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March 11, 2006
reading blogs

I'm sort of on again, off again with blogs. Not just posting, but reading. It takes time to keep up. Time that one could be working on something worthy of blogging. And there are so many blogs. So many with interesting things to say. So, I've been reading blogs lately.


In comments to her own post, Amy asked on the Knitty Blog "Does that mean geek knitters attract geek science guys as mates?" This had to do with Richard Feynman as bedside reading, telescopes, moebius strips and other, well, nerdy things.

My answer. Yes, of course. Now a few points to be clear: I am a nerd. I have always been one, always will be and I am okay with that. I come from a long line of dictionary readers. But I think I wear it well. Some nerds are intensely introverted, socially maladept or morose. I don't think I am any of those. I do dress funny, but usually on purpose.

Nerds come in many forms. Lacking better terminology, I will say that I am a left-handed nerd. A nerd who has a strong creative bent, who likes "thinking outside the box" and problem solving. I have come to realize (indeed, mostly through knitblogs and the online knitting community) that there are lots of knitters who fall into this category (obviously not all lefties, but I can deal with that). Particulary those who are designers or otherwise think a lot about the technical aspects of knitting.

Are their mates geek science guys (or gals)? I'd wager yes. Mine is. But again, with a creative side. Witness the blend of science geek and artist here in his artwork. Not all arty science geeks are actually artists though. Some may write computer code, or be engineers or whatever, but they do so creatively, and are art and music enthusiasts even if they don't do art. And I think there's the occassional mate that's the other way: more arty, less sciencey. But I'd suspect that they'd be attracted to the nerdiest of the knitting nerds (I actually really enjoy technical editing, I don't know how much nerdier it gets!) just for balance.


The other blog thing that I wanted to comment on in a way that was too big for the comment box was the Yarn Harlot's "I know what I like" post. Stephanie has decided to start reviewing knitting books. She and her commenters raise many good points about reviews and critiques. I think the most significant is that there is a big difference between making an aesthetic judgement and discussing why. I don't mind a critic who says something is hideous (as there are many bad ideas allowed to come to fruition), but it's much more useful if that is followed up with, "The single sleeve and the novelty yarn trim make the model look as if she has stuffed half her bra with a dead bird. The assymetrical neckline is inevitably unflattering, whether in a prom dress or a sweater. If that's as good as they can get it to look on a reclining model with one arm over her head, how will it look on you?" Discussing what is wrong with something technically or even conceptually is fine. Useful, even.

What should not be part of a critique is ad hominem attacks. That is, you are welcome to criticize the design, the layout, the paper, the picture... but not the person. Recognize that a paper written by a person or a pattern designed by that person, is NOT the person. It's a single project at a certain time. Perhaps an experiment. Perhaps something that was allowed out of the house without brushing its teeth and combing its hair. Things that get published don't always have time to get polished (this too, you are welcome to criticize, IMHO, because not every knitted thing is worthy of publication). Perhaps the author understands the irony of the project and doesn't really expect anyone to want to wear it. Or they just had a bad week.

Likewise, I think it is useful for authors, designers, content producers, makers of stuff, etc. to understand that even if it doesn't sound that way, a reviewer is criticizing that one project. Love it or hate it, they do not love or hate you. And they might love or hate your next project. Now of course this is easier said than done, but disassociating yourself from the stuff you make, makes putting it out in front of other people a lot easier.

Finally, you should always assume that the designer or author WILL see what you've said about their work. A blog is a public place. And sooner or later it will get back to them. So if it's not something you're willing to say to them, don't say it. Like that mean note you wrote in third grade to someone you thought was a dork, you'll regret it later.

06:30 AM
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