1. Megan McArdle has been pushing the importance of failure, and bemoaning cultural shifts away from taking failure-prone risks. In her estimation, children are being drilled into total conformity from a young age, steered by overly concerned parents toward high-success paths that leave little room for creative deviations from the norm. In the long run, McArdle suggests, this is bad for society because it will reduce innovation and the social benefits that flow from it.

    But while McCardle somewhat glibly celebrates failure, the reality of deep failure in America is stark. Unlike elsewhere in the developed world, being at or near the bottom of American society entails extraordinary misery. Poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, instability, and a general lack of a livable social floor means that the consequences of truly failing in the U.S. are rather horrific.

    — Matt Bruenig, in If you want kids to fail, stop making failure so horrible



  3. This is the trouble with carbon-copying creativity. The professional fan fiction stories that are currently making their own pop-cultural waves approach writing as a plug-and-play practice without the creativity that fueled the original stories.
    — Monika Bartyzel on the disappointing new film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which was derived from a piece of Harry Potter fan fiction. 

  4. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened — but at some point, Twitter became a dark place…

    Once everyone was on Twitter, everyone’s problems were on Twitter. The early adopters might have been tech-utopians, but the succeeding waves were angry cynics and partisan cranks who used the technology to make the world even louder and worse than it was before Twitter. 

    Twitter has become like high school, where the mean kids say something hurtful to boost their self esteem and to see if others will laugh and join in. Aside from trolling for victims after some tragedy, Twitter isn’t used for reporting much anymore. But it is used for snark. 

    The medium is dangerous and tempting. When Abraham Lincoln was mad, he would famously write people scathing letters. He would then file them in his desk drawer, never to be sent. Abe was lucky he didn’t have Twitter…”

    Why I hate Twitter


  5. One of the bigger complaints levied against the original iPad was that, while it was a great device for watching movies or surfing the web, it didn’t do much to “facilitate [content] creation.” Steve Jobs took that criticism to heart, and made apps like Garage Band and iMovie an essential part of the iPad 2.

    Now, a new sketchbook app called Paper is targeting artsy tablet owners. Developed by a team of former Microsoft employees who worked on the company’s once-promising, now-dead Courier dual-screen tablet, Paper allows users to draw in a minimalist, user-friendly interface. Want a thicker line with your fountain pen? Just swipe a little faster. To erase, move two fingers counter-clockwise in a circle. The company touts it as ”the easiest and most beautiful way to create on the new iPad.” 


  6. Anyone on Pinterest? We’re giving away a signed copy of Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer, our author of the week.

    "Shattering the myth of muses, higher powers, even creative ‘types,’ Jonah Lehrer demonstrates that creativity is not a single ‘gift’ possessed by the lucky few. It’s a variety of distinct thought processes that we can all learn to use more effectively. Lehrer reveals the importance of embracing the rut, thinking like a child, and daydreaming productively, then he takes us out of our own heads to show how we can make our neighborhoods more vibrant, our companies more productive, and our schools more effective.”

    To enter, pin an image that gets your creative juices flowing, and share it with us. Here, some instructions