• How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big-Budget Flick
    I remember reading the original thread on Reddit about this, and this Wired article elaborates how the guy who posted on the thread is now a Hollywood script writer.

    It took him just 10 minutes to write 350 words about the marines’ first day in ancient Rome. He clicked save. A few moments later, he refreshed his browser and saw that he had gotten a couple of upvotes. Then he thought about what to write next.

    Erwin needed to invent a good reason for the two armies to fight. Unsurprisingly, he happened to have read a lot of Roman history, and he knew that around 23 BC, some senators had attempted a coup on emperor Augustus. What if, just as the senators were plotting, a small army appeared out of nowhere “with a vast array of what appears to be bizarre siege machinery”?

  • Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
    The Atlantic argues that advancing technology keeps us more connected (not just now, but also telephones), but we become more lonely because the quality of the contact is poorer.

    If you use Facebook to communicate directly with other individuals—by using the “like” button, commenting on friends’ posts, and so on—it can increase your social capital. Personalized messages, or what Burke calls “composed communication,” are more satisfying than “one-click communication”—the lazy click of a like. “People who received composed communication became less lonely, while people who received one-click communication experienced no change in loneliness,” Burke tells me. So, you should inform your friend in writing how charming her son looks with Harry Potter cake smeared all over his face, and how interesting her sepia-toned photograph of that tree-framed bit of skyline is, and how cool it is that she’s at whatever concert she happens to be at. That’s what we all want to hear. Even better than sending a private Facebook message is the semi-public conversation, the kind of back-and-forth in which you half ignore the other people who may be listening in. “People whose friends write to them semi-publicly on Facebook experience decreases in loneliness,” Burke says.

  • Leading Mannequins
    All the red carpet shows where the hosts talk about a celebrity’s dashing dress or stunning suit is, like most of Hollywood, manufactured. The celebrity has a publicist who contracts stylists who run around town to various high end designers and picks out the clothing for them. So if you’re on a best-dressed list, then your stylist sucks!

    Most of Ilaria’s business comes not from single clients but from studios, where the pay rate is much higher—$10,000 or $20,000 for a press tour, say. In the case of a press tour, Ilaria will pack individual outfits together, mark each one for its event (“Letterman Appearance”), and include detailed instructions for her client to execute. (“Tuck the shirt and roll the sleeves.”) Socks are included; everything is labeled. It’s like a mother packing her kid’s duffel for summer camp with his name sewn in all the underwear.

  • American Mozart
    For a feature on Kanye West, I was hoping for a in-depth look at why he is so off-the-wall, unfortunately, this article goes more into how his tour with Jay-Z drifts away from his awkward presence, and shows him becoming more like a conventional performing artist.
  • How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR’s shadow to become an internet titan
    I didn’t notice how connected Estonia was in my day trip there last summer; that’s too bad – I would have been able to check-in on foursquare more often! In any case, I’d love to live in a society like this.

    By 1997, thanks to a campaign led in part by Ilves, a staggering 97% of Estonian schools already had internet. Now 42 Estonian services are now managed mainly through the internet. Last year, 94% of tax returns were made online, usually within five minutes. You can vote on your laptop (at the last election, Ilves did it from Macedonia) and sign legal documents on a smartphone. Cabinet meetings have been paperless since 2000.

    Doctors only issue prescriptions electronically, while in the main cities you can pay by text for bus tickets, parking, and – in some cases – a pint of beer. Not bad for country where, two decades ago, half the population had no phone line.