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#NPRreads: Love, Coding, Yuccies, And The 'NPR Sound'

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom share pieces that have kept them reading. They share tidbits using the #NPRreadshashtag — and on Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you six reads.

From Tanya Ballard Brown, an editor for NPR.org:

I don't closely follow actor and comedian Aziz Ansari, but when I saw this headline in my Twitter feed — "Everything You Thought You Knew About Love Is Wrong" — I clicked it expecting to read some funny stories about awful dates and quirky tales about how people wooed their significant other. And I did giggle at some of what I read. But this excerpt from his book, Modern Romance, turned out to be more thoughtful than I had anticipated. I am part of an ongoing conversation with some single friends about dating and relationships and we often discuss how sometimes it's difficult to find the balance between what's good to you and what's good for you, so these two paragraphs from the excerpt stood out to me:

"While we may think we know what we want, we're often wrong. As recounted in Dan Slater's history of online dating, 'Love in the Time of Algorithms,' the first online-­dating services tried to find matches for clients based almost exclusively on what clients said they wanted. But pretty soon they realized that the kind of partner people said they were looking for didn't match up with the kind of partner they were actually interested in.

"Amarnath Thombre, Match.com's president, discovered this by analyzing the discrepancy between the characteristics people said they wanted in a romantic partner (age, religion, hair color and the like) and the characteristics of the people whom they contacted on the site. When you watched their actual browsing habits — who they looked at and contacted — they went way outside of what they said they wanted."

From Annie Johnson, a researcher in the Ombudsman's office:

My hipster friends think I'm too yuppie with my sorority girl letters, Kate Spade purse and affinity for brunch. My yuppie friends I'm too hipster with my public radio job, love of documentary films and not-so-secret flair for flannel. So what do we call me? Mashable's David Infante introduces a new term for you to snark about — the yuccie.

"Yuccies. Young Urban Creatives. In a nutshell, a slice of Generation Y, [born] of suburban comfort, indoctrinated with the transcendent power of education, and infected by the conviction that not only do we deserve to pursue our dreams; we should profit from them."

Yuccies combine an understanding of the economic realities of living in a metropolitan area with a need for creative fulfillment and validation. They're the cultural offspring of yuppies and hipsters.

"You cross the yuppie's new money thirst for yachts and recognition with the hipster's anti-ambition, smoke-laced individualism, sprinkle on a dose of millennial entitlement, and the yuccie is what you get."

So now the question looms: How are advertisers going to market to yuccies?

From Steve Mullis, weekend editor on NPR.org:

As someone who has grown up playing video games as a hobby, I've been fascinated watching the rise of competitive gaming over the past decade. Nowhere is that rise more prevalent than in Asia, particularly South Korea and China. This piece by Mina Kimes of ESPN does a fantastic job of illustrating who these young superstars are, how they deal with the fame and what becomes of them after their oft short-lived pro gaming careers. In particular, she focuses on the League of Legends player Faker:

"In Seoul, where eSports are more popular with teenagers than baseball, Faker became a household name. He starred in a commercial for SK Telecom, striding toward the camera in slow motion. The Internet birthed a hashtag, #thingsfakerdoes. Some League fans nicknamed him the Unkillable Demon King; others simply referred to him as God. 'I think of him on the same level as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods — people who brought their respective industries to the next level,' says Jeon Yong Jun, a veteran announcer, or caster. 'He was the first true global superstar.' "

From Mark Memmott, standards and practices editor:

I bet listeners intuitively know there's an "NPR sound," even if few ever think about it. Current's interview with NPR senior director of audio engineering Shawn Fox helped me — and the audience — understand better how that sound is created. He explained a term that I've heard a few times, but until now hadn't really understood: "bass roll-off."

Here's Shawn, from the interview: "Most higher-end microphones have two switches on the back. One is a polar pattern, which is the direction of the microphone, and the other one is for the bass roll-off. When the bass is rolled off, you can't hear the lower frequencies of my voice. The microphone itself takes them away."

Why would you want to roll off the bass? According to Shawn, "the reason NPR came to this standard — and this was decades ago — was because most of our listeners are consuming in an automobile or with something else in the background. Back in the day, and even to some degree now, you roll down those windows and hear those low rumbling frequencies. We wanted our voices to get above that so that they could be clear, open and understandable to improve our storytelling."

From Lori Todd, social media editor for NPR:

The latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek is devoted to answering one seemingly simple question: What is Code? The answer comes in the form of an epic 38,000-word essay, written by Paul Ford. In the essay's introduction, Businessweek Editor Josh Tyrangiel explains why it's important that everyone — not just scrum masters and code ninjas — understand what code is:

"Now that software lives in our pockets, runs our cars and homes, and dominates our waking lives, ignorance is no longer acceptable. The world belongs to people who code. Those who don't understand will be left behind."

Even if you're among the handful of people who understand what code is, this is a must-read.

From Kate Myers, director of strategy and partnerships:

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking and talking about how organizations can foster leadership at every level. I've been on the hunt for good insights into how individuals can be empowered to change organizations. To do that, we need to invest in helping individuals recognize their own power, and acknowledge their own responsibility to improve. This article crystallized some of those recommendations into three key suggestions:

"For the better part of the past 100 years, the main operating model in management was to identify the best processes, or at least very good ones, and then have workers follow them to a [T]. Responding to this need, organizations are rolling out training programs to build critical thinking and process-improvement skills.

"These steps move in the right direction but by themselves are insufficient. If organizations want to enable workers to bring not only their hands but also their heads to work, then jobs need to be redesigned to give people ownership of (1) how they perform tasks, (2) their identity, and (3) their time."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Annie Johnson
Tanya Ballard Brown is an editor for NPR. She joined the organization in 2008.
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.