We live in a golden age for curiosity. Heck, today’s featured article on wikipedia dedicates pages to the goblin shark. I could spend hours reading about these deep sea sharks that are the only surviving member of the 125 million year old Mitsukuinidae family. But I’m distracted by the random article button, which takes me first to Pork Ball ((wikipedia helpfully informs us that “this page has some issues”)), then to the Leiden Glossary ((the glossary contains 48 chapters or glossae collectae, which explain the terms from texts used in the classroom by Theodore of Tarsus and Adrian of Canterbury.)), and then to a list of everything that happened in the art world in 1707 ((Among other things Antoine Coypel became a professor at the Academie de peinture et de sculpture.)). Hours of reading without ever leaving wikipedia.
When I was in college as a Media Studies major, I read somewhere (I think it was in the pre-internet days of Premier Magazine) that Quentin Taratino believed that everyone (in 1998) had a doctorate in Film History in their local Blockbuster, that the average college student then had seen more films than most film critics in the 1980s. It’s not just film history anymore. Facts, figures, ideas, debates, truths and untruths are all a click away. Entire Saturdays are lost to reproductions of marginalia. A world of information exists for those that want it.
Making sense of this cavalcade of wonders remains a bit of a challenge. Our goal is to add a bit of sense to the web, to take that curiosity and lit it simmer in a crockpot for a little while until we can see our own place in it. Fortunately, we have had some wonderful models that we encourage you to take a look at. Here’s an annotated bibliography of some of my favorites. All of them offer a world for you to get lost in. All of them provide something that we aspire to here at (ec)2.
- High County News: Still the gold standard for reporting about the West as a region. I admire their sense of place, their humor, the diversity of ideas they present, and the quality of writing the deliver.
- Aeon Magazine: Each day follows a theme. Every essay raises as many questions as it answers. The writing is great. The topics are engaging. I love everything about it.
- BlogWest: ((Full disclosure, I regularly contribute to BlogWest)) With the aim of sparking a conversation about the history of the West, BlogWest was started by a few young scholars excited about sharing what they know about the West in a forum larger and more immediate than is present in most academic journals.
- Bldgblog: Ecclectic, smart, challenging. Geoff Manaughn has managed to build a site dedicated to looking closely at the world around him, recovering lost ideas, and playing with the practice of landscape architecture. The final product is more than any single angle might ever hope to be.
- The New Inquiry: “The New Inquiry is a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources—both digital and material—toward the promotion and exploration of ideas.” The writing is radical, fresh, and unapologetic. The concepts and ideas are smart and diverse. Highly recommended.
- Appendix Magazine: I just recently discovered The Appendix, and it has quickly become one of my go-to sources for interesting things to read when I’m killing time. Officially, it’s a magazine of experimental history. The effect is that they have recovered some great documents and have told wonderful stories.
- Grantland: Simply the best collection of sports (and culture) writing on the net. Even if you aren’t a sports fan.
- Boom: A Journal of California: Part magazine, part academic journal, all wonderful. With a combination of original essays, photo essays, wonderful reviews, and a strong collaboration with the UC system, BOOM! has demonstrated how smart a magazine about a place can be.
- The American Scholar: Yet another example of what can happen when you get a bunch of great writers writing about things they care deeply about. It’s easy to get lost in the American Scholar as you bounce between essays concerning the arts, science, philosophy, and nearly anything else that might catch your fancy. Just don’t go in with any agenda of your own, as you’re likely to get sidetracked.
- [The Salt Lake Tribune](http://sltrib.com): Like many newspapers across the country, the Salt Lake Tribune has had to make some pretty major cuts, but they remain cornerstone source for news about Salt Lake and Utah. Every city needs a major newspaper. This one is ours.
- Snarkmarket: When smart intellectual omnivores sit down to write about the stuff that catches their eye, it is a wonder to behold. Snarkmarket is that wonder.
- Mapping Salt Lake City: ((Full Disclosure: Jeff Nichols is a regular contributer to Mapping SLC)) Every place needs a map made up of the stories that created it. Mapping SLC hopes to provide that by collecting the stories and ideas that make Salt Lake a place.
Finally, I owe a personal debt of gratitude to Don Mitchell for introducing me to JB Jackson and his magazine Landscape, and to Don Meinig for letting me temporarily steal the run from the department library at Syracuse. Jackson’s interests, prose, and ambitions continue to inspire me. I hope (ec)2 will become the kind of work he would have liked.