Hanging up on someone is a physical act, a violent one even, one that produces its own pleasure by discharging acrimony. Like the model 500 [phone], the flip-phone supports hang ups because its form is capable of resisting them; because it can survive the force a hangup delivers. Just try to hang up your iPhone or your Samsung Galaxy. I don’t mean just ending a call, but hanging up for real, as if you meant it. For a moment you might consider throwing the handset against a wall before remembering that you shelled out three, four, five hundred dollars or more for the device, a thing you cradle in a cozy as if it were a kitten or a newborn.
Ian Bogost, The Atlantic. The End of the Hangup.
Bogost suggests that cellular devices take the satisfaction out of hanging up — and not just because we can’t slam ‘em down without breaking them — but because we can no longer truly end a call.
Today a true hangup — one you really meant to perform out of anger or frustration or exhaustion — is only temporary and one-sided even when it is successfully executed. Even during a heated exchange, your interlocutor will first assume something went wrong in the network, and you could easily pretend such a thing was true later if you wanted. Calls aren’t ever really under our control anymore, they “drop” intransitively. The signal can be lost, the device’s battery can deplete, the caller can accidentally bump the touch screen and end the call, the phone’s operating system can crash. The mobile hangup never signals itself as such, but remains shrouded in uncertainties.
Whether you’ve slammed down a model 500 phone or you’ve smashed your blackberry, the person on the other end of the line will only hear the “click” (or just silence) as the call ends. That considered, wasn’t the “original hangup” always one-sided and less dramatic for the hangup victim, anyway? Before cell phones, did people never assume that the person they were speaking to may have hung up on accident? Has saying a real goodbye on a cell phone become truly impossible?
FJP: I missed out on the thrill of the model 500. I didn’t start violently hanging up on people (or even talking much on the phone) until I turned 16 in 2006, and by that time I had gotten a flip-phone. It may not have been the slickest hunk o’ plastic money could buy, but man, could that thing snap shut on an annoying phone call from my mother. I must say, now that I’m 23 and sporting an iPhone 5… it’s just not as satisfying to be rude to my mom. Somehow, though, I think I’ll get through it. Doors still slam, you know.
It’s a shame that future tweens and teens won’t know the thrill of an authentic phone hang-up, snap, or slam, but it’s also no tragedy. Like any other technology that was popular 20+ years ago: younger generations won’t know about it, because they really don’t have to. I guess we have no choice but to leave them “shrouded in uncertainty.” — Krissy
Bonus: How Millennial are you? Behold: The Pew Research Center Millennial Quiz.
Jonathan Peters and Frank Lomonte in The Atlantic’s College Journalists Need Free Speech More Than Ever:
This is not your father’s journalism industry.
NBC News has a Storify page, the New York Times has a Tumblr, and PBS has a Pinterest board. The Associated Press has built a partnership with dozens of news companies to collect royalties from aggregators. The Wall Street Journal has produced original videos for YouTube, and the people formerly known as the audience can submit photos to CNN through its iPhone app.
In short, the two argue that today’s college journalists are being asked to fulfill community needs for professional news, but are not provided with the legal assurances of safety that professionals are afforded.
For years, they explain (and applaud), there has been a growing consensus that journalism programs ought to become something like teaching hospitals for news production:
* In a 2010 report on sustaining democracy in the digital age, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy concluded that colleges and universities needed to enhance their roles as “hubs of journalistic activity.”
* In a 2011 report on twenty-first century journalism, the New America Foundation challenged journalism programs to become “anchor institutions involved in the production of community-relevant news.”
* In a 2011 report on the changing media landscape, the FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities recommended that foundations fund “journalism-school residencies” for recent grads to manage “efforts to produce significant journalism for the community, using journalism school students.”
* In a 2012 letter to university presidents, leaders of six of the nation’s largest foundations argued that journalism programs must “recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators” and that “universities must become forceful partners in revitalizing an industry at the very core of democracy.”
But they worry about the impacts of such legislation as Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a 25-year-old Supreme Court decision that has been extended to college settings by four federal courts of appeals covering 16 states. It states, in short, that educators may regulate school-sponsored speech “so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” An open invitation to limit free speech.
Peters and Lomonte make two suggestions:
Read the full piece here.
FJP: This is a discussion I’ve had both in college, when I was editor of our campus news magazine, and in J-school. I’ve seen undergraduate students repeatedly hesitate to produce hard-hitting pieces that criticize their university because they can’t rely on their work for the school publication to remain uncensored by the school administration. In J-school—and I’m lucky enough to attend the big C, which has the resources to protect its students in certain cases—legal protection is certainly not available in the same way it is at many news organizations. Yet in both places, I’ve witnessed students repeatedly called upon to produce professional work and serve well-reported, fact-checked news to their local communities.
What worries me the most, however, is a potential cultural byproduct of these limitations: I worry about the impact these constraints have on the development of a student’s ethical framework and confidence as a reporter during his or her most formative years as a young journalist. How many potentially brilliant investigative journalists are we discouraging by limiting their opportunity to freely practice at the university level? Happy to see The Alantic cover this, and happy to see California, Illinois and Oregon’s statutes.—Jihii
Or, if you want (I’m serious here!), I’ll provide you with some more detailed social media consulting, helping you create a presence that’s actually useful. These tools are only as good as the network you create on them. And if you’re being honest about what you see on Twitter and Facebook, you’re a terrible builder.
