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    The best writing of the week, March 30

    The best writing of the week, March 30

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    Your Sunday reading

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    We all know the feeling. You're sleepless in the sad hours of the night or stumbling around early on a hazy weekend morning in need of something to read, and that pile of unread books just isn't cutting it. Why not take a break from the fire hose of Twitter and RSS and check out our weekly roundup of essential writing from around the web about technology, culture, media, and the future? Sure, it's one more thing you can feel guilty about sitting in your Instapaper queue, but it's better than pulling in vain on your Twitter list again.

    Grab the entire list as a Readlist.

    On age

    Noam Scheiber looks at the rampant ageism of Silicon Valley.

    The New Republic: Noam Scheiber - The Brutal Ageism of Tech

    Consider a fortysomething engineer who was recently up for a job at a company whose product he suspected I use daily. The engineer believes he aced all his technical interviews, then he Skyped with a young programmer he would be working with. "He basically tried to explain to me that it’s a college mentality. People bring their college buddies in. They run around the office, which is a big converted factory, running after each other with Nerf guns," says the engineer. "He mentioned the word ‘culture’ several times." The engineer quickly deduced that his chances were roughly nil. "I think that was him saying, not in so many words, ‘Dude, you’re too old for us.’ "On Upworthy

    Nitsuh Abebe goes behind the scenes at Upworthy to explore how the company churns out its viral, feel-good stories.

    New York: Nitsuh Abebe - Watching Team Upworthy Work Is Enough to Make You a Cynic. Or Lose Your Cynicism. Or Both. Or Neither.

    Upworthy takes that old binary—earnest versus cynical, fair versus manipulative, righteous versus self-interested—and twists it into meaninglessness, from the mission statement on down. It turns out that if your noble goal is to "draw massive amounts of attention to the topics that really matter," then the success of that mission (i.e., driving eyes toward meaningful content) and the short-term success of your company (i.e., attracting visitors to your for-profit, investment-backed website) are precisely identical.On Oculus

    Lev Grossman has the inside story on Facebook's purchase this week of Oculus VR.

    Time: Lev Grossman - The Virtual Genius of Oculus Rift

    Iribe mentions virtual vacations and a 3-D VR encyclopedia as future possibilities. Mitchell describes a "magic school bus" that could take a bunch of kids on an instant field trip to Florence to look at Michelangelo’s David. But the really big opportunity, the mainstream, billion-user opportunity, was in virtual reality as a next-next-generation communications medium. "When you add other people to it," Iribe says, "and you can actually see somebody in that place and you can make eye contact, and you can look at them and they can look around, you can now have this shared sense of presence in this new gaming experience, entertainment experience or just social experience that really starts to define what virtual reality is all about."On bureaucracy

    David A. Fahrenthold reports on government workers in a Pennsylvania mine still processing retirement paperwork by hand.

    The Washington Post: David A. Fahrenthold - Sinkhole of bureaucracy

    The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records.
    This odd place is an example of how hard it is to get a time-wasting bug out of a big bureaucratic system.
    Held up by all that paper, work in the mine runs as slowly now as it did in 1977.On the Zetas

    Damon Tabor tells the story of how the Zetas Cartel built its communication network with a mix of high and low tech.

    Popular Science: Damon Tabor - Radio Tecnico: How The Zetas Cartel Took Over Mexico With Walkie-Talkies

    This system enabled the cartel to smuggle narcotics by the ton into the U.S., as well as billions of dollars in drug money back into Mexico. Most remarkably, it had provided The Company with a Gorgon-like omniscience or, according to Pike, the ability to track everything related to its narcotics distribution: drug loads but also Mexican police, military, even U.S. border-patrol agents. That a cartel had begun employing communications experts was likely news to most of law enforcement. That it had pulled off a massive engineering project spanning most of Mexico—and done so largely in secret—was unparalleled in the annals of criminal enterprise.For more great longreads, visit our friends at Longreads.

    Have any favorites that you'd like to see included in next week's edition? Send them along to @thomashouston or share in the comments below.

    Today’s Storystream

    Feed refreshed 9 minutes ago Better on the inside

    J
    External Link
    James Vincent9 minutes ago
    Shutterstock punts on AI-generated content.

    Earlier this week, Getty Images banned the sale of AI-generated content, citing legal concerns about copyright. Now, its biggest rival, Shutterstock, has responded by doing ... absolutely nothing. In a blog post, Shutterstock’s CEO Paul Hennessy says there are “open questions on the copyright, licensing, rights, and ownership of synthetic content and AI-generated art,” but doesn’t announce any policy changes. So, you can keep on selling AI art on Shutterstock, I guess.


    T
    Thomas RickerTwo hours ago
    This custom Super73 makes me want to tongue-kiss an eagle.

    Super73’s tribute to mountain-biking pioneer Tom Ritchey has my inner American engorged with flag-waving desire. The “ZX Team” edition features a red, white, and blue colorway with custom components fitted throughout. Modern MTBers might scoff at the idea of doing any serious trail riding on a heavy Super73 e-bike, which is fine: this one-off is not for sale. 

