BITES // 01.03.19

Every month we collect eight of the best pieces of content published on the web and share them with you, because we believe that the most extraordinary thinking is inspired by looking to unexpected places. BITES is a reading list for those who want to bring a little of the outside, in.

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1. THE JEALOUSY LIST

The Jealousy List is a fabulous tradition wherein Bloomberg’s staff individually lists the one article they wish they’d written that year. The staff claims that the list is “neither healthy nor enjoyable” for them to make, but it’s great for readers, and it’s probably, at least a little bit, healthy—in any profession, you can’t help but learn when you acknowledge the incredible work other people are doing, too.

2. 2018 HAD JOKES

The New Yorker editor Ian Crouch loves jokes, and so do we, but we’re usually being paid to write them, not review them, which sounds like way more fun. Still, comedy reveals things about its audience, and a roundup of the best jokes of 2018 covers politics, motherhood, aging, and the objectively absurd—all topics that were at the top of our cultural consciousness last year.

3. EXACTLY 60 FACTS

The New York Times was keeping track of all the new facts we learned in 2018, and thank goodness, because it’s incredible. It’s a wide-ranging bunch, covering world-changing discoveries and random trivia (did you know there has been a 40 percent increase in Google searches for “crystal healing” over the past four years?), while powerfully exhibiting the insane rate at which our society just … learns new things.

4. HERE A CHART, THERE ARE CHART

If reading listicles isn’t the way you best learn new information, maybe try out FiveThirtyEight’s “45 Best Charts From 2018.” Whether you’re in it for the educational content or just the breadth of information architecture, take a minute to revel in these experts flexing their craft.

5. THE MEMES THAT DEFINED US

Memes are the mile-markers of internet culture—the most viral variants exhibit who and what is top of mind (the answer is Pete Davidson), their modality allows them to act as a language shared across all internet communities, and their ephemerality makes themexcellent time capsules. And they’re super fun to look at. As a way of measuring 2018’s cultural tides, you could do a lot worse.

6. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC’S 2018 IN PHOTOS

In contrast to their more broad journalistic peers like Time or The Atlantic, National Geographic’s photographic retrospective tells global stories through small, intimate moments and scenes. No photo here will be automatically familiar or iconic—but for that reason, they’re worthy of extra attention. After all, humanity is in the details.

7. A STAR IS BORN

The Atlantic runs down the breakout personalities of 2018, from teenage actress Lana Condor’s star turn as the teenage love interest in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Beforeto the middle-aged Hannah Gadsby forcing a watershed moment for comedy. These names help us understand what constitutes breakthrough talent today, and hints at what will standout in 2019.

8. WHY WE WANT THE BEST

Speaking of things being the “best of,” what does that even mean, and why do we want it so bad? As a part of their larger series investigating what’s “best” for consumers, Voxinterviews psychologist Barry Schwartz about what “best” means, what it doesn’t, and how the pursuit of the “best” tricks us into believing all sorts of wild things. So you know, take all the “Best of 2018” lists, even these, with a grain of salt.


TAKEAWAY: The best part of New Year’s isn’t the champagne, or the hats, or the glitter. It’s the sense of a fresh start you get after you’ve had a pot of coffee and a big breakfast the next morning. But, like the glitter, 2018 follows you into the new year. Taking warning from the rocky patches as well as inspiration from the wins is how you set yourself up to make the strides you wanna make—so Happy New Year, all.

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