January 20, 2015

Genius (formerly Rap Genius) has introduced a tool that will let people annotate anything on the internet. Add genius.com/ to the beginning of any URL and you’ll be able to access a version of the page on which you can correct, comment on, or interpret anything you please. The project is still in beta, so at the moment only a handful of people have permission to annotate, but anyone can view their annotations. The company recently brought on a number of new people, including music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, formerly of the New Yorker,  and Emily Segal of K-Hole, the artist collective most famous for coining the term “normcore.”

Sheila Heti’s debut play, All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, opens February 19 at the Kitchen, in a production directed by Jordan Tannahill and Erin Brubacher, with music by Dan Bejar of the New Pornographers and Destroyer. First commissioned in 2001, the work wasn’t produced until last year—a state of affairs that the narrator of Heti’s novel How Should a Person Be?, who spends a lot of time not writing a play, may know something about.

Amazon is going to start making twelve movies a year, starting with the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The company promises that the movies will be available on Amazon Instant Prime a mere month after they debut in theaters.

Yesterday, Democracy Now!  unearthed a lost 1964 speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., in which Dr. King applauds the approaching end of legal segregation, but warns of the dangers of de facto discrimination and economic disparity.  Meanwhile, across the US, protesters marched to “Reclaim MLK.”

Teju Cole visits Selma, Alabama: “In the hot sunshine of a Sunday, it was stunned and quiet, with the fable-like air of a crumbling movie set. Selma is named for an Ossianic poem; to me it melds ‘soul’ and its Spanish cognate, ‘alma,’ into a single moody word.”

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

Mark Zuckerberg has chosen Steven Pinker’s 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, as the next pick for his online book club. And while Zuckerberg may not have the book-club clout of Oprah just yet, his first pick, Moises Naim’s The End of Power, did enjoy a big uptick in sales. Reading a few of Zuckerberg’s observations on Naim’s work make us wonder if the reviews are really written by a not-quite-perfected algorithm: “I have a strong emphasis on portability of power and redefining the areas where power should be concentrated, from the governments to the people. In addition to that, I hold that empowerment of the people will come from making sure that power is not concentrated but rather diffused.”

 

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