Two Good Ideas

16Feb09

1. Emily Bobrow, an editor at More Intelligent Life, which is published by The Economist, posted a short, provocative piece on T-Post, a new Swedish magazine printed on a t-shirt and delivered by mail every six weeks. This interests me on two levels: one, subscription-based models that deliver niche content directly to users are a fascinating application of the old becoming the new, and two, even as an alternative format, the concept still embodies the best of digital culture, namely, its highly networked social aspects. Other subscription-based products that intrigue me: Powell’s Indiespensable, Featherproof’s Paper Egg Books, One Story Magazine. Basically the idea is that consumers who recognize quality can request it directly from the source. What does it say about the role of tastemakers who have acted as the gatekeepers to cultural influence, traditionally retailers and the media?

2. Jonathan Yardley, a critic for The Washington Post, wrote a lengthy, moving column about Black Like Me and considers how it was an artifact of its moment yet retained a kind of value that resonates today. It was good but the thing that caught my eye and impressed me most was that it was published as part of “An occasional series in which The Post’s book critic reconsiders notable and/or neglected books from the past.” I think the Columbia Journalism Review has/had a similar feature. I am far more interested in hearing about a book that affected someone so much so that he or she is still considering it years later, as opposed to having one’s attention momentarily glued to the hot thing that is being advertised relentlessly or everyone thinks they should read/see/do/buy because it has a cute video. Barf.

Comparatively, I’ll hazard a guess that twenty years from now, we’ll still be talking about Marilyn Monroe; Paris Hilton, not so much.

— LAUREN CERAND

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