Cam Pegg Pocket Articles

While I don’t read as many books of the physical, dead-tree variety as I probably should, I do have a fairly well-stocked RSS reader, so I tend to read quite a lot of stuff online, and have a correspondingly long list of things to read that (mostly) get saved in Pocket. The articles below are ones that I a) have actually found the time to read, and b) think are worth sharing.

September 19, 2021

Machine Learning’s Crumbling Foundations

Technological debt is insidious, a kind of socio-infrastructural subprime crisis that’s unfolding around us in slow motion. Our digital infrastructure is built atop layers and layers and layers of code that’s insecure due to a combination of bad practices and bad frameworks.

1,572 words • 7 minute read

September 15, 2021

Ads, privacy and confusion

The consumer internet industry spent two decades building a huge, complex, chaotic pile of tools and systems to track and analyse what people do on the internet, and we’ve spent the last half-decade arguing about that, sometimes for very good reasons, and sometimes with strong doses of panic and opportunism. Now that’s mostly going to change, between unilateral decisions by some big tech platforms and waves of regulation from all around the world.

Benedict Evans • 1,235 words • 6 minute read

September 7, 2021

Chaos Theory: A Unified Theory of Muppet Type

Every once in a while, an idea comes along that changes the way we all look at ourselves forever. Before Descartes, nobody knew they were thinking. They all believed they were just mulling. Until Karl Marx, everyone totally hated one another but nobody knew quite why.

Slate • 929 words • 4 minute read

August 30, 2021

Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?

I met the most rational person I know during my freshman year of college. Greg (not his real name) had a tech-support job in the same computer lab where I worked, and we became friends. I planned to be a creative-writing major; Greg told me that he was deciding between physics and economics. He’d choose physics if he was smart enough, and economics if he wasn’t—he thought he’d know within a few months, based on his grades. He chose economics.

The New Yorker • 5,155 words • 23 minute read

August 29, 2021

“Rewilding Your Attention”

Recently I read a terrific blog post by CJ Eller where he talks about the value of paying attention to offbeat things. Eller was joining an online conversation about how people get caught up in the “status and celebrity game” when they’re trying to grow their audience. They become overly obsessed with following — and emulating, and envying — the content of people with massive audiences.

Clive Thompson • 1,221 words • 6 minute read

August 29, 2021

Collapse and Renewal

It's been a while since you heard from us. A full moon has waxed and waned, then waxed again, and a great darkness has settled on the land. As the plague enters its seventh season, a virulent new strain has emerged, threatening all our hard won gains. Once again our hospitals buckle under the pressure and the science of mask-wearing regresses into hapless debates about freedom.

Future Crunch • 2,369 words • 11 minute read

August 24, 2021

Space-Cowboys: What Internet history tells us about the inevitable shortcomings of a tech-bro led Space Race

“Imagine a world where people of all ages, all backgrounds from anywhere, of any gender, or any ethnicity have equal access to space.” This was the vision set out by Sir Richard Branson, billionaire UK businessman and founder of private spaceflight company Virgin Galactic, a day after he set off to the edge of space. Branson is not alone in his quest for commercial space travel, nor in his determination to frame it as an open and accessible goal for all.

Tech Policy Press • 946 words • 4 minute read

August 24, 2021

How Brett Goldstein Became the Breakout Star of 'Ted Lasso'

Roy Kent arrived at the exact right moment in Brett Goldstein’s life. It’s already become a legendary bit of modern showbiz lore. The British actor, 41, was originally hired as a writer on Apple TV+’s breakout hit series Ted Lasso. After the writers room wrapped on the first season, however, Goldstein found himself struck by one of the characters — specifically, Roy Kent, the intimidating veteran forward of the show’s British premier league soccer team AFC Richmond.

Rolling Stone • 1,371 words • 6 minute read

August 19, 2021

Why Are So Many Knowledge Workers Quitting?

Last spring, a friend of mine, a writer and executive coach named Brad Stulberg, received a troubling call from one of his clients. The client, an executive, had suddenly started losing many of his best employees, and he couldn’t really explain why. “This was the canary in the coal mine,” Stulberg said. In the weeks that followed, more clients began sharing stories of unusually high staff attrition. “They were asking me, ‘Am I doing something wrong?’ ”

The New Yorker • 1,744 words • 8 minute read

August 17, 2021

The Ideology of Human Supremacy

The somber truth is that the vast bulk of nature’s staggering abundance has already disappeared. We live in a world characterized primarily by the relative silence and emptiness of its natural spaces. Underlying this devastation is the ideology of human supremacy—claiming innate superiority over nonhuman forms of life. But is human supremacy innate to humanity, or rather something specific pertaining to our dominant culture?

