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The Weekender: on sequels, secret weapons, and sexting

What to do, see, and read this weekend

Good morning, and welcome back to The Weekender. Our weekend journey is just now starting, so thank you for choosing us for your travels. As you may recall, this was the 46th week of the year 2014 on the planet known colloquially as Earth, otherwise known as Terra in other inhabited star systems. It was not a quiet week, as you might imagine. Below you'll find your itinerary, carefully crafted for your pleasure; stories from the week passed and recommendations for the days ahead. Now. Please sit back and relax as we take you on a journey through time and space. You might hear a slight buzzing in your ears as we get started.

Do this

Paris Photo, Grand Palais

The Grand Palais will play host to Paris Photo this weekend, an international art fair featuring some of the finest works by photographers in the medium today. 169 exhibitors will show off their work, as though a gallery space exploded onto the Champs-Élysées. See this as soon as possible. Or take a virtual tour here.


Sequel, Los Angeles

What if Blade Runner got a sequel? What would that look like? If you're a fan of classic films that inexplicably got cut short or never really needed a sequel, iam8bit is currently showing off posters for fictional sequels for your favorites. 2084 is a personal favorite of ours.


Read this

What can Obama really do for net neutrality?

President Obama came out in favor of strong net neutrality earlier this week, but that doesn't actually mean that advocates are going to get what they want. Instead, the president's statement is just going to make matters tougher for the FCC — for better and for worse.

7 minutes in hell: one brutal workout with the Microsoft Band and Basis Peak

Can a fitness band with a built-in heart rate monitor really help you work out? We put a bunch of them to the test during one intense exercise session to see how they performed and if they can actually get you into shape.

I almost killed someone with a drone

There aren't many regulations in the US that govern how consumers are allowed to fly around personal drones, and that's potentially a huge problem. Ben Popper recounts a flight gone wrong and explains why the FAA needs to take action — for the sake of both safety and innovation.

Does Twitter have a secret weapon for silencing trolls?

Twitter has repeatedly come under criticism for its inaction when it comes to stopping abusive behavior on its network. But there's a sign that it might have plans to stop it: after one British lawmaker complained of abuse, offending tweets stopped coming in — and it looks like Twitter's behind their absence.

I learned to type using only my thoughts

Computers aren't just changing the way we communicate, they're actually starting to enable communication where it was previously impossible. Watch our video about a tablet that can interpret sign language, a machine that can turn thoughts to text, and what translation will look like in the future.

Everybody Sexts

Jenna Wortham gives a frank, illustrated look at what sexting, now commonplace in the 21st century, really looks like.

This project came to life after the celebrity hacks of 2014 and the condescending aftermath of advice toward women that lectured them — us — about taking photos of our bodies, nude or even scantily clad in bikinis or in a dressing room. We were told that we only had ourselves to blame for expressing sexuality through our devices, and that we couldn’t expect the companies that sell us these machines and services to protect us if we behaved in a way deemed inappropriate. People weren’t (yet) telling these companies that they needed to work on their security protocols, so that the people using their devices and services would feel safe, or even that our safety was important. It enraged me. It still does.

Tristan Walker: The Visible Man

Fast Company
J.J. McCorvey profiles Walker & Co. founder and CEO Tristan Walker, one of the few black men in Silicon Valley making it big.

As he tries to turn this startup into what he considers a great company, Walker will face all the usual obstacles that confront a young entrepreneur. But he will also be carving out a narrative with unique challenges. More often than not, the tech industry's heroes are boyish white males from wealthy suburban enclaves—the Zuckerbergs, Dorseys, and Systroms. Despite the fact that African-Americans have risen to the highest levels of every other aspect of business and popular culture, not a single black entrepreneur has attained that level of success and influence in tech. Against considerable odds, Walker is working to rewrite that playbook, even if his startup has a modest $9.3 million in funding. If Walker can build a world-changing business, he will serve as an extraordinary role model for younger African-Americans. And perhaps he will prove to those who hold the keys to the Valley's kingdom that those coming behind him, and those who haven't benefited from the kind of exposure he has garnered, are worthy of much more than the cursory glance they are now given. As if proof should be necessary.

Tristan Walker

The Dads of Tech

The Baffler
Astra Taylor and Joanne McNeil explore the cultural barriers that women face in the tech world.

Indeed, the effort to transpose the gender profile of the computer industry was tightly bound up with a bid to enhance its class status, as had also been the case when professions such as medicine were aggressively masculinized. (You can chart a corresponding decline in class prestige when male-skewing professions, such as school teaching and psychotherapy, are feminized.) The leaders of the postwar computer industry took great pains to elevate the basic tasks of programming from their clerical office past and to equate them with rarified fields such as mathematics and logic. This concerted bid to deliver the industry into the analytical fingers of the "computer boys" affords a vivid contrast with the condition of the "telephone girls"—tens of thousands of young women entrusted to run the nation’s communications network a century ago.

The Truth About Anonymous's Activism

The Nation
Adrien Chen tears down the recently released book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, describing it as a blinkered look at the country's most famous hacktivist collective.

As a narrow oral history, the book offers interesting anecdotes and insider information about a little-understood topic. But in arguing that Anonymous is an exciting new model of political action, Coleman exaggerates Anonymous’s achievements, downplays crucial failures, and is blind to the ways this supposedly novel way of organizing protest rests on bad, old myths. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy helps us understand how well-meaning and intelligent people can fall for the Anonymous mystique, and exactly why that’s a bad thing.

Welcome to the Failure Age!

The New York Times
Adam Davidson explores the swift and brutal path to failure that accompanies every success in Silicon Valley, seen through the lens of a company that collects the wreckage of ruined companies.

For decades, entrepreneurs and digital gurus of various repute have referred to this era, in a breathlessness bordering on proselytizing, as the age of innovation. But Weird Stuff is a reminder of another, unexpected truth about innovation: It is, by necessity, inextricably linked with failure. The path to any success is lined with disasters. Most of the products that do make it out of the lab fail spectacularly once they hit the market. Even successful products will ultimately fail when a better idea comes along. (One of Schuetz’s most remarkable finds is a portable eight-track player.) And those lucky innovations that are truly triumphant, the ones that transform markets and industries, create widespread failure among their competition.

Listen to this

Big K.R.I.T. - Cadillactica

Travel a million miles to hear Southern Rap as it might be heard on Jupiter, and you'd have a sense of what Cadillactica promises. Big K.R.I.T.'s latest album takes you into his subconscious and blends jazz, blues, and synths with the heavy boom-bap you might hear in the back of a Cadillac.

Queen - Forever

Queen's highly anticipated new album Forever is finally here, and features unreleased material from Freddie Mercury himself that the band reportedly forgot about. Go figure. Collaborations with the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Michael Jackson should not be missed.

Play this

Monument Valley - iPad

One of the most gorgeous mobile games out there nearly doubled in length this week with the addition of a whole new set of inventive puzzles. We compiled some of the game's most beautiful moments and some behind-the-scenes art of how they were made.

Watch this

The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie remains one of our favorite movies to come out this year. It's fun, cheerful, and manages to subvert the entire action movie genre by using CG multicolored blocks. Plus there's Will Arnett with winning take on Batman. You can't go wrong. If you haven't seen this movie, first: what's wrong with you? But also, it premieres on HBO tonight so you no longer have an excuse.