BITES // 09.06.18

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. A TOOLKIT FOR NOT RUINING THE WORLD

So you’ve decided to make a new tech platform. Awesome! But in the protracted battle for the soul of Silicon Valley, where will you fall? Two groups—the Institute for the Future and the Tech and Society Solutions Lab—are here to steer you towards the side of righteousness with their Ethical OS; a toolkit for making sure your new product won’t endanger mankind.

2. THE PEOPLE’S STARTUPS

Congrats, you’ve figured out that your new company isn’t going to make life worse. Now it’s time to launch. For a direct to consumer product, convention these days is dogging investors for rounds and rounds of millions of dollars. But a small group is blazing a new (old) path, eschewing investor money, and reaping the rewards.

3. HOW ONE GYM GREW THE DEFINE AMERICA

Institutions don’t get much more American than Gold’s Gym. But how did one Merchant Marine’s squat little gym, on a bedraggled corner of a bad part of town, come to radicallyredefine American athleticism? A story about masculinity, strength, and endurance, as told by the people who were actually there.

4. WHO IS STEALING BACK CHINA’S ART?

The greatest string of art heists in modern history is currently ongoing. Chinese artifacts, taken by the British and French armies during the 1860 sacking of the Beijing Old Summer Palace, are being repatriated from European museums to China—by purchase, or, failing that, by larceny. The thefts raise questions about what constitutes a crime when something was wrongfully acquired in the first place.

5. GOODBYE BABYSITTING, HELLO INSTAGRAM

If you’re fourteen and looking for a summer gig, one might be hiding on your Instagram feed. Teens across the country have discovered that if you get 1k followers, a world of small-time brand partnership opens up, conducted entirely in Instagram DMs. For five to twenty dollars a post, these influencers, mostly girls, enter into a wild world of sponsored posts.

6. HOW BIRKENSTOCKS GOT HOT

Ah, Birkenstocks. Making the Ugly Sandal since 1776. Or they were, until there was a sea change in Birkenstock popularity around eight years ago. The story of the original commune sandal becoming a key part of “minimalistic chic” fashion features dynastic family squabbles, a desperate brand manager, and lots and lots of confused fashion brands.

7. ARETHA FRANKLIN WAS AN ERA UNTO HERSELF

“Because lots of major pop stars now have great, big voices, maybe it’s easy to forget that most Americans had never heard anything quite as dependably great and shockingly big as Ms. Franklin’s.” How did Ms. Franklin reshape the landscape of popular music? And as we look back on her career, what do her many personal transformations mean for her legacy—which, in so many ways, is the legacy of American music?

8. MAPPING THE SONGS OF SUMMER

Declaring Song of the Summer is a time-honored tradition; the chart-toppers that successfully soundtracked long days of languorous heat and high-energy summer parties. This interactive site tracks the the “shape” of the biggest summer songs, literalizing the contours of their beats, to answer a classic question: are pop songs actually getting more similar?


TAKEAWAY: Whether you’re starting from scratch or opening a new chapter, there are decisions to be made. Will you follow convention, or try out a new path? Will you use you stand your ground, or grow with the times? Because once you’ve made those choices, it’s anyone’s guess if there’s going to be a chance to turn back.

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM

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