A million years ago, I helped a celebrated science writer and a semi-professional bridge player, Uday Ivatury, launch the first NYC ISP focused on consumers: The Pipeline. It was a wonderful experience.
The celebrated science writer was James Gleick and he's as justly celebrated today as he was then when had "only" publish the first two of his books, Chaos and Genius. Now, he has had his sixth book published, The Information, and the reviews are excellent. It is also going to be shelved alongside some of the books I've recently written about that address similar issues: the perils and promise of the information age.
A recent review caught my eye as it ended up being caught in the same news scan as Mr. Stoppard's clips. Here's the relevant bit:
And yet, Gleick remains relatively sanguine on the ability of systems, or networks, to sort themselves. (He writes at length about Wikipedia as a self-policing community, despite the skepticism it provokes among journalists and academics.) Or to remain unsorted, since ultimately there is so much information that "[o]ne can fairly say that even God has forgotten." Toward the end of the book, he recalls the great library of Alexandria, which, beginning in the third century BC, "maintained the greatest collection of knowledge on earth, then and for centuries to come." Among its hundreds of thousands of scrolls, Gleick tells us, were "the dramas of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides; the mathematics of Euclid, Archimedes, and Eratosthenes; poetry, medical texts, star charts, mystical writings. … And then it burned."
The point, of course, is that everything is perishable, that the universe itself is erasable — except that it's not. "All the lost plays of the Athenians!" he declares, citing a line from Tom Stoppard's play "Arcadia." "How can we sleep for grief?" The answer is simple: "By counting our stock."
This, Gleick concludes, is the great rule of the universe, and of the library, both actual and figurative, as well. "The library will endure," he writes; "it is the universe. … We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence" — just as we have always done. [more]
I wonder if Mr. Gleick has had a chance to see the Broadway revival of Arcadia? It's bound to be one of his favorites.
I love the fact Mr. Stoppard worries so much about just three minutes, what he calls "100 beats." After all this time and all those accolades about the play, he still worries about how he might be able to make it better.
The difficulty in finding lines to cut is not surprising. To many critics “Arcadia” is Mr. Stoppard’s masterwork, the perfect blend of brains and emotion, wit and heartache. Moving between 1809 and the present at a Derbyshire country house, it offers up a mystery for two academics who clumsily try to piece together whether a volatile mix of sex and poetry led to a duel there nearly 200 years earlier. During the 1990s it was one of the most frequently produced plays around the world.
Still, those three minutes trouble him. “When you write, it’s making a certain kind of music in your head,” he explained. “There’s a rhythm to it, a pulse, and on the whole I’m writing to that drum, rather than the psychological process” — the time it takes for one character to digest and respond to what another said — “which creates its own drumbeat.” [more]
I didn't know Arcadia was one of the most frequently produced plays in the 1990s. Makes me wonder about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead during the sixties and seventies.
I've done some work for IBM and it was some of the most rewarding work I've ever done. The people I worked with were very bright and very good at what they did. Specifically, I worked with the Entry Systems Division (aka the PC group) and the Advanced Technology Group (aka Unix workstations). You probably have a fair impression of what IBM has accomplished in the past 100 years, but this wonderfully produced film might remind you of a few things.
Running the risk of being the last one to tell you, I must be sure you notice an article from a couple of weeks ago in The New Yorker by Adam Gopnik: The Information. The article follows a theme I've noticed and commented on here for several months now: the spate of new books about the good, the bad and the ugly about the Information Revolution.
Gopnik shelves the new books into three different different sections:
Never-Betters, better-Nevers and the Ever-Wasers. Huh?
The Never-Betters believe that we’re on the brink of a new utopia, where information will be free and democratic, news will be made from the bottom up, love will reign, and cookies will bake themselves. The Better-Nevers think that we would have been better off if the whole thing had never happened, that the world that is coming to an end is superior to the one that is taking its place, and that, at a minimum, books and magazines create private space for minds in ways that twenty-second bursts of information don’t. The Ever-Wasers insist that at any moment in modernity something like this is going on, and that a new way of organizing data and connecting users is always thrilling to some and chilling to others—that something like this is going on is exactly what makes it a modern moment. [more]
Gopnik has done an amazing job collecting and the revelant titles and authors and this is article is a "must read" summary of these three important threads of thought --So go read it alreaday!
