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Bloggingheads 02-04-2010 10:57 AM

Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 

Florian 02-04-2010 01:41 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
(I am the avatar of franco who has immigrated to another planet after listening to this dialogue. He may never return.)

Writers as brands? If only they were as useful! I suppose you could consider the average journalist or internet hack a kind of brand, replicating itself endlessly. One knows what to expect of them. They are reliable purveyors of news, opinion, gossip, humor etc. Maybe it is my education or some quirk in my former self (franco), but I expect something more of a genuine writer, whether in fiction or non-fiction: Style, voice, mystery, originality. Je ne sais quoi....

It is always interesting to hear writers talk about themselves. They seldom talk about anything else.

graz 02-04-2010 02:40 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149769)
It is always interesting to hear writers talk about themselves. They seldom talk about anything else.

I was struck by how self-referential it all was. And yet, very engaging and left me wanting more. Hopefully, from other writers or artists. Susan and Kurt may have exhausted there thoughts on process for now. Or at least until that hoped for study on the effect of new media transmission on the "writers brain."

Certainly a welcome respite from politics.

JonathanFC 02-04-2010 05:17 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 149773)
Susan and Kurt may have exhausted there thoughts on process for now.

You can hear Andersen pontificate about process every week on his radio show. Don't count on his ever saying anything you haven't heard a thousand times before, but his tone, paradoxically, will always communicate his sense that he's steadily conquering new intellectual ground. It's... not my favorite radio show.

I'm listening to this diavlog now. Andersen just named Thomas Pynchon as someone who doesn't take his privacy to the "extreme" that Salinger did.

What?

sugarkang 02-04-2010 05:41 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
omg. nothing more exciting than two people who don't understand the internet trying to explain the internet. avoid this dlog. huge waste of time.

look 02-04-2010 05:43 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 149785)
omg. nothing more exciting than two people who don't understand the internet trying to explain the internet. avoid this dlog. huge waste of time.

Sugarkang!

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 05:57 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149769)
(I am the avatar of franco who has immigrated to another planet after listening to this dialogue. He may never return.)

Writers as brands? If only they were as useful! I suppose you could consider the average journalist or internet hack a kind of brand, replicating itself endlessly. One knows what to expect of them. They are reliable purveyors of news, opinion, gossip, humor etc. Maybe it is my education or some quirk in my former self (franco), but I expect something more of a genuine writer, whether in fiction or non-fiction: Style, voice, mystery, originality. Je ne sais quoi....

It is always interesting to hear writers talk about themselves. They seldom talk about anything else.

@Flo: Talking about themselves? You really think this is distinct to writers? In fact, one might almost define writers as those who merely are comparatively gifted at talking about themselves (or more generally, at articulating their thoughts and impressions). So: Human, please. (Or maybe, in light of your interplanetary capability, this chastisement is unfair?)

Anyway, sorry you didn't like this diavlog. I happened to find it quite pleasant to listen to. These were, to me, new, interesting, and likable people, and I guess I always like hearing writers talk about writing. In fact, I found this diavlog wonderful, so much so that it took me several hours to listen to it, because I kept having to pause it to reflect.

So, some notes, jotted down while listening ... Hey, wait. Where's everybody going?

==========

(~5:00) It struck me as funny when Susan expressed having had a moment of ick to "brand" after she had in the previous few minutes and without irony used "Facebooking" and "going forward." She seems to have gotten over this, but having wrestled with this one myself, I would say as a general matter: Yes, it's overused, and it's especially irritating to hear it from suits (as are almost all words), but from a young person? Meh -- it's just a word in current fashion. Substitute "reputation" and see if whatever sentence at hand still has substance.

