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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You Can’t Go Home, But You Can Feel Better Here: On the Positive Power of Nostalgia

Ah, remember summer days as a kid? No computers, no snapchat, no cares—just the smell of fresh cut grass and the feeling of warm sunshine. You’d run home for dinner with the family and group around the TV before heading off to bed and doing it all again. If you’re feeling nostalgic right now, you […]

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Sorry, Not Sorry: The Advantages of Never Apologizing

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word,” sang Elton John in G melodic minor back in 1976. The lyrics of his mournful ballad ring true today and express a sentiment much older than Elton John himself: saying sorry and owning your mistakes is hard. Thankfully new research by Tyler Okimoto at the Univerity of Queensland […]

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You Think You’re So Pretty: What Dove’s ‘Sketches’ Video Got Wrong

“I should be more grateful of my natural beauty” one woman concludes after participating in the Dove Beauty Sketches. In fact, the woman, Florence concludes that natural beauty “couldn’t be more critical to your happiness.” Florence came to these undesirable conclusions through participation in a commercial released as part of Dove’s campaign to promote “real […]

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The Insane World of Engineered Junk Food

It’s an unfortunate reality that every year, your average American consumers thirty-three pounds of cheese, seventy pounds of sugar and over 3 kilograms of salt. One in three adults is obese, as well as one in five children, while the processed food industry represents $1 trillion in sales in the U.S. alone. Michael Moss is […]

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The Art of Controlling Attention: A Master Pickpocket’s Story

Apollo Robbins, also known as The Gentleman Thief, has been manipulating people’s attention to steal things for a very long time. To many magicians, Robbins is known as a kind of legend who combines methods from traditional pickpocketing as well as techniques from fields like “aikido, sales, and Latin ballroom dancing.” As an entertainer for […]

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Why Giant Predatory Kangaroos May be the Root of Your Anxiety: Evolution Versus Today’s World

Oh my god, is that like Billy? Your heart skips a beat, your face starts to turn red, and you quickly pull out your phone to mask that you’ve seen him. Oh wait, I guess that’s just someone else with a black back pack. Never mind. The reason for such an intense physical reaction to […]

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Not All Minds That Wander Are Lost

Wandering and daydreaming, though reprimanded in the classroom, are glorified themes in Romantic and post-Romantic literature. Nineteenth century poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy recognized the innovations that often result from the intelligence of wandering minds in his renowned poem The Ode: We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, […]

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What CEOS, Presidents, and Psychopaths All Have in Common

Have you ever complained about your psycho boss? What about the nutcases running the country? Believe it or not, you may have a point: two separate psychological studies have revealed that CEOS and presidents often share personality traits with clinical psychopaths. Wait, before you declare that the world is run by crazy people, let’s clarify […]

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Stanford Researchers: Reading Jane Austen “A Truly Valuable Exercise of People’s Brains”

What is the value of reading literature? This classic question has troubled literary scholars for centuries, but now it’s getting put to the test of science in hopes of some hard answers. In an innovative interdisciplinary research project at Stanford University, neurobiologists, radiologists, and humanities scholars are trying to understand the relationship between reading, attention, […]

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Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    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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