Search Results For Snapchat

Museum Of Modern Snapchat?

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 10 2014 @ 8:03am

Zachary Fine worries that “even art – that precious category of aesthetics coveted for its ability to draw our eye and focus – finds itself potentially imperiled by the company’s growing orbit”:

The renowned Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA) justScreen Shot 2014-09-04 at 3.58.12 PM joined the app as a user, and almost immediately gathered a following with its witty snaps. Now careening along after their forward-thinking competitor, the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, the Georgia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago have followed suit.

While it remains to be seen what kind of future this bodes for habits of viewing inside museums and beyond, the prospects seem grim. Unfortunately, Snapchat rewards those very practices of rapid looking and reading that have so impaired our attention spans and hermeneutic dexterity in the Internet age. It not only convinces us that we have become good at seeing quickly, but that such practices are sufficient for the thoughtful interpretation of challenging and information-dense images. If users are determined to keep Snapchat in their lives, let them routinely resort to the under-employed screenshot—assuming fingers can scramble in time.

(Image from LACMA’s Snapchat channel via Hrag Vartanian)

by Michelle Dean

A reader compares the Sony hacking to this year’s sexting hacks:

I was a Sony Pictures employee up until two months ago. I worked as a television producer on the Sony lot for the previous two years. On a daily basis, I passed by Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton and the others whose private emails have now been leaked (contrary to Michelle Dean’s disdain that they’re just “big fancy business people,” they’re actually very cool, approachable people), and I have been warned that my private information has very likely been leaked as well – as have any present and former Sony Pictures employees going as far back as 1995. (!)

Let’s first remember what this hack is about: Private documents and emails were illegally stolen and leaked to the public, with more leaks threatened, in order to blackmail Sony out of releasing a film – they have specifically demanded that Sony not release “The Interview.” Put another way, foreign hackers are blackmailing Americans out of exercising their First Amendment rights. And now the media outlets that continue to print the salacious details revealed in these stolen documents are complicit in that blackmail scheme, having given the leaked information the damaging attention that the hackers wanted. The media crossed the line when the reporting shifted from the story of the hack itself and the criminal investigation, to printing every salacious email they could find.

This is not a Snowden leak where it can be argued that this is information about our government that is vital to American citizens. As Sorkin pointed out, these hacks reveal no laws broken by Sony. So this is nothing more than sleazy tabloid journalism using documents stolen by criminals. It is the complete lack of ethics of The Fappening all over again. It doesn’t matter how we got the information, there’s page-views to get! Is this the norm now?

And the worst part is, in the few stories that I’ve read on this, I have seen nothing that would shock anyone in the entertainment industry: Film executives and producers talk bluntly about scripts and actors and personalities because that is the business that they are in. They have to be both passionate and direct, or they aren’t doing their jobs.

Let’s flip the script, so to speak: All of your personal information, emails, your employees’ medical records, payrolls, etc. are leaked by foreign hackers, who threaten to release more if you publish a controversial story. The FBI is investigating. How would you feel about all of your fellow bloggers printing every salacious, taken-out-of-context detail of every email you’ve sent for the past 20 years, making it front page news every day for three straight weeks, and counting? Would you really blame YOURSELF?

To answer the reader’s last question first: I would, at least a tiny bit. But then I’m the self-lacerating sort. And I also tend to see things in questions of degrees.

Of course I would be unhappy to see journalists publish people’s unredacted medical records and social security numbers, which I would agree are analogous to the sext leaks of early September. And I completely sympathize with the panic employees caught up in this mess might feel about that. As far as I know, no one has yet printed things like that but it’s not much comfort.

My point was more limited than this reader imagines. I was simply pointing out that business executives do not have a clear-cut expectation of complete privacy in emails that related to business negotiations and transactions. That goes for the “cool, approachable” executives, too. Business people are regularly called onto the carpet by their lawyers and shareholders to account for their actions in managing the company. It’s just part of the deal along with the rich severance payout.

Is that an abridgement of their First Amendment rights? I’m not so sure. I think it’s just about being a responsible executive.

