Frivolity can be a beautiful thing.
And the Internet loves frivolity.
Think of how it has changed journalism and online content. Think of how many articles now are devoted to nostalgia, pop culture, and the highbrow interpretation of seemingly lowbrow material.
Storytellers occasionally get these stories right, and when they do, they succeed with either a detailed behind-the-scenes look, a thorough guide, or a scientific slant. (Sometimes they use a combination of all three.)
Here are three stories from last week that tackle such topics with unquestionable rigor:
How Gmail happened: the inside story of its launch 10 years ago (4/1/14, Time): Mark this one under “detailed behind-the-scenes look”.
And boy, is it detailed. Time writer Harry McCracken travels back a decade to when leaders at Google wanted to invest in an e-mail service.
That service, otherwise known as Gmail, changed our culture.
What’s more remarkable, it did so largely in the same ways its creators predicted.
McCracken shows a screengrab of Gmail at its inception, and it actually looks relatively similar to the product in 2014. More impressively, McCracken identifies the hurdles Google’s programmers faced in creating Gmail, and then he neatly explains how they solved those issues.
This is a long read but a great one.