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Best of 2011

11 articles

Longform's Best Tech Writing of 2011

The Best Crime Writing of 2011



Our picks for the top 10 tech stories of the year, including work by Ashlee Vance (Businessweek), Alex Blumberg and Laura Sydell (Planet Money), and Maciej Ceglowski (Pinboard).

See the full list.

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The Movie Set That Ate Itself

Inside the five-year (so far) production of the Ilya Khrzhanovsky film Dau:
Khrzhanovsky came up with the idea of the Institute not long after preproduction on Dau began in 2006. He wanted a space where he could elicit the needed emotions from his cast in controlled conditions, twenty-four hours a day. The set would be a panopticon. Microphones would hide in lighting fixtures (as they would in many a lamp in Stalin's USSR), allowing Khrzhanovsky to shoot with multiple film cameras from practically anywhere — through windows, skylights, and two-way mirrors. The Institute's ostensible goal was to re-create '50s and '60s Moscow, home to Dau's subject, Lev Landau. A Nobel Prize–winning physicist, Landau significantly advanced quantum mechanics with his theories of diamagnetism, superfluidity, and superconductivity. He also tapped epic amounts of ass.
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Dispatch From Angola: Faith-Based Slavery in a Louisiana Prison

A first-person account of Louisiana’s prison rodeo in which:

...thousands of visitors drive down this road toward an inmate-constructed, 10,000-seat arena to watch Louisiana’s most feared criminals compete in harrowing events like “convict poker” (four prisoners sit around a card table and are ambushed by a bull; last one seated wins); “guts and glory” (a poker chip is tied to the forehead of a bull and inmates try to grab it off); and the perennial crowd pleaser, “bull riding.” Prisoners can win prize money, but have no chance to practice before entering the ring.

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The Greatest Paper That Ever Died

“Radically brilliant. Absurdly ahead of its time. Ridiculously poorly planned.” An oral history of the National Sports Daily.

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Watching the Murder of an Innocent Man

In a shantytown near Johannesburg, an angry mob committed a horrifying crime that was caught on video.

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Could Conjoined Twins Share a Mind?

On the shared life of Tatiana and Krista Hogan:

[T]he girls’ doctors believe it is entirely possible that the sensory input that one girl receives could somehow cross that bridge into the brain of the other. One girl drinks, another girl feels it.

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In the Sorting Office

A look at the brave new world of privatized postal services, “optimized to deliver the maximum amount of unwanted mail at the minimum cost to businesses.”

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This Tech Bubble Is Different

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

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A Murder Foretold

Rodrigo Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, began, in the spring of 2009, to prophesy his own murder. The unraveling of a political conspiracy.

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The Stoner Arms Dealers

Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract.

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The Apostate

During his 35 years as a member of the Church of Scientology, Oscar-winning writer and director Paul Haggis went “all the way to the top.” The story of why he left, and what happened once he did.