[T]he most frustrating bit of The Social Network is … . . its failure to even mention the real magic behind the Facebook story … . that Zuckerberg’s genius could be embraced by half-a-billion people within six years of its first being launched, without (and here is the critical bit) asking permission of anyone. The real story is not the invention. It is the platform that makes the invention sing … . . For less than $1,000, [Zuckerberg] could get his idea onto the Internet. He needed no permission from the network provider. He needed no clearance from Harvard to offer it to Harvard students. Neither with Yale, or Princeton, or Stanford. Nor with every other community he invited in. Because the platform of the Internet is open and free, or in the language of the day, because it is a “neutral network,” a billion Mark Zuckerbergs have the opportunity to invent for the platform … . The tragedy … . . is that practically everyone watching it will miss this point. Practically everyone walking out will think they understand genius on the Internet. But almost none will have seen the real genius here. And that is tragedy because just at the moment when we celebrate the product of these two wonders—Zuckerberg and the Internet—working together, policymakers are conspiring ferociously with old world powers to remove the conditions for this success. As “network neutrality” gets bargained away … . the opportunities for the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow will shrink. And as they do, we will return more to the world where success depends upon permission. And privilege. And insiders. And where fewer turn their souls to inventing the next great idea.
Dan Chiasson, writing in the New York Review of Books on The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis: “The stories can seem like impersonal, even cruel personals ads, as though their author were paying for space by the word…. It is possible to regard Davis’s interest in human beings as more forensic than empathic, as though she were running a clinical trial. But I think the days of regarding her this way are now over, with the publication of this magnificent volume. Joyce called his Dubliners style a ‘scrupulous meanness’: Davis is the heir to that style, and to another, earlier heir to it, Samuel Beckett. But this is one bright and comprehensive book of life, a kind of handbook of human paradox.”
(updated post with LA Times review)
Released April 13, 2010, journalist David Lipsky’s account of his short trip accompanying David Foster Wallace on the last leg of the Infinite Jest book tour.
A Q&A with the author, David Lipsky.
Scott Esposito of The Los Angeles Times with his review: “On the face of it, ‘Although of Course’ has the makings of fine public entertainment: a media-shy, immensely talented novelist suddenly forced to confront his fears when his Bible-sized masterpiece catapults him to the heights of success; the glossy magazine reporter to whom he’s speaking out of obligation to his publisher; the time they spend together, driving, eating at roadside diners, building trust and having expansive conversations. The problem is that in presenting all this as little more than a lightly edited transcript of his and Wallace’s tape-recorded conversations, Lipsky essentially cedes his right to make it into a coherent narrative. The result is a book frequently compelling for its bracing candor and idiosyncratic quirks that fails to live up to its promise.”
“Steve Ballmer’s” iPad review
I have a soft spot for artwork that involves text. A review of the new book “Art and Text” at I Love Typography. From the review: “It covers works that include some text, are made up of text, or are text. The subject of these works is often the intersection of art, philosophy, and linguistics. While a few older works are shown, the focus of the book is 1960–2008 with most of the work from the latter decades.”