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The Week In Context: NOVEMBER 26TH, 2016

MUST READS OF THE WEEK

WHY CATHOLICS BUILT SECRET ASTRONOMICAL FEATURES INTO CHURCHES TO HELP SAVE SOULS

“Beneath the pulpit, a planetarium.” – A very nicely written feature on the unlikely collaboration between architectural design, science and Christianity which brought about the meridian lines in churches and cathedrals. The technology was used to accurately establish the date of Easter.

WHAT DOES "LONGFORM" JOURNALISM REALLY MEAN?

Brendan Fitzgerald
Literary Hub
I commonly come across long articles, some I label longform, some I don’t. Those that are longform, for me, have a sensibility to themselves, they demand putting your feet up and turning your notifications off, perhaps the “deep dive” label does this better justice. This article explores our attentions spans and the messiness of labels.

 

WAS GAMIFICATION A TERRIBLE LIE?

“Buzzwords are often able to repackage old truths in profitable new ways, especially when they’re married to new technologies. So it has been with gamification.” A super look at how work-enhancing gamification was probably first established in the 60s and 70s, and how gamification as we know it may actually be a toxic notion.

 

WATCH: ADAM SAVAGE TOURS PETER JACKSON'S MOVIE PROP COLLECTION

Discover – Something by a publisher new to Cureditor this week
Adam Savage
Tested

Adam Savage, editor at Tested visits Peter Jackson’s prop cave, and it’s cavernous alright. In particular they spend time with the faceplate for HAL 9000 from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and discuss his vast collection.

HOT TOPIC

LIFE INSIDE

For all the attempts at prison reform worldwide (and there are many great examples), largely the debate surrounding prisons haven't moved on from whether a system is penal or rehabilitative. In countries like Thailand, inmates are treated as subhuman, fed sparsely, forced to sleep on floors and rarely let out of their cells, and in other countries like Denmark prisoners experience life similarly to what they would have outside, with the focus squarely on behavioural change. The following excellent stories give a great deal of insight to what life inside is really like and profiles those who are involved in changing that experience.

LISTEN: OFF THE BLOCK

An essential series from KCRW exploring the domino effects of imprisonment, for the families of the incarcerated to the piecing together of an ex-offender’s life after they get out. It’s a great opportunity to explore some of the controversial topics surrounding the prison system, particularly in the States.

TIM ROBBINS'S PRISON IMPROV CLASSES MAKE INMATES LESS LIKELY TO RE-OFFEND

Placing an actor whose most famous role was in a prison escape film in control of prison improv classes might seem risky, and this is certainly not the stereotypical picture of incarceration in America. It is, however, an interesting example of the slow dribble of institutional change that sees prison as extreme justice to instead seeing it as an opportunity.

FINDING HOPE IN THE FLINT POLICE DEPARTMENT

Exploring the factors that bring about justice for a moment, this article accompanies a new feature by The New York Times, its Virtual Reality app, which tells stories through the eyes of the subjects or the news team. I highly recommend the app and this VR story, but also this article by Brian Willingham, an ex-Flint cop who writes eloquently about serving a city.

THE FORMER INMATE WHOSE STARTUP LETS PRISONERS STAY CONNECTED

“No one’s really disrupted these old systems that are predatory.” A very interesting look at how a prisoner and his girlfriend, fed up with the restrictive and often expensive forms of communication available to a prisoner and his or her family, started a business that helped connect people and bring those costs down.

MOST POPULAR

A few of the most popular recommendations on Cureditor this week.

BEGINNER'S GUIDE: PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR

An occasional series by Film Inquiry had a new iteration last week, a beginner’s guide to psychological horror which provides a neat overview of the genre and some stand-out films to begin with, including The Shining, An American Werewolf in London, and Goodnight Mommy.


 

THE LAST UNKNOWN MAN

A longform piece that has been trending this week, it’s an excellent look at how amnesiac man found wandering in Georgia in America, and despite all our data about people, they struggled to identify him. “Here was a man who appeared to exist outside all that, someone who had escaped the modern age’s matrix of observation.”


 

WATCH: HARRY POTTER AND THE POLITICS OF HATE

A rich video that explores the themes of internalised intolerance in the Harry Potter films, and how connections can be found between the Harry Potter world and Nazism or much of the historical attempts to separate one another biologically to reflect our own perceived superiority.

LISTEN: CHRISTMAS ADS

Great to see It’s Nice That partnering with Radio Wolfgang on a new series evaluating “popular creative works and assessing why they’re so successful.” This first episode starts with a look at the emotional Christmas ad campaigns. There’s a nice combination of RW’s scientific approach and It’s Nice That’s creative one.

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