Sunny day; that’s nice. Stupid day, since I forgot to post the links, but heck: makes for a linky Thursday. I’ve been busy – wife’s birthday, which meant I had to get the cake she insisted she didn’t want; had to wrap the presents, get the flowers, arrange the tableau, make the child draw a card. Karate, dinner cooking, two columns to write, blogging, and an insane scanning project. Well, I only do that between the hours of 8:15 and 9:00, but it’s one of those completist anal-retentive things that hits me sometimes. I’m sure you’ve been there: you look at your website about matchbooks, look at your shoeboxes full of matchbooks, and say “how do I know I’ve scanned them all?”
For the most part, I have; the First Rule of Accumulation now states that everything that enters the studio must be scanned immediately, and tagged. But. I have a folder named MATCHES RAW with 27 files, and each file has ten matchbooks, and each matchbook has 20 matches, and how many were going to St. Ives? The only way to know what I have would be to isolate each matchbook, save it, name it, tag it, and file it. Then it gets worse: I have to create a text database so I know what I have, and whether I’ve used it.
The bad news: at present, I only have enough matches to keep the site going – with weekly updates – through early 2015. But I’ll probably get a few more between now and then. The good news: this is all shaping up into a nifty book, one I’d like to sell by unusual channels, like lulu, on the iPad.
Which means rescanning some matches for higher resolution. Sigh.
The internet has made our hobbies into second jobs. And that’s good! Right? Well, no, if you consider that any iPad book I create would not allow you to add comments, and we all know comments are the Lifeblood of the Internet. Before I go on, let me say I love our comments here; it’s nice to have Beatniks going back and forth about the froth and spume I provide, and I enjoy it. But comments – and the interactivity they represent – are not necessarily the greatest thing about the internet. Which brings me to Jeff Jarvis’s public renunciation of the iPad.
He’s taking it back, because it’s shallow and vapid.
First, in its hardware design, it does not include a camera — the easiest and in some ways most democratic means of creation (you don’t have to write well) — even though its smaller cousin, the iPhone, has one.
The next version will probably have one. In the meantime, there’s this. Which adds a camera. So.
Equally important, it does not include a simple USB port, which means that I can’t bring in and take out content easily. If I want to edit a document in Apple’s Pages, I have to go through many hoops of moving and snycing and emailing or using Apple’s own services. Cloud? I see no cloud, just Apple’s blue skies.
I assume he means editing a document created on another machine? Here’s the old way: put it on a thumb drive, move it to the other computer, or move it to a remote disk, and take it off when you’re on the other computer, or some other form of transfer that involves dragging the file to one icon representing a drive, then retrieving it from that icon on another machine.
Moving a Pages file from a computer to an iPad can be done like this: From the share menu, choose send via email. The email program pops up with the email already prepared and addressed to you. Click send. Voila. One hoop. On the iPad, click mail, tap the email, tap the document, it loads. More hoops, but hardly the sort you see on the arm of a circus performer.
So I see the iPad as a Bizarro Trojan Horse. Instead of importing soldiers into the kingdom to break down its walls, in this horse, we, the people, are stuffed inside and wheeled into the old walls; the gate is shut and we’re welcomed back into the kingdom of controlling media that we left almost a generation ago.
What does he mean by “controlling,” exactly? In another post about the subject of control and content, he says:
We in media have a bad habit of viewing the world in our image. . . We in media also think we get to define what content is: It’s what we make.
Google, for one, doesn’t define content that way. It sees content everywhere, in everyone’s words and actions and it gains signals, knowledge, and value from that. We in media are blind to that value because we can’t see the content in that.
I love Jeff – he’s a brilliant guy, and he gets the future; we had lunch once and he’s just a delight to talk to. But sometimes I suspect Jeff would applaud a Google initiative to hook up motion-capture devices to people so they can create a database of unusual sexual positions, which would then tie into search requests and serve up ads for pain-relieving cream. More:
So when I complain about the iPad hampering our ability to create content, I mean that it makes it harder to share links and thoughts and images when I wish it had made it easier. And the apps media companies are making also make it hard to share our views and link into or out of their closed worlds. When they do that, they are shutting themselves off from the content people create every day and the value it holds.
There is content everywhere. You just have to be able to see it. And respect it.
