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OBSESSIONS

What Quartz was all about in 2014

By Gideon Lichfield

Like every other website in the last few days, we’ve published our best-of lists: Our best long reads, our most powerful essays, our most interesting “things.” Of course, we want you to read them all when you next have a spare couple of days. But they’re only a tiny—and not very representative—portion of what we publish every day. Reading them won’t necessarily tell you what Quartz is about. So what is Quartz about?

That’s an ongoing conversation we have with ourselves. One of our guiding principles is our “obsessions”—the topics we follow closely that mark big shifts in the global economy. This year we’ve been obsessed, among other things, with Alibaba’s IPO, Hong Kong’s revolution, Ebola, the next billion internet users, Modinomics, and the future of TV-watching. We launched Quartz India—a stand-alone site that is an obsession in itself.

But our journalists also have their own unofficial obsessions, some of which emerge only if you follow their writing closely. Matt Phillips, for instance, is obsessed with the economic history that makes countries outliers—why Greece has so many pharmacists, Spain so many elevators, Germany so few homeowners (and so much reliance on cash), Ireland so many delinquent mortgages. John McDuling is obsessed with where the music industry is going. Gwynn Guilford is obsessed with jellyfish.

And besides our obsessions, Quartz is also about something else—a mindset, an ambition to be creative and have fun with what is often stodgy business and economic news. That’s why we collected descriptions of every European economy in haiku form, used pop culture to explain Thomas Piketty, reclassified the US’s top engineering schools as Hogwarts houses, used data to prove that New Yorkers should really stop complaining about New York, produced a top-ten chart of Luxembourg tax-avoidance schemes (ranked in order of byzantine beauty), explained the on-demand economy in verse, turned venture-capitalist Marc Andreessen’s epic first six months on Twitter into charts, gave Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Nouri al-Maliki report cards (summary: could do better), and wrote a banking scandal story template because we’re as sick as you are of reading endless stories about bank scandals that all look alike.

We don’t know what we’ll obsess about in 2015, but we’ll try to keep that sense of creativity and fun. And as always, we’d love to hear from you what you think we should be paying attention to: Tweet at us @qz, or write to us on hi@qz.com.

This was published as part of the Quartz Weekend Brief. Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief here, tailored for morning delivery in Asia, Europe & Africa, and the Americas.