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Quizzes are the new lists. (Or: how BuzzFeed is making money this week.)

A quiz is not, generally speaking, journalism, and it’s far from a new form. But it’s a highly compelling type of reader engagement that, despite its long history in media, BuzzFeed latched onto only recently. “For me, it’s almost impossible to not take a quiz,” says Burton. “You’re like: I must know what Muppet I am.”

Jesus fucking christ.

McSweeney’s: What is success?

So what is success? Who are the kinds of people who achieve success? Are men successful? I think so, but not if a man’s only claim to fame is being a great husband and father. Are women successful? Maybe? Are black people successful? My gut says no, but I guess they could be (Martin Luther King Jr., etc). What I’m trying to say is that if you are a person, I guess you could be a successful person, especially if you are a Chinese person. Children can’t be successful because they don’t earn livings and aren’t mature sexually.


Instafame is an exploration of a teenager’s relationship with fame through the lens of Instagram.

Wired dives into a 1973 RadioShack catalogue, when label makers were all the rage.

Facebook has had enough of websites that deal exclusively in headline clickbait.

ViralNova seemed the logical, terrible endpoint of the entire thing. It is powered purely by cynicism and contempt. The whole site is (was?) literally one guy who realized he could pretty much do exactly what Upworthy was doing, except by himself and without any earnest illusions about making the world a better place. The founder of ViralNova discovered that it didn’t even matter if the content was recently created, or from a reliable source, or true, or even plausible. All that mattered was a headline and an image, and the shares would follow. In December 2013, the site had 66 million unique visitors. (That, for the record, is a lot.) The site’s creator hopes to unload it for seven figures, in part because he recognizes that Facebook could cripple its traffic in an instant if it decided to.

This is a list of articles favourited in Pocket over the last week. You can view my reading list at any time here, or subscribe to the RSS feed here.

The entire De La Soul catalogue is available for free from their website. Today only.

Can AM radio be saved? (Is AM radio worth saving?) Probably not. (Probably.)

Even if every AM listener in the country could hear any local station they wanted to perfectly clearly 24 hours a day, the fact remains that there just aren’t very many people hitting the “AM” button on their tuners these days, and there’s almost nothing anyone can do to change that trend. So what we end up with is proposed legislation that mostly aims to aims to enhance the AM programming band by turning it into FM programming.

Mike Judge is making a show called Silicon Valley for HBO.

Uh oh. Turns out violent video games probably aren’t very good for kids after all. Which, if you think about it for like half a second, makes perfect sense.

The results were consistent across the board: “Participants who played a violent video game for only 35 minutes exhibited less self-control, cheated more, and behaved more aggressively than did participants who played a nonviolent video game.”

Choire Sicha deleted Secret from his phone.

It was like carrying a portal to a heinous world of male status anxiety. So much equity terror, so many tepid sexual fantasies unfulfilled. In the future, if I need someone to take a toxic dump in my phone I’ll just unblock all those jerks on Twitter.

I have not deleted it. Yet.

An information age glossary. This is fucking wonderful.

Cargo Cult: A system embodying a false consensus that bullshit is information, based on social proof among the Clueless. Cargo cults are social forms that emerge among those who act dead collaboratively.

College Dropout is turning 10 and Daily Swarm has saved me the trouble of collecting all the best things about that.

LinkedAnd‘, the networking site for conjunctions.

But has become a Thought Leader.

The New Yorker’s Amazon profile is extensive, scathing and, dare I say, relentless. Also, probably mostly correct.

Origins, though, leave lasting marks, and Amazon remains intimately tangled up in books. Few notice if Amazon prices an electronics store out of business (except its staff); but, in the influential, self-conscious world of people who care about reading, Amazon’s unparalleled power generates endless discussion, along with paranoia, resentment, confusion, and yearning. For its part, Amazon continues to expend considerable effort both to dominate this small, fragile market and to win the hearts and minds of readers. To many book professionals, Amazon is a ruthless predator. The company claims to want a more literate world—and it came along when the book world was in distress, offering a vital new source of sales. But then it started asking a lot of personal questions, and it created dependency and harshly exploited its leverage; eventually, the book world realized that Amazon had its house keys and its bank-account number, and wondered if that had been the intention all along.

VSE OK is the greatest Tumblr ever. [via]

The 30 harshest musician-on-musician insults in history.

