Monday Morning Reading List: The Overprotected Child

"As the sun set over the Land, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a gray bin, like the kind you’d keep your recycling in, about to be pushed down the slope that led to the creek. A kid’s head poked out of the top, and I realized it was my son’s. Even by my relatively laissez-faire parenting standards, the situation seemed dicey. The light was fading, the slope was very steep, and Christian, the kid who was doing the pushing, was only 7. Also, the creek was frigid, and I had no change of clothes for Gideon.

I hadn’t seen much of my son that day. Kids, unparented, take on pack habits, so as the youngest and newest player, he’d been taken care of by the veterans of the Land. I inched close enough to hear the exchange.

“You might fall in the creek,” said Christian.

“I know,” said Gideon.

Christian had already taught Gideon how to climb up to the highest slide and manage the rope swing. At this point, he’d earned some trust. “I’ll push you gently, okay?” “Ready, steady, go!,” Gideon said in response. Down he went, and landed in the creek...

“I’m wet,” Gideon said to Christian, and then they raced over to claim some hammers to build a new fort."

I read this article when it was published a month ago, and it keeps coming back to me. I am drawn in because my experience both as a parent and in education tells me that this is absolutely true. And like all good thought provoking pieces, I argued with the author throughout. My list of "Yes, buts..." was lengthy, and yet when I reached the conclusion, I had to agree that we live in an era of overprotection, and I believe it is to our children's detriment.

2. The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie


"That was it. But he saw her, he remembered. He was someone we almost didn’t talk to, because people had said it was too late."

My love for the writings of John Jeremiah Sullivan is well documented, and so a new piece is always worth a link. His ability to drawn me into a subject I may not have otherwise given a second thought is unparalleled, and I found this piece on the work of discovering long forgotten American voices to be well worth my time. Plus, The New York Times Magazine presentation of the story is beautiful.

Monday Morning Reading List

I've been thinking a lot about technology and how we interact with the world over the last week. Here are three articles of varying length that discuss technology, the internet and how we interact socially in some way. Enjoy.

1. The Year We Broke the Internet

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"The media has long had its struggles with the truth—that’s nothing new. What is new is that we’re barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional. In fact, the mistakes, and the falsehoods, and the hoaxes are a big part of a business plan driven by the belief that big traffic absolves all sins, that success is a primary virtue. Haste and confusion aren’t bugs in the coding anymore, they’re features."

This article is not perfect, but I believe it raises some profound points to consider and addresses some of the things that make me most uneasy about the transfer of information on the internet. In our quickness in attempting to be the first to share, the first to know, the first to “uncover what’s really going on,” do we somehow lose the bigger picture? The internet is powerful in ways we have never seen, information moves around the world through satellite beams and radio waves, utilizing technology that hurts my head trying to understand. But have we lost understanding? Are we simply a part of the commodification of information, sharing links and likes and hastily written headlines without considering all there is to consider first? These things are things that often bother me and I’m working on a longer post about the internet, relationships and the loss of risk, but in the meantime, I encourage you to read this article. What strikes me is how often the sharing of information online is like the rumor-mill in high school. Perhaps it’s time to search our hearts and consider our motivations online? Are we just trumpeting that which most quickly fits our worldview, most easily justifies our fears? Or are we seeking truth, rejecting gossip and believing what’s best about people around us? 


2. How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

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"Yes, of course I wanted to meet Yellin. He had become my Wizard of Oz, the man who made the machine, the human whose intelligence and sensibility I'd been tracking through the data.

At our interview, Yellin turned to me and said, "I've been waiting for someone to bubble up like this for years."

Speaking of technology I don’t understand, I found this piece on how Netflix uses algorithms and tagging to specifically know their users’ taste in movies and tv both enlightening and unsettling. 


3. Don't Share Your Resolutions!

"I heard a lecture recently in which the speaker talked about goals, and how powerful they are. He did say, however, that we shouldn’t share our goals, if possible."

Full disclosure, I am a really big fan of Donald Miller. I'm also not a big fan of the New Year's Resolution trend. So, this quick blog was an easy sell for me. However, I do think that he brings forth a profound point, which drives almost everything I think about the internet. The question of why. What motivates us to post and share and are we better for it? The lecture he references is a TED talk by Derek Silvers that I haven't watched, but will.