Friday Link List

1. Top Albums of 2012 Infographic {information is beautiful}.
A word cloud of the most popular albums of the year, as measured by blogs and music reviews. See also: my top 10 of 2012 list.


2. How Food Replaced Art as High Culture {the new york times}.

But food, for all that, is not art. Both begin by addressing the senses, but that is where food stops. It is not narrative or representational, does not organize and express emotion. An apple is not a story, even if we can tell a story about it. A curry is not an idea, even if its creation is the result of one. Meals can evoke emotions, but only very roughly and generally, and only within a very limited range — comfort, delight, perhaps nostalgia, but not anger, say, or sorrow, or a thousand other things. Food is highly developed as a system of sensations, extremely crude as a system of symbols. Proust on the madeleine is art; the madeleine itself is not art.

And catch the followup: Soul Food: Why Cooking Isn’t Art {american scholar}.


3. Digital Sharecropping, Kickstarter-Style {nicholas carr}.

Is Kickstarter on our side? This piece by Josh MacPhee {the baffler} raises some doubts:

The Kickstarter platform and website might not look like a shop floor, but when you are there, you are working. The exchange goes like this: rather than work for a wage with minimum protections and some semblance of benefits, you marshal all your friends, and their friends, to ante up small amounts of money for your project. …

Well, say you run a campaign for $10,000—somewhere between a third to two-thirds of what a struggling artist might make in a year. You send out thousands of emails about your campaign, post it on dozens of friends’ Facebook pages, send out lots of tweets, talk it up with everyone you meet, and try to get as many people as possible to do the same. You’re a popular person living in a major city, with an active social network and a compelling project, so you hit your mark—$10,000 is pledged. Kickstarter and Amazon take 10 percent right off the top, so now you are down to $9,000. If the money is coming in to you as an individual, Kickstarter treats you like a self-employed contractor, so it’s on you to figure out your tax burden and pay it, likely at least another 15 percent, so now you’re at $7,650. For a $10,000 campaign, you will have around 200 donors, of whom 150 will want rewards. If your rewards are physical objects, and you were generous in your offerings (a good idea when raising money), you’re going to have to wrap 150 packages, all of which need shipping supplies and postage to get to their destinations. On average, you’re likely spending $8 per package, so that’s another $1,200 off your total; so now you’re at $6,450. Within a few weeks a third of the money you raised is gone, and you haven’t begun to spend it on the project you were raising it for.

Carr concludes:

[Kickstarter] grows by infiltrating its members’ personal networks of friends and acquaintances, through which it recruits an ever growing number of project-launchers and project-funders eager to donate their time and their money to the cause. Maybe MacPhee, in formulating his lengthy indictment, is guilty of overreaching, of finding nefarious dealings in every nook and cranny of what is, at least at some level, a worthy, socially productive business. Then again, when you have venture capitalists and entrepreneurs selling charity to the masses, it’s probably a good idea to do a little digging, to see who’s doing the work and who’s getting the money.


I got my first order of Arizona-based Kickstarter-backed artisan-coffee subscription service MistoBox last week. My fave was the Ethiopian Sidamo Ardi. A cool service if you’re looking to find new roasters or familiarize yourself with different regions and roasts.

For $fifteen you get four samples (enough for about eight cups) of coffee from roasters around the country. (Check their facebook page for a $five-for-your-first-month offer.)