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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.

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.

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.

Libraries1 deserve to be hip.

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.


  1. 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? 

Nav ponders the point of and contradictions with social media.

In one sense it represents the tension in the desires of companies such as Twitter and Facebook—a division between wanting to be the go-to digital destination, and a wish to be the infrastructure for other services. But I’d argue part of it comes down to users increasingly realizing that the services they’re using were invented in university dorms or boardrooms where everyone wore Cons and khakis. To wit, the schizophrenic nature of modern apps is a result of the fact that the social expectations that came baked into Facebook or Twitter may not have made much sense in the first place.

The New Yorker profiles Klaus Teuber, who invented Settlers of Catan1.

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.”


  1. Tough call, those italics. 

A look at how films are restored before being added to the Criterion Collection.

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.

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.