Tag Archives: writing

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 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. 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.