Robin Sloan's Posts
I love the sentiment in this short post from Russell Davies. Okay, it’s not even a post; more of a wave from across the street, or a high-five in passing:
I love blogging without tweeting about it. I know who I’m talking to — you lot who still do RSS. You’re my people.
(Yep, that’s the whole post. There’s also a picture.)
Google Reader is going away in a couple of weeks, but I just keep clicking its little link in my toolbar like a dope. I’ll ride it all the way to the end of the line. I have my stuff loaded into Feedly and I’m sure the new app will seem normal and natural in just a few months’ time.
It will dip and diminish, but will RSS ever go away? Nah. One of RSS’s weaknesses in its early days—its chaotic decentralized weirdness—has become, in its dotage, a surprising strength. RSS doesn’t route through a single leviathan’s servers. It lacks a kill switch. I’ve got 72 feeds now in my Reader (my… Feedly?), down from a peak of three hundred, and many seem pretty derelict. But who knows? As long as the URL resolves, a feed can still surprise you. RSS is the true web: a loose net of dark filaments. These faint tendrils of connection are almost invisible when quiescent, but then out of nowhere—hello!—they light up again. I am happy to have them.
Hello. Just checking to make sure WordPress is actually still up and running over here.
The core purpose of a great lecturer is not primarily to transmit information… The real purpose of a lecture is to show the mind and heart of the lecturer at work, and to engage the minds and hearts of learners.
A great lecture is not primarily about information—it’s about aspiration. The mark of a great lecture is that you watch the person up in the front of the hall work her way through a subject and think: I want to be like that someday…
INTERVIEWER Were you actually typing in the dark?
NICHOLSON BAKER: Yes. I had a couple different laptops because they were not all that dependable, and one of them had a slider bar. I could slide the screen brightness down to almost nothing, so I was sitting in complete darkness. The screen would have just the tiniest hint of phosphorescence and a faint crackle of static electricity. I thought, This is an option Dickens did not have.
This blows my mind:
In North America, some Muslims pray to the northeast, in the direction of the great-circle route (the shortest path along the planet’s surface) to Mecca, whereas others pray to the southeast.
From an article with a winking title: A sine on the road to Mecca.
If I was Muslim, I think I’d pray to the northeast. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s pretty amazing to imagine a prayer shooting out of your mind and blazing through the cold Arctic reaches on its way to the sweltering kaaba.
I haven’t been writing much here at Snarkmarket, but I do still lurk in the Old World. By which I mean of course: Google Reader. And what feeds there do I follow? Here are a few you might not know about. If you follow them, I guarantee your 2013 will be just a little bit more interesting:
- Kevin Slavin’s Fresser is consistently smart, weird, provocative. He’s a master of the tumblr aside, or tag-on, or whatever it’s called. Here’s a good example. He also posts the occasional glimpse into what is an interesting peripatetic life.
- I’ve mentioned M. John Harrison several times here before. Besides being one of the best fiction writers in any genre of the whole early 21st century, he’s somehow a virtuoso web writer, with a style all his own. His Ambiente Hotel is perhaps my single favorite feed. I think I find its opacity and misdirection refreshing in a world of web content that goes down a little too easy; that knows its analytics dashboard a little too well.
- I’m biased, but you know, my mom’s tumblr is really very good. Bits and pieces, words and images, all orbiting a few deep themes.
- I almost hate to give this one away, because it’s such a treasured gem: Trivium is an infrequently-updated blog about… what exactly? Super-serious computer science? Algorithms? Set theory, crazy math, a bit of art? All of those things. My advice: subscribe, and even if you don’t understand any of the links—seriously, like none at all—you will enjoy the atmosphere. And you might even begin to imagine yourself a philosopher-programmer, almost gnostic in your meditations…
- I have no idea how Noah Brier manages to post so much when he is simultaneously running a super-successful startup. Perhaps it’s just his startup’s content-selection algorithm posting on his behalf? Either way: there is just tons of consistently good stuff here, all at the nexus of media, technology, and culture.
- Matt Webb’s posts are rare but oh they are good. This is what RSS is for, these days: you set a snare, leave it, and trap for yourself the words you want to read most. Trust me, just subscribe and wait for the feed to turn bold. It might take a few months. It will be worth it.
What a great post by Valve’s Michael Abrash. The content is interesting: a brisk summary of the technical challenges that still need to be tackled if goggle-style virtual reality or augmented reality are going to work and be compelling. So is the style: it reads like an internal memo—a really good ones. It’s not dumbed-down, not smoothed over for public consumption. There is serious study and rigorous thinking on display here. I wish more organizations deigned to share this kind of writing with the public.
Charles McGrath interviews Philip Roth on the occasion of his retirement from fiction writing, and…
Nearby was an iPhone he had bought recently. “Why?” he said. “Because I’m free. Every morning I study a chapter in ‘iPhone for Dummies,’ and now I’m proficient. I haven’t read a word for two months. I pull this thing out and play with it.”
Godspeed, Philip Roth. I challenge you to a game of Letterpress.
Check out the hoop dancers in the background of this Nelly Furtado video:
And then check out one of the hoop dancers, world champion Tony Duncan, on his own. It’s like a magic show! I’m pretty sure he is passing those hoops directly through his limbs!
Circuitously via Kate Beaton.
Will this be my text for the Snarkmarket Seminar??