I haven’t read any of science fiction author Charlie Stross’ work — I don’t generally get much time for reading fiction these days, and even if I did I’m not particularly a fan of science fiction. But I do read his blog. It’s great, entertaining, forthright stuff.
And so, catching up over the weekend, I came across a post he’d written recently. It was titled Why I Don’t Self-Publish. With all the noise being made around self-publishing on digital platforms, he explains his choice to stick with a more traditional publisher-writer model than go it alone:
When you add it all up: if I’m as efficient as a trade publisher, it would take me roughly 3 months to produce a book that also took me 6 months to write. More realistically, I’m likely to be less streamlined and efficient than a publisher who specializes in this job.
Fair point. Basically, it’s a cost-benefit argument: if he self-published, he’d spend less time writing and more time publishing, which would mean he’d have less product to put out there — and since it doesn’t promise a vast trove of riches, that trade-off isn’t worthwhile.
It’s a useful primer on some of the value that publishing offers. But it also points to a deeper question: why waste your time doing something you’re no good at, or that you don’t want to do, when there are people who can not only do it as well as you could, but better? This is something that is important to me — particularly in the realm of publishing.
I suppose on one level, MATTER is self-publishing writ large. We didn’t see the product we wanted to read, we decided to do it ourselves because we saw the tools were out there to help it happen.
But it’s also vital to understand that we aren’t coming to this fresh. Jim and I have about 30 years’ of top flight journalism between us, often working experimentally inside large organisations. We have already tasted most of the roles needed to get the project off the ground, and more to the point we enjoy them. Most of my career, ostensibly, has been as a writer, but the reality is that I enjoy editing, commissioning, learning, managing a group of contributors, publishing and experimenting much more than I enjoy getting a byline. We are applying all of those skills — traditional publishing skills — to the tools of self-publishing.
It’s also worth remembering that the flip side of focusing on doing what you enjoy, or what you can excel at, is to get other people doing the bits you can’t. That’s why Charlie Stross doesn’t self-publish, and it’s why we don’t write the stories for MATTER. It’s also something people often get wrong about digital publishing, and the internet in general.
Why? Technological soothsayers have done a wonderful job of making us believe that we can save time or money by eliminating the need for middlemen. Want a holiday? Find it yourself, cheaper: eliminate the agent. Want a mortgage? Brokers are going to swindle you one way or another, you can find a better deal yourself. Everything becomes DIY, every expert looks untrustworthy. The internet makes information searchable, learnable, and so by learning how to take on the work yourself, you can save money.
But most of the time it’s a magic trick. Either they are actually middlemen themselves, but look different to the ones we’re used to, or they’re actually just ways of making us do the work we’d traditionally hand off to somebody else. The benefit? Money. But we’re trading a few pennies for a feeling of control, and in the process destroying something valuable. Instead of using the net to make our lives easier, we’re using it as a machine for creating labour.
I’ve been making this argument, on and off, for a long time (here’s a 2008 Guardian column on the subject). Here’s what I said almost exactly five years ago:
Jargonauts can call it what they like, but it’s basically an information seesaw. A few people get the seesaw to weigh disproportionately in their favour, but most of us are stuck using the internet in both ways, cherrypicking the services that are useful for us but ultimately failing to reduce the overall amount of work we do.
New methods of distributing labour online can be very radical and important — where many people contribute a little to create a larger whole, it is a very powerful thing. But most of the time, we’re simply using connectivity to redistribute work back to ourselves, using technology to make ourselves feel more harried, and more under pressure. It’s a form of dangerous self-reliance in which we all become jugglers, nobody is an expert, and the only ones becoming rich are those conjurers who understand how to fool us the best.
Yet, just as Charlie Stross identified, the joy of using a middleman — an agent, or a broker, or, yes, a publisher — is that not only can they do a job you don’t enjoy, but that most of the time better than you could do it. Middlemen can find you a better holiday, a better mortgage, without any mental overhead from you. And publishers? Well, unless you’re a crazy person like me who enjoys editing and book-balancing and trying to understand distribution, promotion and finances, then they let you write and make sure you get paid for it.
Sure, you don’t get the control, and they cost you money, but they allow you to spend your time more productively. They allow you to enjoy what you do.
It’s one of the great mistakes of our internet age that we have used this great liberating technology to tie ourselves down with pointless tasks that somebody else is better at. This great connecting technology encourages us all to exist as individuals, each trying to do everything themselves through some great disintermediated system.
