David Carr on Making – and Breaking – Bread with Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky's bread (David Carr/New York Times)

It seems that two of my heroes — NY Times columnist, David Carr, and media expert and professor, Clay Shirky — had dinner with a group of plugged in journalists and mediaistas recently at Shirky’s apartment. Carr wrote about the experience yesterday on the Media Decoder blog.

Carr’s reflections on the evening, however, don’t really center on how Twitter spurred the Arab Spring, or about the Facebook IPO. Instead, he writes about Shirky’s prowess at baking bread, which Carr only learned because Shirky had him over for dinner. (I, myself, am a bread-baker, so this story is even closer to my heart!) In fact, Carr was so enticed that he got Shirky’s recipe and has tried baking some bread for himself.

Carr’s column is, ultimately, a parable. For all the hand-wringing about what our online world does to us — how it depersonalizes everything, how everyone is glued to their mini-phone-screen all day — it turns out that social media has great power to bring people together, and to turn “friends” into friends.

At the end of the column-cum-parable, Carr quotes Shirky in what might be a good adage for our age:

“When people talk to one another long enough, they want to meet, and when they’ve been in one another’s presence, they want to keep in touch.”

Some Blogs I Discovered in 2011

Rachel Held Evans – We all discovered her, didn’t we?  An evangelical (or is she post-evangelical) woman who isn’t afraid of bullies like Mark Driscoll.

Slacktivist – Fred Clark manages to make the Left Behind series interesting, and he is a witty mouthpiece for progressive Christianity.

John Shore – He receives letters that should make any homophobic Christian think twice, and he is an indefatigable ally of GLBT folks in the church.

Media Decoder – The fascinating compilation of media journalists from the New York Times, including those featured in the excellent documentary, Page One.  (I also read, and loved, David Carr’s Night of the Gun, and asked if he’s the new St. Augustine.)

Storied Theology – Fuller prof Daniel Kirk is a step the the right of me, but his posts on the Bible are thoughtful and deep. (I’ll be posting about his new book in January.)

Scrolling though my Google Reader list, it’s notable, and a bit sad, to see how many good bloggers haven’t posted in a long, long time.  I attribute that, in part, to Facebook, because I see most of those people writing there a lot.  But Facebook updates have neither the length (aka, depth) or links that a blog post has.  Alas.  I hope some of them will resolve to blog again in 2012.

What blogs did you discover in 2011?

What blogs went dormant that you miss?

Or, better yet, convince us to start reading your blog in 2012!

David Carr and St. Augustine – Separated at Birth?

St. Augustine and David Carr - Separated at Birth?

On our 900-mile drive home from Texas yesterday, Courtney and I listened to the better part of David Carr’s riveting memoir, The Night of the Gun: A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of his Life–His Own.  Carr, now a famous reporter and columnist for the New York Times, spent the 1980s as a reporter in the Twin Cities.  And as a junkie, a hardcore junkie.

Carr is a great writer, entertaining and honest in the style of David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers.  Added to the sheer strength of his prose and the shocking nature of his story is the fact that, as a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, there are a whole lot of references to places that I know and have been, as well as others (e.g., Moby Dick’s and the Skyway Lounge) that are gone-but-not-forgotten spots from when Minneapolis was a seedier place.

But most interesting to me is how Carr continually plays with and muses on the subject of memory.  His own memory is admittedly poor to begin with.  Add to that a combustible mix of booze and hard drugs, and he came to realize that he remembered very little from the 1980s, and what he did remember, he misremembered.

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