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Lauren Hockenson

Lauren Hockenson is a professional technology journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her profiles and musings on all things tech can be seen across the Internet at Mashable, The Next Web, and IGN Tech. Follower her on Twitter at @lhockenson.

Should Gawker Take Down Crack-Smoking Mayor With Public Money?

In Toronto, citizens are wrestling with a difficult scenario: wily, unstable mayor Rob Ford is now implicated in a video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine. But, the video is in possession of a group of Somali men who are involved in the very trade that supplied the crack to Ford, and they’re looking to sell it for six figures.

Determined to gain possession of the tape, Gawker editor John Cook (who flew to Toronto and saw the tape personally) has appealed to the wider audience of the website and asked that those interested in breaking the story with Gawker donate towards a $200,000 fundraising goal to purchase the tape and post it online for everyone. The Indiegogo fundraiser, the pun-laden “Rob Ford Crackstarter,” already has more than $86,000 a week before the goal deadline and includes a $10,000 tier that offers the phone that recorded the video in the first place.

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Pitchfork Gets Immersive with Daft Punk in New Feature

Next week, the musical world will experience a huge event: eight years after their last album, master of dance music Daft Punk will drop their much-hyped album, Random Access Memories. Music website Pitchfork has honored that with an amazing, immersive feature that evokes the immersive nature of the buzzy New York Times piece, “Snowfall.”

Offering a rare glimpse into the largely private world of Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, and it achieves it best with strong visual elements that only new media can provide. Taking advantage of HTML5 and GIFs, the layout of the piece flows smartly and shows a lot more editorial flair than the standard feature.

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The Onion Gets Hacked, Shares Insights

The pro-Assad Syrian Electronic Army has had its fair share of huge hacking attempts. With propaganda messages spilling out from outlets like the Associated Press and The Guardian, hacks from the group have become more prevalent than ever before on media outlets.

However, they made a mistake earlier this month: hacking The Onion. The online parody newspaper seemed an unlikely target of the SEA, but the result was very similar to other outlets — multiple tweets promoting Assad and the triumph of the SEA. Most outlets who have been victims of an SEA attack have reacted by merely announcing that it happened.

That wasn’t enough for The Onion’s tech team, which decided to break down every level of SEA’s multilayer phishing attack and describe to the public, in great detail, how the SEA managed to find its way to The Onion’s accounts.

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Is Journalism Ready For the “Open Interview”?

Would you ever let a subject put your interview on Youtube for everyone to see? That’s what Chad Witacre, the founder of online gift exchange program Gittip requests for each and every one of his interviews — something he likes to call an “Open Interview.”

The philosophy behind an open interview, to Witacre, is supremely simple: as a transparent company with an accessible open source API and clear funding partners, it only makes sense to bring out discussions with the media to the general Internet community and ensure users that there’s literally nothing to hide.

“With journalists I’m much more comfortable requesting openness,” Witacre writes in his article on Medium. “They’re writing for the public record, and it benefits readers and keeps us both honest to have the raw material on record as well.”

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Disqus Gravity Tracks “Trending” Discussions on News

Comments are a double-edged sword. On one hand, the online community that surrounds a publication is full of some of the most ardent and loyal readers — those who are willing to engage in a thoughtful dialogue with a publication and other readers. On the other hand, the comments on individual articles could betray terrible trolls and haters that turn a thriving community into a fighting community.

Whether you live in the comments or try to avoid them like the plague, there’s a lot of value to understanding just how a community begins discussion and what makes an article ripe for trending. Ubiquitous comment system Disqus has made the discovery of trending topics visual with its new website, Gravity. The dynamic, HTML5-based website reports in real time where articles are receiving comment traffic by tracking motion across all of Disqus’s publication partners.

“What you’re seeing isn’t a simple directory of content people are clicking on,” the company writes in Gravity’s about page. “You’re seeing discussions experiencing a spike in volume. You’re seeing what people are talking about.” Read more

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