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The Millions kindly provided this vital link to the recent Rolling Stone interview with David Cross about the next season of Arrested Development, which will be released on Netflix:
It's really audacious and amazing. I think a lot of people will miss the work that is involved, the story, the Venn diagrams that are being created, the domino effect that characters have with each other in their various episodes. I know what he's doing, and this has never been done on a TV show like this. This makes Lost look like a Spalding Grey monologue. You'll have to watch each episode more than once.
Newsweek decrees, via The Daily Beast website, that the geeks have inherited the earth.
They've published a Digital Power Index of 100 movers and shakers, conveniently arranged by category for those of us who enjoy such things. (Larry Page is an 'innovator' and Sergey Brin is a 'visionary'. Or vice versa.)
Something in here for everyone, I think.
But two-faced Twitter has also brought about, in its opposite aspect, the very last thing to have been expected from the internet: a renovation of the epigram or aphorism, a revaluation of the literary virtues of terseness and impersonality.
This means that Twitter, officially a microblogging platform, in practice has often functioned in a way opposite to the blog. Of course a tweet is just a tweet, not to be made too much of. Even so, La Rochefoucauld, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, Cyril Connolly, the Kafka of The Blue Octavo Notebooks, Cioran — they would have been excellent tweeters, and the best tweets, today, rival their greatest one-liners. (In fact to encounter their sententiae parcelled out as tweets would have made for a better experience than reading The Unquiet Grave or The Trouble with Being Born straight through. Aphorisms are ideally consumed like nuts or candies, a handful at a time.) So Twitter doesn’t only have the widely recognized usefulness of providing updates on news and revolution, and illuminating links, and many laughs and smirks. It has also brought about a surprising revival of the epigrammatic impulse in a literary culture that otherwise values the merely personal and the super-colloquial as badges of authenticity.
“Write as short as you can/ In order/ Of what matters,” John Berryman counseled in a pre-tweet of 44 characters. Favorite that, followers.
n+1: Please RT
Via The Millions.
Crossposted at Mulberry Road.
So many books, only one life...I thought at first Mr Deaver was a serial killer, which is why I clicked on this when it came up in my reader. Got him confused with someone else....It is, after all, a fine name for a crime writer.
From last week, there are five book reviews up on the blog at Overland. What a great platform for blog reviews - good to see this.
Included is a review of Lisa Dempster's Neon Pilgrim, Alec Patric's poetry collection which has been released as an e-book, and Emmett Stinson's short fiction collection, Known Unknowns, from Affirm Press.
Academic librarian Constance evaluates the Kobo reader
, recently sold out at Borders stores across Australia.Maud noticed this
, and I thank her for it.
Not in a book group? try this one on for size
. If you're not in the States, you might like to use it as a reading list later on. With notes.
The Duck has found us all something really good and silly
to finish on.
Your public Facebook status updates? Now publicly searchable outside Facebook
Via the helpful chaps at TPUTH.
While the debate rages on about Facebook’s attitude to privacy, and in particular the views of Mark Zuckerberg, the current situation is that an awful lot of people make their status updates public, whether they realise the full implications or not. A stark reminder of this comes today in the form of a new search engine thrown together by two developers.
FacebookSearch simply takes those public status updates and makes them searchable, outside of Facebook. The guys behind it, Peter Burns and Will Moffat, have posted a simple explanation: “This is a simple example of just how open facebook has made your information. This data is wide open, and this is one of the least scary uses that anyone will make. If nothing changes, it’s only to get worse.” There’s an interesting discussion over at Hacker News on the morality of what they are doing.
I am going to keep my eye on what happens there and suggest any Facebookin' readers do same. TechCrunch is a very reliable source for this kind of thing.
A radio of paper. A fine new thing of audio podcasts on a monthly basis, of new writing.
After mountainous hours of pixel shifting and finger tapping – and
countless more wrestling sound waves – we are extremely relieved and
excited to announce that Paper Radio has now arrived. For those of you
visiting for the first time we should explain that Paper Radio is a
sonic interpretation of the unique culture of Australasia – in the shape
of a podcast.
