Quartz’s most Ideas-y Ideas articles of 2016

Published December 31, 2016 by lagmen

The Mercantile Library

The Ideas section of Quartz has as broad an ambit as Quartz as a whole. Ideas articles are usually (but not always) written by outside contributors, and they tend to take a deep dive into an aspect of our world—or a new way of thinking about it—that gives readers a deeper understanding, beyond whatever story or angle is dominating the day’s headlines.

Here in no particular order are a few articles that show what Quartz Ideas was all about this year:

A new literary genre critiques the scariest, most unbelievable part of life in China—reality

By Adrienne Matei

“As the writer and linguist David Moser has observed, it’s difficult to write fiction if you live in China, because you can’t make up anything to rival what you see before your eyes.”

Donald Trump is not a joke: A warning to Americans from an Italian who survived Berlusconi

By Annalisa Merelli

Of course if you listen to the pundits, we weren’t expected to win too much, and now we’re winning, winning, winning the country. And soon the country’s going to start winning, winning, winning. […] We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.

–Donald John Trump, Las Vegas, Feb. 23, 2016

Gudetama the lazy egg is the Hello Kitty of Japan’s millennial generation

By Amelia Schmidt

This listless cartoon egg is one of the many Sanrio critters to have a shot at making it big in the Western world, following in the footsteps of Keroppi, Hello Kitty, and My Melody, to name a few. But Gudetama is the first one to have runaway success in a long while, and he’s gone viral in the way only a disaffected breakfast food could.…There’s something bemusing about Gudetama’s bio. Since when have we held eggs to standards of productivity? They’ve never been known for their high KPIs—it’s like observing that houseplants aren’t good drivers.

Qatar’s oil boom created the world’s most extravagant art scene—and also led to its demise

By Mikolai Napieralski

Whether it had all been a vanity project, propped up by inflated oil prices, or a genuine push to change the region into an arts hub is a debate for the history books. But for those of us who had been there to witness the organization’s moment in the spotlight, we couldn’t help but feel disappointed as we sat at the hotel bar and ordered our final rounds.

Men think they need to eat meat to be manly—and it’s making them sick

By Deena Shanker

Shortly after I became engaged, my family members began to worry aloud about the health of my future husband. You see, my fiancé Ray is a man—and he’s about to marry a pescatarian.

History classes are our best hope for teaching Americans to question fake news and Donald Trump

By Marie Myung-Ok Lee

Today, in a time of economic uncertainty, many students are being encouraged to skip history and other liberal arts classes in favor of a practical STEM focus. But this election has shown that nothing could be more practical for Americans than a deep immersion in our country’s history.

Universal basic income wouldn’t make people lazy–it would change the nature of work

By Joel Dodge

Think of a basic income as seed money to facilitate the entrepreneurial spirit which helps the American economy thrive. If we had a UBI that allowed more people pursue their passions and curiosities, it could yield huge dividends for society. And even more importantly, this freedom would no longer be limited to those who are born into wealth.

Contemporary freight-train drifters have found the unlikely antidote to America’s problems

By Jeff Ferrell

In this way, they are responding to and rejecting the societal mores that so many people—from Trump supporters to Bernie Sanders enthusiasts—find inadequate and dissatisfying. But rather than take to the ballot box or to the streets in protest, gutter punks carve out their own communities and their own undercurrents of survival.

How I learned to live forever

By Alice Bonasio

Since such a large percentage of our lives and interactions are now conducted online, we are constantly forced to reassess our meaning of self and identity. Is our online identity the most accurate reflection of our true selves? And, if so, can it “live” independently from our physical bodies? The answer is potentially yes.

We sold feminism to the masses, and now it means nothing

By Marcie Bianco

And yet, with all this talk of empowerment, women still cannot escape being objects for sale. Indeed, the cultural consumption of feminism can end up reinforcing sexist tropes of objectification. We are selling ourselves in order to sell our message.

Apple should be worried—the future of tech is in software, not hardware

By Jon Evans

Once upon a time, Apple had massive advantages in hardware design, UX design, and hardware manufacturing. But its competitors are catching up in all three fields—and, more importantly, all three are decreasingly important. More and more, every tech company’s competitive advantages lie not in its hardware, but in its software. And while Apple is a great design company and a great hardware company, it is only a pretty good software company.

The secret world of membership libraries

By Grace Dobush

As free public libraries sprouted up across the United States, membership libraries mostly died off, but 19 non-profit membership libraries still exist, and are reinventing themselves as cultural centers and the coolest coworking spaces you could dream of.

Creative people’s brains really do work differently

By Carolyn Gregoire and Scott Barry Kaufman

The common traits that people across all creative fields seemed to have in common were an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.

A high schooler was accepted to five Ivy League colleges with an essay about Costco

By Jeff Yang

The essay isn’t your typical exercise in academic humblebragging or lofty save-the-world aspiration: It’s a nostalgic, free-form musing on the joys of shopping at Costco with her mom. And while it shows a young essayist’s tendency to overwrite (the Achilles heel of some of us older wordsmiths as well), it also provides insight into a mind that takes creative risks and thinks with expansive originality.

How do we know when we’ve fallen in love? My informal survey reveals three big patterns

By Emily Tamkin

Two months and one day after our first date, a man I’ll call Daniel asked to come over to my place and talk about our relationship.

America loves women like Hillary Clinton–as long as they’re not asking for a promotion

By Sady Doyle

It’s hard to remember these days, but just a few years ago, everybody loved Hillary Rodham Clinton. When she stepped down as US secretary of state in January 2013 after four years in office, her approval rating stood at what the Wall Street Journal described as an “eye-popping” 69%. That made her not only the most popular politician in the country, but the second-most popular secretary of state since 1948.

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