One of the many benefits of living in the Bay Area is enjoying Michael Tilson Thomas. It must be clear to you, or, with very little effort, become clear to you that Maestro Thomas is both a leading music director and the leading innovator in music direction.
The San Francisco Symphony is preparing to celebrate it's 100th anniversary and Maestro Thomas and his team have put together an amazing roster of performances and events. Be sure to take a look because I guarantee you there's something that will interest you no matter what your taste or interest. [Here's a complete rundown from the San Francisco Chronicle of the season.]
Here are some of the highlights that fit into my own aesthetic agenda:
Here's a snippet from the NYTimes about the symphony's centennary season:
With his strong theatrical roots, Mr. Tilson Thomas is better positioned to turn concerts into multimedia experiences than many other music directors.
His grandparents Bessie and Boris Thomashefsky were Yiddish theater stars. In 2005, Mr. Tilson Thomas based a musical revue, “The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of Life in the Yiddish Theater,” on them.
“Michael Tilson Thomas has been at the vanguard of multimedia programming,” said Chad Smith, the vice president for artistic planning for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Although Mr. Tilson Thomas relishes exploring the scenic possibilities of the concert hall, his strength as a stage director emphasizes subtlety over spectacle. [more]
According to me, there are too few interviews at all w/ Mr. Stoppard, much less video interviews. So, here's a link to a brand new video from The New Yorker.
PS: Does John Lahr look his father or what?!??!?!
You, dear friend, know I'm excited about the revival of Stoppard's Arcadia that's now in previews on Broadway. Apparently, The New Yorker is too as they've just published (online) one of its "casuals" that follows Mr. Stoppard through the course of an afternoon and early evening. --The especially good part of the article is learning something I neve knew before about Mr. Stoppard's work in particular and in general what works (and why) on the stage. Herewith:
“Arcadia” exists as a result of Stoppard’s having read, twenty or so years ago, several books about physics, mathematics, landscape gardening, and a Peter Quennell biography of Lord Byron. As the dialogue ping-pongs along, the audience courts the peculiar risk of listening too carefully. “If you take a speech of ten lines—and this is true of Shakespeare and true of Tom—if that becomes too slow, there is no way you will comprehend it,” Leveaux said. “Too fast and it becomes a blur of words and you retreat defeated from the effort. There’s a kind of ideal resonant tempo.”
“That fits with what I think about playwriting,” Stoppard said. “It’s about controlling the flow of information—arriving at the right length and the right speed and in the right order. ‘Arcadia’ is obviously a play that’s got interesting things in it that are perhaps quite hard to grasp. But it’s also a detective form, and designed to be a recreation. If the audience is made to do not enough work, they resent it without knowing it. Too much and they get lost. There’s a perfect pace to be found. And a perfect place that is different for every line of the play.” [more]
By the by, as a public relations professional, it would be entirely remiss of me not to congratulation Ms. Emily Meagher of the agency Boneau/Bryan-Brown on this splendid placement. So: Congratulations, Ms. Meagher!
His desk has an old-fashioned Rolodex, a vintage Lucky Strike case and a neat bowl of paper clips. A small, cream-colored saucer doubled as an ashtray for his Marlboro Reds. A martini glass, mostly drained of Tanqueray, rested near a typed manuscript.
Wearing a slim gray suit and humming with nervous energy, Mr. Stein was ready to embark on a few hours of ambitious party-hopping: a book party in TriBeCa for his friend, the cross-dressing literary sensation Jon-Jon Goulian; a Harper’s magazine event attended by the writer Zadie Smith and a late-night dinner with friends at the French bistro Raoul’s in SoHo.