The first episode from the FM (fiction) channel, Chris Somerville’s The Drowning
Man, is the story of an aloof teacher whose life is defined and
dominated by the irascible temperament of water. In our next edition, a
documentary for the AM (non-fiction) channel, Georgia Moodie rewinds to
the 1920s and tails the experiences of the first African American jazz
musicians to tour Australia.The near future holds audio productions from Rachel O’Neill, Benjamin
Law and Thomasin Sleigh.
Paper Radio has been created by a team headed by Jessie Borrelle and Jon Tjhia, working out of Melbourne.
News has come from the Emerging Writers' Festival of a surprise addition to the Living Library program - Chris Meade:
Digital publishing: Chris Meade
is Co-Director for the Institute for the Future of the Book in London.
His particular interest is publishing and writing in the digital age. Previously he was Director of the Poetry Society where he set up the
Poetry Café in Covent Garden and the lottery funded Poetry Places
In the 1980s he was a pioneer of reader development, promoting
public libraries as 'imagination services'.
Chris is the author of The
Thoughts of Betty Spital (Penguin 1989) and a past winner of the George
Orwell award for his play ‘We Two Boys’.
He is a member of Friendly
Literature Organisations (FLO), a consortium supported by Arts Council
England with whom he has been exploring the creative potential of new
media for readers and writers.
Chris Meade will only be
available for eight mentoring sessions so get in quick!
Booking details here. UPDATE: Meade will also be involved in another event at EWF. Details to follow. (I have been told I will like it.It doesn't get more enticing than that.)
How journalism is being taught, right here, right now.
At the Online Journalism blog, Paul Bradshaw and a team of UK journalism lecturers report on the vital question of teaching the journalists of tomorrow, and the answer to same. He has his undergraduate students running an online website, Birmingham Recycled, and in this post discusses how to keep them motivated during the term. The range of skills they are acquiring is what caught my eye, rather than the teaching strategies.
There's a great list of popular posts on this site which would be good to read sometime. I've already bookmarked the one on Yahoo Pipes for future reference, having lost some other information on that handy tool a while back. I am ashamed to admit that I have been following this blog for a while, and simply cannot remember where I first heard of it. However it's worth keeping an eye on if you are interested in the nuts and bolts of web journalism.
I will leave it to Richard MacManus of ReadWriteWeb to tell you that the aggregator site Alltop is something you could get non-tech people to use very easily, described by its founder as an 'online magazine rack'.
But there's more. Apart from the GLARING OMISSION OF BOOK BLOGS (and here I note that BritLitBlogs displays very similarly to AllTop, snapshots and all), I found plenty of top sites here I'd never heard of. So if there are subject areas where you would like some choice blogs selected for you, you could do worse than treat Alltop as a kind of blog subject gateway, as librarians might say.
It is the kind of thing libraries could use in an 'Introduction to blogs' page for the public. Quite impressive in its design, nice and simple. But one cannot help thinking - after all this time, here we are back at directories.
* I stand corrected. Guy Kawasaki has taken my suggestion for the inclusion of book blogs on board, so there will be a bookblogs section on Alltop in due course. Groovy.
I wonder if this kind of thing approaches what the ABC has in mind for its new Compendium project, which I read about here in the Austlit newsletter of June-July '07. (That's right, I'm backdated.)
Rosa B is a bilingual online arts and design journal published in multimedia format - so there are filmed interviews along with articles and essays. It is very beautiful to look at, and a good place to practise your French if you are so inclined. (Over at if:book there is a profile of something else like this, called Issue - and yes, I read about Rosa B there first.) Issue has built more interactivity with the audience into its site by enabling comments, though I think the layout is a bit busy. There is not as much interactivity in the Rosa B site, which is perhaps where it diverges from a new Australian project in the works.
The Australian Literature Compendium, for which the ABC and UTS have received a $150,000 grant, will include an e-journal, podcasts and documentary features on one site, along with teaching resources.
As Austlit reports:
UTS project co-ordinator Dr Catherine Cole hopes the project
will steer literary debate 'away from the narrow focus on why people
aren't reading anymore' and 'move it into a more contemporary domain,
examining writing as cultural and creative practice and offering
readers different ways to access contemporary texts through new media
and e-based sites'.
