Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet

Staying Current

December 2013

By Mike Gould

I seem to have evolved into a pundit of sorts, heavy on the pun. Wikipedia tells me that the word comes from the "Sanskrit term pandit, meaning "learned" ... It refers to someone who is erudite in various subjects".

I dunno about that erudite thing, about which Wiki says "A scholar is erudite ... when instruction and reading followed by digestion and contemplation have effaced all rudeness ... that is to say smoothed away all raw, untrained incivility." Um. I mean, I try to stay polite and all, but without losing my ever-so-trendy rawness and edginess, so prized in today's media landscape.

Anyway, so how does one attain erudition in this crazy, ever-morphing world of tomorrow we call today? One reads a lot of stuff online, that's how. The following is my regimen for media intake: my RDA of data, opinion, facts 'n' fun for anyone anxious to achieve what passes for erudition around here.

I should also point out that I read a lot of news in print format as well - Scientific American, Wired, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and Funny Times are favorites. And for local business news, nothing beats ann arbor area business news, the magazine you are now holding in your hands (or reading online at http://www.annarborbusinessmagazine.com - the best of both worlds.)

Technical
Being semi-retired (except for my five jobs), I like to have a leisurely hour of quality web surfing time in the morning as I eat breakfast, drink coffee, and generally regain consciousness (which my wife will attest can take a while). I sit on my comfy couch, iPad in hand, and hit up my favorite blogs. I also top things off with a bunch of online web comics, the equivalent of the funny pages in the bygone newspapers of yore, but I'll spare you details of that.

Being of geekish bent, I check in with my favorite technical blogs. First up:

Wired.com
Wired is one of my favorites. It offers fairly in-depth articles on a smattering of topics - something for everyone. As with most of what you find on the web, this is a compendium of stories shaped by a masterful editor which covers things of interest to a technically-savvy reader. In this case, it is also very approachable to the medium-savvy or even technologically challenged/curious.

boingboing
Next up is boingboing - less technical and more political than Wired, and definitely more attitudinal. If you ever wonder about my politics, a gander at boingboing will fill you in on my take on things; I tend to agree with their viewpoints and interpretations on current issues. These guys are not afraid to take on anyone and anything across a broad spectrum of art, politics, technology or just plain weirdness. They deservedly win blogging awards year after year.

Ars Technica
Now we're starting to get a bit more geeky. No art or politics here. All tech, all the time. But again, they cover a broad range of topics and explain technical arcana well for the less-geek-enabled. Their Apple coverage is what brought me to them at first, but I now read the entire thing.

I, Cringely
Bob Cringely is one of the grand old men of technical journalism (i.e., he's about my age). He has seen it all from his HQ in Silicon Valley, and written about it for decades. He assumes you have a basic understanding of bits and bytes, and is always a very entertaining read. I swipe story ideas from him all the time. I find him a major inspiration in my writing.

Slashdot
For hard-core techies only. Filled with humor, wit, jargon, and "news for nerds, stuff that matters". Deep dish digital hoodoo. I love it.

General News
Even geeks need to come up for air from time to time and smell the reality that doesn't stink of keyboards, mice and Red Bull. I read the news too, just like everybody else striving if not for erudition, at least a smattering of ignorance about current events. Here is where I go on a regular basis for news, views, and issues of a non-technical nature.

CNN
I haven't really shopped around for conventional news reporting, but I hit up CNN on a daily basis for this. I don't find them overly political, and it gives me an idea of what a major media outlet finds important.

NY Times
The Gray Lady has a very annoying paywall, but it seems to be working for them. By paywall, I mean you have to subscribe to read beyond the front page. I think they were the first major newspaper to instigate this, and the first to actually make it work. Again, it is good to see what a major paper finds important. Their Sunday magazine section is free, and usually has something I find interesting.

MLive/Ann Arbor News
I'm not generally impressed with their offerings, and am usually annoyed with the typos I frequently see there, but, hey, it's the remnant of the local paper I grew up with so I'm sticking with them for local news.

Foreign Policy
I stumbled onto this while bored, surfing during a rare vacation. Great writing, in-depth coverage, and a pretty good take on world affairs, IMHO. Again, an annoying paywall, but I like it so much that I actually subscribed to it.

Humor
I am a complete sucker for a cheap laugh (as anyone who reads my stuff has figured out by now), so I check into these sites at the end of the day:

Cracked
My number one source for online comedy. This started out as a Mad magazine wannabe print rag, but has evolved into a great collection of satire and photoshopped craziness.

McSweeneys Internet Tendency
Hilarious, very intellectual, well written, and a must read for humor-hounds like me. Kinda like Cracked but the opposite.

There you have it: what informs the scope of this pundit's portfolio. Read 'em and laugh, learn, and erudite your bad self.

PS: There is an exhibition of my laser art at the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art in Midland, running through December 22. Check it out if you find yourself in the area. http://mikegouldlaserartist.com

Mike Gould doesn't actually spend all his time surfing the web, was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Digital Photography mega-mall, builds laser display devices, performs with the Illuminatus 3.0 Lightshow, and welcomes comments addressed to mgould@mondodyne.com.

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