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It sounds like an Onion headline but it’s actually the New York Times: “Playboy to Drop Nudity as Internet Fills Demand.” The fact that this news is reality and not satire speaks volumes about the extent to which brands must reinvent themselves in the digital age. Does Playboy going mainstream signal not simply a marketing decision reflecting changing tastes, but a new height of social media hegemony? How do we differentiate the cultural climate of our time from Facebook executives’ legal guidelines? Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are today’s arbiters of decency and indecency due to their sheer power in…
Playboy’s Image of the Ideal Woman Sure Has Changed

Playboy’s Image of the Ideal Woman Sure Has Changed

We ran the numbers. While American women’s average BMI has gone up, Playboy’s largely imagined BMI has gone down.

copyright-brandedWe’ve discussed industrial protectionism and content vs container before. To wrap up the theme, I’d like to look at the more subtle points of lobbyist language, which are just as devious – if you copy them, you’re working against your own liberties.

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To adblock or not to adblock? It seems the mobile web is reaching a turning point as the effects of the huge numbers of adverts and advertising trackers and widgets embedded in Web pages become better understood. At the same time an approach that sells itself on offering a far more streamlined mobile web is emerging: first Facebook’s Instant Articles, then Apple News – and now the Google-led consortium developing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP frames the problem with mobile adverts as one of speed. Whereas an average Web page takes around eight seconds to load, Web pages built with…
Another day, another critical vulnerability in Adobe Flash. Today, just a day after the company released its regular security update, Adobe has confirmed it found a security flaw that affects every version of Flash for every system type: Windows, Mac and Linux. Given the advisory number of CVE-2015-7645, the new flaw could allow an attacker to “crash and take control of the affected system.” The best part? There’s no fix available immediately and Adobe only says it “expects” to make an update available next week, but didn’t name a date. That’s a big risk it’s asking you to take. This exploit was first…

What Did Clinton Mean When She Said Snowden Files Fell Into the “Wrong Hands”?

Hillary Clinton asserted at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands.”

She seemed to be darkly intimating that the information Snowden gave to journalists in Hong Kong before he was granted asylum in Moscow also ended up with the Chinese and/or Russian governments.

A Second Snowden Has Leaked a Mother Lode of Drone Docs

A Second Snowden Has Leaked a Mother Lode of Drone Docs

The Intercept’s focus on adversial journalism and anonymous whistleblower security is paying off.

Global Voices Advocacy’s Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.

The Association for Progressive Communications, a pioneer organization in the technology and human rights community, is facing ongoing harassment directed at “Take Back the Tech,” a campaign intended to increase conversations and awareness about gender-based harassment online.

The coming cyber wars?

We journalists often have mixed feelings about what we report and write. Naturally, we like to see our reporting vindicated by events or other reporting. This makes us feel prescient. Still, we often feel bad, because what we’ve reported harms some group or society as a whole. That’s how I felt when I read a recent story in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Cyberwar ignites a new arms race.” Read full article >>

The Pitfalls of Using Google Ngram to Study Language

The Pitfalls of Using Google Ngram to Study Language

Garbage in, garbage out when it comes to big data analysis of language and culture.

How Cartographers Digitized the 18th-Century Road Network in France

Understanding how road networks influence the spread of towns is a key goal of urban science. The digitization of one of the greatest maps ever made should help.

A Brief History of the End of the Comments

A Brief History of the End of the Comments

For years, comment boxes have been a staple of the online experience. Now many media companies are giving up on them.


What Infographics Looked Like Before Computers

What Infographics Looked Like Before Computers

A 1939 book on how to make graphics sheds light on a data-viz boom before our time.

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Apple has historically shied away from social media, but recently started to leverage it more with the adoption of Snapchat and Twitter as a way to get the word out about Apple Music and App Store apps.

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