What Web 2.0 really needs is a global “turn off comments” switch

I love a lot of things about “Web 2.0.” Websites just look better, for one thing, and I firmly believe that “form” is a key part of “function.” The increased interactivity both between user and site and between user and other users has made the whole thing a lot more engaging.

But some people seriously need to shut the hell up.

I love the fact that many sites allow readers to comment on their articles. And I often wish more people would post comments on my own site. (I have to assume/hope more people are reading it than just those who very… very… rarely post comments.) But sometimes, especially when the topic inspires a passionate response (often involving Apple, love ’em or hate ’em), the worst thing I can possibly do is allow myself to get sucked down into the vortex of asshat ramblings in the comments section. And I have a perfect case in point here today from Technology Review.

I happen to be an Apple fanatic, I can admit that. But even if I didn’t love Apple, the iPhone would have won me over. In fact, going into the Macworld Expo keynote where Jobs first announced the iPhone, I met the rumors of an Apple phone with cringes and revulsion. Why would Apple make a phone? I wondered. What a stupid idea, I was convinced. But by the end of the keynote, I wanted one.

I still don’t have one, although I am presently contemplating it. Once I had actually used one, I was even more convinced that it was the greatest invention of the computer age. Opening it up to business apps and third-party developers is going to release the deluge. So I found the TR article interesting, but I seriously wanted to crush my skull in a vise after reading the first comment. And it just got worse from there, even with the commenters I agreed with. And yet, like with Katherine Kersten, I just can’t… stop… reading… them! HHFFRRRGGH!!! (Suddenly, I think I understand what that means.)

OK, Pokémon is cool after all

Pokémon FireRedSince I was in my mid-20s when Pokémon was created, I never really “got” it. The only thing I knew about it was the whole seizure thing. But then I had kids. Just before he turned 4, my son went through a brief-but-intense phase of obsession with the Pokémon cartoons and toys just before he discovered Mario and the video game floodgates opened, leaving all past obsessions (Thomas, Star Wars, etc.) in the dust (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor).

So as the video game thing took off, I bought him Pokémon FireRed for the Game Boy Advance, thinking I could tap into his pre-video game interest. I vaguely knew that the games were RPG-style, but I didn’t make the connection that, unlike in many games, where there’s reading but it’s fairly inconsequential, in a Pokémon game it is absolutely essential that you be able to read in order to play. Since my son’s still a pre-schooler, that didn’t work out so well.

Eventually, I decided to give the game a try myself, and I’ve become completely hooked. It’s kind of ridiculous, but the characters are tremendously varied and creative, with clever names, and the RPG elements of the game are solid and very well-done. What can I say, it’s fun!

But it wasn’t until I encountered one particular foe, that’s not only funny looking but very cleverly named, that I fully embraced the Pokémon world: I’m not even sure what it is, but it appears to be a purple, wheezing puff bag, with a very self-satisfied smile, oozing toxic fumes, named (I love this) “Koffing.” And here it is, in all its nasty glory. Apparently there’s a mutant evolved version named “Wheezing” as well.

Koffing More Koffing Koffing and Wheezing

Obviously I’m not the only person who appreciates Koffing’s unique appeal. He’s achieved the ultimate honor: an “ate my balls” page.

Who can take tomorrow… dip it in a dream…

…separate the sorrow and collect up all the cream…?


As a longtime lover of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (and, until last night, only a one-time reader of the Roald Dahl children’s novel it was based on), I had been deeply suspicious about Tim Burton’s new screen adaptation from the beginning, but word of mouth plus superlative reviews convinced me that I must see it, and my expectations were high.

I was disappointed.

I didn’t hate the movie, mind you. I just didn’t think it was all that great. In particular, I felt Johnny Depp’s take on Wonka was way off. Too cold, too misanthropic. Rereading the book last night confirmed this for me.

All of this brings me to my point… after seeing the new film on Sunday afternoon, we decided it was time to bust out the sugar-coated-acid-trip Gene Wilder version that night. And we figured our 2-year-old might like it. But we had no idea just how much he’d like it. He’s watched it at least 15 times in the past 48 hours. For the last two days the first thing he’s said upon waking is “Wonka! Wonka!” and it’s the last thing he’s done before bed. (Of course we don’t give him everything he wants… but he’s learning the value of tenacity at an early age.)

As a result of these round-the-clock screenings, I naturally have much of the music going through my head over and over and over and over… which brings us back to the beginning of this post.

(Oh… in case you’re wondering, it’s the candy man.)

I Am a Lazy Bastard

I am a lazy bastard. My laziness naturally leaves me inclined to stop right here, but I will fight it, because the only thing I cherish more than my laziness is the untold fame and glory showered upon me for my brilliant rants. (The fame and glory are untold because they don’t exist, of course, but please allow me my pipe dreams.)

Now where was I? Ah yes, my laziness, and my, uh, bastardness.

I have moments when I am, briefly, not lazy. And in those amazing and rare moments, I frantically bounce among my countless incomplete projects, hoping to push one of them far enough toward completion that I can coast to the finish line when I return to my inevitable state of lazy-librium.

Such is the case tonight. Wired on coffee and deluded about my own creative capabilities after skimming the latest copy of Print magazine at Borders, I returned home with grand visions (or at least murky hallucinations) of what wondrous new graphical overhauls I would undertake on this very web site.

Then I made the mistake of looking at what I already have.

Hmm… that’s not so bad, I thought. And maybe those grand murky hallucino-visions wouldn’t really work anyway. And besides, well, this one is already done. How can I argue with that? (Or could I, if only I were suffering a split-personality disorder?)

So instead, I took the usual lazy route… writing a rambling, incohesive, boring rant.

At least there’s one thing I’ll never be too lazy about, and that’s unnecessary parenthetical asides (like this one) and excessive use of italics!