The digital mess we’re in

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Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action, by Helen Margetts, Peter John, Scott Hale and Taha Yasseri. Princeton University Press. 304pp. £19.95.

Whenever asked to comment on contemporary events, it’s usually historians, rather than social scientists, who tend to suffer from what one might call an epistemological twitch: they strive to demonstrate that what is happening now has already – mutatis mutandis and with all the specificities of the epoch – happened before. A good part of their intellectual prowess is devoted to uncover this sometimes uncomfortable truth, so effectively camouflaged under the patina of the ‘new’. This has a collateral effect: the 
underlying, unobserved assumption that – whatever the phenomenon being analysed – its deceitful novelty is bound to beach like an agonising whale onto the ever-suspect, ideological shores of ‘it’s always been like this’, or, ‘it happened before’.
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Isola è un’isola è un’isola è un’isola

Se in isole come il Madagascar e l’Australia sopravvivono specie animali uniche al mondo, è grazie all’isolamento. L’isolamento, un po’ come il freddo, conserva. Ornitorinchi, lemuri e canguri non si sono estinti perché parte di ecosistemi insulari, cioè delimitati e remoti. Per isolarsi bene è dunque auspicabile stare su un’isola: prima ancora che dello spirito, un luogo del corpo, difficile da scoprire e da conquistare. Continua a leggere “Isola è un’isola è un’isola è un’isola”