inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #51 of 150: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 5 Jul 00 09:39
    
Since I tend to write the same kinda stuff, I have to agree, but I'm also
aware of a problem with subjective writing, a need to subvert the notion
of the work's objective authority without undermining the credibility of
the author's vision. How d'you deal with that?
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #52 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Wed 5 Jul 00 10:16
    
i dont know that i did. i think yiou just have to trust that somehow
you establish for yr readers that in some way you are a reliable
narrator, trustwoerthy while you tell yr tale.
about a month ago, on the same day i got two different reviews:
the one in the seattle weekly said i had a great style but was
half-wrong about various things; the one in the sf chron
said i was basically right about most things but was like the
obnoxious person at the party who you just wish would shut up. this
2nd reviewer was a business editor, if that helps frame the story...
so my takeaway from all this is that you just have to try
to write the truth as you see/know it, assume you'll be misconstrued
but some people will get what you are trying to do --- and
that;'s all you can do. i wasnt under the effect of any hallucinogenic
drugs while writing tdb and i didnt knowongly write any falsehoods
of ommission or comission, but aside from that....
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #53 of 150: Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Wed 5 Jul 00 10:17
    
>so to sum up, there are obviously truths i think can be better evoked
>with the gonzo and the suggestive than what appears in the new york
>times.

This is true as long as there is a rigorous framework of facts and
verified sources to keep the subjectivity in check. Witness the recent
"biography" of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris, wherein the author
invented characters and events to "make his point." Then there are the
shocking distortions of history in movies like "Gladiator" and "The
Patriot," to name some recent examples.

All the postmodernism in academia over the last few decades seems to
have dulled people's realizations that some things are true and some
things are not. While of course there is an inherent amount of
subjectivity in all non-fiction, this does not give writers
carte-blanche to present whatever they want as truth. Such attitudes
are open to abuse by lazy (or crazy) writers who simply don't want to
do the donkeywork of research and verification. I don't implicate
Paulina in this, having not read her book, but the general "Gonzo"
genre of writing is often guilty.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #54 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Wed 5 Jul 00 10:33
    
i agree with the above. and i did a ton of donkey-work, lemme tell you.
simply tdb cant meet the test of journalism for much of what
i have to say there is based on anecdote, experience, analyusis ---
as well as reporting...
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #55 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Wed 5 Jul 00 11:25
    
Perhaps we should make a distinction between say, not meeting the
Wall Street Journal's three-sources standard on every assertion,
and making stuff up. Gonzo doesn't mean fictionalized, or doesn't
have to mean it, anyway.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #56 of 150: Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Wed 5 Jul 00 11:30
    
That is fine, just as long as it is indicated somewhere in/on the book
so I don't expect to be reading a quaterly earnings report and wind up
with somebody's diary.

Also (again, not implicating Paulina per se but "gonzo stuff" in
general), while some Gonzo writing is brilliant, much of it tends
towards the self-indulgent. I don't need to read somebody's "critical
perspective" on something if it is just going to be a catalogue of
banal personal experiences or opinions. Give me the facts, sez I, and I
will come up with my own opinions.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #57 of 150: better run thru the jungle (sd) Wed 5 Jul 00 19:32
    
Interesting that you should mention Michael Shaara Pulitzer winner along
with a discussion of Gonzo journalism. I find your "Cyberselfish" to be more
along the lines of "The Killer Angels" than "Hell's Angels".

I believe that you have done a good job of using facts to support your
observations. Many folks who write about cyberculture fail to provide enough
support for their rants.

Do you mind if I ask how you organized your notes before you began the
actual writing of the book?
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #58 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Wed 5 Jul 00 21:13
    
the comment about quarterly reports vs diaries made me laugh! and i must
confess, in spite of literary fashion to the contrary, i am generally NOT a
fan of memoir. i think fiction forces a kind of determination of what to
leave out that memoir doesnt i.e. being stuck inside the prisonhouse of
self, you can get lost wrt what might matter to an outside reader vs what
might matter to a friend/lover/therapist who is the natural audience for
memoirish stuff.

as for how i organized my notes, it was a process more of following my snout
than anything else. remember, i had been thinking about these issues for
yrs, 1st wrote the book proposal in 94, actually began work in 96. BUT i had
meanwhile been storing up experiences, creating files, etc etc. so the 1st 6
months i floundered about, tried to find out what else had been written on
these topics (not much, as it turned out. it's a lonely thing, being a World
Expert on a cultural phenom that's little known or understood. at least back
as it was then...), etc etc, tried to think about narrative structures. then
i took a trip to dc, and had all kinds of great input from all kinds of
people there. then about a month later, i read yet another personal ad in
the santa cruz 'good times', and suddenly the structure fell into place as i
was driving back from making a bank deposit. as with many writers, if i can
find a way in, the rest falls in place.

i -knew- i needed to do a chapter on bionomics (both in the specific sense
of the book and the thinktank, and in the general sense of pseudo-biological
thinking); on the crypto wars and the cpunk stance; on wired both as
cultural artifact and as propaganda organ; on the thorny issue of
philanthropy in high-tech; on 'how did this happen'. and i realized as i
continued to do my research that if i did a decent enough job on all these
topics --- i basically had a book.