These emails may not show “illegal” activity per se, in that nothing in them hints at criminality. But they do have the potential to incur big costs for the company in later disputes and litigation. And shareholders do, by the way, have some interest in knowing how the company’s management behaves. The public interest here may not be as clear-cut as in the Snowden matter but these aren’t simply “private” matters. And as an experienced big fancy business person (I think she can survive a tongue-in-cheek remark), I’m sure Pascal knows that intimately.

Update from a reader:

Michelle Dean was right to feel sorry for the in-house counsel at Sony who has tried to prevent everyone there from sending sensitive e-mails – clearly, the message hasn’t gotten through there based on that note from a former Sony employee. News flash to everyone in the US: your company, not you, owns your e-mails! When you hit “delete” on an e-mail, it means “saved forever on a server and/or hard drive somewhere”. Anyone in this day and age who thinks they have any expectation of privacy in any e-mail exchange is sorely mistaken.

When you communicate by e-mail, it feels like a conversation, but it’s like etching something into stone. I tell everyone at my company that for any e-mail you write, imagine seeing it blown up on a giant screen in courtroom somewhere, and you having to explain what you meant by it. I’ve sat through that exact scenario hundreds of times, and have seen offhand e-mails written in the middle of the night create hundreds of millions of dollars in liability for a company, and countless deposition and trial time being spent talking about one or two sentence e-mails. I’ve also seen sexually explicit e-mails (and photos/videos) that would make anyone blush, and these have been viewed and discussed in open court.

I also don’t understand the reference to “First Amendment Rights” by the former Sony employee. Where is the US government involved in stopping anyone at Sony from saying anything? The authorities should go after whoever hacked into the system, and convict them of a crime if they can be caught, but the people who wrote these e-mails assumed the risk when they decided to write an e-mail instead of picking up the phone (or walking down the hall). With everything that’s happened the last few years, including Snapchat hacks etc., it’s amazing to me that people are still surprised when their e-mails get exposed for the world to see.

Forward thinking companies are automatically deleting all e-mails after a short period of time (i.e., 90 days), both to save storage money and to avoid situations like this. Microsoft was at the forefront of this, and has been extremely pleased with the results. Sony (and all of the other studios) may want to consider a similar policy, which would have avoided most of the most embarrassing leaks.

Love In The Time Of Sexting

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 15 2014 @ 8:12pm


After the celebrity photo hackings earlier this year, Jenna Wortham decided to explore “the way that our phones … foster intimate interactions that feel so personal and deep, despite being relayed through a machine.” She elaborates on why she started her “Everybody Sexts” project, which pairs illustrations of NSFW selfies with short interviews:

I think that everybody sexts. Not everyone sends nude photos, of course, for a variety of reasons. But many people I’ve talked to define a sext as anything sent with sexual intent, be it a suggestive Gchat exchange, a racy photo, a suggestive Snapchat, or even those aqua-blue droplets of sweat emoji.

I asked people I knew — and many I didn’t — to talk to me about sexts and the stories behind them, the risks, perceived and real, and why they did it, knowing that they could be shared beyond their control. Lastly, I asked them to share a nude that they had sent to someone. And so many people did, without hesitation, or requiring anything in exchange. I was floored by their openness, and the expanse of human emotions and experiences on display. What I discovered, mainly, is that sexting — like anything else done on our phones — was mostly just meant to be fun, for fun, grown folks doing what grown folks do.

How “K,” a 30-year-old writer in Chicago, describes her sext life:

I sent my first sext the very first second cell phones with cameras were invented. It was very posed — white sheets semi-covering artfully displayed boobs. Now, I send them whenever the mood strikes, or I feel like I look especially great. It has to be someone I’ve been seriously dating for a long time and someone who will be properly in awe of my magnificent everything. I would not send a nude to someone I was not in a trusted relationship with, and anyone in a trusted relationship with me knows better than to trifle with that trust.

I sent this [image] to my girlfriend in July, when she was off on tour with her band. She was sharing rooms with her bandmates every night and had zero privacy, and I wanted to torture her. She really, really liked it and sent me several desperate texts an hour for the rest of the day. This is the exact effect I hoped for.

