The Rise of the Sh*tpic

Brian Feldman at The Awl charts the rise of low-resolution internet images that continue to degrade in quality as time goes on:

The Shitpic aesthetic has arisen from two separate though equally influential factors, both of which necessitate screencapping instead of direct downloading. The first is that Instagram, which has no built-in reposting function, doesn’t let users save images directly. This means that the quickest way to save an image on a phone is to screencap it, technically creating a new image. The second, more important shift is the new macro format that divorces text from image.

As a photographer it’s sad to me that, in a world where we can replicate digital objects with 100% accuracy, our most popular memes are those that have degraded to almost being unrecognizable due to unintentional compression.

My 15 Favorite Longreads of 2014

This past year has totally revitalized my “reading life.” For the first time in many years, I’ve read entire books (not just longform pieces online) and it feels great. I’ve also discovered a love for Audible, which is fantastic if you choose works that are performed well.

All that being said, I thought was still worth sharing my favorite online longreads of the year, as I have in years past. Here they are, in reverse chronological order:

Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came to Peace with Her  – Sam Biddle tells a personal, self-deprecating story of how the person beyond your computer whose life you’re raging against online is likely a well-balanced, real human being. The internet destroys people’s lives on a daily basis, often for no good reason. This piece is a good reminder of how senseless it all can be. There are a ton of quotes from this piece that I am going to return back to from time to time, including, “She knew the only divine truth of the internet: Do nothing. Never tweet. Never apologize. Never say anything at all. Be an inert bundle of molecules and let the world tear itself apart around you.”

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis – Jonathan Rauch explains some of the biological foundations of the “midlife crisis” and how to set yourself up for mid-life and late-life success.

I Regret Reporting My Female Boss for Sexual Harassment – Tana Yeşil describes, with great regret, an incident in which she had to make an incredibly difficult decision and the toll it took on her and her boss.

Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies – The sugar industry has been trying to convince you that it’s not killing you for many years. Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens break down how we got here.

Amazon, Publishers, and Readers – Clay Shirky, a professor who I’ve been fortunate enough to be a student of, always puts out some of my favorite pieces, and this year was no different. Here, he explains why Amazon will win any dispute against publishers in the long term: because it has a vision for the future.

The Price of Blackness – Lanre Akinsiku describes the psychological toll of being black in a country that has seen numerous high profile cases this year of young unarmed black men shot and killed by police with no repercussions.

17 Things I Learned from Working on Other People’s Films – It’s been an enormous pleasure this year for me to get to know local talented filmmaker Megan Griffiths (you can listen to a /Filmcast episode we recorded together here). This piece on 17 things she’s learned during her time as a filmmaker was useful for me to have, as someone who’s in the process of making my own film this year. I’ve also enjoyed her writing on her personal blog as well.

The Greatest Story Never Told – I didn’t even remember that Passion of the Christ was supposed to have a sequel until I read this gripping piece by Luke Dittrich. Apparently, there are pretty good reasons why it never happened!

The Trials of Entertainment Weekly – Few people write as intelligently about pop culture as Anne Helen Peterson. As someone who used to read EW quasi-religiously (before the rise of fan blogs like /Film), I found this to be a fascinating journey through the magazine’s history that also functions as a commentary on the state of the publishing industry at large today.

The Day I Started Lying to Ruth – This is one of the few articles I’ve ever read that have made me openly weep. Peter B. Bach, a cancer doctor, describes his last days with his wife. That last paragraph will likely haunt me for the rest of my life.

How to WriteHeather Havrilesky has been one of my favorite writers on the internet for at least 7-8 years now, and this piece demonstrates why. I won’t say anything more about it, except that it is delightful.

Amanda, @TrappedAtMyDesk on Twitter, Dies, Age Unknown – Content goes viral every day, but often, it’s not real. Jennifer Mendelsohn dives deep into the existence (or lack thereof) of Twitter user @TrappedAtMyDesk, whose death was repackaged into a viral video earlier this year.

Street Fighter: The Movie – What Went Wrong – Absolutely hilarious and unfortunate story by Chris Plante (fast becoming one of my favorite internet personalities – see his video essay on the racism in Gremlins here). Street Fighter: The Movie needs its own Lost in La Mancha-style documentary.

The Prophet – Unfortunately, this piece by Luke Dittrich (his second entry on my list this year!) is no longer available for free. However, the way it explores the background of Eben Alexander (author of Proof of Heaven) is fascinating and revealing. I was particularly interested in how the piece described Alexander’s own reaction to the forthcoming the piece itself that Dittrich was working on as he interviewed him. It’s rare to get a peek behind the curtain like that in these features.

Almost Everything in Dr. Strangelove Was True – Eric Schlosser describes in excruciating detail how the events of Dr. Strangelove easily could’ve happened.

O Holy Night – Cello Version

I put together this cello rendition of “O Holy Night” in the hopes of bringing everyone some Christmas cheer. This video is dedicated to my mother, Marilyn, who gave me the gift of music. Can’t wait to see the whole Chen family in Seattle in a few days!

This is my first cello video using pre-recorded loops. I liked how it turned out although the arrangement is very simple – hopefully I’ll be able to play with some more complex rhythms in the future. Find the rest of my looping cello videos at

I hope everyone has a happy holiday season this year. To those who’ve read this blog and supported my endeavors, you have my gratitude.