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The Prison House of Web 2.0

What is Web 2.0? Paul Boutin Paul Boutin at Slate thinks its a meaningless buzzword that refers to just about anything going on in Internet technology, and that's mostly right. But it is meant to capture something of the Net's recent spirit of interactivity and social togetherness and citizen journalism and all those sort of things that techno-utopians like to see as harbingers of the coming golden age of universal understanding and deep personal fulfillment. In specific terms, it refers to blogs and Flickr sets and tagging and MySpace and Wikipedia so on, all the tools that, in the preferred jargon, leverage the knowledge brought by a variety of end users for the good of them all, pooling the massive amount of information now instantly available to us and collectively working to sort it and maximize its usefulness. Used this way, the Internet puts the power to create and comment on culture, a power once reserved for large institutions, in the hands of just about anyone who is curious and motivated. And it allows people to circumvent the old cultural filters (your daily newspaper's editor, the TV news producer, the reviews page in Rolling Stone) and discover new ones that are more to your liking (poltical bloggers, technorati, favorites lists on friends' MySpace profiles, Amazon user reviews). These seem like positive developments, but one wonders how long it will last.

How long will people continue to post their favorite albums to blogs just for the recognition this provides them among the grateful people who stumble upon it? How long before there are too many bloggers, rendering them almost all anonymous? Will we just fall back on the old filters again, only now having imported them to cyberspace? Has that already happened?

And once all our identity-construction and self-discovery has taken blog/photoset/wiki/porn-surfing form, is the only thing we've really accomplished is to make sure that every step in our path to richer selfhood is permanently recorded and available for constant surveillance? In seeking the freedom that Web 2.0 promises, are we merely caging ourselves in a more seamless jail?

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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