You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

to miss the Internet

February 21st, 2019 by SY

Upcoming Changes in the Blogs.Harvard Blogging Platform


April 23rd, 2012 by SY

Five blog posts,* then, one for each year worked at Berkman – though this blog wasn’t activated until about two years into my time [t]here, which was, all together, five years, two months, and two weeks, exactly. So.

A cranky dilettante, to judge from these meager posts, is a kind of not speaking; or, a muttering that never quite rises to the audible level of the blog named for it.

The initial impulse – hardly a flicker really, and decidedly lacking the dignity and pedigree of an Intention – was to provide myself with a space in which to share the notes I would scratch and scribble during the many Berkman Center events I attended over the years. But the (admittedly remote) possibility that even one person might come across these notes was enough to set off my Pathologically Time-Consuming Prose Revision Compulsion™. I simply edited everything out of existence. I am no blogger.

In point of fact, this post has taken me more than a month to write, and the occasion for its composition, my departure from the Center, is nine months behind us – though I feel, thanks to the second family I found in the Berkman staff, as though I’m simply on a very long vacation. Here is my “out of office forever” bounce message:

Thanks for your message.
As of August 2011, I am no longer at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

* If you’re a reporter, please resend your email to
* For other matters, please consult the staff list at for the correct contact.
* If you’re unsure of the right person to contact, please send an email to

After a fuzz more than five years as a full-time staffer among the amazing folks who lead and support the Berkman Center, I am relocating to Europe for a couple of years — with huge gratitude to the many people inside and outside Berkman who have made my time here challenging, engaging, and fun.

Personal messages may be sent to my personal email address, or feel free to track me down via your favorite social network site.
See you on the Internet!


Five years is longer than I was in college, and it’s as long as I was in grad school before disappearing one day, without a word of farewell. Five years is almost a long time.


* Mm, except I deleted one.

annual blog post

March 4th, 2010 by SY

my messenger bag — made in good ol’spokane, wa, in about ’90 or ’91 and guaranteed for life, though the manufacturer has been out of business for years — my messenger bag — the one that has served me daily through college, grad school, long beach, seattle, hijinks, tomfoolery, work days, lost days, fat days, thin days, days in cairo, beijing, yangon, deep winter commutes in cambridge — my messenger bag — the nylon of which is now so thin you can see through it — my messenger bag needs to be retired. won’t you recommend its replacement? i’m looking for a hand-made-in-usa, over-the-shoulder courier bag to join me for the next 20 years…


February 17th, 2009 by SY

In futile symbolic protest of the new Facebook TOS, I’m deleting my one “Note” in Facebook and reposting it here.

March 15, 2008

Yesterday morning I read — mostly sympathetically — an opinion piece on Salon about youth and the Internet ( One bit of diction pricked me: “Teenagers today read and write for fun; it’s part of their social lives. We need to start celebrating this unprecedented surge, incorporating it as an educational tool instead of meeting it with punishing pop quizzes and suspicion” (emphasis added).

For the last year, since the so-called surge of occupation forces in Iraq, I’ve been taking note of the use of “surge” in the press, on- and off-line, and I believe that its use has increased. Admittedly it’s possible that endless prattle about the surge in Iraq has sensitized me to the word, permitting me to take note, whereas before the word would have slipped past, invisibly, as it were. But I don’t think so. I would contend that, now, everything can be a surge, is capable of surging: profits, hospital admissions, inflation, companies, support for presidential candidates, market demand, unemployment claims, liabilities, interest in an issue, crime, sports teams, prices, emotions, and so on; support for the troop surge itself, if there is any, can be said to surge. Now, “surge” has become so current as to be able to describe the increase in its use: a surge of writers using “surge.”

This is not to say that “surge,” deployed figuratively, cannot accommodate this broad range of uses. Rather, reflecting on the current context of this range, I want to ask to what extent the militarization of the U.S. is accompanied by, or bound up with, a rhetorical militarization. After all, I’ve just written “deployed” in connection with the use of a word.

A friend commented nearly a year later, writing:

Very astute. And not to have elicited a comment. Pearls before swine. I’d like to suggest “seiche” as a possible antidote to the overuse of “surge.” A seiche, I learned today, is a standing wave in an enclosed body of water that, due to its long wavelength, is often imperceptible to the eye (

I’m thinking that “seiche” could be used to describe long, subtle trends, that go unnoticed to “observers in boats on the surface.” Say, ramping up of law enforcement surveillance after 9/11, or rising rents in NYC.

It is not a sexy, militarized word. The other problem is one of pronunciation. “Pronounced “/seɪʃ/, or approximately saysh)”, it does not rhyme with quiche. Please advise.


August 2nd, 2008 by SY

About ten years ago I lent Ali Ahmed my copy of VN’s The Gift. I can’t recall now the precise reason for his request. Professor Ahmed was one of my favorite people at Queens College. I savored our short, energetic conversations about marxism, Professor Ahmed saying, “Yes, yes, yes,” and nodding his head rapidly while we vibrated in the field of students coming and going across the threshold of Rathaus. I forgot to ask him to return the The Gift before I moved out of The City a couple of years later. That copy has become a gift in its own right. It had been a member of the full set of VN’s novels that my parents presented me with when, after the first semester of my junior year of college, I announced that I was going to read every word the man had ever written. Imagine my delight — yes, I just typed, “Imagine my delight” — when the box under the Christmas tree was ripped open to reveal the tremendous bulk of VN’s novels. That delight was repeated and intensified infinitely in the actual reading, which took me a semester and a summer and cued my senior thesis on Pale Fire. Today, at the Cambridgeside Galleria Borders Bookstore, I finally bought a new copy of The Gift.