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My 10 Favorite Online Reads of 2013

I didn’t spend nearly as much time reading as I wanted to this year. More responsibilities at work, changing responsibilities at /Film, and my new interest in creating original video work have all consumed a great deal of time and energy. But just as 2013 was a fantastic year for film, it was also a great year for quality online journalism and storytelling.

I have a reading backlog that’s a mile long, but here are the things I did read that I can unequivocally recommend:

Murder by Craigslist by Hanna Rosin – By far, the single most riveting piece of writing that I’ve read all year. This piece is so good that I could not put it down until I finished it, even through a dinner and grocery shopping afterwards. The conclusion is totally unexpected and, in some ways, even uplifting. If you read one article from this blog post, make it this one.

Diamonds Are Bullshit by Rohin Dhar – This article explores how/why diamonds are not only artificially inflated, but how their elevated status has been completely manufactured by the diamond industry.

I’m still here: back online after a year without the Internet by Paul Miller – Paul Miller spent a year without internet as an experiment to see how his life would improve. In some ways, it did. But it turned out not to be the Thoreau-style utopia he was hoping for.

How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets by Peter Maass – By now, a significant number of people on this planet know who Edward Snowden is. Fewer know about Laura Poitras, the award-winning filmmaker that has put her livelihood in jeopardy to help tell his story. Great reporting by the Times.

A Day Inside Comic-Con’s Hall H: Worshipping the Ultimate Movie Church by Todd VanDerWerff – There’s nothing super timely about this piece – it could’ve been written in any of the past few years, save for some of the specific pop culture references. But it is such a perfect distillation of the agony and ecstasy of attending Comic-Con that I can’t help but recommend it.

The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss by Liza Mundy – As gay marriages have become more mainstream and widely accepted, the resulting family units may have a lot to teach heterosexual couples on how to be more functional.

Copernicus on the Science of Gravity by Andy Howell – An illuminating exploration on the where Gravity gets the science right and wrong (as told by an actual astronomer), and why Cuaron might have made those choices.

What Is It Like to Earn a Living Through Poker? by Michael Shinzaki [Quora post] – A fascinating reflection on the working life of a guy who regularly made $40,000 a week. A great supplement to Jay Caspian Kang’s similar piece on this lifestyle.

The Story Behind Why AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Fired an Employee in Front of 1,000 Coworkers by Nicholas Carlson – Carlson provides some fascinating context behind one of the most public tech firings of the year.

Sylvester Stallone’s Career Tells A Story of Going the Distance by Matt Singer – Few people are as good as Matt Singer is at wringing meaning out of a celebrity’s career choices. This exhaustive retrospective at Stallone’s career is both amusing and illuminating.

Honorable Mentions

And Then Steve Said, “Let There Be an iPhone”
Kanye West Knows You Think He Sounded Nuts on Kimmel
The Secrets of Bezos: How Amazon Became the Everything Store
Good Cop, Bad Cop: An Oral History of the Shield
Damon Lindelof Explains the New Rules of Blockbuster Screenwriting