Josh Mack blogging at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts, and occasionally on; bicycles, politics, Brooklyn, parenting, crafts, and good reading. Currently helping to build a new NYC neighborhood news site - nearsay.com, that celebrates the voices that make our city. Subscribe to the daily newsletter it gives you what you need to know.
Self-publishing with a twist. A very interesting experiment by Tom Eveslin. (via Fred Wilson) A good friend of mine has a new cookbook coming out this month and not only has the publisher failed to set up a press tour but she has to pay for her own party. Cookbook authors also have to pay for their own photos not too mention recipe testing. I really wonder what value she is getting from the publisher other than her advance. They seem to be depending on her self-interest to promote the book. She has hired a publicist. I don't think the method in the link above would work in this case but that takes us right back to things like QOOP as possible alternative models.
Speaking of alternative models Glam.com launched today. the NYT has a really interesting article about it. The fact that they have done an end around media companies and their fashion magazines is stunning. Just speculating here, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they had made the rounds of the media companies investment arms and gotten turned down. They have essentially created a new online fashion magazine that really links readers to products; they don't have to worry about ASME, they don't have leadtimes like the print mags and don't have to worry about what is and what isn't in stock and, they have taken the time to deep link to the products and not just to storefronts. This idea has been tried before but I don't think the e-commerce was there yet, also the Tickle like quizzes are a twist Glam has an advantage:
But Glam will not have a lot of competition, at least at first. Fashion
magazines could set up shop in the Internet, too, said Charlene Li, an
analyst with the technology consulting firm Forrester Research,
but "they're terrified of losing subscription revenue, and it's a
hugely different approach from their regular print efforts, so it'd be
a lot of work."
I actually think that the fact that something like this could launch right under the noses of the online magazine sites is amazing. Completely understandandable given the lack of attention and flexibility of the magazines but in being so understandable it underscores the reason most online versions of magazines seem stuck. Go Glam go.
Help for those with super rapid beard growth. Gillette introduces a five blade razor which was predicted by no less an authority than Paco Underhill The Onion. History might have been different if Nixon had used one of these.
On Saturday I stumbled onto a Labor Day Parade making it's lonely way up Fifth Avenue, a week late. At first I didn't know what parade it could be so I asked a cop . He told me that it was a parade for city unions and that last weekend he worked the West Indian Day Parade on Eastern Parkway. I happened to be near Trump Tower and the banner hanging there makes inadvertently makes a fine statement about the current state of labor unions in the US today.
E-bay buying Skype - Susan Mernit has some excellent links and thoughts. Post 1 ; Post 2
Interesting applications for the iPod- the Guitar app is something I'm going to try. Crowded field though (via Steve Rubell)
This morning I realized that in all probability the deodorant I'm using is named after Robert Mitchum. Sure enough it has it's own web site chock-block full of stupid flash quizzes and games. My excuse for looking at it was of course bookish, during a search for the history of the brand. Glad to say I passed the "Tests of Manhood" doing slightly better than I did on the 8th grade math test from Illinois. A2+B2=C2, how could I forget? Now that I've made the connection I may switch to something else.
Google hires "founding father of the Internet" Vint Cerf to be Chief Internet evangelist. Always liked that term reminds me of the early days of the web...but he is also of the future; "Cerf is also working on the Interplanetary Network, a
project of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, which aims to extend the
Internet into outer space for planet-to-planet communications." (John Battelle which is where the link will lead you)
I'm in a foul mood. And if it weren't for the fact that I'm getting married on the 24th I be marching in Washington. I've also just started reading Wolfgang Schivelbusch's, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery, which I bought two years ago at the beginning of the war. At the time I was wondering what some of the historical precedents if any were for a country like Iraq. Now it seems much more germane to things here as well.
I haven't felt like posting in several days because what's happening in New Orleans is so overwhelming. We've been glued to the radio and also to the Internet coverage from online papers and blogs. In my household and among my friends it is also bringing right back to the surface memories of 9/11, and the what ifs, or whens, of something else in NY. Watching the inept response makes us on the one hand thankful for the amazing local leadership and civil servants we have. During 9/11 I remember the inability of the friends across the country to get it, they didn't quite understand what we were going through. Or the others who would say "why don't you come up to country", when we couldn't even get in to get a train. The web has changed that for everyone, from the feeds, news, flickr photos, to the blog of an Internet company holed up in their downtown building. In one of the photos on their blog you can see that the water that the National Guard finally dropped is called "Nirvana". There are some tremendous resources and tools springin up and Jeff Jarvis comments on them but also points out that it isn't quite there yet as a response engine. His posts which I've caught up on tonight are great.
For me this brings up one of my biggest fears, that of waking up one day and finding everything I know to be gone, like a scene from "Escape from New York". Sometimes loss gives way to new beginnings. I saw a photo in this week's New Yorker of some Romanian shepherds standing outside Ellis Island wearing their ethnic clothes, starting out life in America. They came from the steppes to a bustling city. A loss in some ways a gain in others. But far different from the loss of everything and marginalization that is happening to the poor people being bused from the Superdome to the Astrodome. The fact that one of the officials at The Astrodome said about the refugees who were arriving "they are not prisoners" is amazing and so are the raw racial elements evident in what is going on. Why stadiums and not tent cities?
While I was looking at the New Yorker the person across from me on the subway was reading the NY Post whose headline read, "Dodge City; Rape and Anarchy in New Orleans". In it an armed personnel carrier passes a group of African Americans standing on the side of the road. Could be Iraq but no, it is one of the most storied American cities. This possibility was predicted, and while the President said "no one expected the levees to break", the blogs and even the news are filled with articles that refute that. The whole thing is just horrific; from the loss and the suffering, the policies that contributed to it; the gutting of the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA, the fact that over 1/3 of the Louisiana and Mississippi National Guard are deployed in Iraq; the fact there this has yet further exposed our country's current inability to deal with a significant disaster making us even more vulnerable to another 9/11; that the majority of the people there couldn't afford to get out on their own as if it were their responsibility, to global warming and our refusal to even acknowledge it. What's amazing now is to see the complete breakdown or seeming breakdown of society for that is the messaging in the press of society in full view. Looters will be shot seems to be the message and any stealing is looting. Where is the fine line between looting and simple survival? Now we have soldiers deployed and martial law seems to be coming that line is lost. But it is also important to note that as The Guardian points out many of the terrible stories may be apocryphal. Hope so.
I went to a school in New York called Ethical Culture. Every week we would have ethics lessons that included the classic ethical quandaries, choices that have to be made in tough circumstances from a humanist standpoint. At what point is it okay to steal medicine if at all? There was also a so-so movie a few years ago called The Trigger Effect that must have been written by a graduate that outlines the ethical choices a person can make in times of crisis. How does a person keep their family together and survive in a crisis? What can I do to help. These are the things I've been thinking about as I surf, listen, empathize, cry, rage, and yes - worry. So light posting perhaps will continue for the next little while.
An amazing Google map hack that enables you to plot where you walked and see the route, the distance, and the calories burned. Just fantastic. (via Peter Merholz who also contiues his great web 2.0 as philosphy discussion)