Overrated Amateurs

I just discovered the work of Andrew Keen. He is coming out with a book called the Cult of the Amateur, or “How today’s Internet is killing our culture”.

Which is interesting since just the other day I was just discussing this topic with some friends while dining on fine pizza and beer at Shakey’s. I was attempting – in a somewhat roundabout way – to say that I am unhappy with the quality of information and discourse on the Internet.

I feel like many people(and I am certainly guilty here too) are not able to evaluate information and arguments they receive. So much so, that I really have no desire to participate in any sort of comment thread or discussion online and watch as it tangents out of control, or watch as someone twists some piece of minutia or thinks that forming an argument means giving an ironic one-liner.

If Keen’s basic tenet is that the amateur is overvalued, then I would have to agree. I find that experts – people who have focused on an area, and have invested thought, time and energy – will tend to have deeper and more valuable insights.

Those are the people I want to hear from, those are the people whose “content” I want to see.

And I do realize that this post is somewhat hypocritical. But I will probably read the book.

Google Maps Adds Traffic Data

Well, that’s cool. Google Maps has traffic data. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I could stop using Sigalert, which for some reason does not give the traffic data for downtown Los Angeles, which is the most hellish part of my daily commute. Brilliant. Sigalert has been good to me, but that glaring omission always bothered me.

Anyways, LAist reports that Yahoo! Maps has had traffic data for years. Well, I went and checked it out. Unusable. I spent a minute on there and could get no useful data. Sure there are some colored dots scattered on the page, and I am sure they correspond to real world events, but I could not get an overall picture of what my commute would look like.

Now if we could get rid of all of the idiot lane-switchers and tailgaters and overly aggressive drivers, maybe we would not need traffic maps.

Echo Park Lake Cleanup

I think that the $23 million dollar cleanup of Echo Park lake is pretty much last week’s news, but I thought I would mention it here for the benefit of those who didn’t know.

Personally, I look forward to the lake-draining. It will be great. Shopping carts and bodies(that’s what they say…) galore.

Curbed LA says that they should clean the paddleboats. Paddleboats are cool, but my friend Kim says that they should install rowboats. Well, now is the time to make it happen.

A Sigh of Relief

So last night I was getting carne asada at Rodeo Grill – not an unusual occurrence by any means. Anyways, the lady working the counter was trying to ask me in English how asada I wanted my asada, and having a little trouble. So I talked to her in Spanish(still shy about speaking Spanish to a new person…) and she said “Hablas espanol?!?” while giving the biggest sigh of relief I have ever seen.

She was really happy that she was able to talk to me in Spanish, and I was glad to be able to communicate with her, and it was obvious that she became much more comfortable with me than when I was speaking English.

I only bring this up because it sort of goes back to a post I made the other day.

Bilingual Blues

A commenter on this blogging.la post about the ailing Highland Park Farmer’s Market brought up an interesting point in regards to making the Latino community feel welcome to the point where they will support the farmers market. They said: “Hire a Spanish speaker or someone familiar with the Latino community to work at the information booth.”

That is an obvious, and very good idea. For some time now I have felt that part of the tension of so-called gentrification is due in part to language. I get the impression that when Spanish speakers see signs written primarily in English they assume that the thing advertised is for the gueros, and alternately, when an English speaker sees a sign written in Spanish, they tend not to feel welcome.

I guess in LA it is easy to forget that not everyone is bilingual, and even if they are to some degree, they would prefer to operate in their native tongue. Only natural.

I think in the case of the HP Farmers Market(and many others), a little bilingual advertising would go a long way…

One Point Eight Million In Angelino Heights

This house on Edgeware in Angelino Heights is going for 1.8 million dollars. Seriously. When I see stuff like this I always think that there is something fundamental about the universe that I do not understand. Something that would allow this house to go for 1.8 million dollars. Something I don’t get.

Did the developers get the wrong neighborhood? Will the people who want to buy this place be the kind of people who want to live in Echo Park(as hip as it is proclaimed to be)? Will they mind the fact that they are shouting distance from the 101 freeway?

Please help me understand.

The Traffic Gap Thing Does Work To A Certain Extent

Last week I wrote on blogging.la about a cool technique for helping to dissipate traffic. The basic concept is that you leaving a large gap in front of you while driving in traffic(while maintaining a similar speed to those drivers around you of course). This way you don’t have to brake as much, and the idea is that that will stop the “transmission” of traffic.

Anyways, yesterday I was driving back from the valley on the 101 and decided to give it a shot. For the most part the results were good, and I actually had fun doing it. A fun game that if nothing else made the drive home more fun. Less starting and stopping, which is surely better for the car and I was more relaxed the whole way. It was also interesting to watch the response of people around me. Some people would hop out from behind me into an adjacent lane, and then get slowed down, or get in front of me, only to be caught behind the guy who is in front of me. Not going any faster, but maybe it is good for their psyche or something.

I want to try it a few more times, but overall I did get a sense that I was to a small degree clearing the traffic around me.