  1. David Lee Roth on Elvis Costello: “Music journalists like Elvis Costello because music journalists look like Elvis Costello.”

How soon is too soon when it comes to making jokes about a tragedy?

But The Onion, McGraw pointed out, put out a “9/11 issue” just two weeks after the event—and it turned out to be one of their most widely celebrated editions. “People were incredibly grateful to The Onion,” said McGraw. “There was sort of this no-comedy zone that happened after 9/11 and it wasn’t clear when it would be okay to begin making jokes again. People didn’t say it was ‘too soon’ because it was so funny.

Four fresh life hacks from the Awl.

Replace Your Gallbladder With A Helium-Neon Sponge

The Onion: New blog piece on Woody Allen to settle everything.

“It’s important to note that Allen was never arrested or charged for a crime, but given Dylan Farrow’s incredibly candid open letter in the New York Times and what we know of such cases, I couldn’t help but ask myself: who can we believe here?” read an excerpt of the piece, which, with its utterly enlightening, previously unconsidered arguments and completely unique insight into the case, will instantly sway the entire general public to one side of the dispute in total unanimity.

This piece by Chris Turner about climate change skeptics is interesting on its own, but I’m mostly linking to it because he uses the concept of “cultural cognition,” which I’d never heard of before and am suddenly fascinated by.

Put more plainly, people tend to trust information only from sources and outlets they’ve already identified as their sort of people — sharers of common cultural values, members of their tribe. To reach those who reject the consensus on climate change, the paper concludes, “communicators must attend to the cultural meaning as well as the scientific content of the information.”

It’s not enough to be right. To put it in Colbert Nation’s terms, it has to feel truthy. The message has to come in the right frame, through the right kind of channel.

Arthur Chu is moneyballing Jeopardy and it’s both really fascinating and really dull.

Chu’s enemies out there have criticized him for making the show “boring” or hard to follow — Chu himself has said the strategy makes the show “less pleasant to watch.” And Chu himself is sort of hard to like: low on affect and charisma in his contestant interview, spilling his guts about strategy on Twitter in a way that feels like a Bond villain describing his film right before the movie’s denouement. But “Jeopardy!,” a show that’s undeniably gotten easier over the past several years, shouldn’t simply be soothing and easygoing. (We have “Wheel of Fortune” for that!) Chu has injected the show with an off-kilter sense that anything could happen — that, eventually, a fellow contestant could wake up to his strategy and use it along with him, racing him to find the Daily Double. What more could an aging franchise that has, for so long, thrived on sameness ask for?

UPDATE: Kotaku has a better look at Chu and his strategies.

In theory, the producers of Jeopardy could nullify the bulk of Chu’s strategy by shifting up board placement —if every question had an equal chance of being a Daily Double, board bouncing would be pointless. But there’s one other wrinkle to Chu’s technique: during the Final Jeopardy round, instead of playing for a win, he plays to tie.

I think this video compares being at war with helping your roommate to not masturbate. Or something. It’s an odd metaphor. [via]

Son, it’s time we talk about where start-ups come from.

I want you to know I love you, even if you’ve experimented with JavaScript or started wooing venture capitalists. I’m just worried. The world of start-ups is troubling and irresistible. You’ve probably heard these funny phrases being tossed around at school: click-through rates, all-hands meetings, UX design and back end servers. You and your friends may have talked about changing lives with code. Yacht parties with Ashton Kutcher! IPOs! Medieval-themed weddings! Webbys galore!

Philip Seymour Hoffman died. (As usual with notable deaths, I will likely update this post a few times as I find good links.)

From the New Yorker:

Work that’s only good is limited to its technique; when it’s great, a work is virtually inseparable from the artist’s life because it gives the sense of being the product of a whole life and being the absolute and total focus of that life at the time of its creation.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Hoffman does terminal uncertainty better than practically anyone.

From the Atlantic:

An actor this good at talking should not be so good at silence. An actor so good at silence shouldn’t be this good at talking. In the delicate art of negotiating rest stops, commanding crescendos, and unleashing fortes, there wasn’t a more precise conductor of performances than Hoffman.

Here’s the PSH scene I’ll always love the most. “Be honest. And unmerciful.”

From Death and Taxes:

Philip Seymour Hoffman belonged to a dying breed brave enough to let go of their own egos long enough to give us truly inspired, possessed performances. He can count Anthony Hopkins and Meryl Streep among his peers, and precious few others.

