Friday, December 16, 2005

Ashlee Simpson = Heuristic anxiety

Is Ashlee Simpson a singing star or an embryonic has-been?

Most of us already know the answer to this question, but it's provoked knuckle-knawing deliberations behind the scenes at Wikipedia.

On the case: A squad of honest-to-God peer reviewers. Dunno where these folks come from, or why they’re able to take so much time away from sorting socks and cutting “Family Circus” out of the paper. But they're thrashing out questions of authorial bias and aesthetic benchmarking with a verve reminiscent of Freshman Philo 101.

Artistic influence, or an Ashlee for the ages
"I get no impression of how she fits into the history of American popular music ... Which artists have influenced her? Who does she acknowledge as her musical mentors? Whom are the artists she has influenced? ... A hundred years from now, people reading this article would have ... very little idea of what kind of singer she was."

Reserving judgment
"I'm still very much dissatisfied about the criticism section being weaselly ... The [discussion of the] Orange Bowl incident has some speculation that is not referenced (i.e. backlash against MTV-isation of the halftime show). ...the article is starting to look a lot better than it used to, but I'm not ready to support just yet."

Why can't we be positive?
"The lead has two sentences clearly stating the negative criticism ... it could now use one mentioning how succesful [she is]. Instead of 'chart topping,' which sounds promotional, just mention [that] her albums have sold very well."
I wanted to head up this post with a picture of Pappus of Alexandria, who may have coined the term "heuristic." I couldn't find one. But I did run across a lovely quote from Archimedes (pictured above):

"Give me where to stand, and I will move the earth."
(quoted in Pappus of Alexandria's Mathematical Collection, book VIII, proposition 10, section 11, translated into Latin in 1588)

It's oddly reminiscent of Ashlee's career. Tell her where to stand, and she'll move the earth. Or at least do a panic jig.

"A hundred years from now, people reading this article would have ... very little idea of what kind of singer she was."


I can only HOPE people a hundred years from now won't know who she was. It would be a scary world indeed if they did!
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