Clive Thompson on How YouTube Changes the Way We Think

What’s happening to video is like what happened to word processing. Back in the ’70s and early ’80s, publishing was a rarefied, expert job. Then Apple’s WYSIWYG interface made it drop-dead easy, enabling an explosion of weird new forms of micropublishing and zines. Laptop audio editing did the same thing, giving birth to the mashup and cut-and-paste subgenres of music. Then there’s photo manipulation, once a rarefied propaganda technique. Photoshop…

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"Puff, the Magic Dragon" and the Value of Literary Analysis

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary responds to the urban legend that his song “Puff, the Magic Dragon” is an extended metaphor for drug use. He then mockingly applies the critical lens of drug metaphors to The Star-Spangled Banner, before the group launches into “Puff.”  During the song, we see a montage of people in the audience of all ages singing along; the unspoken message is clearly “Don’t analyze,…

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MLA Meeting Designed for Broader Appeal

I haven’t been to the Modern Languate Association’s annual conference in the last several years, in part because the time slot (between Christmas and New Year’s) is horrible if you want to spend time with your family (imagine that!).  Some of it is just sour grapes — I pitched a few proposals to the MLA that didn’t get accepted, but the proposals I pitched to the 4Cs did get accepted,…

VHS era is winding down

From the LA times, a reminder to get all those family videos onto disc. I talked my father into buying a Betamax way back when. The tapes were smaller, and the quality was better, but the format didn’t stick. Now it’s VHS’s turn. After three decades of steady if unspectacular service, the spinning wheels of the home-entertainment stalwart are slowing to a halt at retail outlets. On a crisp Friday…

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Merry Christmas 2008

I’m sitting with my laptop in the hallway, guarding the kids’ bedrooms, One has already tried to sneak out to watch for St. Nick (I had to put a stuffed snake along the crack under the door to keep her from peeking… I’m sure she’ll fall asleep on the floor, trying to peer under the door), and the other is still stirring in his bed. A couple hours ago, I…

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PDF Readers: No to Adobe and Foxit; Maybe to Sumatra

I’ve never been a fan of PDF documents, but now that I have a tablet PC, I thought I would try reading a few PDF documents and see how my tablet functions as an e-book reader, mostly for magazines, dissertations, or the occasional advance proof copy that someone wants to share with me. My first order of business was to find an alternative to Adobe Reader, the bloated default monstrosity…