‘Ground Control to Silicon Valley,’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read
Here’s what you missed while you were either lamenting or cheering Gawker’s bankruptcy…
The Atlantic: A Computer Tried (and Failed) to Write This Article
Selected by Noah Waldman, editorial intern
It seems as though machines are just about able to do anything people can. They’ve been replacing us in a manufacturing capacity for millennia and are getting more effective with each iteration. Algorithms have been a key component of the financial sector for years, and they’re even safer drivers than us. But the one thing they can’t seem to do, yet, is write a coherent sentence.
At least, that’s what Adrienne Lafrance discovered when she pumped a writing program full of almost everything she’s ever published. The software came out with gems like “content that was that communications and everything that makes on a person what they’re are also to be in the Internet in the fact about it is that models are technologication of the same that its also from the most computer.”
On second thought, even if copywriters don’t have to worry about robots, political speechwriters may want to keep an eye out.
New York Post: Millennials don’t deserve NYC
Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor
At this point, it’s almost like every publication needs to get in some millennial bashing just for the shock value. The Post is the latest pub to play the game, chiding youngsters for drinking responsibly and watching good shows on Netflix.
This is a lazy thinkpiece, a rare time I’m going to use the space in our weekly roundups to show journalists and editors what not do. The title is the perfect example of clickbait—an interesting angle that the article doesn’t even come close to justifying.
As a millennial, I can confirm that we do dumb things. I can also confirm that Baby Boomers, Gen Zers, Gen Xers, and people from every other arbitrary generational cutoff do dumb things. If a writer wants to call out millennials on those dumb things, go for it. But when the point of the article is to call us out for simply being millennials, that’s just stupid.
Stay woke, New York Post.
The Washington Post: The end of ‘shrink it and pink it’: A history of advertisers missing the mark with women
Selected by Ann Fabens-Lassen, communications manager
To a certain extent marketers have to make generalizations about large demographics—the problem is they often take it too far. Millennials like laying on the couch all day (see above), bros like sports, or in the case of this article, women like pink dainty stuff.
First, an obligatory rant that marketing to women in this way is totally antiquated. It’s absurd that only five years ago Dell came out with the “Della,” a small pastel computer that’s great for finding recipes, counting calories, and shopping for clothes.
The question is how do marketers target certain demographics without coming off like they’re trying way too hard? The answer, according to more thoughtful marketers than the ones at Dell, is subtlety and inclusion.
The New Yorker: How “Silicon Valley” Nails Silicon Valley
Selected by Sam Slaughter, VP of content
This is just one of the many fantastic anecdotes from this piece on “Silicon Valley”:
“Teller ended the meeting by standing up in a huff, but his attempt at a dramatic exit was marred by the fact that he was wearing Rollerblades. He wobbled to the door in silence. “Then there was this awkward moment of him fumbling with his I.D. badge, trying to get the door to open,” Kemper said. “It felt like it lasted an hour. We were all trying not to laugh. Even while it was happening, I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Can we use this?” In the end, the joke was deemed “too hacky to use on the show.”
BuzzFeed: Ground Control To Silicon Valley
Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor
In a sea of interchangeable tech industry coverage, BuzzFeed’s Nitasha Tiku is always a breath of fresh air. She’s one of those rare journalists who can write beautifully without being self-indulgent, and who can stay grounded in journalistic reporting while interweaving literary interludes.
This piece—which uses Recode’s annual conference as background to explore the tech industry’s insular, damaging futurism and the media’s starry-eyed relationship to it—is probably my favorite article by her yet.