(~16:00) I see, and mostly agree with, Kurt's gripes about the rise of the memoir form. On the other hand, I'd say that I don't have complete impatience with this. Throughout history, writers have always injected something of themselves into their writing. Even non-fiction has a strong sense of "this is how I see it." This is well-nigh inescapable, and I must say that to the extent that this goal [added: of non-intrusive, non-biased observer] is attained, it's not guaranteed to be wonderful. To take an extreme example, I think back to my school days, where three of my favorite books -- Fraleigh's Calculus, White's Fluid Mechanics, and Press, et al's Numerical Recipes -- were treasures in no small part because they rewarded the careful reader with little glints of humor and opinion. To take a less extreme example, there is a reason why the largest of the Reporters at Large -- John McPhee -- has such an enviable brand, uh, has such a sterling reputation.

As to Kurt's question (and later, Susan's echo) to those who write a memoir at 25 -- "what then?" -- I'd say: point taken, but it's more of a bon mot than a legitimate complaint, I think. First, I see no reason why there should be a rule of One Memoir Per Person. There are some people for whom I'd like a twenty-volume set, delivered serially, and if this makes you roll your eyes, I'd just say that the overwhelming majority of one-off memoirs are not to my taste, either. I don't actually care what most people think, or what they did, and that is age-independent. Second, we who have asked for guidance in the craft of writing have forever been told "write what you know." So, maybe, especially in our self-absorbed age, young people will find it easiest to learn how to write, or to write better, by writing about themselves.

(~18:00) Oops, I see I should have waited before clicking Pause last time, as Susan has just more or less said the same things. Ah, well, such is blogging, as someone once said. But one more thing: one of my favorite memoirs, at least as far as how it worked when I read it goes, was written by a 27-year-old. (Who, as it happens, apologized in the introduction for his seeming presumptuousness.)

(~18:50) I strongly endorse the "as a muscle" view. Or, as the old line almost has it, how do you get to the New Yorker building? Practice, practive, ^H^H^Hce, practice.

(~34:45) I quite agree with Kurt: I also have a strong suspicion, though not one I can even express about my own self, that something changes between writing longhand and typing into a computer, and I, too, would love it if some smart person looked into this.

One small piece: it is the case that one of the few differences I was able to identify at the beginning of my own technology swap was a sense that I should continue to write first drafts longhand. I found that I spent too much time correcting typos and doing other on-the-fly edits -- like Susan, I have an affection for "clean copy" -- and this would cause me to lose my train of thought. Or, at least, my flow -- very often I'd have the sense that something that sang in my mind turned to wood by the time the words appeared on-screen.

Obviously, getting better at typing helped quite a bit. But probably even more help came from a friend who insisted that he never corrected anything until after he felt he'd gotten to the end of his first draft. Not even teh instead of the -- just keep going, he advised. I have been unable to adopt that attitude completely, but as a reminder-to-self, it remains quite helpful. (Which is not to say that my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, ... drafts are necessarily anything to write home about, as it were.)

The third thing I have found helpful, whether typing computer programs or prose, is not to let myself get stuck on any one point. If I can't find the right algorithm, or words, I just put in a double question mark, and maybe a meta-note, and move on. (Which brings me back to the beauty of electronic search.)

I still from time to time think about test-driving voice-recognition software, at least for first drafts, but given that despite my still-lousy typing I appear to have no problem generating excessive amounts of noise, I have yet to give this a try. Maybe I should, though. Maybe succinctness would even be enhanced.

(~35:50) I agree, somewhat, with Susan about the smaller amount of lines visible when writing on a computer. This used to really bother me, and it never failed to amaze me how a professional writer close to me could write her columns on a Trash-80 (4 lines of 40 characters each?!). Susan is probably right that something might have changed as a consequence -- and I do appreciate the notion of printing things out when one really wants to concentrate on something complex -- but I have to say, this seems like less of a problem lately. In between the larger screens, which now give almost as much real estate as a piece of paper (especially double-spaced) does, and the by-now learned-to-the-point-of-unconsciousness keyboard shortcuts for jumping around in a document, I don't often feel as though I'm looking through too narrow a window any more. And when one adds in the beauty of search, not to mention multiple windows as accessible as the next Alt-Tab or C-x b ... nah, I guess I don't think this is a problem anymore. Nothing has been lost; in fact, much has been gained.

