Josh Wardle: in Wordle he gave us unadulterated pleasure | Rebecca nicholson



NOTnot since Words With Friends, not since Draw Something, has online play spread with such vigor. Wordle, a short and sweet word game in which the player has six attempts to guess a five-letter word, hanged-man style, is everywhere, leaving grids speckled with green and yellow in its wake. It was created by software developer Josh Wardle, who wanted to come up with a game his crossword lover partner would like to play while on lockdown. Then he sent it to his family WhatsApp group and then he gave it to everyone.

Like many, I fell in love with her last week. When it was released to the public in November, 90 people played it, but now hundreds of thousands have participated. I failed to get my first one – for some reason I thought “tiler” was a better option than “tiger” – but got the most recent in three tries.

I have placed a lot of hope in Wordle, which may seem disproportionate for fast play, but listen to me carefully. These are not a time when good things are taken at face value. We are cynical, irritable and tired, and if there is a bad intention to be read in anything, someone will scratch it until they decide they have found it. For now, Wordle seems to exist outside of that. A new puzzle appears just once a day. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and in an attention economy built on the zombification potential of endless scrolling or clicking, it seems like a generous gesture. Scarcity makes it more desirable: you can’t get enough of something so shy and withdrawn. The website is ad-free, there are no paid updates, no chance of revealing an additional letter for money. When Wardle noticed that people liked to discuss their results, he added a feature for them to share their charts, hence the greens and yellows that proliferate on social media like algae in the heat.

That’s all we can say about it. It’s simple, fun, satisfying, and free. Even his name, a nod to Wardle, is charming; even its origins – the New York Times called him “a love story– describing it as a lockdown gift from Wardle to his partner – are incredibly sweet. I want to be bit cynical about Wordle, I want to be unsuspecting, because right now Wordle is suggesting that we can have nice things without breaking them.

Kim Kardashian: like her, I too despair of the fall of the BlackBerry

Kim Kardashian: it’s time to upgrade. Photograph: Gotham / GC Images

I got my BlackBerry for the Reading Festival in the mid-2000s. Another writer, also there for the NME, had suggested that this would be a game-changer: it meant you no longer had to run into a booth backstage to hastily type a review on a spare computer, if there was a spare; instead, you can just write as you watch, with frantic thumbs. This left more time to drink pints from plastic cups and try to get someone from Foals to pose for a photo with a fake mustache. (Reader, they refused.)

Much like the Reading Festival, I left the BlackBerry behind me a long time ago, like a relic of youth. Soon after, the iPhone arrived and swept the BlackBerry practicality aside, the touchscreen temptress is not ideal for typing anything at length, although in return it does offer the option to pretend your fingers were riding a skateboard or playing the piano. Looking back, this might be the time when it all started to go wrong.

Nonetheless, the BlackBerry persisted. My favorite medium was Kim Kardashian, who knows a thing or two about monetization platforms and maybe knew something we didn’t. She tweeted his despair when its BlackBerry Bold died in 2016. But it wasn’t until last week, January 4, 2022, after several agonizing gasps and a number of false alarms, that the BlackBerry finally eliminated this deadly coil, the company ending its support for its mobile devices, effectively killing most of them.

Is there a word for the specific wave of nostalgia that hails the passing of something that has long been obsolete?

Betty White: farewell, the latest and funniest Golden Girls

Betty Blanche
Betty White: a giant of the comedy. Photograph: Graham Whitby Boot / Allstar

I have always maintained that Golden girls is more muckier, funnier, and more lawless than most contemporary comedies could ever dream of being and I treasure my DVD box set as a watch of comfort, style inspiration and a plan for growing old. What a pleasure, then, to see people sharing their favorite scenes of Rose online, following the death of Betty White, the last surviving Golden Girl, who passed away at the age of 99, a few weeks before her 100th birthday.

Numerous tributes highlighted White’s impeccable comedic timing. It couldn’t have been easy playing Rose, the famous little girl, against Blanche’s sly wickedness, Dorothy’s austere wit, or Sophia’s fabulously straightforward ways, but White sailed on the comedy genius, her sweetness a perfect balance with all the acidity, a look from it enough to wow the audience.

You can’t help but wonder how White might have felt about People the latest issue of the magazine, which was printed before the sad news broke, and hit newsstands with her face on the cover and the festive declaration, “Betty White celebrates her 100th birthday! From a certain point of view, you could say that this sounds like one last punchline.

Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist



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