    You can, however, buy the Super73 ZX it’s based on (read my review here), which proved to be a very capable all-terrain vehicle on asphalt, dirt, gravel, and amber fields of grain.


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    Richard Lawler12:25 AM UTC
    The sincerest form of flattery.

    I had little interest in Apple’s Dynamic Island, but once a developer built their spin on the idea for Android, I had to give it a try.

    Surprisingly, I’ve found I actually like it, and while dynamicSpot isn’t as well-integrated as Apple’s version, it makes up for it with customization. Nilay’s iPhone 14 Pro review asked Apple to reverse the long-press to expand vs. tap to enter an app setup. In dynamicSpot, you can do that with a toggle (if you pay $5).


    DynamicSpot app on Android shown expanding music player, in the style of Apple’s Dynamic Island in iOS 16.
    DynamicSpot in action on a Google Pixel 6
    Image: Richard Lawler
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    TikTok
    Richard LawlerSep 22
    TikTok politics.

    Ahead of the midterm elections, TikTok made big changes to its rules for politicians and political fundraising on the platform, as Makena Kelly explains... on TikTok.


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    External Link
    Richard LawlerSep 22
    The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.

    This summer, a former Twitter employee who worked on platform and content moderation policies testified anonymously before the congressional committee investigating the violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.

    While she remains under NDA and much of her testimony is still sealed,  Anika Collier Navaroli has identified herself, explaining a little about why she’s telling Congress her story of what happened inside Twitter — both before the attack, and after, when it banned Donald Trump.


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    Instagram
    Richard LawlerSep 22
    But how does it sound?

    Our review of Apple’s new AirPods Pro can tell you everything about the second-generation buds. To find out how you’ll sound talking to other people through them, just listen to Verge senior video producer Becca Farsace.


    Welcome to the new Verge

    Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

    Nilay PatelSep 13
    A
    The Verge
    Andrew WebsterSep 22
    Our list of the best entertainment of 2022 keeps getting bigger.

    We just added some notable entries to our running list highlighting the best games, movies, and TV shows of the year, including Return to Monkey Island, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. Sorry in advance for your free time.


    The best entertainment of 2022

    Everything to play and watch this year

    Andrew WebsterSep 22

    The best instant cameras you can buy right now

    We found the best cameras for your budget and needs

    Sheena VasaniSep 22
    R
    The Verge
    Richard LawlerSep 22
    The Bootleg Ratio.

    Policy Editor Russell Brandom digs into a phenomenon we’ve all seen on social media before:

    I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post.

    And now it’s coming for TikTok.


    D
    Youtube
    Dan SeifertSep 22
    Here’s a look at a few Pixel Watch watchfaces.

    Google is ramping up the marketing machine ahead of next month’s Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch event and has released a short video (via 9to5Google) highlighting the design and showcasing some of the watchfaces it will have. Most of them are quite simple, with just the time being displayed.

    These videos always look great from a marketing perspective, but I think they poorly reflect how I actually use a smartwatch. I want the computer on my wrist to show me useful information like weather, calendar appointments, timers, etc, which means it’s never as sparse or simple looking as it is in these ads.


    A
    External Link
    Please stop trying to order the Hummer EV.

    GMC is closing the order books for the Hummer EV truck and SUV after receiving 90,000 reservations for the controversial electric vehicle, according to the Detroit Free Press. It just can’t seem to keep up with demand, so the GM-owned company has decided to stop taking orders until production picks up. Maybe if the Hummer’s battery wasn’t the same weight as a whole-ass Honda Civic, it would be easier to manufacture, but I digress.

    GMC is the latest automaker to run into the problem of EV demand far outstripping supply. Ford also is having difficulty making enough F-150 Lightnings and Mustang Mach-Es to fill all its orders. Waitlists for most available EVs are longer than my arm. Things are going to be tight until the auto industry is able to bring more battery factories and assembly plants online, and unfortunately that could take a while.


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    External Link
    Alex CranzSep 22
    The Verge is hiring!

    The Verge is almost always hiring, and right now we’re looking for a big Verge fan with big journalism ambition to join us as a fellow for the next year. We’re also hiring a Space Reporter to join our Science team, a Designer to work with our Art team, and a Senior Editor focused on Search. Come apply to work with us!


    Fellow, The Verge

    [boards.greenhouse.io]

    A
    Tesla recalls 1.1 million vehicles to prevent drivers from getting pinched by the windows.

    The issue is that the windows would not recognize certain objects while closing, which could result in “a pinching injury to the occupant.” It’s a pretty enormous recall, covering some 2017-2022 Model 3, 2020-2021 Model Y, and 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles.

    Tesla said it would issue a fix via an over-the-air software update. Notably, nobody has been been injured or killed by Tesla’s ravenous windows, but I wouldn’t recommend sticking your fingers in there just to see what happens.