Voices

‘Facebook Live’s Identity Crisis,’ and 5 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while you were being the very best, like no one ever was

n+1: The Library of Last Resort

Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor

Since the beginning of the internet, we’ve been trying to digitize our collective knowledge. One would think that the Library of Congress—probably the most important repository of knowledge in America—would be leading the charge.

But, as Kyle Chayka explores here, the institution has been beset by inept leadership, infighting, and stubbornness. The article is a good tonic to the many tech–dystopian articles you see everywhere—instead, Chayka asks what happens when an important institution is so resistant to change that it loses all relevance.

Wired: Clinton Has a Team of Silicon Valley Stars. Trump Has Twitter

Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor

Hillary Clinton doesn’t just have a team of Silicon Valley stars. According to this Wired piece by Issie Lapowsky, Clinton is a startup in her own right.

Lapowsky’s insights are sharpest here when she explores the consequences of how this election’s tech divide could influence political parties in the future. Over the last decade, President Obama’s investment in campaigning technology has turned the Democratic party into an incubator of sorts. Across the aisle, Trump’s celebrity may compensate for his lack of sophisticated tech, but the next Republican candidate, who may not be so fortunate, will be left without any useful infrastructure besides a Twitter account and a keyboard with a broken caps-lock button.

As Clinton’s deputy CTO says in the article, “Technology doesn’t ever win elections. But I think what technology does is gives us an edge in places where things are close.”

Forbes: Kim Kardashian West, Mobile Mogul

Selected by Amanda Weatherhead, sales strategist

Is Kim Kardashian the savviest businesswoman on the planet, or does the success of her game and Kimoji speak more to the degradation of politesse in contemporary society?

In this article, Natalie Robehmed explores the meteoric success (and occasional failure) of celebrity games. I’m fascinated by the sheer number of people downloading games that allow them to live the life of a member of America’s first family (the Kardashian/Jenner crew), or dress stars like Vanessa Hudgens. Are people so uninterested in living their actual lives that they’re content to live within a virtual simulation of a reality star’s?

As someone who recently tried VR (and hated every second of it), I hope this a passing fad that will go the way of Tamagotchi and Beanie Babies—not the prelude to a future in which we only interact virtually.

The New York Times: Live Streaming Breaks Through, and Cable News Has Much to Fear

Selected by Nico Willson, editorial intern

One reason why would-be cable cutters hang on to their wires is for live news and sports, which are more difficult to stream online than shows or films. Yet the majority of cable news footage from events last week in Falcon Heights, Dallas, and Baton Rouge came from live streaming on Facebook Live and Periscope. Could this be the nail in the coffin for cable TV?

Farhad Manjoo tells us how live streaming is “opening up a much more compelling way to watch the news.” If viewers can find the footage on Facebook, why tune in to CNN?

Real Life: The Internet Is a Tough Room

Selected by Noah Waldman, editorial intern

Going further than just explaining the joke, Tom Jokinen explains why the joke. Why does everyone try to be funny on the internet, and what’s so attractive about the people who are successful at it?

The answer he arrives at: We live vicariously through online jokesters. The people who tweet goofs and japes put themselves out there at the risk of suddenly not being funny, falling off that trapeze and flat on their face. We like them because we all want to be the funny guy in the room, but they’re the ones actually pulling it off.

The Ringer: Facebook Live’s Identity Crisis

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

When Mark Zuckerberg released Facebook Live, the pet project he had long obsessed over, to all users earlier this year, it was marketed as a tool of whimsy. And at first, it was! BuzzFeed blew up a watermelon. Chewbacca Mom charmed the internet. Hasbro did whatever the hell this is.

But now, Facebook Live has become a powerful tool for citizen journalism. As Kate Knibbs writes, Diamond Reynolds’s brave and horrifying broadcast of her boyfriend’s death at the hands of police turned Facebook Live into a powerful tool for citizen journalism. Hours later, Facebook had taken the video down for unclear reasons. And that brings up serious questions about Facebook Live—and the incredible power to both control and censor the media that’s now in Facebook’s hands.

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