ideas the ancient past

Ranging to justice

Think­ing about the var­i­ous clus­ter­cuss­es in the world, and read­ing William James, I came across this opti­mistic notion: 

Secret ret­ri­bu­tions are always restor­ing the lev­el, when dis­turbed, of divine jus­tice. It is impos­si­ble to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and pro­pri­etors and monop­o­lists of the world in vain set their shoul­ders to heave the bar. Set­tles forever­more the pon­der­ous equa­tor to its lines, and man and mote, and star and sun, must range to it, or be pul­ver­ized by the recoil.

It's a quote from Emer­son, deliv­ered in a lec­ture on the divine in the mid-19th cen­tu­ry. You got­ta won­der if he'd recon­sid­er his posi­tion if he saw the world today.

food ideas

Recipe for the rain / Escabeche


(Also known as those pick­led veg­eta­bles from the taco truck.) … Mara made some this week­end, and I've basi­cal­ly been liv­ing on it for the last three days. The recipe orig­i­nat­ed in The Essen­tial Cuisines of Mex­i­co, but we found a pre­vi­ous­ly adapt­ed ver­sion at Sim­ply Recipes. ¡Horale! ¡Vamos a do this!


1 lb jalapeno (ser­ra­no if you please) chile peppers1/3 cup olive oil2‑3 medi­um white or yel­low onions, thick­ly sliced2‑3 medi­um car­rots, peeled and thick­ly sliced­Flo­rets from half a small cau­li­flower (optional)1 head gar­lic, cloves sep­a­rat­ed but not peeled4 cups apple cider vinegar2 Tbsp Kosher salt or sea salt2 bay leaves1/2 tea­spoon dried oregano4 sprigs of fresh mar­jo­ram or 1/4 tea­spoon dried4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 tea­spoon dried1 Tbsp sugar


  1. Wash the chiles, leav­ing the stems intact. Cut a cross in the tip end of each chile so that the vine­gar will be able to pen­e­trate the chile.
  2. Heat oil in a large, deep skil­let. Add the chiles, onions, car­rots, cau­li­flower if using, and gar­lic. Fry over medi­um heat for about 10 min­utes, turn­ing them over occasionally.
  3. Add the vine­gar, salt, herbs, and sug­ar and bring to a boil. Low­er the heat and sim­mer for 5 min­utes for ser­ra­nos or 10 min­utes for jalapeños. Make sure the chiles are entire­ly cooked through before canning.
  4. Pack 4 pint-sized ster­il­ized jars with the chiles and veg­eta­bles. Top with the vine­gar and seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Once opened, can keep for one to two months in the refrigerator.

ideas music visual

Actually, *I* am the walrus

I've love info­graph­ics, and I've gone on and on about col­lab­o­ra­tion and the Bea­t­les before, so when I heard that some­one had cre­at­ed an info­graph­ic dis­play­ing the degree to which Bea­t­les col­lab­o­rat­ed on songs — well, "inter­est­ed" would be huge­ly under­stat­ing my emo­tions at the time. (Thanks, Dan, for the tip).

"The Bea­t­les: Author­ship & Col­lab­o­ra­tion" is a nice­ly com­posed graph­ic, clear­ly break­ing down the con­trib­u­tors to each song, Bea­t­le and non-Bea­t­le. The songs are laid out chrono­log­i­cal­ly, and the over­all effect clear­ly reveals that the Bea­t­les col­lab­o­rat­ed less as they pro­gressed in their careers. (If any­thing is true of the Bea­t­les, it's that they grew apart over time). The chart's data is drawn from Beat­lesongs, which quan­ti­fies the degree to which each Bea­t­le con­tributed to the writ­ing of a song, using a scale of 0–100%.

Beatles - Collaboration - Octopus's Garden

I can't quib­ble with the desire to under­stand and visu­al­ize the degree to which each Bea­t­le shaped each song, but I find the quan­tifi­ca­tion bit a lit­tle — well — false­ly pre­cise. It makes for a nice info­graph­ic, but a mere skim through The Offi­cial Abbey Road Stu­dio Ses­sion Notes, 1962–1970 makes it clear that there was quite a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion among the four Bea­t­les — not to men­tion the var­i­ous "fifth Bea­t­les," the "Black Bea­t­le," and their pro­duc­er, George Mar­tin. Per­haps there's a dif­fer­ence between "col­lab­o­ra­tion" and "author­ship?" In the exam­ple to the right, "Octopus's Gar­den," is said to be 100% Ringo? Yes, Ringo does receive sole cred­it for "author­ship," but it is wide­ly known that George had a sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing it. In fact, George works out the song on a piano in the Let It Be movie. How to rep­re­sent this soft­er sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion? Good ques­tion. Shapes? Sizes? Col­ors? Dimen­sions? What­ev­er it is, it should fair­ly com­mu­ni­cate the organ­ic nature of cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion. And dis­pense with the too-neat round numbers.

