Quartz’s most Ideas-y Ideas articles of 2015

Among our favorite articles of the year is Demetri Kofinas’s tale of a tumor that stole his memories.
Among our favorite articles of the year is Demetri Kofinas’s tale of a tumor that stole his memories.
Image: Wendy Ploger
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The Ideas section of Quartz has as broad an ambit as Quartz as a whole. Ideas articles are usually recognizable by two traits: they are primarily (though not exclusively) written by outside contributors, and they put a person at the center of the story. Sometimes that person is the author and sometimes they are the subject, but, Marvin Prime excepted, we operate with a very literal interpretation of our section’s name: only people can have ideas, so Ideas pieces should center on people. And they should illuminate a unique, person-centric aspect of our world.

Here, pulled from among our top thirty most-read Ideas stories of 2015, are a few articles that show what Quartz Ideas was all about this year:

There’s an awful cost to getting a PhD that no one talks about

By Jennifer Walker

When the most challenging part of pursuing a high academic credential is not research, teaching, or department politics, but psychological health–and the very desire to keep on living.

Your college major is a pretty good indication of how smart you are

By Jonathan Wai

Are education majors less smart than STEM majors? Wai exhaustively explores the issue, but one thing is for sure: those with STEM degrees are consistently among the highest paid graduates, year in and year out.

Rent is so high in San Francisco that I’m a software engineer and I live in a van

By Katherine Patterson

It’s not just a van, it’s a sweet 1969 VW Camper Bus with a full-service bedroom tucked inside. And it’s all made possible by the increasingly unbelievable circumstances experienced by those who work and live in Silicon Valley.

I built a Twitter bot that entered—and won—1,000 online contests for me

By Hunter Scott

When human technical ingenuity meets the world of contest giveaways, a free cowboy hat autographed by the stars of a Mexican soap opera is bound to appear.

Watch what happens when men are Photoshopped out of politics

By Jake Flanagin

Our staff reporter captures the way a simple, depressing visual proves just how far gender equality truly has to go, even at the most elite levels of global power.

I went 200 days without buying anything new and learned how toxic our need for possessions is

By Assya Barrette

When Barrette’s father died, she took stock of her life and realized that her things were weighing her down. In a quietly moving essay she explains why she stopped buying stuff and a few of the powerful lessons she learned from the experience.

How successful people work less—and get more done

By Travis Bradberry

We are always trying to figure out how to get more done, and do things better. Bradberry’s observations on the habits of successful people boil down this evergreen topic in an accessible way.

Autonomous cars will destroy millions of jobs and reshape the US economy by 2025

By Zack Kanter

A peak around the corner and into a future where 90% of car crashes stop occurring, thousands of people who would otherwise be dead go on living, and a radical restructuring of our environment causes a global sea-change everyone on the planet will have to contend with.

How I discovered a coffee pot was making my patient sick

By Victoria Maizes

A medical whodunnit no bot would have been able to solve. As our environments grow increasingly complex, even simple tools like plastic coffeemakers can be at the root of serious ailments.

A tumor stole every memory I had. This is what happened when it all came back

By Demetri Kofinas

“I became the man who remembered events I had never experienced, due to my amnesia. The man who forgot which member of his family had died while he was sick, only to have that memory, like hundreds of others, come flooding back. The memories came back out of order, with flashbacks mystically presenting themselves in ways that left me both excited and frightened. With my health back, I was able to live a life again, but it’s not the same life as it was before. The tumor changed me forever. And I am grateful for it.”