paper trail

The Sony hacks, and a new book on cyberterrorism

Steven W. Thrasher

The Tribeca Film Festival has announced that it is creating a new annual award, the Nora Ephron Prize. The prize will be given to "a woman writer or director with a distinctive voice who embodies the spirit and vision of the legendary filmmaker and writer." Ephron, who wrote the screenplay and directed Sleepless in Seattle, among other films, as well as many books, died in June.

At Slate, David Auerbach explains why the Sony hacks are “a wake-up call.” The attack might not have been as sophisticated as StuxNet, the virus that infiltrated and sabotaged Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it was disastrous. According to Auerbach, “There has never before been a cyberattack of this scale…. Sony Pictures’ systems were not just compromised but obliterated, with the company now sent back to what’s comparably the technological Stone Age.” The sabotage of Sony lent additional relevance to Kim Zetter’s new book about the burgeoning threat of cyberterrorism, Countdown to Zero Day, which Clive Thompson reviews in the current issue of Bookforum.

Brooklyn Magazine has posted a list of ten great sentences published this year.

A group of writers respond to the n+1 article “The Free and the Anti-Free,” which charts the ways in which magazine journalism has come to rely on cheap and free labor. Susie Cagle and Manjula Marti take issue with n+1’s argument “against ‘shaming’ small magazines like their own for paying writers poorly (or not paying them at all).” Cagle and Mari—who keep tabs on how much magazines pay—state: “If n+1 editors feel shamed by sites like Who Pays Writers, perhaps they should ask themselves why.”

Last week, Steven W. Thrasher was among the journalists who reported on protests against the recent grand jury decisions to acquit the police officers who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island. On Saturday, Thrasher filed a first-hand account of another recent protest—a pro-police rally outside New York’s City Hall, where a small group of ex-cops and NYPD supporters wore T-shirts reading “I Can Breathe.” Thrasher, who is black, writes: “Sometimes my fear gets the better of me. Sometimes, I worry about walking the line between trying to give visual cues that I am hearing someone (no matter how offensive) and not being willing to give them any indication that I agree with anything they say.”

Metro New York has a story about “Ali Julia,” the mysterious woman who is currently Amazon’s top-ranked reviewer. She has written more than 2,800 product, but just “how one earns the ‘#1 Reviewer’ badge next to their name is a mystery, even to those who have held the title.”