Just

My crutch word is officially "just" ("few" is a big one too.) It's pretty interesting that they're both diminuitives - probably says quite a bit about my confidence in my writing. I'm in the process of taking all of my past work (radio, magazine, writing) and putting it up here. It's going to take a while to get over the embarassment and be clear on what I think best showcases my evolution as a writer. Thank goodness for backdating. Here's to killing all the 'justs' in the next few years!

Translation as transmutation

Essay on archiving

"You can't grasp your legacy when alive, and it makes no difference in death. What if I leave behind no record? What if I let every day vanish? If I don't archive anything, am I free to change?"

Tavi is going to really enjoy university if she goes. She's certainly got the mind and communications skills to dig really deep into our culture - and will have that mind past university, past whatever she chooses to do. She doesn't just posses intelligence: she exercises it out loud. I can't wait for her essays in 15 years' time.

Is that weird? I feel like, lurking on her blog for so long, we've all watched her grow up and now we're watching her internal growth spin out these introspective, abstract, rambling gems pulled from all over. In some senses they're just derivative, but 'just' in the way almost all human thought has been throughout our history. Montaigne and Benjamin and Kierkegard would especially approve, and my own connection there to them (they are my favourites; I started reading her blog in 2008, during FYP,) serves only to illustrate that I'm on my own derivative pathway, documenting my thoughts not nearly so well.

Regression

Ryan Holiday wrote an incisive piece on Medium about the death of Google Reader. This part, comparing Yellow Journalism to the way RSS feeders died in favor of push broadcast/ad-driven practices, really rings true for me:

The lack of “subscription”—in any form—creates what I termed the "One Off Problem” in my book Trust Me I’m Lying. In the desperate daily fight for traffic, every online article and headline has to compete for attention against the many millions of other headlines out there—whether it's on Google News or our Facebook feeds. And it was this exact kind of endless shouting to be heard a century ago (in that case, by newsboys on street corners) that defined yellow journalism and caused its many tragedies.

So often in J-school yellow journalism was pointed out as an era that was dead and gone, something that we could compare ourselves to, to show how much more special and advanced we were. I worry that this attitude leaves us doomed to repeat history, and simultaneously that most editors aren't prepared to produce content that can stand up to the melee - they're still producing as if context in a print layout and hierarchy is the only context they'll have to deal with. Homepages are treated as the equivalent layout when most people just aren't consuming content that way. Analytics of how people actually use the site help, but often are relegated to an "IT" concern, not an editorial issue, and it's a tool that journalists aren't often taught how to use.

On the bright side, this piece offers a clear manifesto in the other direction:

An editor or writer who gets to file her copy into the system and forget about is an editor who is being alienated, in the most Marxist possible way, from the fruits of their labor. That journalist has lost contact with his or her consumer. Editors need to help craft the way their content gets presented to their readers. They themselves don’t have to be designers, coders or even, strictly speaking, ticket-moving product managers. They do need to have a seat at the same table as those other people, and explain the way their content will be most valuable, come to consensus, and then work with those other colleagues to help spec out, design, build and release the code that can bring that value to the reader.

The element left out of all of this is the reality that we've yet to monetize the free subscription model that RSS promoted, and that tension is harmful to how organizations think of subscriptions. Good content needs funding and they don't know how to fund it yet with one catch-all reader eliminating the usual money channels.

Paying to eliminate the noise - paid subscriptions - may yet work, but I've yet to see a reader where paid subscriptions could sit next to free blogs.

As someone who buys print magazine subscriptions and then totally ignores the 'digital' version because online time is for my feeds, I know that would encourage me to buy and spend time with all of my news in one place. The New York Times and New Yorker would automatically be things I'd pay for to see in my feeds, and a bunch of other sites - I'd love to get National Geographic, longform pieces from Esquire and GQ, extras from the Economist and FP. Somewhere between Apple's Newsstand and Google Reader might be a solution for me. I hope I'm not alone. Anyone up for a startup?

Open & Underwater

Rhye's Open   on repeat tonight. Again and again and again, and then Ryan's remix (of course Ryan already did a remix) just to pick me up, change it up.

No idea if the video is official, the 'official' video was posted a year ago and this is barely a month old. Nevermind, it's gorgeous. 

I want to add in all of this to an old mix, from the end of summer. A bit of offbeat calm in a rather turbulent, weird time.

Trite vs. tradition

Kevin Nguyen makes a stab at some interesting points over on Bygone Bureau, talking about the Harlem Shake meme as divorced from the actual Harlem Shake dance:

The internet has decentralized the influence of culture. This is good in many ways, but this extreme decentralization of cultural influence is susceptible to inaccuracy and insensitivity.

I feel like there's so much more to be said about this - how can a culture stake ownership over a meme? It's impractible at best. Should it even try?

How? By experts coming in and outlining history - problematic in itself - or by an emphasis on authenticity, which might drive more people to learn about the originating culture?

I don't think the question is whether it's offensive - that's too subjective, and requires an intermediary (media, experts) to make the decision that it is or isn't. The interesting question is who cares if it is? How can the cultures that are being borrowed from (and the people that are offended) assert themselves in such a fluid space as the web?