The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32
Anne Field § The booster pack / 2014-02-15 16:15:39
Josh Rubenoff § The booster pack / 2014-02-09 04:29:20
David Lang § The right flavor of fame / 2014-02-07 15:13:49
Robin § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 16:41:42
Navneet Alang § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 03:40:31
Sam M-B § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 03:32:35
Chris Baker § The booster pack / 2014-02-06 02:38:57
G Love § Conversation Media / 2014-01-30 07:26:22
Navneet Alang § Calculating the Weight of the Object / 2014-01-26 16:07:58

Bjork’s playlist
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Weird/great list of music (and a few YouTube links!) from Bjork, by way of Alex Ross. I’ve been adding the albums that are available on Rdio to my queue.

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The man and his map
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A few things in sequence:

First: Jason Shiga is one of the most incredible comic-book creators in the world, and probably the least-known relative to the magnitude of his talent. If you doubt me, go read Bookhunter:

The year is 1973. A priceless book has been stolen from the Oakland Public Library. A crack team of Bookhunters (a.k.a. library police) have less than three days to recover the stolen item…

LIBRARY POLICE!

As you’ll see, Shiga is one of those artists who takes simple forms—his people all look like potatoes, basically—and makes them come alive. But I’ll take Shiga’s super-kinetic ovoids over the static muscle-men of superhero comics any day. He’s like the Alice Waters of comic books: simple ingredients done exactly right.

Okay, now: Shiga’s terrific Choose Your Own Adventure-style comic Meanwhile has just been ported to the iPhone and iPad. I haven’t tried the iPad version yet, but the book is a brain-bending delight. It makes a great (unique) gift for someone who likes comic books and/or storytelling and/or, I don’t know, combinatorics.

Finally: Meanwhile has a crazy branching/looping narrative (with time travel, natch) but it’s still a comic book, so the panels all have to be laid out continuously in 2D space. I’m not even going to try to explain how this works in the physical book—it’s ingenious—but apparently, to figure it all out, Shiga drew… THIS:

Guys: this photograph is my new spirit animal.

I am not joking, not exaggerating, and definitely not being snarky. This is my new portrait of success: the creator standing smiling next to the map of his made-up world.

I can’t pile enough superlatives on Shiga. Do go check him out.

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Now that’s punctuation
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Could this clip from James Burke’s Connections be any more virtuoso? The language… the delivery… the long smooth dolly… and of course, the timing at the end:

Via BERG’s weeknote 366.

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The Keyframe Bias
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I love new metaphors for enduring experiences, and Jack Cheng’s got one with the keyframe bias. He’s chosen so well. The keyframe: a tool from hand-drawn animation now used in 3D animation and video compression and elsewhere too. The keyframe is the moment that matters most, the one that holds the most information. Time, experience, and memory are not spread evenly across the universe like cartoon peanut butter. They’re all lumpy—thin in some places, dense in others. The keyframe is the densest moment.

Go read Jack’s post—it’s terrific.

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Snark and bile and something worse
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When people complain about the relentless snark and bile of the internet, I never get it. Maybe I’ve just feathered too comfortable a nest for myself in Reader, on Twitter, and here on the Sesame Street of Snarkmarket. Whatever the case, the complaint just never rings true. It never corresponds to my actual experience of the internet.

Tonight, it does.

I’m not going to write about this at length, but I do want to make two small contributions to the conversation (mostly snarky, mostly bilious) about my former colleague Jim Romenesko, my first employer the Poynter Institute, and my friend Julie Moos. (Here’s the post that kicked it off, just in case you’re not already inside this particular filter bubble. None of this will make any sense if you don’t know the backstory.)

First: I like Choire Sicha’s thinking and writing a lot, but man was it hard to read this post. To my eye, it goes beyond criticism: Choire’s post is cruel. And so much of the Twitter pile-on, from so many people I admire, has been similarly cruel. It’s been painful to watch. And so, finally: I get it.

Second: I think it’s fair to summarize the public response to Poynter’s assessment of Jim’s editing as: “Are you kidding me? Nobody cared about that anyway!” There’s also a twist of: “You guys at Poynter over-intellectualize everything.” This is, I guess, an easy response, but it’s also an unsettling one in an era when we (read: the people who read Romenesko) criticize so many other institutions precisely for being opaque and thoughtless.

Listen: there is value in thinking through problems in a structured way. I read Julie’s post—the articulation of a considered, collective decision by many people at Poynter—and yep… I totally disagree with the conclusion. But I admire the clarity and transparency of the reasoning, and I wish we had more institutions working and writing this way. When they do, we ought to argue with them in good faith. I mean jeez, I swear I’m not reaching for false equivalency here… but don’t you think “nobody cared about that anyway” is easy to abuse? Don’t you think it’s been abused before?

Okay, that’s it.

I am, of course, deeply biased by my debt to Poynter and my friendship with Julie and many others there. Poynter was the first place I worked after college, and it’s the place where Matt and I sat in a little computer lab and cobbled together EPIC 2014.

But even so, I’d like to think I’m arguing something general and reasonable here. Simply put, it’s this:

  • YES to public reasoning rooted in real values.
  • NO to cruelty. NEVER to cruelty.

If it was all floating in from far away, just another toxic cloud from Mordor, I wouldn’t bother writing anything. But it’s not. It’s coming from people who read this RSS feed.

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