Another entry:

S, 25
Cultural worker, Brooklyn

Q. Tell me about this image [seen above].
A. I sent this photo to my boyfriend, from his bedroom. He leaves much earlier for work than I do. I wanted to show him what he was missing.

Q. What was his response?
A. “Oh my lord.”

Keep reading here for more.

(Illustration by Melody Newcomb)

In a review of a recent show by Neutral Milk Hotel, Grayson Haver Currin griped that frontman Jeff Mangum’s no-photo policy for concertgoers plays like a cynical ploy:

Mangum is attempting to preserve the same legacy of an enigma that turned into a bankable career during his prolonged absence; in an age of instant information and updates, where what you had for breakfast becomes part of your digital identity, can you actually prove that you saw Neutral Milk Hotel without telling and showing your friends? … [T]he unexpected and unfortunate part … is that he’s dictating how those who actively fund him can interact with their own nostalgia, the exact thing he’s been preying on and profiting from for several touring years now. Mangum’s reluctance to be photographed seems less like a savior complex or a production concern than a brilliant financial ruse: If you can’t preserve this experience, then goddammit, you will have to pay for it again and again and again.

Judy Berman doesn’t follow:

I don’t think that logic holds up. If you’re the kind of person whose concert experience is made or broken by the ability to “preserve” it via Instagram, then what do you get out of repeatedly paying to see a band that will never, ever let you do that? If Mangum’s photo ban really were rooted in some master plan to exploit his fans’ memories, you’d hope he’d do a better job monetizing it. Where is the Neutral Milk Hotel Tour 2014 Official “Bootleg” Series? Where is the one band-affiliated photographer who will sell you his shots of each show, with a hefty percentage of the proceeds going right into Jeff Mangum’s pocket? Where are the dumb fan-exploitation schemes like this one?

She sees plenty of advantages in no-photo shows:

At most shows I’ve been to recently, especially the ones where the performers have a significant following, I’ve been practically surrounded by people who’ve had their phones out for the entirety of every set, constantly Instagramming and shooting videos and texting or Snapchatting all of it to their friends. I’m fully aware that you can’t criticize this shit in 2014 without seeming like an out-of-touch Luddite, but so be it. It’s a special kind of terrible to shell out money to see a band you love, only to realize you’ll be watching them through the iPad the guy in front you is holding over his head. I mean, is that dude’s right to spoil the show for me (and everyone else unlucky enough to stand behind him) more important than my right to a clear view of the performance I paid for?

(Video: Jeff Mangum performs an encore at MASS MoCA on February 16, 2013)

When The Phone Goes Dead

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 26 2014 @ 10:19am

Alice Robb takes note of a remote village in Papua New Guinea where locals call the deceased on their cellphones:

[The villagers] have long been confident in their ability to talk to the dead, believing they can communicate with the world of spirits in dreams, visions, and trances induced by special rituals. The introduction of mobile phones has opened up new possibilities: The Ambonwari believe they can use them to contact their dead relatives, whose numbers they obtain from healers. And once they reach them, they can ask for anything. “It is a general conviction,” write [anthropologists Borut] Telban and [Daniela] Vavrova, “that once people know the phone numbers of their deceased relatives they can ring and ask the spirits to put money in their bank accounts.”

I asked Telban if the villagers are discouraged that they never get through to the spirit world; he assured me that they’re not. They might assume the spirits aren’t available. And they ring random numbers so often that occasionally they do reach someone, whose voice they attribute to a spirit.

Meanwhile, in the US, hardly anyone seems to use their cellphones to call the living:

In fact, the use of voice calls – which has been dropping since 2007, the year Apple introduced the original iPhone – has fallen off a cliff lately. As of last year, cell providers in the U.S. are now making more money per user from data use than voice calling. (The U.S. is only the seventh nation to reach the data-voice tipping point — it happened in countries like Japan as early as 2011.) A recent survey of 7,000 U.S. high-school seniors found that only 34 percent made phone calls every day — far fewer than the number who texted or used apps like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. And companies like AT&T and Verizon, which saw the data boom coming years ago, have been spending more and more on new, bigger LTE data networks, while essentially giving away their voice plans for free.