I suppose, in a way, it’s because we’ve convinced ourselves that the only exchange of goods and services that happens is a financial one. And that’s the greatest, most dangerous illusion we face.
⌘ Henry Heimlich, the inventor of the manoeuvre, is still alive.
⌘ There are lots of ways of mapping the earth.
⌘ Richard Littlejohn, Britain’s most odious man, infamously wrote an anti-trans diatribe against a trans teacher who later killed herself. And yet it seems he used to love a bit of gender play back in the day.
Despite my best efforts — moving to California, shaving my head, sometimes even wearing a dressing gown — I’ve never actually been indoctrinated into a bizarre religious cult.
Then I became a parent.
Now, I am one of them. Now I walk down the street with the beaming, intoxicated gurn of a disciple. I have spent the last year learning a codex of previously-baffling words, getting my head around seemingly-illogical ideas, and committing myself to new ways of seeing the world. Whenever I talk to somebody new (in the shops, or on the train, or in a business meeting, or anywhere, really) I sneak mentions of parenthood into the conversation like some kind of Masonic handshake. I suppose I’m hoping to find a kindred spirit, or at the very least to find a way to convert to them to the idea that parenthood is the One True Way.
And, like any good cult, it really is all-consuming. Look at the blank space on this blog — not updated for a year — and you can see what I mean. Yes, I launched a business in the last year. Yes, I travelled a bit. But really it was all in service of this new god: the family.
In fact, it turns out that the cult of family is so all-consuming that it even consumes itself sometimes. I owe every one of my family members a phone call. Duties get pushed back, even the small ones.
The other day I was clearing out a cupboard and I found a huge stack of thank you cards, stuffed with little pictures of the boy and ready to send out to all the wonderful people who sent us gifts or gave us help after he was born. Turns out we never sent the cards. Apparently there was no time.
Sorry if you were one of those people. We really did appreciate the gifts and the help. They were very kind.
I suppose, on reflection, parenthood isn’t quite a cult. At the most basic level, there are just too many members for that to be true. Maybe it’s a little like Buddhism: a set of beliefs very few people find offensive and often result in followers spending a great deal of time in a trance. And here’s the clincher: my waking hours are taken up in large part by contemplating the life of a small, chubby man with a rather round belly.
Let’s just say it’s been a busy few months.
A new baby: he’s now six weeks old and just the most remarkable creature ever.
A new job: trying to help GigaOM, which I think is one of the smartest technology sites out there, expand into Europe and give the continent the coverage it deserves.
And, most recently, a new project: MATTER, an attempt to get great investigative journalism about science and technology that’s designed to be digitally native.
The last one is perhaps the most surprising — a little thing on the side that I’ve been mulling over with my friend Jim for the better part of the last year. We finally decided to test our theories with a Kickstarter appeal and it really floored us (and everyone else, I think) by hitting its goal in less than two days.
The trouble is that things have been quiet here while all of these things have been gestating. My words and actions get played out elsewhere. That’s a shame, but I suppose it’s the inevitable consequence of juggling so many tasks I suppose.
But my blog has been a big part of my life for a long time, and I hate to neglect it so.
I hope to spend a little time here, every so often what’s going on with GigaOM, and how we are trying to make MATTER work. Send me any questions you’d like to see answered in length — Twitter’s probably the easiest channel — and I’ll see what I can do.
To me, as someone who has spent his fair share of time inside audio editing programs, it just felt as if the waveform was too far from ordinary people’s experiences of sound that it would just make the site look more technical than it needed to be. The waveform meant work.
Turns out that I was wrong.
Soundcloud is now doing really well. This morning I even heard somebody on BBC radio talking about how much they loved it. And it’s not despite the waveform but, at least in part, because of it. It’s an important part of the experience.
To me the waveform means work, but to millions of other people it means play.
But there’s something else going on here besides me just misreading it. There’s a broader move here towards exposing the guts of what they do in ways that would have seemed impossibly technical a few years ago.
Look at something like Wikipedia, which makes its DNA readable. Or something like Twitter, which really thrives on exposing connections between people. These services all make hay, in one way or another, by wearing their structures on the outside: data exoskeletons.
Note: I’m not just talking about complication, although it’s amazing how people who barely now find themselves able to navigate Facebook’s increasingly byzantine, constantly changing systems.
