Saturday, September 05, 2009

Good-bye for now

At one point in my life, I kept up three blogs. "And So Forth" was my catch-all blog, where I wrote about politics, music and whatever else suited my fancy.

I would love to have the time to do that now, but I just don't. So for the moment, my blogging output is going to be limited to my main blog: La France Profonde.

I hope to see you there.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The future of the press: magazines

I can't quite read the date on this Business Week cover, but I wonder how much the editors were thinking about themselves when they put it to press.

"Blogs will change your business...catch up...or catch you later."

Well, blogs have certainly changed the paper press business, and I have already blogged about the sad, progressive demise of the American newspaper.

Of course, magazines are facing some of the same problems, although they may have a little more going for them: they aren't dailies, they're easier to handle on planes and beaches, and they have a more attractive allure than those somewhat grubby newspapers.

A lot of people really love their glossies: they like showing them off on their coffee table, they appreciate the feel of them, they enjoy browsing the magazine section of stores and maybe making a few impulse buys.

But despite what they have going for them, magazines are facing the same difficulties as newspapers: declining advertising revenue, sinking readership, and the overall problem of "if I can read everything online, why buy a magazine?"

A recent article in TechCrunch
tackles the issue of how business magazines can survive, and suggests a rather draconian, but perhaps necessary, new business model. I think the author's ideas give food for thought to all magazine companies, writers...and readers.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rock and roll: catch up or give up?


If you ever stop by this little-frequented blog, you will know that I am quite a music fan.

And I'm not closed-minded. I have the requisite eclectic tastes: jazz, classical, la chanson française...But I'm quite sure you know what I know: ROCK AND ROLL RULES.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let me also tell you I used to be a fountain of rock knowledge. I could tell you the original names of a ton o' groups, knew which albums were coming out when, and was the type of person who could hold my own in A-side vs. B-side debates. Of course that was about 25 years ago, but I like to think it counts for something.

But it doesn't count for being "up on things." So, a year or so back, I decided the Internet would be my route to Catching Up With Rock and Roll Since 1990. I mean between Deezer, Allmusic, and unlimited access to cool people's playlists, how hard could it be?

Unfortunately, it's proving to be very hard indeed. Sure, I write down group names, log in dutifully to Deezer planning on checking them out, and end up listening to my splendid Jackson Browne playlist, or doing a little more research on the many cover versions of "Hallelujah," even though I know Jeff Buckley's is the best.

As for Allmusic, it's a great place; I'm always going there to refresh my memory on burning and oh-so-current questions like "Did Highway 61 Revisited come out before or after Bringing It All Back Home?"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not totally ignorant. I can wail "Smells Like Teen Spirit" with the best of them -- oops, that's not really new anymore, is it? It's, like, from the last century? Oh well.

A few groups do keep coming back on my "must listen to" lists: The White Stripes, The Hives, The Strokes. I know they're out there! But I have come to realize that I will never listen to these groups if someone doesn't just stick a CD into my hand. And that never happens to people my age, right?

Yes, it does! I was at a school Christmas party this year, and one of my students came up to me and handed me a White Stripes playlist he had put on a CD. "I made this for you, I thought you might like it."

He was right. I liked it very much. Maybe I should "get into" this group.

But then again, there is so much music from 1960-1990 that I am ignorant of. And I've started to forget some of those "fun facts to know and tell," like the differences between UK and US releases of 60s albums. One can only keep up with so much.

So what's the best choice: to try to catch up, or just to give up?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Unconscious Mutterings 325


I really would like to get this blog moving with more frequent posts, but life is just too busy.

In the meantime, there's always Unconscious Mutterings 325:

  1. Lease :: on life

  2. Dead :: Grateful

  3. Removed :: Uplifted

  4. Broke :: Back

  5. Lips :: Flaming

  6. Flight :: 324

  7. Three hours :: That's all we've got

  8. Give :: and take

  9. Technical :: Whirl

  10. Hurry :: up, hurry up and wait

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Too late for April Fool's, but still funny

I'm sure many of you have seen this, but if you haven't -- don't miss it! Very clever:

Saturday, April 04, 2009

If you're reading this at work, congratulate yourself!

Surreptitious employees who use Internet for personal reasons at work will be thrilled with new research suggesting that workers are actually more productive when allowed to surf the Web freely during office hours.

According to Dr. Brent Coker of the University of Melbourne, "People who do surf the Internet for fun at work - within a reasonable limit of less than 20% of their total time in the office - are more productive by about 9% than those who don’t."

These results intrigue me but don't really surprise me. And while I'm not going to read the entire study to examine if it establishes true causality, I wonder if some other factors don't come into play here.

First, perhaps the type of person likely to be Internet-savvy and "linked in" is, also, the type of person who would be more productive at work anyway. I tend to find that my friends who are "into" the Internet are also keen on activities like time management, list-making, and just general geeky organization. It seems to me that these are qualities that make for productive work .

Second, work-life borders blur quickly online -- in many cases, in the employers' favor. I am scrupulous about limiting any non-work related online time to official breaks and lunchtime, and yet have found myself in plenty of situations where something that comes across a personal inbox turns into productive work.

Take a concrete example. I decide to forego a session of coffee-break jabber and stay quietly in my office to check my personal email instead. Imagine there's not much there except a New York Times technology alert with some interesting articles about, say, adults' increasing use of Facebook.

Hey, wouldn't this be great material for one of my classes? Quick read...it sure would...print...go to the copy machine to get my article...hmmm, which class should I use it for? Oh, and yeah, what break?

Finally, I am convinced the work-life blur goes both ways. The same wired staff members who take a few quick personal surfs at work probably do plenty of work-related Internet research and email-checking at home too, which also contributes to their productivity.

Funny how companies aren't investing in any filters to stop that...