Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Best Links of 2006 (vol. 1)

[Editor’s Note: This is volume one of my favorite links of 2006. Volume two can be found here.]

This is one of my very favorite entries to write. I get to pull all the great stuff I read all year and throw it into one post for your reading enjoyment. Hopefully this will be a fun way to fill some of that extra holiday time.

So without any further ado . . .

Best Links of 2006 (vol. 1)

  • The Omarosa Experiment: This is an amazing inside look at what life on reality television is really like. Beyond just talking to some former stars they speak to psychologists who help choose the participants. After all is said and done, I had a much better idea of the psychological imbalance of the people on these shows.
  • Warning: May Contain Non-Design Content: I’ve found myself quoting this Design Observer article quite a bit this year. In it Michael Bierut answers some critics who complain he doesn’t write about design enough: “The great thing about graphic design is that it is almost always about something else. Corporate law. Professional football. Art. Politics. Robert Wilson. And if I can’t get excited about whatever that something else is, I really have trouble doing good work as a designer. To me, the conclusion is inescapable: the more things you’re interested in, the better your work will be.” A rule to live by.
  • Cookie Monster Searches Deep Within Himself and Asks: Is Me Realy Monster?: I’m a huge Jim Henson fan. Runs in the family. In this article cookie monster asks some tough questions as he tries to deal with his monsterous tendencies. “Me thinks me have serious problem. Me thinks me addicted. But since when it acceptable to call addict monster? It affliction. It disease. It burden. But does it make me monster?”
  • The Worst President in History: Lots of people have said it casually, but when a historian wonders out loud whether George W. Bush is actually the worst president in history, it’s worth listening.
  • Roger Federer as Religious Experience: Every year David Foster Wallace writes an article that’s extraordinarily long and detailed about something I’ve never thought about and I find it impossible to put down. Last year it was Consider the Lobster and this year it’s this New York Times article highlighting every detail of Federer’s greatness. I’m not really a tennis fan myself and this gave me an entirely new view into the intricacies real tennis fans love.
  • A Cup of Tea: As a blogger myself every so often I ask myself “what should I blog about?” Lucky for all of us, Momus uses a cup of tea as an example of five approaches to blogging about anything. The techniques include: Quotation, anecdote, binaries, politics, personal and sociology.
  • The Best and the Interesting: This is actually two articles smushed into one. Reading it again, I remember why I loved it the first time: It’s inspiring and beautifully written. “My hope is, at some point in my life, I will hit such a stride, some skillset I have where the best of me just happens as a matter of course. I’m good at some stuff, bad at others, but I would love to hit some point, in a few years, where I throw out perfection as calmly as a child tosses a ball. It’s something to strive for.”

That wraps up the first half, check back for more links in the next few days. Also, if you’re not already, you can subscribe to the site by RSS or email (there’s a subscription form below the fold).

December 23, 2006 // This post is about:

2005: Links in Review

I know I’ve been fairly MIA for the last few weeks, but I’ve been on vacation and haven’t had much internet access. I hope you have not all deserted me for greener pastures. (If you have, then I guess I’m talking to myself at this point.) Anyway . . . as a way to make it up for you I’ve got my first year-in-review post and this one is plump with my favorite links of the year (a la Kottke’s Best Links). So here goes nothing . . .

Links ‘O the Year

In no specific order (except possibly chronological).

  1. The Big Fish: It’s the incredibly long and fascinating story of Suck.com, one of the first great websites. A great look at the web in its infancy and at some interesting people trying to do something with a medium that may never be repeated. (Related NoahBrier.com post: Hyperlinkology)
  2. Balls Out: In 1970 pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates . . . on acid.
  3. I Caught Sight of: Matt Webb argues that the web is modeled after San Francisco circa 2001, making a lot of good points along the way.
  4. How Mark Felt Became ‘Deep Throat’: This is the article Bob Woodward’s been waiting to write, and Nixon fanatics’ waiting to read, for the last 30 years.
  5. The Choirboy: If this story were about anyone it would be incredible. The fact it’s about Lawrence Lessig’s abuse at the hands of a choir school director seems to take it a step further and make it that much more disturbing.
  6. Apocolypse Soon: When Robert McNamara tells you the world is in danger, it’s probably worth listening.
  7. What Goes Up . . .: The music industry moves at dizzying speeds today. In this article, the Guardian discusses the trend and ends with a faux-timeline depicting the “firework” career of a fictional band.
  8. . . . But Seriously: Another Guardian article about music. This one discusses people’s musical skeletons in the closet.
  9. Covering Teen Wolf: One Coach’s Guide: I’ve mentioned this over and over, but it’s seriously the funniest thing I’ve read in ages. An excerpt: “As coach, you need to recognize that your job isn’t to do the impossible; you’re not going to stop Teen Wolf entirely, but you can try to contain him by making him play your team’s style of basketball. Discipline and defensive fundamentals help: nose on the ball, feet moving, channeling him into traps—careful with those, though. Soon as Teen Wolf gets two guys on him, he tends to find the open man. He’s a heads-up ballplayer with great court sense, so if you’re going to bring a trapping zone against Teen Wolf, make sure you have solid weak-side rotation and your defenders are communicating.”
  10. Change or Die: Fast Company on just why it’s so damn hard for people to change and some suggestions on how we might go about changing that.
  11. Open Letter to Kansas School Board: I don’t think there’s anyone that hasn’t read it yet, but this is the letter that started the whole Flying Spaghetti Monster/Pastafarianism craze.
  12. Users Don’t Care If You Are the Best: This one has a lot of personal importance because it’s impacted a lot of my work this year. Kathy Sierra of Creating Passionate Users writes about how companies should stop talking about how great they are and start talking about how great they make their customers.
  13. Forget-Me-Not Panties: The grand prize winner of the Contagious Media Showdown provides the world with a way to keep track of your girlfriend at all times. To quote the site: “Unlike the cumbersome and uncomfortable chastity belts of the past, these panties are 100% cotton, and use cutting-edge technology to help you protect what matters most.”
  14. The Remarkable Opportunities of Unbundled Media: I read this article and something clicked in my head. New technology is forcing things to become unbundled: Gone are the 30 minutes shows with 5 commercial breaks and the album with 13 tracks, replaced with Tivo and iTunes. (Related: NoahBrier.com entries on Unbundling)

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoy all the reading. I’ve still got some other year-end wrap-ups coming, so be prepared. Also, thanks for sticking around for another year, it’s been a great one.

Happy New Years to everyone and if we haven’t ever actually talked (via mouth, email or comments), then how about you get in touch with me and tell me who you are? Consider it a New Year’s resolution.

December 31, 2005 // This post is about: