‘Joe Cool’ and 4 Other Stories You Should Read
Here’s what you missed this week while you spent too much time examining the facial expressions in this amazing photograph…
Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor
For this article, reporter Gideon Lewis-Kraus traveled to Japan to stay at the world’s first hotel run by robots. You know how some out-there technology can have a cute novelty appeal? Well, this doesn’t. The feature comes in at 8,000 words, and most of them are about the weird loneliness of what it’s like to be one of the few humans in the Henn-na Hotel.
If you decide to go on sabbatical to find the time to read this, know that it’s overwritten. But also know that it’s still an interesting piece of journalism for the way it approaches technological evolution not as something that’s bad, but as something that’s inevitable, despite its limitations.1
When robots take over, it’s not going to be some apocalyptic judgment day; instead, it’ll be quiet, sanitized, and obedient to a fault, which is probably even scarier.
Selected by Amanda Weatherhead, distribution manager
A friend of mine sent me this story accompanied with the message “I’d like to hire this writer to be the hagiographer for my company.” Intrigued, I had to read on, and Devin Friendman’s piece most certainly lived up to the hype.
Despite Young Thug’s clipped, often incomprehensible responses to Friedman’s questions, the author weaves brilliant vignettes from his week with the rapper along with interviews from his family and entourage. Friedman delves into his subject’s psyche, peeling back the layers from the artist who just “jumped off the porch” to determine that Thug is a modern-day Shakespearean king who is “consumed, probably understanding that he’s in a tragedy.”
Thug’s genius is that he “is telling the same stories we’ve become desensitized to. But it’s not his stories that make Thug an electric presence. It’s Thug himself. He is the product. Thug is able to channel a kind of genuine nihilism that most people rapping about their rough neighborhoods just can’t do.”
It’s still unclear if the rapper is a true genius who will be lionized in the annals of music, or if he’s merely an obstreperous rebel who will be incarcerated within the decade, as his manager predicts at the end of the article. We’ll just have to wait and see.
The New Republic: Harnessing the Internet’s Shaming Power to Fight Prostitution
Selected by Kristen Poli, content strategy associate
In case you needed a reminder that nothing ever really escapes Google’s clutches (I mean, cache), look no further than Suzy Khimm’s latest piece for the New Republic.
Khimm masterfully takes us through a brief history of the relationship between prosecution and public shaming in America, focusing in particular on a New York-based prostitution sting in 2013 called “Flush the Johns.” Though many police departments routinely publish press releases when they make arrests, the article makes the case that the tabloid-style brand of shame the criminals incur is much worse than jail time or fines.
The Internet has made the public sphere bigger, stronger, and more relentless, and given our collective memory an acute sharpness. Now, first-time offenders or the wrongfully accused can be plunged into “limitless and eternal notoriety.”
Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager
As an advocate for physical books, it brings me great joy that literature hasn’t made the full turn into the 21st century. E-books may still be still gaining market share, but at a much slower pace than originally expected.
Last year, I read The Everything Store, by Brad Stone, which detailed the emergence of e-books through the context of Amazon’s history. For reference, the Amazon Kindle came out in 2007—the same year as the first iPhone. While they had very different purposes, you would think that the Kindle would have become more widely adopted considering how much ground the iPhone has covered in the same time period.
I find it refreshing that convenience hasn’t taken over everything. At least, not yet.
The New Inquiry: Joe Cool
Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor
Whenever a new platform hits the Internet, brands inevitably rush to ruin it. Peach? Brands were there. Periscope? Brands want in on that.
Trader Joe’s is different. Trader Joe’s isn’t on social media. In fact, Trader Joe’s doesn’t really advertise at all. Yet it’s one of the most beloved, successful, and recognizable brands out there. Want to know why? This essay by Alicia Eler—which is one of the smartest articles on marketing, branding, and consumerism I’ve ever read—will explain.Image by Creative Commons