The Weekender: Long live Hack Week

Everything to do, see, and read this weekend

Hack Week Badge

Welcome to the first annual Verge Hack Week. We're totally blowing up our site: we've given our reporters and editors the entire week to play with new tools and experiment with new storytelling ideas, while members of our amazing product team have gathered in New York to help build all sorts of interesting new things. Learn more.

We hacked. We built. We got a little crazy. (Maybe a little too crazy? No. Just the right amount.) Welcome back to the Weekender, where we take a moment to reflect on all the trouble we've caused and glory we've achieved. A lot of strange things happened this week, but the good thing about being here is that stranger times are always ahead. Below, as always, is a collection of some of the week's best work, along with things to do just in case you don't intend on staying in bed all day. Long live Hack Week.

Do this

Afropunk Festival, Brooklyn, NY

Afropunk Festival, one of the most multicultural and diverse music festivals in the US, is happening in Brooklyn this weekend and you need to go. 60 artists are heading to the Commodore Barry Park to explore black music, as expression and art form, is and can be in the present and future. This is an event for everyone. Experience it.

Afropunk Fest

Photo Credit: DJ Dhundee/Afropunk Fest

Read this*

The worst company in America

It seems like everyone has a problem with Comcast. So how'd the situation get so awful all across the country? In the final installment of our four-part series on the cable giant, we dive into why Comcast looks the way it does today — and what it could look like in the very near future if its big merger goes through.

Messenger warfare: I put same-day delivery to the test

Forget going to the store. If you're in a big city, you can probably just open up an app and have someone bring you whatever you're looking for. We tested out how six of them fared in New York City — and ended up pretty surprised at how well they're already working.

Look at what two years on Mars did to the Curiosity Rover

Curiosity has seen better days. After two years of being barraged with dust on Mars, the rover is seriously dirty, not to mention a little beat up here and there. We've collected photos old and new to show you just how how worn it's become since landing on the Red Planet.

The future of everything

For our inaugural Verge Hack Week, we asked some of the many bright minds around Vox Media to tells us about what the future is going to look like. Click through for stories ranging from Ezra Klein on the future of politics to Verge product manager Lauren Rabaino on serendipity in the digital age.

A history of metaphors for the internet

The information superhighway. Cyberspace. The web. The cloud. We've called the internet a lot of things over the years as everyone tries to understand what the internet is and how they should be using it. Here's a look back at our history of strange phrases — and the reasons why these metaphors aren't going away.

Slaying the demons of 'Dungeons & Dragons'

Dungeons & Dragons used to be the king of tabletop gaming, but fans have slowly been leaving it in recent years for newer competitors. Now, D&D is going through some big rule changes, and it's hoping that they're enough to win gamers back over to its side of the table.

The Look Of Funny: How The Onion's Art Department Works

Dan Nosowitz writes about the three person art department behind The Onion's photography and Photoshop prowess.

The method for creating the banal Onionworld relies on interns, employees, their significant others and friends, and their apartments. "Everybody in this office has had the experience where one of the graphics editors will be walking around with a camera and you see them walk toward your desk and they tap you on the shoulder," Berkley says. "Personally I've been two superheroes, two teens, and a body double for Vice President Biden."

The End of UFOs

New York Magazine
Mark Jacobson visits the MUFON conference in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to report on the declining interest in UFOs.

While this year’s symposium attracted a reported 400 people, this was a far cry from the thousands who attended the MUFON conference in the late 1970s, after Close Encounters of the Third Kind introduced extraterrestrials to the mainstream moviegoer. That was at a time when a lot of people actually believed that these mysterious things from the sky represented the biggest single thing in history.

Everybody Smiley Poops

Mary Mann considers the poetry and honesty of emoji.

Turns out, for Maggie at least, the right emoji sequence to symbolize sympathizing with heartbreak is a series of smiley poops. Two days later we had dinner in person. "I’m feeling better," she said. "I had a session with my therapist… And your text the other day made me laugh—that helped."

Tiny cartoon poops helped.

Smiley Poop

View of #Ferguson Thrust Michael Brown Shooting to National Attention

The New York Times
David Carr writes about how activism and discussion on Twitter spurred on the mainstream coverage of Ferguson.

But as the world has become an ever more complicated place — a collision of Ebola, war in Iraq, crisis in Ukraine and more — Twitter has become an early warning service for news organizations, a way to see into stories even when they don’t have significant reporting assets on the ground. And in a situation hostile to traditional reporting, the crowdsourced, phone-enabled network of information that Twitter provides has proved invaluable.

Ferguson Protesters

How Magic Conquered Pop Culture

Lev Grossman thinks about magic and fantasy's now dominant role in pop culture.

If my generation is remembered for anything, it will be as the last one that remembers the world before the Internet. You can’t compare what we’ve gone through to WWI, because that would be insane, but it’s not a trivial thing either. Lewis and Tolkien saw the physical world remade around them. The changes we’ve seen have been largely invisible but still radical: they happened in the sphere of information and communication and simulation and ubiquitous computation.

*Grab the entire list as a Readlist.

Listen to this

Snakehips - Coming to America

This mix, bestowed upon us by HYPETRAK, features an eclectic collection of beats both old and new. This is what you want to wake up to — a little bit of Karma Kid, a little bit of Aaliyah, and a dizzying amount of cool.

Lauryn Hill - Black Rage

After witnessing the ongoing situation in Ferguson, MO, Lauryn Hill released a demo of her track "Black Rage" online, dedicated to the protesters on the ground. Hill has been performing the track live for years, but its political message is now poignant more than ever.

Play this

Borderlands 2 and Dishonored, Steam

If you have a Steam account, you need to jump on this. The excellent Borderlands 2 and Dishonored are both available to play on Steam for free this weekend. It's just for this weekend though. After 1pm PT on Sunday, you'll need to pay. You'd better get on that.


Watch this

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!

Buckaroo Banzai quietly turned 30 this month, so what better time is there to take a look back. A pre-RoboCop Peter Weller plays the titular Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rocker who takes down a gang of inter-dimensional aliens from the 8th dimension with his friends the Hong Kong Cavaliers. It's about as ridiculous as it sounds, but it's perfect for a Saturday. That is unless you're still watching The Simpsons.