1. VOX WANTS TO KNOW WHY WE BUY
Vox, the news outlet that seeks to explain why the news is what it is, is getting into the “why people buy what they buy” business. Which is great news for us. This piece is a cog-sci breakdown of what happens in our brain when we purchase things, but it’s part of a much wider project called “The Goods”—it’s all worth checking out.
2. MYERS-BRIGGS GONE AWRY
A peak behind the curtain: the author of this newsletter is an ENTP. If you’re fluent in personality test, this might mean something to you. And if you’re not, maybe that’s a good thing. Personality tests run up to $50 a pop and fill a strong desire in people to categorize not just themselves, but each other. And while it’s one thing to buy self-discovery, it’s quite another to buy a corporate brand as a “Debater” for life.
3. ROSÈ ALL DAY
Rosé! You know it, sales numbers say you love it, and it’s all because it’s not embarrassing to bring to parties anymore. If you’re a wine snob, this could be alarming. But if you’re someone who loves a good time and a good deconstruction of “fads,” Rosé is a study in how cultural priorities, lobbying, and marketing can propel a whole category from shameful indulgence to symbol of a shimmery summer’s day.
4. WHO KNOWS WHO
If you’ve ever played “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” you know it there’s less distance between people than you’d think. But The Upshot wanted to find out exactly where the threads of our relationships lay. Pulling from public Facebook data, they plotted where people from one area had relationships—and the result is a fascinating interactive map of friendships across state lines.
5. RADICAL ART GOES MASS
In some ways, this is a familiar story of new-age innovation. A fiery, intense CEO sees a waning industry, aggressively seeks venture capital to start his new empire that’ll fix it, and succeeds beyond all expectation. It’s just that the characters are unusual: the CEO’s a dumpster artist, the product is a museum, and the export, as the employees describe it, is “awe.”
6. WHO RUNS THE WORLD? RANCH
Ranch and Rosé—two products that only this newsletter would be bold enough to intentionally pair. While the story of Rosé’s rise to relevance is told by the bright lights of instagram’s culture scene, Ranch is a product of our more grungy historic national identity, making it what Julia Moskin calls “our one true American dressing.”
7. SILICON VALLEY WANTS YOUR BLOOD (AGAIN)
You could be forgiven for being skeptical about shipping your blood off to Silicon Valley post-Theranos. But they’re back, baby, and they’re here to crack the mystery of thePhilosopher’s Stone. They just need your blood, and a lot of venture capital, doctors, and absolute obsession with the impossible to do it—and to be fair, it should take nothing less to “disrupt death.”
8. WELCOME TO THE SIBLING BUSINESS
Mail-away DNA tests are making the invisible hand of sperm donors not just visible, but traceable. The unearthing of the subterranean business of private donorship is producing fascinating questions about what happens to family when you can, entirely without your control, suddenly acquire dozens (or even hundreds) of siblings from one entirely absent parent.
TAKEAWAY: This month we explored changes in what we’re buying to make ourselves feel good, why it feels good to buy it, and how different forces move to create that change. At its most interesting, our industry is a balance between what speaks to us generally as humans and what can only be chalked up to the influence of where you are right now in time and space—right at the nexus of sudden family and Ranch dressing.