Data Collection and Chewing Gum and Elvis Mitchell

I have been listening to “The Treatment” as a podcast on KCRW, as being recommended by David Lindrum: Interviews with big shots in film about their craft by this guy, Elvis Mitchell.

Crazy good program, and today I read an article in Slate magazine about him doing work for the AMC (American Movie Channel) and they referenced this critique of the first Pirates of the Caribbean flick. Golly I love this review. The pyrotechnics of descriptors here is just as much fun as the film. I love anyone who loves words as much as this guy. He uses the term “swabbies” while describing pirates. How fun is that?

This led me to this article on PBS’ website which is intelligent and telling, because that is what PBS/NPR do.

And then this article that is not very kind and oddly derogatory to my ear. This has a New York Magazine giving an unflattering overview of Mitchells departure from the NY Times and sorta slams him for being this out-of-the-box, would-be celeb. The writer puts almost every reference and allusion in half biting, half cynical tone that made me wonder what Mitchell had done to this guy.

Which led me to this article that is full circle as it references the AMC gig.

Google has made much of this quick search for clever, diverse, and edited content mighty easy. And while search engines are search engines—and could care less which is dominant right now—it is worth noting that if we actually had the time to read what we could find we could be very well informed on most topics, and vastly over-prepared for all tests on pop culture.

So when Dave wrote on the temptation to click (and I do not think that this was a diatribe against the web or hyperlinks or google) in reference to this Atlantic Mag article I was amused because I had just squandered an hour in pursuit of knowledge that I really do not require. It is like being in the waiting room of some dentist’s office and I scan magazines that I would otherwise never touch. Only this dentist’s office has every magazine in the world stacked from floor to ceiling and the ones within reach are fascinating. In the waiting room we are not trying to be intentionally productive, we are just sort of whiling away our time, so we scan without much planning or intention.

In a book store I am a bit more diligent, same as in a grocery store. I like Oreos OK. If one were on a plate in this office I would nibble on it. But I wouldn’t buy a whole bag to take home. When I look to buy a book I am looking for a relationship of sorts. I am going to interact with this author for hours and hours. I rarely buy a book that I don’t have some compelling reason to purchase. This is an investment. But online, I gather information like discarded chewing gum gathers dirt, comprehensively and pointlessly.

I have no clear point but will end with this. My curiosity left unattended will collect information like the proverbial crazy old cat woman collects her newspapers: endlessly and without purpose. My problem is how I should discipline my media diet/my curiosity to help form a whole, and if I do, what benefit is there in the structured information that supersedes the chewing gum method of collecting data? I don’t know, but I love the thought that there is some reason for organization, and internal taxonomies, so that I am myself more than a random series of hyperlinks.


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