I read a lot of stuff on the internet in my spare time. Here’s some of the interesting stuff that’s come across the desk in the last month or so. Some of these links I’ve tweeted, as well.
Paul Ford writes in the new Medium vertical The Message about The Great Works of Software, proposing a ‘software canon’ consisting of ongoing software projects that are so important that they changed something fundamental about how we use computers (kind of). Not included in that list are the chat programs AIM and MSN Messenger, the late-90s turf-war David Auerbach covers in N+1's Chat Wars. David, a programmer at Microsoft at the time, worked on emulating the AIM protocol (without permission from AOL), leading to an escalating battle of wits between the two sides. Although AOL has fallen far from those days, it’s still a functional entity, which is more than electric car startup Better Place can say. The rise and fall of the Israeli company is chronicled for Fast Company by Max Chafkin in A Broken Place. No good story of a startup bombing miserably is complete without nepotism, extremely bad financial planning, irrational exuberance, and technical utopianism, and this one’s got it in spades.
From electric utopia to candy-colored dystopia: Maria Bustillos gets an entire site devoted to her long piece for The Awl about Adventure Time, The Hole Near The Center of The World (.com). No one seems to know if this is going to be a thing — the ‘separate-domain-for-a-big-piece’ thing, not Adventure Time. Adventure Time is totally a thing, and will presumably remain so for some time. Not mentioned in that article are the weird fictions of H.P. Lovecraft, which are stunningly influential to a wide spectrum of science fiction and fantasy, but also penned by a deep, committed racist. Daniel José Older takes a deep look for Buzzfeed at what that really means with One Hundred Years of Weird Fear.
"Otherworldly being beyond comprehension" also describes Tilda Swinton, according to this Vulture article by Carl Swanson about her: Tilda Swinton Is Not Quite of This World. All I know is I want to look that good when I’m in my 50s. Meanwhile, Gloria Steinem turned 80, and New York Magazine kindly opened up their vaults and pulled out a little piece she wrote for them forty-six years ago called Learning To Live With Richard Nixon. (Readability link because of the source’s annoying pagination). Reading writing about pre-Watergate Nixon is fascinating to me, because that seems to dominate the image from our current position.
You’re interested in a four-part examination of the mind of Donald Rumsfeld in the New York Times by Errol Morris, aren’t you? The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld: Part 1, 2, 3, 4. How about the first three parts of Questlove's examination of the rise of hip-hop as genre and its effects on America? How Hip-Hop Failed Black America: Part 1, 2, 3.
Recent Wikipedia History: Rabbit rabbit rabbit, Warhol superstars, Free State Project, Nigritude ultramarine.
Twitter accounts to follow: @EmilyGould @redkeg @waxpancake
That’s it for now! Hopefully I’ll remember to do one of these again in the future.