Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Feel the Need... The Need for...

In all deference to the folks who made the 80s mega-hit "Top Gun", my preferred way to finish that sentence today would be... "LESS speed."

Today, while trying to be efficient at work, I processed some shipping, only to find out later that we were short by two copies of the book I now had labels for. Oops. But at least that was something easy to correct and only two of us (the person who gave me the task in the first place and I) will ever know it happened. (Well... the two of us and all of you...)

On the other hand, there were two pretty big events in the world this week which both -- at least in my opinion -- could have done with a little less speedy help, especially from the Internet. 

Big Event #1: Amazonfail

Some of you may have heard that there was a huge hew and cry that went out about last weekend. I've never really figured out exactly what went on, but here's what I saw happen: on Easter morning, I was copied on a message from a friend who was sending out a link protesting a change in Amazon's policy of listing books on their site. The change entailed listing everything they deemed to be gay-themed literature as "adult" and then taking it out of their ratings lists. This included memoirs, books generally regarded as being part of the literary canon, and young-adult books wherein the main characters simply talk about (without acting on) their sexuality. 

Basically, the upshot of this change meant that -- without very specific searches -- you wouldn't be able to find any of those books on Amazon. At the same time, though, anyone searching Amazon could still find erotica and pornography which was heterosexual in nature. So... A book that gave a detailed description of a heterosexual rape, incest, molestation, and/or torture would still be rated and could pop up in every schoolkid's search. But a book written to help a teenager deal with getting bullied in junior high because she was a lesbian would not. 

Because of the speed of the internet and blogging and Twitter and all that, this problem had circled the world several times before noon on Sunday. Heck. By the time I found out about it (probably 6 hours or so after everything really fired up), there were already people asking why the problem hadn't yet been addressed and/or fixed by Amazon! When it was cleared up on Monday (with Amazon saying it was a "glitch in the system and was being fixed"), there was little or no follow-up on the "Interwebs." 

Now... Do I really believe that this was an "unknown glitch" which higher-up people at Amazon didn't know about? Ummm... I'm gonna have to say no, since it meant that some programmer was paid for a whole lot of hours of creating the means by which to segment out those books. But, given that the complaints started in the wee small hours on Easter Sunday, I have to say that I'm not surprised it wasn't fixed in less than a day. I mean... come on... give Amazon 24 hours to address it and correct it, at least, right? Definitely a situation of "step back and take a breath before over-reacting," in my opinion.

Big Event #2: Susan Boyle

I fully admit that I have watched the video of Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed a Dream" more than a few times over the past couple of days. And I get tear-y each and every time. And I know that I posted the link to her performance on YouTube asking each of you to go watch it in Tuesday's posting. And, as of this afternoon, I think the various YouTube videos of her performance had gotten somewhere over 30 MILLION hits. (Probably not all from readers of my blog, sadly.) But...

Can you imagine how much pressure she is under, now? I mean... The show only aired in Britain last weekend, and I saw her interviewed via satellite on both ABC and CBS (where even Patti Lupone -- who first performed the song in the original cast of Les Mis in London -- was brought in by phone to chat with her) this morning. Boyle seems to be holding up well, but you could tell that she just wasn't ready for that much attention. 

Friends of mine are commenting that they're afraid she won't be able to live up to her own hype, and I'm starting to feel the same way. I'd be amazed if she doesn't collapse from stage fright the next time she goes out. Or -- worse yet -- sing a clunker and get boo-ed, simply because everyone has such high expectations. 

Whatever happened to people getting the chance to cut their chops little by little? Why does everything have to be on such a grand scale? Why does it all happen so fast?

So there you have it. My plea for people to slow down a little. 
Take a little time. 
Disconnect for a moment or two. 

I know I feel better. Don't you?

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