** Get rid of all of my open browser windows so I can restart my computer to an empty Firefox **
To do so means I have to read the handful of articles I keep meaning to read but haven't actually read. Here's the last week or so of articles I'm trying to make myself read:
1. Jeff Bezos interview on Slate, about the Kindle, and e-reading more generally. [OK, I read it. It's not that long, and it's really interesting. And makes me wish I worked for Amazon.]
2. A long article about how technology has killed friendship. Or at least that's what I think it's about, but I haven't read it yet.
[OK, before reading the article, something I've been annoyed at myself about lately -- I'm usually really good about e-mailing people and staying in touch, but for the past few months I just haven't been. Partly because I have nothing to say. Partly because I'm torturing myself with this Anonymous Lawyer screenplay I'm trying to write well enough that I feel like I can e-mail it to people for notes and at the same time justify my existence -- as in, hey, this is what I've been up to, and to actually have something to report in an e-mail instead of, yeah, married life is good, everything's pretty much the same as the last time I e-mailed you -- and so with the script (which is really getting there -- 76 pages as of this morning, and I even like most of them) as this artificial milestone in my head that's going to let me e-mail people after it's done, I haven't been e-mailing people in the meantime. Partly because I have a handful of friends -- and these are people I really like, people who came to my wedding, people I really want to be in better touch with -- where historically I'm just better at keeping in touch than they are, and so I e-mail and they respond, and if I don't e-mail for a while... well, I'm just not going to hear from them. And there's part of me that wishes that I didn't always have to be the initiator, and if I'm never going to hear from someone if I don't make the effort, then why am I making the effort? But the truth is that I don't actually feel that way-- some people just don't have the time or grand inclination to keep in better touch, and are probably happy to be in better touch and wish they were more proactive about it, but the fact that they don't e-mail isn't a reflection on me or on how they feel about me, and so I should just e-mail them instead of trying to convince myself I shouldn't-- because the result of that will be losing touch, which I don't really want, and I hope they don't want either. (And, yeah, I should absolutely pick up the phone sometimes and call people, but I'm so much better on e-mail, so I have a few friends that I do have a regular phone relationship with, and in theory wish I had more, and would love a phone call from people I'm not in great touch with -- but while I will almost always gladly initiate an e-mail back and forth, I'm almost never going to call someone out of the blue unless we've corresponded about it and the call is pretty much expected.) The funny thing is, I think I was in better touch with a lot of my friends in New York when I was living in L.A. And I think part of it is about being married too-- it does make the need for a large circle of friends feel less pressing, absolutely-- that fear of being alone fades into the background, the fear that you have to keep in touch with everyone or you end up with no one in your life fades into the background, the need to reach out because you want to share something fades into the background, because you always have at least one person to share with, and so once you get whatever it is out of your head, to repeat the story isn't as exciting as telling it the first time.]
[And now I'm going to read the article.]
[Wow, what an excellent article. Dovetails well with stuff I've written about being frustrated with communication between people getting shorter and shorter -- I miss knowing what people are thinking and feeling instead of just knowing what they're doing, basically. Worth reading. Here's a paragraph I'm plucking from the piece that should give you a sense:
But that is precisely what the Facebook page does not leave room for, or 500 friends, time for. Literally does not leave room for. E-mail, with its rapid-fire etiquette and scrolling format, already trimmed the letter down to a certain acceptable maximum, perhaps a thousand words. Now, with Facebook, the box is shrinking even more, leaving perhaps a third of that length as the conventional limit for a message, far less for a comment. (And we all know the deal on Twitter.) The 10-page missive has gone the way of the buggy whip, soon to be followed, it seems, by the three-hour conversation. Each evolved as a space for telling stories, an act that cannot usefully be accomplished in much less. Posting information is like pornography, a slick, impersonal exhibition. Exchanging stories is like making love: probing, questing, questioning, caressing. It is mutual. It is intimate. It takes patience, devotion, sensitivity, subtlety, skill—and it teaches them all, too.
[And reading that article has caused another window opening in my browser-- the author's previous piece, called "The End of Solitude." Also a terrific read. And so now I've opened windows with three or four more of his pieces, and nothing gets closed... hence the browser problem I started with.]
3. A piece from the Future of the Book blog about electronic reading. Jeff Bezos would disagree with this line: "any device will be obsolete in a year or so, when Apple rolls out its long-delayed tablet and a barrage of Google-powered devices follow in its wake."
[Go read the whole piece, but here's where it starts to get really interesting: "I'm interested in this sensation of immediate gratification: it's one of the hallmarks of the present. ... We don't think about this very much, but this newfound ability to instantly satisfy our desires is actually a very strange development. So much of human development is a process of learning to deal with desires that are delayed or vexed; so much of the history of the book is a narrative of scarceness."]
4. A post about e-book pricing (Can you see a pattern to the stuff I've been reading about lately? Or at least the stuff I've been opening and promising myself I'd read later) by the very smart Mike Shatzkin, who I saw give a talk about the future of publishing a couple of weeks ago. [Excerpt -- "What is the new scarce item that will attract the dollars if IP is so common that it becomes hard to sell? The answer is the attention of people: eyeballs. And the winning trick for publishers will be to use the content they control — which today does have value — as “bait” to attract the attention of people and then to keep that attention and build a business around it."]
5. The ten worst Mets moments of the decade. From the Daily News.
6. Finally, three YouTube videos I've been meaning to link to, each involving a different friend-- one doing some stand-up comedy, one singing a Christmas song, and one who wrote this song that was on the FOX show Lie To Me last week.
Merry Christmas / Happy Almost New Year