Chart Of The Day

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 24 2014 @ 8:37pm


Derek Thompson shares the results of a recent survey about teenagers’ Internet habits. One of his takeaways:

If you’re confused why digital publishers obsess over Facebook and social media, make this graph your smartphone wallpaper. Even the most popular site among teens – BuzzFeed – has fewer daily visitors than any network or app in the graph. (Even Beats, which is considered a tiny music service, has more daily users than any website in the survey.) Seventy three percent of teens don’t read BuzzFeed, 84 percent don’t read Reddit, and 96 percent don’t read Mashable or Gawker.

For young people, Facebook is the newspaper, and websites are the authors.

Christopher Mims thinks not:

The central problems with the Fire, the factors that will kill its sales as surely as they have held Windows Phone to single digit market share in North America, are these:

1. People are loath to switch from the phones they already have, and in the process abandon all the apps and media they’ve bought.

2. The North American market for smartphones–and especially the market for high-end smartphones like the Fire – is heavily saturated, which means there are hardly any new users out there who might adopt the Fire as their first phone.

3. Fire can’t access the existing pool of Android apps. It’s missing critical ones like Uber (Bezos says it’s coming) and Snapchat (no word on when it will appear).

Yglesias worries that the new Fire Phone is too high-end for its own good:

Jeff Bezos’ company has a unique opportunity to come into the smartphone space with a strategy that’s not symmetrical to what other people are doing. Amazon’s phone is first and foremost a physical extension of Amazon-the-store. That argues for a strategy built around a cheap, zero-margin phone that aims to undercut the existing market leaders.

Instead, Amazon seems to be trying to beat the market leaders by adding a bunch of snazzy 3D features to what we’ve come to expect from a high-end smartphone. They’ve even gone out of their way to slightly exceed iPhone 5S specs as far as I can tell. The only price edge Amazon is offering is one year’s worth of Prime membership for free. But this, too, seems backwards. Rather than making Prime a benefit of phone ownership, why not make a cheap phone a benefit of Prime membership?

Manjoo concurs:

For Amazon, a company whose previous devices have had innovative pricing plans that often involved selling devices at cost, the Fire phone’s uninspired price tag is a surprising disappointment. The world needed a great, cheap smartphone.

But Vauhini Vara is tickled by some of the high-end features:

[I]t can do a bunch of charming tricks that are, in fact, like something out of a futuristic “Dick Tracy.” It can change the perspective in games in response to your head movements, make images appear almost as if they were in 3-D (though it isn’t actually 3-D, as some had predicted it would be), and scroll through the content on a Web page – say, a newspaper article – when you tilt it. … People seem to be finding its phone’s newfangled features pretty cool – cool enough, maybe, to get them to switch over from the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies that, after all, haven’t offered much in the way of new whiz-bang gadgetry over the past couple of years.

And Timothy B. Lee believes Amazon made one shrewd move:

The Fire Phone includes an app called Firefly that helps users identify things they point their cameras at, from books to paintings. For some items, Firefly will present useful information, like the Wikipedia page for a famous painting. If it’s an item Amazon sells, Firefly will let you click to buy it.

This should terrify brick and mortar retailers. They have long worried about “showrooming,” the practice where customers will find a product in a physical store (like Best Buy or Home Depot) but then order it from Amazon where the price is lower. Showrooming isn’t new – journalists have been writing trend pieces about it for years. But Firefly promises to make the process effortless.

Kevin Roose reports that “financial start-ups—known collectively as ‘fintech’—are spreading like kudzu, each with a different idea about how to usurp the giants of Wall Street by offering better services, lower fees, or both”:

Part of the reason the tech world is interested in finance is the sheer amount of money involved—financial services is a $1.2 trillion industry, and U.S.-based fintech start-ups raised an estimated $1.3 billion last quarter alone. But banking is also a prime candidate for disruption because, like much of the old-line corporate world, it tends to run on bloated, creaky technology. Even something as simple as applying for a loan can take weeks or months, thanks to the sheer number of human hands such transactions pass through. And, since each intermediary wants a cut, fees are everywhere. Undercutting big banks and speeding up processes might not be as sexy as, say, creating the next Snapchat, but it’s low-hanging fruit for techies who want a way in to a lucrative market. After all, today’s megabanks are really just bundles of particular, loosely related services cobbled together by years of acquisitions and market ­consolidation. If those bundles can be broken apart, the start-up world’s revolution looks a lot more plausible.

