And just like that, summer ended. We hope you had a good one. Welcome back to the Weekender, a place where you can wring out that last few drops of the season before we buckle down for months of iPhones, smartwatches, and conferences as far as the eye can see. Think of it as an oasis before we all head to Thunderdome.
We're not sure if you've been on vacation all this time, but this week was an incredible one in tech news. Scroll down for more. But there's no rush. There's plenty of other things to do, and three days to do it. Let's get started, shall we?
For those of you not popping Molly at Electric Zoo in New York this Labor Day weekend, Budweiser and Live Nation (with plenty of help from Jay Z) are throwing the annual Made in America Festival. This year, however, the event is taking place in both Los Angeles at Grand Park and over Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Headlining acts include Kanye West, The National, Weezer, and Kendrick Lamar, and tickets are still available.
Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang recently unveiled a new, massive installation in Shanghai's Power Station of Art meant to comment on China's ongoing pollution crisis. Titled "The Ninth Wave," the work features a barnacle-encrusted fishing boat filled with models of sick animals — a kind of unsettling Noah's Ark. Guo-Qiang wants viewers to think about how pollution affects everyone and everything. In a way, we're all in the same boat.
Virtual reality is going to be huge. But first, it has to get there. Come with us as we explore the past, present, and future of virtual reality, from its ambitious origins in the ’60s to its new possibilities through Sony and Facebook.
Our own Casey Newton revealed exclusive details on Uber's Operation SLOG, an aggressive campaign designed to hinder Lyft's ability to compete nationwide. By now it's clear that the current face of the sharing economy will do anything it takes — no matter how ugly — to own the market.
Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Grishin really wanted a Model S. But it turns out, they're kind of hard to get into the country. We spoke with Grishin about how he made it happen and how he's managing his high-tech car now that it's on uncharted terrain.
Gamers reacted loudly and defensively to feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian's critiques of sexism in the gaming industry, claiming that she's out to ruin their escapist pastime. But their arguments are off the mark: for a good half of the world, there's nothing escapist about these games.
Amazon may sound like a strange home for the hugely popular video-game livestreaming service Twitch, but it actually may be a brilliant pairing. Twitch needs a lot of support in order to keep growing, and Amazon has a real interest in getting into games — and now it may just have its way in.
The New York Times
Emily Bazelon follows the work of Rebecca Gomberts, a Dutch doctor who runs an online resource for women living in countries where access to medical abortions is heavily restricted.
Gomperts designed her program — based on the radical idea of providing abortions without direct contact with a doctor — for women in countries where abortion clinics are nonexistent or highly restricted. But her model is invigorating abortion rights activists in the United States, where the procedure is simultaneously legal and increasingly hard to access. In their eyes, medical abortion, delivered through a known, if faraway, source, could be a transformative response: a means of access that remains open even when clinics shut.
New York Magazine
Adrian Chen visits the world of underground Instagram explorers in New York.
Urban explorers take photos mainly to document that they’ve been there, while for Deas the image is the whole point. The outlaw Instagrammers have more in common with graffiti artists, another subculture of underground creatives who make their work in the cracks of the urban landscape. Many Instagrammers go by enigmatic handles that would look good scrawled on the side of a subway car, like Novess, Black_soap, Heavy Minds, and 13thwitness, aka Tim McGurr, an unofficial godfather of the scene. But the outlaw Instagrammers are better-positioned to thrive in post-Giuliani, post-Facebook New York than old-school graffiti writers: transgressive enough to be cool, but innocuous enough to amass a huge following without getting hunted down by the NYPD.
Ted C. Fishman on the rise and fall of Motorola.
No one, least of all the mayor, acknowledges the elephant in the room. Three months earlier—less than two years after Google completed the deal to buy Motorola Mobility in the first place—Google’s CEO, Larry Page, agreed to sell the company to Chinese computer maker Lenovo for $2.9 billion. (Currently undergoing regulatory scrutiny, the deal is expected to be finalized sometime this fall.) Already, obsolescence haunts these halls. The Google colors were out of date before the place even opened.
The New Yorker
Rebecca Mead profiles Mary Beard, a classics professor at the University of Cambridge committed to taking on sexist trolls online and IRL.
"The more I’ve looked at the details of the threats and the insults that women are on the receiving end of, the more some of them seem to fit into the old patterns of prejudice and assumption that I have been talking about," she said. "It doesn’t much matter what line of argument you take as a woman. If you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it." Such online interjections—" ‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain"—often contain threats of violence, a "predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth."
The Computer Graphics Society
Kirsty Parkin examines the Ikea catalog, which is now 75 percent CGI.
The IKEA team didn’t feel there was anything wrong with traditional photography, quality-wise. Like any company, they just wanted to make things easier for the team to work on - to make the process simpler, cheaper and faster. With traditional photography, you need to have prototype furniture being built in different parts of the world shipped over so it can be photographed. Everything needs to be there on time and it can be logistically difficult, expensive and not that environmental. Then if there are changes everything needs to be re-shot. With CG re-creations of pieces, it removes a lot of this difficulty. However to start with, Martin says, "There was no vision initially to create entire rooms in CG, like we do now. We just wanted to create the individual pieces - the ones you see on white backgrounds on the web."
Listen to this
FKA twigs' released her first album LP1 this month, and it makes an excellent case for what we might call R&B in the future. Every beat and even twigs' voice seem to come down from space, as she supercharges everything we're already hearing and turns it into an experiment.
"Fuck the ancient ways" should be an anthem around here. Interpol released their latest single last week, and it's a welcome return to form for old fans who might've forgotten they existed. It's all guitars and wailing, and it just works. Give it a listen.
The Ensign serves as a prequel to The Dark Room, and it's every bit as strange as it is incredibly minimal. You don't do much — you read, you make choices, you read some more — but the journey the story takes you on is both fascinating and hard to beat. This is a strategy game you'll pump more than a few hours into before you're done.
Just as promised, Ghostbusters is returning to theaters this weekend. But you probably knew that. You mourned Harold Ramis' passing with the rest of us. You might have gone to the recent traveling exhibit featuring artwork inspired by the movie. You might even own a LEGO Ecto-1. But there's no denying that the film is a cultural touchstone. If you do nothing else this weekend, see this with your loved ones and get the theme song stuck in your head all over again.