This Week’s Reading: Julian Assange/WikiLeaks, Netflix, Sofia Coppola, Miwa Matreyek

I am trying to be a bit more selective and thoughtful about the glut of web content and articles that I used to inhale. So I’m going to try to keep up a list of selected, particularly interesting online reading that I’m doing, complete with some commentary and thought that it inspired in me. This week:

No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency (The New Yorker)

A great article that gives an interesting, human sense of WikiLeaks and the man who essentially ran it. Quelle character, as they say, but what I liked about the piece was how it articulated in a clean way my basic view on Assange/Wikileaks. I definitely believe in transparency in government and freedom of speech, and I do get a very ill feeling about how the government will handle Assange’s arrest (and I presume, his trial and imprisonment.) But any organization with power but without any accountability in place should give anyone pause.

No Longer Tiny, Netflix Gets Respect—and Creates Fear: As Rivals Look to Counter Its Online Movie-Streaming Service, Hollywood Cautiously Cuts Deals to Provide Some Content (WSJ)

I do a ton of writing now in my ‘professional writing life’ about new technology, especially on the rise of online streaming and Internet TV. Lately I’ve been working on a spate of articles about Netflix and its rise as a digital distributor. In a nutshell, Hollywood is shitting its pants that it’s going to go the way of the music industry, and is grappling with how to leverage their content without losing their profits. My feelings about the film industry are complex. A key moment in film school for me was listening to a talk given by a major programmer of two very major U.S. film festivals and hearing him admit that no one in the industry had any idea how the current model of industrial filmmaking would be able to sustain itself. When he admitted that, I immediately thought in my head, “Why do I want to be part of this sinking ship then?” I’m still grappling with that question. The film and television industry as we know it are such huge media conglomerates that they really don’t have the agility to change in a rapidly transforming media landscape. I watch movies way more on my laptop than on the big screen. I’d rather watch television on demand and on my laptop. The rise of Netflix interests me because online streaming is one avenue that is growing exponentially and will expand as fast as wireless networks can keep up. I predict in a few years that a film will be able to raise funds for production by pre-selling digital distribution rights to an entity like Hulu or Netflix first — that’s how powerful I think they’ll become in the future. Indie filmmakers should take note.

It’s What She Knows: The Luxe Life (New York Times)

Sometimes I think Sofia Coppola’s films interest me less than the discourse that surrounds them. I think there’s something sexist about the way she’s often criticized for her elegant, stylish movies — no one really harangues Woody Allen (in his early days), Wes Anderson, or her ex-husband Spike Jonze for making similar-feeling films throughout their careers. At the same time, what’s beautiful about her films — the hermetic feel of fashion photography’s influence, the music — is often their limitation, and the rarefied air of privilege in them does get a little claustrophobic, for me at least. I think there’s something to explore, however, if you think about Coppola’s film within gendered notions of spectatorship. There’s something in her films that captures the wistfulness, longing and desire of a type of feminine looking — the same type of looking that permeates the fashion blogosphere and all of Polyvore, this desire to occupy the same place and space within a beautiful image. It’s not an objectification, because I think the viewer wants to close the space between (her)self and the image. Maybe most dudes just don’t get that kind of aspirational viewing?

Miwa Matreyek’s glorious visions (TED)

Okay, so this wasn’t reading…but I still thought this was a lovely, imaginative video.

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