In fairness, Susan writes much longer works than I almost ever attempt, but still -- switching between, say, page 19 and page 47, or between the drafts of Chapter 2 and Chapter 12, does not seem to me to be anything but easier on these fancy computer machines.

(~37:15) The changes Kurt mentions that one only wants to make after seeing the electronic work printed out is familiar. I get this even between typing in this little text box and clicking Submit. (All praise the Preview button!) So, yeah, I guess on anything important enough, I'd still print out a version that I thought was "done" and pick up an actual physical red (or blue) pencil. But ultimately, anything I look back at, or anything I see in a different form, has always made me think, "Oh, damn. That should have been ..." In some sense, no matter how many revisions, and no matter how many trees are killed, no piece of writing is really ever Done. (Except for the ones you want nothing more to do with, ever.)

[What? 10000 characters already? Part two here.]

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 06:02 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
[Continued from]

(~41:00) Kurt says he finds it easier to stop reading something when looking at it on screen as opposed to in print. I have to say, while I sort of know the feeling, I also wonder if this can't be explained simply by observing that in the former case, it's much easier to get something else to read. When you're holding a hunk of paper, you probably have to get up from your bed or chair, walk over to a shelf or into the next room or even downstairs or out to the library. In other words, anything less than fairly engaging may be judged merely in terms of (1) normal human laziness and (2) the equally normal sense of "I know there is greener grass on the other side of that fence," and the only question is, "How high is the fence?"

That said, a related phenomenon is also undoubtedly at play here: despite the advances in technology, it is still more pleasant to read a sufficiently long piece in a book or magazine than it is to look at it on a screen.

Some of this is a matter of taste. When Susan goes on to say that she reads the NYT online only due to the lack of available options, I will only say that I do have the choice -- the paper is in fact right at hand where I'm at right now -- and I prefer to read it online. I don't have a comprehensive explanation, but here are two of the pieces: First, there's nothing like being able to look something up with a right-click, and second, if a story interests me, I like the chance to be able to follow related links right away, whether at the NYT's suggestion or due to my own Googling.

(~43:30) I don't share Susan's self-described habit of not finishing newspaper stories that I like when I'm reading on screen. I would also say that when I read the print edition regularly, I would not bother following the jump unless I really liked a story. (Or had nothing else to read.)

(~54:30) The discussion about being distracted that has been going on for the past few minutes has started to make these two seem simultaneously like geezers and tweens. (Comically, it was that old device from the horse and buggy days -- a ringing telephone -- that caused the biggest disruption.) I dunno -- I grant that it can be easy to fritter away time when you have the Internet at hand, but I sure don't remember any dearth of frittering in my life before connectivity came along. As Susan illustrates by describing seeing a friend in a restaurant typing away furiously with nothing but a cold cup of coffee nearby, sometimes one gets into the zone, and more often, one does not, or at least, one has to work to stay there, and in order to do so, it helps to remove oneself from outside attention-grabbers. This is not anything New.

(~60:00) I strongly agree with Susan's lament about there being no market for short books, or perhaps more accurately, no willingness on the part of publishers to give this form a shot. I have long shared this sadness, and wished that people would arrive at the compromise of not hesitating to put out books that contained two to five properly-sized books, as it were. I have a few books like that, from back in the days when publishers would gather up a suddenly more respectable pulp writer's previous paperbacks into one hardcover, and I love them. And also, of course and again: McPhee. There aren't many books that I like better than Giving Good Weight.

Thanks again to Susan and Kurt for a delightful conversation, and thanks to you for reading this. (Even if all you were looking to do was quote-mine. ;))

graz 02-04-2010 06:03 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonathanFC (Post 149780)
You can hear Andersen pontificate about process every week on his radio show. Don't count on his ever saying anything you haven't heard a thousand times before, but his tone, paradoxically, will always communicate his sense that he's steadily conquering new intellectual ground. It's... not my favorite radio show.

I'm listening to this diavlog now. Andersen just named Thomas Pynchon as someone who doesn't take his privacy to the "extreme" that Salinger did.

What?

