Does the Internet compromise our ability to retain information? Maybe. But we can mediate this by limiting our connectivity.
As bitcoin begins to take hold in developing countries, more developed nations are seeing demand from individuals and institutions.
brianeha (smartly) discusses the consequences of last month’s auction, by the United States Marshals Service, of Bitcoin seized in the closure of SIlk Road.
Hong Kong is the third-most expensive city for expats. The first two, though, might surprise.
Frightening news out of a region oft-forgotten in our coverage. For the record, Ebola has now killed more people than Boko Haram kidnapped. But this isn’t about #bringbackourgirls. It is about safeguarding the region’s future. More news to come. We should all stay tuned.
Eliza Griswold’s in-depth and important piece for The New York Times Magazine tackles the shifting loci of today’s battle against extremism (from the Iraq/Afghanistan@@@ to Africa/Yemen). Some notable take-aways:
On the difficulties tracking groups through the terrain:
“You have to respect your enemy,” Caleb said. “They’ll cook a meal on their heads.” The fighters could set a pot to boil in the morning and carry it simmering as they walked all day and crossed rivers through impossibly thick jungle. Tracking them, he added, “is like tracking ghosts.”
On the trade-off between covert operations and earning public support:
“Chris pointed across the table to Mike, a desert-scorched and silent operator whose oxford-cloth shirt seemed uncomfortably tight on his thick neck. “See how his tan lines are a little off?” Chris asked. “He doesn’t wear a suit. He’s out there with our partners across the desert, fighting a war that no one will ever know about if we win. How do you sell that to the American people?””
On the complexities of support operations between US and African forces:
“The American presence was essential, but not in the form of foot soldiers. “We need the logistics and better technology,” Kabango said. “It’s not fair to the American people to put American boots on the ground, and they actually slow us down.” Every three or four days, the Ugandans had to wait for the Americans to resupply water. “Working with the Americans is a bit like being a small horse in front of a large cart,” he said. “You have to be careful, or the cart might run over you.”
Is it worth it?
The works, exemplary in different ways, demands our attention and respect. Yet, perhaps they both deserve our curiosity.
Why is it that (these) young men went to war? What did they seek to show? Was their sacrifice worth it?
I’ll be careful (and clear) and admit this is not a gender-specific topic: some of the most powerful reportage today is captured by female photographers who risk it all (and often with higher stakes) to transit the lands of conflict. But motivations, at least for Peter and Ash, are slippery. They bend and break.
"When I first started out, I had the fascination going and experiencing these things and the belief in the value of journalism," Peter van Agtmael told me. "But in my head, I gave the more selfless kind of missionary stance a little bit more credit."
The “value of journalism” proposition became paltry for Ashley Gilbertson, too. In the review, I cite Gilbertson’s own writing on the subject: “covering the war (in Iraq) used to make me feel like I was doing something important. I have grown to accept that people will not stop dying because I take their pictures.”
What matters, though, is how they reconciled their own struggles with a larger sense of responsibility: They were there. They saw something most of the world was trying to miss. They saved it so we might remember it forever.
A couple of years ago (though the night’s drinks have made the memory fuzzy) I listened to Stephen Mayes, then VII Photo agency’s CEO, discuss the end of an era —”bearing witness” was no more. His argument: modern technology —a cell phone in every hand— ensures professional photographers will not be the first to document abuse or anguish. This tectonic shift meant that photographers would simply have to document these issues better.
His conclusion carries an implicit challenge, though. If “bearing witness” isn’t enough, what is?
Ignoring the aesthetic element, Mayes’s assertion seems to be one of consequence: What does a professional photographer provide that the average citizen-with-phone does not? Access and audience, perhaps. It might be possible for the professional to “break news” more effectively, and to raise awareness more seamlessly, than the average citizen.
But if the metric is change, makers of images wage a difficult battle. Ashley often recalls Simon Norfolk’s description of photojournalism’s ceaseless diet of images: “work that is pouring out, like some kind of sewer pipe with a crack in it.”
Living amongst these images —filling browsers and books and coloring today’s scarcely purchased newspapers and magazines— individuals appear unmoved by photographs from the front lines. This isn’t so much desensitization, as it is mystification. Our world is far wider, a great deal deeper, and perhaps a bit darker than we had imagined. And the sheer number of challenges —those places that demand our attention— might make it daunting.
But buried in this recipe for apathy is the real consequence of photojournalism: if it wasn’t for photographers, we couldn’t fathom the complexity of lives lived far from our own. Their photographs (alone) may not inspire change, but they show us a world that demands it.
Time LightBox review of Ashley Gilbertson’s new book, Bedrooms of the Fallen.