The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

Snarkmarket Holiday Book Recommendation
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Briefly: Yes, I agree: Read David Markson’s “The Last Novel.” It’s slim; it’s inventive in form but timeless in spirit; and it will shake you up.

What’s your recommendation? Stipulation: You only get one! (But you can tell us the runners-up if you want.)

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Kindle
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It’s sort of amazing how the blogosphere has completely inspected and chewed up the Kindle in like eight hours. Done and done.

Tim has a great round-up of links which is worth clicking through. I generally agree with the consensus (“Not shiny! So expensive. Why closed?”) but I do think people ought to wait to touch one before completely writing it off. However bad the Kindle is, the Sony Reader was and is ten times as bad, and yet, when I actually held one, and flipped a page… I was intrigued. E-Ink displays are unlike anything else; it’s almost unsettling to see what you know is digital information rendered absolutely matte, just like a piece of paper. I think it’d be a trip to see a web page on a display like that.

And that indicates where I part ways with Tim, who thinks Apple could make the device that beats Kindle and its kin. Here’s my thing: I think the real revolution is going to be electronic paper — or at least electronic cardboard. That is: a display that’s kinda flexible, and matte, and cheap, and connected to the internet — but without much style or content of its own. Maybe it’s still five years away; but when it comes, I don’t think Apple’s going to make it. It’s just not… shiny enough, you know?

Also: The thing that’s really potentially interesting about all this stuff is that, per if:book, our very notion of the book could change: finding one gets faster, reading one gets more social, writing one gets… weird. This seems to be what got Stephen Levy excited in his Newsweek piece. But it also seems that, barring big changes, Kindle abdicates most of that, because it’s a closed system. Boo.

(This is a placeholder for the awesome Kindle post I am going to write tonight. In the meantime let Tim and Umair get you started.)

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Snarkmatrix London
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Never done this before on this blog: Any readers/pals in London? I’ll be there Thursday through Sunday. Drop me a line (robin at snarkmarket) or leave a comment.

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192021
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More city stuff: a big, global project on the city-state-centric 21st century led by Richard Saul Wurman, who did the terrific Understanding USA book.

That might actually be the best-executed Flash site I have ever seen — no exaggeration.

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West Siiiide!
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David from Ironic Sans snapped some pretty wonderful shots of kids in his Upper West Side building on Halloween.

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Universal Computing in Two States and Three Colors
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As previously noted, I couldn’t hack Stephen Wolfram’s big book but I like his way of thinking. This new post from his blog is fun and fascinating. It’s about a 20-year-old kid who met a challenge Wolfram set out earlier this year — with a $25,000 reward attached. Good (if esoteric) reading.

The general concept of “discovering” solutions vs. engineering them seems fairly profound, yeah?

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Short Schrift on Sasha
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Hot diggity. Sasha Frere-Jones writes a whizbanger of an article about indie rock’s racial influences, then Tim Carmody blows it out of the water. I adore dialogues like this. Read ’em both!

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Musical Genre Name Generator
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If you’re a music critic, you’re constantly searching for combinations of terms to describe the flavor-of-the-moment in a novel but legitimate fashion (e.g. “metal-queer,” “mumble-core”). I’ve made it easy for you. Presenting the Musical Genre Name Generator™. After you generate your new musical genre, you can click the term to search Google to see how original you are. (By the way, this won’t work in the RSS feed.)

Click button to create your musical term

Clearly, this is a statement on how nothing’s original anymore; everything’s been done. Even the Musical Genre Name Generator™.

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The Word 'Aubade' Is Way, Way Underutilized
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A lovely poem in the New Yorker.

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Pretty Ladies
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Humor me a moment here. Sarah Silverman and Ann Coulter share an obvious similarity: they each make a rather nice living saying things that would be unspeakable if they were not attractive Caucasian women, veiling their statements beneath a gossamer cloak of irony. I’m kind of tying my brain in knots trying to figure out whether they don’t actually share the exact same appeal for our culture. It seems any statement I could imagine applying to one — “Well, clearly she doesn’t actually believe the things she says; she’s playing a character” — applies to the other just as nicely. Or is patently untrue in both cases — e.g. “No one believes what she says; people understand she’s just joking.”

Sure, many people who adore Silverman would say they revile Coulter. But the grip she holds on even their attention seems to belie that — if Coulter were a man, she’d be Fred Phelps, ridiculous enough for them to gawk at once in a while, but not a fixture of the talk-show circuit. Certainly not a bestselling author. If we get right down to it, mightn’t we perversely enjoy the maniacal utterings of Ann Coulter as much as we do Sarah Silverman’s shtick? You can almost imagine either woman on stage, grinning flirtily, and saying, “Six imams removed from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix are calling on Muslims to boycott the airline. If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.”

Reading that line, though — which is Coulter’s — maybe it’s all just a matter of wit. ‘Cause actually, I can’t imagine Silverman saying it, not just like that, at any rate. Silverman’s lines are constructed, Coulter’s lines are merely dropped. Coulter might say a lot of over-the-line stuff about high pregnancy rates among young black women, but she doesn’t have the art or the timing to craft the line, “The best time to have a baby is when you’re a black teenager.” Coulter gets attention merely for saying the incendiary, Silverman’s principle skill is drawing her audience out for several lengthy seconds, trying to figure out how she’s going to end her sentence, then delivering a punchline that’s offensive in the most delightful, unexpected way.

But is that all that distinguishes the two? Wit? Really? I’m missing something obvious, aren’t I?

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