The Humbling

Hey you Pacific Northwesterners, I mean golly, what a day, am I right?  Take blooming dogwoods, fluffing cherry blossoms, and slather generously with lavish licks of beam-streaming light and what do you got?  Well, it’s either an ice cream sundae or the nicest damn day of 2010 so far, you take your pick.  Or take both!  (We did).

Thought of the Day: The Internet is Illiterate. Pretty dumb for a place made up mostly of words, but we’ve been pointing this out since we came here, as Miltonians, to the World Wide Web — there’s not a lot of info about literature on the Internet.  Music, video games, comic books — the Internet has this stuff in a headlock.  But books?  Authors?  Novels?  Poets?  Ehhhhhnotsomuch.

Let’s take a look at this example, chosen pretty much at random.  Here is Wikipedia’s entry on the 1967 novel by the Pulitzer Prize winning American author Philip Roth. Please indulge us in clicking the links provided.

See it?  Short, right?  Now here’s the Wiki page for — and this is just a randomly chosen, off the top of the head semi-obscure pop story, the Clone Saga (feat. Spider-Man).

A lot longer, right?  Well, the failure is on you, Miltonians.  What are you waiting for?  Grab some of that e-democracy and start editing and adding to these Wikis why doncha!  Don’t let the clones run the show.

Tangentially, let us suggest one more feature the Internet should provide.  You ever dig the website Allmusic?  It’s been around forever — so long, in fact, that it actually predates the World Wide Web itself.  Wow.  Anyhow, if you haven’t go check it out.  Lately its front page is a real spammy/ad-DD mess, with lotsa popups where you have to find the secret X to click it off while some weird moving dog ad image glides across yr screen — you know the type.  But inside is a goldmine and a sure-fire way to begin digging an artists otherwise daunting body of work and one that we’ve been utilizing since the Last Days of Dialup.  Go ahead, enter in the name of some weird band you once heard of, but make sure it’s an old one with Too Many records to even Know Where to Begin.  When you click the “discography” button you get this list of the albums and the cool part is — THEY ARE STARRED.  As in one star, sucks, five stars, rules.   Now I’m not telling you to let any man or woman tell you which is the best, say, Happy Flowers album (for the record Allmusic believes that it’s their 1988 long-player I Crush Bozo), but it helps when you just want an opinion from someone who has heard and thought hard about way more music than you have.

Just as tons of people use Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes to figure out what’s hot and what’s not regarding films or video games, I would like a website where I can search, why not, Philip Roth’s near-thirty books and see which one is considered the best, as aggregated from — and this is why we have an Internet, right? — the collective critical sources that surround it.

Obviously we don’t need any of this and the best way to find out which novels you are going to like is first: ask some friends who know better and second: read the damn things yourself.  But if we’re going to have an Internet — and we are, it ain’t going away — let’s at least make the damn thing useful to us, am I right?

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