Look your charge and/or client in the eye.

When you walk, shift your ass around to make it look larger. Baggy pants will help.

Sniffle a bit when you’re about to say something. Not like you’re sick, but like you’re sniffing the air.

If you must wear eye apparel, chew it significantly.

Say “deck,” not PowerPoint.

Lead into a personality attack with “Well, here’s the thing …”

Laugh ONLY if something’s supposed to be funny and it’s not — as if you’re laughing at the attempt itself.

Every now and then, ask someone how they are, and pretend to listen. Then, right after that, ask them about that thing they just fucked up. …

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The success of Buzzfeed has sent digital magazine publishers (and everyone else who “strategizes” about “digital content”) into a right tizzy lately.

And rightly so!

Buzzfeed is the single most important content farm in the universe. It has simultaneously raised AND lowered the bar, like a magician who’s trying to confuse you.

The awe reserved by content mongers for the disease-farm that is Buzzfeed is truly spectacular, if you also like watching youtube videos of hypnosis subjects. Or if you’re into date rape.

“It’s really amazing what we’ve done.”

“They just lie there.”

“We’ve really figured out the equation.”

“Once they’re out, you can do…


Down in Goldhill

Company C saw him in Goldhill Township, Illinois, walking amongst their troops. He was short in stature and like many in the Union this late in the war he did not wear his full uniform. What made him stand out were the funny hat which no soldier would be seen dead wearing and the unnaturally long pipe curving nearly a forearm’s length from his pink lip. He also carried two nonregulation pouches on his belt, one with the foulest sort of stink tobacco anyone had tasted. …


From Toluca to Mirror Lake

Life has highs and lows. What concerns most people is the in-between, but not me. It’s the in-between of birth-to-death, or death-to-rebirth, and I can talk about both of those just fine, but what I want to talk about is that moment at the bottom.

That’s when the real rebirth happens.

I’m not going to say that I saw the Lord as a person, someone spotted down the grocery store aisle, or across the street waiting for a bus. I’m not going to tell you I had some vision. What I actually had was just a feeling. The details of the situation are not really important, but I was in a roadhouse bar just outside of Toluca, Mexico, and I was literally on the floor. I won’t get any more specific than that, but drugs were involved. …

And the accusation you can’t escape

You’re the greatest designer the universe has ever known. You were born in a vacuum and self-engendered all of your skills before your senses were even alive. You emerged from the womb with a personal vision unlike anyone else’s. You take nothing, only give. Your design is an eternal gift to the cosmos.

In the first decade of your life, you invented a new shape. It was a shape no one had ever seen or even imagined could exist. Along with it you gave us eight new colors, one for each day of the week, which you said was not the perfect week and therefore actually has eight days, not seven. We didn’t know. …

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Authors and designers, say goodbye to pagination

I love printed pages. They are objects, bound together, presented for sequential consumption, but also ideal for non-linear exploration. For most of my life, pages seemed like the perfect set of facets for reading and exploring books.

But something has happened to the notion of the page, something new. It’s something glaringly obvious to me, and subliminally evident to everyone else who reads anything digital at all. Our notion of pages must now become a perfect one. We now think of pages, printed or not, as containers themselves. …

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After devouring gnocchi in buttery balsamic reduction, I walked around the Metropolitan Museum looking at people’s faces as they looked at the art. I thought of Plato’s forms, the idea that most people’s reality is merely shadow play, a projection of a reality out there that we can’t directly sense, but playing on the most intricately muscled surface of the human form, a surface which could at times be as inscrutable as a cave wall.

I was less interested in the expressions themselves than I was the intense, silent communication, the shadowy chasm in between.

Later, in a place far from New York, after a plate of pulled pork smothered in corn-syrupy sauce and washed down with several Pabsts, I watched the patrons at a Wal-Mart as they browsed mass-market paperbacks. Compared to the faces at the museum, the shadow-play was dispassionate to say the least. This was a literal judging-of-the-book. In that cool warehouse dressed up like a friendly market, I saw a value judgment happening, but not one based on an attempt to understand. …

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Why now, and why is it too late? And why at this moment, as opposed to a year ago? We’ve seen massive changes in the ecosystem surrounding publishing, and some changes to traditional publishing within it, but why do we need to change the future now, and what does that mean?

What it means to me is simple: that one company has been determining the course of the future, and we are now witnessing the final gambit.

With its largest acquisition yet in what I’ll call the Book Network space, Amazon is taking us all with it, into its future, whether we like it or not. My personal prediction is that we’ll see an antitrust suit at some point, but it won’t be until the realization is complete in a way that gives plenty of ammunition to actually pursue the giant in an effective way. Even once that happens, it will be years before anything settles or otherwise gets resolved in a way that we can recover from it. …

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FuckedCompany and CNET were where the rumors started appearing. We all gossipped like provincial country dames. Several people said they had heard from "people upstairs" that the news was certain. An engineer leaned over to me and said, in a thick Israeli accent, "Did you hear about it? The latest? They're saying that Razorfish is going to buy us."

Then someone walked by my desk and said "You should listen to your voicemail."

I never had voicemail. That in itself was bizarre. So I picked up the phone and played the one message there. It was the same person who had just walked past, saying, "Go look at FuckedCompany.com …

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We tell stories from the time we can speak. When we become articulate, we all start off telling stories about our lives in the first person. Eventually, we tell our parents and teachers and friends things in another mode, where we're mainly describing things that other people did. Then we become more empathetic, and speculate about why people did those things, what everyone was feeling. You could probably do a mapping of how we tell stories to Maslow's hierarchy, if you were inclined to do that.

The progression is the same for every writer. The first impulse when writing a story is to speak from the self. If we're not doing that, we're emulating some storybook voice we've learned. Either way, it's either too truthful or too falseful. Soon, we develop a sort of “writing persona”—an “I” which is a bit different from who we actually are. It never occurs to many writers to go beyond that. From the standpoint of craft, it's all that's needed to speak with authority on various topics, to give personal accounts, to narrate events, or to imitate the voice of a character doing any combination of those things. …


Aaron Steven Miller

Tech and dirt, philosophy/fabrication. From the midwest, where pastoral/dirt mixes with academic/tech, and interesting things emerge. Based in NYC.

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