A weekly radio show? His wife's instincts are right about him losing his mystery. I frankly was more attuned to Susan, having read and enjoyed The Orchid Thief.

Here is an example of a subject they discussed:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/books/04delillo.html
Illuminating? Hardly. The book is the thing.

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 06:13 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 149785)
omg. nothing more exciting than two people who don't understand the internet trying to explain the internet. avoid this dlog. huge waste of time.

If you're reading the comments before watching the diavlog, please be advised that this is very, very far from how I would describe this diavlog. Give it a shot.

look 02-04-2010 06:14 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 149790)
A weekly radio show? His wife's instincts are right about him losing his mystery. I frankly was more attuned to Susan, having read and enjoyed The Orchid Thief.

Here is an example of a subject they discussed:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/04/books/04delillo.html
Illuminating? Hardly. The book is the thing.

I thought the play is the thing, graz, dear.

graz 02-04-2010 06:27 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149788)
(~43:30) I don't share Susan's self-described habit of not finishing newspaper stories that I like when I'm reading on screen. I would also say that when I read the print edition regularly, I would not bother following the jump unless I really liked a story. (Or had nothing else to read.)

I was particularly struck by this part of her talk. I rarely read in full, rather than skim, a newspaper article anymore. Because I think of the sense of the availability of similar or better versions of the same story - even if I don't search out the alternative. It's as if I fill in the blanks for myself as to what the balance of the story will tell. The same doesn't hold true for magazine articles, blogs or books.

Blackadder 02-04-2010 08:09 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 149773)
I was struck by how self-referential it all was.

Not as self-referential as it could have been.

Ocean 02-04-2010 08:21 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Do we have to grade your comment?

kezboard 02-04-2010 09:08 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
BJ, you have four hours to listen to a diavlog? I'm imagining you sitting on a little couch in an empty room with headphones on, ponderously staring off into space, and desperately slapping your hand away Dr. Strangelove style as it tries to direct the mouse to click the button on your browser that would bring you to Edroso's blog or Doghouse Riley's or the Media Matters blog or Wonkette. ;)

I'm not going to listen to this one because I'm too young to give a damn about those ubiquitous and inevitably boring and navel-gazey discussions about how technology is distracting us.

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 11:46 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 149794)
I was particularly struck by this part of her talk. I rarely read in full, rather than skim, a newspaper article anymore. Because I think of the sense of the availability of similar or better versions of the same story - even if I don't search out the alternative. It's as if I fill in the blanks for myself as to what the balance of the story will tell. The same doesn't hold true for magazine articles, blogs or books.

Yeah. You know what else? It hit upon me years ago that practically every politically-tinged news story has the meat in the first few paragraphs, and the remainder is almost always just "here's how various spokespeople from the two sides spun this thing."

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 11:47 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 149801)
Do we have to grade your comment?

Have to? No. But you are welcome to -- feedback is always encouraged.

bjkeefe 02-04-2010 11:54 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kezboard (Post 149804)
BJ, you have four hours to listen to a diavlog?

At this particular point in time, sadly, yes.

Quote:

I'm imagining you sitting on a little couch in an empty room with headphones on, ponderously staring off into space, and desperately slapping your hand away Dr. Strangelove style as it tries to direct the mouse to click the button on your browser that would bring you to Edroso's blog or Doghouse Riley's or the Media Matters blog or Wonkette. ;)
That was you peeking through the window?

;^)

Quote:

I'm not going to listen to this one because I'm too young to give a damn about those ubiquitous and inevitably boring and navel-gazey discussions about how technology is distracting us.
If that's all this diavlog was about, I would say the same thing, even at my less than "too young" age. But it really wasn't just about that [added: sorry if my initial comment added to the impression that it was -- I was more moved to dispute than to type out points of agreement], and to the degree that it came close, it wasn't "get off my lawn" stuff. Both Susan and Kurt were ... engagingly two-minded I guess would be one way to put it, about this new age of gee-wizardry.

I don't want you to hate me if I badger you into wasting time against the judgment of your first impression, so I won't put a lot of pressure on you to give it a shot, but ... uh ... give it a shot. What can I say? It was a delight for me. YMMV.