I’m talking about a different way of looking at things: a move towards, perhaps, what James Bridle calls the new aesthetic. He’s talking specifically about a way of looking at the future, but I think it holds true for what I’m talking about too.
What I mean is that we’ve got frustrated with the NASA extropianism space-future, the failure of jetpacks, and we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder.
Being able to see something allows us to wonder at it. Sometimes, as with Twitter, it’s about making the connective tissue — in their case messages and conversations — a living part of the service. Sometimes, as with Soundcloud, it’s the idea of having a visual or physical representation of a previously invisible concept.
This isn’t always new, Of course: we’ve often had physical representations of sound — a piece of vinyl, tapes, CDs — and it’s only in the last few years, with the move to non-physical formats that we’ve lost the conception of what music looks like. But Soundcloud’s adoption of the waveform is perhaps the purest we’ve seen. It’s not just a package: you feel like if you could actually see the music itself, it would look like this.
So what is this?
Is it a brutal statement, the equivalent to structural impressionism in architecture, like Richard Rogers’ Lloyd’s building, or the Pompidou Centre? Or is it gentle reminder, like having a room with exposed brickwork that simply shows the craft that went into production?
Should web services do more to show you that you aren’t just trading in strings of intangible data, but in thoughts, in ideas, in effort?
I wonder if we’ll see more services like this emerge, and whether it’s possible that websites that can use this idea carefully will have an advantage over others.
Tom doesn’t like the term “3D printer”. He’s not the only one.
I’ve been writing and commissioning stories about fabrication and rapid prototyping for more years than I care to think about, and honestly: the biggest hurdle to getting this idea into the public sphere has always, always been the name.
Yes, it says something relatively accurate about the process - it’s printing in three dimensions! - but it doesn’t really connect with people’s conceptions. Most people don’t really see “printing” as one material being squirted onto another. So taking that further is a concept that’s very hard for people to get their heads around.
Nor does it connect with people’s expectations, either. The things people that people are starting to print - houses, food and even body parts - aren’t the sort of thing that you associate with the tradition of printing.
These sort of linguistic artifacts often hang over from one generation to the next: digital video is still produced by “filming”; people often talk of “taping” a television show. But “printing” has such a long history as a technology that meant one thing — applying a layer of ink onto a piece of material — that I think it’s actually severely limited in the public imagination.
Does it make a difference? Yes.
The naming of things matters. The lexicon matters. The words we use help us frame not only reality, but also our dreams.
Really, I think the term “3D printing” says more about the people who have driven it than it does about the people who use it. They see it in terms of the technologies it builds upon, not in terms of potential it has.
When I wrote about for the New Scientist’s “seven technologies to disrupt the next decade”, I was asked to come up with a few words that might enter the dictionary as a result of this disruption.
They printed this one:
To create an object using a 3D printer. Short for “fabricate”. John fabbed a pretty necklace for his wife’s birthday.
But I offered up some others, including:
To copy another object using a 3D printer. Short for “replicate”. Richard like my new chair so much that I repped him one to take home.
and the rather less pleasant-sounding:
A small object that can be quickly fabricated. “If you come back in five minutes, sir, we should have one of those in blue. It won’t take long - it’s only a squirt.”
Of course, they were only suggestions. We will have new words. We must have new words. Why?
Because the naming of things matters.
I noticed that in today’s Guardian they measured the kill rate in Jason Statham’s movies. But what about his kill rate over time? Has he got more killhappy over the years?
Here’s a graph.
You can see that over the last decade, the general trend is that the number of kills in his movies is, indeed, increasing with time. There were nine in The Transporter (2002) and 13 in Crank (2006), for example. But then things really stepped up: 60 kills from In The Name of the King, before we get to The Expendables, which had a Statham-induced body count of 82.
Just so you know.
The intriguing thing about weeknotes (or monthnotes, I suppose, in my case) is that when you are inside them, all the weeks feel the same.
August has felt like I’m hunkered down, day after day, doing the same sort of things: writing, thinking, reading, deliberating, deciding. Yet zoom out and you realise there’s a lot of variation in there. There’s a real topography to the month, with ups and downs and slow days and fast.
Anyway, taking a Hubble-like approach, this month has actually been significant. My work with GigaOM continues to warm up, and after Steve Jobs stepped I wrote A length piece for the Times about my bizarre encounter with him.
