Best Of The Web
“EVERY DAY WE FIND NEW WAYS to be online. One man’s refrigerator texts him alerts about a coolant error. Another’s baby monitor sends photos of his child in night vision. People wielding phones chase apparitions in the park — Pokémon Go, a layer of childhood pixel monsters draped over physical reality — streaming trails of data behind them. There are tablets at the airport, browsers in rental cars. No screens yet on the subway, we think, and examine print ads for a chat-based pharmacy. But then, as if summoned, the screens appear! It’s our stop, crumbling and dirty as ever, newly outfitted with luminous displays shilling an expanding internet of things. Out on the street, a row of boxy storefronts displays the same pastel objects that have been following us around the social networks via tracker pixel. It’s as if the Instagram square has leapt from the screen. We look around, do a double take. Is this the internet, too?
We accept it, we guess. We like the internet. And really, we’d be online all the time if it weren’t for our eyes, those sensitive organs. Sidewalks fill with blue-light protection ads (on screens, of course) while we wait for our phones to learn to track eyestrain. In the meantime, we tear ourselves away to do the laundry and wash dishes, to drive to the grocery store or navigate on foot via . . . our screens. These activities demand the attention of our eyes and hands, for now. But we still have ears and mouths. Alexa! Play the Goldberg Variations. Actually, no — play the Song Exploder episode about Fleetwood Mac!
This is why we love podcasts: they are the internet for our ears. Now we can be on the internet all the time.
Every corner of the internet has its corresponding podcast. We can’t read left Twitter when assembling Ikea furniture — at least, it’s not in the instructions — but we can listen to The Dig’s deep dive on The Eighteenth Brumaire. Reading the New York Times while attempting Times recipes isn’t recommended, but those who want the Gesamtkunstwerk experience can queue up The Daily. If all you watch on TV is basketball and Top Chef, you can listen to a podcast about Top Chef hosted by two basketball journalists. Or say, just hypothetically, you fell off your bike trying to take a selfie, concussing yourself, and the doctor said not to watch anything on a screen, not even Making a Murderer. Luckily for you, podcasters love murder. A woman we know just posted on Facebook, “FAVORITE MURDER PODCASTS??” and the recs go on for days. The gray ellipsis is still bouncing.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."
"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."
"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."
"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."
"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."
"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."
"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."
"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."