Bacchanalian nights are practically inscribed in the job description. Last spring, Mr. Stein was anointed the new editor of The Paris Review, only the third to hold the title in the magazine’s 58-year history, and the second to follow George Plimpton, himself a legendary New York social figure. [more]
By the way, just in case you didn't know, The Paris Review has published it's archives of author interviews and this was, originally, what drew me to the magazine, as, I would guess, so many others. Haven't read one lately? Go to the archive, type in the name of your favorite author and then find out h0w they did what they did. Now.
About one million years ago, I took a day off from work to stand in line at Bloomingdales to meet Ms. Deneuve on the occassion of the introduction of her fragrance to America. I had purchased several lovely 8x10 phan photos and she graciously signed one of them for me. Of course it's one of my treasured posessions.
Here's a link to the film festival.
Just in case you don't know what I want for Passover, I'll make it crystal clear: The new poster for Arcadia. For some who's lived their lives at the intersection between technology and Stoppard, there's nothing quite as compelling as the image of a white rose desolving and resolved into a length of cat5.
Playbill has published a story about Arcadia and, while I wouldn't describe the article as having any surprises, let me give you a snippets from the article:
Arcadia, according to producers, “is set in April 1809 in a stately home in Derbyshire. Thomasina, a gifted pupil, proposes a startling theory, beyond her comprehension. All around her, the adults, including her tutor Septimus, are preoccupied with secret desires, illicit passions and professional rivalries. Two hundred years later, academic adversaries Hannah and Bernard are piecing together puzzling clues, curiously recalling those events of 1809, in their quest for an increasingly elusive truth.” [more]
I'm not sure why the author of the article had to attribute the summary of the plot to the producer as if he hadn't read the play himself (oh) but that's the way it worked out.
And, really people, if you can arrange for me to get a post of the show, you would receive proper public adoration.
I'm moved to write this after spending a few minutes this morning reading the New York Times eviscerate Ms. Taymor's Broadway production of Spiderman. For at least two months now, I've held the belief her excellent version of The Tempest would somehow fall in the shadow cast by the controversy of her current work on Broadway. --After viewing the movie myself, I'm not sure it is collateral damage in the war between Ms. Taymor and the media or, perhaps, it simply hasn't earned the media's attention on its own merits. But, regarding its merits, we need to notice somethings before the lights dim and the first reel threads through the machine.
Ms. Taymor has earned our attention and respect. Her collected work in film is original and striking. Where do we being? Frida? Titus? Across the Universe? Pick three. Pick two. Pick ust one and you hold a reason for you to pay attention to what ever Ms. Taymor decides to do next. Just within the realm of Shakespeare, her vision of Titus is unforgettable and purchases my constant interest.
The Tempest isn't a perfect film but I won't dwell on it's shortcomings. I mention this just to signal I'm not a relentless fanboy and, perhaps, persuade you I have a balanced point-of-view. On the other hand, Ms. Taymor's production of The Tempest has forever changed how I understand and respond to the work. Just one small change in interpretation changes my reckoning: Casting Helen Mirren as Prospera. Honestly, I will never be able to experience The Tempest ever again without thinking how much better it works with Prospera instead of Prospero. Prospera's relationship with Caliban, Miranda, Gonzalo and Ariel ... every relationship makes so much more sense and feels more genuine. I left the theater thinking to myself that this was, without a doubt, what Shakespeare had intended but unable to stage due to his time and the public's taste.
It is a shame and a pity The Tempest didn't enjoy a wider release because the public has missed the opportunity to experience the film as Ms. Taymor intended. On the other hand, I'm absolutely certain The Tempest will survive a very long time as the best way into the play for thousands of English Lit students.
Overall, I'm not treking to Broadway to see Spiderman as I don't understand the comic book genre, but am quite interested in anything Ms. Taymor touches next.
Now, if we could just persuade Ms. Taymor to tackle Julius Caesar.
I was priviledged to see Mr. Crudup in The Coast of Uptopia. Mr. Crudup played Belinsky and Belinsky turned out to be one of my favorite characters in the trilogy, even though he only appeared in the first two plays.
I deeply and sincerely wish I had seen Mr. Crudup's turn as Septimus Hoge in the original Broadway production of Arcadia. Now, I sincerely wish I could see Mr. Crudup play the role of Bernard Nightingale in that same play.
