Good news amid the noise

My former mothership Reuters has announced the expansion of its award-winning e-learning course on helping newsrooms around the world spot deepfakes and manipulated media in 12 additional languages.

This is an excellent resource, instructive for anyone interested in learning how to spot real fakery and manipulation.

 

Bipartisan! Practical! Non-incendiary!

Shocking, I know, but here are 14 sensible recommendations for the upcoming U.S. elections and an executive summary that will take maybe two minutes to read. What are some other exciting words? Pragmatic. Non-inflammatory.  Feasible. Worth a read.

Fair Elections During a Crisis: Bipartisan and Diverse Blue-Ribbon Group of Scholars and Thinkers Releases Report on Urgent Changes Needed for November U.S. Elections
— Read on www.law.uci.edu/news/press-releases/2020/fair-elections-report.html

Slowing the Infodemic

Useful tips and tools here:

How to Spot COVID-19 Misinformation | National Association for Media Literacy Education

In response to the significant amount of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomson Reuters and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) are teaming up to provide educators with classroom resources that will inspire relevant and rich discussion about media literacy. As part of these efforts, we are offering a podcast titled Slowing the…
— Read on namle.net/2020/05/08/slowing-the-infodemic-how-to-spot-covid-19-misinformation/

Fact vs. fiction

This is a time when facts save lives and misinformation can kill. Here are some useful resources I’ve consulted in recent weeks:

A detail from my father’s paramedic uniform insignia. Photo by Martin Langfield.

Newsguard: Who are the misinformation super-spreaders?

Smithsonian Magazine: How to Avoid Misinformation About COVID-19

Ethical Journalism Network

News Literacy Project

Chartbeat

Stat

Reuters Fact Checking 

Soldier’s Heart (original version)

This is the original clean version of my soundscape “Soldier’s Heart,” recorded April 27, 2019.

“Soldier’s heart” is a 19th-century term, used during the American Civil War, for what was later called “shell shock” or “combat fatigue,” nowadays known as post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Alongside my writing, I’ve been experimenting with soundscapes based on time distortions of  improvised drum patterns. I am interested in possible connections between soundscapes, which I believe can slow the mind into contemplative states, and mental health. I firmly believe in the power of art of all kinds to transform negative experience into positive, to challenge preconceptions and to jolt the mind into a more open, healthier (if often initially disconcerting) place.

If we can’t be saints, let’s try to be healers

In this time of virus lockdown, social distancing and polarization, these lines from the final pages of “The Plague” by Albert Camus (1947) seem useful:

“(He) decided then to write the account which ends here, in order not to be among those who stay silent, in order to leave at least a memory of the injustice and violence done to them, and to state simply what we learn in the midst of plagues, that in humankind there are more things to admire than things to despise. But he knew nevertheless that this chronicle could not be that of a final victory. It could only bear witness to what had to be done and would have, no doubt, to be done still, against fear and its tireless weaponry, despite their personal losses, by all the people who, unable to be saints and refusing to accept pestilence, try nevertheless to be healers.”

(Translation is mine. Camus uses “médecins” at the end, which usually means “doctors,” but since we can’t all be doctors like his narrator, I chose a broader term. We can all be healers, one way or another, even if we can’t be saints. Just saying.)

Pléiade edition of Camus’ works, which I bought in Nantes in 1978. Photo by Martin Langfield

The future is now

I just finished “Agency,” William Gibson’s latest, 10 days or so ago and the ending still resonates in my imagination. Well worth the meticulous and fascinating buildup. It’s a worthy sequel to “The Peripheral,” and, like that novel, very much about the present day, however richly the future/alternative worlds are imagined. I reviewed “The Peripheral” back in the day. I’m pleased to see much of it holds up for “Agency” too.

William Gibson and Martin Langfield at the New York Public Library, November 12,  2014. Photo by Amy Langfield

“Three Letters” now on SoundCloud!

I made another soundscape, this one more ethereal, cleaner, less ragged. “Three Letters” is a reference to my current fiction project of the same name. It’s the last composition of one of the characters. for whom the three letters are USA, though each listener can imagine their own.
I’ve published it elsewhere under the old title “Bell and Sword.”

I’ve been experimenting with improvised, time-altered patterns on drums and other percussion to build evocative soundscapes, taking advantage of accidental discoveries along the way. The music resulting from this process aims to grab the listener’s attention with unusual sounds, suggest cinematic images in their imagination and slow the listener’s mind to a more contemplative state. In editing I choose passages that suggest transformation – moving from conflict to calm, for example, or hearing angelic voices amid violence. Each listener will project their own stories onto the music.

I haven’t stopped writing. But this is a very enjoyable way of clearing my mind and exercising other imaginative muscles, so to speak. Working across different media is an exciting extension of writing across different genres, as I have done before. Let’s see where it goes. Enjoy!