Daily Archives: June 24, 2009

From why writing novels is hard to Monty Python’s Novel Writing with Thomas Hardy

How hard is it to write a novel? I suspect it is difficult, but this blog post, Why New Novelists Are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow shows why it is really difficult to write a novel at all, never mind a good one. (Found via a tweet from Tim O’Reilly)

Reading this, I can’t help but think of what is one of my favourite Monty Python’s sketches: Novel Writing with Thomas Hardy. It is just so wonderfully absurd.

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More on the Invisible World: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

An exerpt from my favourite book, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino:

Trading Cities 4

In Ersilia, to establish the relationships that sustain the city’s life, the inhabitants stretch strings from the corners of the houses, white or black or gray or black-and-white according to whether they mark a relationdhip of blood, of trade, authority, agency. When the strings become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports remain.

From a mountainside, camping with their household goods, Ersilia’s refugees look at the labyrinth of taut strings and poles that rise in the plain. That is the city of Ersilia still, and they are nothing.

They rebuild Ersilia elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular than the other. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses still farther away.

Thus, when traveling in the territory of Ersilia, you come upon the ruins of abandoned cities, without the walls which do not last, without the bones of the dead which the wind rolls away: spiderwebs of intricate relationships seeking a form.

The Proxy Fight for Iranian Democracy (slightly techie)


The protests against the elections in Iran are occurring in many places and many ways. One way protesters in Iran are trying to get their messages out to the world is via the Internet, while those against the protesters are trying to shut this down. To bypass this, Iranians are using proxy servers around the world. Where around the world? Well…everywhere. The good folks at the Renesys Blog have put together this great post (The Proxy Fight for Iranian Democracy) that not only explains how this works, but gives you visualizations (such as the one I am linked to above) showing where Iranians are going to communicate. It’s a great article, although it helps to be a “techie” to appreciate it.

It’s visualizations like this that remind me that, while we live in the visible world, there is an invisible world of computer networks and radio waves and  air traffic paths and other such constructs that we are only vaguely aware of and yet we are often highly dependent upon.