General

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-10

  • At Yale Field for the second of two against Columbia, cold. #
  • Whom do I want to lose more: the team that knocked out Duke or UNC? That’s easy–beat NC! #
  • Thursday 4/30 at 7 pm: Jonathan Safran Foer interviewing Zadie Smith at #NYU, 40 Washington Square South. Should be awesome! #
  • I can’t stand it when people speak as though they don’t know the difference between e.g. and i.e. #
  • NYTM editor on the future of long-form narrative journalism: http://www.rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/nm/ #
  • CoolOSXApps.net for sale: http://www.coolosxapps.net/2009/03/30/cool-osx-apps-is-for-sale/ #
  • Where is lit crit for the Kindle? #
  • We need more stories about current tech that focus on how it makes people feel like Hefferman on iPhone in NYT & NYMag cover story on FB. #
  • Off to see Leanne Shapton and Patricia Marx in conversation at the Strand. #
  • Got vertical gray lines on my MacBook Pro’s screen this morning. Here’s the solution: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/ln #
  • The killer Kindle feature: anti-shake. #
  • NYPD, don’t you have better things to do? You, not protesters, blocked me from the library http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/nypd #newschool #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-03

  • Is there an easy way to get a web article from Safari on my Mac onto a Kindle for reading (like what I do with Instapaper on iPod/iPhone)? in reply to wordbrooklyn #
  • How to add a Streampad playlist to your website: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/sp #
  • My MacBook Pro won’t open. The Apple Store either slightly bent the case or incorrectly reassembled it when they replaced my speaker. Boo. #
  • Not interested in Gmail Autopilot, but I would pay $50/year for Gmail Paper, 12pt Garamond: http://mail.google.com/mail/help/paper/more.html #
  • Anyone know if it’s possible to make Tumblr order your posts randomly, not chronologically? #
  • Your use of bullet points implies an inability to form paragraphs. Perhaps, you should work on that. #
  • Unfollowing all the Twittereans who just repost what I would read on their blogs, anyway. Your posts aren’t that urgent. #
  • Focusing mechanism on my Canon EF 35mm f2 lens broke. Is it worth getting it fixed or should I buy a new one? If fix, where in NYC? #

Using Streampad to add a music playlist to your website

Inspired by Fred Wilson’s FredWilson.fm, I decided to see if I could add a playlist to my website using Streampad. As you can see, I now have Streampad’s player running at the bottom of this page. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to add it to your own site:

  1. Set up a Tumblr blog and start posting music to your blog in MP3 format. Tumblr allows you to upload one MP3 file a day or you could link to MP3s hosted elsewhere. This will become your playlist for Streampad.
  2. Insert Streampad’s code in your page template’s header between the <head> and </head> tags.
  3. Here’s the code to insert. Make sure that you change the Tumblr URL to your own URL: <script type=”text/javascript” src=”http://static.streampad.com/streampad-tumblr.js?api=YOURNAME.tumblr.com&autoplay=true”></script>
  4. You can delete the autoplay parameter if you don’t want Streampad to start playing automatically when a user loads your page. There are several other parameters you can add to the JS URL to alter the appearance of the player.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-27

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-20

  • At Housing Works, waiting to see if Bjork will perform. #
  • I should have bought more Citigroup last week! #
  • n+1 looking for a photo editor, but won’t pay: http://tinyurl.com/c5xo7q #
  • Hoping to read Daniel Mendelsohn’s review of The Kindly Ones tonight: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22452 First, “She Said, She Said.” #
  • What if online branding will never take off because the Internet solves the problem–information asymmetry–that makes branding valuable? #
  • Caitlin Macy reading from “Spoiled” @bookculture on April 23 at 7 pm! Loved Fundamentals of Play, looking forward to this. #
  • Saw “She Said, She Said” by Kathy Chetkovich–wonderful w/ all complexity of real life http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/shesaid #theater #
  • Anyone going to the Updike tribute at the NYPL on Thursday? http://bit.ly/10kPh #
  • Twitter for book publicity! RT @FSG_Books: Coming this April: Live Twitter Q & A with Wells Tower. #
  • RT @TechCrunch: [News] Major Book Publishers Start Turning To Scribd http://twurl.nl/kmyduf #
  • RT @pandora_radio Pandora on the BlackBerry! http://pandora.com/blackberry #
  • Another case for the publishing bailout: http://tinyurl.com/c5asgj #
  • “[Twitter] is not the wave of the future.” -John Wray, author of Lowboy, at McNally Jackson tonight #
  • I want a hard copy archive of my email boxes. Anyone know how I can print all sent and received in chronological order w/out page breaks? #
  • Reminded by Roger Angell’s reading last night at the NYPL of one of the best sports pieces ever: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/hubfans #

