The Best Articles I Read in 2012

Thanks to Instapaper, I keep track of all the articles I read digitally. At the end of each year, I compile a list of the best articles, essays, and blog posts. This is the first time the list has appeared here, on my new blog (as the first post, no less).

Note: These are articles I read this year. Some may have been written before 2012.

The list, in the order I read them, with a thought and/or quote from each:

Y Combinator: Kill Hollywood

SOPA and PIPA caused a huge stir around net neutrality in January of 2012. There was plenty of hang-wringing from tech folks, but this simple blog post from Y Combinator was the best response I read.


Club Kids: The Social Life of Artists on Facebook

This is a great piece about the way networks fundamentally change how artwork is collectively produced (or intentionally not produced). The essay was collaboratively written by three authors, each using a different color text.


The Ballad of @Horse_ebooks

The link I shared more than any other in 2012. This post explains the phenomenon behind my favorite twitter account, a spam-bot set up by a mysterious Russian to sell crappy ebooks about horses (with 143,000 followers).


Puppies, Paintings and Philosophers

New York Times profile of a someone I know and look up to a great deal. Adam Lerner is the director of Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. He’s reinventing what an art museum is.


Brian Eno’s 1995 Opening Speech for the Turner Prize

Old, obviously, but posted to Art Fag City in 2012. A quote:

“Why is it that all of us here – presumably members of the arts community – probably know more about the currents of thought in contemporary science than those in contemporary art? Why have the sciences yielded great explainers like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Gould, while the arts routinely produce some of the loosest thinking and worst writing known to history? Why has the art world been unable to articulate any kind of useful paradigm for what it is doing now?”


31 Notes on the Breakdown of Practically Everything: The case of the “crazy” athlete

I don’t normally read about sports, but some of the writing on Grantland is so good I can’t resist.


Christianity in Crisis

Andrew Sullivan on Christianity getting mangled by politics.


An Essay on the New Aesthetic

Bruce Sterling at his rambling best on the New Aesthetic. (If you don’t know what the New Aesthetic is, he starts off with a link that explains it well). If this interests you, you should also check out two other posts: In Response To Bruce Sterling’s “Essay On The New Aesthetic” and The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder. I really love this stuff. I’m bummed that is seemed to fall off the radar pretty quickly last spring.


The Tribal Mind: Moral Reasoning and Public Discourse

If you lean left politically (as I tend to), don’t be put off by the fact that this is from the American Enterprise Institute (a Conservative think tank). This is a really good explanation of how moral reasoning erodes useful political discourse.


All Eyez on Not-Me 

An excellent critical take on the Tupac hologram at Coachella. Seriously.


The End of the World: The State vs. the Internet

Will the state destroy the internet, or will the internet destroy the state?


The Collapse of Complex Business Models

Clay Shirky on what the Internet is doing to the television business, but it easily translates into lessons about what the internet is doing to nearly everything else.


Echo Chamber: Is today’s art too self-referential?

I tend to like writing about art that points out why so much other writing about art is so easy to ignore.


The Believer interview with Dave Hickey

This is from 2007, but I read it this year and it knocked my socks off. Dave Hickey quit the art world in 2012.


Welcome to the Future Nauseous

This post introduces the idea of manufactured normalcy, defined this way: “There are mechanisms that operate — a mix of natural, emergent and designed — that work to prevent us from realizing that the future is actually happening as we speak.” Have you ever noticed that what your body experiences on a plane isn’t that different that what it would experience on a boat 2000 years ago, even though you’re traveling 400 miles per hour 20,000 feet above the ground?


Five facts about achieving the American Dream

Fact one: “If you want to achieve the American Dream, America is actually not a very good place to try to do it.” Data to back that up, and more real talk.


Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

A long and frustrating read from Rolling Stone.


Dear Young DFW Whippersnapper Artists

This is a post imploring Dallas/Fort Worth artists to get over themselves and get weird, but it applies to artists everywhere, especially in cities that are not major art centers.


Americans Want to Live in a Much More Equal Country (They Just Don’t Realize It)

A fascinating read about income inequality. Americans across the political spectrum want a far more equal society than we have. How we get there is another story.


The Veil of Opulence

How do we assess whether a government policy is fair? By imagining its impact on everyone it effects, or only on ourselves or some idealized version of ourselves?


Of Ourselves and of Our Origins: Subjects of Art

Peter Schjeldahl talks honestly about what we like about art and why. He cuts through great swaths of bullshit.


Speech, Lies and Apathy

Truth in politics probably died a long time ago. Here’s a good obituary spurred by the 2012 presidential campaign.


How Capitalism Can Save Art

Camille Paglia on art’s “airless echo chamber.” I don’t agree with everything here, but it’s a fun provocation.


A Modest Proposal: Exhibit ‘Bad’ Modern Art

Every art collection has tons of terrible stuff. I think the most memorable painting in the Grand Rapids Art Museum permanent collection is also the worst. (I’ll have to write about that later, stay tuned.)


Inside the Secret World of the Data Crunchers Who Helped Obama Win

This is incredible and a little creepy.


Seizing ‘Forward’: 3 Steps Obama Must Take to Fight Corruption and Gridlock

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons, on what Obama needs to do now.


As Not Seen on TV, Restaurant Review: Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar in Times Square

A brutal New York Times review of Guy Fieri’s touristy restaurant. I read somewhere else that the controversy surrounding this review has made the restaurant even more popular. Viva la criticism!


Where Do Dwarf-Eating Carp Come From?

The story of Dwarf Fortress, the most difficult and complex video game ever made.

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