Is Social Media The End of Endings?

I found this New Yorker piece fascinating for the way it looked at social media as a non-narrative form, and how it both celebrated and bemoaned what “the social stream” means for how we understand facts, the world, and the people in our lives.

It is especially interesting viewed through the debates about Twitter and orality. See here and here for the best of those debates.

How many of us have had this experience:

“Last year I watched a friend struggle through breast cancer treatment in front of hundreds of friends. She broadcast her news with caution, training her crowd in how to react: no drama, please; good vibes; videos with puppies or kittens welcomed. I watched two men grieve for lost children — one man I’ve only met online, whose daughter choked to death; one an old friend, whose infant son and daughter, and his wife and mother-in-law, died in an auto accident.

I watched in real time as these people reconstructed themselves in the wake of events — altering their avatars, committing to new causes, liking and linking, boiling over in anger at dumb comments, eventually posting jokes again, or uploading new photos. Learning to take the measure of the world with new eyes. No other medium has shown me this in the same way. Even the most personal literary memoir has more distance, more compression, than these status updates. Continue reading


A Ribbon of Green: High Line Park in NYC

Ever since first hearing about the New York City’s newest park, the High Line, I have been transfixed by it, pouring over photos, reading articles, studying the plans. At first I thought it was the juxtaposition of this long ribbon of green amongst the skyscrapers that sparked my imagination, but it’s more than that. It intersects every one of my key interests – urban planning, community organizing, conservation, parks, and media. Continue reading

Rebuilding a Public Square Around Bookstores

This week began with news that Borders would not be restructured and will be closing all of its stores. This has sparked a fascinating discussion about the role of bookstores, both chains and local independent stores, and to some extent the role of physical space and physical texts. It just so happened that I read an essay this weekend by Clay Shirky which touches on just some of these topics.

Right now, Clay Shirky has a popular post circulating around twitter arguing that we need a news ecosystem that is “chaotic” and full of diverse models and experiments. Shirky has been expert at making this point, and shows over and over again why it’s true. He has been less consistent in actually laying out possible models. Continue reading

Stories Are the Atomic Elements of our Relationships

I’ve argued in the past that our stories are the atomic elements of our relationship to one another. In this fabulous post Craig Mod uses that central metaphor to examine how everything we know about writing, publishing and reading is changing, and why that’s a good thing.

There is a compulsion to believe the magic of a book lies in its surface. In reality, the book worth considering consists only of relationships.

via Post-Artifact Books and Publishing — by Craig Mod.