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5 things to know about the CIA’s website redesign, from a Gucci connection to a font row.

The CIA, like Slack, started 2021 with a bang. Slack decided to extend everyone’s holiday. The CIA to have a website refresh that has… divided opinion. Missed the fun? Here’s five things to know about the CIA’s website redesign. (We’re easing ourselves in to 2021, OK? Don’t snipe. You can read about more serious things here).

1: Whodunit?

cia's website redesign

The site redesign was by artist/designer Ryder Ripps, he confirmed on Instagram.

Ripps’ previous clients have included Pornhub, Gucci, Kanye, Nike, Red Bull, and music artist MIA, among others.

“What’s your favourite human rights violation”, one follower asked? “Probably MK Ultra” came the response… Trés droll).

Ripps, for those napping (like us, we Googled) is apparently best know for using an artist residency to hire two Craigslist sex workers for a “widely-reviled” project called “ART WHORE”.

2: Why’dtheydoit?

Diversity, apparently.

The CIA wants to attract recruits from a broader gene pool, hence the site which looks, as one observer notes, like it is aiming to be Adidas’ social agency of record. CIA Director Gina Haspel is a fan though.

“We’ve come a long way since I applied by simply mailing a letter marked ‘CIA, Washington, D.C.,’” she said, adding that she hopes the new website gives candidates a sense of the “dynamic environment that awaits them here.” (Gina Haspel ran a secret prison in Thailand in 2002 where people were tortured; how’s that for a dynamic environment?)

3: Grillo’s getting grilled…

It’s also triggered a debate among graphic designers and ethicists about how Swiss Foundry Grillo, whose font the CIA used, should have reacted. Dr Maurice Meilleur, a “recovering political theorist turned graphic designer and design researcher and writer” is among those pondering the issue…

4: Dead links

It’s hard to know quite what the CIA’s annual budget is, let alone the redesign’s cost.

The CIA has cash to hand, however. It was getting the biggest slice of intel spending pie in 2013 when the Snowden leaks occured: $14.7 billion out of $52.6 billion for 16 intelligence agencies.

It’s likely considerably larger than that now (2020’s budget appropriation included $62.7 billion for the National Intelligence Program, and $23.1 billion for the Military Intelligence Program.)

That doesn’t mean you don’t get dead links though with your migration.

We found this out ourselves #investigativejournalism

Let me ask the press office a few questions…

Oh… It’ll be in here somwhere.

5: There’s dog training tips…

It includes dog training tips: 10 of them, like “work hard, play hard”.

OK, those are from 2015, but we just saw them. More recent updates? It launched a .onion site last year. That was good.

And it’s recruiting a tonne of IT staff, from cybersecurity researchers ($63k – $112k), through to IT engineers and data scientists.

Here’s the site. What are your thoughts?

CIA.gov

cia's website redesign, cia, website,
CIA stories… a screengrab.

Ed Targett

Ed Targett is founder of The Stack. He was previously editor of Computer Business Review/Tech Monitor.

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