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ReadWrite’s Best Stories Of 2014

ReadWriteReflect offers a look back at major technology trends, products and companies of the past year. 

Nobody likes to pick favorites. Here at ReadWrite, we reported on a lot of great stories in 2014, so picking the best of the year is no easy task. 

There was our in-depth coverage of diversity in tech, as well as ReadWriteBody, our ongoing series on networked fitness and the quantified self. We also had tutorials teaching you how to get started with the latest hardware and software—as well as our super sassy Silicon Valley Street Style. We asked hackers not to scream at our babies—a very different angle on the Internet of Things. It was hard to pick—but we asked the ReadWrite editorial staff to call out some of our favorite stories from the past year. Here they are. 

Five Steps To Build Your Own Random Non-Sequitur Twitter Bot

Written by Lauren Orsini (@laureninspace)

I’ve always loved the sense of humor and humanity Lauren brings to tutorials. This story began when we were joking around in our chat room. Lauren made some offhand comment about how easy it would be to set up a Twitter bot that mashed up our tweets into technojournalistic nonsense, and we all started begging her to make one for us. Then I asked her to do one better—and teach us all how to do it. The result is a great illustration of how easy it is to take off-the-shelf software components and services and build something whimsical and fun. Software doesn’t always have to be serious—and if fun tricks like Lauren’s Twitter bots help people start learning how to code, all the better. —Owen Thomas

An Ode To Jim Rockford’s Answering Machine

James Garner from “Rockford Files” opening credits.

Written by Helen A.S. Popkin (@helenaspopkin)

I really liked one of Helen’s first pieces, “An Ode To Jim Rockford’s Answering Machine.” 

If I could pick a runner-up, it would be a tie between Lauren’s first piece on the possibility of a Node.js split and Taylor’s very early piece on Twitch. Both pieces were really prescient about developments that hadn’t yet gotten much attention; Lauren’s piece also did a great job threading its way through complex issues and demonstrated a terrific depth of reporting. —David Hamilton

Hello Neo: Nokia Exists Only In Movie Form (Mostly)

Neo (Keanu Reeves) with a Nokia Phone in The Matrix courtesy Warner Bros.

Written by Helen A.S. Popkin (@helenaspopkin)

When Microsoft removed Nokia’s name from the Lumia smartphone line, it prompted this clever culture piece, which illustrates how gadgets popularized on film can mark the passing of time. Helen somehow offers a sentimental look at these cultural touchpoints without veering into corny territory. Even though I hadn’t thought about old Nokia phones in years, the story stirred nostalgia for me and made me miss them. —Adriana Lee 

History’s Female Programmers Will No Longer Be Forgotten

Eniac computer women programmers, courtesy of University of Pennsylvania 

Written by Selena Larson (@selenalarson)

Like most people interested in technology, most of my role models are men. I loved this article’s investigation into history to identify and name some of the key female pioneers of the digital age. This article outlines the efforts of women today to unearth computing’s rich female legacy. —Lauren Orsini

Technically Scary: Halloween Costumes For The Modern Geek

Illustration by Nigel Sussman

Brainstormed by the ReadWrite staff, illustrated by Nigel Sussman (@nigelsussman)

ReadWrite and Helen Popkin used the guise of Halloween costumes to lay the smack down visually on some of the most ridiculous Silicon Valley trends and stories of the year. With help from illustrator Nigel Sussman, creative and hilarious costume ideas like the Comcast Customer Corpse and #Gamergate were born. —Stephanie Chan

The Real Lesson From Recent Cyberattacks: Let’s Break Up The NSA

NSA headquarters Fort Meade night Wikicommons Trevor Paglen

Written by David Hamilton (@david_hamilton)

David does an excellent job here skewering the NSA and the government enabling it simply by recounting facts and putting everything in context. It’s both saddening and a little scary that one can lose track of all the different scandals linked to the NSA. But here they are, along with some logical suggestions on what should happen instead… and reasons why they won’t. In case you needed more sobering reading to get you in the mood for 2015. —Richard Procter

Tales From The Grumpy Programmer: What Old Farts Can Teach You

Written By Lauren Orsini (@laureninspace) as told to her by Bob Pendleton aka “The Grumpy Programmer“; illustrated by Nigel Sussman (@nigelsussman)

Lauren set out to do a “quick interview” for a profile on Bob Pendleton, a 60-something year coding veteran who blogs as “The Grumpy Programmer.” She came back with his 10,000-word email response filled with stories about lessons he’s learned from decades in the technology trenches, each tale better than the next. There was too much great material for a simple profile, so we turned to another method of storytelling. 

Comics are great way to impart a lot of information in a compact format, and a Web comic series is a great way to elevate the kind of story you don’t usually hear about in youth-obsessed Silicon Valley. Nigel was immediately on board. He augmented Lauren’s script with great illustrative details, like Bob’s t-shirt in one frame, which reads, “I’m not working because it’s compiling.” Hopefully this is the first in a series with The Grumpy Programmer. —Helen A.S. Popkin

BONUS! Best ReadWrite Story To Become A Book In 2014*

An expanded tutorial based on Lauren Orsini’s “My Fish Just Sent Me A Text Message” appears in Make: Raspberry Pi and AVR Projects: Augmenting the Pi’s ARM with the Atmel ATmega, ICs, and Sensors.

*Editor’s note: There was only one contender in this category.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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