The wrong side of history

President Obama recently called out Republicans, who opposed his economic stimulus package, as being on “the wrong side of history.” The phrase is rhetorically potent, and at first, as a supporter of the stimulus and Obama, I found his usage of it powerful. He employed it before in his campaign and his inaugural address to describe repressive regimes. But now I just find it sort of frightening. It’s as if he’s equating opposition to the stimulus package with southern slave-owners and Nazi appeasers and Islamic terrorists. And how the heck do you defend yourself against those sorts of implied accusations, especially coming from the President?

History is, by definition, a thing of the past, and Obama’s use of this phrase suggests that he already knows how the future is going to turn out. That, to me, is a terribly dangerous proposition, and one that is surprising in its source. President Obama’s campaign was based largely on its giving citizens the power to rewrite the future and on the idea that history doesn’t exert an inescapable and inexorable pull forward that we must accept or else reject at our peril. It’s a reiteration of Bush’s you’re either with us or against us simplified worldview. 

Out of resistance is borne hope—that’s the message that Obama sold so well. And now to suggest that resistance is futile is just wrongheaded. The President is smart and prescient enough to avoid using such pretentious language to silence his critics. Reason, not rhetoric, is why we elected him, after all.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-13

  • Anyone else notice the shared line between U2’s new “I’ll Go Crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” and “Ultraviolet” from Achtung? #
  • Anyone interested in going to the NBCC finalists reading at the New School tonight at 6? #
  • Tried to go to Freebird today, but they were closed. Ended up at BookCourt and picked up NYRB’s “A Meaningful Life.” Loving it so far. #
  • RT @TechCrunch: [News] Google Ad Chief Tim Armstrong Replaces Randy Falco As Chairman And CEO Of AOL http://snipurl.com/dowdu #
  • RT @PublishersLunch: Critics Love Bolano’s 2666; Takes NBCC http://tinyurl.com/b5t4na #
  • In case you missed Stewart vs. Cramer: http://tinyurl.com/cgzhkv #

Why independent bookstores lose to Barnes & Noble

One reason why independently owned bookstores have a tough time competing with BN is that they have a higher cost of equity. In this lecture, Aswath Damodaran of NYU estimates the cost of equity for a New York indie bookstore to be around 14%, while it’s only 8% for BN. This analysis makes the manner in which Kepler’s raised money from 20+ investors in 2005 look smart. The investors provide the diversification that Kepler’s can’t get from the public market like BN does. If you want more reading on the subject, click here, though I recommend the watching the lecture over reading the linked chapter.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-06

  • #fnfw Edmund White: “…the challenge of teaching purpose-driven people the value of laziness.” #
  • If you read one article published this weekend, it should be Josh in the WSJ on Raoul Wallenberg: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/prager/ #
  • RT @R_Nash: David Silverman’s short list of the most pompous business words http://is.gd/k9YA #
  • “You gotta feed animals; otherwise, they die.” –Dr. Juan Ramos, Harvard ’05 #
  • Roger Angell in the New Yorker–always an event to celebrate or, at least, Tweet: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/torrebio/ #
  • We will be the Taxed Generation. #
  • Congrats, Conor: http://tinyurl.com/dyv9nl #
  • Zen Palate Union Square may have closed but there’s one in the Financial and they deliver with Seamless + discount code! #
  • Updike and Cheever on the Dick Cavett Show: http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/jujc/ #
  • RT @TechCrunch: [News] Amazon launches Kindle application for the iPhone http://twurl.nl/uzgmhi #
  • NYTimes iPhone app just updated to include nearly all the features I wanted! Woo hoo! #
  • NYTimes iPhone app just updated to include nearly all the features I wanted! Woo hoo! Now NYT needs to start charging for this thing. #