A Hard Read

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 25 2014 @ 7:46pm

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 1.44.57 PM

Alexis Madrigal praises Porn Studies, a new academic publication:

Porn is always two clicks away, and, hovers at the edge of so many conversations from analyses of Girls to sending messages on phones to the NSA. The problem, however, is that there are costs to even talking about pornography. This is true even in our supposed bastions of intellectual freedom, as several of the articles make clear. “I have been told ‘You don’t want to be ‘the porn guy’” and ‘you will have to deal with the content issue of your work,’” writes Nathaniel Burke in his essay Positionality and Pornography. I’d heard similar things from journalists, male and female alike. Very few people want to be “the porn guy.” And so researchers and critics choose to do work on less fraught, less important topics. Perhaps having a publication that serves as a gathering place will create some strength in academic numbers.

Lauren Davis was impressed by the first issue:

[T]he topics are quite intriguing: “Porn and sex education, porn as sex education, Revisiting Dirty Looks (an interview with Pamela Church Gibson about her collection of feminist essays about pornography), a study of emerging niches in US pornography consumption, and one on the nature and implications of sexual fantasies. On the other hand, many of the papers are about the challenges of actually researching pornography and the role of the pornography researcher, though even those can be entertaining; one involves a visit to the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas.

(Graphic from “Deep Tags: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Online Pornography,” by Antoine Mazièresad, Mathieu Trachmanb, Jean-Philippe Cointeta, Baptiste Coulmontc, and Christophe Prieur)

Facebook’s Spending Spree

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 22 2014 @ 7:29am

Felix Salmon links Zuckerberg’s decision to acquire WhatsApp back to its “stroke-of-genius” decision to go public in 2011 and conquer the mobile market through acquisitions:

Zuckerberg knew, circa Facebook’s IPO, that his company was not good at mobile: it didn’t have the problem solved. And he knew that asking his existing corps of engineers to turn their attention to mobile would probably not work. But the good news was that he was now running a public company, with lots of cash, and a highly-valued acquisition currency in the form of Facebook stock. …

Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 not because the product was particularly great, but because the product was insanely popular. The same when he offered $3 billion for Snapchat. Sometimes, lightning strikes. And while Facebook is happy writing its own mobile apps in the hope that lightning will strike them, it knows better than to count on such a thing happening. If you want to be certain that hundreds of millions of people are using your mobile products, the only way to do that is to buy mobile products which hundreds of millions of people are using.

Peter Yared sees another rationale for Facebook buying WhatsApp. Tapping into people’s mobile contacts:

Facebook had already acquired the ability to have a unilateral, aspirational follow capability akin to Twitter with its Instagram acquisition. WhatsApp offers a social network of 450 million users that are intimately connected with each other by phone numbers. With this acquisition, Facebook now controls the intersection of all three kinds of social graphs: casual acquaintances, aspirational following, and intimate relationships. And that’s worth quite a premium.

Meanwhile, Timothy Lee worries that the culture of acquisition might stifle creativity:

It’s always hard to prove what might have been. But it’s helpful to imagine what the world would be like if Google had been acquired by Yahoo in 2002. Suppose that Yahoo had pledged to allow Google to operate independently from its parent company, continuing to build the world’s greatest search engine. There’s every reason to think that in this parallel universe, Google would dominate the search business as much as it does in our own.

But it’s hard to imagine Google’s founders being able to pursue the wide range of new products that the Mountain View giant has pursued over the last decade. Yahoo already had a mail client in 2004, so Yahoo probably would have vetoed the creation of Gmail. Similarly, Yahoo management would have been reluctant for Google to release Google Maps to compete with Yahoo Maps.