Voices

‘The iPhone Turns Ten,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read

Here’s what you missed while deciding to avoid billboards forever

Deadspin: Craven Reporters Scold BuzzFeed For Reporting News

Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief

Earlier this week, BuzzFeed released a 35-page dossier compiled by a person who claimed to be a British intelligence official. It reads like a bad spy novel, and claims, among other things, that Russia is blackmailing Trump through a combination of business deals and sex tapes. If it was a novel, it would probably be banned in more conservative towns. As is, it’s been circulating Washington and the media world since October.

BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier led to widespread hand-wringing from media critics, who argued that a journalist’s job is to verify information and report what’s true, not simply release a document like this. But here’s the thing: This dossier isn’t “fake news.” It is important enough that both President Obama and President-elect Trump were briefed on it. As Deadspin’s Albert Burneko argues, it isn’t the job of journalists to keep such documents hidden and only in the hands of insiders:

As you might expect, much of the talk around media today is about journalism ethics and responsibility. What may surprise and horrify you—or anyway should—is that by and large the journalists being accused of dereliction are not the ones who participated in the circulation of this explosively and undeniably newsworthy dossier for weeks without reporting its contents to the public, but the ones who eventually did get around to performing that simple and fundamental journalistic function.

Esquire: A.J. Daulerio Is Ready to Tell His (Whole) Gawker Story

Selected by Jordan Teicher, managing editor

The “G” key on my keyboard is like a phantom limb. I still press it out of habit, but Gawker and Grantland are gone. There’s nothing there.

Most of the people who made those sites important moved on to other publishing jobs, but A.J. Daulerio, Gawker’s former editor-in-chief, was forced to take a different direction. As Esquire’s Maximillian Potter tells it, Daulerio is broke and broken, living in Florida, far away from the New York media machine. It’s a sad and complex story that has to do with drug addiction, an excessive hunger to break news, and Hulk Hogan’s sex tape.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Gawker no longer exists and Daulerio regrets some of his editorial decisions, but it’s still disappointing that we’re without a digital watchdog intent on breaking news that pisses everyone off. You get the sense from the piece that, if he could, Daulerio would go back and do it all again. Most of it, at least.

The Ringer: The Facebook Live Map Is a Little Bit of Chaos in a Sea of Curation

Selected by Craig Davis, editorial intern

Back in college, people I thought were my friends convinced me to try a platform called Chatroulette. “It’s fun,” they told me. “You’ll meet so many cool people!” Eight genitalia-filled seconds later, I decided I needed new friends and possibly new eyeballs.

But now, it seems Facebook has provided us with a classy alternative. The new Facebook Live Map—a “StumbleUpon for the modern era, Chatroulette for baby boomers”—is sorted solely by geo-location, allowing you to watch the active stream of any public user around the globe. “It is basically no one’s idea of good content,” The Ringer’s Claire McNear writes. “I highly recommend it.”

The map doesn’t always work properly, and you’re unlikely to find content that appeals to your own hobbies or interests. Instead, you’ll view many videos of people talking to a camera, or in my case, a man in Slovakia playing the piano in his living room. But McNear contends that maybe this is for the best. We now have “a nonstop, hyperkinetic hub of our fellow man’s eclecticism.” In a way, that’s refreshing.

The New York Times: In Election Hacking, Julian Assange’s Years-Old Vision Becomes Reality

Selected by Dillon Baker, tech editor

It seems like every new tech company has to present itself as “disruptive,” lest it fade into obscurity.

Yet it’s rare that we interrogate disruption as a concept: Is “disrupting” longstanding industries always positive? For the companies that achieve disruption it certainly is, at least financially. But when you look at the history of the internet’s disruption as a whole, it’s hard to say its legacy is anything but mixed.

This fascinating breakdown of WikiLeaks’ history and philosophy takes a close look at an essay written by founder Julian Assange back in 2006, which asserted that technology would simultaneously allow the powers that be to control the flow of information and leave these same powers open to “sabotage.” It’s fair to say that, with the help of Assange in the latter case, both predictions have come true.

The New Yorker: The iPhone Turns Ten

Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor

Imagine if, by the age of ten, you had fundamentally altered the desires and expectations of human society.

On the iPhone’s 10th birthday, Om Malik, tech writer and founder of Gigaom, reflects on the shift in the human relationship to time and space since the device’s birth. “Cornerstone technologies,” Malik writes, “when coupled with the right user experience, can act like time machines. Each cornerstone technology makes the world a bit more convenient, quicker, and a bit more unsettling.”

As an iPhone addict, I can confirm the dissonance between convenience and dependence. Apparently, I am not alone. Malik cites a survey of 1,003 participants, which showed that a third of the respondents would rather give up sex for a year than lose access to their phones. What Malik leaves out is the way the iPhone, despite its incredibly convenient features, has failed to bridge gaps between people from different backgrounds and ideologies. Is it the job of a technological device to solve today’s biggest social rifts? Maybe by its Sweet 16.

Image by Pexels / CC Zero
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