MaxBarry.com
on sale now

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Fri 24
Feb
2012

This Sentence is Already Too Long

What Max Reckons Blogs are dying. Not this blog. I mean in general. This blog’s just fine. Okay, yes, it has been a little while since the last post, but that’s just because I was busy writing. Well. Rewriting. It’s like writing, only with less visible progress. With writing, you can feel reasonably assured that what you put on the page is better than what was there before. Not always! But mostly. Rewriting, though, you can spend a good six hours on a scene, sit back, and think, “Yep… that’s worse.”

Anyway. Blogs are OUT. They’re too long. That’s the problem. No-one has the time for them. The middle is hollowing out. Everything is polarizing. We want things to be very. It doesn’t matter what. Whatever it is, only very. There’s no place for mid-length writing any more. There never was, of course. But blogs used to be short. Then Twitter. Now blogs are like One Day Cricket.*

But here we are! And it’s already been more than 140 characters. So let’s continue. This blog will summarize what I’ve been thinking about over the last few months, while I was busy making my new book not worse.

  • Sneaker riots. The first one or two were kind of shocking to me, like a thought come to life. The next few were disappointing, like repeated plot points. But now we’re at, what, the seventh Nike sneaker riot? When does it become less likely that they’re continually being surprised by this kind of thing happening and more likely that they’re deliberately engineering it? That’s just a question. I’m just wondering.

  • Syrup movie. Now in post-production. I have been shown a teaser-trailer thing and it is heartbreakingly beautiful. I’ve watched it three hundred times. I’m not joking. The only thing that sucks about the Syrup movie is I’m not allowed to tell you anything. But soon. Soon…

  • Privacy. This interests me because privacy is obviously very important for reasons nobody understands. Generally, there’s a much stronger incentive for companies and governments to want to know things about you than for you to keep your data private. That leads to an interesting place.

  • Persuasion. This is the most valuable skill in the world, right? People who are good at persuading others become rich and successful; people who are easily persuaded by others do not. But nobody really thinks about this. Very few people actually go out and learn how to be better at persuasion, or more aware of its forms. Why is that?

    Also, the US as a culture is very advanced at soft persuasion (i.e. the forms of persuasion that don’t involve threats of bodily harm). It is great at selling stuff. We have the Internet and free access to vast stores of information but we’re still buying products with the cleverest ads, and electing politicians with the most reassuring voices. I wonder what happens if a culture becomes so good at persuasion that there is no longer an incentive to produce products that are just objectively good, as opposed to well-sold.

  • Privacy + Persuasion. It’s easier to persuade people if you know more about them. And if you can persuade them, you can get more information from them. That’s an interesting dynamic, too.

  • Piracy. But this is too depressing for now so I’ll blog about it later.

That’s a lot of Ps, for some reason.

(* This analogy works because even if you don’t know cricket, you know it is stupid and anachronistic.)

Comments

This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Machine Man subscriber Katie Ellert (#207)

Location: Calgary AB Canada
Quote: "Where's Lola? WHERE'S LOLA?!?!"
Posted: 785 days ago

SYRUP!

I'm too excited, and I want to see the trailer. Right meow!

Also, I have missed your blog posts. They are too few and far-between. It makes me sad.

Machine Man subscriber Kyle (#3321)

Location: Burnie, Tasmania
Posted: 785 days ago

"wonder what happens if a culture becomes so good at persuasion that there is no longer an incentive to produce products that are just objectively good, as opposed to well-sold. "

You probably had this in mind, but, *ahem* *points out Britney Spears, Highschool Musical, and the entire industry of well-sold, but critically terrible art*

Machine Man subscriber Barrie (#5111)

Location: Blackheath Australia
Quote: "So be it, mergatron!"
Posted: 785 days ago

[* This analogy works because even if you don’t know cricket, you know it is stupid and anachronistic.]

Hnnn, gasp! cricket stupid, anachronistic! Cricket police! Cricket police!

I couldn't agree more, totally stupid game.
Brit comedian Gerard Hoffnung was of the same opinion, 'that game with deck chairs, where a lot of people are asleep on a lawn, and then it rains and everybody wakes up, and there's a man in a barbers coat, and then some man says 'well played sir''.

A bit like that statement by Oscar Wilde about fox hunting; 'The pursuit of the inedible by the unspeakable'.

Nice to read your comments with a lot lot P's.

Jess (#5638)

Location: Australia
Quote: "How did the man drown in his muesli ? A strong currant pulled him in..."
Posted: 785 days ago

I followed your link because I had no idea what a sneaker riot was.

" More than 100 officers in riot gear were needed to disperse several hundred people who law enforcement officials said became unruly as they waited for the $220 Nike Galaxy Air Foamposite Ones to go on sale. There were no arrests or injuries reported. The launch of the shoes were timed to coincide with this weekend's NBA All-Star Game festivities in Orlando. The game is on Sunday night. "

Now I am kind of depressed that I looked. Can people get any more stupid???

I shouldnt ask that right? They always can.

Congrats on Syrup - you must be so freaking excited.

kotekzot (#5795)

Posted: 785 days ago

Knowledge is power. The more somebody knows about you, the more power they have over you. We used to understand that enough to try and prevent people wiretapping phones willy-nilly, why it is suddenly OK to surrender your information to people who seek to manipulate you (or "persuade", as you put it) is beyond me.

