Just in case you were needing more of me in your life today, check out my article featured in the Technology section of Salon (I have to use the moniker “Ian R. Williams” to avoid confusion with the wily Brit who frequently covers foreign affairs). You’d think my name was pretty rare, but it’s the equivalent of “John Smith” in Australia, and I’m the fourth one at IMDb alone.
A few words about the article: first off, you can only read the whole thing if you a) subscribe to Salon, which I heartily recommend, or b) sit through a 5-second ad for Visa. I promise it’s painless, but I know a few of you – like my brother Steve – view all internet ads as poison, so consider yourselves prepared.
The article itself stems from an older idea I had about writing a book on the history of “dorks” – the misfits, nerds and geeks of America. After ruminating on it a while, I thought a better idea would be “the death of the dork,” how mainstream, post-Columbine America has started paying attention to troubled kids, and the internet has brought millions of otherwise-spazzed-out nerds together instead of leaving them to stew in their own juices.
This piece was a stab in that direction, but due to an email mixup, Salon accidentally ended up with my first draft and published it. I had written a much better, cleaner and more funny second draft, but it will now be lost to the ages. Anyone who has done any freelancing knows how painful this is; when you fix a piece of writing, the older drafts just make you cringe, like a pair of pants you can’t believe you ever owned. If you read the article, you won’t know the difference – it’s still charming – but it gives me a certain amount of chagrin.
There is also one line in the published version that had been fixed in the second draft, but is now going to be misread forever. I originally said “If it weren’t for dorks, America would look like Chile,” but corrected it to “If it weren’t for dorks, America would be shaped like Chile.” Meaning that it would be a strip of land a few miles wide on the coast. The published version makes it look like I’m dissing Chileans. Which couldn’t be farther from my intentions. I mean, I read Alive just like everybody else.