Today in brief: In this week's survey of internet intrigue, we look at fake customer reviews, a dissolving library, the fate of drug bust informants and some oddities revealed by the lens of Google Street View.
We share our favourite links and articles from around the internet this week.
Fans of Ryan Gosling (does this exclude anyone?) have long been following the many tumblrs in his honour. Now, in the tradition of F**K Yeah Ryan Gosling, there’s a tribute site to President Obama’s feminist leanings (and statements) , with ‘Hey Girl,’ tagged onto real-life quotes like, ‘The best judge of whether or not a country is going to develop is its women’.
Earlier this week, we ran a thought-provoking piece from Emmett Stinson about the dangers of a literary scene that’s too focused on being nice. But what do you do if you can’t charm or network your way into an online rave or recommendation? Well, it seems you can pay someone to make it up for you. The New York Times have run an article about all the fake reviews circulating on the internet, where it’s estimated one third of ‘customer’ reviews are fake. They spoke to one man who has made a fortune ‘reviewing’ books for paid customers – sometimes writing as may as 50 individual reviews for one book (at a cost of $4999).
You know how sometimes, walking down the street, you can chance on a sight so bizarre or unique that it makes you stop in your tracks? Well, Google street view roams all the streets in the world (well, a lot of them) with its cameras, so it’s not surprising that it’s captured some pretty odd images. Jon Rafman has compiled his own tumblr of them, 9 Eyes.
The Jardin de la Connaissance (The Garden of Knowledge) is a labyrinth of books situated in the forests of Quebec, an art installation created in 2010 – and intended to ‘slowly dissolve back into the surrounding landscape, dispersing millions of pages of human thought into nature’. Over the past two years, the books have moulded and mildewed, while mushrooms sprout from their pages.
The New Yorker excels in long-read reportage – and this look at police use of confidential informants (or, in street talk, snitches) in the ongoing war on drugs is a stellar example. It looks at two teenagers who were scared by police into working as informants to avoid jail time after minor drug busts – and were brutally murdered as a result. The parents of one of those teenagers, Rachel Hoffman, succeeded in changing the law governing use of informants as a result.
Almost daily since his daughter’s murder, he had woken up in the early hours, turning over the details of the botched drug bust in his mind. He began typing out a list: Why was Rachel used in such a high-risk police sting when she had no training, when she couldn’t even find her own socks in the morning? Why was she sent to buy a semi-automatic pistol when she had never even fired a weapon? Why was she pressured into taking part in the operation before she consulted a lawyer?
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