Now Reading: Instagram video and ‘The Suicide Detective’

Now Reading’ is a collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics include books, food, matters of culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.

Instagram video and the death of fantasy

Two interesting reads courtesy of The New York Times. First, Times tech reporter Jenna Wortham writes about Instagram implementing a video feature into its photo-sharing service and how this could be a bad thing. In this instance, bad doesn’t mean unsuccessful necessarily, just a small infringement on the fundamental nature that makes Instagram great to Jenna.

“Instagram isn’t about reality – it’s about a well-crafted fantasy,” she writes. “… video is the antithesis of that fantasy.”

Jenna writes that video, in its raw and all-encompassing state, doesn’t produce the perfect images, and perfect memories, that we are comfortable projecting and sharing through tools like Instagram. Because of this, she asks, is incorporating video into this type of tool a blatant disconnect?

I don’t share the same skepticism as Jenna in regards to Instagram video – you don’t have to upload that video if it’s not as flattering as you’d like – but it’s an interesting counterpoint to the medium that I’ve never considered before. Video, in my mind, has always been a vehicle of authenticity, and authenticity, in my mind, has always been the targeted goal of social media.

The most beautiful and polished photos allow memories and moments to live on, but video allows them to breath, to become living and tangible. It allows memories to morph from momentos back to live experiences. I suppose the question everyone must answer is: Is social media meant to be a self-reflection or an impersonation of the desired self?

The Suicide Detective

The second Times read is from NYT Magazine, where Kim Tingley writes a great profile of Matthew K. Nock, the director of a Harvard research lab who’s in the early stages of some potentially groundbreaking suicide research work. Through a series of complex tests, Nock is trying to trace patterns and determine if he can predict who is more at risk of attempting to commit suicide and even when they might try.

Tingley describes Nock’s goal as simply: “to be able to give people a series of tests that could tell them — and their psychiatrists or primary care physicians or school nurses — how high their risk of suicide is at any given moment, much the way cardiologists can use blood-pressure and cholesterol readings combined with weight and height to calculate a person’s risk of heart disease.”

It’s an incredible effort on behalf of Nock and his team of researchers, and an important story worth following.

Email: tmitrosilis@gmail.com Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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