ideas web

Humanizing the reporting of the news

Amidst the many changes around and with­in jour­nal­ism, the jour­nal­ist — as an actor in cre­at­ing the news — is becom­ing more rec­og­niz­able, iden­ti­fi­able, and indi­vid­ual. For instance, I'm "friend­s†with New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof. (Okay, it's on Face­book, but still). Kristof him­self is a media decath­lete: In addi­tion to being a NY Times colum­nist, he has a blog on, updates his Face­book sta­tus dai­ly, posts tid­bits of news to Twit­ter — and all of this relates and refers to his "offi­cial†jour­nal­ist work as a jour­nal­ist for the Times. He also engages with his read­ers in com­ments, car­ry­ing on con­ver­sa­tions about his posts. These dif­fer­ent "touch points†— a term that I hate, but which seems appro­pri­ate here — allow him to test assump­tions, get quick feed­back, and share infor­ma­tion that may not fit into the frame­work of an offi­cial col­umn. They also gives read­ers ways to get more engaged with top­ics they care about, pro­vid­ing a vari­ety of avenues for par­tic­i­pa­tion. Final­ly, they give read­ers more insight into the reporters them­selves — their inter­ests, their infor­mal voic­es, their sens­es of humor.

Is insight good? Is "participation†good?

I don't know. This human­iza­tion of news sources isn't total­ly new, either. There have always been celebri­ty jour­nal­ists like Kristof, and their greater expo­sure ensures the accru­al of an iden­ti­ty more exten­sive than a mere by-line. The dif­fer­ence is that this also hap­pen­ing at much more gran­u­lar lev­els. My friend Leslie is a reporter for the Modesto Bee. She uses Twit­ter to post meta-news (@BeeReporter), and cre­at­ed a Face­book page (Reporter­Al­brecht) to fos­ter a com­mu­ni­ty around her beat. At the Lawrence (Kansas) Jour­nal-World, the sports reporters record pod­casts, com­ment on arti­cles, and main­tain blogs. I per­son­al­ly love the new avenues of par­tic­i­pa­tion, but I won­der what the effect of all this will be. News has become more of con­ver­sa­tion. Reporters are extend­ing their iden­ti­ty into the pub­lic sphere, becom­ing dis­tinct as indi­vid­u­als. Does this increase the val­ue, author­i­ty, cred­i­bil­i­ty, reach, or depth of the sub­se­quent journalism?

ideas ixd lit

To forget oneself is to be enlightened by the myriad dharmas

Last night I read the New York­er pro­file of Matthew and Michael Dick­man, poets from Port­land, Ore­gon who hap­pen to be iden­ti­cal twins. (Here's the abstract). In their work, they have very dif­fer­ent voic­es, but there's a strange sort of twin telepa­thy that seems to exist with­in it. They also edit each other's work, pro­vid­ing insight and feed­back to each oth­er about works in progress. Dur­ing one edit­ing ses­sion, one of the Dick­mans recalls an inter­view with for­mer Amer­i­can poet lau­re­ate Mark Strand in which Strand cau­tions against rely­ing on "clus­ters of words" that pop into your head … This sound­ed to me like a good rule of thumb for writ­ing. (It also added fuel to the fire of my dis­like of Twit­ter and Twit­ter-like tools that encour­age peo­ple to offer half-cocked, cliche-rid­den mini-opin­ions about every­thing.) I plun­dered the Inter­net in search of the inter­view. Turns out that he was refer­ring to a 2003 piece in Post Road Mag­a­zine. It was con­duct­ed by writer Michael O'Keefe. The rel­e­vant bit is the last pas­sage from Strand, but the con­text is helpful:

Mark Strand: Nobody wants to arrive because that's the end. One wants to have open­ings con­stant­ly before him so there are places to go.Michael O'Keefe: Do you believe that some­times words can get in the way when you write?MS: Words do get in the way when you have heard them used in a par­tic­u­lar man­ner before. When you write all you've got are words but they both get in the way and serve as a sal­va­tion.MO: Do you avoid using any kind of com­bi­na­tions of words that you could remem­ber eas­i­ly?MS: Yeah, I mis­trust them because it means that they exist­ed in that way before. The idea is to use a mod­i­fi­er-noun com­bi­na­tion that may nev­er have been used before. Oth­er­wise you may be just quot­ing oth­ers or quot­ing your­self. The excite­ment comes when you have done some­thing that was unthink­able before.

Amen, broth­er. Mis­trust ease. Seek the unthinkable.In my dig­ging, I also found some excel­lent Strand resources, includ­ing a nice inter­view in a 1975 issue of Ploughshares and a very help­ful page at the Library of Con­gress that even­tu­al­ly led to my dis­cov­ery of the above interview.

basketball ideas ixd

Flow states and flow triggers

Last night, Lynne told a sto­ry about a friend who, upon see­ing movie star James Fran­co in the New York sub­way, expe­ri­enced a feel­ing of ecsta­t­ic clar­i­ty, of time slow­ing down. I don't recall if Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi cov­ers celebri­ty sight­ings in Flow, but this sounds like a state of flow to me. Wikipedia sums up the flow con­cept as "a men­tal state of oper­a­tion in which the per­son is ful­ly immersed in what he or she is doing by a feel­ing of ener­gized focus, full involve­ment, and suc­cess in the process of the activ­i­ty."Bill DeR­ouchey recent­ly men­tioned the ingre­di­ents that, for him, trig­ger a state of flow: "Bri­an Eno [ed: I'm guess­ing his music here, rather than, say, see­ing him on the sub­way], Koy­aanisqat­si sound­track, iso­la­tion, old rocksteady/ska and (yes) the LOTR tril­o­gy." There was an ensu­ing #flow­state dis­cus­sion on Twitter.David Halberstam's book about the late 70's Port­land Trail­blaz­ers, The Breaks of the Game, con­tains a nice descrip­tion of for­mer Blaz­er Bill Walton's pre-game ritual:

[Wal­ton] loved the day of a game, par­tic­u­lar­ly an impor­tant game. It was a time which belonged com­plete­ly to him, a time pure in its pur­pose. On the day itself, he did not ana­lyze the game, he had done that the night before, thought about the team and the play­er he was going against in the most clin­i­cal way pos­si­ble. The night before was the ana­lyt­i­cal time. The day of the game was dif­fer­ent, it was an emo­tion­al time. He always took a nap on the day of a game, wak­ing up two and a half hours before the game … This was the time in which he felt the rhythm and tem­po of the game, almost like feel­ing a dance of his own. He played his own music, from the Grate­ful Dead … and the music helped, it flowed through him and he thought about the tem­po he want­ed to set and how he could move. He would sit in his home or his hotel room in those hours and actu­al­ly see the game and feel the move­ment of it. Some­times he did it with such accu­ra­cy that a few hours lat­er when he was on the court and the same play­ers made the same moves, it was easy for him because he had already seen it all, had made that move or blocked that shot. He loved that time, he had it all to him­self, he was absorbed in his feel for basketball.

An ingre­di­ent to Walton's secret sauce: The Grate­ful Dead. In the same jam fam­i­ly, I would say, as Bill's Phillip Glass go-to, Koyaanisqatsi.All of which of course made me think of my own flow­state trig­gers. The more I think about it, though, my most reli­able trig­ger is run­ning, but a glass of water and the Base­ball Ency­clo­pe­dia also can do the trick. Music is not as essen­tial to me; some­times silence is bet­ter, some­times I need some Ani­mal Col­lec­tive. For Rev­erend Green is pret­ty reliable.

ideas politics

The quiet force of progress

Obama personal responsibility

Pres­i­dent-elect Obama:

Our chal­lenges may be new. The instru­ments with which we meet them may be new. But those val­ues upon which our suc­cess depends — hard work and hon­esty, courage and fair play, tol­er­ance and curios­i­ty, loy­al­ty and patri­o­tism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the qui­et force of progress through­out our his­to­ry. What is demand­ed then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of respon­si­bil­i­ty — a recog­ni­tion, on the part of every Amer­i­can, that we have duties to our­selves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudg­ing­ly accept but rather seize glad­ly, firm in the knowl­edge that there is noth­ing so sat­is­fy­ing to the spir­it, so defin­ing of our char­ac­ter, than giv­ing our all to a dif­fi­cult task.This is the price and the promise of citizenship.…So let us mark this day with remem­brance, of who we are and how far we have trav­eled. In the year of America's birth, in the cold­est of months, a small band of patri­ots hud­dled by dying camp­fires on the shores of an icy riv­er. The cap­i­tal was aban­doned. The ene­my was advanc­ing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the out­come of our rev­o­lu­tion was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:"Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of win­ter, when noth­ing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the coun­try, alarmed at one com­mon dan­ger, came forth to meet [it]."America. In the face of our com­mon dan­gers, in this win­ter of our hard­ship, let us remem­ber these time­less words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy cur­rents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's chil­dren that when we were test­ed we refused to let this jour­ney end, that we did not turn back nor did we fal­ter; and with eyes fixed on the hori­zon and God's grace upon us, we car­ried forth that great gift of free­dom and deliv­ered it safe­ly to future generations. 

Read the whole dang thing. It's just as impres­sive in text as it was in voice.

ideas politics

A good meltdown is hard to find

Incom­ing White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel recent­ly dis­cussed the next administration's approach to the finan­cial cri­sis, telling the Wall Street Jour­nal, "You nev­er want a seri­ous cri­sis to go to waste." Link­ing pol­i­tics, cri­sis and oppor­tu­ni­ty, Emanuel's sen­ti­ments evoked either Mil­ton Friedman's Cap­i­tal­ism and Free­dom or Nao­mi Klein's The Shock Doc­trine, depend­ing on your lev­el of paranoia/distrust of the fed­er­al government.I'll admit that I've only skimmed Fried­man, but Klein's book is a provoca­tive inter­pre­ta­tion of social cri­sis and the ways in which cor­po­ra­tions ben­e­fit (and peo­ple are exploit­ed) in the wake of a dis­as­ter. She holds Fried­man account­able for the rise of "dis­as­ter cap­i­tal­ism," and she iden­ti­fies his philoso­phies as the ori­gin of numer­ous crises pre­cip­i­tat­ed by gov­ern­ments around the world in the past fifty years:

This is how the shock doc­trine works: the orig­i­nal dis­as­ter — the coup, the ter­ror­ist attack, the mar­ket melt­down, the war, the tsuna­mi, the hur­ri­cane — puts the entire pop­u­la­tion into a state of col­lec­tive shock … Like the ter­ror­ized pris­on­er who gives up the names of his com­rades and renounces his faith, shocked soci­eties often gives up things that they would oth­er­wise fierce­ly protect. 

Any­way, what's espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing about Emanuel's invo­ca­tion is that (I sus­pect) at least some of the new administration's poli­cies will reverse the dereg­u­la­tion that Fried­man rec­om­mend­ed and that his acolytes imple­ment­ed. Also, like Fried­man, Emanuel is from Chica­go. Iron­ic? Deeply.

basketball ideas lit tech web

The future of reading / A reading list

I love read­ing, and I've been think­ing a lot about how tech­nol­o­gy is affect­ing the way that we read now and in the future. I keep think­ing about some­thing Sven Birk­erts said in a 1998 inter­view with Harpers: "If you touch all parts of the globe, you can't do that and then turn around and look at your wife in the same way." [PDF] Of course, one could be turn around and look at one's wife in a more informed, more edu­cat­ed way, but that's not the way he sees it. I share this anx­i­ety: I love read­ing the New York Times on my phone, but I can't help but sense that some­thing will be lost if all print­ed mat­ter moves in this direction. 

My bookcaseThis is the top shelf on one of our book cas­es. It's com­fort­ing to have the books sit­ting there; they're like a ver­sion of myself, sit­ting on a shelf, dis­as­sem­bled and re-arrangeable.

In August 1995, Harpers Mag­a­zine con­duct­ed a round table dis­cus­sion with Wired's Kevin Kel­ly, author Sven Birk­erts, the Well's John Per­ry Bar­low, and Mark Slou­ka. The results were con­densed in the mag­a­zine [PDF], and the con­ver­sa­tion out­lines the two ide­olo­gies that con­tin­ue to con­verse today: Those who believe that the paper incar­na­tion of the book is an irre­place­able are­na for the deliv­ery of its con­tent, and those who don't. Birk­erts dis­cuss­es the for­mer in his 1995 book, The Guten­berg Ele­gies: The Fate of Read­ing in an Elec­tron­ic Age. In 2004, the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts sent a shot across the bow in a paper called "Read­ing at Risk," [PDF]. The researchers sur­veyed 17,000 peo­ple, and they con­clud­ed that the future of lit­er­ary read­ing is bleak: "Lit­er­ary read­ing in Amer­i­ca is not only declin­ing rapid­ly among all groups, but the rate of decline has accel­er­at­ed, espe­cial­ly among the young."Still, the total num­ber of books sold con­tin­ues to rise, so is the future real­ly that bleak? The NEA thinks so. It released a fol­low-on to Read­ing at Risk called "To Read or Not To Read." This study focus­es on young read­ers, and links the decline in read­ing to "civic, social and eco­nom­ic" risks.Last spring, Nicholas Carr dis­cussed Google's effect on lit­er­ary read­ing in the Atlantic, provoca­tive­ly titled "Is Google Mak­ing Us Stu­pid." [I dis­cussed this in a blog post at the Coop­er Jour­nal called "Dumb is the new smart"]. In it, he inter­views a blog­ger who con­fess­es the following:

"I can't read War and Peace anymore,†he admit­ted. "I've lost the abil­i­ty to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four para­graphs is too much to absorb. I skim it."

The arti­cle also sparked a dis­cus­sion on, col­lect­ed in a forum called "Your Brain Online." It's got a lot of inter­est­ing stuff from folks like Kevin Kel­ly, Dan­ny Hillis and Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Every­body, who thinks that the "unprece­dent­ed abun­dance" of the web will func­tion to break the vise-grip of the "lit­er­ary world" on culture: 

It's not just because of the web — no one reads War and Peace. It's too long, and not so inter­est­ing. This obser­va­tion is no less sac­ri­le­gious for being true. The read­ing pub­lic has increas­ing­ly decid­ed that Tolstoy's sacred work isn't actu­al­ly worth the time it takes to read it, but that process start­ed long before the inter­net became main­stream … The threat isn't that peo­ple will stop read­ing War and Peace. That day is long since past. The threat is that peo­ple will stop gen­u­flect­ing to the idea of read­ing War and Peace.

Ursu­la Le Guin dis­putes the notion that peo­ple have ever read War and Peace. (Well, maybe.) 

Self-sat­is­fac­tion with the inabil­i­ty to remain con­scious when faced with print­ed mat­ter seems ques­tion­able. But I also want to ques­tion the assump­tion — whether gloomy or faint­ly gloat­ing — that books are on the way out. I think they're here to stay. It's just that not all that many peo­ple ever did read them. Why should we think every­body ought to now?

The title of her recent Harper's essay pret­ty well sums up her posi­tion: "Notes on the alleged decline of read­ing." It roars through the var­i­ous aspects of the state of read­ing and pub­lish­ing, quick­ly turn­ing into a ring­ing indict­ment of cor­po­rate publishers:

The social qual­i­ty of lit­er­a­ture is still vis­i­ble in the pop­u­lar­i­ty of best­sellers. Pub­lish­ers get away with mak­ing bor­ing, baloney-mill nov­els into best­sellers via mere P.R. because peo­ple need best­sellers. It is not a lit­er­ary need. It is a social need. We want books every­body is read­ing (and nobody fin­ish­es) so we can talk about them.

On that social note

I was just look­ing at my beat-up copy of "The Dhar­ma Bums," and I felt a sort Chris Matthews-esque tin­gle. I bought it dur­ing high school at Rainy Day Books in Fair­way, Kansas, and it sparked my fas­ci­na­tion with the West Coast, years before I ever trav­eled here. Would I ever read it again? Prob­a­bly not. In fact, just now, I could bare­ly read even a cou­ple of pages with­out feel­ing like Ker­ouac was on auto-pilot. But I like the idea that my book­shelf is a kind of exter­nal­iza­tion of myself, a col­lec­tion of impor­tant influ­ences and expres­sions. The future of my books appears to be not so dif­fer­ent than the present: A com­bi­na­tion of tal­is­mans, objects of beau­ty, and points of reference.On the sub­ject of ref­er­ence, in (wait for it) a Harper's essay called ""A Defense of the Book," William Gass talks about the plea­sures of not hav­ing the world at your fin­ger­tips:

I have rarely paged through one of my dic­tio­nar­ies (a decent house­hold will have a dozen) with­out my eye light­ing, along the way, on words more beau­ti­ful than a found fall leaf, on def­i­n­i­tions odd­er than any uncle, on grotesques like gonadotropin-releas­ing hor­mone or, bare­ly, above it — what? — gombeen — which turns out to be Irish for usury.