It’s all content, but that’s like saying a lawn is made of grass: true, but not a reason to want to examine every single blade. I respect it when it’s worth it. Comments on some blogs can be amusing and enlightening; on political subjects 95% of the conversation is a nasty bash-session rehashing everything you know. On sites devoted to TV shows, you can get a barnburner, a gen-u-wine festival of greatness, because everyone’s sharing a common object of interest and affection. On tech sites, where people also share a common object of interest and affection – tech, computers, gadgets – most the conversation is useless as a source of information, mildly useful as a source of amusement.
In the end, what does the content add up to? Are we better off with a billion billion bytes that tell us who was the Foursquare mayor of the bathroom at McDonald’s on 34th street AND liked Avatar BUT hates Farmville ALTHOUGH he downloaded “Green Acres” from the Usenet WHILE searching for “left-handed midgets” on Bing? I know it’s not a better-off / worse-off argument, because there’s really nothing about it that makes us worse, and nothing that makes us “better” in any meaningful sense. Having access to more streams of information does not necessarily make us better informed. I did a few searches on the ship I took last month, and a high percentage where complaints and criticisms. They were all wrong. Look at Netflix: the ratings, assembled by people with widely disparate tastes and critical abilities, all end up as three stars, just as most movies on imdb seem to be a 6.2. the more voices, the more the consensus gets squashed into a useless flabby muddle. Oh, it’s interesting that Netflix can tell me that a particular comment about a movie was made by someone whose preference are 62% similar to mine, but A) I know that’s based on my own haphazard grading of movies I’ve watched, which I do maybe 25% of the time, because – here’s another admission of slovenly net behavior – it’s really not important to me to build a personal critical database in Netflix so they can cross-match me with guys who have Nosferatu icons and also liked the movie about dragons in post-apocalyptic England. And B), I don’t care.
I love the potential for hyperconnectedness more than the reality, to be honest. Nice tools, but not something I use – when I see a button that says “email this story to a friend!” I usually think now why in God’s name would I want to do that? He’s busy. I’ve never done it.
Yes, the iPad has limitations as a “tool of creation,” but I write on it, and find I’m writing on it a lot. Mostly I use it to read, and it’s far superior to reading on a laptop. Without question. But it’s a step backwards, because it’s closed. You can’t email links or leave comments.
True, but here’s the secret: it has a “web browser.“ You can use this “browser” to make comments or email links. Really.
Nothing with a web browser is closed. Yes, the news apps are closed, and I suppose this is a step backwards to the bad old days when you could shout at a magazine and your remarks would not instantly be appended to the article for all to see, but I don’t care. This may make me a bad web citizen, but I have to say it: for the majority of websites, I don’t care what other people are saying, and it’s almost a relief to read something in a news app that doesn’t have comments at the end. It’s like reading in a quiet room by yourself.
Now and then that’s nice.
If I want the loud commons, I can go on the web. On the same device.
So what’s the problem? If I put a book on the iPad, am I obligated to include space for people to trash it right in the book? If I publish a book in paper form, am I obligated to include pencil, paper, and stamped envelopes so people can mail around some quotes or write me a letter of complaint? Books are closed apps, and once they’re anything but they don’t belong to the author anymore. Not to say someone can’t parody, or photocopy and remix, or do anything to add “content” to the original item, but there’s no obligation for the content provider to make this easy. Or even encourage it. Mahler is “content,” and no one suggests he should have left the last few moments of the 9th symphony unfinished so people could add their thoughts on how it should end.
1. luv the fadeout but chimes would have been nice
2. OMG I hated this BORING why do liberals hate tonic chords?
3. typical Jewish garbage so he’s sad 2b dying well they are dying in gaza
Fanboy Applehead nonsense? Add your thoughts in the comments! But seriously: It’s the portability, depth of available material, multiple media forms (video, music, words), and speed of the device I love. I had to sit in a dojo for an hour tonight, and I wrote one article on the machine and read six others. I didn’t do anything I wouldn’t have done with a laptop, I just did it better. Without three windows open, I concentrated on what I was doing – which sounds like a pathetic excuse defending the lack of multitasking, but I’ve come to enjoy the speed bump the machine places on my attention span; I spend most of the day skittering back and forth between two monitors with multiple open windows, and the ability to do one thing, and one thing only is pleasant, for a change. On computers, the lure of the other thing is always intruding on your consumption of the present thing.
Oh, and about that content creation? Call up Google on a laptop, rub your finger around the screen, and do this.
Click – and SAVE!
A Book I Recommend
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