On the New Yorker’s Elements blog, our own Mark O’Connell writes about Cloak, a new app which lets you avoid people you don’t want to bump into by accident. Despite the fact that Mark can see himself using the app, he finds it “ultimately troubling,” in large part because it strikes him as “such a lonely thing to have achieved through technological control of our social environments.” (Speaking of apps, have you read Mark’s epic e-book?)
“I could measure my progress with metrics like number of scabs collected, number of inches ollied,” writes Nick Courage, in his great piece about rediscovering skateboarding in his thirties. “There was an objective truth to the sport; unlike my writing, my powerslides were self-validating.”
In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.
Apart from being one of America’s most eminent fiction writers, Eudora Welty was also an accomplished photographer, as evidenced by the hundreds of images she produced while employed by the Works Progress Administration in the midst of the Great Depression. As Danny Heitman writes, she was also known as a great public speaker, in part because, as she put it, “I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.” (h/t The Paris Review)