Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Netbooks and poetry

So in this article, the author prattles on, all surprised-like, that folks are buying up netbooks in droves.

It's counterintuitive, he reasons, because PC evolution is supposed to come from the top down -- crazy, overpowered gamer PCs are supposed to ride the wave of Moore's Law on $4,000 systems while the proles wait with baited breath for the next PC that can run SL and WOW at the same time.

Oh bull.

This is the problem when an industry becomes top-heavy with specialists. The writers for a mag like Wired are all gamers. Most of your top designers are gamers. By gamers, I don't mean your gramma that spends eight hours a day playing Freecell. I mean h4rdc0r3, 1337-4$$ gamerzzz that envy the astronut who drove around in diapers because their mom won't let them buy depends (again).

The problem, of course, is blindness to what the consumer actually wants. People are buying netbooks as fast as they can be made (seriously, don't you want to buy me one?) because most people couldn't give two craps about running some game that sucks out their souls and spits out goldfarming techniques.

Most people who use computers just want to check email, make documents, and watch youtube. They want simple, not complex -- moreover, they don't want to have to sift through (or pay for) a bunch of garbage to get what they want.

What's interesting is that notebooks have also pushed innovation -- using flash instead of hard drives (I asked a good friend about boosting memory with flash about 5 years ago; glad to be right), really tight and bright screens, super-boosted wifi, and power-saving wizardry -- all unthinkable in a monster gamerztop or a PC built fur sp33d.

We see this also in poetry. Poetry has been seized by specialists who dandy about the wrinkled duds of the avant-garde flinging terms like flarf and alienating any normal person who might actually be interested in reading some poems.

I say let them build suped-up insanity poems that no one will buy (seriously, there were chapbooks at AWP selling for $40 -- are these people on crack?).

Let's us, however, give the world the netbooks of poetry -- innovative, clear, and what's wanted. Let's write not what can be written (for what clever or vulgar high school poet hasn't proven that) but what wants to be written.

And, perhaps, while we're flying under the radar, we can write poetry that is not only popular but good. Perhaps we can rediscover the tools that make poetry not unique and aloof but intimate and personal.

(cha cha cha)


Jeff said...

Well I agree with your points overall I think you misrepresented the article.

You emphasized the word 'supposed to' but he was setting up an argument that has been common wisdom and goes on (in laboring detail) to show that this is now a fallacy.

I think the more salient quotes are these:

If you had asked Taiwanese hardware CEOs a few years ago about their relationship with Dell, HP, and Apple, they'd have told you that the American companies did the branding and sales while outsourcing their design and production to Taiwan. Today the view from Asia is increasingly the reverse. "When I talk to them now," Shih laughs, "they say, 'We outsource our branding and sales to them.'"


...just one example of how the software industry is changing. It used to be that coders were forced to produce bloatware with endless features because they had to guess what customers might want to do. But if you design a piece of software that lives in the cloud, you know what your customers are doing—you can watch them in real time.

It is a huge change in the PC marketplace that is enabled by the always-on, wireless network, dare I say "cloud". True it is giving consumers a more targeted product at a better price point. It is natural that they will scoop them up in droves.

The real story here is in the billions of people for whom these will be their first "personal" computers. And that bus is not being driven by American companies.

Second is the huge change in how we now really are viewing software as a service. No one setting out to write anything new can ignore the network-centric ecosystem. (ha! I didn't say cloud again.)

Even for myself, who has only a tenuous grasp on the poetry world, it does seem to be dominated by the dandy flarfers. Your goal with this blog seems to be to promote the alternative of poetry that works. Well the dandy flarfers don't know the meaning of that word, so it's no use trying to convert them.

So yeah. Go for it. Quietly take the world by storm.

G. M. Palmer said...

Hey Jeff,

"Dandy flarfers." Gosh I like that.

That's the problem with reading articles from aggregators -- I get biased by the intros and comments.

Poetry that works. Yup -- that's it in a nutshell.

I get raked over the coals for "commoditizing poetry" but you're damn right that's what I want to do.

There is no reason that poets cannot make a product that both increases the scope of poetry and increases the scope of its readership.

Other than, you know, it's hard and stuff.

Patrick said...

I bought my wife a netbook for Christmas. She loves it.