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Jim Brown

Joined 11 months ago English professor Teaches and studies rhetoric and digital studies Director of the Rutgers-Camden Digital Studies Center (DiSC):

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Jim Brown's books

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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow (Hardcover, 2022, Knopf) 4 stars

In this exhilarating novel, two friends--often in love, but never lovers--come together as creative partners …


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At it's best moments, this book does a really great job of being both about games and evoking the if-then logic of games and game decision points. It also has interesting stuff about game engines (how they shape and constrain creation) and collaboration (the Jobs+Woz dynamic of a salesperson and a designer). It also feels like it was written for late Gen-X or early Millenials - references to Donkey Kong, Oregon Trail, Everquest, etc.

I think I would've liked it more if it were shorter...I liked the first half much better than the second, and some of that is because the latter half ends up pulling in mass shootings and 9-11 in a way that didn't feel like it connected with the core of the novel.

I should add that I listened to this, and I do think reading it would provide even more of that if-then logic. It's hard …

Extinction Internet (EBook, Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam) 3 stars

"How to salvage the ‘techno social’...without falling back into offline romanticism?"

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Lovink writes like Adorno - a steady march of aphorisms, arranged in paragraphs. This is worth reading for a set of observations about how to reimagine the internet after platforms:

"The proposition here is a renewed notion of social networks with an emphasis on caring, tools for intergenerational computation that serve problem-resolution on all levels of the stack of crises. This is embedded thinking in which the question no longer is what we can do with the never-ending stream of downloadable apps that come and go from TikTok, Ethereum, Dall-E, Zoom and Clubhouse to BeReal and their hidden extractivism agendas. Let’s stop building Web3 solutions for problems that do not exist and launch tools that decolonize, redistribute value, conspire and organize." (48)

Several People Are Typing (Hardcover, 2021, Doubleday) 3 stars

A work-from-home comedy where WFH meets WTF.

Told entirely through clever and captivating Slack messages, …

Laughed out loud the entire time.

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This is the funniest book I've ever read. If you spend any work time on Slack (or just on the internet in general), it's worth a read. I laughed out loud, something I never do when reading.

Playbook for progressives (2011, Beacon Press) No rating

Organizing is Inductive

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I'm including books that I read for research here, meaning that I'm including books that I skim or "read around" in. This was one of those books.

This is an interesting guide for organizing, and it's pretty specifically focused on the interpersonal dimensions of organizing. My main focus at the moment is the infrastructure of organizing, and that gets less attention in this book.

One thing that occurred to me while reading this book (a really obvious point that probably is more about my own gaps in knowledge than the book itself) was that organizing tends to begin from specific issues or campaigns and then spiders outward to question of infrastructure, sustainability, and eventually broader structural change. Organizing tends to be inductive, and I guess I'd never really thought about that prior to reading Mann's description of campaigns like the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union. What began as a specific …