Alexis Madrigal, Your Anti-Social Media Rant Reveals Too Much About Your Friends, The Atlantic.
FJP: I’ve had similar—albeit less dramatic—exchanges on this topic before. Social media networks, like the rest of this 21st century nonsense, are tools. Building intelligent networks is a skill/craft/opportunity/privilege. —Jihii
Publishers are innovating in various ways across digital platforms. Digiday’s Josh Sternberg caught up with Jay Lauf, publisher of The Atlantic, to discuss how The Atlantic will generate digital revenue in the future:
The Atlantic, the venerable155-year-old publication, is doubling down on its approach to the new wave of digital advertising: native ads. Launched three years ago, Native Solutions creates ad programs that have the look and feel of The Atlantic’s content. The goal: help brands create and distribute engaging content by making the ads linkable, sharable and discoverable. For example, take a look at the work it did with Porsche on the image-heavy sponsored post, “Where Design Meets Technology,” which was shared 139 times on Facebook and 80 times on Twitter.
The Native Solutions programs has been so successful that it now accounts for half of digital ad revenue, which is up over 50 percent so far this year.
“A lot of people worry about crossing editorial and advertising lines, but I think it respects readers more,” Lauf said. “It’s saying, ‘We know what you’re interested in.’ It’s more respectful of the reader that way.”
Read the entire article at Digiday.
At the end of January, the European Commission released its official data protection rules, including a new directive, “the right to be forgotten,” which adheres to European law that protects information privacy, such as France’s le droit à l’oubli, sometimes translated at the right of oblivion. This right allows criminals who have served time to object to the publication of facts of their conviction.
What exactly does this new privacy right entail in Europe in the online world? Commentary is rampant East and West of the Atlantic.
How might we be affected here in the States? At issue is privacy rights vs. free speech rights. Here’s a breakdown.
1. The Internet owns us. (via the Atlantic)
Surely all people suffer from some unknown horror embarrassing them online, from an old photo or comment, up to a Gawker post. The Internet owns us. Our social networks, our blog comments, our quotes in newspapers, our Yelp ratings, Amazon reviews, e-mails, all our personal data, from our birthday to our home state, the Internet knows. But should it always? Or do we Internet users bear an innate “a right to be forgotten” online? It’s natural for people to want to control their online reputations.
2. So if you post up an embarrassing photo, yes you can request it be taken down. (via The New Republic)
Since Facebook and other social networking sites already allow users to do this, creating a legally enforceable right here is mostly symbolic and entirely unobjectionable. It would also usefully put pressure on Facebook to abide by its own stated privacy policies, by allowing users to confirm that photos and other data have been deleted from its archives after they are removed from public display.
3. But if your friends, or a tabloid, or an unidentifiable stranger reposts the photo, can you request it to be taken down? Should that be your right?
A year ago, when the right was first proposed, the answer was maybe. It has since been clarified. Still…
Some say, the answer is now: no. (via the Atlantic)
Back then, the right would have potentially given people the ability to cull any digital reference — from the public record, journalism, or social networks — they deemed irrelevant and unflattering; today, the EU specifies that the data people have a right to remove is, according to Reding, “personal data [people] have given out themselves.” This provision is key. The overhaul insists that Internet users control the data they put online, not the references in media or anywhere else.
Others say, the answer is most certainly yes. (via The New Republic)
If contacted by someone who regrets posting an embarrassing picture, Facebook must take “all reasonable steps” on its own to identify any relevant third parties and secure the takedown of the content…Moreover, the right to be forgotten can be asserted not only against the publisher of content (such as Facebook or a newspaper) but against search engines like Google and Yahoo that link to the content.
4. Any exemptions?
Yes, for “the processing of personal data solely for journalistic purposes, or for the purposes of artistic or literary expression.” (original source)
At the very least, Facebook will have to engage in the kinds of difficult line-drawing exercises previously performed by courts. And the prospect of ruinous monetary sanctions for any data controller that does not comply—a fine up to 1,000,000 euros or up to two percent of Facebook’s annual worldwide income—might lead data controllers to opt for deletion in even ambiguous cases.
5. What about things other people post about me online?
The act treats such takedown requests for “truthful information posted by others” the same as it does photos you post yourself. Key point of controversy: As TNR’s Legal Affairs Editor explains, once you demand takedown, the social networking site or search engine has to prove that it falls within journalistic, artistic, or literary exception.
This could transform Google, Yahoo, and other hosts of third party content into censors-in-chief for the European Union, rather than neutral platforms.
7. Yikes. How about us here in the U.S.?
Currently, American companies doing business in Europe enjoy some exemptions from E.U. law, under a 1995 agreement. But should that agreement be altered, the new right to be forgotten could be imposed on U.S. companies throughout Europe.
Pending European Parliament approval, the law will go into effect in the European Union in 2014.
8. While you’re at it, might as well read a bit about what India and China are up to. (via The Economist)
Building a single European data-protection regime is hard enough. Harmonising it smoothly with America will be harder. Reaching deals with Indian bureaucrats and Chinese mandarins set to defend the interests and the data of their countries’ rapidly growing online firms may be downright impossible. Welcome to the new world of data geopolitics.