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First Click: brands explode at SXSW

March 16th, 2015

Thomas Ricker a deputy editor and Verge co-founder with a passion for human-centric cities, e-bikes, and life as a digital nomad. He’s been a tech journalist for almost 20 years.

Welcome to the inaugural issue of First Click. It’s a kickstart to your morning, the first story you’ll click to start the day.

When I was younger, South by Southwest was a music festival. It was the show that made Texas mean something more than oil wells, the Bush dynasty, and steaks cut larger than the plates they’re served upon. What was once a grassroots showcase for emerging artists has morphed into an interactive experience that is both loved and loathed by attendees in various stages of #brand inebriation. It’s a music festival and a film festival and a showcase for emerging technologies; America’s greatest exports commingling in a 10-day ménage à trois. And it's happening right now. Imagine Modest Mouse on Meerkat eating Taco Bell from inside the Bates murder hotel and you’ve pretty much got SXSW nailed.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Ex Machina twists the history of sexy robots

    ❝Ex Machina is excellent — gorgeously shot and designed, brain-crampingly complex in its line of questioning and gracefully efficient in its storytelling. But when you throw hyperbole like that at a film festival and you're bound to invite contrarians. And as soon as the credits rolled on Ex Machina, I predicted two things in its near future: near-unanimous critical praise, and a lot of hot debate about its woman problem.❞

    Emily Yoshida explores the complicated gender commentary of SXSW's hottest premiere (warning: some spoilers).

  2. Yahoo shows off password-free logins

    ❝That's why Yahoo is taking a new approach, called "on demand" passwords. Like two-step authentication, you'll be sent a unique time-sensitive code through an app or a text message to your phone when you want to log in. But there's a key step missing: you won't have to type in your primary password first. That's right, with "on demand" passwords, you won't have a permanent password tied to your account that's required every time you log in.❞

    Not quite as secure as two-factor, but more secure than a password. Just don't lose your phone.

  3. Kendrick Lamar's new record arrives a week early

    ❝Here's a Sunday night surprise: Kendrick Lamar's much-anticipated follow-up to the acclaimed good kid, m.A.A.d city is out now. Although Lamar suggested earlier in the month that the as-then untitled record would see release on March 23rd, it is very much available now on iTunes for $14.99 and is called To Pimp a Butterfly.❞

    Also available on Spotify.

  4. Facebook clarifies community standards on Nudity

    ❝We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures. Restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous, or satirical purposes. Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited. Descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.❞

    Facebook's fighting a unenviable battle to create a single policy on nudity that can be applied across the world's cultures. One that can be used to address art (like l'Origine du Monde, pictured) and pornography, alike. It's better than "I know it when I see it" but it'll always be contentious.

  5. iPhone 6 vs. Galaxy S6: a pixel-perfect size comparison

    ❝Apple still hides the iPhone's camera bulge in profile shots and Samsung's front and back pictures are shot at slightly different sizes. So I have rescaled the press photos in accordance with the official specs, and used The Verge's magical image slider to get an idea of the difference in size. Obviously, this is the very definition of a superficial comparison, but it's a fun diversion to fill the time until Samsung releases its next device.❞

    The best physical comparison you'll find until you can do it youself, side-by-side in a store.

Bacon of the day