Posts from May 21, 2005

‘What you call serendipity, we call links’

‘What you call serendipity, we call links’

: Rafat Ali and I were at the same high-powered but off-the-record roundtable on the future of news media yesterday. It was a great session, I thought. And Rafat had one of the best lines of the day, which — because he just blogged it himself — I can now quote. The news people were voicing a commonly expressed concern that in this world of ours, without packaged, edited front pages and news-show rundowns, and home pages, for that matter, the reader/viewer/user loses serendipity: that is, the story you won’t look for but an editor will tell you. Rafat’s wonderful reply:

what you people call serendipity, we call links. What you people call the homepage, we call Bloglines. What you call indepth-reporting, we call blogging a story to death.



: Thanks for all the very nice comments, below, regarding my career move. Since I’m a lifelong wage slave and a chicken, it’s especially appreciated. But blog will still be blogs and so there are snarky comments even on this topic (I can imagine some of these commenters snarking about pictures of a bloggers’ new baby: “Ewwww, looks like Michael Moore!”). The snark:

So now you’re a full-time hypester eh?

A classic case of jumping on a bandwagon without knowing what’s really going on. But we live in an age of dilettantes and lightweights. 15-second attention spans demand 15-second pundits and prognosticators. I can just see Gladwell writing a retrospective on this craze in a year or two…

Well, actually, I’d say that Gladwell is just a craze.

The fight for “freedom”

The fight for “freedom”

: There are a few doozies in yesterday’s architectural review by Nicolai Ouroussoff of the new International Freedom Center designs set for the World Trade Center.

But the experience soon becomes Orwellian. The center’s upper-level galleries will be arranged in a spiral around the central light well. Under the current design, visitors will have to ride an elevator to the top and then walk back down along the spiral on a so-called “Freedom Walk.” This kind of manipulation seems silly, especially in a museum that celebrates freedom. By echoing the ramps down into the memorial pools, the downward spiral implies a direct connection between the cataclysm of 9/11 and a global struggle for “freedom” – a bit of simplistic propaganda. (An early rendering of the Freedom Center that was circulated at the development corporation’s offices included an image of a woman flashing a victory sign after voting in the recent Iraqi elections; that image has been replaced by a photo of Lyndon B. Johnson and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Oh, I would say there is a most direct connection between “the cataclysm of 9/11 and a global struggle for ‘freedom.'” We needn’t put quote marks around “freedom” — which is as good as saying “so-called freedom” — when it comes to freeing people from the opression of the Islamic fanatics who did this deed and ruled Afghanistan and threaten people throughout the world. We need to fight for freedom from their terror and tyranny. That’s not about “freedom.” That’s about freedom. In what world is extolling freedom is “Orwellian” “propaganda?”

And I’m offended by the substitution of a photo that more than symbolizes freedom in Iraq. That is precisely the photo that should be in a museum about freedom, damnit.

The review ends with this:

What is missing at ground zero is a sense of humility. This is something that cannot be remedied by reducing the scale of a building. We should refocus attention on what matters most: remembering the human beings who were lost at ground zero, while allowing life to return to the void there. The rest is a pointless distraction.

I don’t understand the use of the word “humility” any more than I understand the use of the words “Orwellian” or “propaganda” in this setting — and apparently no better than the critic understands the use of the word “freedom” in this context. Is “humility” a proxy for the notion that we should ask why they hate us? Let Bill Maher build that building. Or is this the notion that we should stand humbly before the sacrifice of so many good and innocent lives lost? In that case, I agree.