The Best of the Web

We’ve now moved Best of the Web to Saturdays, so you can enjoy the best news stories of the week over an afternoon tea on a lazy Saturday. This week’s curations includes Conan O’Brien’s spoof of the iPod advert, Patti Smith’s discourse on how she writes, why 18-year-olds are reared to university so soon, and the compounding effect of ‘living in the internet’.

THE VERGE: Conan O’Brien turns Apple’s own classic iPod commercial against it

Remember the old iPod adverts — the ones with the dancing silhouettes? Well, Conan O’Brien just made a spoof of the new iPhone 7 with wireless earphones, or as they’re known AirPods. The frankly hilarious ad features the emblematic silhouettes dancing, but as they get into the groove the AirPods are ejected from their ears as a result of the vigorous head movements that come when listening to good tunes.

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YALE NEWS: Music icon Patti Smith shares her creative process and ponders the compulsion to write


Patti Smith at Sprague Memorial Hall

Punk musician, writer and artist Patti Smith gives a speech at Sprague Memorial Hall honouring the 2016 winners of the Wyndham-Campbell Prize. In her address she speaks about where her inspiration to write stems — from experiences to dreams. Referring to her own work-in-progress entitled ‘Devotion’, which Smith wrote in less than six hours, she goes on to describe the inspiration of Paris. Smith says: “Most often, the alchemy that produces a poem or work of fiction is hidden in the work itself, if not embedded in the coil and reaches of the mind.”

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THE GUARDIAN: Why do we steer so many 18-year-olds towards university before they are ready?


Students at Fresher’s Week at the University of Manchester in 2015

The subtitle to Danny Dorling’s article reads: Tuition fees should be reduced for students who delay going to university: the later you go, the less you owe. If only that were the case! Dorling compares what it was like to go to university in 1986 to 2016 — back then university was free and the greatest fear for young people was imminent nuclear war. Fast forward 30 years and the biggest fear for young people is probably what job they will have in the future or how they will repay their debts. Dorling doesn’t write from the perspective of knowing what you want to do before you go to university, but with the notion that going to university is an expensive and sometimes unnecessary option.

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NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I used to be a human being


Illustration by Kim Dong-kyu

This is an incredibly long read, but worth it depending on where you stand in the debate of the internet age taking over our lives. Blogger Andrew Sullivan writes about his time at a meditation centre to escape ‘living in the web’. An interesting statistic is mentioned in the article that is worth noting, Sullivan writes “We almost forget that ten years ago, there were no smartphones, and as recently as 2011, only a third of Americans owned one. Now nearly two-thirds do. That figure reaches 85 percent when you’re only counting young adults. And 46 percent of Americans told Pew surveyors last year a simple but remarkable thing: They could not live without one.” It’s a scary statistic, and we’re now in a world where Google Maps can get you out of trouble when you’re lost. Nicholas Carr notes that this had led to our not even seeing or remembering the details of our environment. Whether you’re pro-digital or not, this is worth a skim at the very least.

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