David Foster Wallace on life and education (profound)

The Luck of the Listserve

The Luck of the Listserve:

The Listserve brings online strangers together in an era oversaturated with friends
The Lottery of Babylon began innocently enough. It was a game, created by venal merchants, played by commoners, and its rules were simple: tempt fate, win silver coins. But as it evolved, it took on moral dimensions, dark corners, and ecclesiastical force. Although it will take a few billion more adherents to even begin chasing this mystical essence, we have a Lottery of Babylon among us today. It’s called the Listserve.
The Listserve is a mailing list lottery. Sign up for the Listserve, and you’re joining a massive e-mail list. Every day, one person from the list is randomly selected to write one e-mail to everyone else. That’s it. As of this writing, the Listserve has 21,399 subscribers. There has been one email per day since April 16th, 2012. Run by a group of Masters Candidates in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), the Listserve emerged from a class exploring new ways of creating conversational spaces online. There were other ideas: chain letters, or a message board for only 100 people at a time. But eventually email’s directness and ease-of-use won out. An email flies straight, circumventing the myriad distractions of other online gatherings, where some voices pack disproportionate clout (or, er, Klout)...............


I went to work today feeling a little like an automaton - my tasks felt a bit rote, my actions a little prescribed. It was Monday (and it got better). But I found out halfway through the day that someone I know - but who is not geographically close - has a very serious illness.

Whooops, there's my feelings. Morality is something I'm privileged to not have to think about, except in terms of the characters on shows I watch and so forth.

I wish it didn't take something so tough to help us remember something so amazing.