Kickoff For February 22, 2021

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I’ve found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

There won’t be an edition of the Monday Kickoff next week. I’m staring down the barrels of several deadlines and won’t have time to prepare a new edition. Check this space on March 8.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Interpreting America at the Minsk Book Fair, wherein travel writer Doug Mack discusses his time in the Belarussian capital, at the behest of the U.S. Department of State, and his attempts to understand the country while trying to explain America to the locals while explaining the struggles of being a travel writer.

Why I Write Novels, wherein Amit Chaudhuri looks at his own work and ponders the thin line between fiction influenced by one’s life and memoir.

The Politics of Thrilers, wherein Praveen Tummalapalli looks at the popularity of spy novels and how they can be a powerful tool to spread political messages.

Online Life

How SEO is Gentrifying the Internet, wherein Nick Slater (rightly so) rails against search engine optimization, and how it’s letting the World Wide Web turn into a glum, soulless suburb filled with content rather than useful information.

The Organic Myth, wherein Dr. Elinor Carmi argues that the online feeds we consume on a daily basis are more engineered than organic, regardless of what we’re told.

This used to be our playground, wherein Simon Collison remembers a web where true creativity bloomed, but which is now rarely a sandbox for us to climb into and make mad shit.


Recognise the creativity behind crime, then you can thwart it, wherein David Cropley looks at how creativity can be used for ends good and bad, and how to recognize negative creativity.

Towards a Cultural History of Plexiglass, wherein Shannon Mattern explores how the almost ubiquitous acrylic morphed from being a wonder material to becoming a form of separation and control.

The lost art of having a chat: what happened when I stopped texting and started talking, wherein Rebecca Nicholson decided to use her phone to talk rather than to text or DM to see if it would change my relationships, particularly the ones I had grown lazy about maintaining.

And that’s it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt