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The Sloooow Internet

  • Blog Post by: James Lileks
  • December 17, 2012 - 12:20 PM

When it rained this weekend I found myself thinking A) finally, and B) stop it. the rain beat down the snow, and you have the sinking suspicion that last week’s storm was the sole ration we’ll get before Christmas. We need a fresh coat.

The drizzle also slickified (warning: not a word) the sidewalks, so every step was a potential cocyxx-shattering event unless the homeowner has strewn some grit. Which I did. That was my weekend accomplishment. Grit-strewing. Anyway:

 

MEANWHILE IN PUERTO RICO This . . . 

 

 . . . said something controversial about a local  publicist who was killed in a dodgy part of town. As the New York Times put it: “The outrage was in part because of fears over a growing crime wave on the island and a reaction to La Comay, a puppet version of the television program “TMZ” with gossipy segments about celebrities, politics and crime.”

I mention this only because the words “a puppet version of ‘TMZ’ ought to give everyone pause. It’s only a matter of time before it happens here.

 

WEB The internet moves too quickly and people who have to post all the time to juice the traffic burn out. Sometimes they move to Hawaii and start something else. Ah, but how do you get noticed? How do you cut through the blinding blizzard of PR chaff? Have the right friends. From the New York Times:

With friends — including Brian X. Chen, who now works at The New York Times — he came up with his own version of a gadget site. But instead of chasing down every tidbit of tech news, he built The Wirecutter, a recommendation site that posts six to 12 updates a month — not a day — and began publishing in partnership with The Awl, a federation of blogs founded by two other veterans of Gawker Media, Choire Sicha and Alex Balk.

That’ll help.

It’s a profile of the founder, Brian Lam, whom you might recall from the iPhone 4 incident over at Gizmodo. The new site studies a product category and makes one (1) recommendation. Good luck; hope the site has a nice long life. I bring it up because the piece has a BS term imported from elsewhere, and it’s a matter of time before it seeps into everyone’s conversation: “Slow Internet.”

“Brian’s insight is that in a world of loudest and fastest, he has turned it down, doing it slow and doing it right,” Mr. Sicha said. “And by being consumer facing, he doesn’t have to have monster numbers. The people come ready to buy.”

Wasn’t Choire Sicha the person who used to make fun of people who said things like “consumer facing”? Anyway, Digg’s subhead is “Savoring the Slow Web,” so you know that’s going to be a thing. Slow web. Ahhh. Like slipping into a warm bath after a day in the frothy jacuzzi of work internet, which has pirhanas. We have Slow Food, Slow Reading, all kinds of Slow things that are better - deeper, more spiritual somehow - for being Slow. 

In case you’re curious, here’s one of those pages that makes one (1) recommendation. It makes about 30. There’s also a gift guide, with this humble apology on the site’s front page:

Sorry this is late. I sat around playing video games for a week instead of doing this gift guide. Here it is. It's so-so. BUT feel free to email me for gift ideas. Instead of making you rely on a generic list of stuff, I'll do custom recommendations for you if you just tell me your budget and something about your gift recipient.

That’s certainly the personal touch. If that’s the Slow Web, then yes, that’s great. Seems rather labor-intensive, though. If Amazon took the approach instead of having its massive cybernetic brain toss up recommendations based on clicks, it would have to hire hundreds of thousands of people.

There! Unemployment solved.

 

FASHION Finally, the opportunity to look like a Disney character. It’s easy for men to be Donald; just put on a hat and shirt and skip the pants. Different for the Princess line-up, though Just in time for Christmas, Harrods is here to help.

 

That’s about $81,000 Yank money. If you're wondering when the culture will get tired of revisiting the Disney Princesses, the answer is Never. 

 

ART If you’re an architect or interested in buildings, this may strike a chord.

Writing about modern architecture and modern photography for the Photographers' Gallery website, Hatherley says sites like Dezeen and Archdaily "provide little but glossy images of buildings that you will never visit, lovingly formed into photoshopped, freeze-dried glimmers of non-orthogonal perfection, in locations where the sun, of course, is always shining."

So? In related news, wedding photography rarely consists of people in burlap sacks standing out in the rain. As for “buildings that you will never visit,” I believe this falls into the category of “most buildings everywhere,” since architectural photography is the only way one gets to see these things. I’m not sure what the point is. We continue:

He adds: "In art, this approach to reproduction is dubious enough, but in architecture – where both physical experience and location in an actual place are so important – it’s often utterly disastrous, a handmaiden to an architectural culture that no longer has an interest in anything but its own image."

Ah, that’s why I bookmarked it. Now it comes back to me. A culture that no longer has an interest in anything but its own image. What’s the difference between the great buildings of yore and the goofy exhibitionist architecture of today? The former were built to please the patron - the Church, the State, the Company. Today the patron flatters the architect, comes bowing and scraping: will you please deign to design something for us?

The flip side: overly cautious developer architecture. Going up soon downtown:

 

  

We already have that building about ten times over. It looks like the old Lutheran Brotherhood building trying to emerge from one of the Target structures. If you don’t know the old LB building, it was a gem:

 

 

That’s a building that knows what it is. Then there’s this:

 

  

We have one of those already. It’s the Skyscape.

 

 

Don't get me wrong: I'll take them. I just wish there was a compromise between Safe and Obnoxious.

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