Some Interesting Thoughts from Aaron Swartz’s Raw Thoughts

March 29, 2013 Leave a comment

It was some time ago I got my hands on an ebook which consists of all the writings scraped titled -Raw Thoughts- from Aaron Swartz’s website – done as a sort of #pdftribute just a few days after his death . I found some very good thoughts buried under voluminous words after browsing and reading intermittently through the ebook .

But I was awe struck on reading one particular post, The Unified Theory of Magazines,which spoke of a very interesting insight regarding how magazine work and what their basis really is. When I thought about it, I found that it applies to newspapers not just magazines to a considerable extent.

Aaron writes distinguishing how a web community differs from that of a community that revolves around a magazine :

In other words, instead of providing a place for a group of like-minded people to come together, magazines provide a sampling of what a group of like-minded people might say in such an instance so that you can pretend you’re part of them. Go down the list and you’ll see.

The magazines of Condé Nast, for example, export “lifestyles”. Most readers probably aren’t the “hip scene” the magazines supposedly cover, but by reading these things they learn what to wear and what to buy and what these people are talking about. Even their high-brow magazines, like the New Yorker, serve the same purpose, only this time it’s books instead of clothes.

Continuing to speak of alumni magazines, Aaron says:

Alumni magazines similarly export college life, so that graying former college students can relive some of their old glory days, reading pieces about library renovations as they recall having sex in the stacks. And house organs export a particular kind of politics, telling you what a party or organization’s take is on the issues of the day, giving you a sense of the party line.


Other very readable posts by Aaron include :

  • I Hate News where he speaks how media is burdening people with content but which doesn’t give any extra information most of the times(I read a similar idea discussed by Nassim Nicolas Taleb in his Fooled by Randomness).
  • Two Conceptions of Taste where he discusses about the types(his conception, I think) of taste people have : positive and negative.
  • HOWTO: Be More Productive where he talks about some interesting methods being productive.


P. S : Somerset Maugham on unrequited Love : “The love that lasts longest is the love which is never returned.”

Categories: People Tags: , , , ,

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