Weekend Reading: the gift of stories, Facebook and the free press, and keeping a library

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here

1. Farmer Boy and the Gift of Handing Down Stories (crisismagazine.com)

When I read aloud (again) this book recently with our children, I wondered: When was the last time I told them stories of my childhood? How much do they know about what it was like for me growing up? Have I given them the gift that Almanzo gave his wife and child—the same gift my grandfather also gave to me?

A lovely little piece on the value of personal storytelling, especially within the family.

2. Can We Be Saved from Facebook? (Rolling Stone)

Internet platforms like Zuck’s broke the back of the working press first by gutting our distribution networks, and then by using advanced data-mining techniques to create hypertargeted advertising with which no honest media outlet could compete. This wipeout of the press left Facebook in possession of power it neither wanted nor understood.

Yes, I’m still harping on about social media. This is an excellent piece about the impact Facebook’s algorithms have on our lives and especially on our relationship to traditional news media.

3. How to Keep a Library of Physical Books (thoughtcatalog.com)

This post is a bit heavy-handed, perhaps — but I think the author hits some things home as well. I love being surrounded by physical books and here are some of the many reasons why.

Weekend Reading: bat flip, loneliness, fake pictures, and driving while female

Weekend Reading is a weekly collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. This is the first edition. 

1. Flipping Out (NBC Sports)

It’s no secret that I’m not really into sports, but I love good sports writing. Remember back in 2015 when Jose Bautista flipped his bat after a homer in game five against the Rangers and everybody lost their minds? This is an account of that moment and probably my favourite piece of sports writing ever.

2.  The Lonely Social Life of a Minister’s Wife (The Walrus)

Karen Stiller writes with great empathy about the social cost of working in ministry, or being married to someone who does: “we are the life of the funeral and the death of the party”.

3. How an A.I. ‘Cat and Mouse Game’ Generates Believable Fake Photos (The New York Times)

This is the other side of the fake news problem: that computer-generated images are now realistic enough that we can’t tell they’re fake, either.

In the years since the rise of Photoshop, the onus has been on citizens to approach what they view online with skepticism.

But many of us still put a certain amount of trust in photos and videos that we don’t necessarily put in text or word of mouth. Mr. Hwang believes the technology will evolve into a kind of A.I. arms race pitting those trying to deceive against those trying to identify the deception.

Mr. Lehtinen downplays the effect his research will have on the spread of misinformation online. But he does say that, as a time goes on, we may have to rethink the very nature of imagery. “We are approaching some fundamental questions,” he said.

4. A Brief Drive in Saudi Arabia Changed My Life (The Atlantic)

Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on women drivers. This is an excerpt from a new book by Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi women’s rights activist, detailing what happened when she drove before the lifting of the ban.