New Literacy
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Thursday, April 11, 2002

Don't let anyone fool you: "Hailstorm Down" is the most important tech story so far this year. A rare victory in a two-front war:

Microsoft Has Shelved Its Internet 'Persona' Service. Microsoft has quietly shelved a consumer information service that was once planned as the centerpiece of the company's foray into the market for tightly linked Web services. By John Markoff. [New York Times: Technology]

Even laughably inept direct marketers like American Express have limits to the amount of crap they will put their customers through.
11:19:03 PM    

Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Of course, I include myself as a member of the "uninformed weblog minions."
11:52:29 PM    

I swore I would refrain from "metacommentary," but this is too rich to pass up. To my mind, this is the quintessence of useless blogging:
NYTimes: Oprah Winfrey announced that she would no longer host monthly "book clubs" on her television talk show, saying that she could no longer find enough compelling books. A sad statement indeed [Adam Curry: Adam Curry's Weblog]

What just happened? A weblogger took an asinine bite from a media star at face value, providing a link to the Times story with token commentary. Where is the value in that?

The status of Oprah's book club is not a proxy for the health of American publishing. Her literary taste aside, there are dozens of books published every year that are good enough to merit discussion on her show. She is purposely casting a more selective net, for reasons the uninformed weblog minions can only speculate about.
10:51:52 PM    

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Just received my copy of The Atlas of Oregon, 2nd Ed. I could almost weep at the lyricism of it.

Apologies to Nicholson Baker, over there in the hamper.
10:55:07 PM    

The mere presence of BBEdit Lite on my iMac has convinced me to participate in the design world as a creator instead of the informed bystander I have played for so long. It's been many years since I coded HTML (in a long-forgotten app called HotDog), and that shows you where I'm starting.

10:47:14 PM    

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

To properly compare weblogs with other media, it is necessary to first benchmark what I read elsewhere. To wit:

I subscribe to (and regularly read) the following magazines: Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Utne Reader, Harper's, Smithsonian, Discover, Granta, World Press Review, Harvard Business Review, Broadcasting & Cable, Business Week, Business 2.0, Technology Review.

Given this reading list -- which does not include books, newspapers, other websites, mailing lists, reference materials, etc. -- how much time do I have to read weblogs? Not much. What value do they add? I have no way of knowing until I read them. So while Dave Winer and other champions of the medium argue for the contextual strength of the weblog community, I still need to invest hundreds of hours in parsing the stuff, just as I did while shaping my magazine list. You still have to read.

What are the chances of weblogs being materially better or more diverse than my publications? I don't know yet, and the opportunity cost for finding out is huge.
11:01:10 PM    

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Learning to use Mac OS X is a humbling experience, reminding you of all the things you might have become with this kind of tool: programmer, designer, writer, artist. Instead, I got an MBA.

11:54:30 PM    

The New Yorker has an excellent Malcolm Gladwell review concerning the enduring virtues of paper, where he discusses a few books which are (ostensibly) more scholarly versions of Nicholson Baker's polemic against a paperless world. I suppose other media will follow paper's lead and continue to serve the applications for which they are uniquely qualified; perhaps television will yet remain in a more pure state, beyond the grasp of interactivity's sundry acronyms (pace TiVo, which is a fundamentally great tool).
12:51:40 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2002 Bo Brock.
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