Vice identifies the 20 best TED Talks.
What Life with a Slightly Larger Head Has Taught Me About Diversity
Turntable.fm is shutting down for good. It was a fantastic idea that had zero chance of succeeding in the current copyright/licensing climate.
A big part of what doomed Turntable was trying to play by the rules, says Chasen. “We wanted to do it all the right way, nothing shady, always working with the labels.” That meant paying every time a song was streamed, not simply piggybacking on copyrighted music hosted by sites like YouTube or SoundCloud that might have been uploaded illegally. The company also cut off access to its international users in areas it hadn’t yet signed deals. “That really curtailed our growth.” It transitioned from a DJ service to a live-performance experience back in December of 2013, and today is shutting down that service as well.
It’s reminiscent of the Muxtape situation. Remember Muxtape? Sigh.
Do you like those little K-Cups? They are inherently problematic.
Journalist Murray Carpenter estimates in his new book, Caffeinated, that a row of all the K-Cups produced in 2011 would circle the globe more than six times. To update that analogy: In 2013, Green Mountain produced 8.3 billion K-Cups, enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times. If Green Mountain aims to have “a Keurig System on every counter,” as the company states in its latest annual report, that’s a hell of a lot of little cups.
Our everyday language also reflects this shift. During the entire year 1967, The Chicago Tribune only employed the word “lifestyle” seven times, but five years later the term showed up in the same newspaper more than 3,000 times. Fast forward to the present day: many newspapers have full-time lifestyle editors. This shift has impact on coverage of every aspect modern society, from sports to the weather. The lead-in for traffic is a cheery: “Now a look at your morning commute.” Business news is introduced with a glib: “Here’s a look at your money.” Hey Mr. Announcer, you better look fast. But the arts have suffered the most from this mind-numbing approach. Music, in particular, gets treated as one more lifestyle accessory, no different from a stylish smartphone or pair of running shoes. Hard-nosed criticism is squeezed out by soft stories, gossip and fluff. For better or worse, music journalism has retreated into a permanent TMZ-zone, where paparazzi and prattlers, not critics, set the tone.
“Lifestyle reporting” being a vapid and generally bad thing. ↩
Have you ever stopped to appreciate just how important the invention of the elevator really was? No? Figures.
If we tend to ignore the significance of elevators, it might be because riding in them tends to be such a brief, boring, and even awkward experience—one that can involve unplanned encounters between people with whom we have nothing in common, internal turmoil over where to stare, and a vaguely unpleasant awareness of the fact that we’re hanging from a cable in a long, invisible shaft.
In 1965, Andy Warhol (loosely) adapted A Clockwork Orange into a film called Vinyl. It’s really weird. [via]
Fans of Kubrick’s version from 6 years later would probably have a hard time at first recognizing the story amid Warhol’s static mise-en-scène and the stilted, halting performances of his untrained actors. Factory regular Gerard Malanga plays the lead, Victor, in one of the most hilariously bad performances ever put on film. He sounds like he’s auditioning, poorly, for a high school play, and the other actors aren’t much better. The exceptionally long takes don’t help matters, as flubbed lines and stammers are left in along with blank moments while the actors search for the next bit. Clearly, realism and emotional investment are far from Warhol’s mind here; all the actors show about as much interest in the story as they would in a gum wrapper on the street. This disconnection is coupled with Warhol’s decision to film the entire thing from a static viewpoint. There are just three shots in the hour-long film, and all the “action” is limited to one tiny corner of a room where all the characters are crammed into the shot. The net effect is that the story becomes curiously flat and affectless, mirroring the numbing of Victor’s mind that accompanies his transformation from bad to “good.”
The breadth of our coverage will be much clearer at this new version of FiveThirtyEight, which is launching Monday under the auspices of ESPN. We’ve expanded our staff from two full-time journalists to 20 and counting. Few of them will focus on politics exclusively; instead, our coverage will span five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports.
Now, here, in the present day, it’s clear the internet wasn’t a fad. More or less everything else was. Newspapers, for instance. They used to be sombre dossiers issued each morning, bringing grave news from Crimea. Now they’re blizzards of electric confetti, bringing The Ten Gravest Crimean Developments You Simply Won’t Believe. The art of turning almost any article of interest into a step-by-step clickbait walkthrough has been perfected to the point where reading the internet feels increasingly like sitting on the bog in the 1980s reading a novelty book of showbiz facts that never fucking ends. This trend will only continue. In five years’ time, all news articles will consist of a single coloured icon you click repeatedly to make info-nuggets fly out, accompanied by musical notes, like a cross between Flappy Bird and Newsnight.
Spotify is buying Echo Nest, which powers my favourite features on Rdio. This could get bloody.
Today’s acquisition may spell particularly bad news for Rdio, which has been struggling with layoffs and has already had to close one major product to focus on its core. While Rdio hasn’t always relied on The Echo Nest, it’s been using it for several years and would likely have to spend more resources than it would like to right now toward catching up on recommendations, should it be cut off by Spotify.
