paper trail

Buzzfeed quizzes mine personal data

Joel Johnson

At the New Inquiry, an animated map tracks the shifting prominence of American cities in novels over the past two hundred years, drawing on Google Ngram data.“More than anything,” write the map’s creators, the data “shows the enduring dominance of New York City, towering over the cultural landscape in a way that the map, with its pseudo-logarithmic scale, can’t even do justice to.”

The Tumblr “Last Night’s Reading” offers drawings of writers doing readings in New York, along with quotations from the writer’s remarks. (Geoff Dyer: “You can’t do it without talent, but you can’t do it without confidence either.”) At least in the hands of this artist, Kate Gavino, all the writers look weirdly alike.

The New Yorker interviews Rebecca Curtis about her most recent story in the magazine, “The Pink House,” which features ghosts. Curtis says, “There’s something lively about ghost stories—ha!—because the story contains built-in excitement and horror. Of course, you still need to create conflict and a plot, if you’re a traditionalist, but you’re starting on stilts, maybe, because you have a dramatic element that a normal, two-people-drinking-coffee-and-complaining-about-their-bunions story doesn’t have.”

Gawker Media wants to double its staff by the end of 2015, editorial director Joel Johnson said in an April meeting. This week it brought Rachel Rosenfelt on as Executive Producer, and has hired a number of new staff writers, including Allie Jones, Aleksander Chan, and Andy Cush, as well as a senior editor, Jason Parham. As Capital New York reports, Johnson also aims to increase the monthly average of unique visitors from sixty-eight thousand (where it is currently) to eighty thousand.

Buzzfeed quizzes are mining your personal data, says the Daily Dot. The website logs whether your Facebook account is connected to the website, what your home country is, and what your age and gender are if that information is available. It also records and archives quiz responses, which, depending on the quiz, can be very personal. The April quiz “How Privileged Are You?” asked questions about sexual orientation, whether you’ve ever been a victim of rape, and whether your parents help with living expenses.