As I told a coworker last week, I haven't seen this much hype in journalism circles since the iPad first came on the market.
As I told a coworker last week, I haven't seen this much hype in journalism circles since the iPad first came on the market.
Great. More ephemeral, locked-in tales of the 21st-century human condition; less and less thought given to futurity (aside from the future profit margins of Big Content).
Think Square can save us from ourselves?
A.k.a. time to step up your game, Arch Reactor. (I mean, congrats on your shiny new website.)
This may sound like a cheap shot, but in fact I'm genuinely curious:
We have "high-tech incubators"?
We may not have a tech industry to speak of, but one of our guys (RIP) coined the term blogosphere. Punching Kitty is like our very own Gawker. Part of Woot works here. The co-founder of Twitter started out here, too. The city's not exactly a hotbed of startups—but it could be.
Says the founder:
If I had time to talk to people at work, I'd pick up the phone or answer their emails. (OK, maybe I wouldn't pick up the phone. But still.) I don't need an even easier instant communication channel for "PR professionals" to abuse.
'Cause let's be honest: In the majority of cases, that's who would use this to contact me right now. My email address and phone number are posted out in the clear on the websites of both mags I edit, for anyone to use—and maybe one out of every 100 outside emails I get on a daily basis is from a real, live human being without a PR agenda. I know: Increasingly, even sending an entire email is too formal for many ordinary humans. But if perceived formality or inconvenience are problems for readers wishing to connect with me, alternate means of communication are already at their disposal that are both less formal and more convenient.
As much as I personally dislike using Twitter as an instant-messaging app, and inasmuch as PR blasts and SEO/social-media con artistry abound on that service, too, it certainly serves the needs of anyone connected enough to have access to a realtime iPhone connectivity app. Not only that, with Twitter, you're allowed to silently separate the conversational wheat from the chaff. The idea of giving PR hacks another conduit to demand attention in realtime, especially in the name of "media accountability" or "customer service," raises my hackles.
Also, maybe I'm missing something, but isn't this just going to be yet another social-media message notification funneled into writers' already choked inboxes? If not, what sort of system will be in place to ensure that writers respond? (And do we really want to set up systems that mandate writers' response to nonsense?) Or is this just another glorified Web 2.0 comm widget?
1. Why is the signup page's security certificate invalid?
2. Is this in fact the Arch Reactor Twitter account? Why so quiet?
3. Why did you decide to hold meetings on Tuesday nights? Ever heard of LOST or V?
But as I noted in the comments, the problem with Curtis' argument can be summed up in two words: data portability.
When files are just databases routed through apps, how do you ensure your data is backed up? What happens if a user-inaccessible database gets corrupted? Pulling everything from databases and manipulating it in-app is great from a design standpoint, but not from a portability standpoint. That approach divorces people from their content and makes them (even more) reliant upon designers to anticipate their needs.
Also, contrary to the multistep process for dealing with files Curtis outlines, with current Windows or Apple computers, all a user really needs to locate is the file; double-click it and it'll (usually) open in the correct app. Right-click and you can see the apps the operating system suggests for it. Drag it to Dropbox or a flash drive and you have a copy. None of those things are terribly difficult.
Facebook entirely deleted my interests this morning. I guess I wasn't moving fast enough for them in transitioning to the new interests-linked-to-Pages system, as I'd been clicking away from the transition page for a few days—'cause I'd been too busy to go through and basically curate a collection of links to Pages for things I'm interested in and/or opt out by copy-pasting my interests over to another field. I had a lot of little things on there—quotes, lists, etc.—and I was trying to decide what to do with it.
So this morning, I finally decided to sit down and deal with the transition—only to find that all of my carefully collected data in that field was gone, gone, gone.
The most ridiculous thing? My fiancé, because he never logs in to Facebook, still has all of his interests and other data completely intact. The system only deleted my data when I decided to comply with its electronic demands for an update.
So you know what? Fuck that shit. I'm still me and my interests are still my interests, but it really upset me to see a collection of data I'd been building on there since 2004 just wiped out.
Basically the only thing left on my profile now is the following:
[via Boing Boing]
Sadly, that's exactly what so much of political reporting is these days: Asking the big guys what they think about the other big guys' (and occasional gals') performance, rather than their merits. Which, among other things, is just way too meta. "How do you think [he or she] came off at [his or her] [X] appearance?" "Do you think [he or she] contradicted [him- or herself] when [he or she] said Y?" These questions are so unnecessarily granular, a way to bury us in details at the expense of the big picture. And I suppose, looking again at the bottom line, a way to keep writers getting paid for churning out minuscule little tidbits.
Is all of this "industry" worth it?
That's the subtext of this blog post, which I wrote the night of the 2008 vice-presidential debate. Amid a crowd of microphone- and recorder-wielding professional reporters asking former New York mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani his thoughts on how Sarah Palin had come across in the debate, I'd played my part, wearing a little red blazer and wielding my own little recorder, and gently pushed my way to the middle of the scrum. Then I'd asked what I was later told was a "bush league" question:
It was a gotcha question, to be sure. An artless question, a question lacking in strategy or timeliness. It was all of those things—but it was also a question I genuinely wanted answered. I'd wracked my brain trying to think of something Giuliani could tell me about his support for Palin that I would actually be interested in hearing, and that was it.