==========

[Added] This has never occurred to me before, but isn't it interesting how saying someone ponders is usually a good thing, while saying someone moves ponderously ... not so much. I have never thought of the former as the root of the latter, for whatever reason. "Ponderously staring?" Hmmm ...

look 02-05-2010 12:11 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Blackadder (Post 149800)

That was one of those bizarre movies that you think is pretty stupid, but then end up thinking about for the next few days.

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 12:13 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 149813)
That was one of those bizarre movies that you think is pretty stupid, but then end up thinking about for the next few days.

Hmmm. That's a good recommendation, to my ears, at least. Thanks.

look 02-05-2010 12:14 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149814)
Hmmm. That's a good recommendation, to my ears, at least. Thanks.

y/w

Markos 02-05-2010 02:40 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Just because a writer stops publishing his work and withdraws from fame doesn't make him a recluse. Apparently, he socialized with local people in the community. He went to the store and to local events, etc. And he had relationships with women. Personally, I don't think the life he apparently lived was the life of a recluse. It's only in relation to the career and celebrity he walked away from that the media world somehow gave him that label.
Had he not had that earlier career and fame, he might well have been thought to have lived a "normal" life.

look 02-05-2010 03:07 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
I really dislike reading in front of a PC, but since I got a laptop it's not a problem. I wonder if Me& or BN ever upgraded to the new Kindle. I heard that in some ways they're not as good as the original.

I understand that Edith Wharton would write page after page, flowingly, while in bed. As she finished each page she would drop it on the floor for her maid to gather up later.

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 03:21 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 149833)
I understand that Edith Wharton would write page after page, flowingly, while in bed.

As I understand it, Mae West said she did all her best work in bed, too.

.

look 02-05-2010 03:30 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149835)
As I understand it, Mae West said she did all her best work in bed, too.

.

Careful, B, first it's smilies, and before you know it you'll be forwarding emails about angels and talking dogs.

Florian 02-05-2010 04:33 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149787)
@Flo: Talking about themselves? You really think this is distinct to writers? In fact, one might almost define writers as those who merely are comparatively gifted at talking about themselves (or more generally, at articulating their thoughts and impressions). So: Human, please. (Or maybe, in light of your interplanetary capability, this chastisement is unfair?)

Anyway, sorry you didn't like this diavlog. I happened to find it quite pleasant to listen to. These were, to me, new, interesting, and likable people, and I guess I always like hearing writers talk about writing. In fact, I found this diavlog wonderful, so much so that it took me several hours to listen to it, because I kept having to pause it to reflect.

No, narcissism is universal, as Doctor Sigmund has taught us (but he was just repeating an ancient truth). Because of my interplanetary voyages through "strange seas of thought," I am less inclined to think that the narcissism of writers, unless they are exceptionally gifted and well-read, is any more interesting than the narcissism of Monsieur tout le monde. Better expressed no doubt, but I expect writers to mirror reality while mirroring their souls.

However, I didn't mean to belittle the two writers in this diavlog. And thanks for your unbelievably detailed commentary. The internet seems to me to have raised narcissism and exhibitionism to new heights. But is anyone paying attention?

Ocean 02-05-2010 07:32 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149811)
Have to? No. But you are welcome to -- feedback is always encouraged.

I was initially tempted to, but wisdom prevailed and I refrained. ;)

Thoughtful and comprehensive as far as I can tell. However, I didn't listen to the whole diavlog so, I wasn't qualified to grade your comment.

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 08:34 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 149837)
Careful, B, first it's smilies, and before you know it you'll be forwarding emails about angels and talking dogs.

You're at least half right, almost.

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 09:06 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149839)
No, narcissism is universal, as Doctor Sigmund has taught us (but he was just repeating an ancient truth). Because of my interplanetary voyages through "strange seas of thought," I am less inclined to think that the narcissism of writers, unless they are exceptionally gifted and well-read, is any more interesting than the narcissism of Monsieur tout le monde.