As I said elsewhere, most coverage of his move has been either hagiography or obituary - running under the simple assumptions that (a) he is a great man who (b) doesn’t have long left. Life (and death) is more complex than that.
After a few months of relative silence on the freelance front, that story marked a noisy return to action. I’d been drifting a little. Perhaps a little too much. But hopefully this piece, and two other abortive moments - a commission that got killed and a TV interview that was knocked on the head - will help get my head back in that game.
Meanwhile: some serious progress made on Project Alika. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s turning into a reality. And being able to play with it makes a real difference. Now, hopefully, it’s a case of making it really sing.
Also, the previous week we took a trip up to Derbyshire for Laptops and Looms - and there’s more to come on that front, I promise - and though I managed an (ahem) creditable performance during the post-event cricket match, I can only imagine that this moment is the reason I am now enjoying some lovely prescription drugs to fix the pain in my back.
(photo by Toby Barnes)
There’s been a hiatus here, mainly because it’s been all go for what seems like forever.
Work with GigaOM is proceeding well. Project Alika is making progress, and the way it’s pulling together surprises me on a regular basis. Meanwhile I’m hoping to get Project Ele, a great story that I’ve been circling around for a while, commissioned in the next few days. Lots happening with work and personal life (let’s call it Project Kika — and we’re trying to enjoy the summer and our new house in Brighton.
Amid all of this, I can’t stop thinking about a couple of (slightly related) things.
First: the rise of the angry young man of the internet. There’s this range of people appearing who are (largely) angry young white men who harbor great animosity towards the establishment and use technology as a weapon to lash out.
At one end, there are political protesters or Bradley Manning; then there are piracy activists like the Pirate Bay; then there are script kiddies and such as Lulzsec and Anonymous. And then, at some bizarre and much more advanced level of crazy, you have the killers who are aware that technology is part of their arsenal: the likes of Anders Behring Breivik or Seung Hui Cho (the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, who was immediately known as the YouTube killer).
There’s something to be written about this new breed of “disenfranchised” man, one who feels like an outsider but is also entitled and technology-enabled. I wonder if their emergence is what makes the internet such an unpleasant place.
And then at the same time, there’s prevalence of copying around us that just seems to be growing all the time (something I’ve been thinking about a lot since working on the Copy Continuum talk). They are the fake Chinese Apple stores and the copied Chinese cities. They are everywhere. We live in a very interesting age, when it’s possible to try and replicate entire huge, complex ideas. This is worth exploring more.
And if I wasn’t already flat out, I’d be trying to write a book about one of these things. But you know me, perhaps I’ll try anyway.
On Thursday night I gave a talk at the Byam Shaw Library, part of Central St Martins, called The Copy Continuum, about the way we perceive copying and how we might consider the world in context of shanzhai culture. It was part of The Piracy Project, a series of events about the organised by the lovely folk of AND Publishing, who kindly invited me to share some thoughts with the audience. Thanks to them, and thanks to you if you came to join in — I hope you had a good time.
Anyway, I’ll put the slides up at some point in the future (moving house right now, so things are a bit chaotic) but here are some of the links I promised to audience members for further reading. I’m presenting them roughly in the order they came up in the talk itself.
· My interview with the Pirate Bay, The Guardian, 2007
· A good piece from Time magazine profiling four profiling four men who ‘stole the world’, including BitTorrent’s creator, Bram Cohen — they’re sort of representative, in different ways, of a generation of angry young pirates.
· Court jails Pirate Bay founders, BBC, 2009
· Mark Twain’s prodigious work rate
· Some information about the Paige Compositor
· Mark Twain’s nutty plan to extend copyright, BoingBoing
· My article on Jan Chipchase and China’s shanzhai culture, Wired, 2010
· Chipchase’s blog
· The New York Times on the explosion of lawsuits in the mobile phone industry
· Regretsy on the Urban Outfitters copying outrage
· The Economist discusses 3D printing
· A TED talk featuring Anthony Atala, who discusses printing new organs
And that’s it for now. I’ll add some more stuff when the slides go up.
I’ve known Om Malik for quite a while now — in fact, it’s been such a long time our paths crossed that I can’t even remember when it was we met for the first time. Still, I’ve always liked him. The Silicon Valley technology journalism scene is, for whatever reason, populated by a lot of hucksters and full of self-aggrandising. In the middle of it all, Om’s one of the good guys: stuffed with honesty, insight and humility.
