Archive for ‘Ephemera’


By , 15 September, 2008, No Comment

I’ve been negligent lately about posting here. In part, that’s because I took a little vacation these past few days to Providence and Boston and left my laptop behind. In part, that’s because I’ve been swamped by my Columbia workload. But most of all, it’s because when I do find time to get online, I’m too busy enjoying several other sites to worry about this one.

So, let me pass on some gems to keep you all occupied and distracted:

1. The Big Money, a brand new business site that launched today, comes to us from the team that brought you Slate. Similar layout and a few common features (Today’s Papers–>Today’s Business Papers). I think the layout could be cleaner and less banner-ad ridden, but overall, I’m impressed with the content and excited to see something in the web journalism world that has a business focus and isn’t just a compendium of stock-tips or gossip. It’s a sign that this technology is really becoming a new establishment, not just some goofball accessory or insurgent hippie subculture.
2. The Conversation, an NYTimes feature where two of my favorite columnists–Gail Collins and David Brooks–do a joint podcast of them just bantering about current political news. Political opinions journalism, most of it on television appeals to its audience of die-hards (the people who read poll numbers all day for fun) as much because of the character eccentricities of the pundits as because of the content: think of everyone you know who has a crush on Anderson Cooper or remembers fondly the time Judy Woodruff cried on camera. Print pundits have a harder time getting that personality through unless you’ve been reading them consistently for years and years–this feature helps.

3. MSNBC Video. I don’t think any of the other major news networks has this good an archive of video spots from their top shows. Since I don’t believe in waking up before 2 pm on weekends, I miss out on all the juicy interviews on the morning talk shows. But I’ve been savoring the video clips from Meet the Press this week. In particular, I’m loving Joe Biden commenting on religion. Every Democrat makes this argument (I’m personally anti-abortion but politically pro-choice) and quickly gets pigeonholed as an out-of-touch impious elitist. Biden seems somehow more believable when he separates his Catholicism from his politics here than, say, Kerry did in 2004. Not sure why, but it makes me hopeful about his prospects in a debate against Sarah Palin, whose major credential includes her appeal for religious conservatives.

Coffee Makes You Smarter. Duh.

By , 6 August, 2008, No Comment

I’ve been saying it for ages, if only to justify my addiction to the bitter bean. And the Enlightenment philosophes proved the link between coffee drinking and intellectual debate a long time ago. That’s why this blog has the name it does–it’s a virtual coffeehouse. So I’m pleased, but unsurprised to learn that science has finally caught up with common sense–coffee DOES make you smarter.

Holiday Reading

By , 3 July, 2008, No Comment

Before I vanish for the long weekend, here are two, very different, blogs I’ve recently got into.

Dealbreaker has some hilarious (and often mean) updates on Wall Street shenanigans, as well as an impressive array of leaked memos that have me wondering who’s running this site.

Front Lines, off the WSJ home page, has news about women. I’m pretty sure no other major print organization has such a blog, and most of the other women’s issue blogs I’m familiar with are less newsy and more ideological. This is a welcome addition that I wish I’d found earlier.

Also, I was going to write something about Obama’s shift into general electioneering, but the NYT did it for me:

“We are not shocked when a candidate moves to the center for the general election. But Mr. Obama’s shifts are striking because he was the candidate who proposed to change the face of politics, the man of passionate convictions who did not play old political games.”

In fact, it now seems, “Yes We Can” was the greatest political game of all.

Happy Independence Day!

Convergence at Euro2008

By , 25 June, 2008, No Comment

So Germany eked out Turkey in today’s semi-finals. For me, that’s a good day. It was a high-pressure game, where no team had the lead for more than 10 minutes. But the main tension for me was that the TV feed kept dying at crucial moments, and I had to find alternative sources of play-by-play information.

I turned to ESPN’s live commentary, but since the commentators are in a newsroom watching the game on TV too, they were in the same boat at first. Then one of the commentators decided to go in search of a radio, to find a station with live broadcast from Basel. Most of us don’t have radios in our office cubicles, but the ESPN team started transcribing the radio commentary onto their website. A minute or two behind the game, yes, but play-by-play nonetheless.

Turns out the Internet’s not gonna eliminate other technologies, because sometimes it needs old-school partners to help it out.

Because it’s Cinco de Mayo…

By , 5 May, 2008, 1 Comment

…this post is just for fun.

Over drinks last weekend, some friends and I tried to write a palindrome story. We got a title “Project Racecar” and a few useful phrases — “he man Madam racecar madam name h-” — but nothing that made narrative sense. So I submit this for the wisdom of the cyber-crowds.

We’ll start with the word “racecar”

What letters, words, phrases can you add to either side to make a story that works backwords and forwards?

Coffee Break: Re-introducing Instant Cappuccino

By , 28 April, 2008, 2 Comments

Welcome to my virtual coffeehouse. Just like “real” coffeeshops sometimes close down and re-locate, this blog is a re-location of the blog I wrote as a college student. Because the old blog has been acting up lately, and might not survive that long, I’ve archived some of my postings here.

Over my years at Brown and Oxford Universities, I followed the politics and culture of my generation (Y, if you were born between 1980 and 2000). Oftentimes, I found myself defining Gen Y in terms of technological trends: iPods, e-books, Wikis, Facebook, and blogs like this one.

If there’s one place the Internet has made an impact, it’s among university students. I can hardly imagine writing papers without Google and JStor. As David Brooks says, today’s culture wars occur over education, and people are divided by educational experience. Changes in the world of students are the harbingers of changes in the world at large. As I leave the Ivory Tower for the real world, I’ll continue to track these tech-cultural phenomena.

The second front in the Internet culture war is the world of journalism. As a columnist, a blogger and a news reporter , I’ve watched news media slowly adjust to the Internet Age. Mainstream print papers are diving into the blogosphere; blogs are turning into big business. As the place we turn for the truth about our world, changing news media means big changes in our social worldview. Once again, as the first group to grow up with GoogleNews, LexisNexis, RSS feeds and CNN Pipeline, we, generation Y, are the test case.

Here at Instant Cappuccino, I’ll post news stories and videos about our changing world. I’ll post my thoughts on technology, politics, business, popular culture. Not only will I chronicle the spread of information, but as a blog, Cappuccino will be part of the transformation.

Of course, what makes our culture of Wikipedia and YouTube different from the first Internet revolution of Yahoo and Netscape, is that interaction is overtaking information as the premium capital.

So please, post your own thoughts. Tell me when (and this happens often) I am wrong about what’s trendy. Link to Cappuccino on your own blogs, and tell me what other sites I should be following. With your participation, over a cup of virtual coffee, we can make sense of the new world we live in, and predictions for the world to come.