02.12.18

There’s Nothing Smart About “Smart” Cities So Stop Saying It

The cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the internet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

How We Tell Stories To Make Ourselves Feel Better About Things That Aren’t True

‘Confabulation’ comes from the Latin fabula (‘story’) which can be either a historical account or a fairytale. When we confabulate, we tell a story that is fictional, while believing that it is a true story. As we are not aware that our story is fictional, this is very different from a lie: we have no intention to deceive. So in confabulation there is a mismatch between what we aim to do (tell a true story) and what we end up doing (tell a fictional story).

In Philadelphia, A Superbowl Win Gets Sports And Arts Talking

"Arts and sports suddenly had something to say to each other. Arts groups surely capitalized on the moment, holding Eagles-themed promotions to sell tickets to their performances and using the chance to shed their sometimes-elitist aura. But the arts in a way were just expressing the larger civic sentiment as they often do, whether with an orchestra concert at the Mann after 9/11 to calm a shaken city or a choir and ensemble assembling in a Rittenhouse Square church to memorialize victims killed in 2016 at the Pulse nightclub."

What Makes Humans Special? Our Ability To Automate Things

"As a species, we have built cities and crafted stories, developed cultures and formulated laws, probed the recesses of science, and are attempting to explore the stars. This is not because our brain itself is uniquely superior – its evolutionary and functional similarity to other intelligent species is striking – but because our unique trait is to supplement our bodies and brains with layer upon layer of external assistance. This provides us with a depth, breadth and permanence of mental and physical capability that no other animal approaches. Humans are unique because we are complex, and we are complex because we are the beast that automates."

SoundCloud’s Fake Music Problem

Though 49 of the site’s top 50 tracks are songs from official artist accounts, the site is plagued with secondary accounts posting primary content, all of it loaded with track info designed to game the system’s search algorithms in their favor. If other platforms have problems with “fake news,” SoundCloud has problems with fake music, and in both cases the issue is more feature than bug.

Trump Budget Proposes To Begin Shutting Down The National Endowment For The Arts

According to the new budget proposal, the NEA’s budget would be cut down to $29 million, and the NEH’s budget would be reduced to $42 million. Both organizations are currently budgeted at around $150 million; they account for well under 1 percent of the government’s budget. “The Budget proposes to begin shutting down NEA in 2019, given the notable funding support provided by private and other public sources and because the Administration does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities,” the budget proposal reads.

Broadway’s Annual Attendance Swoon (New York In February?)

With “Springsteen on Broadway” — and the approximately $2.4 million it brings in every week — on hiatus, overall sales dipped by $2.8 million to $22 million for 24 shows. Attendance slipped by about 20,000 to 191,186, or 83% of the street’s overall capacity. Those numbers were better than the same week last year (when there were 23 shows playing), with attendance up about 15,000 compared to 2017.

Is Charles Venable Saving The Indianapolis Museum Of Art (Or Killing It?)

Is Venable’s vision for his museum misguided, or a clarion call for a struggling industry to cast aside its pieties in pursuit of a purely rational bottom line? As of last October, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has rebranded itself as Newfields: A Place for Nature and the Arts. Admission is no longer free, and your $18 ticket brings you into a wonderland of flowering gardens, foreign delicacies, theatrical performances, cat-video festivals, mini-golf, beer gardens, and, should you be into such things, an art museum, too.