It’s been five years since he went solo with GigaOM, building what I think is one of the smartest groups of writers and commentators in the sector. There are other technology blogs out there, but it’s GigaOM’s commitment to quality and ability that convinced me to come on board as a regular contributor over the past few months.
But today, things are moving up a notch.
To mark the company’s fifth anniversary, it has announced a significant round of funding. At the same time, I am stepping up my commitment and links to them by becoming GigaOM’s European correspondent.
Here’s why: Europe is stuffed full with great ideas, strong characters and interesting companies, but it’s stuck. It doesn’t get the coverage it deserves, certainly not in comparison to the in the US. The big media organisations can be strong on technology — I was very proud of the work I did over 10 years editing and writing for the Guardian, for example. And I certainly think in many cases they are stronger here than the America.
But big media has its own peculiar demands and appetites that sometimes leaves Europe’s best stories untold.
Likewise, there are a few good dedicated European online technology news outlets. But they don’t always catch things, either. In particular, I think the strengths of GigaOM — critical thinking, strong expertise, a discerning eye — are precisely the things that Europe’s budding startups and successful entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from.
Having moved back to Britain from California at the end of last year, I can see the fault lines even more clearly than I could before. And I’m glad to be on board to try and improve the breadth and depth of reporting across the continent.
But I am going to be spending a lot of time helping GigaOM turn some more attention from America to the old world. So that means if you’re a European entrepreneur with something happening, or an investor who wants to chew things over, or just somebody who is doing great work, then I am all ears. From today you can get me on email at bobbie at gigaom.com, or on Twitter (as always) as @bobbiejohnson.
It’s going to be fun.
For years I’ve been interested in the way we think about piracy and copying, both in terms of the physical world and intellectual objects. It’s something that you can’t avoid if you spend a lot of time thinking and writing about technology, and has come up time and time again for me — as a creative worker, as someone who spends a lot of time talking to technology companies, and as a consumer.
I’ll be putting some of those thoughts down in a talk on June 2 in London, as part of The Piracy Project — described as an “international publishing and exhibition project exploring the implications of book piracy and creative modes of reproduction”.
My subject is “The Copy Continuum” — taking a look at the way we’ve thought about ideas in the past and the way we might look at ideas in the future. I’ll be drawing on my years of reporting on these issues, and exploring the relationship between technology and culture. In particular, I’ll draw on the world of shanzhai manufacturing, which I wrote about for Wired UK last year.
The talk is at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, part of Central Saint Martins. It’s £3 to get in. See you there?
⌘ There’s never something you can’t learn, as this list of 50 tips for journalists reminded me.
⌘ Nightlife in Cardiff is, well, surprising.
⌘ You’d think a police officer subjected to a sexual attack would be keen to prosecute the perpetrator. Not so, according to this piece in the Guardian. One of @IfYouOnly’s followers called it “espeluznante” (lurid) — I think it’s anything but.
In any case, it seemed only right to take a look back at how that first year has gone. I made some yearnotes at the end of 2010, which looked back on a tough time mainly from a personal perspective, but perhaps it’s worth thinking about things from a work point of view.
So what did the last year do? First, it taught me a lot about being independent. For a start, you’re not really independent at all: you’re merely dependent on many more people, each in different ways.
Second, it taught me that most of the hard work of freelancing is pitching. Editors can be fickle, fragile prey, who are hard to tempt with your ideas and even more difficult to keep satisfied once you’ve got them to take your bait. I think I’m a fairly adequate writer (sometimes even reaching the heights of “not bad”) but I think I’m still just a mediocre pitch artist.
And third, I realised that even in a sphere where you’re writing about innovation and ideas, there’s a lot of conservatism in terms of what works and what doesn’t. Ideas that I thought were amazingly exciting, gripping and challenging have struggled to make the grade. When you’re a specialist, even a specialist who spent most of their career at such a well-known, broad church as the Guardian, mainstream publications are tough to crack: you’re too far down a nerdhole for them to believe you can write ordinary stories — and yet even when they do want your inside knowledge, they fear that you’re unable to communicate with ordinary people. It’s hard getting people to understand what you are is not what you were.
Still, though, that’s not to say that it’s been all struggle and no success. On the contrary: I’ve produced major features for Technology Review, Wired UK and the Sunday Telegraph. I’ve written a variety of things in between for other people, most notably the BBC, and a couple of unpublished stories for various folk. For the last three months I’ve been a regular contributor to GigaOM. I put a failed bid in to the Knight News Challenge, have got moving on a couple of other sekrit projects. I’ve done a lot of pitching.
