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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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picture of water

This is Water

A commencement speech by David Foster Wallace that recently came out in hardcover form.  It’s one of those things you pass around to your friends, family and colleagues; it’s that good.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

Roadmap: Integrating Social Media into Your Site

Good breakdown of the different features of social media features, what they do, their benefits, their downsides and what no one tells you about them.  Your site should not be static, it’s not a billboard or a magazine ad.

Companies must integrate customers behavior on social networks to their corporate website to increase relevancy, word of mouth, and trust

A Lament for the Bookshelf

I refuse to buy an e-book reader or whatever you’d classify a Kindle as.  Nope.  Won’t do it.  I enjoy the feel and smell of books.  It’s easier on the eyes.  It’s more real.  Luddite that piece of plastic!

Without bookshelves, you will never know the warning signs contained in the e-reader of your handsome date – you will not know for months that he is reading The Secret and Feng Shui for Dummies, even if you stay over. You will never be able to ask, as casually as you can, “Did you like this?” as you pull down, as if fascinated, Patrick Swayze’s autobiography.


Enter your favorite website and this awesome tool will convert it’s HTML into music.  Enough said.

Targeting other countries: subdomain, subdirectory or ccTLD

This topic comes up so often at work, it’s pretty incredible.  The best route is the appropriate country code top level domain (.de,, .fr on so forth), but that’s not always possible given budgetary restrictions or country restrictions – if you don’t have a business in Canada, you’re not getting the .ca domain.  As such, the answer to this questions is initially answered with, “It depends.”

Written by Cory Barbot

March 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Didn’t know the etymology of “idiot”

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the idiot

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig relays an episode in which he takes his motorcycle into a repair shop after experiencing engine problems.  The mechanic does not do his job.  He does not fix the problem, but instead break a few things.  He’s particularly perturbed by the fact that they went about their work in a detached, impersonal way:

…But the biggest clue seemed to be their expressions…They were like spectators.  You had the feeling they had just wandered in there themselves and somebody had handed them a wrench.  There was no identification with the job.  No saying, “I am a mechanic.”

I’m reading more Shop Class as Soulcraft and came across the Pirsig passage and Matthew Crawford’s interpretation of the incident:

…On the one hand, to be a good mechanic seems to require personal commitment: I am a mechanic.  One the other hand, what it means to be a good mechanic is that you have a keen sense that you answer to something that is the opposite of personal or idiosyncratic; something universal.

Pirsig’s mechanic is, in the original sense of the word, an idiot.  Indeed, he exemplifies the truth about idiocy, which is that it is at once an ethical and a cognitive failure.  The Greek idios means “private,” and an idiotes means a private person, as opposed to a person in their public role – for example, that of motorcycle mechanic.  Pirsig’s mechanic is idiotic because he fails to grasp his public role, which entails, or should, a relation of active concern to others, and to the machine.  He is not involved.  It is not his problem.  Because he is an idiot.

Didn’t know that was the etymology of “idiot.”  Interesting.

Written by Cory Barbot

March 7, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Reading

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