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inspiral : slate   75

Is The Mafia More Powerful Than It’s Ever Been?
If you think of violent, influential organized crime in Italy as a thing of the past, think again.
mafia  crime  Ndrangheta  review  Slate  2018 
9 weeks ago by inspiral
How smartphone cameras changed the way we document our lives.
Having this much detail about the past 10 years means not all the memories are happy. Whereas my photos from 2000–10 are mostly the high points of life, like graduations or proms and good times with friends, my smartphone camera roll gives me a more nuanced look at what’s happened: There have been fun weddings and beautiful hikes, but also a car accident and surgeries, sick days and dismaying political news. (I’ve taken and shared screenshots of the worst stories, of course.) If there’s one silver lining to our collective smartphone addiction, it’s the gift of perspective: Do you remember that selfie you snapped to distract yourself from how nervous you felt before going on stage for a talk, or that awful, mean email that upset you so much you needed to share it with friends so they could talk you down? Maybe you’d forgotten, but you got through it after all. Ten years from now, whatever you’re worried about now will just as distant a memory.
photography  personalaccount  memory  trends  Slate  2019 
december 2019 by inspiral
Trump’s pee tape: analyzing an incredibly convincing fake.
Someone made this video and most likely recorded it in a hotel room that costs about $18,000 a night. Was it all for the sake of feeding rumors, or for confusing everyone, or for tricking some overconfident journalist into the ultimate feat of Fake News? The only thing we can say definitively is that based on the room in which it appears to have been filmed, this can’t possibly be the real thing. Probably. But if you know anything at all about where this video came from, or who made it, please do get in touch.
DonaldTrump  peetape  sex  politics  fakenews  onlinevideo  Slate  2019 
september 2019 by inspiral
The MIT Media Lab’s moral rot.
Over the course of the past century, MIT became one of the best brands in the world, a name that confers instant credibility and stature on all who are associated with it. Rather than protect the inherent specialness of this brand, the Media Lab soiled it again and again by selling its prestige to banks, drug companies, petroleum companies, carmakers, multinational retailers, at least one serial sexual predator, and others who hoped to camouflage their avarice with the sheen of innovation. There is a big difference between taking money from someone like Epstein and taking it from Nike or the Department of Defense, but the latter choices pave the way for the former. It is easy to understand why Jeffrey Epstein wanted to get involved with the Media Lab. Unfortunately, it is also easy to understand why Joi Ito got involved with Jeffrey Epstein. The only bad donations were the ones that weren’t received.
MIT  MITMediaLab  JeffreyEpstein  commercialisation  sellout  Slate  2019 
september 2019 by inspiral
Joe Rogan’s podcast is an essential platform for freethinkers who hate the left.
From its unambitious beginnings as a venue for Joe Rogan to shoot the shit with his comedian buddies, The Joe Rogan Experience has become one of the internet’s foremost vectors for anti-wokeness. With its mellow, welcoming vibe, its pretense of common sense, and its general reluctance to push back on any of its guests’ ideas save for only the battiest, the podcast has become the factory where red pills get sugarcoated.
JoeRogan  profile  critique  podcast  Slate  2019 
march 2019 by inspiral
The NYTimes shouldn’t have relied so heavily on that Facebook and anti-refugee study.
This means that even if there is extremely strong correlation between anti-refugee sentiment on Facebook and attacks in the real world, this study isn’t designed to assess if one is causing the other.
Facebook  refugees  racism  xenophobia  extremism  Germany  research  review  author:FelixSalmon  Slate  2018 
august 2018 by inspiral
Why Netflix’s share price dropped.
Netflix famously commissions new shows by looking at enormous amounts of data on who watches what. The assumption is that people watch what they like and that the more they watch, the more they value the service. But that’s not necessarily true: It suffers from the same fallacy as Facebook’s assumption that people click on and engage with the content they most want to see. If people stream hours on end of garbage shows on Netflix six days a week while they wait for the next episode of the show they really care about on a legacy cable channel, then Netflix will never have the market power to raise its subscription price to a profitable level.
