A recent twitter exchange between Tim Carmody, Alexis Madrigal, Alison Arieff, and Brendan Koerner drew my attention to this nice Snarkmarket post from Carmody on digging up material from offline, which Carmody calls paleoblogging:
Two weeks ago I praised Harper’s Scott Horton, who in addition to tiptop legal/political commentary regularly serves up poignant and relevant chunks of older texts, and lamented that more bloggers don’t mine the past as well or as often as they do the just-this-minute.
I don’t have to impress upon you the need to embrace the new… You have to continue to challenge yourself as a reader – a serious reader. And as one who learns – a serious student. That you have not calcified. That you do not know what you think you know, least of all who or what or where or especially WHEN is important… Get a library card and wander somewhere dusty. Find something real. And then blog about it — bring it into this world. Scan that creaky wisdom, make it sing.
I wish we saw more of this: the recognition that at this point much of the freshest material is stuff that was created before everything was created online,. or somehow remains outside of it. To digitize the undigital. It’s fresher because it’s a little hard to get at. You can’t just keystroke it. You have to dig it out and contextualize it.
The old is the new new.
Places that do it well include Carmody and Robin Sloan’s Snarkmarket; Atlantic Tech, curated by Madrigal & Nicholas Jackson, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog; BoingBoing, Kottke, the The Paris Review, whose archived interviews alone are worth the subscription price; and Caleb Crain’s Steamboats are Ruining Everything, where Crain currently fronts a wonderful analysis (“Blowup”) of the facial expressions in the now-iconic photo of Obama and his close advisers watching the bin Laden mission.
Carmody also recommends Kevin Kelly, which now I see it does look juicy, as well as The Little Professor and the luscious Wynken de Worde.
By all means go read Carmody’s post on the beauty of paleoblogging, see for yourself what he’s talking about. The comments there recommend a mess of other sites.
Image: Mining some Latin at Wynken de Worde. I love the rope used as paperweights: soft, flexible, weight-scalable.