Non-Objective Composition (Suprematism) (1916) by Olga Rozanova. WikiArt via Christopher P Jones: “Four Great Women Artists Worth Knowing

What We’re Reading: Where do you get your big questions answered?

A few Medium stories you may have missed this week

The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readMar 24, 2023

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Where do you go when you want to learn something online? Google is usually my default, but lately I’ve found that when I have a question, there’s usually a story with an answer on Medium. Curious about the recent big releases of new AI models? Here’s a quick look at both Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s GPT 4, plus a summary of hands-on first impressions using Bard. Need a basic grounding in banking to help understand the current crisis? Here’s a primer on the basics you need to know to understand a bank run.

This is true, too, for topics where I’ve got a better basic understanding than, say, artificial intelligence or fractional reserve banking. The story I’ve spent the most time with this week is Doug Shapiro’s “Power Laws in Culture,” which dives deep into why power laws (i.e., “a few massive hits and a vast number of misses”) are so pervasive in the culture industry and how internet networks are, somewhat counterintuitively, making them more entrenched. This story is a must-read if you’re curious about where culture is heading.

What’s a Medium story that has answered a big question for you lately? Respond and let us know — we’re always looking for great stories, and will hopefully learn something new along the way.

Thanks for being reading,
Scott Lamb
VP, Content @ Medium

Here’s what we’re reading this week…

Image of the “human computers” that helped NASA achieve spaceflight. From The History Channel: https://www.history.com/news/human-computers-women-at-nasa, via Daley Wilhelm.

Why Are Women Encouraged to Go into UX?” by Daley Wilhelm, UX writer and researcher

Without a diversity of experiences working in tech… narrow, presumptive interfaces pop up all the time. It is up to the people occupying roles like UX writer, researcher, and designer to carefully consider a breadth of human experiences and make tech just a bit more human in turn.

A Better Way to Optimize (And the Illusion of ‘Balance’)” by Brad Stulberg, bestselling author of ‘The Practice of Groundedness’

It is okay, at times even desirable, to optimize for narrow projects, activities, and goals. The key is not to leave any of your core values completely behind.

The Magic of Value Statements is in Failing at Them” by Marianne Bellotti, author of ‘Kill It With Fire’ and ‘Hiring Engineers’

Value statements don’t matter, but how organizations manage the delta between who they wish they were and the reality is very important. And it’s only by defining and articulating values in the first place that you make that gap something that can be observed, discussed, and mitigated.

Benjamin Sledge in Ramadi, Iraq. 2006.

It’s Been 20 Years Since We Invaded Iraq. I Am Still in the Desert.” by Benjamin Sledge, combat wounded veteran and author of ‘Where Cowards Go to Die’

The most difficult truth to face when reflecting on the Iraq War is that a part of me will always remain in Iraq, even though I’m physically back home. It’s the part of me that was once a young, adrenaline-fueled soldier, exhilarated by the thrill of battle, gripping a rifle tightly, and scraping by just enough to survive another day.

Four Great Women Artists Worth Knowing” by Christopher P Jones, art writer and author of ‘Great Paintings Explained’

From the Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Kate Elizabeth Bunce to the modern colour prints of Jacoba van Heemskerck, these women have challenged the conventions of their female stereotypes to become innovators and competitors in art creation.

Left: Photo of Liu Chengyu, 1903, courtesy of Aimee Liu. Right: “Portrait of an Official.” 1870s. Source: Wikimedia/ Loewentheil Photography of China Collection.

When Worlds Collide” by Aimee Liu, author of ‘Glorious Boys’

Just as Papa straddled the line between China and America, he also straddled the line between his magistrate father’s official legacy and his own revolutionary ambitions. He played the gap, in other words, navigating the distance between worlds and historical moments, counting on that distance for protection

Ode to Spring” by Connie Song

Let me dream of mandolins,
buds of spring that paint the rusted winter’s cage,
with gentle air poking through sculpted clouds,
farewell to quilted charcoal sky…

What have you been reading lately? Drop a line in the responses.

What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.

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