Netflix  strategy  growth  results  review  streamingmedia  television  Slate  2018 
july 2018 by inspiral
The viral Vice documentary was the perfect rebuke to Trump’s Charlottesville remarks.
Over the past few days, a short documentary film about what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend has become a viral phenomenon. Produced by HBO’s Vice News Tonight and hosted by journalist Elle Reeve, “Charlottesville: Race and Terror” is restrained and understated. But viewed in light of Donald Trump’s repeated defense of white nationalist protesters, it decisively punctures the cloud of moral equivocation that’s been so petulantly conjured over the past several days by the president. Whereas Trump thinks the events of the weekend should be considered in myopic isolation—tallying up the number of blows that were landed by each of the “two sides” and assigning blame accordingly—the Vice documentary vividly shows that the white nationalists who came to Charlottesville did so in ravenous pursuit of violence. It was the whole point of “Unite the Right,” not an unfortunate side effect. Violence was the reason these people showed up, and it provided the animating logic that held together their otherwise incoherent ideas.
racism  race  DonaldTrump  Charlottesville  Vice  Slate  2017 
august 2017 by inspiral
The explosive history of lithium ion batteries.
In a sense, then, the lithium ion battery fires are largely a consequence of how we have structured our society. We still don’t have uniform safety protocols for a wide variety of problems relating to lithium ion batteries, including transporting and disposing of them and safely rescuing passengers from accidents involving electric cars powered by them. Such measures badly trail the drive to seek greater convenience, and profit, in electronics and electric automobiles. The quest for more power and higher voltage is straining the physical limits of lithium ion batteries, and there are few technologies less forgiving of the chaotically single-minded way in which human beings are increasingly making their way in the world. Scientists are working on safer alternatives, but we should expect many more unpleasant surprises from the existing technology in the interim.
lithiumion  battery  safety  review  Slate  2016 
september 2016 by inspiral
How once-booming Brazil was brought low—and how it can save itself.
But the public’s understandable despair isn’t wholly shared by the experts I spoke with. Stepping back, they saw unlikely causes for hope. Impeachment revealed the worst about Brazilian democracy—and the worst wasn’t so terrible. There’s no talk of returning to dictatorship, no real fear of a Hugo Chávez–like figure clouding the sky. Impeachment was a poor showing of democracy, but it was still democracy. Even with all the budgetary turmoil, Bolsa Família remains firmly ensconced. Austerity will whack the poor, yet Lula’s evolution of Brazilian social democracy won’t reverse course. Most important, the Petrobras scandal is so spectacular that its grasp on the popular imagination doesn’t seem to be slipping. Indeed, Temer’s impeachment gambit has yet to slow the Moro investigation. Brazil has a once-in-a-generation chance to untether its politics from its debilitating state of codependence with the big firms. Hosting the Olympics was never going to bring Brazil the national greatness Lula advertised. Freeing its democracy and economy from the plague of corruption could.
Brazil  economy  politics  history  corruption  LuladaSilva  DilmaRousseff  Slate  2016 
august 2016 by inspiral
The U.K.’s Biggest Bookstore Chain Is Thriving. What Could Barnes & Noble Learn From It?
This large chain in the U.K. made a shocking turnaround by doing something surprising: trusting its booksellers.
Waterstones  retail  profile  JamesDaunt  interview  books  publishing  growth  UK  Slate  2016 
july 2016 by inspiral
Virtual reality can be more amazing—and more terrifying—than a traditional video game experience.
The virtual reality experience might be transporting in ways that live up to all the hype, but it also leaves you vulnerable in ways that are ripe for exploitation. VR not only means disconnecting yourself from physical reality, leaving your body open to harm (both accidental or intentional); it also requires handing over something of yourself and your visceral presence in the world over to a company, and trusting them not to abuse it.
TheWalk  virtualreality  VRgaming  review  critique  Slate  2016 
may 2016 by inspiral
Facebook isn’t the social network anymore. So what is it?
So what has the Facebook app and site become, if not a social network? The answer is rather obvious when you watch how people use it. It has become a personalized portal to the online world.