And holy crap, there's a whole lot more Gass at Tun­nel­ing. Arti­cles, links, thoughts. I love the Internet.

ideas lit minneapolis tech

Futures / Literary books, small presses, & technology

Last week­end, I had an unlike­ly oppor­tu­ni­ty: I was invit­ed to sit on a pan­el that dis­cussed the future of small lit­er­ary press­es, non-prof­it pub­lish­ing, and — in gen­er­al — books that took place at Cof­fee House Press in Min­neapo­lis. I love books, read­ing, and non-cor­po­rate media, so I jumped at the chance to talk about this stuff in pub­lic. You may ask: Why me? I have a per­son on the inside who knows that I like to talk.1 My fel­low pan­elists were a murderer's row of pub­lish­ing insight. Rick Simon­son is the co-founder of Cop­per Canyon Press and a book buy­er at the Elliott Bay Book Com­pa­ny in Seat­tle; Richard Nash is the pub­lish­er of Soft Skull Press; Patri­cia Waki­da runs Wasabi Press; and, Michael Cof­fey is the Man­ag­ing Edi­tor at Publisher's Week­ly (and the author of an excel­lent base­ball book, 27 Men Out).When we got start­ed, I sus­pect­ed I'd been tossed in a shark tank wear­ing a meat neck­lace. I found myself rat­tling on about things in my frame of ref­er­ence — tech­nol­o­gy, social media, iPhones, Kin­dles, stuff want­i­ng to be free — and I wor­ried that all of it was sim­ply chum­ming the waters for my fel­low pan­elists who (a) know a lot about pub­lish­ing, and (b) clear­ly rec­og­nized that their busi­ness mod­els are being erod­ed by tech­nolo­gies that offer new ways to read (i.e., every­thing with a screen) and sup­ply chain dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion, i.e. Ama­zon.

Side note: The weather was beautiful

Flickr photoWhen­ev­er I take a pic­ture of him, Fish (i.e., Chris Fis­chbach of Cof­fee House) tells me: "I bet­ter not see this on the Inter­net." But I just had to take this one while he and Katie (of Gray­wolf and New York Times fame) took me on an excel­lent walk along the Mis­sis­sip­pi just before win­ter arrived.

As it turned out, we had a series of pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tions. My col­leagues and the audi­ence were keen to know about how com­pa­nies go about deter­min­ing the right way to con­ceive tech­no­log­i­cal prod­ucts, and to imple­ment them appro­pri­ate­ly. Mean­while, I learned a lot about small press­es, pub­lish­ing, and the ways that edi­tors at lit­er­ary press­es think about their work. Allan Korn­blum, the founder of Cof­fee House Press, saw him­self as "the inher­i­tor of the Maxwell Perkins tra­di­tion" in cre­at­ing deep and last­ing rela­tion­ships with artists, sup­port­ing them and pro­vid­ing a con­sis­tent venue for pub­li­ca­tion. Fish said that he want­ed "to cre­ate art objects that last." Both of those goals make a lot of sense to me, and they seem like a firm foun­da­tion for a busi­ness in transition.

So, what is the future of reading, anyway?

I'm going to put togeth­er anoth­er post about my thoughts on this top­ic, and in the mean­time I'm going to be digest­ing some of the work that my fel­low pan­elists ref­er­enced dur­ing our dis­cus­sions; this list includes Ursu­la Le Guin's "Notes on the alleged decline of read­ing" that I saw in Patricia's pile of notes; Michael men­tioned Bill McKibben's new book, Deep Econ­o­my in mak­ing a com­par­i­son between region­al lit­er­a­ture and a larg­er move­ment toward region­al and local economies; Richard spoke a cou­ple of times about lit­er­ary sub­scrip­tion pro­grams, such as Soft Skull's annu­al edi­tion, and Powell's indiespens­able list. 1 I was there because my friend Fish (the senior edi­tor at Cof­fee House Press) thought that my expe­ri­ence with tech­nol­o­gy and online prod­uct strat­e­gy would com­ple­ment the deep exper­tise of the small press lumi­nar­ies on the pan­el. Or per­haps he just want­ed to see what hap­pened when I said the words "Kin­dle" and "free" around Michael Cof­fey. In the end, there would be no way of know­ing.