Friday, July 1, 2011

Another Information Flaneur Blog You Won't Like

I find it hard to predict what tweets will get retweeted and what blogs will elicit comments and dialogue. I really liked my blog post about becoming an information flaneur, and yet nobody has seen fit to comment on it at all. Two of the blogs that routinely repost my writing decided to turn this one down.

I am still stunned that nobody retweeted my post about the interview with Red Shea about Whitey Bulger:

KentBottles KentBottles Fascinating interview with Red Shea, former enforcer for Whitey Bulger {he wants to snap Whitey's neck}

Am the only one who is intrigued by this man struggling to speak coherently while being interviewed on CNN about his criminal past and his relationship with the rat who was once his surrogate father? Guess so.

I am not really looking for validation, but I do find it interesting that my approach to life, information seeking, blogging, and tweeting does not resonate with many of my tribe.

And then I heard a NPR story about people walking out of the movie The Tree of Life when the storyline about a family in Texas veers off into the most amazing pictures of life, stars, and nature. When I saw Tree of Life at the Ritz in Philadelphia about 7 people walked out. The NPR story contrasted those who believed this movie to be one of the best of the last decade and those who walked out.

Those who liked the movie The Tree of Life are more likely to resonate with the concept of an information flaneur than those who require a linear plot to sit through an entire show.

This morning on twitter I stumbled upon a great story about being an information flaneur.

“Glass and his This American Life production team had given themselves a special assignment: to collect the best stories they could stumble upon far off the beaten path of their day-to-day reporting routines. They followed the standard operating procedure of the Atlanta Journal’s ‘Georgia Ramble’ columnist Charles Salter, who researched more than 500 columns in the late 1970s by roving around small towns of the Peach State in a company car.”

The article and the radio shows both document how powerful and surprising this wandering around approach can be. (

Maybe there are at least two kinds of people in this world. Those that like to wander around and those that need a coherent, linear story. I guess I fall squarely into the former category. I sort of like being confused most of the time. After all my favorite Jack Welch quote is “If you are not confused, you do not know what is going on.“


  1. Base on your post, I am definitely an Information Flaneur.

    Your analogy to Tree of Life makes a good case.

    Perhaps there are different kinds of minds - the wanderers and the straight-walkers.

    I had the same experience when I saw Tree of Life: people moaning, walking out, saying things like "What did I just watch?", "I need someone to explain this to me'.

    I enjoyed it - and "got" that it wasn't so much a movie as a way of showing the big picture of life and the relationships between nature and grace.

    In the online world - The Web of Life, so to speak - different things resonate with different people.


  2. I'll take the bait, Kent!
    Your description of being an information flaneur really resonated with me. In my own work and life, I've found I function similarly. I've always described myself as a kind of systems-thinking intellectual magpie (I thought this was a term original to me, but a Google search tells me The New Yorker used it more than a half century ago:

    In blogging, I wonder if what many of these posts do for your flaneur-type readers is to plant seeds for as yet undetermined crops. They may, when presented, be appreciated as interesting, newfound information or insights (which may not lead people to follow through and write a response), but need time to germinate and take root. Or, in my case, I may appreciate its beauty, but need to figure out where the piece fits in my latest nest before I'm ready to say something.

    Ross Silverman (Twitter: @phlu)

  3. Haha! I freaked when I saw the word "Tree of Life" and skimmed a few paragraphs because I've not seen it and don't want any spoiling....

    I'm with you on the flaneur thing. I think the lack of comments comes from the new-ness of the topic. Or maybe, the meta-ness of it.

    It seems like progress keeps layering new concepts upon old concepts. Now, with our information deluge, we have seriously think about how to screen the info we consume. I'm guessing this is a relatively new concept for most people, spawning a new discussion.

    The info flaneur is another layer, it's going a step beyond simply dealing with an info deluge, and crafting a lifestyle instead of just a strategy.

    But still, it's interesting as hell, why aren't we more interested?


  4. I wonder how those same linearly (?) oriented people feel about the Web and its endlessly varied paths/branches--kind of a digital Tree of Life? :) Does it frustrate them?

    Loved this post. And it's funny, isn't it, how the ones you think will generate comments sometimes don't, and the ones you don't expect spark all kinds of discussion . . . Jackie Fox

  5. It's nice to see a fellow flaneur!