Category Archives: Smart People

Minds Like Empty Rooms

Harper Lee, in a letter to Oprah Winfrey about her love of reading books, talks about working to learn and having things happen on soft pages:

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up — some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.

In Praise of Women With Some Mileage

I found this piece by Andy Rooney via a co-worker's sharing of it on Facebook.  In it he explains why women over 40 are the shizz:

As I grow in age, I value women who are over forty most of all. Here are just a few reasons why: A woman over forty will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask, “What are you thinking?” She doesn’t care what you think…

A woman over forty looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over forty is far sexier than her younger counterpart…

Yes, we praise women over forty for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of forty-plus, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some twenty-two-year-old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” here’s an update for you. Now 80 percent of women are against marriage, why? Because women realize it’s not worth buying an entire pig, just to get a little sausage.


United Republic

Although I think United Republic would be a great name for a band for the purposes of this post it refers to a new organization that wants to get big money out of politics.  While I'm somewhat sympathetic to the Occupy movement, and very skeptical as to its actual effectiveness, I think that groups like United Republic offer more promise to actually do something to help fix our political system. Here's a short video featuring Larry Lessig talking about the new coalition:

Lawrence Lessig Welcomes Rootstrikers to United Republic from Rootstrikers on Vimeo.


Changing Education Paradigms

Not much to add to the video other than to tell you it's incredible.  The part about ADHD really hits home considering we live in NC (you'll know what I mean when you see the map).  I'd love to have this shown at the next WSFCS board meeting or, even better, I'd love to have Sir Ken Robinson invited to speak to them.

Ever Wanted to Drop It All and Just GO?

If you're of any maturity at all (i.e. old), have a busy life, lots of responsibility, and generally have to make time for yourself and your significant other, then you've probably daydreamed of dropping it all and driving off into the sunset. I know I've had that daydream many times, so when a fellow I've had the pleasure to meet over a cup of coffee did just that with his wife I looked on with just a wee bit of envy.  Thankfully he took lots of folks along for the ride by blogging about it, so if you want to see what it's like to live the dream then you should check out Traveling With Bum.

A Note of Advice to My Friends in the Newspaper Biz: Listen to Anne

About 10 years ago I had the privilege of working with Anne Holland as she was starting up  I don't exactly remember how I met Anne, but it had to be through some activity in the premium newsletter business since that's the industry we both worked in during the 90s.  She's one of the smartest people I've ever worked with and so I can recommend without hesitation, and without reviewing it myself, this free training video for newspaper execs.  Anne has started a new site, Subscription Site Insider, that I'm fairly sure will become a "must-use" site for anyone in the paid content space, if it isn't already.  From the page about the video:

During our research for the presentation we could not find one single example of a good newspaper paywall. Not one! Newspaper paywalls are — frankly — scary bad. They just ignore all best practices.

Why is that? My theory is that newspaper site design is really difficult – it’s a science in itself. You’re dealing with heavy text, complex navigation, and hundreds of thousands of pages… Plus, on top of making this dense content easily navigatible, you also have to deal with the demands of advertisers — get them enough clicks to keep paying while not sacrificing all your screen space.

Paywall design requires a completely different skill set. The goal is paid conversion, not free navigation. The content is focused, not comprehensive. Psychologically, the audience isn’t looking at the page because they want to be there, but because they’re forced to be there.

Other niches in the subscription site industry have been testing, researching and refining their paywalls for close to 15 years now. Audience development executives and web designers for newspapers can learn a lot from them. 

If your business depends on getting people to pay for access to your "stuff" then you really should check out Anne's place. You wont' regret it.


Jarvis: “A” Public Versus “The” Public

Jeff Jarvis explores the hubbub over Facebook's (anti-) privacy moves and does the best job I've seen of explaining the recent angst of the digerati:

Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg seem to assume that once something is public, it’s public. They confused sharing with publishing. They conflate the public sphere with the making of a public. That is, when I blog something, I am publishing it to the world for anyone and everyone to see: the more the better, is the assumption. But when I put something on Facebook my assumption had been that I was sharing it just with the public I created and control there. That public is private. Therein lies the confusion. Making that public public is what disturbs people. It robs them of their sense of control—and their actual control—of what they were sharing and with whom (no matter how many preferences we can set). On top of that, collecting our actions elsewhere on the net—our browsing and our likes—and making that public, too, through Facebook, disturbed people even more. Where does it end?

Sen. Franken Does the Minnesota State Fair

Former (maybe current) comedian and current US Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has gotten some YouTube love from his recent visit to the Minnesota State Fair.  Here he draws a map of the United States from memory:

And here he debates some folks about health reform and manages to actually have a novel thing called a conversation with them.  Credit also goes to the crowd for treating him with respect.

Love him or hate him I don't think there's much doubt that the man is sharp.