Ramón Lobo Interviews David Remnick

From the lengthy Q&A:

Coming back to the first topic of our conversation, how can we convince people that Internet is not enough to be informed?

I don’t agree with you. I think the Internet is just a tool, a means of distribution. And it’s a radically more efficient means of distribution than print.

But some people may have the impression they can know everything what is happening only with a click.

And they can. If they buy things on the Internet. In other words, The New York Times can’t be for free and I have no problem with people reading The New Yorker online. I’m 54 years old, you’re 58 and we may prefer it printed for all the reasons that all the people prefer things that they are used to. I prefer certain kinds of drinks, I prefer Bob Dylan to the latest hip hop sensation, but that’s because I’m 54, that’s nothing, that’s just an ordinary normal human being.

What I want to say is that you can be beautifully informed with nothing but a laptop, but you need a laptop and a credit card. Because it can’t be for free.

Can’t recall a single run-in with David Remnick — reading a piece of his, or an interview like this — where I didn’t come away incredibly impressed.

Robert Silvers: Toward a "New Form of Criticism"

At New York Magazine, the great journalist Mark Danner talks at length with The New York Review of Books’ Robert Silvers. Here’s one bit about online publishing and social media, which strikes me not as fuddy-duddy, but very considered:

To tweet or not to tweet. And not to tweet is to be left behind.
And that raises a question: What is this? What are the kinds of prose, and the kinds of thinking, that result from the imposition of the tweet form and other such brief reactions to extremely complex realities? My feeling is that there are millions and millions if not billions of words in tweets and blogs, and that they are not getting and will not get the critical attention that prose anywhere should have unless we find a new form of criticism.

If a novel is published, we have a novel review. If poetry is produced, if a play or a movie or a TV show is produced, there are the forms of criticism we know. With the new social media, with much of the content of the Internet, there are very few if any critical forms that are appropriate. They are thought to be somewhere partially in a private world. Facebook is a medium in which privacy is, or at least is thought to be, in some way crucial. The premise, at least, is that of belonging to a family, a circle of friends. And there’s another premise, that any voice should have its moment. And so there seems a resistance to intrusive criticism.

But this means that billions of words go without the faintest sign of assessment. And yet, if one cares about language, if one cares about the sensibility in which language is expressed, and if one cares about the values that underlie our use of language, such as affection, privacy, honesty, cogency, clarity—then these media, it would seem to me, should qualify as the subject of criticism. We seem at the edge of a vast, expanding ocean of words, an ocean growing without any critical perspective whatever being brought to bear on it. To me, as an editor, that seems an enormous absence.

The Dish's Readers

At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf recalls his days working for Team Sullivan:

At The Daily Dish, I once asked readers in advance of a road trip across The South what I should see. I didn’t just get hundreds of suggestions; I didn’t just get extended essays on the geography, sociology, and competing styles of barbecue that characterize the region; I didn’t just get notes from people in eleven states; I also got invitations to stay overnight with Dish readers in a dozen cities, or to stop by for dinner at the houses of their parents, or to please write if I passed through where they live so they could at the very least buy me a cold beer. I was just a guest blogger. I don’t doubt that Sullivan could live rent free for five years if he asked nicely.

Craig Mod: "Subcompact Publishing"

An important and insightful essay. I hope Mod writes a part two that looks a bit more at how exactly (to continue his metaphor) the small vehicles would get made. 

Related: Mod’s round-up of coverage of his essay. This Jim Ray piece from the Mule blog isn’t on there, but I think it’s worth reading.

Marco's "The Magazine"

Really looking forward to checking out this new iOS magazine from Marco Arment. From his announcement:

But just as the App Store has given software developers a great new option for accepting direct payment, Newsstand has given publishers an even bigger opportunity with subscription billing and prominent placement. Yet most publishers aren’t experimenting with radical changes. They can’t — to fund their huge staffs and production costs, they can’t afford to deviate from yesterday’s model. And most individual writers can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t make their own Newsstand apps.

There’s room for another category between individuals and major publishers, and that’s where The Magazine sits. It’s a multi-author, truly modern digital magazine that can appeal to an audience bigger than a niche but smaller than the readership of The New York Times. This is what a modern magazine can be, not a 300 MB stack of static page images laid out manually by 100 people.

David Carr on Atlantic Media's David G. Bradley

From the NYT profile:

What is the way forward for a 155-year old-magazine that once published Emerson and Longfellow? Digital first and last, with ancillary revenue from conferences. The magazine, edited by James Bennet, is still very much in the middle of the conversation, but these days it is prized mostly for bringing luster to digital assets like Atlantic.com, Atlantic Wire, Atlantic Cities, and beginning Monday, Quartz.

And later: 

“It’s become very, very clear to me that digital trumps print, and that pure digital, without any legacy costs, massively trumps print,” Mr. Bradley said.

Not positive that’ll work for everyone, but The Atlantic company sure has seen some success the past few years.

"Lessons For Building A Tablet Magazine That's Actually Worth Using"

From Co.Design:

The New Yorker has seen success with its relatively straightforward digital edition, but there’s nothing that really differentiates it from the print version, except maybe that it’ll save you the embarrassment of having a tower of unread issues on your nightstand.

Aside from poet-spoken poems? Videos? Supplemental documents? Slideshows of artworks? Movie clips?

This suggestion (even made in slight jest) — that only futuristic interactive material counts as worthwhile tablet content — gives me the blues. 

David Carr: "At BuzzFeed, the Significant and the Silly"

From this NYT look at the evolving Buzzfeed:

As the consumer Web has matured, readers have become minipublishers, using social media platforms to share information they think will entertain and enlighten their friends. No longer is it just about so-called sticky content that keeps readers around, or even clicky content that causes them to hit a link; it’s also about serving up content that is spreadable.

Hit the right note, and your readers become like bees, stopping by your site to grab links and heading back out on the Web to pollinate other platforms. That behavior has tapped into something visceral, a kind of game in which the person finding something delicious gains social capital for sharing it.