each chapter went through multiple drafts --- overall i would say the
published book is about draft 13. so there was organic infilling (one of my
shortcomings as a writer --- again stemming from my crabbed little poetess
brain --- is that my writing can tend to be too highly-coded. a lot of the
editorial process consisted of 'unpack this sentence! give an example here!
can you make this concrete?'). there was also a constant tension between
writing a book which explains stuff to people's moms (meaning, the
intelligent npr audience who is not terribly tech-savvy) and writing a book
which my techy friends and enemies wouldnt find simplistic/with nothing to
offer.

dont know if that answers the question of how i organized my notes; but
generally i have found that when i finally feel i know enough about
something, i can begin to write about it. professional journalists often
have the ability to write around holes in a story; i have never been able to
do that. dick shaffer of 'computer letter'/technologic partners (i wrote
some stuff for them yrs ago) once called me a demon-reporter; and it's true,
i practically always talk to 10 people where most folks will have talked to
one. but i know i am not alone among writers wrt to relying on that 'aha'
moment of -knowing- that you have enough/have gotten to enough of the right
people...

and thanx for the comparison to 'killer angels'. very kind words...and yes,
i do like to think that i have done my homework...
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #59 of 150: better run thru the jungle (sd) Thu 6 Jul 00 07:56
    
Thank you. Yes that is exactly what I was wondering about. Your 'unpack this
sentence' note is wonderful. It made me think of your mind as a sort of
PKZip utility with a built-in thesis, antithesis, synthesis module. It also
reminded me of Tracy Kidder's "Soul of a New Machine" when the programmers
would begin to have too much information to deal with in their brains and
would go to their supervisor to 'core dump'.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #60 of 150: gazorninblat (dwaite) Thu 6 Jul 00 08:22
    
I used to 'core dump' all the time.....  Still do...
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #61 of 150: Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Thu 6 Jul 00 15:59
    
Me, too.  They think it's writing.

Paulina, what is the source from which review copies flow?

wg
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #62 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 6 Jul 00 16:31
    
wendy, in the uk my editor is andrew.gordon@littlebrown.com
in the u.s. it's kara.masciangelo@perseusbooks.com
too early for the german edition [g]
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #63 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 6 Jul 00 16:52
    
i meant, andrew is mu uk editor, and he can handle review requests
for anywhere in the commonwealth
kara is the -publicist- who handles u.s. and canadian review
copy requests.
etc
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #64 of 150: Owen Thomas (dither) Thu 6 Jul 00 17:05
    
Paulina, where do you find TDB's message really resonates?
I know you have held great hopes for Kids These Days -- but
aren't most colleges equally hotbeds of libertarianism, at
least in the comp sci labs?
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #65 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 6 Jul 00 17:38
    
it's kinda strange. the people who really seem to resonate
with tdb are age 30+, and generally much more the
current events/culture/what does it all mean folks,
with some excpetions made for women in their 20s
yes there ARE some interesting moves afoot with Young People Today
frinstance with the campaigns against sweatshop-produced goods
on college campuses --- but most kids havent heard any other
version of reality than the one i am railing against.
they are amused and startled by what i have to say ---
but they aint ever heard anything like it.
and yes, comp sci depts are famously hotbeds of libertarianism,
enuf so that one academic i talked to as a source for tdb
commented to me that -he- wondered if this was one of the
factors responsible for there being fewer women cpu science
grads now than 10 yrs ago. that -generally-, with some
excpetions, women are put off by the default libertarian
culture of computer science...
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #66 of 150: Martin Minow (minow) Fri 7 Jul 00 07:27
    
FYI - Paulina will be interviewed on KQED's Forum call-in program at
11 AM (Pacific) today (Friday, 7/7). KQED is now broadcasting online at
 <http://www.kqed.org>.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #67 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 7 Jul 00 08:06
    
wow, iu hoguth i was supposed to get there at 9:45 for a 10 am interviuew?
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #68 of 150: The pictures are better on radio (minow) Fri 7 Jul 00 08:52
    
The makeup requirements are minimal.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #69 of 150: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 7 Jul 00 09:28
    
Looked at the sched...looks like you hoguth wrong!
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #70 of 150: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 7 Jul 00 09:36
    
Or the sched has a typo.
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #71 of 150: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Fri 7 Jul 00 10:41
    
A good journalistic, non-ideological, nuanced, well-written account of
the (relatively small) number of Silicon Valley technolibertarian
geeks -- their stories, their thoughts, their deeds, their impact --
would make for a darned good book. 

Anybody know of one? 
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #72 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 7 Jul 00 12:10
    
are you looking for a response? i presume not
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #73 of 150: Dan Mitchell (mitchell) Fri 7 Jul 00 12:39
    
I just think a good, compelling book could be made out of hanging out
with these people, letting them tell their own stories, letting them
reveal themselves. As opposed to, say, using them as agenda-fodder for
a bloodless, zero-sum polemical treatise. 
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #74 of 150: Wendy M. Grossman (wendyg) Fri 7 Jul 00 12:42
    
Hasn't Po Bronson done that in The Naked book?

wg
  
inkwell.vue.79 : Paulina Borsook - Cyberselfish
permalink #75 of 150: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 7 Jul 00 13:01
    
po's book was on business culture per se, not too much on anything else.
i am not exactly sure what a 'bloodless zero-sum polemical treatise' is.
  

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