Hmmm. Well, I probably agree with you 90-some percent, in that most people, and in particular, most people talking about themselves, are not of overwhelming interest to me. Still, I have my whole life been amazed on a regular basis at how fascinating the results can sometimes be when I ask, "So, what's your story?"

Quote:

Better expressed no doubt, but I expect writers to mirror reality while mirroring their souls.
That is nice when that happens, for sure. Someone once said most people talk about other people, good people talk about events, and extraordinary people talk about ideas, and that's as true a bumper sticker as I've ever heard. But I guess I don't demand that a writer mirror a larger reality than his or her own soul in order for me potentially to enjoy hearing from or reading that writer. It ain't whatcha say, it's how whatcha say it, at least some of the time, at least for me.

Quote:

However, I didn't mean to belittle the two writers in this diavlog. And thanks for your unbelievably detailed commentary.
y/w. And thank you.

Quote:

The internet seems to me to have raised narcissism and exhibitionism to new heights.
I suppose, although I sometimes wonder whether it's just more the case that we can see more examples more easily. In other words, my sense of looking back to the pre-Web times is that there was never any shortage of people talking about themselves or showing off. The sense of "more" may come about because we only perceive the change in the numerator and don't realize the denominator has changed as well. In other words, some fraction F of people in any group of which one is part or aware of is prone to N&E. Pre-Web, we might have potentially been exposed to, say, 1000 people, through personal acquaintance, newspapers and other daily media, and books. Now we are potentially exposed to something like 1,000,000,000 people, and it could well be that the same predisposed fraction holds as before, and it's just hard to notice, or grasp that, 900,000,000 of them are not calling any attention to themselves at all; e.g.,

F = N/1000 = (1 million * N) / (1 million * 1000)

but it's easier to notice the million-fold increase in N rather than to say, "Wow. Listen to how many more people aren't making any noise at all!"

The second part of this, to my mind at least, is that if the fraction of N&E has in fact increased, it may just be a blip, due to these new toys we have. Remember back 15 or 20 years ago, when everyone you knew forwarded you jokes via email? At least in my circle, almost no one does that anymore, including the people who used to do it daily.

I suppose it's likely that teenagers will perennially be oversharing, or at least some fraction of them will, because with each year, there is a new crop of potential entrants to the pool, but so what. We don't have to look at their Facebook pages if we don't want to.

Quote:

But is anyone paying attention?
Oh, yeah, certainly. First, there are all these people bemoaning the N&E antics of others. ;^) And then there are others, like me, who from time to time dip into the fire hose of material being posted online and find some part of it interesting, and in a few cases, even fascinating. Even if in percentage terms almost all of it is thoroughly not interesting to me, the remainder is still large in absolute numbers, compared to what I had a chance to be exposed to before the late 1990s.

[Added] I'd also point to the dominant form of pop music -- hip-hop -- which although is not to my taste and is not something I know much about at all, appears to be largely people talking (boasting, even) about their daily lives.

look 02-05-2010 10:44 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149842)
You're at least half right, almost.

Oh, god.

look 02-05-2010 11:15 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149769)
(I am the avatar of franco who has immigrated to another planet after listening to this dialogue. He may never return.)

Writers as brands? If only they were as useful! I suppose you could consider the average journalist or internet hack a kind of brand, replicating itself endlessly. One knows what to expect of them. They are reliable purveyors of news, opinion, gossip, humor etc. Maybe it is my education or some quirk in my former self (franco), but I expect something more of a genuine writer, whether in fiction or non-fiction: Style, voice, mystery, originality. Je ne sais quoi....

It is always interesting to hear writers talk about themselves. They seldom talk about anything else.

O Franco, Franco! wherefore art thou Franco?

Who are your favorite authors? Are there any on the current scene you admire?

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 11:47 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 149845)
Oh, god.

I remind you, Mr. Madison, that "pup" spelled backwards is still "pup." But "dog?" I suggest you think about THAT.

</felix>

Florian 02-05-2010 11:52 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 149846)
O Franco, Franco! wherefore art thou Franco?

