Maria Popova's Beautiful Mind

Mother Jones • January/February 2012

Info junkie supreme. Check out this interview with Brain Pickings creator Maria Popova. Her energy level is phenomenal, and her story illustrates the power of information curation to inspire combinatorial creativity.

ATF readers know that I am a Popova fan and Brain Pickings has been pressed on you multiple times. Despite my enthusiasm for her work I never bothered to learn anything about her or her background. I'm still a fan but now she scares me. (Maria's original motivation—look outside your domain for inspiration—is echoed loudly in this short HBR blog entry.) ( Michalko)

Fragmentary: Writing in a Digital Age

The Millions • January 24, 2012

One tweet at a time. Writer Guy Patrick Cunningham ponders the effect that fragmentary reading habits will have on long-form writing. To accommodate the snippet crowd, some writers are chopping up their creative output into tweet-length texts—just the type of shallow fare that Nicholas Carr warned about.

The author tries to make a case for "fragmentary" (not fragmented) writing as a particular form that exploits digital modes and expectations creating a different aesthetic experience. Fragmentary writing "draws from online writing styles, including blogging, which encourage readers to comment on, excerpt, or link to an existing text."  That ought to be meta enough for ATF subscribers. ( Michalko)

Blogs vs. Term Papers

The New York Times • January 20, 2012

Out with the old? The classic research paper is an endangered species, according to journalist Matt Richtel. Professors report that students are more engaged with their subject when blogging, and some suggest that enthusiasm compensates for the lack of rigorous structure and reasoning. Read on for mixed views on whether academic writing is already passé.

Another dimension of the discussion about "digital" writing. This one characterized by what looks to be a fair-sized rift in the academy instantiated nicely by those interviewed in the article. For what it's worth I'm with the guy who thinks blogs are fine, "but nobody would conflate interesting writing with premise, evidence, argument and conclusion." Old literacy versus new literacy. Fragmentary versus longform. Fragmented versus combinatorial creativity. I want them all. ( Michalko)

Is the Keyboard Going the Way of the Typewriter?

IEEE Spectrum • January 23, 2012

Select your type. Peruse this overview of the latest keyboard alternative technologies featured at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES). For more on what's ahead in computing interfaces, check out All Things D's coverage of the show in How Touchscreens Are Forcing the Reinvention of Keyboards and Touchscreen vs. Keyboard, the Sequel.

Some years ago in Tokyo's Akihabara electronics neighborhood I saw personal computers that had no input mechanism other than a cell phone-sized device for thumb typing. If you don't follow CES reporting this is a good summary rich with links. ( Michalko)

Innovating the Library Way

HBR Blog Network • January 26, 2012

Let's get physical. Check out this charming story of how one library leveraged its bricks-and-mortar presence in its community to enchant young patrons.

This is a very brief piece but still nice to see it appear in a Harvard Business Review property. Culturematic?? Check out what the stuffed animals at our office do when we're not around. And we're not the only ones who love those animals— check this out. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what has become a more visible issue emerging from the rise of webscale services which handle large amounts of users, transactions and data?

Get the answer.