Lead Curator is Back

From the Curator’s Desk

Greetings friends:

I’m glad to be back in your inbox after a four month hiatus! Baraza has been crushing it in my absence, and I’m excited about the big things we are planning to bring your way. Since I wrote my last newsletter a lot has happened — Kenya has got a new president, Eliud Kipchoge set another world record in the marathon, and Elon Musk set about doing whatever he’s doing at Twitter.

 A few weeks ago I was having great fun on this Wikipedia page where I discovered a number of phrases that are apparently Kenyan English, including “It has refused”, to mean it’s not working, “Are you getting me”, to mean do you understand what I’m saying, and “One of these fine days” to mean some time in the future. All this was greatly entertaining to me (and I see no problem with any of these ‘wrong’ phrases), and so in celebration of our English I changed my Twitter display name to Doing My Level Best, which is allegedly another Kenyanism. 

While I was having all this fun, Elon Musk bought Twitter and proceeded to do many nonsensical things, one of which is to effect a ban on name changes if you’re verified on Twitter. So now I’m stuck as Doing My Level Best in that digital space, which is a bit ironic because all I was doing was my level best! But all this has also made me think deeper about the nature of existence in the digital world: are you your digital identity? What does it mean for algorithms and platforms to create and validate identities? And what does it mean when lines of code can pronounce one non-existent? For me it’s just my Twitter display name that’s frozen in time until Mr. Musk decides otherwise, but it’s a situation that gets more serious when you realize how much of our lives are situated in spaces that can be shut off, withdrawn and disappeared on a whim.

In the meantime, here’s:

  • What We’re Reading: How Did Healing Ourselves Become So Exhausting? Published in The Atlantic, this article speaks to how the modern ‘wellness industry’ has become yet another consumerist fad driven by big business: “We have become a self-care nation… though arguably one that still lacks the fundamentals of well-being.”
  • What We’re Watching: Histories and Lore: Game of Thrones. If you are a Thrones fan, this is one of the very best spin-off videos from the shows, an animated YouTube series of all the back stories of Westeros. Be warned – it’s a real rabbit hole.
  • What We’re Listening To: Real Dictators, a Noisier Podcast. From well-known ones like Joseph Stalin, to more obscure figures such as Turkmenbashy (I bet you’ve never heard of him) this immersive podcast is a history treasure and a storytelling gem. 

As always, 

Christine Mungai

Curator | Baraza Media Lab

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