Just this week, I listened to the BBC production of Arcadia and enjoyed it oh, so much. The BBC production is from 1993 with Felicity Kendal, Bill Nighy, Samuel West, Rufus Sewell, Emma Fielding and Harriet Walter. It is wonderful and I wish I could refer you to that production but am delighted to let you know that the LA Theatre Works has created a audio version of the play that is almost just as good. (I express the caveat "almost" due to the appearance of Felicity Kendall in the BBC production as I am particularly fond of her an anything by Mr. Stoppard or anyone else for that matter.)
But back to the matter.
For those who know that play, you know that Septimus and Nightingale are counterparts to one another. Septimus is a character in the 18thC part of the play and Bernard is a character in the 20th. Here's what Crudup recently said about the change of roles:
“When you’re introduced into the [Broadway] community in a role like Septimus Hodge, you get to pretend you’re this thrilling romantic figure. I was only six months out of graduate school at the time, so I got to ride on his coattails for a few years. Bernard, however, is a big, pompous buffon, so I’m hoping not to ride his coattails."
Arcadia begins previews on February 26 and is schedule to open on March 17 at the Ethel Barrymore.
In the meantime, gentle reader, here's a quick taste:
We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again.
Today comes word Wilfrid Sheed has passed and when I saw the obituary in today's NY Times, I had to pause because I met Mr. Sheed twenty-eight years ago and then, he impressed me as someone quite infirm. --Of course I was greatly mistaken.
I was a Very Young Person, toiling in the Manhattan caverns of book publishing and Mr. Sheed had found at temporary home at my employer, E.P. Dutton. He had written one of his memoirs, this one about Clare Boothe Luce and how the Great Lady sheltered and nurtured Mr. Sheed. It's one of those books that reads as if we are listening to someone reminice while we're both comfortably enscounced in the Algonquin's Oak Room on a winter afternoon with just enough sherry.
The fact that Mr. Sheed was a polio survivor probably influenced how I regarded him, but there was more than that. Mr. Sheed was a connection to another time and sensibility. He was a graduate of Lincoln College, Oxford Univeristy and had much, much more in common with Evelyn Waugh and Chesterton than the most popular writer of his own era, John Irving (and that's another story I'll need to type up one day).
God bless you, Mr. Sheed.
Very Recently, I posted regarding the possibility of a sequel to Shakespeare in Love and my ... skepticism. Now comes the news that the movie may be turned into a ... play.
Okay, overall, I think that there are been many successful transitions from the stage to the screen and I'm trying to recall any, some, that transitioned the other direction. My concern is this: How am I going to feel about a play that assembles a cast that has to compete -- in my mind -- with this one:
I know that someone, somewhere loves Shakespeare in Love more than I do ... probably. But I feel confident letting you, dear reader, know that I've seen the movie more times than you have and, without fail, tears well up in my eyes Every ... Single ... Time.
So, why do I feel so actively ambivelant, nay, discouraged, when I read late last year that the Weinstein company has announced it is planning a sequel. I could make the jokes myself, but have the good sense to let the New York Times take the lead:
Where does one go after “Shakespeare in Love,” which ends with its title character immersing himself in the writing of “Twelfth Night” while his sweetheart, Viola, is bound for the New World? What comes next? “Shakespeare in Tears”? “Shakespeare in Bed, Eating Bon-Bons”? “Shakespeare in a Disappointing Marriage With Anne Hathaway, Running Out the Clock While Thinking of Gwyneth Paltrow“? [more]
Honestly, the only person who could possibly pull this off is the author of the original, Tom Stoppard. Only the person who can build a play out of Rosencrantz and Guilderstern can possibly stand in that small, unpainted corner of the floor and find a way to the window.
The photo to the left explains the popularity of the Hipstamatic application for the iPhone. But other than that, it's a photo of Joyce Carol Oates and her beloved husband Raymond Smith from outside their home in Windsor, Ontario in 1970, about nine years after they were married.
