The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Bad Call: Meditations on the Pocket Dial

September 25, 2013 | by

Brief-Encounter-Phone-Paris-Review

Still from the film Brief Encounter (1945).

My acquaintances rarely call me, but their pockets and purses ring me up faithfully. So it is for the Abigails and Aarons, the Abdullahs and Aaliyahs, A. A. and AAA—and one mustn’t forget the Yaschas and Yankels, the Xenas and Zinos. We alphabetical extremists, we who crown and conclude your contact lists: we aren’t a call away so much as a few unintended nudges. Perhaps your finger, seeking lipstick, flicks the “Contacts” key, and your phone highlights the earliest entry—dear old Abelard!—and your knuckle strikes “Call.” Perhaps, in the thick of all that accidental action, your pinky pokes the “Up” button, taking you to the list’s final entry: then it’s cousin Zabrina you’ve piped into your life.

Not to alarm you; not to suggest that, at this very minute, an army of Abners and Zilpahs are listening to their cell phones with unseemly interest, picking up on secrets you had never meant to share. No, it’s far more likely we’re hearing whish-whoosh, whish-whoosh: the song of your stride.

Is there anything quite like the pocket dial? Does any other form of social intercourse invite us—actually, mandate us—to spy on our acquaintances?

Mandate? you ask. Yes, mandate, at least for a few moments. “Hello?” we say, and listen. “Hello?” we say again. And hear the background music of our friends’ lives: the slamming doors, the roaring traffic, the whish and the whoosh. Where is he walking? we wonder. Why is she shouting? And we never find out. Unless, of course, we keep listening.

Which I don’t. Hardly ever. Only under duress. When, for instance, years ago, the enigmatic and taciturn youth I had recently started dating called me while he was catching up with his mom. This isn’t invasion, I told myself guiltily, as I noted his thoughtful inquiries and nodded with approval. This is research. This is good for the team. Read More »

2 COMMENTS

One Word: bookBot

April 12, 2013 | by

Neologism, we should say. Whatever you call it, the device—a robotic book delivery system—is just one of many nifty features at North Carolina State University’s James B. Hunt Library of the future. Check it out here.

 

NO COMMENTS

Like: Facebook and Schadenfreude

October 30, 2012 | by

I was the 501st person to join Facebook. The inimitable Hatty Hong, number 499, urged me on from her desk across our freshman dorm room. I hardly used it the first few months because so few others were active, and as a senior I logged on to look at dead people’s profiles. Or to click through photographs of myself to remember where my time went. I didn’t think it was appropriate to remain a member after graduation. Facebook was something you were to outgrow, like Tommy Girl perfume or AOL Instant Messenger. Five years since graduation, I use it more now than ever.

As an elder user, I can say one thing with authority: When it comes to disseminating news about Facebook, few media are more effective than Facebook itself. That’s how I came to learn that longtime users like me are more likely to believe others happier than themselves. At least according to a study from Utah Valley University. The longer one has used Facebook, they found, the more likely he or she is to recall other people’s positive posts: the stunning honeymoon in Greece of a girl you never really knew in high school—and whose last name now looks, well, Greek; a list of very impressive graduate school acceptances, the likes of which prompted one Awl writer to dash off a lesson in Facebook manners. Read More »

2 COMMENTS

App Time at The Paris Review

May 21, 2012 | by

As David Carr reported in today’s New York Times, The Paris Review is partnering with The Atavist to bring you an app worthy of the magazine, with complete issues, rare archival material, our entire interview series ... and (natch) the Paris Review Daily. Starting late this summer, you’ll be able to read us on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, or Sony Reader.

Foreign readers, take heart! For four decades we’ve been looking for a cheap and timely way to get the Review to our fans abroad. Soon, whether you’re in Melbourne or Milan, you’ll be able to read our stories, interviews, and poems at the same moment as everyone else.

Lovers of print, you take heart, too! Even those of us who hold no brief for gizmos will want to check out this app—for hard-to-find back issues, special anthologies, plus audio and video of your favorite writers. This is stuff we can only bring you digitally—and stuff nobody else can bring you.

Stay tuned.

13 COMMENTS

How to Sharpen Pencils: A Demonstration

April 23, 2012 | by

If you’ve yet to hear about David Rees’s manifesto How to Sharpen Pencils, perhaps you’d enjoy a demonstration? Here, the author exhibits proper technique.

(Pencil snobs will surely rejoice.)

2 COMMENTS

A Week in Culture: Chris Weitz, Director

October 6, 2010 | by

Photograph by Summit Entertainment.

DAY ONE, KIND OF

The first thing that occurs to me at the beginning of my cultural week is a question about criteria. What qualifies? If you read—or, as I did, listen to—Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, the whole of culture is going to hell in a handbasket, as mash-ups and the digital entrepôt rid us of professional reportage, musicianship, originality, and notions of humanity itself. He cites Facebook as an example of the degrading of our standards: What is a “friend” from now on? Punters of my generation—and probably most readers of The Paris Review will find this a curious thing to say, but my three-year-old son will likely see it as a word for the tally of standardized connections amassed through the mediation of a Web site.

Now then.

DAY ONE, REALLY

Monday begins, technically, at 12:00 A.M. “Sunday night,” with an Alan Watts1 lecture on the subject of “Play and Sincerity.” I have long used Watts to put me to sleep, which implies that he is soporific. Not so; it’s that I find his voice comforting.

I also indulged in Zombieland2, the unfeasibly entertaining comedy directed by Ruben Fleischer. Of the two ruling monster metaphors currently infecting the public mind (the other being vampirism, to which I have to confess I have contributed), I favor the flesh-eating variety, though that may simply be an indication that I have a Y chromosome.

While we are at it, I am afraid that I rate Justin Cronin’s vampire epic The Passage a “sell.” The word is that Ridley Scott is to direct the movie version, and this may be one case of a book that benefits from boiling down. I hope that Sir Ridley is in his best science-fiction mode and can bring some of the quotidian genius3 that he brought to Alien and Blade Runner.

My dad, who served in the Office of Strategic Services at the end of World War II, always said that the New York Times was the greatest intelligence resource in the world. When I got old enough to have developed a taste for a newspaper without (as he called it) funny papers, we had two subscriptions for the house, so that there would be no scuffling over favorite sections. (We also received the Post, for shits and giggles.) Read More »

Annotations

  1. For the uninitiated, Watts was a former Anglican priest who abandoned his vocation and trained as a Zen Buddhist monk. In his lectures, he refers to himself as an “entertainer.” To listen to him is to grasp the woolly abstractions of the New Age as common sense. And his rarefied, BBC English provides a marvelously counterintuitive texture to his thought.
  2. Zombieland convinces me that comedy is the way to handle these matters. I am very partial to Robert Kirkman’s superb comic The Walking Dead, though I worry that the AMC TV edition might suffer from a po-facedness that the comic manages to duck.
  3. One further tentacle of digression: Scott’s first film, The Duellists, is marvelous. It was adapted from a Joseph Conrad short story. My Dad and I used to watch it every year.

9 COMMENTS