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Can Livestream Shopping Cure the Holiday Gifting Blues?

Hi, welcome to the Weekend.

It might seem against the holiday spirit to say so, but does anyone really love gift-shopping these days? Even pre-pandemic, it was a stress-inducing affair, loaded with decision fatigue, toy-of-the-year FOMO and ghosts of bad presents past.

Into this consumerist minefield has stumbled a strange new entrant: livestream shopping. In this week’s issue, writer Janet Ozzard plunges into the wild, wacky world of livestream shopping on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms, and emerges with as many questions as holiday presents.  

Ozzard is a longtime market reporter and editor who previously ran DailyCandy, founded New York magazine’s Strategist, and ran the fashion desk at Style𛲔com.  She has shopped seven ways to Sunday. So if she’s baffled by the value proposition of the livestream shopping sites, you can bet many others will be too.

Until the livestreamers land on a formula that works, we’ll stick with the tried and true: Scouring lists like the one The Information team has curated below, and then buying everything online.

The Information’s Top Tech-Adjacent Gifts for 2021

Sure, you could buy everybody on your list an NFT. Or blow $3,500 on a glorified paper weight beloved by crypto bros everywhere: the Tungsten Cube. But may we suggest something a little more...useful? Here, we present 10 tech-friendly gifts our journalists and staffers have bought, tested and loved this year. 

Should You Start Hiding Your Children’s Faces on Social Media?

In the first installment of Parentverse, TI Weekend’s new advice column for tech-savvy parents, Emily Dreyfuss tackles a burning question of the moment: Is it still okay to share pictures of our offspring on the Internet? 

Livestream Shopping Is a Messy, Maddening Experience (for Now)

New offerings from Pinterest, Instagram and others are bringing the pushy consumerism of QVC to a new generation. Do they actually make shopping easier, cheaper, more convenient or more fun? Ehhh...

The Endorsement

Jessica Lessin, founder of The Information, on Katie Courics Going There:

When I heard Katie Couric was writing a memoir, I knew I would read it. It's catnip for newswomen in leadership like myself. But what I didn’t expect was how much I would actually like it. The details about the people Couric clashed with (everyone from CBS’s Jeff Fager to her one-time close friend Jeff Zucker to former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer) were jarring in their honesty. So was her turmoil over her relationship with fallen-from-grace co-host, Matt Lauer. Her own reflections on how the press covered her were some of my favorite parts. Celebrities so often whine about how they are portrayed, but true to Couric’s journalist roots, she was far more balanced. The memoir made me admire Couric even more—read it with an open mind, and you will too. 

Reading: The joy of getting indescribably lost
The New Yorker brings us news of the newest trend in luxury vacationing, custom-made for the tech set: Being Dumped in the Middle of Nowhere. For upwards of $15,000 per person, a travel company called Black Tomato creates bespoke experiences that are equal parts “White Lotus” and “Westworld.” Travelers have no clue where they’re going until moments before departure—it could be a trip to the Mongolian steppe, or the jungles of Costa Rica or, in the case of author Ed Caesar, a mountainous section of Morocco “that most Moroccans don’t know.” You’re given maps, food, gear and simple survival tips, then sent off for a few days of rugged isolation. For some, this sounds like a waking nightmare; for others, “like a very pleasant kidnapping”—an adventure with unbeatable bragging rights. 

Watching: The trailer for “Inventing Anna”
Everyone’s favorite grifter is reimagined by Shonda Rhimes in Netflix’s upcoming series, “Inventing Anna.” The show stars “Ozark” scene-chewer Julia Garner as Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey), the real-life con artist who fooled most of New York by pretending to be a wealthy German heiress and socialite when in actuality she is the Russian-born daughter of a truck driver. Though the series won’t be out until February, watch the trailer now and refresh your memory with the New York magazine story by Jessica Pressler that’s behind the series.   

Listening: Spotify’s audio snapshot of your year
Get ready for your Instagram and Twitter feeds to be flooded with friends touting that they, too, were in the top 1% of Taylor Swift listeners this year. The app’s beloved “Wrapped” feature, where listeners find out the breakdown of their 2021 in songs and podcasts, historically returns the first week of December, so you can expect to see it soon. However, the Wrapped cutoff was October 31, so now’s the time to listen to all of your favorite guilty pleasures (cue Lil Nas X).

Makes You Think

Late-stage capitalism at its best or worst? We’ll let you decide.

Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.


Jon Steinberg is the Weekend Editor at The Information. He is a former editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine and senior editor at New York magazine, where his work won many National Magazine Awards.
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