On one level, “Mare of Easttown” was a smashing success.
The Pennsylvania-set crime series starring Kate Winslet inspired numerous memes, truckloads of media coverage and even a “Saturday Night Live” parody after it debuted on HBO in April.
More importantly, thanks to its head-fake mysteries and town with more secrets than beer bottles, the show quadrupled its audience between its premiere and its finale. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that its audience began modestly enough that even with all that growth, the finale was watched by only 4 million people over Memorial Day weekend. For all its buzzy enthusiasm and hardcore fan interest, the “Mare” finale was not seen that weekend by nearly 99 percent of Americans.
The television hit — the most abiding of entertainment traditions — appears to be dying. That isn’t to say shows don’t have fans; they do, and some of them are more passionate than ever. But according to its long-standing definition — a universally recognized show that gathers a large, verifiable audience and becomes unavoidable in all the places people talk about television and endures well beyond its run — the TV hit is vanishing.
“I saw more eagles than UFOs,” John Podesta joked.
The former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and veteran of the Obama White House had just returned from a trip to Alaska and, speaking with me from California last Friday, shared his thoughts on the highly anticipated government report on unidentified flying objects, set to be released later this week.
Over the past few decades, Podesta has emerged as one of the most prominent public figures goading the Pentagon to disclose information on UFOs—or, in official channel parlance, “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP). In his view the report’s expected release marks a sea change in not only public sentiment, but political posturing around the issue.
“There’s always been tremendous public interest in this, but it was kind of pushed to the fringe. People were viewed as a little bit goofy if they wanted to raise the topic,” he explained. “Now I think that’s changed.”
Although people are increasingly turning to Google to search for information, a corporate search engine is not the same as a trusted librarian.
And while libraries are used to buying and preserving books, they are now often unable to buy and own digital materials because of publisher licensing restrictions.
The tension between the interests of business and the public was the focus of a conversation hosted by the Internet Archive and Library Futures on April 28.
Wendy Hanamura moderated the event with guest panelists Joanne McNeil, author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User; Darius Kazemi, an internet artist and cofounder of Feel Train, a creative technology cooperative in Portland, Oregon; and Jennie Rose Halperin, executive director of Library Futures.
Thirty years ago, sociologist James Davison Hunter popularized the concept of culture war. Today, he sees a culture war that’s gotten worse—and that spells trouble for the future of the American experiment.
In 1991, with America gripped by a struggle between an increasingly liberal secular society that pushed for change and a conservative opposition that rooted its worldview in divine scripture, James Davison Hunter wrote a book and titled it with a phrase for what he saw playing out in America’s fights over abortion, gay rights, religion in public schools and the like: “Culture Wars.”
Hunter, a 30-something sociologist at the University of Virginia, didn’t invent the term, but his book vaulted it into the public conversation, and within a few years it was being used as shorthand for cultural flashpoints with political ramifications.
He hoped that by calling attention to the dynamic, he’d help America “come to terms with the unfolding conflict” and, perhaps, defuse some of the tensions he saw bubbling.
Microsoft is outlining its vision for the future of meetings today.
After a year that’s seen more people dialing into the office remotely, the company is once again banging the drum for hybrid work: a model that combines remote access with in-person work.
While the company has been teasing new concepts for Microsoft Teams in recent months, it’s now starting to bring to life an updated interface for the communications software that will help blend remote colleagues into physical meeting rooms.