What We’re Reading: The Freedom to Read
Dear Medium reader,
In his open letter to American librarians published on Medium this week, former President Barack Obama writes, “Your dedication and professional expertise allow us to freely read and consider information and ideas, and decide for ourselves which ones we agree with.” Book bans are on the rise in parts of the U.S., often focused on books about or by people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s local librarians who are often on the front lines of the issue. “That’s why I want to take a moment to thank all of you for the work you do every day,” Obama writes, “work that is helping us understand each other and embrace our shared humanity.”
If you want to dig deeper, check out the new Librarians topic page, and find stories like this explainer on how librarians choose what books ultimately go on the shelves (from, you guessed it, a librarian), and this analysis of 1,626 banned books supports the notion that there’s a clear ideological bent to the wave of bannings happening in the U.S. And give thanks for your local library!
Elsewhere this week: In his piece on the Jonah Hill texting scandal, “Boy Problems”, Jude Ellison S. Doyle points to the dynamic at the heart of the conversation about boundaries and masculinity: “The language changed, but the fundamental demand was the same: As a man, Hill felt he had the right to control his female partner.”
I also want to point you to the Medium Blog, and our new update about the Partner Program (the program that invites authors to create member-only content on Medium). We’re making big changes there starting in August, all in the service of incentivizing high-quality human writing, and making Medium better for members. Read more here.
As always, thanks for reading. (And if you’re a librarian, thank you for the work you do!)
VP, Content @ Medium
Your Weekend Reads
“Wikipedia’s Value in the Age of Generative AI” by Selena Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Wikimedia Foundation, in Down the Rabbit Hole
Wikipedia contains trustworthy, reliably sourced knowledge because it is created, debated, and curated by people. It’s also grounded in an open, noncommercial model, which means that Wikipedia is free to access and for sharing, and it always will be. And in an internet flooded with machine generated content, this means that Wikipedia becomes even more valuable.
“Is the Threads Honeymoon About to be Over?” by John Battelle, Co-founder of Recount Media and writer
No company — not Facebook, not Instagram, not Reddit, and certainly not Twitter, has figured out content moderation at scale. If, as Zuckerberg claimed, the goal with Threads is to create a “town square with more than 1 billion people,” the center of that square will have to contain news. And news, I can tell you from very personal experience, is the front door to a household full of humans screaming at each other.
“How to Build an Internet That Doesn’t Suck” by Joan Westenberg, technology writer
By understanding the shortcomings of the current landscape, we can envisage and enact the transformative shift needed to restore the Internet to what it was always meant to be: a tool for enrichment and connection.
An internet that doesn’t suck.
“Where Did Covid Go?” by Markham Heid, health and science writer, in The Nuance
While new subvariants are emerging all the time, none has been able to unseat Omicron at scale. The relative stability of the virus has helped ensure that medical science’s countermeasures continue to be effective. Those include vaccines and boosters, first and foremost, but also the antiviral Paxlovid, which has helped slash rates of severe illness among at-risk groups.
“A Change of Typeface: Microsoft’s New Default Font Has Arrived” by Si Daniels, Principal Program Manager for fonts and typography at Microsoft Office Design, in Microsoft Design
The typeface was created by Steve Matteson, one of the world’s leading type designers. His previous work includes the development of the original Windows TrueType core fonts and the creation of Segoe. Steve renamed the typeface he designed from Bierstadt to Aptos after his favorite unincorporated town in Santa Cruz, California, whose widely ranging landscape and climate epitomizes the font’s versatility.