For this month, great reading for the holiday break, iOS vs. Android platforms for developers, paring down web design to the essentials, and Time’s nod to Mark Zuckerberg.
Best Books 2010
The yearly “best of” lists are endless this time of year, yet I’ve found music, film and gaming critics are mostly coalescing best of status around a smaller set of favorites like Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (best album), The Social Network (best film) and Red Dead Redemption (best game.) Overall, there are few surprises.
That leaves the choices for 2010’s best books – an increasingly relevant medium in wake of the Kindle, iPad and Instapaper’s rise – to be all over the place. Where’s a good place to start? I’d give my first recommendation to Slate’s compilation. In contrast to the bare bones New Yorker list, I found Slate’s explanation to be lengthy enough to generate interest, yet not going so far as to be unwieldily. I also found their selection among fiction and non fiction the most varied and interesting.
As we head into December, two things happen: A lot of people will be given an iPod Touch or iPhone, and lots more already own an iOS device but want a distraction from the holiday grind. Inevitably that leads to a lot of iPhone game downloads (the majority of the App Store), many of which are uneven experiences at best.
In response, below I’ve compiled three varied and underrated games well worth your attention. Each has gotten heavy usage from time to time on my daily commute. My criteria were simple: The game had to be cheap – under $4. It also had to be approachable, with rules understandable under a minute. Finally, I only considered games outside of the top 100 game downloads on the App Store; I like highlighting smaller, independent developers that otherwise get little attention.
For this month: A treatise on the under thirty generation via The Social Network, a nostalgic look back at pre-CGI Hollywood, Kanye West’s “cybernetic” evolution and more.
The New York Review of Books
Praise has been widespread on David Fincher’s The Social Network, with Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers going so far to declare it the film to define the last decade. Hyperbole aside, it’s rare to see commentary on the film that goes beyond the core plotting and filmmaking elements. That’s what makes writer Zadie Smith’s critique in the The New York Review of Books interesting; she adds some deft insight on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the often enigmatic relationship between the Internet generation (“millennials”, those under 30) and everyone else. As she surmises, The Social Network is “a movie about [generation] 2.0 people made by 1.0 people.” Her filmmaking coverage doesn’t skimp either, examining everything from the film’s dialogue heavy opener (Smith calls it “restless”) to Fincher’s lensing and audio cues at a later club scene.