Media

THE END OF GAWKER MEDIA
August 18, 2016 10:57 pm

 

Here’s an article by Mary Elizabeth Williams, candidly discussing her brief stint as a Gawker punching bag, all while not only battling cancer, but also grieving the loss of two family members. Her tone throughout just screams “I EXPECT BETTER,” questioning the validity of the site’s mastered craft of insulting someone in a public sphere, no matter the circumstances. In response to Williams’s piece, the pop culture dungeon of snark gave a rather long-winded, unsolicited lesson on the importance of criticism that basically boiled down to this: suck it up. Such was the Gawker way.

Watching its existence dangle in uncertainty – courtesy of a self-proclaimed racist, washed-up, wrestler’s lawsuit, secretly bankrolled by Grudge Holding Billionaire Peter Thiel – ‘The Gawker Way’ is what made rooting for the media outlet very difficult for many. Both sides were terrible, but one less than the other. Here’s a hint: any side not getting secretly bankrolled by Grudge Holding Billionaire Peter Thiel is usually going to be the lesser of two evils. The fact that someone rich enough had the ability to wipe an entire publication off the face of the internet because of something written about him, no matter how tasteless, sets a worrisome president. Oops, I mean precedent.

This is the ideology baggage that comes with defending Gawker in this particular instance. So when news broke this Thursday afternoon that Gawker will be ending operations next week after being acquired by Univision, it lead to a healthy mix of sympathy and celebration.

For years, each site spawned by Gawker Media has made a name for itself by being hyper-critical, unforgiving, and often times crude. As evinced by the cringeworthy headline to this Deadspin article featuring a pair of racial slurs, and Jezebel’s Sony-hack-exploiting discovery of Amy Pascal’s recent Amazon purchases, they flaunt this reputation proudly.

So what should be made of a media company that treated their subjects in such a way? Readers and writers alike would frequently waffle on their stance, almost daily, based on whether or not Gawker’s vitriol was being used for good.

MEME-TRUMP

Make no mistake, there was plenty of great writing all across the board. Just a couple of months ago, there was a hilariously thorough investigation on the possible origins of Donald Trump’s infamous hairstyle done by Ashley Feinberg. Gawker also proved to be a launching pad for many important conversations. Although comedian Hannibal Buress sparked the nationwide exhuming of Bill Cosby’s unchecked half-century of shittiness, Gawker also helped with this article written by Tom Socca months before Buress riffed about it on stage. In addition to Kotaku’s consistently strong defense against the endless black hole of gross that is Gamer Gate, Jezebel always provided some of the funniest, hardest-hitting satire online.

Gawker’s sophomoric recklessness, however, can’t be legitimized by claiming that the good outweighs the bad. Gawker always gave a maximal effort when it came to making a point or looking for dirt on pop culture figures. Sometimes it was done by hijacking an ad campaign with Hitler quotes. And other times writers would just blindly throw a dart at a wall of actors’ headshots and whichever beau it landed on, they would insist that he’s gay.

Outrage from these pieces would come and go like the ocean tide. Disgruntled readers eventually moved onto something else, and everyone on team Gawker reveled in all the clicks their outlandish behavior garnered. It seemed as though this would be the perpetual give and take. Little did anyone know, Grudge Holding Billionaire Peter Thiel was biding his time for nearly a decade, looking for a way to finally put an end to this problematic smut-haven.

To be completely fair to Grudge Holding Billionaire Peter Thiel, Gawker outing him was despicable. Reluctant apologists have been sharing the article on Twitter recently, saying that for Gawker standards, it was tame. That same argument was used by Williams’s friends as a way to console her after getting Gawker’d. And admittedly, yes, for Gawker standards the Thiel article actually was tame, oddly complimentary too. But the fact that one of the site’s more tender examples of writing still involves outing a gay man has to be challenging for any Freedom of Press defender to stomach.

It would not be surprising if a fresh batch of Gawker imposters sprout up in the next few years looking to make a name for themselves. Nobody should, though. It was a bold experiment, being terrible to everyone on the planet, but media outlets shouldn’t start priding themselves on being devoid of tact and empathy. Leave that to all the off the wall celebrities out there.

TOR PROJECT COMBINES WITH HOME ASSISTANT TO PROTECT INTERNET OF THINGS
July 26, 2016 11:58 am

Many people know of Tor, and the Tor Network, as a way to preserve anonymity online.  What is less known is that Tor began as a U.S intelligence communications tool, but was repurposed in 2006 by the nonprofit The Tor Project

Since this transition, Tor has developed into a service that is used by multitudes of internet users across the globe.  Tor users can download The Tor Browser, which is free and open-source, to connect to the Tor Network and browse the web, or send messages, while keeping their information private and anonymous. 

Some people associate Tor with the dark web, and people who wish to browse hidden, unmonitored areas of webspace for official purposes, whether malicious or benevolent.  In actuality, many people that use Tor are simply normal, everyday individuals surfing the web.  The reasons behind using Tor are many: protecting against identity theft, maintaining online privacy, avoiding censorship, discussing socially sensitive information, etc.

According to The Tor Project FAQ, regular users include, but are not limited to: journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, military officials, business owners, bloggers, IT professionals, whistleblowers and many more. 