He gave me the courtesy of a momentary pause to hear my question—then caught my eye for a moment, squinted balefully, and resumed his talking points. As he moved on, I stood still and let the crowd flow around me.
"These people...they'll need copy editors, won't they?"
Welcome, New York Times, to the reality I discovered five years ago.
In any case, my high-school rival had just been hired as a freelance theater critic. As he was leaving, I slid up next to a coworker and pointed him out. "Hey, remember how I told you about my high-school rival?" I whispered. "That's him. Everything I said about him was true."
I soon left the office to work from home for the rest of the day, or so I said. In reality, I went over to my old rival's parents' house, where he was staying for a time. I noticed my name on a to-do list with a checkmark next to it, written on a giant sheet of graph paper, and I said, "Hey, that's cool—I've been writing my to-do list on graph paper, too!" (In this future, I had been.) We talked for a bit; then my brother came by, and I experienced a momentary problem of audience, as I'd wanted to talk to each of them separately.
Nonetheless, I ended up talking to both of them, and it's what they agreed on that's important: I needed a new job, one that wasn't just slave labor for someone else's interests. I needed to follow my original, true purpose, and do something greater with my life.
"Yes," I said. "I know. But it's difficult, you know? It's not as easy as you make it sound, especially not to find a new job in my field at this time."
Then I had to leave; my ship had to travel a very specific route to get back to the state we'd arrived from, as it was sort of a pirate vessel, in that we were deliberately bending the rules of interstate commerce to get to where we were going. You couldn't go through certain states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas) in the wrong order, and none of them could be your final destination, else your flight lost its free, unquestioned status. The pilots were vets and knew what they were doing; it was a little like redeeming box tops for rebates or something, you had to follow all the rules just right. So we got going...
...and then I was in a warehouse, with many white-painted steel fire stairs going up and down and boxes of old notecards and things everywhere—such was the current state of the ol' college newspaper office. I saw some old art-notecards addressed to me, complimenting me on a job well done in some distant epoch.
My mother and I were going to go shopping among some pallets of pirated cheap movies that had arrived there, but the guy wanted to sell us a Blu-ray disc for $35; when we balked, he pulled the plastic shrink-wrap flat and we saw it was actually marked $65. Then I realized the whole thing was just a scam to get the most money possible for these discs, which were really worth maybe $5 at most. We moved on—
—and then I saw someone who shouldn't have been in that realm, resembling the character Devon Banks from 30 Rock, and I raced to catch up with him. I thought this warehouse was inescapable, but it turned out that a piece of colorfully chalked plywood, part of an old theater set by its appearance, was in fact an exit to this realm's "backstage." Those in the know could hold a mirror up to it at the correct angle and view the resulting image, which would resolve itself into wire frames against a black background—a portal. Only the bearer of the mirror could see into it at the proper angle to conjure the portal—but someone else, I thought, could grab on and be pulled through once it had opened. So I leaped after him as he sunk into the plywood—
—and reappeared on a nearby street, in the midst of a scrubby sort of winter, with a bit of snow on the ground; it looked a lot like the Grove looks right now. I walked through Girl Scout territory and flashed them all the three-finger honor sign to guarantee my safe passage; as in Sin City's Old Town, they were very careful about who walked their streets. When I came near the open door to a warehouse, a woman came up to ask whether I was there to pick up my son, and I tried to shake the fog from my head, because obviously, that's what I had to be there to do, pick him up on time. So I went in to get him—
—and then I was omniscient, thinking about the way people lived in this future. There were some stand-alone family homes, updated to run on the new fuel (my old rival's parents had gotten upset when they thought I'd left the furnace running too hot after cooking my meal) and reflect the new way of living, with multilevel floors and built-in carpeted lounge seating. But a lot of families lived like this one lesbian couple I knew, who had a little daughter about my son's age (3 to 4ish). They lived in what was known as a Gutièrre home, which was really just a garage door, perhaps surrounded by a decorative line of brick, set into the side of a warehouse. Inside was a ground-floor studio apartment, cold and subject to exhaust and ventilation problems. Families had almost no children's toys, or at least this one didn't, and they made all of their meals in the microwave. The meals stacked easily; an adult ration of pasta (supposedly pappardelle with cream sauce, peas, and mushrooms) was the same width and length as the child's ration, but twice as tall. This was their life, lived in what amounted to a dingy garage. Almost everyone lived that way...
I awoke with Blue Öyster Cult's "Shooting Shark" lingering in my head.
There is now a yellow, diamond-shaped "NOT A THROUGH STREET" sign affixed to a telephone pole just past the entrance to eastbound S. 14th Street (what little is left of it). This sign, unfortunately, is well above eye level even for passengers in a large pickup truck or SUV, as my brother and I discovered during our reconnaisance of the area last week.
But I suppose marginal progress has been made.