The end of another year sees publications compiling lists: dot point stories that shaped our year.
Sifting through the piles of 2014 highlights, there are some that stand out more than others. One collection in particular stood out to the Author Unlimited team as being an interesting insight into where the year has taken us, both as writers, and as readers.
Longreads is a website devoted to helping people find and share the best long-form story telling in the world. Pieces are chosen by both the community and by zealous editors, and their Longreads Best of 2014: Business comprised over 50 stories from seven different genres – truly the best of the best.
The list was assembled by a healthy mix of business and tech writers, as well as two of the sites own editors. The 2014 list told an interesting story into what speaks to us in business writing, and how that’s changing.
The focus, of course, is on Silicon Valley: but not the rise, the power, the might – as you may expect – nor the slowly dwindling faith in the Valley’s future and the Bubble That Will Burst. Rather, writers have made an effort to pinpoint the madness behind the method, and how sometimes, method isn’t enough.
From Zuckerberg and co.’s failed attempt at educational reform in Newark, New Jersey (Dale Russakoff, ‘Schooled’, New Yorker), to Susan Berfield’s ‘The Fall of the Sleaze King’ (Bloomberg Businessweek), depicting Dov Charney’s demise as head of America’s sleazy sweetheart, the focus is on the humans who are driving the machines.
In the New Yorker, the long-form writing shines — and the content is compelling. Relationships feature strongly, and man’s immortality and imperfection is a highlight this year.
‘The Empire Reboots‘, by Bethany Mclean (Vanity Fair) was a top pick, a story of Microsoft’s dash towards lucrative irrelevance because of a breakdown in trust between Bill Gates and his successor, Steve Ballmer.
The next generation was picked apart by Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ piece, ‘No Exit’ (Wired), which examined how entrepreneurialism is giving way to the inevitable excess of would-be corporate kings.
And a simple tale of toast in San Francisco drew Pacific Standard writer, John Gravoise (‘A Tale of Toast’) into a world where the weakest of ties binds a community.
The stories – all fantastic, all different – indicate the changing face of business. A face that is actually human.
Gone is the symbol of the lone entrepreneur — the Jobs, the Gates, the Zuckerberg. Now they have weaknesses, they form relationships and they fail. They have questionable motives and intense interactions that affect their businesses, all the way down to us, the consumers.
The idea that the bubble is about to burst seems to have been left behind in 2013. It’s been realized that business is not a bubble, but an intricately woven web that comes apart string by string rather than one burst of the tech needle.
If 2014 made us human, made us connected, made us real, then what’s next for 2015?