‘A Poem Made Up Entirely of Actual Panels at SXSW’ and 4 Other Stories You Should ReadBy Contently March 18th, 2016
Here’s what you missed while you spent the week recovering from SXSW hangovers…
The New Yorker: After the Fact
Selected by Dillon Baker, associate editor
One of the promises of the Internet was that it would make knowledge available to anyone. Put another way, the Internet would make the truth easily attainable. It’s the promise of Wikipedia, it’s the promise of Google, and it’s the promise of fact-checking websites like Politifact. We take advantage of that promise almost everyday: if you want to end an argument, all you have to say is “Google it.”
But as anyone who has, in fact, “Googled it” can attest to, the Internet confuses the truth just as often as it confirms it. This book review, by Jill Lepore, looks at the current presidential election to suggest that the accuracy of the knowledge we get from the Internet is actually murkier than ever.
The New York Times Magazine: ‘Bro’-liferation
Selected by Jordan Teicher, senior editor
Wesley Morris writing about Rob Gronkowski, Bernie Sanders, Jersey Shore, Judd Apatow, and Entourage. It’s almost like Grantland is still alive. Almost.
In this article, Morris, who is now the critic at large for the Times, tries to school readers on the way the word “bro” has infected our language. The fact that he struggles at times to tie all his analysis together—specifically the part about “Berniebros” and gender politics—shows just how hard it is to make sense of the amorphous word. Some people use “bro” as a sign of affection; others throw it around as an insult. It’s cool and uncool at the same time.
I’ve never said “bro” sincerely, and I don’t intend to anytime soon. But it would be nice to have a word that conveys the same definition without such a bad reputation. That way I could just kick back with my [redacted] and just [redacted]-out.
P.S.: Stick around for the great little rundown near the end of the piece on the differences between brother, bro, bruh, and brag.
Selected by Brian Maehl, talent development manager
If you’ve ever taken a high school or college course that requires term papers, you know that you can’t cite Wikipedia. Why? Well aside from perhaps making research a bit too easy, anyone can edit any article, regardless of their intention and expertise. Even more troubling is how much control rogue editors can have over figures who experience a rapid ascent to public importance—like recent Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.
This past week, official Wikipedia editors fought to keep Garland’s history and ideologies factual in the wake of several unwarranted edits. The story from Wired discusses how this is a recurring problem for figures who suddenly become popular and, due to Wikipedia’s frequent appearances at the top of Google’s search results, can incorrectly ruin first impressions.
However,if Wikipedia somehow limits the public’s ability to edit the site, doesn’t this also go against what it stands for? Garland’s nomination highlighted this double-edged sword at its sharpest.
The Baffler: The Rest Is Advertising
Selected by Carly Miller, editorial intern
For journalist Jacob Silverman, writing sponsored content was, at first, kind of like walking around with a cute baby in your arms: Suddenly, everyone wants to be your friend. But Silverman’s relationship with a branded content project for The Atlantic quickly turned out to be more like the moment when that baby wakes up screaming in the middle of the night, and despite frenzied efforts, you can’t figure out what the hell is wrong.
Silverman adds to this well-worn conversation (the dissolving firewalls between ad and editorial) with engaging anecdotes, like the time Casper sent lots of free mattresses to Maxim in the thinly veiled hopes for good PR. And despite the perks of ad work, namely “the most [money] I have ever received for a single piece of writing,” Silverman concludes that, for journalists, sponsored content can cause more conflicts than it aims to solve.
Selected by Joe Lazauskas, editor-in-chief
We are all monsters.