Looking back on it, the first year was pretty good. The next one, though, will be significantly better.
A few weeks ago, Alexis Madrigal — a chum and one of my favourite science and technology writers — punted a question out to his Twitter followers: “If you could hire any three journalists working primarily online today, who would they be?”.
It was an interesting question, though I struggled to answer, and he got plenty of response since he’s big on the internets. (In fact, Alexis is pretty big everywhere now, at The Atlantic they just refer to him as MADRIGAL He probably has his own theme tune, too).
Anyway, I was pondering the state of the way technology (as a subject) gets written about, and thought I’d pinch his MO.
I didn’t get a shedload of responses, but here they are:
In addition I threw in a couple of personal favourites off the top of my head (Madrigal himself and Steven Johnson, though I could have entered more); three people kindly mentioned me (I’ll ignore those); and we also had an anti-vote for David Pogue. Remember that there’s no doubt some selection bias — I’d imagine Guardian or former Guardian writers are likely to get slightly more attention from my Twitter followers, for example — but it’s a start.
So what does it say?
First, that my followers are a discerning bunch. Many of the people on this list are very good writers indeed (many of their suggestions would also rank in mine).
Second, that I suspect they thought about the question a little more than I expected. Going by Alexis’s previous list — which I thought was fairly patchy in terms of quality — I’d expected to see a few more “people who write a lot”. A few more newsbreakers, for example. But although some of these people do reporting, I’d say that apart from Ulanoff and Topolsky, there’s not really a top league tech news reporter in there. The people on the list are largely included because of their analytical skills and/or storytelling chops.
I also thought a few science writers would creep in, since the two spheres are so similar (I think technology is essentially the real world application of science, while scientific discovery usually relies on technology to make its advances). Nobody seemed to mix them up.
Finally, I think it says a lot about what we think “technology writer” means. To me, “technology” is really about the application of ideas to create systems and products that are meant to change our lives in some way. Technology is the ability to harness the inhuman — ideas, systems, machines — to empower what it means to be human. That stretches all the way from millennia-old technologies such as fire or writing or the wheel through to modern standards such as the web, nuclear energy or the mobile phone.
Amid the shrill stampede of what passes for technology news, there’s not much space for reflection. And even when there is space, it’s usually dominated by the demand for reader-friendly narratives about “the radical future of something familiar” or “the truth about something you thought you already understood”. That means there really aren’t many outlets for this sort of deep thinking about how technologies change us, or examination of what they promise.
So when we think of people who write about technology we often think of those who simply tell us facts about products or companies. Sometimes, if they’re lucky or very good, they write about ideas and systems. But the limitations of “technology writing” mean that actually most of the best writing about technology tends to come from people who have more latitude — cultural critics who are given space to talk about ideas and society. For example, I might not have entirely agreed with Zadie Smith’s NYRB piece on Facebook, but it was one of the most enjoyable, searching writing that appeared in a sea of froth last year. Or there are the times that John Lanchester writes about technology businesses or when Jon Ronson brings his unique abilities to bear on the case of Pentagon hacker Gary McKinnon.
Ultimately, the answers to the question “who’s your favourite technology writer” made me happy, because there are some great writers. But they also made me sad, because there aren’t enough of them. Technology is a massively important part of our lives, yet we don’t spend nearly enough time or attention helping cultivate and reward informed, sharp, incisive writing about it.
Addendum: I agree with nearly all the picks that people sent me, but there are quite a few more people who I’d have included. The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta has a remarkable clarity, for example. His colleague Malcolm Gladwell has perfected a way of telling stories about innovative ideas, as has Clay Shirky — somebody who doesn’t write enough. I love Kevin Kelly for his dedication to challenging preconceptions and Paul Graham for writing with the efficiency of a programmers while still making it pleasurable to read. I enjoy what Joel Johnson can achieve when he hits the space between public and personal. There are a host of bloggers — from Ethan Zuckerman to Jason Kottke who I doubt consider themselves writers, but choose their words and subjects so carefully they can often taken the form of art. Or somebody like Dan Hill, who is incredibly lucid and ranges broadly and deserves a greater platform.
There are more, but I’ve rambled on enough already. It’s a long list!
Photograph used under CC license courtesy of Flickr user HJ Barraza