Resilience • 2,060 words • 9 minute read

August 16, 2021

Why Is It So Hard to Be Rational?

I met the most rational person I know during my freshman year of college. Greg (not his real name) had a tech-support job in the same computer lab where I worked, and we became friends. I planned to be a creative-writing major; Greg told me that he was deciding between physics and economics.

The New Yorker • 5,155 words • 23 minute read

August 13, 2021

The Questions Concerning Technology

A few days ago, a handful of similar stories or anecdotes about technology came to my attention. While they came from different sectors and were of varying degrees of seriousness, they shared a common characteristic. In each case, there was either an expressed bewilderment or admission of obliviousness about the possibility that a given technology would be put to destructive or nefarious purposes.

The Convivial Society • 1,314 words • 6 minute read

August 13, 2021

What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong

Everyone knows conventional wisdom about metabolism: People put pounds on year after year from their 20s onward because their metabolisms slow down, especially around middle age. Women have slower metabolisms than men. That’s why they have a harder time controlling their weight. Menopause only makes things worse, slowing women’s metabolisms even more.

The New York Times • 1,081 words • 5 minute read

August 12, 2021

The 7 types of rest that every person needs

Have you ever tried to fix an ongoing lack of energy by getting more sleep — only to do so and still feel exhausted? If that’s you, here’s the secret: Sleep and rest are not the same thing, although many of us incorrectly confuse the two. We go through life thinking we’ve rested because we have gotten enough sleep — but in reality we are missing out on the other types of rest we desperately need.

TED • 905 words • 4 minute read

August 11, 2021

What Are the Five Dimensions of Curiosity?

For over 20 years, I have been studying curiosity. I didn't plan to be a curiosity researcher. I entered graduate school in 1998 to study how panic attacks emerge. Upon interviewing people suffering from panic disorder I became less interested in what led them to panic and instead intrigued by their unmet desires. An impending fear of panic attacks led them to avoid certain situations, people, and objects. Asked about these feared situations, they responded with regret. The pain of unfulfilled, residual curiosity.

Psychology Today • 1,313 words • 6 minute read

August 6, 2021

Comma Queen: To Whom It May Concern

I stepped down from the copy department of The New Yorker almost two years ago, hanging up my parentheses and turning over the comma shaker to my successor, who I know will use it judiciously, but I still love the magazine and lose sleep when an oversight (as we prefer to call it) sneaks into its pages. Copy editors never get credit for the sentences we get right, but confuse “who” and “whom” and you are sure to be the center of attention, at least briefly.

The New Yorker • 1,232 words • 6 minute read

August 2, 2021

Why Managers Fear a Remote-Work Future

In 2019, Steven Spielberg called for a ban on Oscar eligibility for streaming films, claiming that “movie theaters need to be around forever” and that audiences had to be given “the motion picture theatrical experience” for a movie to be a movie.

The Atlantic • 1,868 words • 8 minute read

July 27, 2021

Harder Than It Looks, Not As Fun as It Seems

There’s a saying – I don’t know whose – that an expert is always from out of town. It’s similar to the Bible quote that no man is a prophet in his own country. That one has deeper meaning, but they both get across an important point: Everyone’s human, everyone’s flawed, nobody knows everything.

Collaborative Fund • 903 words • 4 minute read

July 27, 2021

Companies that make people return to the office will lose employees

After a year-and-a-half hiatus, many offices will open back up in September. Most companies are asking that employees return on a hybrid basis, meaning they come into the office at least some of the time. But what exactly that will look like is uncertain.

Vox • 2,074 words • 9 minute read

July 25, 2021

The Simple Life of Humans

There is nothing humans hate more than not knowing their place in the universe. We are continually looking at the world around us and demanding to understand our value within it. But that value is not easy to discern. Like a hurricane, there is no single root cause in a complex system. The harder one searches with the wrong perspective, the harder it becomes to find.

Hacker Noon • 1,147 words • 5 minute read