Friday Five: Feb 19, 2016

1. A TMZ Approach to TMZ

The New Yorker profiled Harvey Levin, founder and head honcho of TMZ. I’ve never actively followed celebrity culture, or really cared for that matter, but you can’t argue the impact that TMZ has had on pop culture and celebrity reporting. The New Yorker piece reveals that while sometimes TMZ acts like any upstart media company, at other times they sound more like the CIA. A really interesting read on how paying sources and accepting what used to be considered as sub-par content (think iPhone video of a computer screen showing grainy security footage), they changed the landscape for what was fit to print.

2. Apple Stands Up For Encryption

In a maelstrom of articles, reports, opinions, and support, Tim Cook and Apple have become the champions for encryption and privacy this week. For some background on the above letter: after the shooting at San Bernadino last year, the FBI recovered one of the shooters’ work phone (and of interesting legal note, the ‘work’ that issued the phone was a Government agency which fully supports the FBI’s investigation), Apple engineers were brought onto the case to help retrieve information from the phone. While Apple was willingly aiding the FBI in their investigation, when the FBI asked Apple to unlock the phone (in this case, an iPhone 5C, this becomes more important when you learn about the “security enclave”) in such a manner as to develop a firmware update specific to that phone that would disable key security features of the device. Previously (as in, in phones older than the iPhone 5S and running firmware before iOS 9) Apple had the ability to unlock a phone and bypass the user’s PIN completely, but that option is no longer possible due to security measures Apple developed and implemented since. In this case, the FBI wants to brute force the password (run a program that attempts every password combination of numbers and/or letters possible until the correct password is guessed) but as you probably know, iPhones make you wait after a certain amount of wrong guesses, and by another feature, the device wipes it’s memory if 10 wrong attempts are made. This letter is Apple saying that yes, they could develop this piece of software to disable the security features and cripple the safeguards of the device, but to do so would set a dangerous precedent that would allow the FBI to request the same access to any phone it physically has access to. There’s lots of good reporting on why this case is important and what it means for the national encryption debate. Here are a few articles of note: The Guardian, Dan Guido, Gizmodo, updates from The Verge.

3. Like, Reblog, Repeat

A crazy piece on what life is like as a “Tumblr Famous” teen. The basics: it’s very weird and sometimes slightly terrifying. Another long read that delves deep into the murky waters of the teenager on the internet.

4. What We Talk About When We Talk About Pablo

In which Jayson Greene deftly and aptly talks about Kanye’s latest, and how it fits in not only the canon of Kanye but into the pop culture zeitgeist as a whole. It’s been the topic of great debate on all internet channels this week, and I still stand by what I said when I originally tweeted this link out. It’s a greatly written piece that is a backhanded compliment on what Kanye has achieved with this album. For Pitchfork to grant the label “Best New Music” alongside this review is really one of the most confusing parts, where underlying the review is the fact that the entire album still sounds rushed and not entirely finished.

5. If You Don’t Know Who The Gentrifier Is, It’s Probably You.

On gentrification and it’s unavoidability in a new series from The Awl.

Well I think gentrification is happening because people are viewing neighborhoods differently, due to changes in housing prices elsewhere or changes in that neighborhood — the accessibility of the neighborhood. So I think you have to keep in mind neighborhoods are always changing, and that’s gonna change who wants to move into certain neighborhoods and who wants to move out. I think people should try to integrate themselves into the neighborhood. I don’t think the answer is that people should say, “Oh I’m not gonna move into this neighborhood because I’m gonna contribute to gentrification.” I think people that have that concern they can think about voting for politicians who will support more housing around the city in different places, but I don’t think the response is to say, “I’m not gonna move there because it’s part of gentrification.”