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In the News 05.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 05.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@_hollyt
In the News 05.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@michielpieters
In the News 05.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@fox_and_mae

Why ‘Stories’ Took Over Your Smartphone

Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, made a remarkable announcement during a keynote at the company’s big conference this week: “The increase in the Stories format,” he explained, “is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.”

This caught me off guard. I have been ignoring Stories for years, deeming it a trifle for young people. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, added Stories in 2016, essentially copying it from Snapchat, which inaugurated the format. Facebook itself added the feature in 2017, and WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook, has a similar feature called Statuses.

“Story” is a terrible name for this feature, because it’s so broad as to descend into meaninglessness. In ordinary parlance, a story is a generic name for a narrative account of something. But a Story, of the Instagram and Snapchat sort, is something much more specific. It’s a collection of images and short videos, with optional overlays and effects, that a user can add to over time, but which disappears after 24 hours. Users view a Story in sequence, either waiting out a programmed delay between images or manually advancing to the next.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

How Hollywood Failed Brad Renfro

Brad Renfro looked different, but Fernando Altschul expected that — they hadn’t seen each other in 10 years, when Renfro was 14 years old. The two had first met on the 1998 psychological thriller Apt Pupil, Renfro as the film’s star along with Ian McKellen, Altschul as its 34-year-old first assistant director, working with director Bryan Singer. Despite the fact that Renfro had a knack for making his job difficult — like sneaking cigarettes when union reps were visiting the set — Altschul still liked the kid, who at 11 had vaulted from obscurity to movie stardom when he was selected to star opposite Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones in the 1994 John Grisham thriller The Client.

It was now 2007. Renfro was an adult, playing a supporting role in the dark ensemble drama The Informers, and Altschul was again the first AD. When the two clapped eyes on each other for the first time in a decade, what Altschul saw shocked him. He was familiar with Renfro’s struggles with drug use, including an infamous 2005 arrest for attempting to buy heroin in Skid Row in Los Angeles. But he did not expect Renfro, who’d gained a considerable amount of weight, to reference his addiction quite so blithely.

“He jokingly told me he’d put down the spoon and picked up the fork,” Altschul, now 55, told BuzzFeed News.

Just a few months later, on Jan. 15, 2008, Renfro’s girlfriend found his body in his Los Angeles apartment; the coroner report stated he died from “acute heroin/morphine intoxication.” He was 25.

Read the rest of this article at: BuzzFeed

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The Man Who Cracked The Lottery

Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.

While it’s unclear what Mueller plans to do with Guccifer, his last round of indictments charged 13 Russians tied to the Internet Research Agency troll farm with a conspiracy “for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.” It was Mueller’s first move establishing Russian interference in the election within a criminal context, but it stopped short of directly implicating the Putin regime.

Mueller’s office declined to comment for this story. But the attribution of Guccifer 2.0 as an officer of Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency would cross the Kremlin threshold—and move the investigation closer to Trump himself.

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

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I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye

Where “lifestyle” might once have referred to one’s general mode of living, it now refers to the fact that even the smallest detail of one’s everyday reality is capable of being documented, and thus subject to the same aesthetic and semiotic rigor as one’s style of furnishing or dress. “Influencers” — the marketing term for popular users of Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube, with the power to guide their followers’ purchases — traffic not only in desirable appearances, or home décor, or even experience, but also in less tangible qualities: The upshot of all that desirable living has to look, to followers, like the good life. In return, content creators can garner thousands of dollars per post by integrating their sponsors’ products into their feeds.

Influencer culture is “spectacular,” as described by Guy Debord: “In all its specific manifestations, news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment, the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life … In form as in content the spectacle serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system. It further ensures the permanent presence of that justification, for it governs almost all time spent outside the production process itself.” Instagram, which has in many ways privatized our self images and our intimacies, is also self-reproducing — it sees us fusing our lives with corporate entities to the depth of our private moments. While billboards and television advertisements present a clear line between advertising and content, sponsored and otherwise monetized content blends in with non-monetized content.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

The People Who Stole the World

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“Then he took his darling child, kissed him, and dandled him in his arms, praying over him the while to Jove and to all the gods. ‘Jove,’ he cried, ‘grant that this my child may be even as myself, chief among the Trojans; let him be not less excellent in strength, and let him rule Ilius with his might. Then may one say of him as he comes from battle, ‘The son is far better than the father.’”—Hector’s farewell to Astyanax, The Iliad, Book VI

Have you heard? There’s a war going on right now. No, not the one in Afghanistan, not the ones in Syria, Libya, or Yemen. And not the fathomless quagmire in Iraq. The war I’m talking about is happening here, now, raging on our streets, in our homes, on our computers, in our minds.

The battle lines were drawn before you had any say in the matter, and the fate of everything hangs in the balance. As the old world crumbles around us, as we struggle for control over the scraps that are left, the young stand defiantly against the old, Millennials against the Baby Boomers, and vice versa. Other generations have no choice—they’re going to have to pick a side.

Even more than left versus right, this generational opposition has laid out the coordinates of the great political battle of our time. That’s the sense one gets, anyway, from the endless headlines heralding generational blame and bloodshed from either end of the great divide. A small sampling from the incessant, mucky stream of Millennial-baiting propaganda will dredge up an ample haul: “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation” (Time); “We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists” (Fox News); “Want to get work done? Don’t hire a millennial, business owner says” (New York Daily News); “Blame Millennials for President Trump” (Daily Beast); “Millionaire to Millennials: Stop Buying Avocado Toast If You Want to Buy a Home” (Money); and (my personal favorite) “Millennials are killing the golf industry” (Business Insider).

And on the flipside, reports of the Boomer menace are framed thusly: “How ‘baby boomers’ took over the world” (Washington Post); “Our parents are ruining the entire world” (Business Insider); “The economy is still all about—who else?—Boomers” (USA Today); “Baby boomers have been a disaster for America, and Trump is their biggest mistake yet” (Washington Post); “A Better Name for Baby Boomers: ‘The Laziest Generation’” (The New Republic); “How the baby boomers—not millennials—screwed America” (Vox). And so on.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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