This week seems to have been divided into separate segments, mainly following the course of ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler’ by Italo Calvino, the story of several novels which, amid confusion, become confused. Confused? So was I.
But somehow, Calvino makes sense of the bemusing situation, writing about us, or me, or you (the reader) and divulging to us our book-buying process. We are described as having gone into a bookshop to buy the latest Calvino, which we are, of course, currently reading. So we’re reading about ourselves buying the book we are currently reading. I don’t know why I’m using ‘we’ and therefore including all of you in this, but it seems to work. It’s madness, but perhaps also genius. At times it’s hard to tell, difficult to differentiate between marvel and befuddlement. Calvino then guides us through meeting a fellow book reader who also becomes tangled in the intricate web of novels, and our subsequent quest to discover what the HELL is going on. The book isn’t half as pretentious as it sounds, as Calvino always seems in touch with the modern mind and the instincts that drive us; when we meet our fellow Calvino-fan in the bookshop for the first time, we are angling to get her phone number and to spend time with her, and are frustrated when she is reluctant to reciprocate the affections. For something that flickers so readily between approaches and plots, it works well and is very funny in places, which is often a sign of a novel that, for the better, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Weekly wanderings – The biggest piece of news this week as far as the internet is concerned is the proposed bloggers’ code being put forward by Jimmy Wales (the founder of Wikipedia) and Tim O’Reilly (who coined the term “web 2.0”). Both men are obviously concerned about the level of abuse being directed at bloggers, and so are looking to sanitise the blogosphere with a seven point code of conduct that will (they hope) end abuse, insulting remarks and inappropriate comments. Everything seems fine, except for the fact that they propose reducing the level of anonymity that blog commentators can hide behind; each one would need to enter a genuine, verifiable email address to prove their identity. But surely one of the internet’s real advantages over more traditional media types is that if someone (a blogger, a commentator) wants to remain anonymous they can? Wales and O’Reilly maintain that they want to introduce these changes without harming free speech, but by forcing those involved in a debate to reveal their names and contact details they might scare them away from engaging in a fruitful argument.
It seems the debate is largely in response to the case of Kathy Sierra, a high-profile blogger who recently released details of the abuse she has suffered at the hands of disgruntled readers. Some of the examples are truly horrible. One reads: “fuck off you boring slut…i hope someone slits you throats and cums down your gob.” Nasty. But surely the lesson to be learnt from all of this is that giving the world too much information about yourself is always going to be a bad idea, and is always going to lead to this kind of thing; if you’re a high-profile person, (as Kathy is) blog anonymously. It seems a shame to say it, but death threats etc. will perpetually follow those who express their opinions and allow themselves to become vulnerable.
Zeitgeisting It Up! – This week, a brilliant topic on Google’s zeitgeist list – WrestleMania 23. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but doesn’t it just sound fantastic? I imagine it’s another stage managed event involving fat men pretending to beat each other up. The inane romp shown below is between Kane (an obvious Biblical reference) and Khali (surely a nod to the Hindu god Kali whose name literally translates as “she who devours time”). Should be good then. Those who enjoy quality television should probably not watch.