Thursday, January 29, 2009

Biggeidea Now Available in Inconvenient Tweet Format

I'm giving Twitter a stab, but suspect I'm not the target audience for said service. (link). I'm listed as private, which can only hurt me.

Also, I'm not yet in the tumblr habit, so don't get all anxious about that particular information delivery system.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Take a Tumblr With Me

I'm going to move link-only material to tumblr as a time-saving move. Less analysis, but hopefully more updates on tumblr. Slightly longer and hopefully more thoughtful material will remain on this blog.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Dufferin subway shark cage attendant for being nice to me yesterday. That has to be an incredibly thankless job, and she was very courteous about the lack of one-week passes.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Peter’s Rules

I’ve written for Peter Scowen, both when he was at the National Post (Toronto Section), and at the Star (Sunday Ideas). I like him very much. However, I suspect his heart and soul is not in this video.

I also find his enunciation and delivery uncomfortably close to Steve Brule, of Brule’s Rules fame.

I’m not picking on him. I have a point here. I don’t think it’s right to expect that writers and editors should also be good at video. I’m certainly not brilliant in front of a camera. Either give newspaper people the right training, or don’t bother with a video at all. This messy middle option is no good for anyone.

I hope the Globe’s new fancy online books section works out, although I can’t say the Globe’s website has ever appealed to me. Anyone remember the good old days when the Globe’s site would crash if you tried to load it on a Mac?


Excuse me while I reminisce about my iMac and 56K dial-up days.

Attention Detail Good

I got a subscription to Fast Company last year. Having now spent some time with the magazine, my review is: okay at best. Wired at its worst is more compelling than Fast Company at top speed. (Charles Fishman’s articles for FC are nothing short of brilliant, however.)

What signals to me that the magazine is not about innovation and risk-taking is the title of a recent “Made to Stick” column by two trendologists. The column is about slogans. The title of the piece is “Kill the Slogans Dead.”

What an uncreative, wimpy, focused-group splash of dishwater. The Raid slogan, as you might remember, is “Kills Bugs Dead.” Apparently this is ungrammatical, but so is “Think Different.”

If words are your business, have the bravery to write Kill Slogans Dead. That “the” sounds to me like every out-of-touch oldster who says “I love The Pavements new album.” Removing “the” says your readership is smart. Inserting it says you’re as tone-deaf as the companies that sloganeer unnecessarily, as per the column complaint itself.


I'll Show You the Life of the MindTube

In his December 24, 2007 New Yorker article Twilight of the Books, Caleb Crain (an N+1er) wrote something that has stuck with me:

It is easy to notice inconsistencies in two written accounts placed side by side. With text, it is even easy to keep track of differing levels of authority behind different pieces of information. The trust that a reader grants to the New York Times, for example, may vary sentence by sentence. A comparison of two video reports, on the other hand, is cumbersome. Forced to choose between conflicting stories on television, the viewer falls back on hunches, or on what he believed before he started watching. Like the peasants studied by Luria, he thinks in terms of situations and story lines rather than abstractions.


I haven’t had time to think of a counter-argument to this, but it feels as though Clive Thompson touches on this problem in his January 2009 Wired column on YouTube:

A bigger leap will occur when we get better tools for archiving and searching video. Then we'll start using it the way we use paper or word processing: to take notes or mull over a problem, like Tom Cruise flipping through scenes at the beginning of Minority Report. We think of video as a way to communicate with others—but it's becoming a way to communicate with ourselves.


I’m not sure if he’s completely right, but my hope is that if students now entering university are less inclined to read, their fluency in other mediums will compensate for this to a certain degree. I’d like to see a compelling argument that says certain modes of thought that we associate with reading might be able to reproduced through video. I’m not entirely convinced of this (for example, I consider Everything Bad is Good for You pure shite) but being optimistic about YouThink is more helpful than my preset of ‘the world is dumbifying.’

Zut!! Frites Alor!!

A moment of pity and compassion for poor Joanne Kates, who has suffered terribly from tuber-culosis, two weeks in a row. Who knew that being a restaurant critic could be so debilitating? I hope she’s able to overcome these two potato-related traumas and find a way, somehow, to continue eating $150 dinners for two.

Jan 10, 2009: “House frites are fab - sweet, crisp and fresh - but no mayo is proffered for dipping.”

Jan 3, 2009: “If so, the AGO had better hope for a lot of tourist trade. Perhaps they will not notice how dry and bland are the salt cod fritters, or that the frites with the mussels are overcooked and somewhat hard.”

(Both quotes from the respective Saturday Globe and Mails).