What We’re Devouring: 04.07.16
The sleek and modern electric car company aimed exclusively at the affluent is now shifting its focus toward the masses with a car that has been called the “most important car the company will ever build.” The new Tesla Model 3, which pre-sold 276,000 cars in its first three days, is much more than just an affordable electric car: it’s a car that that is meant to change the world. In Apple-like fashion, Tesla sold the masses with sheer anticipation and almost zero details. With General Motors already in-market and others chomping at the bit, the power of the Tesla brand cannot be undersold. If they truly want to change the world, they must keep taking steps in this direction: moving out of its niche, luxury realm and into its role as a car company for the masses.
As data journalism becomes more prevalent, it’s important to consider how readers understand that data. And truth be told, there’s a lot of us who simply don’t. An alarming number of Americans do not understand that 3 out of 100 = 3% = 0.03. That’s where David Spiegelhalter comes in. While his technical title is “professor for the public understanding of risk,” he’s ultimately a professor for the public understanding of statistics. Too often, we’re manipulated by numbers. And worse, we’re unable to spot when we’re being manipulated. Journalists, of course, are out to tell a vivid story around data that might otherwise be unexciting. But Spiegelhalter’s job is to help them communicate that story in a way that we can all understand.
The Chicago Cubs And The New Baseball
Spring is a time that’s intrinsically hopeful — perhaps even more so when it comes to baseball. And in 2016, there’s an awful lot of hope surrounding the Chicago Cubs. For the Chicagoan writing this blurb, that’s a terrifying, billygoat-esque sentence. But this is not a BITE about the guarded hope and crippling anxiety of Cubs fans who are now faced with somehow being both David and Goliath simultaneously. No, this is about a new day in baseball. With a makeup that reflects the game’s evolution, the Cubs are helping solidify a new doctrine that “values flexibility over outdated brawn.” And we don’t just mean the roster: both on the field and in the front office, baseball has become cleverer, quicker, and dare we say it, more fun.
How To Design Happiness
[Fast Company Design]
To most of us, designing happiness feels like an impossible task; how can one possibly design a feeling that each of us experiences in our own unique ways? But for Mark Wilson, it’s not an outlandish concept. For him, designing happiness is as simple as designing the next best interface. With the help of experts from Disney, SoulCycle, and Lippincott, Wilson learned that there are a few keys to reconstructing happiness that play out in a three-act structure: anticipation, experience, and memory. The trick is in applying that design structure to even the most mundane parts of our day-to-day lives. Amidst the hustle and bustle we face everyday, we could surely use some happy solutions — and thankfully, it seems, people are working on it.
Why Do So Many Digital Assistants Have Feminine Names?
Digital assistants are great. Boss them around all you want — they won’t talk back and, generally speaking, they’ll get the job done. As Alexa, Siri, and Cortana get smarter, they’ll play more and more of a role in our lives. Alexa, Siri, Cortana. We’ve anthropomorphized our digital assistants and we’ve done so in, frankly, a disappointing way. They’re all women. And while one might argue that “the human brain is developed to like female voices,” it’s hard to hold that up to any kind of real scrutiny. The simpler explanation is that we’re culturally conditioned to expect women, not men, to be in administrative roles. And when humans create technology, our conditioning is bound to influence the output. Perhaps it’s time to re-condition.
What Makes Language Change?
[The Paris Review]
Throughout history, humans have constantly created, evolved, and wholly reinvented languages. But they don’t do so out of thin air; rather, they’re heavily influenced by the world around them. Culture, technology, and social history all have roles to play when you consider how words come and go. Jargon is a reflection of the corporate world at any given time, and teenage slang that keeps adults on the outside will always exist — but which words stay ephemeral and which enter a generation’s lexicon are where things get really interesting. In a wide-ranging and terribly interesting interview, The Paris Review talks with linguist Sally Thomason about how language changes (and how it doesn’t).
The Genius Of Weirdness
“Here’s to the crazy ones,” as the famous Apple commercial proclaimed, may be just as easily applied to the “weird ones.” Weird gets a bad rap, but there’s a certain kind of genius in weirdness that can change the world and shape the future through thoughtful absurdism. Frank Zappa is the perfect example. His countercultural approach to life paid off not only in his music, but in the politics, philosophy, and advocacy that he — quite prolifically — expressed to the world. He understood that great works of art were perfect vehicles to offer people alternative perspectives on future realities; and in doing so, he gave his fans the ability to see themselves “changing the world, one act of creativity at a time.”
Why The Internet Is In Love With Hamburger Helper’s Mixtape
[Fast Company Create]
From friends playing pranks to brands using the date as an excuse for nonsense, April Fools’ Day is objectively the worst. That is, until it’s not. And thanks to Hamburger Helper of all brands, we finally saw the best from a brand on 4/1. Using unknown rappers from the nation’s only accredited hip-hop program, the General Mills label dropped a five track mixtape called Watch The Stove. [For more on the backstory, check out Tuner’s take.] The internet wanted badly to tear it apart; but once they listened, the only words they could use to describe it were fire emojis. From trap beats to club bangers, every track is listenable — and more importantly, both funny and self-aware. For everyone involved, this is one April Fools’ joke that seriously paid off.