Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, March 19, 2009


One of the really cool things about the Internet is that if you wait long enough someone else will say all the things you wanted to say and will thereby relieve you of the responsibility to say them.

I suggested recently that I might have some comments about Clay Shirky’s essay on the present and future of newspapers, but I think I’ll just forward you to Steven Johnson, who thinks, as he invariably does, that everything is going to be hunky-dory: “there is going to be more content, not less; more information, more analysis, more precision, a wider range of niches covered . . . the venerable tradition of the muckraking journalist will be alive and well ten years from: partially supported by newspapers and magazines, partially by non-profit foundations and innovative programs like Newassignment.net, and partially by enterprising bloggers who make a name for themselves by breaking important stories."

But also see David Simon of The Wire fame, who — with his beloved Baltimore Sun having cut back its local reporting to the nub — recently tried to track down some information about a Baltimore policewoman who shot an unarmed man: “Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger trying to find out McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of the spin or omission.”

Shirky compares the informational landscape in these last days of the newspaper to the informational landscape in the first days of the printing press; for a different but equally interesting comparison, see this look at the rise of he Internet in relation to the rise, a hundred and fifty years ago, of the telegraph. Here’s a rich related article from Make magazine.

On a very different topic, here is, I hope, my last go-around for a while on the Kindle and its ilk: John Siracusa has a good overview of e-reading here, and the single best account of the usability plusses and minuses of the Kindle, the best by a long shot, is by Jakob Nielsen.

Happy reading, everybody!


Post a Comment

[Basic HTML tags can be used in this comment field.]