In the grand tradition of bloggers reviewing books, I just finished "Consider the Lobster" by David Foster Wallace and wanted to share my impressions.
The essays are thought-provoking, engaging, funny, compelling. Wallace could write about dryer lint and make it interesting. But he has this thing for footnotes, as shown below:
Note the footnote to the footnote. After a few weeks of reading essays where a good part of the page was in this tiny type, I wound up with eye strain that hurt so much I actually had to go to the eye doctor to make sure it wasn't a brain tumor. I found it hard to believe that mere footnotes could do that to me, but the pain went away when I finished the book.
I understand Wallace's need to footnote, because in this hypertext generation it's hard to write linearly when you want to link to different concepts and digressions. But there's a reason most fiction and non-fiction books aren't typeset like the Yellow Pages. The footnotes are part of Wallace's distinct style, but after a while it's not fun anymore, it's just unreadable.
In the last essay of the book it appears that maybe he's understood this and tried a different approach:
OK. That gets the type size up, and sort-of keeps the offshoot close to the main text so I'm not jumping way down to the bottom of the page to read it, but still. Please. Come on. David Foster Wallace, your text looks exciting and different, it's a great trick, but ultimately it's too hard on your readers. For our sake: Consider the parentheses.
It's a very small thing but I'm pretty excited about this column feature I discovered this week while creating a content type in MOSS 2007:
If I had a nickel for every time over the past years, while working with SP 2003, that I wished for a way to hide a column (for example, a calculated field) from the end-users so they wouldn't be confused by it as they were filling out a form...
It's only for a content type column though, not for a site column or a regular column in a list or library. Maybe next version.
Heard on NPR yesterday about the Encyclopedia of Popular Music - a paper-based encyclopedia of 27,000 entries in ten volumes, with a cost of US$995.00.
Why on earth is this being published on paper? Why not an IMDB- or Wikipedia-type website where users could search and link from one topic to another, where the artists themselves could be allowed to leave comments on their entries, and where editor Colin Larkin could earn revenue from advertisements to a user community which would undoubtedly use this like crazy?
I am such a product of the hypertext generation that it seems not just absurd but criminal that this has been published in book form. It was obsolete the day it was printed. A big fish slap to Colin Larkin and everyone else on the project.