McSweeneys: Confessions of an Upworthy editor.
Me? Oh, I’m just a normal guy. 38. Average height, average weight. Loves animals. Enjoys casseroles. But where I go to work each day just might surprise you…
Sorry. Didn’t mean to do that. It’s one of the risks of the trade, I guess. I write headlines for Upworthy.
I collect orange Penguins and green Penguins and white-spined Picadors. I collect white-spined King Penguins and white-spined B-format paperbacks from Abacus and Sceptre. I collect old I-Spy Books and Observer’s books. I collect Livre de Poche and those small-format yellow German books published by Reclam. I collect the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. I collect Agatha Christie in Fontana paperback, but obviously only the ones with the Tom Adams covers. There are, of course, an almost infinite number of A-format orange Penguins. I don’t buy them by the yard. I am not indiscriminate. I collect Anthony Burgess and Graham Greene and Muriel Spark. I collect Georges Simenon, but I prefer to collect him in green. Likewise Patricia Highsmith and George Sims and Kenneth Cook.
The dig at e-books in the last line is hilarious, even though I can’t tell if it’s meant to be. ↩
Buildings that used to be Pizza Huts.
Not every Pizza Hut looks like this. Franchise owners have a lot of freedom as to how they want their stores to look, so not every Pizza Hut has the “lid” roof, and the trapezoid features in some might be more striking than in others. Yet there’s still enough commonality among Pizza Huts them that once you’ve seen one, you can easily identify any other. And, you can easily identify any building that used to be a Pizza Hut.
Evgeny Morozov on the “Mindfulness Racket” happening in the tech industry.
We must subject social media to the kind of scrutiny that has been applied to the design of gambling machines in Las Vegas casinos. As Natasha Dow Schüll shows in her excellent book Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, while casino operators want us to think that addiction is the result of our moral failings or some biological imbalance, they themselves are to blame for designing gambling machines in a way that feeds addiction. With social media—much like with gambling machines or fast food—our addiction is manufactured, not natural.
I’m all for people being mindful and good mental health in general, but the way people in tech talk about it drips with insincerity and hypocrisy. And stupidity. Mostly stupidity. It’s all tied to the self-help ethos being perpetuated by designers and developers who keep calling themselves “writers” while tweeting bullshit aphorisms about “creativity” and blogging career advice that amounts to “Just go make something, man.”
Sarah Silverman writes great jokes.
But focusing on cuteness and shock value do a disservice to Silverman, who is one hell of a joke crafter. Like Anthony Jeselnik, whose offensiveness and looks also distract from his writing skills, Silverman is an enormously talented writer who can startle audiences with her punchlines, whether those punchlines are tame or dirty. She’s a master of writing the clean joke in dirty joke’s clothes.
The Baltimore Sun ran a quiz to figure out what character from The Wire you are. And I think that might be it for journalism.
It’s the further BuzzFeedification of newspapers who realize that they simply cannot compete with the disposable pace of the social internet. And yes, I do specifically blame BuzzFeed. I don’t care how many reporters they have on the ground in Kyiv, it’s like an arsonist burning down half the city then wanting a pat on the back for operating a handful of fire hydrants.
HiLobrow has a small but accurate tribute to Kurt Cobain on what would have been his 47th birthday.
He counts among his heirs both those who ape the Pacific Northwest’s hipster ethos and Portlandia, which mocks it. In today’s social-media miasma, where everybody is connected and no one talks to each other, Cobain’s visceral, Nietzsche-meets-Ramones presence is his lasting act of resistance.
Reality Bites is 20 and we’re all old. More importantly, Troy Dyer was a dickhead and shouldn’t have got the girl.
Troy Dyer was a fucking douche, and you would never, ever want to date him in real life. Even though you probably already have, which is why you know that Troy Dyer was a bad idea.
I should not have to sell anybody on the idea that libraries are awesome. But in case you haven’t been to one lately: Libraries are awesome. Maybe you need reminding. I get that.
I have recently fallen in love with the Calgary Public Library because 1) we needed to trim the family budget and media was taking up a lot of it, and 2) you can get free magazines and books from the library onto your iPad. Who knew? ↩
A board game with economic theory, land development, and cute little buildings: one is naturally reminded of something else. The Washington Post hailed Catan as the Monopoly “of our time.”Wired called it the “Monopoly Killer.” Meanwhile, Monopoly itself has begun to respond to the shifting tides. In 2007, Hasbro published Tropical Tycoon Monopoly, in which the original Atlantic City layout frames the perimeter while Rich Uncle Pennybags erupts from a volcanic tropical island in the center. U-Build Monopoly, released in 2010, replaces the rectangle properties with hexagonal tiles that resemble Catan’s terrain. Still, Derk Solko, a co-founder of the popular gaming forum Boardgamegeek.com, said to Wired in 2009, “If I could wave a magic wand and replace all the copies of Monopoly out there with Settlers, I truly think the world would be a better place.” Fenlon told me, “Our mission in life is to make Catan the preëminent game—to have people think of Catan instead of Monopoly when they think of a board game.”