This release from the UTS website offers more information on the use of social software within the Compendium:
The project's on-line, refereed journal will be the site where writers
and writing are examined and will offer an e-site where reader
feedback/involvement will take place. As well as offering writers and
academics a place in which to widely engage with literary and academic
debate about writing, this e-journal will offer some quite playful
moments - setting up writing exercises about Australian writers and
writing, examining writing about Australia from other countries'
writers. Blogs will offer ABC listeners, journal readers and DVD
watchers an opportunity to engage with ideas in a host of ways
including in direct discourse with experts in a particular field.
All the material will offer new ways to promote Australian writers to
the wider reading and writing public, and will be useful to publishers,
journalists, festival organisers and to writing and Australian Studies
programs in Australian and international universities.
wish the Compendium all success, noting that it is initially funded for
only two years, and hope there are plans to at least support the
e-journal after that period.
On the origins of a blogging sensibility - look no further than this post, and this blogger's beautiful early contributions. (What a pity the original publication is no longer in the artist's hands.)
I am really not a follower of the ole Bookeritis, although I am chuffed for de Kretser and Toltz. But I was intrigued enough by something Lynne Hatwell of dovegreyreader picked up on a forum to follow it in order to read how Jamie Byng, Canongate publisher, feels about The Spare Room being passed over by the longlisters in favour of a thriller.
(Hatwell concurs, and it's been all over the Brit blogs and press; the following day Laura Barton chipped in with an alternative POV over at the Guardian blog.)
Byng voiced his disappointment thus:
I think some excellent books are on the longlist. My favourites are the Rushdie and Sebastian Barry and Steve Toltz novels, all of which I think are superb books that deserve wider audiences and I think bits of Netherland are breathtakingly beautiful and that this is a very interesting novel too.
But I cannot respect a judging committee that decides to pick a book like Child 44, a fairly well-written and well-paced thriller that is no more than that, over novels as exceptional as Helen Garner's The Spare Room or Ross Raisin's God's Own Country.
I will declare my bias - as the publisher at Canongate I had a vested interest in seeing The Spare Room make the shortlist. But from an objective point of view this novel has been as well-reviewed as any book Canongate has ever published (including Life of Pi, The Crimson Petal and the White, The Secret River, Lanark, The People's Act of Love and Carry Me Down.)
As well as the book getting exceptional reviews, I received remarkable and heartfelt responses from a whole array of other novelists about the book pre-publication including Peter Carey ("The Spare Room is a perfect novel"), Hilary Mantel, John Banville, Alberto Manguel, Diana Athill and Michel Faber, any one of whom I would respect as a judge of serious fiction more than all five of these judges put together.
One has to be philosophical about these things and as a publisher particularly so as you come to realise what a lottery these prizes are. Rilke once wrote, "Nothing affects a book as little as words of criticism" and regardless of what a panel decides the book is the book and time will tell which of these books are still being read in ten years time. I am certain that The Spare Room is a modern classic that will continue to be read and enjoyed and appreciated long after all of us are dead.
And Lynne, a community nurse and 'sock-knitting quilter' in Devon who reads more books than I've had hot dinners I think, and has a terrific instinct for well-written works, is quite passionate in support of TSR:
It (Child 44) was a brilliant read, a thriller a real page turner, but what you read is what you get, it's not literary fiction, no hidden depths to plumb and fathom that I could discern.I loved it and said so, BUT that has never been what the Booker has stood for imho. It has always been about something much deeper in my mind and Helen Garner's The Spare Room embraces that depth with real dignity.
If I'd been a judge I'd have argued and pleaded that book's cause until I was flat on my face for what it tells us about illness, human nature, friendship, guilt and all those wonderful grist to the mill things that life is all about.Then you read it again and again and discover even more.
The Literary Saloon at The Complete Review covered more of the discussion, particularly the submission process for the Booker, which I knew zip about - apparently each imprint is confined to two titles only.
