By Simon Collings.
Sascha Akhtar’s “Customer” ”Relationship” ”Management” takes aim at the moral bankruptcy of a social-media industry which manipulates users’ data for commercial gain, and which fails to adequately control the spread of damaging misinformation.
In a post-apocalyptic future, referred to as ‘The End Time’, a group of students are invited to comment on a text recovered from the period when human society first saw the ‘casual inference’ of machine learning into daily life. The text under consideration is an actual post from a social marketing website. Through a mix of typographical devices, inline comments and footnotes the students savage the document.
The style is the opposite of scholarly. These are raw expressions of disbelief voiced in the laconic ‘street’ language of social media. Part essay, part fiction the piece dissolves genre boundaries, combining directness of attack with a linguistic and narrative inventiveness.
Because of the typographical complexity of the piece Fortnightly Review is publishing it here as a pdf which you can download or open in your browser. —SC
Sascha Aurora Akhtar is an educator, translator, mentor and author of six collections of poetry and a collection of short fictions set in Pakistan entitled Of Necessity & Wanting published by The 87 Press, London, in October 2020. She is a Poetry School tutor and performer. She is the recipient of ACE funding and most recently has created a course for the Being A Writer programme at the Literary Consultancy. Her fiction has appeared in BlazeVox, Tears In The Fence, The Learned Pig, Anti-Heroin Chic, Mookychick & Storgy.
Simon Collings is a contributing editor of The Fortnightly Review and the author of Why Are You Here: Very Short Fictions (Odd Volumes).