Who are your favorite authors? Are there any on the current scene you admire?

I read little fiction, American or other. Franco is no longer communicating with me, so I am unsure of his tastes. Besides, he is a bit of snob.

A while ago I read The Tunnel by William Gass and Delillo's Underworld...both in the tradition of the great never to be written (and probably never to be read) American novel. Moby Dick to the nth degree. I have no idea what younger American writers are up to. Among contemporary British writers I enjoy Ian McEwan.

popcorn_karate 02-05-2010 11:57 AM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 149785)
omg. nothing more exciting than two people who don't understand the internet trying to explain the internet. avoid this dlog. huge waste of time.

you're not even close.

one of the more interesting conversations i've listened to here in a while.

laura 02-05-2010 12:01 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 149785)
omg. nothing more exciting than two people who don't understand the internet trying to explain the internet. avoid this dlog. huge waste of time.

Uncanny. Whenever I finish an article in the Newyorker I am struck by quite how many words it took to cover the subject. No surprise then that these people talk the way they write.

Maybe Andersen's trick of not reading the whole thing is a survival technique for reading articles by the so afflicted.

Florian 02-05-2010 12:15 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149843)
Oh, yeah, certainly. First, there are all these people bemoaning the N&E antics of others. ;^) And then there are others, like me, who from time to time dip into the fire hose of material being posted online and find some part of it interesting, and in a few cases, even fascinating. Even if in percentage terms almost all of it is thoroughly not interesting to me, the remainder is still large in absolute numbers, compared to what I had a chance to be exposed to before the late 1990s.

Wise comments on the Age of Connectivity.

I (speaking for Franco) am always amazed by the amount of stuff, both relevant and outrageous, that you manage to dig up on the web. I spend relatively little time reading bloggers and commentators. There is only so much time in a day, and in a lifetime, to spend on ephemera.

bjkeefe 02-05-2010 12:53 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149855)
Wise comments on the Age of Connectivity.

I (speaking for Franco) am always amazed by the amount of stuff, both relevant and outrageous, that you manage to dig up on the web. I spend relatively little time reading bloggers and commentators. There is only so much time in a day, and in a lifetime, to spend on ephemera.

Yes, that's probably true, and of course a lot of this is just a matter of taste, but I will note that your statement skips over the question of what ephemera is. Seems to me someone's fleeting moment can stay lodged in another person's memory for life, for one thing. For another, one might be interested in observing something dynamic, evolving, call it what you will, and will do so by a series of discrete samplings, none considered particularly noteworthy in and of itself, and certainly not lasting, but somehow adding up to something that is.

Also, I have no problem with spending time each day just purely being made to laugh, even if tomorrow I don't remember why.

And finally, I guess in many ways, I view myself as ephemeral, so it does not particularly matter to me that I am not always concentrating on the timeless.

Hey everybody, let's have some fun
You only live for once
And when you're dead you're done
So let the good times roll


as the man sang.

look 02-05-2010 01:10 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149849)
I remind you, Mr. Madison, that "pup" spelled backwards is still "pup." But "dog?" I suggest you think about THAT.

</felix>

B, be a doll and find Nate's Oscar/Felix vid. I tried, but couldn't find it.

look 02-05-2010 01:16 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149850)
I read little fiction, American or other. Franco is no longer communicating with me, so I am unsure of his tastes. Besides, he is a bit of snob.

A while ago I read The Tunnel by William Gass and Delillo's Underworld...both in the tradition of the great never to be written (and probably never to be read) American novel. Moby Dick to the nth degree. I have no idea what younger American writers are up to. Among contemporary British writers I enjoy Ian McEwan.

Thanks. I read the first page of Moby Dick and was amazed at how accessible it seemed. I want to read it, but it seems such a daunting committment. Maybe you could lead us in a book discussion? Or perhaps one on Hannah Arendt's book comparing the French Revolution to the American?

look 02-05-2010 01:17 PM

Re: Writing in the Digital Age (Susan Orlean & Kurt Andersen)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 149855)
I (speaking for Franco)

Do or not do, there is no try.


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