Voices

‘The CEO Paying Everyone $70,000 Has Something To Hide,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while spending all week recovering from eating way, way too many leftover turkey sandwiches…

The New Yorker: Unfollow

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

The connection between radicalization and the Internet is a complicated one. As cable news pundits express a weird wonderment with ISIS’s supposed ability to radicalize followers though social media, Adrian Chen’s masterful New Yorker article proves that sometimes the opposite can happen.

I don’t want to spoil too much here, but suffice it to say this would probably be a movie starring Jessica Chastain and every other “it” actor set to release for 2016’s award season if it wasn’t for the fact that most of the drama takes place over Twitter and Words With Friends. By the end, your pretenses about extremism and the power of the Internet will be permanently changed.

The Economist: Gored

Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager

First off, the title of this piece is pretty epic. I also think the line “The past few years have seen money slosh towards anyone in a hoodie” is particularly amazing.

Everyone always talks about how cash will soon stop pouring into tech startups and the “unicorn” may become a thing of the past. As someone who works in tech I assumed that was a bad thing, but this article takes a look at why this could be good for the industry in the long term.

The New Yorker: Moving Images

Selected by Richard Sharp, head of product and customer marketing

Cartoonist and graphic novelist Chris Ware was a regular fixture in the pages of the Chicago Reader when I lived there in the early 2000s, and I was always blown away by his gorgeous, depressingly realistic tales about finding your humanity in a sea of urban alienation. He’s since gone on to be featured in the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, and a win a slew of awards for the massive, stunning Building Stories.

As part of the November 30 cover story, the New Yorker’s website features a new experiment in multimedia storytelling, pairing an audio story from This American Life‘s Ira Glass with Ware’s beautiful drawings, all animated by Ware’s former Showtime collaborator John Kuramoto. It’s fun, awkward, and strangely human—a mesmerizing bit of risk-taking from some of the best storytellers alive.

Aeon: It’s Time to Give Up on the Ideal of Perfect Privacy Online

Selected by Esme Cribb, editorial intern

Since I’m still writing my senior thesis on privacy, Selinger and Hartzog’s stance that privacy is secondary to obscurity when it comes to online data was an interesting new perspective to take into account. I’m not sure that I entirely agree with this piece—for a start, privacy has different meanings in different contexts—but it makes some interesting arguments.

Once you appreciate what obscurity is, you begin to get a sense of what’s wrong with the widely shared view that privacy interests are forfeited once information is publicly shared.

The idea that online privacy is a complete loss is an uncomfortable one, but it’s worth taking into account. As the saying goes, “The Internet is forever.” Even if we can’t put this particular genie back into the bottle, we should be willing to discuss more practical ways of protecting personal data.

Bloomberg Businessweek: The CEO Paying Everyone $70,000 Has Something To Hide

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

For those late to this story, a quick recap: Dan Price, the CEO of a credit card processing company, cut his $1.1 million salary and decided to pay all of his employees $70,000. The article instantly got great press, making Price out as an altruistic genius-prophet who happens to look like Jesus.

The Jesus part is true, but when Bloomberg’s Karen Weise went to write a “poignant story” about Price’s selflessness, she found a very different narrative. Before he made the announcement, Price was sued by his brother, who owns 30 percent of the company, for allegedly taking too much compensation. Price evaded questions about his motives, and in the meantime, he’s since signed a huge book deal and now gives speeches for $20,000 a piece. He also says disingenuous things like this:

“This might sound weird, because I do a lot of stuff, but I’m so sick of attention,” he said. “It just feels like a lot of investment of yourself, you know?” He recalled when he was on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine last December and the relief he felt when the next issue went on sale. “I was so happy when they changed issues and I wasn’t on the cover anymore,” he said. “I’m in the airport a lot, and I was just so happy to not see myself.” Yet for all the relief, Price and his team asked six times if he’d be on Bloomberg Businessweek‘s cover.

In a very clear and direct reporting style, Weise’s article says a hell of a lot about how startup culture, media, and fame all fit together uncomfortably. And it reminded me that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is, regardless of how many fawning blog posts say otherwise.

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