Mad about the boy

Mad RESPECT that is, for the one with the bulldozer chained to his wrist and determined to see him succeed . . .

Perhaps you recognize the title of this post as a reference to Sunset Boulevard the magnificent film noir and Broadway hit about a magnificent silent film star who lost her audience and desperately wants to reconnect with her fans.

You are just such a star James, and I’m certain your audience will find you.

While I am hopeful that you will not end up with a dead chimpanzee and the body of your boy-toy floating in the swimming pool of your mansion, I imagine that the sense of loss and alienation from your fans might be similar to Norma’s.

Joe: You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big. Norma: I am big — it’s the pictures that got small!

James Finn, I deeply respect your work and want you to know how much I am rooting for your continued success and satisfaction.

Two words: Act Up! Your association with that organization has earned you mad respect from me.

As a result, I want to do the best I can in my own little way to support your efforts. I hope that I can continue to support and maybe even manage to find a way to inspire you. I mean that quite sincerely and personally.

hurtling towards the days of smart-phones and social media . . . .

I used to teach at a technical college over 20 years ago. It was exhausting but, in some ways gratifying work. The biggest class that I taught was called, “Internet Resources”.

I remember how incredulous the students were when I explained how file-compression would one day mean that all of our photos, music and movies would be digitized and small enough to be available to us everywhere.

I did not foresee how quickly miniaturization and communication speeds would put powerful computers in almost everybody’s pocket. I anticipated the democratization of the Internet but not its dumbing-down. Nobody had yet imagined social networking; only now are we beginning to fully realize what a Pandora’s box it has proven to be.

Joe & Norma discussing how to find information relevance in the 21st century

I used to set aside a portion of that class to discuss media formats (there were not too many in those days) and compression algorithms and how they related to Bandwidth and transfer times. That topic would always lead nicely to a discussion about the quality and relevance of information.

I asked the class a provocative question:

“Who do you suppose is better off: folks from Medieval times when books were copied out one at a time by hand, or people today with virtually all information at their fingertips?”

By the time we had gotten to this point in the class, I had already spent a great deal of time teaching my students how to find information.

Norma had it easy. She could literally “Ask Jeeves.”

Many had never used the Internet. They had to learn first how to ask the right questions; indeed, they often had learn to educate themselves a bit before they were ready to do a proper search. I taught them the difference between questions like “Who won the 1948 World Series?” and “How much would a trip to the Orkneys cost?”

They had to learn how to tell the difference between facts and opinions — and to determine for themselves which opinions seemed well-informed. When we got to the discussion about our modern access to information, it was nice to see that the students realized a big shift had occurred. They could easily see how the responsibility for gate-keeping had shifted from the authoritarian rule of churches, kings, and government to themselves as individual consumers of ideas.

The lesson I wanted them to learn most of all was how to find true, meaningful, and relevant answers to their questions.

In Norma’s day, professionals handled the ‘fake-news’

If I were teaching that class today, we’d explore subjects such as “truthiness”, “fake-news”, “listicles”, “lifehacks”, “echo-chambers” and “click-bait.”

We’d talk more about how money and advertising affects the flow of information. “Astroturfing”, “sock-puppets” and “trolls” would certainly appear in the lesson plans and

I’d also schedule a full day (with homework) to cover logical fallacies.

My overriding point — Your writing is well-informed, and meaningful.

Your fight is finding and keeping the audience for whom your writing is relevant in the face of all of this Internet noise and gate-keeping (or lack thereof).

Politics, Power, Money & Art

Quora is a straight-forward, immediate-gratification type solution in the search for knowledge.

Unfortunately, money and politics have empowered a heavy authoritarian (and lately, somewhat more right-wing) hand which is slowly poisoning that well. The gate-keepers there can save the platform or let it sink with the rabble — we’ll have to wait to see which way it goes.

Searching for great stories can drive a person a little mad sometimes . . .

Reading on Medium is more like wandering the stacks of a great library with a somewhat murky cataloging system. However, when I see recommendations based on “thing’s you’ve read” they are often quite interesting. I’ve also noticed that articles based on “topics” I’ve added to my own writings (either tangentially or tongue-in-cheek) frequently turn up some excellent works.I anticipate Medium improving as its developers improve the recommendation algorithms.

This place has neither the treasures nor the demons of Quora.

Somebody give this guy a silver cigarette case already!

It seems to be a great platform for true writers with original ideas. Click-bait, life-hacks, and listicles be damned. Those will shake out as one’s feeds and matching algorithms develop.

Your audience will find you if you keep up the great writing; of this I am certain.

When they do, it will just as if you never said goodbye:

I saw the touring production with Petula Clark . . . who I also bumped into in a bar on Mykonos. Here’s Glenn Close but I think maybe I prefer Patti Lupone.




Juxtaposeur, technical analyst, process engineer, poet wordsmith, INTJ, Anansi, MBTI certified practitioner & team-builder, certifiable fabulist & Uppity Queer™

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Eric Griggs

Eric Griggs

Juxtaposeur, technical analyst, process engineer, poet wordsmith, INTJ, Anansi, MBTI certified practitioner & team-builder, certifiable fabulist & Uppity Queer™

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