Ask me an easy question too!

Between the fact that I’m still not completely recovered from my epically awful day last Friday and the blogging lethargy that always comes as my summer blogging break approaches, all the blogging-related brain cells I have left are completely fried.

Fortunately, Chad comes to the rescue with a great idea!

I’ll run this more or less the same way he’s doing it:

  • Ask me any relatively straight forward question here in the comments and I’ll answer it either in the comments or in it’s own post.

  • Think questions that I could answer in a paragraph or so.
  • No topic restrictions — library stuff, pop culture, anything. Personal stuff, politics, religion and the like are all in bounds, but I’ll delete or not answer anything rude or overly intrusive.
  • I’m also thinking of doing one of those “introduce yourself” posts, keeping in the same spirit.

Comments

  1. #1 steve s
    July 13, 2009

    Who are your favorite nonfiction writers?

  2. #2 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Hi Steve, My all-time list has to include sf writers Harlan Ellison and Samuel R. Delany — I’ve read a ton of non-fiction by both of them and loved it all. Recently, I’ve really liked Scott Rosenberg. His Dreaming in Code was fantastic and I’ve also really enjoying Say Everything, the book about blogging. Also Atul Gawande and Natalie Angier are both very good. In general, I don’t follow non-fiction writers like I follow fiction writers.

  3. #3 steve s
    July 13, 2009

    I’d say mine are William Langeweische, Neal Stephenson, Malcolm Gladwell, and Gawande. I’ll have to check out Ellison and Delaney soon.

  4. #4 The Science Pundit
    July 13, 2009

    Do you ever listen to audio books?

  5. #5 Christina Pikas
    July 13, 2009

    What’s the weather like in Toronto now?

  6. #6 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Thanks for the suggestions, Steve. I’ve read and enjoyed both Langeweische and Stephenson. Langeweische’s articles in Atlantic Monthly a few years ago about the WTC site remediation were fantastic. I also really liked Stephenson’s Command Line book about operating systems!

  7. #7 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Science Pundit — I’m afraid not. My attention wanders too much for audio books.

  8. #8 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Christina, Cloudy and cool. We haven’t had much real summer weather yet.

  9. #9 Chris Leonard
    July 13, 2009

    Favourite album?

  10. #10 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Oooh, Chris, tough one. But start to finish, top to bottom I’ll go with Who’s Next by The Who.

  11. #11 Meghan
    July 13, 2009

    What’s the status of the roof? I was going to send you a link to the video for that song that goes, “The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire,” but there’s a really bad swear word in it.

  12. #12 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Well, there’s no open flame up there right now, so that’s an improvement. The contractor is reviewing their approach to replacing the roof, rejigging the schedule to do smelly work at quieter times and changing some of the materials they are using so that’s a good sign too.

    One of the nice things about being in a scitech library at a time like this is that I can do a nice big book display on construction safety and fire prevention. Starting tomorrow. (Thanks, Ricardo!)

  13. #13 David Phipps
    July 13, 2009

    Why don’t people comment much when you explicitly invite them to comment (although this post is doing well). David.

  14. #14 John Dupuis
    July 13, 2009

    Good question, David. Greater minds than mine have tried to figure this one out, but to no avail. For the most part, it probably has to do with trying too hard.

    In the case of this post, the bar is set pretty low, effort-wise. It seems quite appropriate for a summer afternoon, actually.

  15. #15 CW
    July 13, 2009

    How do you write your blog posts? Do you draft then rewrite?

  16. #16 Janne
    July 13, 2009

    Our current text formats – the paper, the monograph; the short story, novel, and multi-novel series – are all really a consequence of what fits on a convenient unit number of printed papers.

    Do you think we’ll see other formats in “formal” writing as well as informal web stuff once people stop thinking in terms of these units; are we going to lose the idea of formats all together (each text is as long as need be); or do you think there are intrinsic benefits to these unit sizes that’ll keep the “book”, “paper” and so on around indefinitely even without any connection to printed matter?

  17. #17 John Dupuis
    July 14, 2009

    CW, I tend to one of two methods — either write a post all in one burst with minimal editing or revision or long and slow, starting with an outline then gradually filling in the points I want to make. Often, it’s a combo, with each section done in one burst but over a longish period of time.

  18. #18 John Dupuis
    July 14, 2009

    Janne, no easy answer for this one I’m afraid.

    First of all, in academia we’ll see the usage& purchasing of most print journals and monographs fade away over the next 5 to 10 years, with journals fading quite soon. It’ll probably take that long for us to fall out of the habit of buying them. One thing that will push it faster is if the economy stays weak. Hopefully, better ways of delivering the info that scholars need will come along in the online environment. Wolfram Alpha, Knovel, Safari are all good examples.

    As for the trade market, print will decline significantly but not fade totally over the same time frame. We will definitely see new forms of expression for narrative and non-narrative works online.

    On the other hand, the paper book isn’t fundamentally broken as a way of delivering text, in the way that a CD is broken as a way of delivering music, say. The book is cheap, recyclable, reusable, sharable, lendable, giftable, portable. If the history of communicating culture has taught us anything, it’s that new media tend not to displace the old totally, at least not quickly. We still have pulp magazines, tv, radio, vinyl albums, theatre, film, live music performance, poetry and all the rest co-existing with the most cutting edge forms of communication online. And many people who enjoy a wide range of these media.

    It’s rare to find people who only like one kind of thing, and I think it will become even rarer as options multiply.

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