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]

Oxford American Rises Again

Oxford American, the "southern magazine of good writing," is back–this time as a non-profit quarterly under the auspices of the University of Central Arkansas.

O’ Say Has Some Speed

Writers from the political left and right continue to marvel at the speed, "sophistication" and decisiveness of discussions in the blogosphere.

Michael Kinsley, writing in The Washington Post ("Blogged Down," 12/19):

As an afterthought, I sent copies to a couple of blogs ( and What happened next was unnerving. A few days later, most of the big shots hadn’t
replied. But overnight I had dozens of responses from the blogosphere.
They’re still pouring in. And that’s just direct e-mail to me. Within
hours, there were discussions going on in a dozen blogs, all
hyperlinking to one another like rabbits.  Just so I don’t sound too naive: I am familiar with
the blog phenomenon, and I worked at a Web site for eight years. Some
of my best friends are bloggers. Still, it’s different when you
purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the
reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the
feedback but its seriousness and sophistication.

Andrew Sullivan, writing on his blog:

You guys are the real stars of the blogosphere –
the interlocutors and readers and writers who were once consigned to
relative silence, but now have a medium all your own. The bloggers are
conduits, forums, niches, designed to unleash the broader wisdom of the
online crowds. That’s one reason a Hayek-Oakeshott Tory like me loves
the blogosphere so much. Not so much spontaneous order as the endless
pursuit of a million intimations – a constant conversation, with peaks
and lulls, discourtesies and jokes, outbursts and rants, meditations
and quips, and all going nowhere in particular. And in the end, some
truths do emerge, if you have the balls to acknowledge them. It’s the
purest form of democratic discussion yet devised.

The Weekly Standard’s Hugh Hewitt talks about the blogosphere’s power for focusing criticism on "anti-Christian" journalism ("The Year of the Blog," 12/16):

After interviewing both [Albert] Mohler and [Mark] Roberts for two hours on the air, I then posted links to the Newsweek piece and their criticisms, and invited bloggers from around the internet to weigh in via a virtual symposium I term a "Vox Blogoli." Dozens of bloggers accepted the invite, and an astonishing array of piercing reviews of [Jon] Meacham followed. Among many favorites are the Evangelical Outpost and Tapscott’s Copy Desk, but all of them are well worth the read. (The complete list of symposium posts can be read here.) What the blogosphere allowed to happen is the organization of dissent which is focused, credentialed, complete, and–crucially–publicized.

Digital Faces, Public Spaces

Linda Baker explores how technology and urban public spaces are adapting to each other in Salon’s "Urban Renewal, the Wireless Way."

In the 1980s,
technologists and urban planners began to look at virtual communities
as a new form of urbanism, says Anthony Townsend, a research scientist
at NYU who teaches in both the urban planning and the
telecommunications departments. "But they very quickly realized that it
wasn’t that interesting," he says. "There are some indirect linkages
between the desktop web and what goes on every day in urban spaces, but
not really very tight linkages." Today, he says, the proliferation of
wireless technologies has led to more direct interactions between
cities and networked spaces. "What’s happening now is that technology
and industry are adapting to us," Townsend said. "Instead of us
becoming global beings, technology is reorienting around the way we
are: visual, local, tactile."

The article includes a nice overview of Athens’ Wireless Athens Georgia project, also known as The Cloud at Athens.