Personalities

Jonah Peretti’s Meme Streak

20 Photos

'Going Viral'

Jonah Peretti’s office has two glass walls, two white walls and no decoration except for a giant, multicolored rectangle, with blue and violet hues fading upward and coalescing into a tight little rainbow wheel at the top. The Brooklyn artist Cory Archangel, a friend of Mr. Peretti’s, makes these “gradient paintings” with one click in Photoshop, blows them up and sells them for lots of money, Mr. Peretti said. It is, in his words, “kind of a joke.”

Mr. Peretti, 38, a navy-eyed, wavy-haired nerd-king with a machine-gun giggle, was a cofounder of the Huffington Post before he moved on to other things. He likes these gradient paintings a lot. His Twitter page is also a gradient. Mr. Peretti, a career mischief maker with a “great, sort of trollish sense of humor,” as one former employee put it, likes jokes best when they’re subversive. He’s infamous for arguing that Mormonism is superior to Judaism because of its growing numbers, a shtick he uses in presentations. As a grad student at MIT in 2001, he ordered a pair of custom Nikes embroidered with the word “sweatshop,” extracting a series of awkward emails from an unlucky customer service rep. He forwarded the emails to a few friends, who forwarded them to their friends, and so on. Literally millions of people have read them. Read More

Op-Ed

The Difference Between MIT and ITP: Les Savy Fav vs Boston

mit itp

 

This is a guest post from Tarikh Korula, founder of Uncommon Projects, and originally appeared at his blog, unprojects.

I’m often asked what the difference is between NYU’s ITP and MIT’s Media Lab. Sometimes from prospective students, but mostly from high-powered executives or important writers who have heard of the program or The Show. I had one friend once who left Media Lab disappointed, so I’m super-qualified to speak about it.

MIT kids are smart. Really smart. They probably have been studying violin since they were, like, two. Then they wrote software algorithms when they were 10 to approximate a symphony that could play along with them in real time while they played Bach concertos. If these kids were a rock band, they’d be Emerson, Lake and Palmer with a laser show and a 360 major label deal.

ITP kids are… resourceful. We didn’t invent hacking or email or lasers and shit. We invented QTVRPCompGurlArduino and Foursquare. Instead of beautiful John Meada visualizations, we’ve got a lot of wooden tiles that move in concert to show you a picture of yourself and we think that’s art. It’s not really, but we never studied art so we don’t really know any better. If we were a rock band, we’d be the Ramones with their shitty recording contract and Laurie Anderson playing midi controlled tambourine. Read More