It's hard to reach out.

Criticism of the writing is as welcome as praise.

The only way I wish to be reached is via e-mail. I will almost always write back, but it may only be a line. Writing jobs are appreciated. Or just cash. Ask me to write for your publication, small or large. I like that, talking with you about the audience and the feel of it all and delivering something of note..

Sometimes I wish that this site operated in silence, like a cold war submarine, a gentle humming through the water. But there is also a certain pleasure when I go to my mailbox and find a handwritten letter from some assiduous reader that says, "Mr. Ford, the soft red of your heart haunts me and I sleep in the arms of an effigy of your large frame, made from trash bags stuffed with corn husks, but soon I will replace it with the real silent body, stuffed forever so that you will never leave me, Your Fan, Alice P. Talbot, Taxidermist."

My apologies to the real Alice P. Talbot.

On the subject of criticism, as David Callahan, my fictional creation who constantly overreacts and lasts only for the duration of the following paragraph, said:

Don't hold it in, write me that my words fester and pustulate on the page, terrible sores on the surface of your brain. Write me that you know what I did when I was 12 and 13 and you're going to tell everyone. Publish the pictures, cut off my inheritance, call my boss and play the tape, open my file, check my taxes from 1985, post my ugly visage on your Web site with a Java program to allow strangers to tear out my virtual eyes and disembowl me, hang me in your post-office calendar of killers, condemn me from the pulpit.

If you're going to write me, please tell me how you make your living and the sort of things you like doing and a little about yourself.

I meet many people with jobs and they need other people to work for them. I give out work every year for all kinds of things, because people call me when they have no idea what to do.

Sometimes people call me to come up with a marketing plan for their non-profit flamenco multimedia performance, or to solve some problems in e-commerce specific to Egypt, or to supervise a leeching. They call me to ask what to do now that something they loved is dead. They call me to write a brochure for their company that sells the time of people to other people who need to rent the people and count on them to do things with their hands and minds and machines together. They call because they want me to review an execrable album of Mandarin-American pop music, or because they are in the business of telling rich people what to wear and need to tell the world about their personal services.

They call me and say, I need to build something tall, and I say 2-0943-092BROX, because I compress my speech on long distance calls using the Lempel-Ziv algorithm, and we hire the aerospace engineers and structural engineers, buy the right kind of streamers and connect the nanobots to the gray feed, and we put the tower up, a giant diamond 90,000 feet into space, channeling raw sun to the ground, and the whole of the floor of the earth catches fire.

When you contact the staff, don't expect anything to materialize. I like to know what people are thinking in their heads, so that I can add the model of them to my own head, and sometimes the temporary notches in their heads match closely with the temporary notches in someone else's head, and I say, thinking algorithmically, "if we rotate the notched head here we will turn two heads into one, and two heads algorithmically connected by notch intersections is better than two heads without notches and devoid of algorithms, by far."

Paul Ford




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


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© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

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