I’m quite proud of this week’s assortment of articles and thinkpieces (none of which I penned myself). I’ve got links about free speech, ClickHole, and Silk Road. Let’s dive in, shall we?

  • As I’m sure you’re aware, news media are terrible at discussing legal issues. Over at Popehat, Ken White lists some of the common ways in which they fail at talking about free speech concerns. Did you know that “hate speech” is not a legally defined category of speech in American law? News media would have you believe otherwise.
  • Writing for Slate, Dan Kois documents the rise of viral media parody site ClickHole, charting its journey from Onion spinoff to Facebook-feed clogger. I’m actually not a huge fan of Clickhole – its humour is usually more bizarre than purposeful – but I can’t help but respect its success; there are probably more ClickHole links in my Facebook feed than BuzzFeed ones.
  • Sociology can be a tricky business, especially when you get into ethnography, which is often conducted by embedding oneself in a community. Ethnographer Alice Goffman might have gotten herself into a bit of trouble. As Marc Parry of The Chronicle of Higher Education reports, her ethnography of young black men in a crime-ridden Philadelphia neighbourhood may be exaggerated and also reveals that she probably committed a felony. Parry analyzes the controversy in considerable detail, and one of the conclusions that he comes to is that team ethnography, where two or more sociologists go out into the field together, could help avoid such issues. I have to agree. Collaborative research keeps academics honest.
  • I know this is kind of old by now, but I haven’t had the chance to read it until now. Boy, this is some fantastic writing from Wired. Joshuah Bearman and Tamer Hanuka (with additional reporting by Joshua Davis, Steven Leekart, and Nick Bilton) chronicle the rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of online underground drug empire Silk Road. (Part 1 here, Part 2 here.)

That does it for this week. Next week, expect some thoughts on E3 as well as the continuation of my Pushing Daisies rewatch. Feel free to leave comments below.