How to Defeat the Infinite Scroll

We all stare into the infi­nite scroll. Sure, it was once a ques­tion­able UI solu­tion that cre­at­ed an even more dubi­ous UX for sur­fac­ing con­tent on web­sites — don’t like what’s on the menu, well, what if that menu were end­less — now defines how we con­sume con­tent online, inter­rupt­ed only occa­sion­al­ly as the time­line lags. It’s an exhaust­ing, indis­crim­i­nate way to inter­act with media, but what’s the alter­na­tive? We lit­er­al­ly look at mobile devices hun­dreds if not thou­sands of times a day and the social web waits to scratch an itch our brains have to be con­stant­ly enter­tained.

Ever since the elec­tion, I’ve striv­en — unsuc­cess­ful­ly- to change my media diet. As some­one who con­sumes a ton of con­tent that streams through my var­i­ous time­lines for pro­fes­sion­al rea­sons, I’m try­ing to be more mind­ful of and inten­tion­al about my media con­sump­tion and the habits that enable it.

I’ve long admired Jason Kottke’s work and late­ly I’ve appre­ci­at­ed how he’s doc­u­ment­ed his media diet in much the same way one might keep a food jour­nal. Here’s a recent exam­ple.

To that end, I’ve com­piled a list of things I’m engag­ing on pur­pose!

Listening

  • Yo La Ten­go — There’s a Riot Going On. Seri­ous­ly just what the doc­tor ordered to start an unsea­son­ably cold spring. I didn’t think they’d match the bril­liance of Fade, but this is a great coda on a won­der­ful career.
  • Stephen Malk­mus and the Jicks — Sparkle Hard. Ever since I heard the first sin­gle, “Mid­dle Amer­i­ca,” which sounds like it would fit com­fort­ably on Ter­ror Twi­light, yet still sounds fresh.
  • The Breed­ers — All Nerve. Ugh I know this has been very “Remem­ber the 90s” but the new Breed­ers has so much atti­tude! “Ner­vous Mary” is one of my favorite songs of the year.
  • Kamasi Wash­ing­ton — Heav­en and Earth. A per­fect­ly defi­ant record. It’s how I start Sun­day morn­ing in 2018.

Reading

  • Abbott. Sal­adin Ahmed’s phan­tas­magoric thriller set in the ‘70s about a Detroit reporter inves­ti­gat­ing mur­ders in Cass Cor­ri­dor is reminscent of Lau­ren Bewkes’ fan­tas­tic nov­el, Bro­ken Mon­sters, but less nou­veau Detroit.
  • Red­dit. I remem­ber when Red­dit was cas­ti­gat­ed as being the internet’s cesspool, but now the notion of self-mod­er­at­ed com­mu­ni­ties that you can vis­it inten­tion­al­ly feels pret­ty great.

Watching

  • Every­thing trail and ultra run­ning, start­ing with The Barkley Marathons: The Race that Eats Its Young. The Barkley Marathons aren’t an insane race, they’re an exis­ten­tial cri­sis. A friend of mine from high school went this year to observe the race and he wit­nessed its bru­tal majesty first­hand. There were no fin­ish­ers this year. Check out The Year Barkley Won in Trail Run­ner Mag­a­zine, too.
  • Baby­lon BerlinJason wrote a bit about the music here, but I was pos­i­tive­ly spell­bound over 16 45-minute long episodes. “Zu Asche, Zu Staub” is a show­stop­per. Baby­lon Berlin is thrilling and punc­tu­at­ed by fan­tas­tic song and dance num­bers.
  • The 2018 Philadel­phia Phillies. I’ve been bull­ish on the Phillies’ rebuild, but had not expect­ed them to lead the NL East in the first half. I also didn’t expect the Braves to be at the door so quick­ly either.

I’ll try to update this on a quar­ter­ly basis. How do you man­age your cul­tur­al con­sump­tion habits?

Overlooked Culture

Maybe I’m fol­low­ing the wrong peo­ple on social media, but has the word “over­looked” lost all mean­ing as it per­tains to cul­ture? It seems to me that when we’re still print­ing spoil­er alerts for ten-year-old TV shows that “over­looked” has lost all explana­to­ry pow­er. Now when I see that word in a review, I roll my eyes. Chances are the reviews are just as over­looked as the cul­ture they describe, if not more­so.

Sure, with­in your niche the new records from Vam­pire Week­end or the Nation­al may be on everyone’s lips, but it’s a safe bet that the word of mouth out­paces actu­al con­sump­tion of that par­tic­u­lar cul­tur­al arti­fact. You may per­ceive that those records have gone main­stream, but the real­i­ty is your neigh­bor has nev­er heard either band.

There’s def­i­nite­ly a bright side to this; with this shift, it appears to me at least that snob­bery los­es in the bar­gain. The on demand nature of cul­ture now enables any­one curi­ous enough to book­mark those things men­tal­ly and nar­rows the gap between the expert and the novice. More­over, we’ve done away with the cul­tur­al mono­liths that once dom­i­nat­ed the pop cul­tur­al land­scape that allow us to gath­er around real and imag­ined water cool­ers for dis­cus­sion and debate.

But how do crit­ics describe this shift as the pace of cul­tur­al cre­ation plows under what came before? Blink and you could miss the next cul­tur­al epicy­cle. Has cul­ture been mar­gin­al­ized or per­son­al­ized? Can any­thing be described as ephemer­al, or were we just always talk­ing to our­selves, the myth of mono­cul­ture just anoth­er imag­ined com­mu­ni­ty peo­pled exclu­sive­ly by elites?

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

The way MTV Geek’s Alex Zal­ben described Hawk­eye to Jesse Thorn on Bulls­eyemade it sound like Amer­i­can Splen­dor with a bow and arrow. He wasn’t wrong. I just fin­ished read­ing #10 and I’m ready for more.

Beau­ti­ful­ly drawn and bril­liant­ly writ­ten, Hawkeye’s life out­side the Avengers is pos­i­tive­ly spell­bind­ing. The issue ded­i­cat­ed to Hur­ri­cane Sandy may be one of the most mov­ing trib­utes imag­ined. The artists com­pris­ing Team Hawkguy are doing some­thing tru­ly spe­cial.