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Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, April 28th, 2024

Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, April 28th, 2024
TMSC's first fabrication facility in Arizona - Cengiz Yar/Rest of World

Welcome 👋 to Kerim's Triptych, a free newsletter that delivers three fabulous links to your inbox, just three times a month. (If you didn't intend to subscribe, or you don't want to receive these anymore, there is an unsubscribe link at the bottom.)

1️⃣ Constructing Collective Intelligence

I haven't read the book, For an Ecology of Attention, by Yves Citton, but the following quote, taken from a review written by Jason Read in 2014, so perfectly captured my goals for this newsletter that I feel it could be my manifesto:

The first act of collective intelligence, and collective action, is breaking with the constant breaking news, the latest scandal, or think piece, that demand immediate attention keeping us in a state of constant awareness. Constructing collective intelligence entails grasping the commonalities that pass beneath the headlines and scandals, seeing the commonalities that define our collective existence. Doing so passes through the same networks and technologies but assembles them differently. Twitter can circulate articles and analysis as much as jokes about the latest scandal.

In times of crisis there is a strong desire to share "breaking news" in the battle over attention, but I think this can often backfire as people share stuff from questionable sources, and promote counterproductive rhetoric. I'm not talking about the need for "balance." Misguided efforts at so-called "balanced" reporting often distort reality in favor of the forces of reaction. Rather, I'm talking about the ways that particular attention-grabbing forms seem to undermine our ability to think critically, regardless of the source. Junk food is junk food, regardless of the flavor, and we need more a more nutritious diet.

That doesn't mean that we should do away with short-form media, but it should ideally direct us towards deeper engagement. Unfortunately, in the ten years since Read's review was written, social media platforms have increasingly sought to block any efforts at directing people away from doom scrolling towards more in-depth reporting. Meta-owned properties (Facebook, Instagram, and Threads) are especially bad in this regard, though people have found creative ways around these limitations (e.g. by posting links to external sources in the comments or in their Instagram bio). Most recently, Meta has decided to hide all "political content" by default (from suggested posts), though you can turn this setting off if you know where to look.

I started this newsletter in large part because I got tired of this game of cat-and-mouse. I still post more time-sensitive material and personal stuff on social media, but Triptych is where I share the kind of long form material that is becoming increasingly rare on social media. Next month will be the one-year-anniversary of Triptych, and I truly appreciate all your support and encouragement!

2️⃣ TSMC’s US Debacle

In the last issue I shared a 2023 piece by Viola Zhou and Nilesh Christopher about Foxconn's efforts to build iPhone factories in India. Now Viola Zhou has a new piece about TMSC's efforts to build a chip factory in Arizona, and the difficulty of exporting Taiwanese work culture to America:

“They really are trying to push this narrative that Americans are slower because of lower technical ability, but I really don’t believe that’s the truth,” an American engineer who recently left TSMC told Rest of World. “The Taiwanese create this false sense of urgency with every single task, and they really push ‘you need to finish everything immediately.’ But it’s just not realistic for people that want to have some normal work-life balance.”

Several former American employees said they were not against working longer hours, but only if the tasks were meaningful. “I’d ask my manager ‘What’s your top priority,’ he’d always say ‘Everything is a priority,’” said another ex-TSMC engineer. “So, so, so, many times I would work overtime getting stuff done only to find out it wasn’t needed.”

3️⃣ Afghan Women Under the Taliban

Norwegian filmmaker Anders Hammer spent the year after the Taliban came back to power in 2001 making a film about the struggles of Afghan women. "The Takeover" (33 min) is a short film, but it packs a powerful punch.


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