Facebook  strategy  evolution  aggregator  socialmedia  author:WillOremus  Slate  2016 
april 2016 by inspiral
The fight for the future of NPR: Can public radio survive the podcast revolution?
A slow-moving bureaucracy. An antiquated business model. A horde of upstart competitors. Can National Public Radio survive?
NPR  NPROne  Embedded  radio  podcast  AdamDavidson  JarlMohn  AlexBlumberg  author:LeonNeyfakh  Slate  2016 
april 2016 by inspiral
Bernie Sanders Is the Developing World’s Worst Nightmare
With those last few words, Sanders has effectively written off trade with any country that is not already rich and prosperous—which is simply inhumane.
BernieSanders  trade  regulations  labour  developingworld  critique  Slate  2016 
april 2016 by inspiral
Donald Trump has one core philosophy: misogyny
The scene offers a graphic summation of Trump’s retrograde beliefs and real brutality. What’s worse, the same spirit informs his politics—the rampant cruelty, the violent impulses, the thirst for revenge, the absence of compassion. Misogyny isn’t an incidental part of Donald Trump. It’s who he is.
DonaldTrump  sexism  misogyny  patriarchy  politics  USA  Slate  2016 
march 2016 by inspiral
How Facebook’s news feed algorithm works.
A small team of engineers in Menlo Park. A panel of anonymous power users around the world. And, increasingly, you.
Facebook  Facebooknewsfeed  algorithms  optimisation  socialmedia  marketresearch  Slate  2016 
january 2016 by inspiral
YouNow, a live-streaming social network, is making stars.
In theory, YouNow sounds a bit like Twitter’s real-time video feature, Periscope. In practice, they’re nothing alike. Periscope’s tagline is “Explore the world through someone else’s eyes”; it’s named after a device that rises out of the darkness to take a look around. But on YouNow, you don’t see what the broadcaster sees—you see the broadcaster himself. You click into a stream and stare into his eyes. YouNow’s camera is always set, by default, to selfie mode. The whole site is designed to create personalities and foster fandoms around them. And its features are gamified to keep everyone’s eyes glued to the screen. When a Periscope broadcast is launched, only the user’s Twitter followers get a heads up. But YouNow broadcasts compete for the attention of the entire social network through a roiling leaderboard tacked to the side of the screen. When a Periscope user stops streaming, the screen goes black. When a YouNower signs off, her viewers are instantly pitched into a new stream, where a different broadcaster is challenged to charm the newcomers into sticking around. 
YouNow  usergeneratedcontent  livestreaming  ZachClayton  5quad  socialmedia  review  Slate  2015 
december 2015 by inspiral
Donald Trump is a fascist: It is the political label that best describes the GOP front-runner.
In the past week, however, “Donald Trump as fascist” has gone from hyperbolic to mainstream. After endorsing extreme measures in the aftermath of the Paris attacks—from registering Muslim Americans to closing mosques—assorted writers, observers, and political operatives began using fascist to describe Trump’s approach.
DonaldTrump  facism  politics  UmbertoEco  ideology  Republicans  USA  Slate  2015 
november 2015 by inspiral
Hate speech, harassment, and trolling online: Some history.
Why does hate thrive online? In a roundtable discussion published recently in Social Media + Society, Miltner and a crew of fellow digital culture scholars attempt to answer that question by identifying the historical roots of Internet trolling, bullying, flaming, and harassment. One culprit: The flattened perspective promoted by early Web activists like Barlow—which seeks to erase power politics, social context, and physical cues from digital culture—may force users to speak louder and harsher in order to be seen and heard.
internet  socialmedia  hate  sexism  racism  review  Slate  2015 
october 2015 by inspiral
The third Los Angeles: Can it truly become a green, sustainable city?
Los Angeles wants to shed its image as an auto-dystopia. In the era of the drought, can it sell the myth of a green, sustainable city?
cities  sustainability  water  transport  evolution  LosAngeles  Slate  2015 
may 2015 by inspiral
Twitter’s new home page: Can it help the social network appeal to non-tweeters?
For non-tweeters, the social network can feel clubby and confusing. Can its new home page change that?
Twitter  homepage  socialmedia  Slate  2015 
april 2015 by inspiral
Venmo security: It’s not as strong as the company wants you to think.
