Slate is Tedious

Slate is Tedious
Slate is Tedious
Slate is Tedious

Today, I just gave up. I looked at the endless columns and Jackson Pollack arrangement of files, and said “Screw it, I’ll just read something else.”

That was my morning visit to the web site for Slate. I refer to it as a web site but that is overt praise for it. A proper nomenclature for the Internet would have some term for blindingly inaccessible sites, some short hand phrase that means “We hate you. Go away.”

Slate has some of the best writing on the Internet. Rebecca Schuman is magnificent. Few writers have ever had such a grasp of the contradictions and weirdness of the academic world. Dahlia Lithwick knows the law and can write about it with power and intelligence. Amanda Marcotte and her take on women’s issues is provocative and fun. And so on. But they are in different spots all over the web site, often multiple times.

Slate is a checkerboard designed by a madman, a psychopath with a hatred for good writing and humanity in general. The squares are colorful and, I’m sure, eminently satisfying for a four year old. As you go down the page, the squares change in order and size and importance and your eye tires of looking from side to side, up and down, and diagonally trying to make sense of this rubric’s cube’s disorder.

Before I read Slate each morning, I read the Guardian and Salon. Salon is my favorite. The writing isn’t better but going down the single column of offerings I see everything I want and pick out what I find important. But the Guardian is gold. It features a very high level of complexity and a wide variety of topics. Yet, they are presented in an intelligent, compelling format which is a joy to navigate. If I were one of the exalted royalty publishing at Slate, I would choose something like that.

But I have faith that they will continue on their present course and that it will only change with the people running the magazine are changed. That site cost a lot of money to set up and they’re not going to “waste it,” although they already have.

Will I read Slate tomorrow?

Yes. Rebecca, Dahlia and Amanda’s writing is calling for me and I will not resist the pull. And I have discovered that if I drink an extra cup of coffee, something iced and sweet, it improves my mood enough to get through the site. So, tomorrow, I go with full knowledge, once more, to the abyss.

James Pilant


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