Monday, April 11, 2011

Why We Need Uncharted

Once in a while, I look at Uncharted and get a bit discouraged.

We are, like Plankton, small. We take three steps forward, then take four back, as we do things that are pretty brilliant, and then screw things up again.

But occasionally, I see the need for Uncharted.

Here’s the most recent occasion.

I realize this is a columnist writing an opinion column, not a travel piece. But what a missed opportunity, Mr. James Carroll of the Boston Globe. You could have given us a few concrete examples of the “something[s that are] very good at work in this country today,” but you didn’t. Instead, you offered a continual string of banal generalities that made me wonder if you really visited anything in America, or just flew over it, looking at the houses as cemetery headstones, “the golf courses clawing the landscape and the vast parking lots jammed with little toy cars.”

I e-mailed a link to your story to my fellow Uncharted staffers and told them, look, here’s a professional writer. And with all the warts we have, we’re writing circles around this guy. You’re offering our readers specifics, rather than generalities. Keep it up.

Soon we’ll hear from Andrew Clark, our head of design, on the time he spent at Utah’s Spiral Jetty. I can’t wait for that story to hit the ethers, because it’s hilarious, vivid, specific, and an overall good read. There are plenty of similar good reads to be found on Uncharted’s myriad pages. Yes, we have our little cornball stunts and stories. Maybe all of them aren’t the best. But they’re evidence that there are people out there who want to go beyond the ordinary and into the specific joys that make this world a wonderful place to live in, rather than treating it all like flyover country.

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