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An Ad-Free Social Network, a Magic Town and More #Mustreads

What's it like to live in the magic capital of the U.S.? Also, a new ad-free social network named Ello.

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Good morning!

Here’s some top-shelf content, brought to you by Re/code:

  1. Ello is a new, invite-only social network that has no advertisers and looks like a stripped-down hybrid of Facebook and Tumblr. The service is becoming quickly popular in LGBTQ circles, because of Facebook’s policy of cracking down on people (like drag queens and other queer performers) who don’t use their “real names.” Meanwhile, early Facebook employee Kate Losse noted on Twitter that the big social networks of today were also once ad-free (or close to it).
  2. BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith profiles Silicon Valley’s latest investment vehicle: Washington, D.C. He spoke to a lot of different (mostly Democratic) political operatives who talk of Silicon Valley being the Democratic Party’s new ATM, the industry’s generally anti-labor influence on the party and — perhaps most importantly — the tech industry’s push for further deregulation of the tech industry.
  3. Anthony Bourdain is one of the stars of CNN, an abrasive and charismatic celebrity chef whose travel cuisine show has become a mainstay of the struggling network. Fast Company has a lengthy profile of Bourdain, detailing his refusal to sell merchandise, his drug-addicted ’80s and what it’s like to have dinner with Bourdain himself. If Bourdain would like to wine and dine the Re/code team, we’d certainly be open to it.
  4. The one-streetlight town of Colon, Mich., is the self-proclaimed “magic capital of the world.” Freelancer Kyle Chayka’s charming longread about the place, accompanying a fun video at The Verge, is like the Tim Burton movie “Big Fish” come to life. Colon’s high school mascot is a white bunny rabbit, and the town plays host every year to a weeklong magic festival known as the “Get Together.” So how does a town centered around sleight of hand make it in the social media age? Well, a number of up-and-coming magicians are embracing “magic tech” like 3-D printers, and the younger magicians of today are finding (secret, of course) ways to adapt, pulling off newer and more elaborate card tricks than previous generations.
  5. A University of Buffalo study has concluded that the people most likely to fall prey to “phishing” scams — those emails from Nigeria promising untold riches if you hand over your email, password and Social Security number — are people who use Facebook the most. In the New Statesman, Emma Woollacott surmises that people who regularly use social media are more likely to assume that someone from Nigeria might be so earnest as to reach out with these offers, because who else would be so earnest on the Internet?

If you see any stories you’d like to send our way (or have any questions/comments about stories we’ve recommended), feel free to shoot an email to

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