along my spine. It’s just a postcard. Hardly anyone sends real mail anymore. Greetings don’t come on paper. It’s an extra effort to pick up a pen. To write in cursive. Who would make that effort?

Isabella will arrive without warning, I’m sure of that. During visiting hours. She will arrive smelling of pine trees and sea winds. That’s how it will unfold. She will come into this institution as a force of nature, a piece of the world no one can control, and then she’ll leave, only her smell left behind. The scent of summer innocence, lost and found, and lost again. Isabella always liked the smell of the woods. The smell of snow and sun. The scent rising up as summer rain fell on a dirt road. Rain on hot pavement. There is no smell like the earth, the ground, releasing heat into damp air. I like sweet smells. The vanilla heliotrope Isabella’s Granny grew in her summer garden.

It’s been twenty years since I’ve seen Isabella. Since the day at the lake.

Time is running out. There is never enough time. It was my earliest worry.

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