From Esquire:

There was no actor, in our time, who more ably suggested that each of us is the sum of our secrets…no actor who better let us know what he knew, which is that when each of us returns alone to our room, all bets are off.

Here’s a New York Times Magazine profile from 2008 (which, admittedly, I haven’t read yet).

A.O. Scott’s tribute in the New York Times:

Mr. Hoffman’s way — not necessarily affiliated with any particular school or ideology, and above all the product of his own restless intelligence and relentless drive — took him further and deeper than most of his colleagues would be willing to venture.

The Economist on heroin:

We don’t know how to stop great artists from destroying themselves in one way or another. But we do have a good idea of how to stop more people from destroying themselves specifically with heroin injection, which has a higher fatality rate than most controlled substances. As with most drug problems, the solutions involve decriminalisation and universal access to treatment programmes, including alternative blocking drugs like methadone and buprenorphine. In the case of heroin, there is also another proven way to reduce harm: setting up safe injection rooms monitored by healthcare staff, and—for registered addicts who cannot or will not comply with treatment regimes—providing heroin itself for free.

From Salon:

While some people will likely call Hoffman an “actor’s actor” or a great “character actor,” I think he was something more. Hoffman was a student, and a teacher, of life. He was always studying, learning and seeking to understand what it meant to be human. And he took what he learned and extended it to us with every performance, teaching us about the perfect imperfections of what it means to be alive.

Cameron Crowe on my favourite PSH scene:

My original take on this scene was a loud, late night pronouncement from Lester Bangs. A call to arms. In Phil’s hands it became something different. A scene about quiet truths shared between two guys, both at the crossroads, both hurting, and both up too late. It became the soul of the movie.

David Carr‘s remembrance on Medium:

Covering entertainment means that you come across people whose faces you first saw 20-feet-tall on a movie screen. They tend to shrink when you meet them, but Mr. Hoffman was far from disappointing in person.

Denby in the New Yorker:

I can’t recall an occasion when people have been so upset—grief-struck, really, and also angry—over the death of an actor. Heath Ledger’s death was a shock, but he was so young that there were only a few performances to relish and replay in one’s head. Philip Seymour Hoffman has been around now for more than twenty years, and that voice is thoroughly embedded in our minds.

Aaron Sorkin in Time:

Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.

PSH talking happiness with Simon Critchley.

The Master elevator farting outtake.

Anthony Lane in the New Yorker:

What have we been robbed of, by his death? Not so much a movie star, I think, as somebody who took our dramatic taxonomy—all those lazy, useful terms by which we like to classify and patronize our performers, even the best ones—and threw it away. Leading man, character actor, supporting player: really, who gives a damn? Either you hold an audience, so tight that it feels lashed to the seats, or you don’t.

n+1 on PSH and heroin and legacies and such:

From Hoffman’s behavior in the months leading up to his death, we know that he was seeking help and took his addiction seriously. “I’m a heroin addict,” is the way he introduced himself to a stranger at Sundance who asked Hoffman what he did for a living; onlookers confirmed that he appeared haggard and unrested. It’s also the way Hoffman introduced himself at the Narcotics Anonymous meetings he had been attending. Hoffman wasn’t in denial. He wasn’t shunning treatment. He wasn’t partying hard or “addicted to chaos,” as a contrite Lindsay Lohan admitted last year in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. He was addicted to heroin.

This is a list of articles favourited in Pocket over the last week. You can view my reading list at any time here, or subscribe to the RSS feed here.

You’d think archiving the thoughts of great people (or whoever) would be easier in the digital age, but actually posing new challenges and generating interesting results.

With the software available today, the biographer who strives to put himself in the position of his subject is faced with new conundrums. One of the most intriguing tools that Gonzalez deploys is a program called Project MUSE, which can search an e-mail database and map the writer’s feelings with uncanny accuracy. You can see categories such as “medical,” “angry,” and “congratulations”; you can see, on a graph, what percentage of the time in May, 2001, for example, Sontag was happy or sad or upset.

UPDATE: McSweeney’s: Other subject headings in the Susan Sontag archive.

Tumblr of note: The Art of the Rap Logo. [via]

Forgotify is a way to listen to some of the four-million songs on Spotify that have zero plays.

New social media metrics.

Mouths “Upworthy,” scrolls on.