Arancaytar (#2358)

Location: Frankfurt
Quote: "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. -Sagan"
Posted: 784 days ago

<blockquote>When does it become less likely that they’re continually being surprised by this kind of thing happening and more likely that they’re deliberately engineering it? That’s just a question. I’m just wondering.</blockquote>

Reality appears to be in a constant race with fiction for coming up with new weird stuff.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 784 days ago

Yeah. I'm thinking about ending my blog and putting only a short tweet on here...

"I'm about to start my day with a nice poop."

-Adam

stanley becker (#5283)

Location: black hole
Quote: "DON"T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!!"
Posted: 784 days ago

Social networking is facile and unsatisfying like Mick Jagger says " I can get no satisfaction, no no nah no" - I am proud of the fact that I am not a subscriber to |twitter, or facebook - which in terms of herd mentality [a sociological term] is a radical step against "How to win freinds and inflkuence people" Dale Carnegie's Bible of herd persuasion - as to piracy, here I think freedom of information is the key to human survival, after all Solomon's Ecclesiastes is copyright free and available to anyone to read and profit from - as to commercial protection if a copyrighted work is used by a pirate in order to steal profit that is theft, however if I pirate a work on a minimal basis in order to share knowledge with another human in order to enhance our shared existence with no profit on my part that is fair use and is benefitting the "Common Wealth" of cosmic purpose [of which we strive to know more but are scratching away at the surface] .............Is this a blog!! ........maybe, and then again maybe not Yours S.,,

Johz (#4719)

Location: Birmingham (In the Good Ol' UK)
Quote: "So Quoth Me"
Posted: 784 days ago

The only issue I can actually see with one-day cricket is that it lasts a whole day. At least football has the decency to fit the whole nonsense into 90 minutes...

Machine Man subscriber Ben (#3924)

Location: Alberta, Canada
Quote: "I don't wanna ride the elevator."
Posted: 784 days ago

I like funny blogs. While it might be nice to have posts that come out somewhat more than biannually, I do appreciate quality over quantity. Also I should add, I do not know much about cricket either but it seems the bats are a good zombie bite prevention device (ZBPD). Or so I have heard.

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 782 days ago

Twitter is the downfall of Man.

Also, funny to hear of ANOTHER Sneaker Riot. Heard about one up in... D.C or Baltimore not too long ago. And of course, my mind went right to Jennifer Government, and my sister and I joked how Nike was deliberately setting these shootings up.

Regarding the "Privacy + Persuasion" issue; you didn't happen to hear about what Target stores have been doing, did you?

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 782 days ago

Ah, yes, Target! You are talking about this:

www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html

The other one I find interesting is how a website will reconfigure its front page depending on what it knows about you. E.g. a newspaper site could figure out that you like to read left- or right-leaning articles, so put those kinds of stories on the front page for you.

Like what Time Magazine does with different covers for different geographies, only tailored to individuals.

www.davidairey.com/time-magazine-covers/

Lee Bemrose (#5481)

Location: Melbourne
Posted: 778 days ago

Can't wait to see Syrup because I just finished the last of your books this morning (last for me to read - Company). Not bad going when I'm lying in bed thinking I can finally sleep in for the first time this week... or I can read the rest of that book.

I don't think blogging is dying. I still enjoy it and I still enjoy reading the blogs of others. Tweeting, on the other hand... tried it, didn't get it.

blab (#1632)

Location: The Sandwich Isles
Quote: "Adventure is just poor planning"
Posted: 770 days ago

I've often commented that Americans elect the president in the same way they voted for student body president in high school. I can't figure it out. Is it because most people (about 75%) don't go on to college or do people often vote against their own best interests?

blab (#1632)

Location: The Sandwich Isles
Quote: "Adventure is just poor planning"
Posted: 754 days ago

This is off topic. It's related to Jennifer Government. Did you see this?

www.inquisitr.com/210799/barcode-pimps-tattoo-prostitutes-to-mark-them-as-owned/

TotesEichhorn (#4757)

Location: Vienna - Austria
Quote: "marketing IS modern propaganda"
Posted: 687 days ago

Too long for what? I know, yeah, make short sentences. Clear and understandable. People do not like to concentrate, or for the one or other reason cannot, for more than a couple of seconds. Additionally, you get the point over to the other by keeping it Clear & Simple.
I hate this mentality, but somehow I also understand the point in it.
Look at the commercials. Stupid one - liners. Like this right now. See!
Somehow you build with short sentences some form of suspense whilst still transporting a message. Funnily, the more I know of propaganda.... aeh... advertisement, I feel repelled by it. To some degree I was able to watch the generation of my granddad be fooled by homeshopping marketers. The same doesn't get to me, maybe because I grew up with so much advertisement around me that I could shriek out but am not affected the same way anymore. I like arts, but when a whole business is concentrated to make Propaganda a form of art, I feel utter disgust and the need of getting a good book.... you know with LONG SENTENCES that remind me that there was thought put into it.
Well, yeah, "I'm loving it" and sometimes "just do it" and grab a book, a real one! Maybe even something written by someone long gone, like Goethe... well yepps you need to know german or that doesn't work for you.... but I guess you know what i mean.... Anyway... We ARE living in interesting times!

Lincoln (#6140)

Location: Toronto
Quote: "'This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put.' Winston Churchill written upon hearing a published sentence of his was modified as to not end in a preposition."
Posted: 521 days ago

You're a smart cookie Mr. Barry. I'm a huge fan of your game Nationstates. Given that I think "What Max Reckons" Is extremely insightful and your humour + truth approach is astounding, I would love to see you elaborate on the last P at some point :).

Comments are now closed for this post.

Built on Blosxom