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Saturday, January 24, 2009

More links because if there's one thing I hate it's getting done the things I planned to get done.

* Huge gigapixel panorama of the inauguration, with very close zoom.

* The Obameter tracks 500 of Obama's campaign promises.

(both of those via Cynical-C)

* More inaugural poem talk from the New Republic and Edge of the American West.

* Obama reminds Republicans that he actually won the election and that in fact they have no credibility at all. Also, that Rush Limbaugh is a tool.

* And Time considers the future of the publishing biz.

So if the economic and technological changes of the 18th century gave rise to the modern novel, what's the 21st century giving us? Well, we've gone from industrialized printing to electronic replication so cheap, fast and easy, it greases the skids of literary production to the point of frictionlessness. From a modern capitalist marketplace, we've moved to a postmodern, postcapitalist bazaar where money is increasingly optional. And in place of a newly minted literate middle class, we now have a global audience of billions, with a literacy rate of 82% and rising.

Put these pieces together, and the picture begins to resolve itself: more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture. Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds.