Publishing and producing texts

What is the busi­ness of lit­er­a­ture?, by Richard Nash, is one of my all-time favorite essays about author­ship and pub­lish­ing. The entire piece is phe­nom­e­nal and this bit was per­haps my favorite:

It was a sign, almost one hun­dred years ago, of the book begin­ning to achieve what most tech­nol­ogy will never accomplish—the abil­ity to dis­ap­pear. Walk into the read­ing room of the New York Pub­lic Library and what do you see? Lap­tops. Books, like the tables and chairs, have receded into the back­drop of human life. This has noth­ing to do with the asser­tion that the book is counter-technology, but that the book is a tech­nol­ogy so per­va­sive, so fre­quently iter­ated and inno­vated upon, so worn and pol­ished by cen­turies of human con­tact, that it reaches the sta­tus of Nature.

Add that to Instapa­per and set­tle in for some thought-provoking reading.

Bonus link on a related note is Fetishiz­ing the Text, by Kieran Healy.

Making the WordPress fullscreen editor the default

A cou­ple weeks ago Patrick Rhone men­tioned that:

It is kind of sad that, in 2012, I have yet to see a blog­ging engine with a post edi­tor designed for doing the very thing we online writ­ers go there to do… Write.

Shawn Blanc men­tioned that Word­Press has a built in fullscreen edi­tor that is pretty min­i­mal. He’s right, the fullscreen edi­tor is one of my favorite addi­tions from the past cou­ple years. The new media improve­ments are even better.

I decided to take a crack at mak­ing a plu­gin to auto­mat­i­cally enable the fullscreen edi­tor. Turns out it was actu­ally pretty easy to do. 6 lines of PHP and 3 lines of JavaScript later the plu­gin is live. I tested it in Word­Press 3.5 with a few other things installed but the test­ing was by no means exten­sive. If you find any bugs feel free to open an issue on GitHub.

The code is hosted over on GitHub in case you want to give the plu­gin a spin. I’m pos­i­tive the plu­gin isn’t for every­one, that’s fine. :)

The Anthol­o­gists:

Antholo­gies have the poten­tial to finally make good on the pur­pose of all our auto­mated archiv­ing and col­lect­ing: that we would actu­ally go back to the library, look at the stuff again, and, holy moses, do some­thing with it. A col­lec­tion that isn’t revis­ited might as well be a garbage heap.

I dig the notion of this com­ing to pass. Between Twit­ter favorites, Pin­board, Instapa­per likes, and links on this blog I some­times won­der what per­cent­age of things I mark will actu­ally be seen again. Some­thing I need to get bet­ter about doing.

Chris Bowler:

But tools can only go so far. In the end, it comes down the writer. In writ­ing, the fric­tion that has to be dealt with the most is that which takes place in your head. Not from your tools. A good writer can change thoughts, opin­ions and even worlds, regard­less of the tool or plat­form used.

As the online editor, I s…

As the online edi­tor, I some­times feel like my job is to make some­thing beau­ti­ful, just to hack it apart for kin­dling. Here’s the way I (mostly) think about it instead: any link to a frag­ment of LQ is a bread­crumb that can bring you back to the whole. Every mag­a­zine wants to lead you back to the moth­er­ship, but when you finally pick up an issue of Lapham’s Quar­terly, what you have isn’t the end of your own cura­tion and the begin­ning of our vision. It’s the start of a new read­ing in a closed-off sphere that also resem­bles the web you came from: a rab­bit hole of thought that you’ll gladly fall into.

Michelle Legro — His­tory and Its Con­tents.

We need to reinvent the article

We need to rein­vent the arti­cle. Sean Blanda illus­trates that it’s time to rethink not just the arti­cle but how infor­ma­tion is pub­lished on the web. I agree. My favorite nar­ra­tives are those that answer long, wind­ing ques­tions by telling a story. They are more akin to a short book than a news story. This recent New Yorker piece is 50 pages and over 20,000 words when I drop it in to Pages.app. I loved that arti­cle, but default­ing to the same men­tal model and design pre­sen­ta­tion for a few hun­dred word piece about NFL draft trades is ludicrous.