“I sit down to write, praying that I can sustain attention long enough to complete a paragraph. I compose half a sentence, type in a word or two that might push the thing to the finish, crave a break from the exhausting demands of syntax, click-click, and I’m at my home page, and I click my way to my e-mail. Maybe the editor says yes or there’s an invitation from someone to contribute or lecture or just some person who loves my book and is writing to say so or maybe a friend asking for lunch, anything to tweak my ego, desperate-needy, or give me something to think about other than the next phrase or clause, and as usual, nothing, not one goddamn thing. ‘Is my college’s server down?’ I wonder; ‘it’s been thirty minutes since I’ve gotten an email, for fuck’s sake; surely the silence shouldn’t be so long,’ and I soar, cursor-wise, up to bookmarks, go to sportsillustrated.com, must get the latest on LeBron James, same info as last time, ten minutes ago, and so click to Facebook, no message or friend request, so check out what George from my high school is doing, oh, having a second cup of coffee, and now there’s Valerie from the neighborhood posting another article on the mistreatment of otters (I just checked my e-mail right now, this minute, tenth time in the past five minutes), and I’ve got to get back to the writing, but one more—click-click—over the New York Times page.”
—Eric G. Wilson, Keep It Fake: Inventing an Authentic Life
Colored woodcut, “An illustration of writing brushes.” (Kokushi Daijiten, 1868) via NYPL Wire.
Photograph by Terry Stevenson to accompany a George Nelson article about writing instruments (PDF) in the April 1973 issue of Harper’s.
Yesterday morning, Google formally announced their cloud storage service Google Drive.
Yesterday evening, Merlin Mann quipped:
“Web philosophy is an idiom devoid of objective, impersonal thinking. In 2008, the Columbia Review of Journalism interviewed a man named Clay Shirky about the pitfalls of modern Luddism and the meaning of information overload. Shirky teaches interactive telecommunications at NYU and wrote a book about social media called Here Comes Everybody. In the CRJ interview, Shirky said things like ‘I’m just so impatient with the argument that the world should be slowed down to help people who aren’t smart enough to understand what’s going on.’ This is the message net-obsessed people always deliever; the condescending phrase most uttered by frothing New Media advocates is ‘You just don’t get it.’ The truth of the matter is that Clay Shirky must argue that the Internet is having a positive effect – it’s the only reason he’s publicly essential. Prior to 1996, no one wanted to interview Clay Shirky about anything.”
—Chuck Klosterman, “Fail”
“To start announcing your own preferences for old values when your world is collapsing and everything is changing at a furious pitch: this is not the act of a serious person. It is frivolous, fatuous. If you were to knock on the door of one of these critics and say ‘Sir, there are flames leaping out of your roof, your house is burning,’ under these conditions he would then say to you, ‘That’s a very interesting point of view. Personally, I couldn’t disagree with you more.’
“That’s all these critics are saying. Their house is burning and they’re saying, ‘Don’t you have any sense of values, simply telling people about fire when you should be thinking about the serious content, the noble works of the mind?’”
—Marshall McLuhan on his new media-phobic critics
(Via Jay Rosen.)
Cf. The Exact Opposite Is True