Monthly Archives: December 2004

Explosion of Literary Magazines

The New York Times says there has been an explosion of literary magazines, now more than 1,000.

"There are more literary magazines out there than ever, and it’s an
important part of the literary world’s unsung heroes," said Jeffrey
Lependorf, executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and
Presses, founded to help literary magazines compete in the marketplace.
"If you’re interested in experimental poetry there’s a journal for you.
If you’re interested in Southern culture, there’s a magazine for you."

Among the magazines the article mentions is flash fiction magazine Quick Fiction.

Flickr Fads

Salon talks about how Flickr enables "instant and unlikely  communities [to] spring up around a wild universe of images, from cats and grocery day to giving birth." The Flickr blog itself excerpted this passage from Salon:

What’s unique is that 82
percent of the pictures on the site are publicly available to anyone
who cares to look at them and riff off them. Members can keep
their photos private, shared only with a specified group of intimates,
but most choose not to, allowing the pictures of their cat or car to freely commingle with others. The result is a dynamic environment, prone to all sorts of instant fads,
created by members inspiring each other to go in new directions with
their cameras. It makes digital photography not only instantly
shareable, but immediately participatory, creating collaborative
communities around everything from the secret life of toys to what grocery day
looks like. The result is an only-on-the-Web conversation where text
and image are intermingled in a polyglot that has all the makings of a
new kind of conversation.

Yates Award Winner Announced

Dylan Landis has won the 2004 Richard Yates Short Story Award Competition, sponsored by literary magazine Night Train. Gina Frangello and A.C. Koch received honorable mentions. The competition was judged by Steve Almond.

Kessler Praises the iPod Economy

"You want a scapegoat for the dollar’s almost daily decline — the
Chinese water torture on the U.S. economy? I blame Steve Jobs," says Andy Kessler in today’s Wall Street Journal. Actually, his lead-in is a prelude to a piece praising the "iPod economy." "The $4-trillion-plus in trade deficits
since 1976 has been matched by an $11 trillion increase in value of our
stock market. That’s about all you have to know."

While he overlooks possible ties between the world’s economies (could it be that low prices from Chinese manufacturing continue to help dampen inflationary pressures on the U.S. economy, for instance?), you sure cannot call Kessler a pessimist on the U.S. economy.

Japan is
just emerging 15 years later from a nonperforming-loan hangover. China is
face-first in the punch bowl with half its bank loans uncollectible: If
their currency spikes, it might go to 100%. Rather than debase our wallets, Japan and China have to buy dollar
assets to keep their currencies from rising too much if they want to
continue to sell us their industrial output, while of course, we get rich
selling them the tools to do it productively.

Coetzee on Social Obligations

I was reading J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace, when I came across this passage that illustrates so well how differently two people can view the same "friendship." (Much more elegant than the language of social networks: how two different "nodes" perceive the same "link." It is neat when your fiction reading converges with your nonfiction reading, isn’t it?)

‘I’m all right. Light burns, nothing serious. I’m sorry we’ve ruined your evening.’

‘Nonsense!" says Bill Shaw. "What else are friends for? You would have done the same.’

Spoken without irony, the words stay with him and will not go away. Bill Shaw believes that if he, Bill Shaw, had been hit over the head and set on fire, then he, David Lurie, would have driven to the hospital and sat waiting, without so much as a newspaper to read, to fetch him home. Bill Shaw believes that, because he and David Lurie once had a cup of tea together, David Lurie is his friend, and the two of them have obligations towards each other. Is Bill Shaw wrong or right? Has Bill Shaw, who was born in Hankey, not two hundred kilometers away, and works in a hardware shop, seen so little of the world that he does not know there are men who do not readily make friends, whose attitude towards friendships between men is corroded with scepticism?

WAPO Buys Slate

Analysts comment on The Washington Post Company’s purchase of Slate:

Several analysts suggested that the deal was a sign that large,
older media properties were noticing the amount of advertising dollars
migrating to the Web and were deciding that it was time to begin
acquiring new brands as well as to further push their own digital
efforts. Although Slate has never achieved steady profitability,
it is credited with helping to shape Web publishing as well as
pioneering the use of hyperlinks and Web logs.

NYT smells a connection between Microsoft’s Bill Gates, who applauded Slate’s "[graduation] to media ownership," and WAPO’s Graham family. What does it mean, though, that both The New York Times Company and Atlantic Media looked at the property and decided not to bid? WAPO says it is buying the online magazine to increase its own online traffic. Slate editor Jacob Weisberg writes a predictably, politically safe piece about the transition, where he praises owners old and new.

Corante surveys opinions from the blogosphere:

At New Media Musings,
for example, JD Lasica gives his take on the deal: "That’s good news
for the good journalism going on at Slate. I can scarcely think of a
better fit, a more benign editorial presence, and a smarter new media
company than the Washington Post Co." In his "Santa Slate"
posting, Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine is less upbeat, but still concedes
that "they fit well together, not unlike Dow Jones and Marketwatch."

Write for Show or Dough?

I just finished reading Eric Foner’s Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, which discusses the historical context for the noted American patriot and pamphleteer. In the blogosphere, there has been a lot of discussion about finding advertisers and corporate sponsors. Magazines and newspapers have long struggled with the perception, warranted or not, that their editorial content is influenced by ad dollars. It is interesting to see that pamphleteers, the precursors to today’s bloggers, have faced the same pressures.

In February 1782, he entered into a secret agreement with Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris, Secretary of State Robert R. Livingston and Commander in Chief George Washington to compose public letters and pamphlets "in support of the measures of Congress and their ministers," and "to prepare the minds of the people for such restraints and such taxes and imposts" as were "absolutely necessary for their own welfare." Four years earlier, in his letters on the Pennsylvania Constitution, Paine had denouced "the wretch" who wrote "on any subject for bread, or in any service for pay," but he now accepted the salary of eight hundred dollars per year paid from a secret fund under Morris’ control as Superintendant of Finance. During 1782 Paine often checked his writings with Morris. [Foner, p. 189]