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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Sep 10, 2022

Katherine Brodsky is today a freelance writer who in the early 2000’s was the founder and editor-in-chief of an online culture magazine that was registering 600,000 pageviews a month while herself still an undergrad. In this episode of the Unsupervised Learning podcast, Razib explores a life lived online, from the dot-com bubble to the social media era. Brodsky, whose Substack is Random Minds, is an observer of culture from a peripatetic vantage point, a Canadian working in the American film industry, the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants watching her parents’ homeland ravaged by war, and a public relations professional who moonlights as a commentator and photographer.

Though an early adopter of internet technology who became a “content creator” before that was even the phrase, Brodsky over the last few years has been hitting the shoals of social media culture as her classical free speech-oriented liberalism and journalistic devotion to a bare modicum of objectivity run up against the realities of 2020’s “moral clarity” where strident viewpoints are prized. Razib and Brodsky agree that Nicholas Carr’s 2010 book The Shallows already has the character of a Cassandra-like prophecy, as the internet has become a tool not for mental liberation but for enslavement to impulse and the mob. Brodsky outlines her polestar when observing and commenting on the culture, which emphasizes a level of detachment or sympathy for the “other” that is sorely lacking in much of mainstream 2020’s discourse.