RSS

Category Archives: Reportages

Will tech giants move on from the internet, now we’ve all been harvested?

Much of the current hysteria about the technology industry is due to its highly ambiguous relationship with its users. Driven by the logics of both compassion and indifference, this relationship has always been erratic yet functional. These two clashing rationales, for example, allowed technology companies, frequently painted as Dr Evil, to claim the mantle of Mother Theresa. However, as the unresolved contradictions of these logics pile up, we can’t fail to notice the incoherence of the industry’s overall social vision.

The compassion story has some truth to it. Tech giants have pegged their business models on our ability to consume. Thus, their interests are somewhat aligned with ours: we need a paycheque to buy what’s being advertised. A charitable comparison might be to Henry Ford paying his workers enough to buy his cars; a less charitable might be to slave owners keeping slaves fed not to lose them to exhaustion. However, unlike Ford or slave owners, our tech moguls want someone else to fund their preferred solutions (eg the universal basic income).

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/28/morozov-artificial-intelligence-data-technology-online

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

The diabolical genius of the baby advice industry

Human beings are born too soon. Within hours of arriving in the world, a baby antelope can clamber up to a wobbly standing position; a day-old zebra foal can run from hyenas; a sea-turtle, newly hatched in the sand, knows how to find its way to the ocean. Newborn humans, on the other hand, can’t hold up their own heads without someone to help them. They can’t even burp without assistance. Place a baby human on its stomach at one day old – or even three months old, the age at which lion cubs may be starting to learn to hunt – and it’s stranded in position until you decide to turn it over, or a sabre-toothed tiger strolls into the cave to claim it. The reason for this ineptitude is well-known: our huge brains, which make us the cleverest mammals on the planet, wouldn’t fit through the birth canal if they developed more fully in the womb. (Recently, cognitive scientists have speculated that babies may actually be getting more useless as evolution proceeds; if natural selection favours ever bigger brains, you’d expect humans to be born with more and more developing left to do.)

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jan/16/baby-advice-books-industry-attachment-parenting

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags:

Cities and terror: an indivisible and brutal relationship

Almost 140 years ago, a wave of bombs exploded in London. Though they killed a relatively small number of people, they attracted a lot of attention.

The work of Irish extremists hoping to shift public opinion and political thinking about the future of their nation lasted several years. In October 1883, one of their bloodiest attacks injured 40 people on a tube train pulling out of Paddington station. Other targets included the offices of the The Times newspaper, Nelson’s Column, the Tower of London and Scotland Yard.

Throughout the decade, there were other bombings elsewhere in Europe perpetrated by various extremist groups and hitting theatres, opera houses, the French parliament and streetside cafes. In 1920, Wall Street itself was bombed. The wave of attacks prompted concern about new technologies, such as timers and dynamite, which was said to be “cheap as soap and common as sugar”, and drew debate as to how to protect cities and mass transit systems from violence.

Nearly 150 years later, a spate of recent attacks in major European cities have led to similar warnings. Experts tell us how easy it is to construct a viable explosive device with instructions from the internet, and warn of how we can, or can’t, protect our public spaces from the new tactic of using vehicles as murderous rams. After a truck was driven into a crowd at a Christmas market in Berlin last year, the police chief, Klaus Kandt, pointed out that with so many potential targets – 2,500 such markets in Germany and 60 in the city alone – it was impossible to reduce the risk to zero.

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jan/29/cities-terror-attacks-brutal-relationship-terrorism

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 1, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

The Disaster Tourist

“I beg that you see how I am only human,” Otto Warmbier pleaded tearfully at his February 2016 show trial in Pyongyang. The University of Virginia honor student sat in judgment beneath gold-framed portraits of the Kim family, tugging occasionally at the fratty summer jacket he wore over his parti-colored shirt. Before him: a scrum of cameras and a horseshoe of dour goons scribbling in notebooks. The courtroom itself—its dimensions were simply wrong. Too tall, too narrow, why’s there a fern in the corner. Dreamlike, in the eeriest way.

“I have made the worst mistake of my life,” Otto admitted. Two months earlier, he’d ventured into North Korea as part of a five-day package with a China-based outfit called Young Pioneer Tours. He and some other Westerners did what was apparently common on these trips: They imbibed a few cocktails, they snapped a few outré photos in front of statues of mass murderers. As they were boarding their plane out of the country, however, Otto was quietly apprehended. He was accused of committing “a hostile act against the state.” Eventually, Otto was arraigned on charges of working secretly for the U.S. government and attempting to “[bring] down the foundation of [North Korea’s] single-minded unity.” How he supposedly went about this was by stealing a propaganda poster from a forbidden floor of the hotel where his group was staying. For evidence, the North Korean government provided ostensible surveillance footage showing … a silhouetted humanoid … lifting up a sign? And leaning it against a wall?

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/dark-tourism/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 29, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags:

Tous victimes des pirates de l’attention

Cet article a été très compliqué à écrire. Pas seulement à cause des révélations retentissantes qu’il contient, mais parce que mon attention a sans cesse été détournée. Par mon chat Facebook qui clignote. Mon ­portable qui m’annonce un texto dont la lecture ne saurait souffrir un instant de plus. Ah tiens !, cette vidéo sur Twitter, il faut absolument que je la voie. Et que se passe-t-il sur Instagram en ce moment ? Vous-même, qui avez commencé à lire ce paragraphe, voyez déjà votre concentration se fragiliser. Accrochez-vous, nous sommes tous victimes des ­pirates de l’attention.

