Hey Slate Plus–sters,
It’s so good to see you! I’m Lily Hay Newman and I write about technology on Slate’s Future Tense blog, a collaboration among Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State University. I write about robots, including this one named Hector; tech policy; the latest on drones; Internet culture; and pretty much anything Bill Nye feels like doing (especially if it involves emojis, which I also deeply love.)
This week Slate presented a truly magnificent and awesomely comprehensive collection on “outrage”—the concept, the word, and the feeling. It took a yearlong effort by Allison Benedikt, Dan Kois, and others to collect and organize the biggest outrages of each day in 2014. And thanks to those efforts, Slate was able to conduct a deep and beautiful exploration of what outrage is and how it plays a role in society and the Internet. In addition to excellent essays, the project also includes an amazing interactive graphic showcasing each day’s outrage, built by Chris Kirk and the whole Slate art team. It is an amazing reminder of all the outrages we experienced and then quickly forgot. (Remember that study from June 2 that said hurricanes with female names kill more people?)
Meanwhile news about the Sony Pictures hack continued to surface. The company, which is working to get itself back on track, decided not to release The Interview, the movie that motivated the hack in the first place. Things were getting so confusing that I tried to pull it all together with an explainer on what we do and don’t know about the hack. But shortly after I published it, one crucial piece of information came to light: Multiple government sources told news outlets that North Korea was behind the breach. As I said to my editor Torie Bosch when the news broke, “If it was North Korea that is bad for the world. I really thought it was gonna be sympathetic Chinese hackers who were like, ‘We think we should do this’ and North Korea was like, ‘Sure!’ ”
In other news, Slate published an excellent investigation by Maurice Chammah (originally for The Marshall Project), about how even in Texas the number of death penalty cases is declining. J. Bryan Lowder considered this year’s surge in enthusiasm for art that depicts transgender people. And Jeremy Stahl covered President Obama’s announcement about normalizing relations with Cuba.
Before I let you dig in to all of these great links (seriously, start with Outrage), I want to personally entreat you to make your cybersecurity a big priority in 2015. You need strong passwords (and two-factor authentication where available) on every digital account. You need passcodes on all of your devices in case they are lost, stolen, or surrendered to law enforcement in a search. And in places—like your job or on public Wi-Fi—where you are relying on others to keep your digital footprint secure, you need to think carefully about what you are logging into, writing, and doing online. Our world is so completely digital that we can’t be in full control of our data anymore without making significant lifestyle choices and personal sacrifices. If you don’t want to be a digital recluse I understand, I don’t either. But hacks at major companies and agencies show no sign of slowing down, so be aware and protect yourself as much as you can. Unfortunately it seems like 2015 will be the year of the hack just as much as 2014 was, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Be safe and happy reading!