Where’s World Wide Wade? Four Encores
I regret to report that both I and my column are going on a bit of a hiatus, as I’ve been seated as a juror on an extended civil trial in Boston. To fill some airtime, I thought I’d direct you to a few old columns that are special favorites of mine or that have connections to current events.
By the way, if you really have the urge to catch up on all of my past columns, just get a copy of Pixel Nation: 80 Weeks of World Wide Wade, an e-book published by Xconomy last month. You can download a free PDF version here or buy a $4.99 Kindle version at Amazon’s Kindle store. But for today’s installment, I decided to revisit four pieces from the past year or two and offer a few thoughts on each with the benefit of hindsight.
Public Radio for People Without Radios
February 13, 2009
This column was all about the Public Radio Player (then called the Public Radio Tuner), one of my favorite mobile applications. It turns my iPhone into a radio that can pull in a live stream from almost any NPR station in the entire country, not to mention dozens of on-demand shows like Car Talk, Fresh Air, and On Point. The news update is that the fine folks at the Public Radio Exchange (who will be taking part in Xconomy’s Mobile Madness company showcase next week) have recently come out with several great new apps, and are working on more. First, there’s the new, improved 2.1 version of the Public Radio Player itself, which went live in the iTunes App Store last week and has great features such as a sleep timer and a built-in Web browser. Then there’s a dedicated app for This American Life, the cult-favorite documentary radio show from Ira Glass at Chicago Public Radio, which comes with access to the entire 15-year archive of shows. Finally, PRX is working on a dedicated app for my favorite NPR station, Boston’s WBUR. That’s due for release sometime this spring.
The 3-D Graphics Revolution of 1859
December 19, 2008
I was never much of a collector until I started buying nineteenth-century stereoscope views a couple of years ago. We’re used to thinking of 3-D as a recent technological advance—the province of high-tech filmmakers like James Cameron—but these old cardboard-mounted image pairs (taken through separate lenses a few inches apart, like our eyes) remind us that the quest to capture the third dimension is almost as old as photography itself. This column is timely because there’s a fantastic Anthony Lane essay this week in the New Yorker that traces the history of 3-D imagery all the way from Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., the Boston poet and physician who invented the first affordable stereoscope, to Cameron’s Avatar.
I’m re-reading this one because I’ve been struggling to lately get back on the empty-inbox wagon. The column took a look at the time management gurus who say it’s a big stress reliever to clear out every message in your inbox by the end of the day, even if this just means translating many of your messages into to-do list items. At the time, the only way for me to achieve an empty inbox was to declare total e-mail bankruptcy—that is, to move my entire 15,000-message backlog into the archive and hope that if there were some really important e-mails in there, the affected parties would let me know eventually. It worked fine that time. The problem with the whole system, unfortunately, is that after you’ve spent a long day doing actual work, it’s hard to spend another hour or two zeroing out your inbox. But now that I’ve been away from work for a few days, I’ve got a new backlog of about 3,000 e-mails, and I’m feeling the itch to go insolvent again.
Are You A Victim of On-Demand Disorder?
June 5, 2009
This column is one of my under-appreciated masterpieces, if I do say so myself. My argument was that if you only get take-out food from the Chinese place around the corner, only watch the music you can buy instantly from the iTunes Store, only watch movies you can get from Netflix, or only read the books you can order from Amazon or download to your Kindle, you’re probably suffering from ODD: chronic neglect of anything in our culture that takes actual work to discover. I’m all too prone to this condition myself, and this column feels timely to me because of the Winter Olympics, which I completely missed. (Well, I take that back; I did catch the YouTube video of the fatal Georgian luge crash.) I don’t watch live TV (see “Cutting the Cable: It’s Easier Than You Think“) and I’m not willing to bend my schedule around to accommodate NBC’s whims. I suppose there was some online coverage from Vancouver, but I couldn’t be bothered to seek it out. So, the only way I’m going to find out who won the gold in figure skating, halfpipe or hockey is if it’s on Hulu someday. I’ll get to that right after jury duty.
For a full list of my columns, check out the World Wide Wade Archive. You can also subscribe to the column via RSS or e-mail, and you can download Pixel Nation, an e-book version of the first 80 columns, as a free PDF file or a $4.99 Kindle edition.