Using Tor protects you against a common form of Internet surveillance known as “traffic analysis.” Traffic analysis can be used to infer who is talking to whom over a public network. Knowing the source and destination of your Internet traffic allows others to track your behavior and interests. – The Tor Project

Now, The Tor Project is expanding its functionality to include privacy for “The Internet of Things” (IoT).  The Internet of Things is a term used to reference the interconnection of anything that has the potential to be connected to the internet, or that functions in a digital space.

“The Internet of Things” is the remote control and networking of everyday devices ranging from a family’s lawn sprinkler or babycam to a corporation’s entire HVAC system.” – The Tor Project

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By using Home Assistant, an automation platform that runs on the programming language Python 3, Tor is incorporating privacy technology into everyday life, rather than exclusively online. In regard to the digitization of everyday tasks, jobs and items, as well as the IoT, taking measures to ensure privacy now demands attention beyond monitoring your web presence.

This project was developed by Nathan Freitas, Executive Director of The Guardian Project, which also focuses on maintaining privacy through mobile device customization and the development of encrypted mobile applications.

Too many ‘Things’ in our homes, at our hospitals, in our businesses and throughout our lives are exposed to the public Internet without the ability to protect their communication. Tor provides this, for free, with real-world hard ended, open-source software and strong, state of the art cryptography. – Nathan Freitas

It may be a while before Tor users and people browsing regularly on the Tor Browser rival the number of people using more popular web browsers like Chrome, Safari or Firefox. That said, in regard to the speed at which technology changes, the development of Tor Home Assistant may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring privacy for everything, not just your computer.

For more information check out the Home Assistant page for Tor setup, dubbed “Home Assistant Cookbook.”

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD AND KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD AND K
June 8, 2016 1:18 pm

You can bet those cringe-worthy getups your parents wore in the early-80s are going to be next season’s hot commodity. Human innovation is less about spontaneous combustion and more about an endless mashup of patterns. ‘Dude! What does mine say?  Sweet! What does mine say?’ If only a rock band capitalized on this notion of the never-ending pop cultural Saṃsāra.

There’s no way to properly brace yourself for King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s latest high-octane concoction. Nonagon Infinity dishes out a blissed-out 42-minute jam served with a blitz of viciously fast guitar-play, fist-pumping lyrics, and a time-warping motorick beat. It’s also King Gizzard’s most righteously ambitious effort to date: an album that’s deliberately designed to seamlessly loop back to the beginning, again and again, for eternity. The disorienting bombastity crescendos into a seemingly abrupt end on “Road Train,” which fits back into the first track “Robot Stop.” The beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. C-C-C-Combo Breaker!!

Frontman Stu Mackenzie howls out themes of a dystopian future run by robots (The universe is a machine/That has awoken from a dream), evil flying vultures (People-Vultures waiting to begin/Deadly ulcers feeding on my skin), and the nonsensical (Once I’m Mr. Beat/I only miss a beat).

It’s rare to see a band with seven members, but Australian psychedelic rock septet King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard just wouldn’t be complete without two drummers, four guitarists, and harmonica. Nonagon Infinity was released via According to Our Records (ATO), which features a heady roster including Gogol Bordello, My Morning Jacket, and Old Crow Medicine Show. While certainly conjuring up 70s prog-rock of Pink Floyd and Yes ilk, King Gizzard rev up the ferocity by incorporating the harder edge of metal, and the hallucinatory repetition of Krautrock. Sonically, the band resembles fellow-Melbourne garage-rockers The Oh Sees.

The accompanying music videos also match the novelty-rock theme. “Gamma Knife” features the band circled around a makeshift offering pit as the camera dizzyingly pans around King Gizzard and company shredding guitars and banging drums. Druids adorned in brightly colored robes descend from the surrounding foliage. The video comes to an end as the ritual pit spawns a egg-shaped crystal and knocks out the band and adjoining worshipers. Incidentally this seamlessly leads into the next video, “People Vultures” in which the egg hatches a horrendously lofty paper-mache prop, which King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard painstakingly lug around while performing their instruments (you know, like a People Vulture). They are sporadically attacked by jump-kicking villains reminiscent of Power-Ranger which are vaporized by the vulture’s lazer beams.

If you hadn’t guessed yet, the band has already confirmed they will release a music video for each of the tracks on Nonagon Infinity–which might seem like a page out of Beyonce’s playbook–but this case clearly hints that, yes, there will be a never-ending music video to accompany their never-ending album.

If you’re a connoisseur of Rock’N’Roll’s rich history of novelties Nonagon Infinity is a must have–it fits in right next to Flaming Lips Zaireeka, synchronizing Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of Oz, KISS action figurines, and the complete Guitar Hero collection. Unsurprisingly so, the prized vinyl pressing of Nonagon Infinity is already sold out on their bandcamp. You can start placing your bets on Ebay where I’m sure it’ll fetch a fair price.

I say tuh-may-tow. You say to-mah-to. I call it retro, you call it nostalgia. Certainly you’re familiar with the old adage that Pop Culture comes in cycles.  Some call it the 40-year-rule, but…