Mourning Sitcoms: When Networks Kill What They’re Trying to Save

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The Fox military sitcom Enlisted should’ve been a success. It had a talented ensemble cast, was headed by Kevin Biegel, one of the people behind the excellent sitcoms Scrubs and Cougar Town, and, most importantly, it was really, really funny. Yet Fox, for reasons I can’t parse out, decided to air episodes out of order, resulting in characters suddenly dating several episodes before being introduced to one another, rivalries appearing out of thin air only to be explained weeks later, and a general sense that there were no real stakes in the show. After weeks of declining ratings in a nonsense time slot (Fridays at 9 P.M.), Fox canceled Enlisted. For a first-season half-hour broadcast sitcom, it costs about $1 million per episode, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars. So why would a network go to all the trouble of buying, producing, and airing a sitcom, only to air the episodes out of order, alienate viewers, then ditch the show for another?

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Bikesharing is caring: How personal transportation is changing cities

When I moved to Chicago this past September, one of the first things I did was buy a yearlong pass to its recently-installed Divvy Bike program. I’d deemed it too expensive to move my bike out from my parents’ house in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it seemed silly to spend hundreds of dollars on a new bike just because I’d moved. I wasn’t sure how much I would use the system – especially because Chicago’s public transit system, for all its faults, puts San Francisco’s to shame—but I bet that I’d get my $75 worth out of it.

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Why Aren’t Presidential Libraries Better?

See LBJ in a whole new way

On a recent weeklong trip to Texas to visit family friends, I visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. It’s a strikingly ugly and dull building on first impression—beige and overbearing and bland. A life-sized faux bronze statue of Johnson greets you at the door, imposing at 6’4”.

There’s, obviously, lots of archival and historical information about Johnson in the library. A decades-spanning mural covers several walls detailing the major events in Johnson’s life. There are several floors of official archives (45 million of them), presumably about or by Johnson, that are only accessible through a Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request.

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Three Crazy Ways Web 2.0 Companies Tap Into Humanity’s Innate Need for Organization

Have you ever wondered why lists, and listicles, are so popular on the Internet? Between BuzzFeed­-style GIF-­filled “Top 10 Reasons Why ______ Means _______” pieces to The Awl’s gently mocking “Listicle Without Commentary” series, the format is unarguably a huge driver of Internet traffic, so much so that legacy media companies are scrambling to keep up (see The Washington Post’s Upworthy­ inspired Wonkblog spinoff, KnowMore). It turns out the reason for their insane popularity isn’t any techy, SEO stuff—it’s simply that lists tap into an inherent human desire for order.

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Commentary Ticker

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    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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