Des cœurs et des flammes

Ma quête a commencé par un rendez-vous avec Emma, 15 ans. Sur la ­table, posé à côté d’un Coca Light et à portée de ses mains ornées d’un vernis rose écaillé, son portable clignote comme un sapin de Noël perdu dans ce café du nord de ­Paris. Il n’arrête pas de nous interrompre, alors que je l’interroge justement à ce sujet. C’est surtout le petit fantôme jaune et blanc de Snapchat qui s’immisce dans notre conversation. « Tu vois, ça, ce sont des “streaks”, m’explique-t-elle, me donnant l’impression d’être une poule devant un couteau. Et si tu perds les streaks, tu perds tes amis… » Ces smileys permettent d’établir une ­typologie des relations comme les ados en raffolent. Cœur jaune pour meilleur ami, cœur rouge pour meilleur ami deux semaines de suite, double cœur rose pour deux mois, etc.

https://justpaste.it/1blrh

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 24, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

‘A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

The Earth is ridiculously, burstingly full of life. Four billion years after the appearance of the first microbes, 400m years after the emergence of the first life on land, 200,000 years after humans arrived on this planet, 5,000 years (give or take) after God bid Noah to gather to himself two of every creeping thing, and 200 years after we started to systematically categorise all the world’s living things, still, new species are being discovered by the hundreds and thousands.

In the world of the systematic taxonomists – those scientists charged with documenting this ever-growing onrush of biological profligacy – the first week of November 2017 looked like any other. Which is to say, it was extraordinary. It began with 95 new types of beetle from Madagascar. But this was only the beginning. As the week progressed, it brought forth seven new varieties of micromoth from across South America, 10 minuscule spiders from Ecuador, and seven South African recluse spiders, all of them poisonous. A cave-loving crustacean from Brazil. Seven types of subterranean earwig. Four Chinese cockroaches. A nocturnal jellyfish from Japan. A blue-eyed damselfly from Cambodia. Thirteen bristle worms from the bottom of the ocean – some bulbous, some hairy, all hideous. Eight North American mites pulled from the feathers of Georgia roadkill. Three black corals from Bermuda. One Andean frog, whose bright orange eyes reminded its discoverers of the Incan sun god Inti.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/14/a-different-dimension-of-loss-great-insect-die-off-sixth-extinction

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: ,

Manchester City’s plan for global domination

On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. It was a strange place for the world’s most celebrated football coach to break down: Barcelona had just won a game that few people watched on television to secure one of football’s most obscure titles, the Fifa Club World Cup. But the victory secured an unbreakable record: Barcelona had won all six titles available to any club in a single year. That is why Pep was sobbing.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/15/manchester-city-football-group-ferran-soriano

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 16, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: ,

‘We believe you harmed your child’: the war over shaken baby convictions

At first, Craig Stillwell and Carla Andrews only vaguely registered the change at the hospital; how the expressions of warm, calm concern in the doctors and nurses who had been helping them look after their sick baby had iced over. It was 15 August 2016, in the early hours of the morning, and their three-month-old daughter, Effie, was fighting for life.

Two hours earlier, Effie had woken up screaming. Her parents, both 23, had no permanent home and were staying at Craig’s father’s place in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. They had all been asleep on the floor in the lounge: Effie in the travel cot that detached from her pram, Craig still in the uniform he wore as a grass cutter. Carla thought the problem was acid reflux. She passed the baby to Craig and went to prepare a bottle of formula in the kitchen. As she worked, Effie screamed and screamed in the other room. Suddenly she fell silent. Carla heard Craig panic: “Effie! Effie!” She rushed in. Craig, terrified, was holding the child. Effie was white-faced, limbs floppy, eyes fixed, gasping weakly for air.

Paramedics arrived at 3.19am, by which time Effie appeared dead. They reached Stoke Mandeville hospital at 3.50am. She roused a little and was taken for a brain scan. Afterwards, in the resuscitation unit, a doctor told them what they had found. Effie had suffered a bleed on the brain, and it didn’t look like it had been the first. Carla and Craig both started crying.

“But how could this happen?” asked Craig.

“We’re going to look into it,” the doctor replied.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/08/shaken-baby-syndrome-war-over-convictions

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 9, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: , , , ,

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”

Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Reportages

 

Tags: , ,

Bitcoin Is the Most Obvious Bubble of the Modern Era

To call Bitcoin the biggest and most obvious bubble in modern history may be a disservice to its surreality.

The price of bitcoin has doubled four times this year. In early January, one bitcoin was worth about $1,000. By May, it hit $2,000. In June, it breached $4,000. By Thanksgiving, it was $8,000. Two weeks later, it was $16,000.

This astronomical trajectory might make sense for a new public company with accelerating profits. Bitcoin, however, has no profits. It’s not even a company. It is a digital encrypted currency running on a decentralized network of computers around the world. Ordinary currencies, like the U.S. dollar, don’t double in value by the month, unless there’s a historic deflationary crisis, like the Panic of 1837. Instead, bitcoin’s behavior more resembles that of a collectible frenzy, like Beanie Babies in the late 1990s.

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/12/bitcoin-bubble/547952/

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Economy, Reportages

 

Tags: ,