Oh John Carroll

Month: July 2013 (page 1 of 5)

Gary Shteyngart is an early adopter for Google Glass. He wrote about his experiences using the techie eyewear for The New Yorker:

As I leave Basecamp, I cross a bike lane where, a week earlier, I’d nearly been run over, an irate cyclist telling me exactly where I should wedge the iPhone I was distractedly tapping at the time. A similar near-miss now brings out a shout of “O.K., Glass!” from a cyclist clearly in the know. As I walk down lower Lexington’s curry row, a group of Indian men start chanting, “Google Glass! Google Glass!” Freshmen from Xavier High School follow me for an entire city block the way kids in the world’s poorest countries follow you if you have, say, a pen. I hear that in San Francisco, where these devices are far more in evidence, the term “Glassholes” is already current, but in New York I am a conquering hero. I pass by fascinated faces looking intently into my own unremarkable punim, as I update Walt Whitman’s poem—“Are You the New Dork Drawn Toward Me?”

This is great. Cord Jefferson for Gawker:

As I said, I know a lot of whites don’t want to hear this kind of tough talk. But as an American of color who considers himself an ally to the white community, I’m just tired of seeing young, belligerent white people disgrace themselves year after year at surfing events, horse racing infields, and Ivy League campuses. Whites in America have been out from under their European ancestors’ boot heels for centuries; California specifically outlawed preferences for nonwhites in state hiring and education nearly two decades ago. So being “oppressed” is no longer an excuse for behavior like this. How long must we wait for the white community to get its act together?

Splitsider published a new piece that I co-wrote with my friend and collaborator Nick Klinger. It’s called “Miniature Golf Infractions,” and you can read it here.

Ben Thompson writes about Facebook and advertising:

You can’t help but see the advertising, which makes it particularly attractive to advertisers. Brand advertising, especially, is all about visuals and video (launching soon!), but no one has been able to make brand advertising work as well on the web as it does on TV or print. There is simply too much to see on the screen at any given time.

I don’t like ads or advertising, and feel sort of gross writing about them. But I wanted to link to this because it seems to be a giant opportunity that too many newspapers are missing. I’ve always found it weird that it’s more expensive to read a newspaper on a phone or tablet app — and that’s just for the ones that offer such an app. Most newspapers simply have a web site, at best one altered to fit on mobile devices.

Those sites typically throw ads at you as you arrive on the site. But nothing sends me away faster. Newspapers should be more like Facebook in this regard: the ads should be integrated into the content itself. No, I don’t want to see a Starbucks ad, but I’ll deal with it if it allows a newspaper to operate in the black. If such an ad is offered in a mobile app, it remains on the screen the entire time I’m reading. I have to see it. I can’t simply scroll past it.

I imagine this isn’t happening for the same reasons that most newspapers are failing: short-term costs are more pressing than long-term benefits. Those with the ability to make that decision are more intimidated by the time and cost of developing such an app rather than the benefits of gaining more customers and developing a more fruitful advertising model.

Susan Elizabeth Shepard wrote an excellent story about stripping in American boomtowns:

Williston is booming right now. I’ve worked there since 2007, and oil has changed the town both completely and not at all. Whispers’ transition from typically tiny, haphazard small-town strip club into one trying to balance down home and big city is not working out too well, and it’s an example of the boom–bust cycle writ small. Capitalism’s inherent gamble plays out on a small stage with a chrome pole while lessons in second chances and knowing when to cut your losses are there to take to heart or ignore. It’s more America than anywhere I’ve been. Some oil workers think improvements in drilling and fracking technology will sustain the economy for decades, but that’s not my area of expertise. What I do know about is what it’s like to revisit a place you hate again and again over the span of six years, watch it change, and realize you’re watching history repeating and that you’re just another camp follower along the frontier, profiting from mineral extraction booms, chasing opportunity and running from stagnation.

I’m loving this new web site from the team behind The Wirecutter. I can already vouch for the towel and laundry detergent recommendations. A must-visit if you’re researching home goods, or unhappy with whatever you already buy.

This has made the rounds, so maybe you’ve already seen it, but I finally got to read Patton Oswalt’s closed letter to himself about thievery, heckling and rape jokes. If you’re like me and haven’t seen it, I recommend you do:

In the exact moment after I’d realized that what Blaine said was true, that I’d cribbed a laugh from someone else’s creativity and inspiration, my ego kicked in. And, I mean, my real ego. Not ego’s sociopathic cousin, hubris, which would have made me defensive, aggressive and ultimately rationalize the theft. No, the good kind of ego, the kind that wanted success and fame and praise on my own merits, no matter how long it took.

A new poem by Patricia Lockwood, now live at The Awl.

Why does it feel like our lives play out faster as we get older? Richard A. Friedman explains in The New York Times:

Don’t despair. I am happy to tell you that the apparent velocity of time is a big fat cognitive illusion and happy to say there may be a way to slow the velocity of our later lives.

At Sports On Earth, Patrick Hruby writes about the insane pricing that drives sports on cable television:

Here’s how it works: About 100 million households that get pay television also get ESPN (and in many cases, some or all of its spinoff networks) as part of their basic cable package. According to SNL Kagan and Barclays Capital estimates cited by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, ESPN charges cable and satellite companies a monthly $5.06 affiliate fee per subscriber. (The spinoffs cost extra: ESPN2, for instance, has a monthly $0.67 affiliate fee.) Do a bit of quick math — 100 million subscribers x $5.06 affiliate fee x 12 months — and voila, you’ve just surpassed a cool $6 billion. Much of that coming from suckers consumers who neither use nor care about your product, a business model that New York Times writer Adam Davison calls “one of the most clever in our modern economy,” others call a “sports tax” and the rest of the athletic world is rushing to cash in on.

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