On the 99 percent:
“Pre-Occupied,” by Mattathias Schwartz was the first full-length piece on Occupy Wall Street. I learned a lot, but didn’t get beyond my basic annoyance with the movement.
Schwartz draws a parallel to open-source software. I use a lot of open-source software, and the parallel rings true to me. Open source communities build cool stuff, but it’s messy. People post requests for help in the wrong places, people twist code to do things it wasn’t meant for, and important problems don’t get solved because no one can agree on how to solve them.
A movement might be able to work the same way, but I have to admit that I find the Tea Party’s efficiency and focus compelling. They quickly engaged with the established political process. They packed Congressional town halls and targeted candidates. Will their fury, shot directly into the political system, end up having more long-term impact than that of the self-proclaimed 99 percent?
Don’t miss the powerful photo of an arrest at Occupy Wall Street on page 29, by Ashley Gilbertson. The online version is too small to show the perfect depth of field and the expressions on the subjects’ faces. If you’ve ever tried taking photos in a fast-moving crowd, you’ll have some idea of the skill that went into getting this shot.
The other piece that gave voice to the one percent was “In the picture,” about the French street artist JR. He uses pasted-up photography to make invisible populations more visible.
Eric (the original audience for this blog) takes a lot of photos of street art. His take is that it’s the only media outlet that these disenfranchised artists have access to. My take is that graffiti rarely says more than “This is cool,” and is just highly-skilled vandalism.
On the 1 percent:
First, we visit an American-political-wife-turned-princess in Italy for some enjoyable voyeurism.
Next, Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley libertarian billionaire, is a more complex and interesting subject. Thiel comes across as fiercely intelligent and inspired, but with oddly limited vision. Unfortunately, writer George Packer didn’t do himself any favors by turning the last page into an anti-Thiel rant.
The magic of the best profiles is that they let you feel like you’re transparently encountering the subject, warts and all. You walk away feeling like you got to know what makes the person tick, and what trips them up, in just a few pages. In this case, it sounded like Packer didn’t like or agree with Thiel, and didn’t trust his readers to come to the “right” conclusion on our own.