Same Book, Two Very Different Takes
I got a kick out of noting recently that two folks whose views I value happened to review the same book at about the same time. They came down on opposite sides, which was not so surprising, given the fact that they're about as different as two people can possibly be. The book is Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home. My friend Dan Hanson, a.k.a. Great Lakes Geek, finds it a waste of time, writing that "unless you are just getting your first e-mail account, you can skip this disappointing book." Meanwhile, writing in the highbrow New York Review of Books, celebrated author Janet Malcolm argues that, while Send is more instruction manual than book, it offers "excellent instructions" on what she calls a "fraught" exercise and generally "a medium of bad writing." She can get a little silly, arguing that "email is more like a dangerous power tool than like a harmless kitchen appliance." Malcolm is famous for, among other things, her statement that “every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible,” a reference to the seduction-sellout dynamic which sometimes inevitably happens in serious writing (you're essentially luring a person into revealing more about themselves than they'll ultimately be comfortable seeing in print). Hanson, tech editor of Inside Business, is famous for too many things to mention. You can catch his blog here, which will give you links to his many other online initiatives.