Possible Research Topics
How Computational Slush Funds are affecting Brazilian elections:
To continuously reach millions of people systematically for years, as has been the case in Brazil, the inflammatory speech depends on automation. And automation costs a lot of money. There are millions of fake profiles and bots responding to the centralized commands of political marketeering groups. These bots replicate messages in overwhelming volume and speed.
This requires software, hardware, connectivity and people operating the entire apparatus. In other words, it requires money to have computational power. Who paid for all this massive computational propaganda? How does it appear in the campaign’s books? If it was not paid directly by the campaign, then by whom? And if it was paid by someone, people or entities, shouldn’t it be declared as political donations? This is sheer computational slush fund.
Amazon’s Alexa Records and Forwards . . . .
Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry
People who are short on relatives can hire a husband, a mother, a grandson. The resulting relationships can be more real than you’d expect.
Meet the dominatrixes who control men where it really hurts: Their wallets
Mistress Harley, who markets herself online as “the tech domme,” makes her living as a specialized kind of financial dominatrix. The niche profession has increasingly attracted smart, tech-savvy women looking to cash in on men’s desires to be dominated — not physically, but where it really hurts: in their wallets.
The arrangements vary. Some financial dominatrixes develop payment plans where clients fork over an agreed-upon salary to them every month. Others have men buy them gifts and pay their bills. Some, like Mistress Harley, add extra elements: Clients often grant her access to emails or social media accounts to gain information she can use in her domination — or so she can threaten to use their accounts in embarrassing ways if they refuse to pay. And there’s typically no physical contact at all.
Gifts have long been part of the dominatrix-client relationship, but the Internet has made financial domination more accessible.
The Libraries Bringing Small-Town News Back to Life
As local news outlets disappear in America, some libraries are gaining new relevance.
The quote that convinced me this might be an interesting research project:
“The biggest information gap is local, because it’s not scalable,’’ he says. “In the age of Google, the hardest information to find is local.”
These are your white allies on Facebook: When you’re exhausted from debating race with strangers, they step in
Add a Song, Make a Movie: Music Supervisors in Film Seek More Recognition
The best music supervisors are sought for their combination of tastemaker, curator, producer, stickler for accuracy and verisimilitude, and they filter out a filmmaker’s worst tendencies. It’s work that falls somewhere between artisan and technician, with the kind of talent-scouting ear associated with A&R executives at record labels. “A music supervisor is set designing the audio,” said Robert Kraft, who was president of Fox Music for 18 years before forming Kraftbox Entertainment in 2012.
How to Treat a ‘Money Disorder’
There is a budding field of financial therapy, where budget planning meets psychological counseling. You can even attend a kind of money rehab, where, in six days of group therapy people dig deep into the roots of what psychologists call “money disorders,” the slew of unhealthy and self-destructive behaviors that are not as extreme as pathological gambling, kleptomania or compulsive shopping, but nevertheless afflict large numbers of people.
Zygootic Social Networking
If there’s any truth to the Spanish proverb “an ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship,” then consider the potential of genetic social networking. In October, two companies started social-networking Web sites based not on friendship, business connections or dating desires but on cheek-swab DNA tests. Participants fill out their genetic profile and link up with strangers who share DNA markers. Users can upload baby pictures and home videos, compare family trees and e-mail distant cousins to find out what life is like in the old country.
To Give Children an Edge, Au Pairs From China
The last two years have seen an astonishing increase in the number of American parents wishing to employ Mandarin-speaking nannies, difficult to find here and even harder to obtain from China. Their services are in great demand, in part because so many Americans have adopted baby girls from China. Driving the need more aggressively is the desire among ambitious parents to ensure their children’s worldliness, as such parents assume that China’s expanding influence will make Mandarin the sophisticates’ language decades hence.
Good Jihad, Bad Jihad: Struggle for Arab Minds
The battle for Muslim hearts and minds is playing out on TV screens and computer monitors these days, with the alternately fasting and feasting Ramadan masses presenting a ready audience. At least two groundbreaking television series focus on the damage that extremism is wreaking on the Muslim world, while a media organization closely associated with Al Qaeda has begun a high-quality Internet news broadcast to counter what it calls “lies and propaganda” on even Arab satellite news channels like Al Jazeera, which has been accused of underreporting Al Qaeda activities.