Google Will Eat Itself
Call it a work of protest, call it a work of internet performance art … call it whatever you want, but Google Will Eat Itself (GWEI) is downright creative. GWEI hosts Google text advertisements on hidden websites, collects a tiny bit of revenue from “clicks,” then automatically uses that revenue to buy Google stock. From there, GWEI aims to purchase Google outright and make Google a publicly owned entity, rendering everything Google owns to the hands of the people who use it. According to their calculations, they’ll have enough money to do this in just over 200 million years.
The poetic stroke of GWEI isn’t in the reality of Google actually being a publicly owned entity (although the site’s creators argue that this could happen a lot more quickly if more people started doing the same thing). It’s in the notion that many of us are essentially complicit in Google’s ginormity. I’m as guilty as the next person. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive every single day, and there’s no denying that Google makes efficient products that we can all use for free … although they’re not really free. In exchange, we give Google massive amounts of data, data it uses to sell us stuff and gets harvested by the NSA through acts of domestic espionage. GWEI represents the double-edged sword that is Google, one so casually involved in harvesting private data while wearing a public face of doodles, goofy glasses, and enormous profits.
Lou Reed: “Journalists … the lowest form of life”
We lost Lou Reed last week, a fact that at once made me realize how sadly unfamiliar I am with his career. Now is as good a time as ever to catch up, I also realized.
Part of the Reed legacy I do know is his famously prickly public attitude. I remember a VH1 show he was on a few years back and feeling terrible for the guy interviewing him. The interviewer was doing his best, and obviously knew Reed’s work, but Lou was dismissive and aloof. He gave one-word responses to questions and seemed to be above the entire enterprise of professional curiosity.
While in the process of catching up on Lou Reed I found some of the more, shall we say, entertaining interviews he’s done over the years. The one embedded above is my favorite. And really, Lou wasn’t being that bad a guy, but he’s clearly having a good time giving this poor green reporter a conniption fit.
Incidentally, Reed wasn’t always such a pill to journalists. He gave this fantastic interview to Charlie Rose, after all.
Janelle Monáe and Afrofuturism
I really enjoyed this Robert Loss essay at PopMatters on Janelle Monáe, the concept of Afrofuturism, and some of the subtext of her career … partially because it brings to mind that her music has subtext.
Monáe is easily one of the most intriguing personalities in the pop landscape, a stature reinforced through her newest album, the well-received Electric Lady. Her ambitious genre bending is tantalizing enough, but when combined with her Metropolis- and Bladerunner-inspired universe and imagery we’re given so many angles and characters to play with intellectually that we can dig as deeply as we wish into her dystopian epic … or just dance to it. To be presented with such a choice indicates a rare talent at work, and that just might be the antidote for pop fans who grow out of the bland defiance of Perry and Gaga and the backside-obsessed Timberlake and turn to something with a bit more nuance.
Images, from top: the nondescript Munich apartment building where 1,400 works of art, confiscated by the Nazis, were unearthed this past week in the apartment of an elderly man. The collection includes works by Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, and Otto Dix (via); Janelle Monáe via PopMatters.