Required Reading: Intrusive Tech And Elusive Paths to Fame

Welcome to “Required Reading,” where BTRtoday writers share the best stories they didn’t write. The stories aren’t necessarily new. They’re just words that might our lives richer or were interesting, moving or simply enjoyable.

Elena Childers

Study Finds Artists Become Famous Through Their Friends. Not the Originality of Their Work
This is an interesting look into whether fame is due to talent or who you know, backed by a scientific study. While the Artsy article doesn’t say whether talent or networking offer a better path to fame, it notes that famous artist throughout history had a large roster of other famous people as friends.

This Is What It Sounds Like Hiding In A Dark Classroom During A School Shooting
This Buzzfeed article will mess you up.The story features a phone-recording from the recent Colorado school shooting from a teenager experiencing it. It’s ominous and absolutely terrifying. If you didn’t understand all the hype around gun control before, this will snap you right into it.

Adam Bulger

Surveillance Capitalism
Researching a story about the ethics of social media this past week led me to former Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff’s concept of surveillance capitalism. Her idea that big tech is using “private human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data” pulled together a lot of troubling ideas I’ve had about privacy and tech. Her exploration of how Google, Facebook and other big tech hoarders of personal data is dense and disquieting. She first laid out her case in a 2015 paper “Big other: surveillance capitalism and the prospects of an information civilization,” which formed the basis of her recently published book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Willie Nelson’s Guitar

After reading Rolling Stone’s recent cover story on Willie Nelson, I started wondering about his guitar, a battle-scarred nylon string acoustic that looks like it was salvaged from a haunted pirate ship. I’d seen it often in Nelson’s performance footage but had never been curious enough about it to seek out its background until this week. Then I came across Michael Hall’s beautifully written Texas Monthly feature on Willie Nelson’s guitar, Trigger.