I don’t want to clutter up my sidebar with a “blogroll” or anything, but I do want to point my readers to some of the sites I read on a daily basis. I have been considering writing some posts on my current thinking about the state of the world as I look for, shall we say, a New Optimism. If I end up doing that, it could be helpful to give a sense of where these ideas are coming from.
I’m going to skip detailed discussion of news and cool-finder sites. Most days I check out NYTimes, The Huffington Post, Metafilter, and Digg. Sometimes I’ll also sometimes look at Politico and BoingBoing. Instead, let’s talk about those bloggers whose voice and tone and personal insights I value enough to read on a daily basis.
Beyond the Beyond: This is Bruce Sterling’s blog at Wired. Bruce is a science fiction novelist probably most famous for his book Islands in the Net. He also moonlights as a design critic and futurist. And he’s brilliant, both in his ideas and his sardonic expression of them. He made cynicism cool again. Want the front half of your brain blown off? Check out this speech he gave to Reboot 2009 last summer, in which he rips into a bunch of European, Gen X, Web 3.0 types. It’s beautiful. On Beyond the Beyond Sterling daily posts links of interest with a bit of his own commentary. A lot of it is skimmable, but since Sterling is probably the biggest influence on my thinking these days, I dutifully read it anyway.
Global Guerillas: By civilian military strategist and entrepreneur John Robb, author of Brave New War, GG daily covers open source warfare, civilizational breakdown, and resilient communities. Robb has a whole set of really useful theoretical terminology, and he deploys these ideas to try to understand just what is happening and likely to happen to the world, and how can we best survive and thrive through the changes. His narrative is a bit fatalistic and depressing, and if you read enough of it his blog becomes, shall we say, variations on a theme. But he keeps away from moralizing and stays very practical minded. Want to figure out why civilization is collapsing and what to do when it does? Global Guerillas is the place to be.
Electoral-Vote.com: Piloted by the anonymous Votemaster, a computer scientist who turned his data analysis skills on politics, EV got its claim to fame when it best predicted the electoral map results of the 2004 presidential election. In 2008 it got a bit overshadowed by FiveThirtyEight, which is also great, but I think there is still no better place to go to get an unspun understanding of the big and little picture of politics. Even out of election season, the Votemaster posts once a week or so discussing in detail (and without picking a side) government procedural nuances, potential candidates for upcoming house and senate elections, polls, resignations, scandals, the actual content of major pieces of legislation, and the effects all of these things have on each other. Most everything I know about healthcare reform I learned from Electoral-Vote.com.
Put This On: A charismatically written and constructed fashion blog that doesn’t care too much about the fashion industry, that doesn’t assume you have lots of money to spend, and that explains complicated (and uncomplicated) fashion ideas clearly. Main writer Jesse Thorne is like the World Food Program of fashion bloggers: let’s provide for the most needy, let’s get everyone up to just a basic level of dressing well, and then we can worry about being avant-garde. They are also planning on doing a series of video podcasts, and if the first one they did to launch the blog (on denim) is any indication, they will be great. Incidentally, I also daily glance at new photos up on The Sartorialist, because people are so beautiful.
Kanye West’s Blog: But Andrew, Kanye is such an arrogant jerk. He dissed Taylor Swift! How can you support him? Well…shut up. Kanye is just misunderstood. Okay, maybe not. But either way, his blog is a delightful mix to great new music by various artists, high end fashion, bleeding edge design and architecture, and just general cool stuff. The percentage of Kanye’s posts that I find interesting is way higher than BoingBoing and plenty of other blogs. I like it. Don’t hate.
Five With Flores: Probably the nerdiest thing I do is follow Magic: The Gathering as a spectator sport. I read forums and follow detailed tournament coverage. Mike Flores is a major figure in the M:TG blogospheres, with a weekly column at game publisher Wizards of the Coast’s Daily MTG online magazine and a blog of his own. He writes about Magic history and the very best and most interesting decks in constructed formats, and his explanations are well written and theoretically advanced. I don’t expect any of you to rush off and read it if you don’t already play Magic (and I doubt any of you do), but I’ve learned a lot about the game from this blog, so I’m including it.