3.21.2010 New York Times Digest

1. “Texts Without Context”

“These new books share a concern with how digital media are reshaping our political and social landscape, molding art and entertainment, even affecting the methodology of scholarship and research. They examine the consequences of the fragmentation of data that the Web produces, as news articles, novels and record albums are broken down into bits and bytes; the growing emphasis on immediacy and real-time responses; the rising tide of data and information that permeates our lives; and the emphasis that blogging and partisan political Web sites place on subjectivity.”

2. “Pop History Revealed! Doing Splits!”

“Years later the producer Rick Rubin would describe this same appearance as possibly ‘the single greatest rock ’n’ roll performance ever captured on film.'”

3. “A Supersized Custody Battle Over Marvel Superheroes”

“So-called branded entertainment — anything based on superheroes, comic strips, TV cartoons or classic toys — may be easier to sell to audiences, but the intellectual property may also ultimately belong in full or in part to others.”

4. “Just Give Him 5 Sentences, Not War and Peace

“They should teach students how to communicate in five-sentence e-mails and with 10-slide PowerPoint presentations. If they just taught every student that, American business would be much better off.”

5. “In Texas Curriculum Fight, Identity Politics Leans Right”

“After so many years of increasingly bitter polarization, Americans stand on the brink of a collective identity crisis and no longer share a set of common ideas about the true character of the country and the true meaning of democracy.”

6. “At Close Range”

“We envy his powers of description, the way he transforms technically complex subjects into something readers can hold in their hand and examine at close range. And, perhaps above all else, we marvel at the pains he takes with structure, approaching his subject from oblique angles, slowly building tension, sometimes seeming to wander, but always propelling his narratives forward.”

7. “How to Be Brilliant”

“Shenk tells us about Beethoven writing 60 to 70 drafts of a single phrase of music, and Ted Williams hitting practice pitches until his hands bled. Shenk would be the last to argue that such fierce dedication is ‘inborn’ or ‘innate’ — but if it isn’t, are the rest of us all equally capable of mustering it?”

8. “Beep!”

“Everything beeps. E-mail beeps. Text messages. Trucks in reverse. Hospital monitors. Spaceships on TV. Call waiting. Stoves, dashboards, cameras, clocks. Coffee machines. Dishwashers. Elevators. Toys. Robots. Toy robots.”

One response to “3.21.2010 New York Times Digest

  1. Just got Shenk’s book for my birthday…looking forward to reading it–thanks for the excerpt here!


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