Weekend Reading

Friends, I can’t lie: Between tomorrow’s iPad release and that evening’s show by The Hold Steady, my fanboy gauge is on the verge of redlining. (No, I’m not getting an iPad just yet. Not from any wait-and-see skepticism, but because the next couple of weeks are crazy, and I can’t get lost in a new interface. Definitely going to the concert, though!)

Here’re the links:

  • Dan O’Sullivan, “An Encyclopedia for the Times: Thoughts on Wikipedia from a Historical Perspective“: The NPOV is at the root of the problem, combined with majority decision making. These lead to a consensus which is very limiting. It doesn’t allow you to see different voices and result in an article that sounds very sterile and boring. It would be much more interesting when dealing with a controversial topic if they could take different points of view and give them one ofter one another instead of aiming to achieve an uninteresting consensus. That would be a very radical project. We can argue, based on this that, Wikipedia is very radical except for all the articles. (via Heather Prescott on delicious)
  • Notes from a SXSW panel called “Maps, Books, Spimes, Paper: Post-Digital Media Design“: As I translated between these different formats – taking information from the web, structuring it and formatting it for print – I realised that what I was doing was wrangling this information not only into a different physical format, but a different temporal, or time-based, one.

    These artefacts occupy not only space, but time. Different media occupy different times: the traditional newspaper lasts a day, and the internet is rapidly becoming the medium of “forever”. We used to think books were the forever medium, but the fieldnotes were designed expressly to last a week.

  • Friend of ProfHacker Boone Gorges has posted video and a transcript of his talk, “Teaching on the Coattails of Text Messages,” which is *really* about the important structural similarities between social media like blogs and Twitter (their openness, their relative lack of imposed structure, their focus on audience and emergent conventions, their positioning of the individual as the locus of value and meaning) and the kind of general education that we’re seeking during this year of gen ed reform at QC.
  • I wasn’t going to post anything else iPad-related until I have one to, you know, use, but there is a general Steven Johnson exception: Advances in technology will give us plenty of headroom with other kinds of data: streaming real-time video, conjuring virtual spaces, exploring real-world environments with geocoded data, modeling complex systems like weather. But in the tablet world, textual innovation will not come from faster chips or wireless networks. Incremental improvements will continue, to be sure, but there will be a steady decrease in radical new ways we interact with text. (Bonus: My interview with Johnson from back in the day.)
  • Sven Birkets on “Reading in a Digital Age“: What does the novel leave us after it has concluded, resolved its tensions, given us its particular exercise? I always liked Ortega y Gasset’s epigram that “culture is what remains after we’ve forgotten everything we’ve read.” We shouldn’t let the epigrammatical neatness obscure the deeper truth: that there is something over and above the so-called contents of a work that is not only of some value, but that may constitute culture itself.

And a video, this week gamma-enhanced with extra awesomeness. Called “Po Mo Knock Knock,” it’s a movie of postmodernist (in both style and content) knock-knock jokes, made by Greg “Planet Hulk” Pak. You’re welcome:

Image of Craig Finn by me. / Creative Commons licensed.

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