Catching up on some links!

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I dropped the ball quite a bit over the last year or so, failing to post links to most of the pieces. Below you’ll find links.

Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: To flourish, democracy needs both the formal mechanisms of liberal governance and the faith that all citizens will, at the very least, be heard, no mean feat in the society Turkle lays bare. This requires civic trust, something that has been battered in recent years. Across the country, people are losing faith in the promises of democracy — of equal protection, of equal opportunity, of equal treatment — and settling into a corrosive cynicism. Real conversation could be a first step in transcending this distrustful gridlock.

Matthew Battles’ Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word:  For Battles, writing carries its own history. He compares it to a palimpsest, a “writing surface on which the original text has been effaced or partially erased, and then overwritten by another.” Despite the erasure, some remnants of the text persist, forming a kind of archeological trail of the object’s use. It is, for Battles, the central metaphor not only for writing but for the evolution of the “clamor and caprice of culture” across human history. The cave painters of Lascaux and today’s computer coders — two ends of writing’s historical sweep — are linked not by form but intent, by the persistent human urge to play with and master the world.

Maria Konnikova’s The Confidence GameGet in shape. Drink less. Just be better. Such typical New Year’s resolutions aren’t usually mentioned in connection with con artists. It is, however, both a strength and weakness of Maria Konnikova’s “The Confidence Game’’ that one can’t help but see both the grifter and the mark in such perennial end-of-the-year optimism. Like most cons, as Konnikova presents them, our resolutions blend desire and optimism to create a convincing delusion — and underscore our own collusion.

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