With the dark mornings filling the soul with gloom, we thought people might like an antidote. So we’re making an advent calendar starring our dog in outfits. The excellent @Nmjcoveney is curating these at a pinterest page, here:
Having recently given theatre critic and broadcaster Libby Purves the push, The Times has now done likewise to the distinguished children's book critic Amanda Craig. Does it matter? Well, enough for the Society of Authors to write a letter of protest and for over 114 well-known writers, including Philip Pullman and Frank Cottrell Bryce, to add their voices to the campaign.
Fifty years after a pair of school teachers followed their strange pupil into a blue box in a junkyard, the Doctor is still traveling through time and space, making (and leaving behind) friends and having timey-wimey adventures.
In light of this weekend's anniversary special you might be moved to wonder why this mad cap sci fi show is still on the air, why its fans are so rabid for more and why it's still relevant after all these years.
In a comic called ElfQuest from the 70s and 80s, a race of elves arrive on a planet populated by primitive humans. Confronted by interesting, magical strangers, the humans’ first reaction is to kill. I’ve been reminded of this by a recent incident.
If you haven’t already read about it, it’s here. But in summary, a woman was subjected, on twitter, to rape threats for talking about Jane Austen. There was then a backlash on twitter about these internet “trolls” (plus lots of side discussions of the definition of trolls, because the internet likes categorization discussions). What should we, as an online community, as a society, do about the situation? There’s a general consensus that rape threats are a bad thing. But what should we do about it? Some want twitter to act. Some say it’s the police’s job.
I say… god, I don’t know. But I don’t think we can act on this just on twitter, though you can certainly use the site of the problem to look for solutions. Twitter can be bad and good, like any medium humans use.
We are clumsy, angry apes, and with tools in our hands we can be even clumsier, angrier and more dangerous. Twitter can be used for amazing things, but it can also immediately disseminate the worst aspects of humanity, behind a barrier of anonymity. However, I don’t think we can say “twitter shouldn’t be anonymous” – because that would shut out whistleblowers and people in oppressive countries.
There are some v interesting discussions of this below the Graun article I linked to above. At least when I read it, it had enough good, thought provoking comments to cancel out the awful ones.
I think that any solution would have to be heavily moderated. You can’t automate this stuff. I also don’t want to end up in a situation where an influential tweeter could get everyone to leap on someone who ticks them off, getting them banned.
But I also don’t think doing nothing is an option. I wish I had a solution. I suspect “change society’s attitudes to women” is probably the long term solution. At the moment I just have a lot of questions, and a strong desire to re-read ElfQuest.