A selection of stories I read around the Web today …
Vijith Assar had an interesting essay on Wired the other day about how the Internet, and how we align social media with our consumption of television content, is ruining House of Cards for him.
Like many, Vijith likes to follow Twitter while he watches a show, enjoying the jokes and the barbs and general snark the platform provides in abundance, but in the case of House of Cards, he would quickly fall behind as he stopped and rewound the show to watch scenes again. He found two competing desires – participating in the social conversation and giving a show the attention it requires – that struggle to coexist. And so he explains the ramifications or this for him, among delving into other points.
I don’t know if I agree with Vijith’s premise – I’m leaning towards not agreeing – but it’s a thoughtful piece. My feeling: Twitter and the Internet in general is a huge net positive in how we consume stuff. It enhances, enlightens, enrages, enriches and otherwise engages in such a variety of ways that wouldn’t be possible without it. This isn’t to say it’s all good; it’s to say engaging with these is a choice, and choices are good.
I say this as someone who has largely stopped engaging with social media while watching something live, be it a TV show or a sporting event. The enlightening moment came for me during the Super Bowl. I pretty much shut off Twitter during one of its busiest times in the sports world and found that I enjoyed the Super Bowl experience (the game itself wasn’t good) more than I could ever remember.
The reason is simple: I actually watched the game and listened to the broadcast and paid attention to details and thought about things in real time – you know, consume the product. I wasn’t spending 70 percent of my time scrolling through my Twitter feed like I had done during most games on most nights for quite a while. I was a bit surprised how much I didn’t miss it and how much more I enjoyed watching a game again. I regret I didn’t do this during the 2013 MLB playoffs, with Boston’s superb story unfolding.
I watched and enjoyed – and Twitter did add a positive element to the experience – but it didn’t feel the same. The whole reason for having a second screen is to improve how you watch, to make the time more valuable, to give it more weight. In many ways, I experienced the opposite – hollow, fleeting, unsatisfying. It was pretty weird.
Anyway, it’s a simple decision to put the Internet aside, enjoy your show or game, and then go back to the Web for reaction, analysis, jokes or anything else that makes following something fun. All of that is still there. No, the real-time commentary isn’t an option, but it’s also a small price for connecting with material in a way you probably haven’t since social media didn’t exist.
As a writer, reader and someone who just cares about and appreciates good work, I don’t know how to feel about an app that can make some write like Hemingway.
It truly is an incredible creation and use of intellectual and technical ability.
And yet … this just shouldn’t be allowed. Sucks to be a creative writing professor now, I guess. Cheating’s never been easier.
Relationships in the tech age
These are presented without further comment: There is an app that lets you bet on friends’ relationships, and there is another app that listens into date conversations and tries to offer advice.
This world we live in …
I really liked this GQ cover story on LeBron, written by Jeanne Marie Laskas. It’s an interesting look at LeBron as a mature man – the differences from his Cleveland days to now are incredibly, particularly his self-awareness and commitment to being someone people from his hometown can look to as an example of how to make it out of non-ideal circumstances.
Cynical people are probably thinking, “What, be blessed with 6-foot-8 height and otherworldly basketball talent?” But that’s not the point. It’s more about empowering yourself and making choices to change something you don’t like, rather than feeling controlled by it.
Also liked his thoughts on African Americans and change. Here’s a snippet:
So, second of all, regarding change, of course he’s changed. “Good! That’s like a good thing,” he says. “I’m like, ‘Thank you.’ Shit. I’m 29 years old with a family—I’m married with a family. I—of course I’ve changed. The problem is, you haven’t changed. And that’s why you dislike what I do, you know.”
He leans forward. He’s not going to be interrupted on this point. “As an African-American, we hear it a lot where we grow up. You’ve changed.” He’s sick of hearing it used as a criticism. “Because you’ve tried to better yourself and because you’ve made it out. ‘You’re not the same person that we used to know.’ Of course I’m not. I’m trying to better myself. Change is not a bad thing. Thinking that it’s bad, you know, that’s one thing I think is a downfall for African-Americans for sure.”
Really good read.
This is a cool development – a sponge-based tool that plugs bullet wounds almost instantly.
The military is looking into developing it into a product that can be widely used on the battlefield.
Acclaimed author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis on writing, the film industry, our social culture and a generation of mentally soft people is worth a look.
When I posted a Now Reading the other day with an Eric Church piece in it, one of my buddies said to check out Rob Harvilla’s profile of Church in spin.
Good advice, as it’s a really entertaining read. Check it out.
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