Five Reads: Spying on Crime
Here’s our roundup of five compelling stories from around the internet in the last few days. Look for this column every week in this space.
The Spyware That Took Down El Chapo
The trial of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the kingpin of the Sinaloa drug cartel, has generated riveting testimony and great journalism. It has also highlighted the omnipresent role of tech in all organizations — legal and otherwise. In the Atlantic, Sidney Fussell explains how the FBI penetrated the cartel’s communications system and exploited Guzmán’s paranoid obsession with spying on his own operatives to take him down.
SXSW 2019 explores cybersecurity and democracy with panels on Simulating Criminal Hackers to Strengthen Security, Taming the Orwellian Surveillance State, and Securing Our Nation’s Election Infrastructure as part of the Tech Industry & Enterprise and Intelligent Future tracks.
Screens Are Bad, Right?
Technology often catches the blame when things go wrong. Screen time in particular is singled out as a factor in depression and other mood and mental disorders, especially among kids and teenagers. But, as reported by Wired, it turns out that the massive datasets behind these observations are like gargantuan ink-blots, according to new research by the Oxford Internet Institute — what you see depends on what you bring. Screens may not be so harmful after all.
How To Update A Time Lord
It’s one of the trickiest moves in the entertainment industry — rebooting a beloved TV franchise without alienating hardcore fans. The BBC series Doctor Who has been running for an astonishing 50 years, but Jodie Whittaker’s powerful transformation may be the most profound yet.
Under the Influence
It’s not news that Instagrammers have widened their sphere of influence. But it may have come as some surprise that rapper Cardi B earned wide praise from pundits across the political spectrum for her forceful Insta-critique of President Trump and his government shutdown. With almost 40 million followers on Instagram, Cardi B has built a sophisticated brand and persona by mastering her medium. But influence can have a dark side, too. VICE provides a vivid portrait of self-obsession and meltdown in a piece on influencer Caroline Calloway.
Instagram co-founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom will deliver a SXSW 2019 keynote address.
Reversing the Optics of Sunshine
Slathering on sunscreen has been a standard rule for as long as we can remember — even on dark skin, even on a cloudy day. But there’s a quiet rebellion brewing. New evidence suggests that sunlight confers a host of benefits — and that avoiding the sun may be as bad for you as smoking. It’s a good reminder that maintaining a healthy skepticism and questioning authority can be a good thing.
Five Reads Archive
January 10: Taming Toxic Trolls
January 4: Big Tech = Big Trouble
December 28: Austin is Weird and Wired
December 22: The End of Traffic
December 15: Guarding the Truth
December 5: Becoming an Obama
November 30: The Trouble for Juul
November 21: Life Is Good
November 16: Whither Facebook
November 9: Why Does the US Love Guns?
November 2: Esther Perel Knows Love
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.