Listen to the Festival of New French Writing: E.L. Doctorow and Olivier Rolin

The Festival of New French Writing is happening at NYU’s law school this weekend. On Thursday  E.L. Doctorow and Olivier Rolin were in a conversation moderated by Benjamin Anastas. Anastas was filling in for Sam Tanenhaus, who no-showed the event. And though he tried to control the discussion, he couldn’t do much as an unprepared replacement to adapt to Doctorow’s palpable disgust with the topic of politics in writing. Rolin took his questions with good humor, but it would have been best if he could have redirected the discussion. Unfortunately, for the audience, he didn’t.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-02-27

  • What if making the web more valuable means making it advertising-free? #
  • Finished “U and I” by Baker, keep getting distracted from Bellow. #
  • Don’t like the Strand, but like Moleskine, and Strand is the place to buy the notebooks. #
  • Visualize Obama’s State of the Union using Wordle: http://www.rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/sotu/ #
  • I don’t think they grant degrees, but there is still http://omnisio.com/startupschool08 #
  • Netherland Wins Pen/Faulkner Award http://tinyurl.com/cbnpc9 The Pulitzer is next, mark my word #
  • Anyone going to the Festival of New French Writing? http://frenchwritingfestival.com/schedule.html #
  • Zoë Heller in NYTimes: “The point of fiction is…to engage with people whose politics or points of view are unpleasant or contradictory.” #
  • E.L. Doctorow at NYU tonight. in reply to luxlotus #
  • Sitting next to Doctorow. #
  • They’re doing translation on the fly for the panelists and moderator through radioed earphones. Fancy! #
  • Somehow, the conversation at the table next to mine has revolved for 10 minutes around the same question: “Have you smoked with your kids?” #
  • “Publishers sell writers instead of books.” –Philip Gourevitch speaking the sad truth at NYU right now. #
  • Bernard-Henri Lévy just arrived with his entourage–only a French intellectual would. Will post the panel discussion on my website later. #

Who’s reading your blog in Google Reader?

Someone once said that weblogs contain a gold mine of information about your users, and it’s true. Between your logs and software like Google Analytics, you can find out where your users IP addresses are located, what keywords they searched for to find your site, how they arrived on it, how long they stayed, how many pages they viewed, what kind of browser they used, and much more. However, these are all characteristics of your users. When it comes to finding out exactly who your users are, you’re generally out of luck. 

But if a user is coming to your site by clicking on a link in Google Reader, it’s quite possible that you can find out who they are—sort of. I don’t often look at my own weblogs, but in doing so for the first time in months, I found something curious about visits coming from Google Reader. If you look at referring URLs from Google Reader, they should look similar to this: http://www.google.com/reader/view/user/05899714176177792238/ That number in there is a user id of the person from whose Google Reader account the visit originated. Take that number and put it into this URL and you’ll get that person’s shared items page, if they have one: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/05899714176177792238 (I intentionally made those numbers non-functioning in my examples.) Now, you’ll have a little more information: whatever public name the person has given herself and her shared items. Note that the number in these URLs is, apparently, different than the one use for public profile pages on Google. You people say you value privacy on the Internet, after all.

Engaging the unpleasant

Today’s New York Times features a profile of Zoë Heller in which she says: “The point of fiction is not to offer up moral avatars, but to engage with people whose politics or points of view are unpleasant or contradictory.” It’s uncomfortable, but true; this is exactly what good fiction does. I think the first time I really felt this effect was during my freshman year of college when I read Lolita and found myself enthralled by HH’s prose and disgusted by his actions. Do you agree with Heller? Disagree? Comment.

Capitola Book Cafe launching memberships

The Capitola Book Cafe is launching a membership program similar to the one used by Kepler’s.

