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Chicago Humanities Festival

Our picks for this weekend’s best events
Sherry Turkle
Sherry Turkle
By Jonathan Messinger |

The 2011 Chicago Humanities Festival wraps up this weekend, so if you haven’t already gotten your fill of Chicago’s two-week public grad school, it’s your last chance to smarten up. This year’s fest explores the intersection of the arts and technology, and there’s plenty of bookish events still left on the calendar. Feeling lazy about it? We destroy all of your remaining excuses.

I’d go, but I didn’t get a Facebook invite.
There are other ways to be social, human and alive, without turning your existence into one of Mark Zuckerberg’s marketing data points. MIT professor Sherry Turkle argues in Alone Together (Basic Books, $28.95) that the expansion and intrusion of social networking has created a “culture of distraction,” one that disengages us from real life and constructs an eerily similar but painfully thin version online. And Turkle’s no crank: In previous books, she argued that the creation of online personas would allow people to experiment with notions of identity. She just didn’t think it would go this far. Francis Parker School, 2233 N Clark St. Friday 11 at 6pm; $10.

I’d go, but I just…have to…beat…this level…first.
It used to be that it was okay to acknowledge that video games were just that: games. But in recent years it’s become very important for gamers and game creators to convince the world that Call of Duty 2: Call of Dutier is high art. While I’ll never be convinced that’s the case, there are artists and activists out there trying to make games that affect players on a deeper level. The “Serious Play” panel features game designer Tracy Fullerton and Darfur Is Dying creator Susana Ruiz talking about making games meaningful. Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S State St. Saturday 12 at 11:30am; $5.

I’d go, but I just got one of those new cheap Kindles.
Hey, the Kindle is neat, but it’s not the first revolution of the book, and it won’t be the last. Princeton professor Anthony Grafton (The Footnote: A Curious History) talks about the history of the bound volume, and looks at the various benefits of a new age of electronic text and the various anxieties a “techno-utopia” inspires. First United Methodist Church, 77 W Washington St. Saturday 12 at 1pm; $10.

I’d go, but I’m a little busy occupying Chicago.
Should your sympathies swing far to the left, you might be interested in the “WikiLeaks and the First Amendment” panel, featuring Judge Richard Posner, journalist Judith Miller and author Gabriel Schoenfeld (Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law). Once the champion for activists who want more access and less secrecy in government, WikiLeaks has lost some of its caché thanks to Julian Assange’s legal problems and the little indiscretion of revealing identities of whistle-blowers in countries ruled by retributive regimes. Thorne Auditorium, 375 E Chicago Ave. Saturday 12 at 4pm; $10.

For tickets to any of the above events, visit

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