BITES // 03.07.19

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. LOVING MASS-PRODUCED FRIED CHICKEN IS FINE

These days the biggest celebrity names in food, from chefs to critics, are products of a fast food generation. That doesn’t diminish their culinary chops, but it has elevated fast food in the world of “serious” food discourse. At their core, fast food restaurants exist at the nexus of convenience and indulgence, and so serve as awesome windows into the culture and history of the people who love them.

2. THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF MOMO

You’ve seen Momo. Enormous black-rimmed eyes, long, uncanny mouth stretched from cheek to cheek. With her thin, scraggly black hair she looks like a doll version of Samara from The Ring. Momo went viral recently, but not with kids. Instead, parents posted and reposted warnings about the Momo Challenge, a supposedly viral game prompting teenagers to kill themselves. But the Momo Challenge was a hoax and Momo herself an art piece from years ago. The real danger is the frightening gulf parents feel between what we know about the threats of the internet and what we don’t, a gulf that makes it impossible to respond appropriately.

3. THE ANTI-HERO NEEDS A NEW FOIL

The anti-hero! We know him, we like him. We have to: likeable characters are the single most important ingredient in a successful TV show. After all, you need people to commit to coming back. But how do you make a bad guy—someone with no moral scruples, violent tendencies, biases—likeable? The answer lies in one of TV’s worst tropes: the annoying wife who makes him sympathetic. And as we all know, what starts in pop culture bleeds into dynamics elsewhere.

4. SEE YOU AT THE CANTINA

The magic of Disney World is, in a lot of ways, analogue; definitionally IRL. But it stands to reason that Disney, as longtime innovators of live experiences, would be some of the first to really push the envelope on integration of technology. And what better property than Star Wars. This is the true fan’s deep dive into the new Star Wars park expansions. Give it a glance, even if you’re a skeptic: reading about the scale of ambition is like someone explaining how deep the ocean is—the more detailed they get, the crazier it sounds.

5. FANDOM IS BEAUTIFUL WORK 

Hanif Abdurraqib loves A Tribe Called Quest. Which, relatable. His new book explores their history, their music, and the impact that they had on black culture without ever obfuscating his fandom. In this interview, he unpacks the enormous undertaking of being a modern fan, complete with the joys, responsibilities, and always-there ignorance that makes it worthwhile.

6. SUSTAINABLY SOURCED INTERNET

You’d have to be living under a rock under the sea to feel unequivocally good about the Internet. There are Momos out there, you know. The “artisanal internet” that Wired identifies borrows a lot of principles from other “back-to-the-land movements” as it tries to solve for the internet’s ever-evolving problems. Anil Dash, Glitch CEO, says “I don’t know what the Michael Pollan version would be: Eat independent sites, mostly not Facebook?” However this subculture-within-a-subculture develops, it has huge implications for the direction of innovation in the internet landscape.

7. HYDROPONICALLY SOURCED VEGETABLES

To go with your artisanal internet, may we suggest some veggies from a farm that operates entirely indoors? As the world faces the inevitability of catastrophic climate change, adaptive strategies for agriculture become important innovation spaces. But this is more than an innovation story, it’s an analysis of the ways that our culture of business and financing do (and don’t) work for innovators who are trying to fix the world.

8. THE NIHILISM OF POST-MILLENNIAL POP

Jezebel does an awesome job of digging in to the reasons that a post-Millennial pop landscape would be so much less raunchy than the landscape of the mid-aughts. “The current wave of music that seems to connect the most with young people right now, the odes to death and drinking to forget, might as well be “Tide Pod Pop.” When you’re part of a generation that’s perpetually stressed and always a bit ready to die, it’s not hard to see why sex might not be a priority in music, or as it turns out, in life.” If you’re wondering what’s up with Gen Z, this is a perfect micro-trend.


TAKEAWAY:

Obsession. The thoughts that lodge in your head and don’t go away. A new innovation; an earworm; a scary threat. We rely on people with obsessive tendencies to uncover different ways to interact with our world and to build new worlds for us to enjoy. But we also need to be cautious about those tendencies in ourselves, lest we manifest them in dangerous ways.

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM

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