Monday, June 29th, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell on Chris Anderson's "Free"

The Shadow EditorsesChoire Sicha: Do not miss how amusing it is to have Malcolm Gladwell review Chris Anderson in the New Yorker.
Tom Scocca: Wha-
Tom Scocca: Zhu-
Tom Scocca: Huff?
Choire Sicha: So, yes, for starters? Gladwell finally makes the point that "approaching zero" is nowhere the same as zero.
Tom Scocca: That's how Richard Pryor's embezzlement scheme worked in Superman III.
Tom Scocca: The fact that he heavily plagiarized to write the book is way too great.
Tom Scocca: It is like when Todd Marinovich became a dope fiend.
Choire Sicha: I do not know what your sports reference means but still I will agree with you. This review is sort of like one digital avatar space-battling another, also.
Choire Sicha: It's like War of the Speaker's Bureaus.
Tom Scocca: Right? MOTHRA V. MOTHRA.
Tom Scocca: "That said, it is not entirely clear what distinction is being marked between 'paying people to get other people to write' and paying people to write."
Tom Scocca: NOW it is!
Tom Scocca: "Free (Anderson honors it with a capital)"
Tom Scocca: Malcolm Gladwell is the last person on the planet who should be busting anybody's chops for jargony capitalizations.
Choire Sicha: You will see shortly that Gladwell demolishes Anderson's YouTube argument.
Tom Scocca: Yes. Gladwell is much better as a destroyer than as a creator!
Choire Sicha: This morning, Chris Anderson wrote this (on his Twitter, natch): "Malcolm Gladwell New Yorker review of Free now out. You can read it for free; I guess he wouldn't approve." Which is a hilarious and sad little snipe. Because, in fact, the cost of the New Yorker is not free! The New Yorker is a money-losing business.
Tom Scocca: Is it losing money now?
Choire Sicha: That is the word. Perhaps not! I am not privy to their balance sheets!
Tom Scocca:

Posner: A way to save newspapers is to outlaw linking
Becker-Posner Blog
Richard Posner suggests expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent.

Choire Sicha: Wow, that is so sufficiently idiotic that it might actually undo anything right that Richard Posner has ever accidentally thought.
Tom Scocca: Has he ever accidentally thought anything right?
Choire Sicha: I don't know but wow, that is AMAZING.
Tom Scocca: It's classic Posner, because he's one of those assholes who thinks the superior force of his reasoning allows him to get to the essence of any topic better than the poor dimwits who actually think about it. So he's like, after consideration and analysis, I have concluded that newspapers need to force people to pay for online content. Problem solved!
Choire Sicha: Also to…. make it illegal… to notify online readers that something exists?
Tom Scocca: The idea of outlawing paraphrase is unbelievable.
Tom Scocca: I mean, I actually cannot believe it.
Tom Scocca: And I say this as someone who thinks HuffPo is a nest of thieves.
Choire Sicha: Chris Anderson would have a hard time believing it, since chunks of his book are badly paraphrased rewrites of Wikipedia.
Tom Scocca: Why does that story not have legs? It seems unambiguous.
Choire Sicha: Say you were the editor of Wired. And one of your reporters filed a story that had chunks of barely-rewritten Wikipedia. What would you do?
Choire Sicha: Would you, A, accept their apology?
Choire Sicha: Or, you know, B, ANYTHING ELSE.
Tom Scocca: Hm? Sorry, I started imagining and then I was imagining using my imaginary paycheck as imaginary editor of Wired to pay my bills.
Choire Sicha: Oh that sounds fun. But really it's not the editorship that pays the bills; it's book advances and speaking fees.
Tom Scocca: Yeah, I'd fire somebody. Why doesn't he speak for free?
Choire Sicha: I believe he does sometimes. But you see his speaker's fee APPROACHES zero. Slowly approaches. But compared to Bill Clinton? Definitely closer to zero.
Tom Scocca: And as long as the book's for sale, I think he doesn't have much room to tee-hee about a negative review being posted online for free.
Choire Sicha: I think you can get a free ebook of Free! Which you can download onto your free iPhone! (You got your iPhone for free, right?)
Tom Scocca: My iPhone?
Choire Sicha: Yes, those tin cans with a sticker from an actual Granny Smith on them?
Tom Scocca: I seem to have misplaced my iPhone. I think I left it in my weekend house.
Choire Sicha: Your weekend house that costs something approaching zero?
Tom Scocca: Oh, wait, I don't have a house.
Choire Sicha: Oh well. You should give more speeches. For money.
Tom Scocca: I should! They would be dynamic.

14 Comments / Post A Comment

KarenUhOh (#19)

I think we should start paying people to read.

"That said, it is not entirely clear what distinction is being marked between 'paying people to get other people to write' and paying people to write."

isn't the distinction that the people who pay other people to write are the executives most likely to buy hot-air-filled balloons like anderson's book, while the people who write are more likely to have enough literacy skills to see through his tired arguments?

spanish bombs (#562)

So I started reading the NY article, but it was stupid and boring. But now there's a Shadow Editors about it, and the last one making fun of Gladwell for not being very smart was really fun! Decisions!

I'd like to give these guys my $43 instead but I can't seem to find a subscription card.

spanish bombs (#562)

Maybe if all of The Awl was as good as the Shadow Editors sometimes is. However, I do like that The Awl doesn't make me skip through a big listing of events going on in New York before I read things.

Hmmn. You know, I left a turd of a comment earlier today, one poorly executed piece of poo which I very much regret, as it happens. So who am I to get on anyone about anything, really, feeling as I do now about it and myself as a commenter? But that said? The Awl– awl of it– totally rocks.

sigerson (#179)

Posner is absolutely right. Copyright law should change to protect author's ownership rights in their work. No linking or block quotations without payment. Too many blogs are just long quotations from a newspaper or magazine plus one snarky comment.

This makes perfect sense. Because it's not as if newspaper and magazine content are just long quotations from sources with a few paraphrased comments and a byline.

sigerson (#179)

Cute. But you fail to recognize a ripoff when you see it.

Matt (#26)

I heard the guy who wrote Approaching Zero loves The Hills. And I don't believe a man can fly.

propertius (#361)

I'm left with the image of two mothras spraying each other.

In the end they just sit there covered in the white cream, doing nothing.

I wish they were two mothras spaying each other.

joshc (#442)

god, it's like a perfect storm: ill-researched over generalized under edited attack on a book that's probably the same.

JayCruz (#972)

For some reason this thing reminds me of the two old white guys in "Coming to America" betting one dollar.

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