The photograph is from Ms. Oates personal collection and was posted to The New Yorker's website to accompany the publication of Ms. Oates memoir of her husband's death -- and I highly recommend you read the article from the December 13, 2010 issue.
Ms. Oates has a special place in my heart for three reasons.
1. Most importantly, she is an amazing writer who has has proven she can write anything, froma Gothic Romance to a study on the sweet science of boxing. Her writing is lovely and stories always capture my imagination.
2. & 3. She's ... odd, prolific, and oddly prolific. I was blessed with the opportunity to cross paths her a couple of times. My first job in NYC was at E.P.Dutton, one of her publishers. One publisher was not enough to keep up with her. While I worked at Dutton, she published two sizable novels, Bellfleur and Angels of Light. Inbetween, there were the short stories, criticism, novellas and her work on husband Smith's journal, Actually there was so much work to published, she put two different pen names to work in addition to her own. Oh, and the poetry. Oh, and there was her own literary journal, The Ontario Review. --Oh, and there was the full-time gig at Princeton. Because she was so busy, and because her audience isn't really susceptible to media hype, Ms. Oates didn't do many interviews, but she did a radio interview while I was there that was organized by one of my bosses, Jean Rawitt. Ms. Rawitt returned to the office following the interview and the legendary Lois Shapiro, the director of pulicity at Dutton (and latter The Free Press), asked Ms. Rawitt how it went. Apparently, according to Jean, the interviewer asked Ms. Oates how it was she was able to produce such a prodigious volume of work. Ms. Oates replied that it wasn't hard at all, she just typed up what the voices in her head had to say. --And that was the end of the interviews for a while.
And I admire someone who, in the course of their profession, transcends this grey, slumbering realm and enters into another world that is obviously more alive and vibrant and, of course, imaginative and vivid. And this is how I usually select my favorite artists. Can an ordinary human, scuffling around here in the shadows, create art on the order of Moby Dick? The Ring of the Nibelung? Bach's Cello Sonatas? Leaves of Grass? The second side of Abby Road? Obviously, I don't think so. At the very least, these works result from -- at least -- a dialog between the artist and a higher power and, more likely, a visit to this other realm where, like this Prometheus, she steals some fire and, on return to here, some spark survives. And the artist tends after the ember until she's able to fan it into flame.
Ms. Oates is a wild and uncontrollable force whose gusts ignites all those tiny sparks she tends to with such loving care. I've always worried about her because, she's so small, so thin-boned, those gust would snap her or that such flames would consume her. But, just like the thin-boned bird, her wings carry her above us all. Amen.
The Guardian ran a very interesting story this past week. In the article, some forty or so writers are asked which book they read this year made the biggest impression on them. And, of course, I'm writing this because Mr. Stoppard was queried.
Just based on what Mr. Stoppard writes, I've always assumed he focuses on classics and works that will, someday, end up in his plays. Instead, I learned that Mr. Stoppard is up-to-date on his non-fiction and fiction. Here's what he has to say:
I started the year by reading a dozen books on the Wall Street implosion. Even if you're bored with it all, The Big Short by Michael Lewis (Allen Lane) is unmissable: and if you're not, How Markets Fail by John Cassidy (Penguin) has the best, deepest backstory, and is as well written as you would expect from someone who covers economics for the New Yorker.
This year, too, I enormously enjoyed the last 518 pages of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections (Fourth Estate), which I had put aside in 2001 to read when I had time. I am now on page 14 of Freedom. Highly recommended.
And here's a link to the entire article.
When last we checked in, Sir Tom Stoppard was penning a BBC TV version of Ford Maddox Ford's Parade's End. the mamoth work that became a cornerstone for moderism. This just in: Stoppard is reportedly writing a sceenplay of Anna Karenina, also for the BBC and it will star Keira Knightley.
Here's the report from the Indie Wire:
Working Title has been developing a new adaptation, written by the great playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, and that a script’s due before Christmas. The studio’s favorite son, Joe Wright (”Pride & Prejudice,” “Atonement”) is attached to the new version, and in the spring, the director’s likely to make a decision as to whether to direct this, or the dark Abi Morgan-scripted take on “The Little Mermaid” announced earlier in the year. [more]
It warms my heart to find out that, at 73-years-old, Mr. Stoppard is not slowing down at all and that there's so much to anticipate.
I don't understand the world, just a little bit of my view from where I stand and one of the places I've stood is in the world of journalism. There, i've met some very bright people and some people who would have put the children in the coal mines.
I'm not sure what it is about being a publisher, but it can really bring out the worse in some people. For example, a million years ago, i worked for someone who intentionally cultivated an image of cruelty. This person once told me, appropos of nothing in particular, he would never intentionally hire a handicapped person. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the office one day and found a lovely lady in a wheelchair setting type. Deciding to tease the publisher, i strolled into his office and reminded him what he told me. His reply is forever etched into my memory because I never, to this day, decided if he was kidding me or not. He said, "Yeah. I reconsidered. I thought about it and figured out if I ever needed to get any overtime out of her I could always grabber her wheels and put her up on blocks." And I will never know.
The New Yorker has profiled Nick Denton and this is what his colleagues have to say about him:
“He’s not, like, a sociopath, but you kind of have to watch what you’re doing around him,” Ricky Van Veen, the C.E.O. of the Web site College Humor, told me.
“The villain public persona is not a hundred-per-cent true,” A. J. Daulerio, the editor-in-chief of Deadspin, Gawker Media’s sports blog, said. “It’s probably eighty-per-cent true.”
“I can’t lie to make him worse than he is, but he’s pretty bad,” Ian Spiegelman, a former Gawker writer, said.
“Other people’s emotions are alien to him,” Choire Sicha, another Gawker alumnus, said.
“He’s got a strong carapace of not really thinking other people’s opinions are that important,” John Gapper, a columnist at the Financial Times, said.
“He’s right,” Matt Welch, the editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, said. “He’s never right about me, of course. But people are lazy and not very good.”
“He almost sees people as Legos moving around,” Sheila McClear said.
“He’s not a fully human person,” Spiegelman said.
“I mean, maybe he thinks he’s the one truly advanced human,” Anna Holmes, the founding editor of Jezebel, a.k.a. Girlie Gawker, said.
“Does he have parents?” Daulerio asked.
“I always imagine that he came fully formed out of British finishing school,” Holmes said.
“What can you do with a person like that?” Spiegelman said. “He’s a character out of Dr. Seuss, frankly.”
“Nick is a bit of a sphinx on purpose,” Joel Johnson, the longest-serving Gizmodo writer, said. “He has some of the attributes of the dork who wraps his Asperger’s around him like a cloak.”
“There’s no point in writing about Nick if you can’t get to the fundamental problem of his nihilism,” Moe Tkacik, who has worked at both Gawker and Jezebel, said.
If you want to find out how the mind of a publisher works, there's precious few opportunities better than this.
b|net understands this as well as everyone else and posted a feature today, The 10 Worst Business Ideas of All Time.
9. Set new strategy and expect employees to feel empowered to make it happen.
The fundamental problem here is that planned change and empowerment cancel each other out. Planned change relies on an external source of change: do this because I said so. Empowerment says "find your passion and do that." So combining them in this way is just mumbo-jumbo. [more]
This one hits home for me because I've worked at plenty of large companies where the executive leadership experienced some sort of revelation and then decided to turn the company on a dime in an entirely different direction proving that its far easier to do it right the first time than to get it wrong and then try to fix it.
The other thing we read in point nine is that it's difficult to get employees, who enlisted in one company, to re-enlist them in the new direction. Remember, the new direction is either an opportunity that was overlooked on an attempt to recover from a mistake. Either way, this isn't a confidence building experience.
I just found an interesting article in Fast Company that is a defense of Millenials, Why Bashing Millenials is Wrong. The article is by Nancy Lublin, the CEO of Do Something and author of several book and many more magazine articles. Here's a sample of what she has to say:
Millennials don't have traditional boundaries or an old-fashioned sense of privacy. They live out loud, sharing details of their lives with thousands of other people. Of course there are the obvious risks to this -- say, that unflattering, reputation-damaging photo that should have been deleted from Facebook -- but while you shake your cane at them for indulging in TMI, I see their openness as a great opportunity. For instance, when our summer intern @jimmyaungchen tweets and Facebooks about something he achieved at work, that's free marketing for Do Something to the 1,500 people in his immediate network. I now ask job applicants how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers they have.
