Need to Know: This Week’s Best Reads

The Forrest Four-Cast: August 9, 2018

What follows is our roundup of five of the most compelling stories discovered over the last few days. Look for this column every Thursday in this space.

And speaking of great ideas that need to be read, have you checked out the 5000+ forward-thinking speaking proposals in the 2019 PanelPicker?

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Bringing Tech to Camping
There’s some potentially great news on how tech and data can improve what’s become one of summer’s most frustrating experiences: finding a campsite. With the online National Parks reservation service basically stuck in the Friendster era, Outside magazine reported that this October a new contractor will take over online reservations for 100,000 campsites currently managed by national agencies, providing real-time updates through API. Give credit to the non-profit Access Land, which has grown into a coalition of 50 organizations, including Code for America. With “open data for open lands” as their rallying cry,” Outside reports, “members argued, among other things, that empowering a range of booking systems would lead to a more inclusive outdoor community, diversifying the predominant older white demographic.” Visit AccessLand to help extend this effort to state parks systems.

Real books + YouTube
It may sound as likely a pairing as tech and camping, but the New York Times reported on the rise of “BookTubers,” writing that “according to YouTube, the community as a whole has gotten over 200 million views and, compared to this time last year, engagement with them is up 40 percent.” The story focuses on young adopters of this video-based, book recommendation platform.

The Beauty of Beyoncé
Even if you’ve never bought a Vogue magazine in your life, check out the September cover spread. Incredibly, it’s first ever to be shot by a black photographer. The model is Beyoncé, who’s written (no surprise) a series of deeply personal stories on body acceptance, opening doors, her legacy and more, which accompany the images.

What Biking Meant to LeBron James
In addition to swatting away criticism from the Twitterer-in-Chief like it’s a middle schooler’s half-hearted attempt at a lay-up while opening an innovative school in Ohio for at-risk youth and working on a documentary series about the changing role of athletes, LeBron James shared some personal thoughts about the transformative possibilities in a bicycle. As part of his commitment to the I Promise School, all students will be provided with a free bicycle. James opened up to the Wall Street Journal about his own childhood experiences of biking. If you don’t have a WSJ subscription, see highlights here.

What Happened to Diet Coke?
And in the New Yorker, Nathan Heller explored the rise, reign and fall of Diet Coke, placing it over “a historical bracket that began with the launch of MTV and ended with the emergence of social media: the era of the power of the image in a mainstream burnished form.” It’s a compelling look and cautionary tale of a brand identity now struggling to stay fresh (exhibit A: Coca-Cola’s newest flavors: Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango). Bonus: you’ll learn the word coterminous.

Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.

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Celebrating creativity at SXSW. Also, reading reading reading, the Boston Red Sox, good food, exercise when possible and sleep sleep sleep.

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