The mobile-payment service is trendy, easy to use, and growing fast. But is it safe?
Venmo  mobilepayments  security  customerservice  critique  fraud  Slate  2015 
february 2015 by inspiral
Uber driver salary: The ride-sharing company says its drivers make great money, but its math just doesn’t add up.
The ride-sharing service says its median driver makes close to six figures. But the math just doesn’t add up.
Uber  taxi  income  critique  sharingeconomy  review  Slate  2014 
october 2014 by inspiral
Amazon isn’t the problem with capitalism. It’s the solution to our economic ills.
Even if Bezos is in his heart of hearts a villain devoted to driving every mom-and-pop store in the world out of business, the company he's built is very much a force for good. It is a force for good not just because it keeps the Salam household stocked with paper towels, dish soap, rolling ball pens, map tacks, and lots and lots of cheap books, but because it points American capitalism in a better, healthier direction.
Amazon  strategy  monopoly  advocacy  innovation  Slate  2014 
october 2014 by inspiral
The Fappening, Ebola-chan, revenge porn: Why isn’t 4chan’s founder accountable for 4chan’s crimes?
Responsibility for drawing this line lies only with Poole himself. Tech gadfly Anil Dash once wrote, “[I]f your website is full of assholes, it’s your fault.” Dash excoriated many of 4chan’s anonymous policies and those who share Poole’s hands-off attitude: “[T]ake some goddamn responsibility for what you unleash on the world.” Whether or not you agree with Poole’s views on freedom of speech (I myself am in fact sympathetic, if not in total agreement), Dash is right that Poole bears the ultimate responsibility for the standards—or lack thereof—set in place on 4chan. For all the bile directed at “4chan” and “4chan users,” very little of it has been directed at the single person with the ability to change the site’s standards and enforce them, should he so desire. It’s one thing to share a site with awful people; it’s another to make money off of them.
4Chan  ChristopherPoole  critique  management  moderation  Slate  2014 
september 2014 by inspiral
AnonIB nude photo site: Where hackers and users treat women as property.
This is a world beyond humiliation. It is an organized network of people who seek to exert power over women and girls by reducing them to lifeless bodies and hoarding them in their hard drives. Not that the participants would put it that way—these users, many of whom appear to be very young men, likely think that they’re simply engaging in harmless masturbation; the power differential inherent in their activities is so normalized it probably goes unnoticed. This is not a problem that will be solved by encouraging women to see their bodies as beautiful, rather than shameful. These people don’t care what women think. Theirs is the culture that needs to shift. And if it doesn’t, perhaps prosecution can help it along.
AnonIB  sexism  women  pornography  iCloud  critique  Slate  2014 
september 2014 by inspiral
Anti-smoking campaigns and educating teens about the Internet.
How to teach kids to be suspicious of tech companies? Appeal to their rebelliousness.
marketing  countermarketing  smoking  teenagers  socialmedia  Slate  2014 
august 2014 by inspiral
Detroit vs. Google: Self-driving cars and the innovator’s dilemma.
The American automotive industry isn’t as resistant to innovation as it once was. But Detroit’s big three automakers have their cost structures to deal with, their reputations to think about, and (lately) their profits to protect. So anything too risky is going to be a hard sell. It doesn’t get much more risky than a technology that would turn cars into robots and end driving as we know it. It’s no wonder, then, that Google and Detroit haven’t found much common ground in their early discussions about self-driving car collaborations
automotive  Google  selfdrivingvehicles  disruption  review  Slate  2014 
july 2014 by inspiral
Silicon Valley and baby boomers: Finally noticing a $750 billion market.
Silicon Valley is finally taking notice of a $750 billion market: baby boomers.
babyboomer  startup  opportunity  healthcare  nutrition  elderlycare  Slate  2014 
may 2014 by inspiral
Export controls: How to stop Western companies from sending surveillance tech to dictators.
How to stop Western companies from exporting surveillance technologies to authoritarian governments.
surveillance  export  regulations  authoritarianism  critique  Slate  2014 
april 2014 by inspiral

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