What We Are Reading Today: Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang

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Updated 18 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang

In Blockchain Chicken Farm, technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China.

Her discoveries force her to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative and intolerant. 

“Instead, she finds that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today,” said a review in goodreads.com. “This is a very insightful, beautifully written book about technological advances in rural China.” 

 Accompanied by humorous “Sinofuturist” recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world.

Clive Thompson said in a review for The New York Times that Wang “has written a nuanced and thought-provoking account, and it is not easy to tell, after you’re done reading it, how rural China will fare — whether its tiptoe toward prosperity and tech savviness is durable.”


What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Updated 30 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch by Svetlana Alpers

Walker Evans (1903–75) was a great American artist photographing people and places in the US in unforgettable ways. He is known for his work for the Farm Security Administration, addressing the Great Depression, but what he actually saw was the diversity of people and the damage of the long Civil War.
In Walker Evans, renowned art historian Svetlana Alpers explores how Evans made his distinctive photographs. Delving into a lavish selection of Evans’s work, Alpers uncovers rich parallels between his creative approach and those of numerous literary and cultural figures, locating Evans within the wide context of a truly international circle.
Alpers demonstrates that Evans’s practice relied on his camera choices and willingness to edit multiple versions of a shot, as well as his keen eye and his distant straight-on view of visual objects. Illustrating the vital role of Evans’s dual love of text and images, Alpers places his writings in conversation with his photographs. She brings his techniques into dialogue with the work of a global cast of important artists—from Flaubert and Baudelaire to Elizabeth Bishop and William Faulkner—underscoring how Evans’s travels abroad in such places as France and Cuba.