Maybe the real problem isn't this generation -- maybe it's that the rest of us don't manage them for greatness, for maximum effect. What we often forget is that this generational clash is a timeworn tale. Whatever side of the divide you're on, it feels new. Yet it happens over and over -- say, once a generation. And in the end, the kids will always win. They're sort of like cats. [more]
It amazes me how much the Facebook newsfeed has redefined the meaning of "news" to me, especially now that I've added updates from the NYTimes, NPR and some of the radio stations I love. --There's something odd but real about coming up-to-date on Obama's efforts to salvage the Democrats' chances in the upcoming election and news about the upcoming bat mitzvah at the synagogue.
Behind this feed is an algorithm that pieces this feed together and this is what The Daily Beast thinks it has solved in this article called Cracking the Facebook Code. I highly recommend you taking a quick look at this article so you can better understand the Facebook experience.
We're sure you consider all of your musings fascinating—but Facebook doesn't. At various points in our test, Phil switched between writing plain status updates and posting links to content elsewhere on the Web. Even before some of our friends began stalking Phil, for those who were seeing updates from him, links appeared more frequently than status updates—presumably because links are more effective at driving "user engagement," which translates into people spending more time on Facebook.
After weeks of testing and trying everything from having Phil post videos to getting some of his friends to flood him with comments, by the end of our experiment, a few of our volunteers had still literally never seen Phil appear in their feeds, either Top News or Most Recent. These were the "popular kids"—users of Facebook with 600 or more friends. (Conversely, those with only 100 to 200 friends were among the first to spot Phil.) So the key, as you build your coterie of friends, is making sure to include some without huge networks. They'll see more of your feeds, interact in Facebook-approved ways, and up your visibility with all.
You read The Economist, don't you? (Well then, you should fix that.) For some of us who while away their time in the mines of Silicon Valley, we're treated to quarterly updates from The Economist on our little corner of the world and the new one finally reached my mailbox.
Here's a link to the online edition that focuses on energy, medicine the the requistie IT issues. I highly recommend the following selections:
Plese take a look.
The Wall Street Journal is doing a great job commemorating Mahler's 150th anniversary. Most recently the newspaper reviewed what appears to be a marvelous study of why Mahler is important and popular, Why Mahler?: How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed Our World. One thing I learned was that Leonard Bernstein was the first to record all of Mahler's symphonies. Of course, Bernstein recorded the symphonies twice.
The difference is that Mr. Lebrecht knows not only Mahler's music but a great deal about the composer himself, having published a fine, annotated compilation of reminiscences and documents, "Mahler Remembered" (1987). In "Why Mahler?" readers will find a compelling biographical sketch of Mahler's life, from his seminal student years in Vienna through his burgeoning career as a conductor and, finally, his ever more consuming ambitions as a composer. Mr. Lebrecht stresses Mahler's psychological struggles—he was notably given to fits of despair and arrogant impatience—and his Jewishness, an identity that brought him ambivalent memories, notoriety and opposition, especially during his years as director of the Vienna Opera (1897–1907), when racialist political anti-Semitism was ubiquitous.
Mr. Lebrecht's "search for Mahler" includes a perceptive but devastating portrait of Mahler's widow, the notorious Alma, known for her many husbands (including the architect Walter Gropius and the writer Franz Werfel) and many infidelities. It includes as well an account of the author's conversations with the composer's surviving daughter, the sculptor Anna. Along the way we meet performers and friends of Mr. Lebrecht's, including Gilbert Kaplan, an avid Mahler enthusiast, amateur conductor and the founder of Institutional Investor magazine. Mr. Kaplan has put extensive resources into Mahler advocacy, helping to underwrite the publishing of books on the composer and facsimiles of his scores. [more]