Friday, March 7, 2014


As half the civilized world is flying to Austin, Texas for a event called "South by Southwest," I think it would be nice to organize a competing event called "Accountable by Accountablewest."

Here's how my event would work.

We would monitor the speeches and seminars at SXSW and in real-time call out, underscore and debunk the inaccuracies.

Just yesterday someone came to my desk to talk about a prospective pitch.

"Book readership is down," he said.

"How do you know?" I replied.

"Well, surely people aren't reading as much as they used to. They're reading websites and tweets."

"How do you know?" I replied.

Here's my point, and I've only said this about 32 million times. In this Internet of Things, whatever that means, there's no reason to ever present the one true way, a scurrilous inaccuracy as a fact. You can look anything up and find evidence. It's only slightly harder than blurting know-it-all-isms, also known as "insights."  Since 2005, for instance, the number of books published in the US has more than tripled. Surely publishers aren't publishing books to lose money. Someone must be reading them.

My point is simple.

Talk is cheap.

In any event, I thought about these lines from a wonderful WH Auden poem.

For some reason they came to the front this morning.

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know. 

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