What Would Steve Jobs Do? and 5 Other Stories You Should Read
Here’s what you missed while taking solace in the fact that you aren’t as dumb as these two people…
The New Yorker: Doomsday Prep For The Super-Rich
Selected by Dillon Baker, tech editor
As the Doomsday Clock ticks closest to midnight since 1953, the elite of American society are preparing their apocalyptic retreats, and no expense is being spared.
Fears of AI, technological job displacement, wealth inequality, climate change, and failing institutions have all led to an extravagant prepper movement among tech executives and hedge fund managers. The rub here is that most of these Doomsday preppers have made their massive wealth from the very industries that helped spur the changes they fear, which some of the preppers readily admit.
As Evan Osnos writes: “Faced with evidence of frailty in the American project, in the institutions and norms from which they have benefitted, some are permitting themselves to imagine failure. It is a gilded despair.”
Selected by Craig Davis, editorial intern
As an urbanite, my conception of impressive nature is the 7′ x 15′ patch of grass in my Brooklyn backyard. But a few years ago, I visited a family cabin in Yosemite and realized the treasure we have in our national parks system. I really hope the new administration feels the same way.
Donald Trump’s Monday gag order on the EPA didn’t bolster that hope. But as a response to these environmental threats, the national parks started fighting back—on Twitter. Badlands National Park, Golden Gate Park, and even NASA chimed in on rising carbon dioxide levels and ocean acidification. Though most of the tweets were soon deleted, The Ringer’s Alyssa Bereznak believes it’s an encouraging sign that these social media vigilantes risked their jobs for the sake of the planet. Even in a post-truth society, we still have some people grounded in reality and willing to stand together in protest.
“It’s terrifying that posting scientifically proven facts is one of the many things considered to be ‘brave’ in 2017,” Bereznak writes. “But here we are.”
Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development specialist
Last year, Mark Zuckerberg drew parallels to a savvy, pandering politician after meeting with leaders of the GOP to discuss political neutrality on Facebook. Many threw out fun what-if scenarios of Zuckerberg for president.
I thought it was pretty ludicrous at the time. The idea of a businessperson with no political experience making a run that’s actually successful seemed farfetched, even amidst what was happening in the election.
While lack of experience can apparently be overlooked, it’s ironic that such talk has heated up despite a decline of trust in Facebook post-election. Even worse, Zuck’s “Jesse Eisenberg-hoodie-vibe” represents a Silicon Valley that doesn’t appeal to those who feel left behind. Yet Zuck ’20 (or ’24 or ’28… you get it) seems to be holding more water than ever—enough to make for a recurring column on The Ringer.
The Atlantic: Calling Out a Presidential Lie
Selected by Erin Nelson, marketing editor
On my way home from the Women’s March, I sat in a car full of people whose identities set them apart. There were men and women, millennials and whatever came before them, writers, finance guys, and sales reps. As the Finance Guy read the Washington Post out loud, he stunned us with Kellyanne Conways’s declaration of “alternative facts.” While each of us, in a sense, were living our own reality, we collectively wondered: Was it possible to live in a world where there were two truths?
Here, Adrienne LaFrance attempts to classify what it means to lie. She considers that if you really believe your statement, maybe you aren’t liable for what you perceived to be true. She lands here: “Even a delusion—one that involves blindly turning away from all evidence to the contrary—can be considered its own kind of lie.” Willful delusion, of course, does not amount to fact.
Liberal pundits would argue that facts are non-partisan. (I know, the irony here is rich.) For those who prescribe to science and reason, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think something is true; a fact is a fact is a fact, derived from measurable evidence. When we talk about quantitative findings, I tend to agree. But even those subjects grounded in proof—say, science and history—fall victim to subjectivity. The scientific method rests on the idea that findings are only true until they are disproven. (Why else would we test them?) And many historical depictions omit truths from those they wished, at some point, to silence. The stories of women, non-whites, immigrants, or any other non-majority faction are not recorded in equal weight, distorting our final vision of the “truth.”
Journalism is rooted in verification. And yet, the media today is faced with a dilemma: How do we honor subjectivity and present nuance in an environment where there is no baseline for truth? I plan to avoid echo chambers and contemplate in long car rides.
The New York Times: Snapchat Discover Takes a Hard Line on Misleading and Explicit Images
Selected by Brittani Marie, content strategy intern
Snapchat just restored my faith in social media and the potential end of fake news.
I will preface this rant by admitting I’m a millennial who’s over social media. I’m exhausted from filtering my feed to decipher real issues. I’m over Kylie Jenner’s lips, twerking teens, and Cheeto Satan’s hair. In the wake of the election, I would also argue that disseminating false news poses the same threat as writing it. Is there such a thing as media veracity?
Apparently Snapchat believes so, and the company is creating some much-needed standards on racy and misleading content, mostly by re-enforcing traditional news guidelines. For Snapchat’s Discover feature, publishers will now be required to fact-check articles and remove any unreliable sources.
Even if the move is just a safe play for Snap’s upcoming IPO, I hope other platforms will soon follow the newfound standards of integrity.
Selected by Jordan Teicher, managing editor
In 1997, Apple told people to think different. Missing adverb aside, the inspirational ad campaign has aged pretty well over the past 20 years, mainly because it embodied Apple and its founder Steve Jobs so accurately. Jobs was a great asshole (great in every sense of the word) who had many documented flaws, but he always seemed devoted to a stubborn personal code. It’s tough to imagine him appeasing anyone for the sake of image or favor.
Consider that in the context of today’s political climate. America is an unhealthy country with an uncertain future. The tech industry has become an easy target for people on both sides of the aisle, largely, I think, because it’s been unwilling to take a stance on any issue. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the rest of the billionaire bunch appear complacent staying mute if that keeps them off Trump’s Twitter feed.
Would Jobs be so quiet if he were still alive? Recode’s Kara Swisher asks an important question that, unfortunately, we’ll never be able to answer.Image by Unsplash / CC Zero