The Book Cafe is instituting a membership program, in which they’re asking their customers to pay an annual fee in five levels from $25 to $250. Those fees will entitle them to a number of benefits — free food and drink, shopping sprees, tickets to events and other discounts — but they’re also needed to keep the Book Cafe in business.

Unfortunately, it looks like this membership program will, like Kepler’s, offer no accountability or provide donors—that’s what they are, not members—any insight into how the bookstore is using their contributions, which is a shame.

Visualize President Obama’s State of the Union address

State of the Union

Perhaps, you’re watching President Obama’s address on CNN.com with Facebook Live or reading it faster than Obama can speak. Well, I dumped the text into Wordle, played with the colors and styles a bit, and produced the above word cloud. If Obama left any doubt about the themes of his speech, this visualization reinforces them, though “energy” seems a bit small. Click the above image for the full-size version.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-02-20

  • “We are all failed youths.” –John Updike #
  • The PPT slide from the Kindle 2 launch that Amazon didn’t want you to see: http://www.rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/kindle/ #
  • SF4 bricked my Xbox with the red ring after only one match. Now I wait for Microsoft’s border repair center to turn it around. . . . #
  • “…the management consultant [is] the personification of the sellout.” –Louis Menand in The New Yorker #
  • NYU occupation: I agree with fulfilling financial aid and making library public. Opening endowment is stupid: http://takebacknyu.com/ #
  • The McEwan profile in this week’s NYer is good, but Menand’s review of the Barthelme bio is better; neither article is available online. #
  • Is it just me or the did the #NYU occupation last about as long as students’ iPod and cell phone batteries? #
  • Love Jeter’s response to A-Rod’s blaming his missteps on not having gone to college: “Never went, man.” http://rickyopaterny.com/shorturl/dj #

Moneyball comes to the NBA

I feel like every time Michael Lewis talks about Moneyball, someone asks him if Billy Beane’s approach to fielding a team based on statistical analysis has taken hold in other sports. Although people have calculated win shares in basketball based on other statistics, i.e. through regressions, no one has really told a Moneyball-like story of the sport. That is, until today when Lewis himself published an article about Shane Battier and the Houston Rockets in the New York Times Magazine. It’s highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed Moneyball.

Public, private, or pay?

When we post information online we often have the option to make it public or private. We can choose to share with some, everyone, or no one. My Flickr photos, my Facebook page, my Twitter feed, my Google Reader shared items–all of them involve making that choice. Well, how about offering another option? You want to see my Facebook page and we’re not friends? You’ll have to pay me $5. Want to read my Twitter feed? That’ll be $1. Just an idea, a modest one, from this morning’s train ride.

The missing slide from Amazon’s Kindle 2 launch: longevity comparison

Amazon Kindle Longevity Comparison

I’ll buy a Kindle once Amazon’s device can win in a longevity comparison with a traditional book. As you can see from the PowerPoint slide above, it still has a long way to go, as the Kindle lasts about 14 months, while the 1766 edition of Thomas Paine’s pamphlet has lasted 243 years and counting. In the meantime, you can pre-order the new Kindle 2; just don’t expect it to last more that two years.

Booksmith beats the odds

The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran a story about the recent success of Booksmith on Haight in San Francisco.Preveen Madan and Christin Evans acquired the store in 2007,

Evans said they think of their staff as “book concierges,” gently nudging browsing shoppers toward books they might not have considered. They group books in unusual categories on shelves. A recent favorite is “Long Dead Writers – Read Them Before You Meet Them.”

That’s something that most bookstores don’t do. And it’s not a bad thing if their edit or selection of books is strong. However, most stores depend on the books selling themselves, which, in the absence of such a selection, will never work.

Listen to Pandora Founder Tim Westergren

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I heard Pandora founder Tim Westergren speak at Housing Works tonight. I’ve been a fan of the Pandora service since it launched a few years ago, and it was great to hear him speak about his passion for the business. When someone asked if Google has ever offered to buy Pandora, he replied, “We’re going to buy Google someday.” Click here to download the entire talk or listen above.