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Magic and Loss

The Internet as Art

By Virginia Heffernan
10-minute read
Audio available
Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan

Magic and Loss (2016) explains the profound effects the internet has had on our society, for better or for worse. These blinks explore the true magic of the online world, while shining a light on the social losses that come along with it.

  • Students of media and communication sciences
  • Bloggers and web designers
  • Entrepreneurs who want to learn more about how people interact with the internet

Virginia Heffernan holds a PhD in English Literature from Harvard University. As a journalist, she has worked for the New York Times, Harper’s and Yahoo! News, among other publications, and is a highly sought-after speaker as well as a cultural critic.

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Magic and Loss

The Internet as Art

By Virginia Heffernan
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan
Synopsis

Magic and Loss (2016) explains the profound effects the internet has had on our society, for better or for worse. These blinks explore the true magic of the online world, while shining a light on the social losses that come along with it.

Key idea 1 of 6

Well-designed mobile apps take the edge off the internet’s chaos, but leave us with a social problem.

The internet, in all its never-ending chaos, can be a bit jarring at times. Loud, annoying ads lurk behind every click and an incessant stream of spam seems to pour onto your screen. But somewhere in this madness, people manage to find beauty and peace.

That’s in large part due to well-designed mobile applications, or apps, which counterbalance the internet’s messy side – a side that is to be expected in a world that’s more connected than ever.

After all, billions of people around the world are online, posting, commenting and linking. Such high traffic means the internet is jammed, chaotic and busy. And that’s where the brilliant graphic design of well-made apps, free of any confusing words or unnecessary visuals, comes in to provide an oasis from the internet’s wild storm.

Just take the puzzle game app, Hundreds. It doesn’t require any wordy explanations like “when you do x, y will happen.” It simply explains itself through graphics.

But such apps or games that are easily understandable through intelligently designed graphics can also keep us from fully learning to cope with the more mundane aspects of life, like boredom, stress and disorder. These apps offer a convenient pause from the stress and hassle of daily routines.

For instance, how many times have you reached for your phone and the comfort of Angry Birds to take refuge, far away from the noise of your office? Such dependency is problematic because, if people always seek such escapes, they’ll miss out on essential learning opportunities, like how to tolerate things that lack instant gratification: waiting in long lines, listening to lengthy or boring lectures and persisting at a monotonous but essential task.

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