Skip to main content


Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder
  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, can these social media engines really tell us something significant about race, dating, and sexuality?  In his new book, Dataclysm, OkCupid founder Christian Rudder sets aside the notion that only larger polls such as the Gallup Poll can adequately express cultural and social data.  Instead, Christian looks at social media outlets like Facebook, that run the gamut from rich to poor, black to Asian.  He writes, “More than 1 out of every 3 Americans access Facebook every day.  The site has 1.3 billion accounts worldwide.  Given that roughly a quarter of the world is under age fourteen, that means that something like 25 percent of adults on Earth have a Facebook account (20).”  If this proliferation of Facebook usage accounts for much of what our culture deems acceptable and noteworthy, then Christian is right, we better take a closer look at the data.
    One of my favorite parts of the book comes in the chapter entitled Writing on the Wall.  Rudder examines some recent studies on linguistics, especially the connection between word length in Hamlet and Wodehouse compared to one’s Twitter account.  One of the things that came out of these studies was that, “Twitter does not change how a person writes.  Among the many examples tracked, if a writer uses “u” for the second person in e-mails or text messages, she will also use it on Twitter (61).”  The old adage that people who use Twitter to write in concise phrases down dumb the English language might not be so true.  Later on, he writes, “The best messages, the ones that get the highest response rate, are now only 40 to 60 characters long (66).”  The length of a Twitter comment or message doesn’t necessarily mean that a quick response is guaranteed nor does it guarantee grammatical accuracy. 
  Although I really enjoyed this book, I think some of the ways Rudder interprets the data are a bit overreaching.  Take for example, Rudder writes, “What’s more, that 1 in 20 ratios is consistent from state to state, meaning that same-sex desire is unaffected by a man’s political and religious milieu (176).”  Now, I get the point that he is making, namely that external factors should not weigh into the discussion concerning same-sex attraction.  But making this point about external factors also does not point to internal factors that could have a facto to play in the discussion, beyond just a genetic thing.  Namely, family life relationships, mental and emotional struggles, all these internal things also play a part in the debate about same-sex attraction.
   I really enjoyed the book and am glad that someone as bright as Christian Rudder is taking the social media we all use every day and putting it to use statistically.

Thanks to Blogging for Books and Crown Publishers for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

The Paraclete Poetry Anthology, Edited by Mark S. Burrows

Bringing words to life on a page is hard work, and no work is harder than poetry.  Poets take the visceral, the mundane, and the disjointed and frayed things of life and put them on their head.  This new anthology of poetry put out by Paraclete Press and edited by Mark S. Burrows, takes the best poetry of today and brings together old and new poems from these gifted creators.  You find poems from Scott Cairs, SAID, Phyllis Tickle, and others.  The collection stems the span of 2005-2016 and includes both religious poems and themes, as well as themes covering a broad swath of topics.

One of the beauties of this collection is the array of poems that the anthology includes in its pages.  One poem in particular stuck with me as read through the collection.  Anna Kamienska is a wonderful Polish poet who interacts with the wider lens of faith while looking carefully at the world we live in.  She says in her poem named Gratitude, (44)

A tempest threw a rainbow in my face
so that I wanted to…