The media entrepreneur’s vision for the future of content and journalism:
DENTON: The Panopticon—the prison in which everybody is exposed to scrutiny all the time. Do you remember the website Fucked Company? It was big in about 2000, 2001. I was CEO of Moreover Technologies at the time. A saleswoman put in an anonymous report to the site about my having paid for the eye operation of a young male executive I had the hots for. The story, like many stories, was roughly half true. Yes, there was a young male executive. Yes, he did have an eye operation. No, it wasn’t paid for by me. It was paid for by the company’s health insurance according to normal procedure. And no, I didn’t fancy him; I detested him. It’s such a great example of Fucked Company and, by extension, most internet discussion systems. There’s some real truth that gets told that is never of a scale to warrant mainstream media attention, and there’s also no mechanism for fact-checking, no mechanism to actually converge on some real truth. It’s out there. Half of it’s right. Half of it’s wrong. You don’t know which half is which. What if we could develop a system for collaboratively reaching the truth? Sources and subjects and writers and editors and readers and casual armchair experts asking questions and answering them, with follow-ups and rebuttals. What if we could actually have a journalistic process that didn’t require paid journalists and tape recorders and the cost of a traditional journalistic operation? You could actually uncover everything—every abusive executive, every corrupt eye operation.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 21, 2014
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7539 words)
Adrian Chen tracks down Perry Fellwock, also once known as Winslow Peck, whose revelations were shared four decades ago in the radical magazine Ramparts magazine:
We set a new date: Noon on a Friday, at a bench outside the train station in Oceanside. Just as I was about to hang up he stopped me.
“Wait, I don’t think meeting at the train station is a good idea because that seems a little spookish,“ he said. ”I’m not a spook, so I don’t want to do anything spookish. Maybe you could meet me while I’m grocery shopping. What’s a normal thing we can do?”
I tried to think of things a 67-year-old antiques dealer and a 28-year-old journalist might normally do together. Grocery shopping was not high on the list. Fellwock came up with another plan: We would go to a Chinese restaurant near the train station and grab lunch.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 12, 2013
LENGTH: 37 minutes (9268 words)
Our story picks of the week, featuring The New Yorker, MIT Technology Review, BuzzFeed, Wired and Gawker, plus a guest pick by Andrew Pantazi.
Nitasha Tiku goes inside the world of OneTaste, a San Francisco company dedicated to the practice of "orgasmic meditation," or OM:
"I first heard about OneTaste in March, at a breakfast meeting with a venture capitalist who had newly moved to New York from San Francisco. She hadn't felt compelled to try it herself, but she had a friend who worked at OneTaste, who would OM if she was nervous before a big meeting. They had lingo for the men who'd perfected the craft: 'Master stroker—that's what it's called!'
"Genital stimulation in a professional context seemed transgressive, even for hippie-hedonist San Francisco. Her friend, Joanna Van Vleck—who is now OneTaste's president—met me in June when she was in New York. 'We don't OM, like, right in the office,' Van Vleck explained. But she said, 'If we have employee problems, we're like, let's OM together. Yeah, if two people have a discrepancy, we say: OM together!'"
PUBLISHED: Oct. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8147 words)
Our favorite stories of the week, featuring GQ, The New York Times, Gawker, Aeon, and Vanity Fair with a guest pick by Jessica Lussenhop.
The writer reflects on the 1992 murder of his brother, incorporating the stories of his friends and family members:
"Dad said he often thinks about how things might’ve been if only my brother was less naïve, better prepared for confrontation. Armed.
"'I still think that,' he said quietly on the phone. 'And I think: Damn.'
"The line was silent for five long seconds.
PUBLISHED: July 27, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8328 words)
The story of the man who led the Anonymous campaign against the Steubenville rapists:
"As KYAnonymous, Lostutter had already won some renown for KnightSec by attacking revenge-porn king Hunter Moore and helping shut down a Westboro Baptist Church protest. But the decision to take on the Steubenville case unleashed more powerful forces than he had ever encountered before: international outrage, legions of vigilante followers, and a glaring media spotlight.
"It was KnightSec that would obtain the video of a Steubenville teen joking about the rape, turning an alcohol-blurred local crime into a visual that cable news could loop like disaster footage, crystallizing public opinion against the offenders. It was also KnightSec that helped create a toxically false, conspiratorial dossier on innocent parties surrounding the case."
PUBLISHED: June 12, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7307 words)
The story of Adalia Rose, a 6-year-old girl with progeria whose YouTube videos became an Internet sensation—and soon faced online attacks and death threats:
"Adalia knows she's different. She can see she's bald. She's aware how small she is—at 14 pounds, she weighs less than Marcelo, and he's one year old, a baby still, really. Unlike Mommy or Daddy or Gama, she doesn't have eyebrows or eyelashes. Other children sometimes mistake her for a boy, even though she's usually outfitted in pink. She needs help walking up a staircase. She can't go outside alone to play. She doesn't go to school. At the mall, people look at her funny. Her parents explain it's 'because they've never seen an angel.'
"Adalia knows that her difference has a diagnosis, progeria, a condition affecting approximately one child in four million. What she doesn't know is how progeria ends: The average lifespan is 13 years. At six, there's a distinct possibility she's almost halfway through her short life. Natalia and Ryan refuse to talk about that. They focus on the present, not the future."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 22, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8118 words)