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In the News 08.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 08.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 08.11.17 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How To Sell a Country: The Booming Business of Nation Branding

Lipetsk is already on the map: right there, on page 23 of the Collins World Atlas, a region of 1.2 million people, dead south from Moscow and not far from the border with Ukraine. But it’s not really on the map: it doesn’t feature in the slim mental atlas most of us carry in our heads; no one we know takes holidays there, and it doesn’t appear in our newspapers. Even in Russia, people may fail to place it. In September, when Natasha Grand was passing through Moscow on her way back from Lipetsk, she told a Russian acquaintance where she’d been. “I don’t even know where Lipetsk is”, he replied, only partly in jest. Some Russians confuse it with Vitebsk, which is in Belarus.

This is why Natasha Grand was going to Lipetsk, though: to define its brand, to mould its image, to put it on the metaphorical map. Natasha and her husband, Alex, are the founders of a London firm called Institute for Identity (Instid for short), which works with the governments of cities, regions and nations. Instid develops strategies to brand places, and although a part of this involves burnishing tourism – coining a tagline, say, or producing a suite of logos for travel literature –the Grands are after deeper rewards. They believe they can fix upon, and excavate, a place’s very identity – or at least an identity, something that can guide a government in figuring out how to rise in the esteem of its neighbours, how to allocate its resources, how best to compose the face it presents to the world.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

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In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know. You meet someone and say, “I’m from Sarasota,” and they say, “Oh, I have a grandparent in Sarasota,” and they tell you where they live and their name, and you may or may not recognize them.

You might assume Facebook’s friend recommendations would work the same way: You tell the social network who you are, and it tells you who you might know in the online world. But Facebook’s machinery operates on a scale far beyond normal human interactions. And the results of its People You May Know algorithm are anything but obvious. In the months I’ve been writing about PYMK, as Facebook calls it, I’ve heard more than a hundred bewildering anecdotes:

  • A man who years ago donated sperm to a couple, secretly, so they could have a child—only to have Facebook recommend the child as a person he should know. He still knows the couple but is not friends with them on Facebook.

  • A social worker whose client called her by her nickname on their second visit, because she’d shown up in his People You May Know, despite their not having exchanged contact information.

  • A woman whose father left her family when she was six years old—and saw his then-mistress suggested to her as a Facebook friend 40 years later.

  • An attorney who wrote: “I deleted Facebook after itrecommended as PYMK a man who was defense counsel on one of my cases. We had only communicated through my work email, which is not connected to my Facebook, which convinced me Facebook was scanning my work email.”

Read the rest of this article at: Gizmodo

Relax, You Don’t Need to ‘Eat Clean’

We talk about food in the negative: What we shouldn’t eat, what we’ll regret later, what’s evil, dangerously tempting, unhealthy.

The effects are more insidious than any overindulgent amount of “bad food” can ever be. By fretting about food, we turn occasions for comfort and joy into sources of fear and anxiety. And when we avoid certain foods, we usually compensate by consuming too much of others.

All of this happens under the guise of science. But a closer look at the research behind our food fears shows that many of our most demonized foods are actually fine for us. Taken to extremes, of course, dietary choices can be harmful — but that logic cuts both ways.

Consider salt. It’s true that, if people with high blood pressure consume a lot of salt, it can lead to cardiovascular events like heart attacks. It’s also true that salt is overused in processed foods. But the average American consumes just over three grams of sodium per day, which is actually in the sweet spot for health.

Eating too little salt may be just as dangerous as eating too much. This is especially true for the majority of people who don’t have high blood pressure. Regardless, experts continue to push for lower recommendations.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies

In the fall of 2016, Harvey Weinstein set out to suppress allegations that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women. He began to hire private security agencies to collect information on the women and the journalists trying to expose the allegations. According to dozens of pages of documents, and seven people directly involved in the effort, the firms that Weinstein hired included Kroll, which is one of the world’s largest corporate-intelligence companies, and Black Cube, an enterprise run largely by former officers of Mossad and other Israeli intelligence agencies. Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London, and Paris, offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” according to its literature.

Two private investigators from Black Cube, using false identities, met with the actress Rose McGowan, who eventually publicly accused Weinstein of rape, to extract information from her. One of the investigators pretended to be a women’s-rights advocate and secretly recorded at least four meetings with McGowan. The same operative, using a different false identity and implying that she had an allegation against Weinstein, met twice with a journalist to find out which women were talking to the press. In other cases, journalists directed by Weinstein or the private investigators interviewed women and reported back the details.

The explicit goal of the investigations, laid out in one contract with Black Cube, signed in July, was to stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein that eventually emerged in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Over the course of a year, Weinstein had the agencies “target,” or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focussed on their personal or sexual histories. Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally. He also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.

In some cases, the investigative effort was run through Weinstein’s lawyers, including David Boies, a celebrated attorney who represented Al Gore in the 2000 Presidential-election dispute and argued for marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies personally signed the contract directing Black Cube to attempt to uncover information that would stop the publication of a Times story about Weinstein’s abuses, while his firm was also representing the Times, including in a libel case.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

The Small Business Of Trying To Go Big Online

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Every weekday at 3 a.m., a new post goes live on Cathy Anderson’s site.

On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, it’s her bread and butter: a post about clothes and shopping. Wednesdays are for spotlighting a brand or product she loves. Friday’s posts usually are about a trend. The formula for a week’s worth of content has been tweaked a bit over the years, but this is what it is now and it’s working.

It sounds formulaic when I ask her to describe how blog sausage gets encased, but when you see it on Anderson’s blog, Poor Little It Girl, it’s packaged into an aspirational aesthetic that makes you forget that this is a job. Each post is titled with song lyrics; the website design is clean and easy to read. In every photo, Anderson looks cute and each outfit is a wearable editorial, but Poor Little It Girl is all about affordability. Anderson specializes in fashion that rings up $100 for an outfit and she loves a good sale.

Anderson began Poor Little It Girl in July 2010 while she was working in fashion editorial in New York. That fashion background supplied the formula that makes her blog on “petite fashion with a focus on affordability” work. A Florida girl who graduated from Florida State University, she did stints in a few cities before moving back to Atlanta. That’s where she was when I called her in August to talk about building a sustainable living online.

She didn’t set out to be a blogger or digital influencer, an occupation notoriously difficult to explain or even justify to those of us unfamiliar with #content and all that comes with it. While she moved around the country, working for national and regional magazines and in retail, her blog’s audience grew. When she moved to Washington, D.C. with her college sweetheart, the blog was becoming a liability if she wanted to get another fashion editorial job. It was considered a conflict of interest. But she didn’t want to stop.

“I was really proud of it. I put it on my resume. This is my baby and I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from it.” She eventually got a job in retail, and worked her way up to a manager at a bridal boutique, all while still blogging. “I was constantly complaining,” she told me with frank honesty. “It was so stressful with the blog. And I felt like I was missing out on a lot of opportunities because I was working full time at the store.”

Read the rest of this article at: Digg

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @frassyaudrey; @glam_style_living; @janicejoostemaa

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