Written by

Chris Gonzales



Welcome to the first edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column for 2016, which as it happens is landing on the very first day. Happy New Year!

Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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How Learning a Second Language Changed My Life »

Chad Fowler (originally published in 2009):

While in India, we were fearless. We walked the back streets of Bangalore where westerners don’t go. We weren’t afraid to find our own transportation or do our own business anywhere, despite the huge cultural differences and language barriers. And when we went up North where everyone spoke Hindi, we didn’t have to worry about trying to find cab drivers who spoke English. We were able to go to small villages and talk to anyone we encountered. We got to see what India was really like and to experience the immense warmth of its people, which we’ve discovered is multiplied when you even try to say “Hello” or “Thank you” in their language. […]

As the direct result of learning Hindi (and now a little Tibetan and Kannada), I’ve had some of the greatest career, cultural, social, and spiritual experiences of my life. I’ve made dear friends I could never have met or communicated with, and I’ve learned things that would have been much harder to learn without the language skills.

I’ve dipped my toe in a few languages over the years — Spanish, French, Japanese (probably this one the most), and even sign language — but never truly committed to any of them. As an insulated American who has never traveled abroad, I’ve never needed to. I do have hopes of visiting Japan and various parts of Europe someday though, so I need to get on the ball.

Hopefully my son will get an earlier start. My wife and I have introduced him to basic French with the Little Pim video series, and he’s soaked some of it up like a sponge.

Illustration: Kristina Collantes

Illustration: Kristina Collantes

Why Public Wi-Fi is a Public Health Hazard »

Dutch surveillance journalist Maurits Martijn, who has now officially made me leery of all public Wi-Fi networks (originally published at De Correspondent in October 2014):

We see more and more visitors log on to our fictitious network. The siren song of the little black device appears to be irresistible. Already 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, [Wouter] Slotboom could now completely ruin the lives of the people connected: He can retrieve their passwords, steal their identity, and plunder their bank accounts. Later today, he will show me how. I have given him permission to hack me in order to demonstrate what he is capable of, though it could be done to anyone with a smartphone in search of a network, or a laptop connecting to a WiFi network.

Portraits of Place — Antarctica »

Remember the Kickstarter project to send Maciej Cegłowski (creator of Pinboard) to Antarctica? Shortly after that campaign was funded, landscape and architectural photographer Shaun O’Boyle ran a similar Kickstarter project that also funded successfully.

He recently returned to the US and posted a portfolio of the incredible photos he took while in Antarctica. Some, like the ones above, are stunning. A few others feature cute animal appearances, like these:

A lot more photos and stories from O’Boyle’s trip can be found on the WordPress site he set up for it.

Illustration: Elena Scotti, Fusion

Illustration: Elena Scotti, Fusion

Get Rich or Die Vlogging: The Sad Economics of Internet Fame »

Gaby Dunn for Fusion:

The disconnect between internet fame and financial security is hard to comprehend for both creators and fans. But it’s the crux of many mid-level web personalities’ lives. Take moderately successful YouTubers, for example. Connor Manning, an LGBT vlogger with 70,000 subscribers, was recognized six times selling memberships at the Baltimore Aquarium. Rosianna Halse Rojas, who has her own books and lifestyle channel and is also YouTube king John Green’s producing partner, has had people freak out at her TopMan register. Rachel Whitehurst, whose beauty and sexuality vlog has 160,000 subscribers, was forced to quit her job at Starbucks because fans memorized her schedule.

In other words: Many famous social media stars are too visible to have “real” jobs, but too broke not to.

Deep Habits: The Danger of Pseudo-Depth »

Author and professor Cal Newport discusses the importance of letting a hard task sink in and marinate without distractions:

Here’s the key observation about this example: in the second scenario, Alice never went more than twenty minutes or so without switching her attention away from her primary task to something else. It’s tempting to dismiss these breaks because they’re so fleeting — lost in the standard background noise of knowledge work — but their cost is substantial.

Something that came up again and again when I was researching my book on this topic, is that switching your attention — even if only for a minute or two — can significantly impede your cognitive function for a long time to follow.

More bluntly: context switches gunk up your brain.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.