Friday Reading S06E12

Friday Reading is a weekly series of recommended reads from the Guardian’s Social and New Formats Editor Martin Belam, covering journalism, media and technology. It is also available as an email newsletter – sign up here

It’s been a decent week if you sell stock images of men wearing balaclavas staring at screens full of green numbers. This is a great little interview with one of the people who makes those kinds of images.

[It’s also one of the reasons we hired an illustrator at Ampp3d so we could get around “unhappy woman on edge of bed with head in hands” to illustrate every story about depression]

The UK’s Information Commissioner opens a formal investigation into the use of social media data to target people with political adverts.

“BuzzFeed continues to publish identity-centric quizzes, like ‘Which 00s Indie Band Are You?’ But mixed in with those are these house-flipping, cake-creating quizzes that represent something else entirely, what seemed to me a strange new evolutionary wrinkle in this age of viral content. If before there were identity quizzes, these are entropy quizzes: a meaningless piece of information, run through a meaningless scoring formula, leads to more meaninglessness.”

BuzzFeed Keeps Trying to Guess My Height. What’s With the Site’s Weird New Quizzes?” by Heather Schwedel is an interesting delve into people spending time on meaningless quizzes. I may have some experience of making these sorts of things.

“‘Sunspring is not total nonsense, actors were able to memorise those lines,’ Ross says of this first attempt. ‘It bears some resemblance at least to what we see in films generally. It’s just a little weirder, I guess.'”

Meet the Guy Using Robots to Write Award-Winning Films

Fashion visionaries are using 3D printing to create mind-bending textiles that are nearly impossible to wear.

A quick blog post about how having the people who answer user queries with the Guardian’s apps sitting with the development team has made things better.

“When companies start, leaders set the company’s values — not by what they write on the wall, but how they actually act. For example, do they stay late and burn the midnight oil, or do they leave in the evening to be with their families? According to social learning theory, these behaviors become socialized, and rank-and-file employees take their cues from their leaders and act accordingly”

Your Company’s Culture is Who You Hire, Fire, & Promote

I sometimes say to myself, if I could go back in time and meet 7 year old me, and tell him that he’ll grow up to write about Doctor Who in a newspaper, I reckon he’d be pretty happy with that outcome. Here’s my piece on how the introduction of Pearl Mackie as new companion Bill has revitalised the show.

“She lived with us for 56 years. She raised me and my siblings without pay. I was 11, a typical American kid, before I realized who she was.”

Soooooooooooo, everybody has been waxing lyrical about this piece: “My Family’s Slave

It’s by Alex Tizon, and is definitely a compelling read.


It should be read in accompaniment with this twitter thread by @hautepop which asks you to think about it critically as a piece of journalism, and work out which voices and which things are totally absent from the story.

I have a 97 percent chance of developing cancer and zero fear” by Michelle Brasier

“Especially lamentable was the announcement, in 2014, of plans for Toy Story 4. The narrative and emotional arc of the trilogy had clearly been completed with Andy’s departure for college. The third installment had even closed, lovingly, with a shot that neatly mirrored the opening shot of the first film…Yet instead of concluding on that touching note, Pixar has opted for what has been described as a ‘franchise reboot’—surely the most dispiriting phrase in contemporary cinema.”

For 15 years, the animation studio was the best on the planet. Then Disney bought it. “How Pixar Lost Its Way” by Christopher Orr

“If taking snaps of fish fingers, cursing the bastard stray Lego impaling my feet in the middle of the night and offering a virtual hug to mums who are having a shitty day is wrong then shoot me down, because I don’t want to be right.”

An open letter from a mummy blogger to the Daily Mail for a shitty article that slagged her off.

“At her doctor’s insistence that she reduce every possible source of stress in her life, Marci informed her family that she would no longer be in contact with her mother. It was the right decision, she says. ‘I felt great, like an enormous weight had been lifted off my shoulders.'”

‘Life Without My Mother Is a Joy’: Women Talk About Divorcing Their Moms” by Samantha Ladwig

Photo-essay on drugs running riot in Manaus in Brazil, where England and Italy played in the 2014 World Cup.

Another piece about a drug-riddled city – in this case Portsmouth, Ohio, known as ‘The pill mill of America’

Amazingly preserved dinosaur find.

Really open and honest piece about what it is like to be a football manager in the lower levels at a club when the money disappears – in this case Margate.