The sun is out, the NBA playoffs are in full swing, and I'm going to break out the grill this weekend. No complaints. Beyond the arrival of summer, in the last month or so there has been plenty of culture that was worth paying attention to. Sometimes paying attention made me a bit (or very) concerned for the world, and sometimes paying attention made my day just a little better. In any case, thought I'd catalog and share what was especially captivating over the last month or so.
READ / FOCUS
This podcast is hosted by Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda and Tanner Colby. They do a fantastic job analyzing and critiquing how we talk (or don't talk) about race today in America. I highly recommend their latest podcast where they cover the latest events in Baltimore. They are really starting to hit their stride and I'm excited to see where this podcast goes.
You may have heard that a key study published last December in Science (which was then covered by This American Life and many other media outlets) has been retracted after it appears that the study drew its conclusions off of "faked" data. And when I say "faked", I mean completely fabricated.
I guess in most studies, when you correlate pre and post poll responses you don't see a correlation like what you see below.
In any case - the 538 article linked above does a really great job digging into this whole issue and raising a few questions.
Is this an example of science and the peer reviewed Journal system working?
Does this push the need for even more open data and documentation?
I think the saddest conclusion, and the one that also may be the most correct, comes from an economist who argues that if the researcher was a little bit more clever in his data fraud, no one would have caught him.
Edward Cotton does a fantastic job of distilling big trends into 4 key points that all of us can use to frame our thinking on how brands and people interact today, and why brands may be in "trouble".
1. "Why Trouble" - Most people haven't really recovered from the recession, and earnings for a majority of people are stagnant or falling.
2. "The Smartphone" - Continue to reinvent how we interact with the world around us, moving beyond our friends and now into the realm of how we engage with companies.
3. "A New World of Raised Expectations" - Products are becoming services and everything is, or very soon will be, on-demand.
4. "How to Stay Ahead" -
They [Brands] have to define a purpose, imagine the near-term future, understand how services, personalization and immediacy can play a role, examine and explore in detail the customer’s journey, think of ways to build more excitement into the brand and build a pathway to the future. But, don’t think it’s only about you on your own, think about building an ecosystem, and finding potential partners and collaborators to join the dots and fill in the holes.
For those of you who don't know, there was quite a few years of my life where all I wanted to do was be on ESPN. As an 11 year old, I had a book of SportsCenter catchphrases (R.I.P. Stuart Scott), and in 2005 I started reading Bill Simmons. Reading Bill introduced me to a type of writing that could be both personal and analytical, where biases were acknowledged and actually made you feel closer to author, while still respecting the analysis.
Bill's tone and voice deserves more credit when we talk about the pre-history of blogging.
I'm thankful for Bill, I'm thankful for Grantland and I wish him all the best (keep getting them checks Bill).
This is one of my favorite NYTimes interactive features they've ever produced . This study speaks to the formative impact of early childhood and how changing neighboorhoods can impact lifetime outcomes.
The conclusion does bring up an interesting point - How do we act on this information? Just moving a select few kids from poor neighborhoods into better ones won't solve our problems of inequality. And doesn't that just perpetuate the cycle of racial and class segregation in cities across America?
In any case, it's exciting empirical evidence for those of us that believe in both equality of opportunity and more equality of outcomes.
While we generally have a sense of what kind of music people listen to based on their age, there is very little empirical evidence. Now we have a bit more. Identifying the most homogenous artists is sure fun, and explaining how the music of a 13 year old and 64 intersect is interesting too.
You know you've always wanted a beer that tastes like cold press coffee. Here you go.
This is one of the most amazing beer's I've ever had. You think you've had a black IPA before, but then you try this. It's a collaboration between Surly, Three Floyd's and Real Ale brewing in Texas. Go get you some.
Oh, it's just a food truck with a wood fired pizza oven in it. Seriously.
Blackish, produced by Larry Wilmore has had a strong first season. It just wrapped up on Wednesday, and now is a perfect time to catch up.
Apr/ May - PLAYLIST
It's Cashmere you can wash? It looks pretty good too. Intriguing.