Doesn't explain why Hanif Kureishi didn't get a look-in, does it
(and I note that John Sutherland of The Guardian shares my view on that one, also saying, 'In short, the longlist is good for business. It boils the kettle.')
I'm sitting on the fence after this, other than to remark that William Dalrymple's considered and comprehensive review of all Amitav Ghosh's books, as well as Sea Of Poppies, in the Australian today is leading me towards an earlier book of his, The Glass Palace, rather than the Booker nominated title. Though when I will get to it, I cannot say.
And that's a good long list of online reviews at the Oz, too - timely and a substantial sampling of each Saturday's hard copy offerings.
Nice to see, and probably has a bit to do with Perry Middlemiss' persistent scrutiny of the weekend review sections' online presence, and his widely read review roundups. (The Age's latest book reviews are not even up today, whereas the Australian's were live on Saturday afternoon.)
I have been so busy playing with it and going 'Ooh' and "ah" that I forgot to mention that Yahoo's bookmarking site (once a proud indie Web 2.0 flagship) del.icio.us, has had a makeover (including a new URL, now just plain http://delicious. Huh.)
I am quite happy with the addons for Firefox and IE which are expanded to take up more of your browser edges if you like that, and I do - it's helpful for my grazing habits to have my favourite bundles of tags sitting in the toolbar in case I get too distracted with feeds.
This way, I occasionally do read, reply listen to or research things I've saved.
And although I'm not a great fan of cluttered desktops, I rather like
the sidebar sitting in the browser, even though one has to return to
the del.icio.us site to edit bookmarks and tags.
There are people of course who wonder why we use sites like delicious at all, who argue that blogging is dead and that Facebook and social streaming tools like Twitter are the new face of the social web.
There are also old stodges like me who not only like delicious, we like keeping web bookmarks so much that we have a Furl account as well, where we can keep a copy of the original webpage '4 evah'. (Furl is owned by Looksmart and I was first introduced to it by Mary Ellen Bates, a US librarian and information professional who tours the world giving workshops on Web research.)
But there are younger people out there who, despite it being so last week, are happy to help us oldies make the most of our muddled, child-like efforts to colour in bits of the Web so we can find them later.
Here's Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb to tell us how to build our own custom search engine to milk several sets of bookmarks from different sources at once. If we so desire.
I'm not convinced of the usefulness of that approach, but the original post she quotes from Matthew Ewing's blog has some terrific commentary on delicious usage in general, with Marshall Kirkpatrick of RWW chipping in to offer this comment:
"thinking about it more, perhaps my preferred response would be - thank
goodness many people do tag things in Del.icio.us because using their
collective intelligence is one of the best things about the service."
I think use is something that depends on so many things, like desire and availability and time to customise your tool of choice, that I'm no longer upset that my use of the Web is still mainly restricted to collections of print items, and that my best shot at finding them quickly is to mark the spot, in some way, if only to remind myself that I did actually see this thing once before...and thought it might come in handy.
And if that's your usage pattern, any more powerful search technologies will still need to acknowledge that in some way. There will still be a place for people like me who are easily overloaded and want to find something - how can I put it nicely? - more than once. Us readers, certainly, need to be able to tell the Web to behave in some ways like a personalised librarian as well as a researcher - one of the greatest things about it at present is that it can be both.
Don't get me wrong, there are areas of the 'in the moment' Web I find relaxing and delightful, like concerts and art galleries in their way. I"m certainly not above visiting graphic websites to see things for the first and probably last time, just for the experience of the moment - to which end I note also that Corvida at ReadWriteWeb recommends this photo website, Vi.sualize.us, calling it 'a place where all the cool photos hang out'.
Have a look and let me know what you think. I'm tagging it for later, Augustus.
The Festival will wind up tomorrow night and I had two days there this week, which was quite enough as there is a lot going on chez nous just now. I found something electrifying on Thursday which I probably would not have bothered with immediately. though I was aware of its release, and that's poet Robert Gray's most recent volume of autobiography, The Land I Came Through Last, from Giramondo, which he spoke about at the Festival Club around lunchtime. I am powering through it now and will review it later in September.
The David Malouf session was a little less predictable than these things can be, though the usual stuff about how do you write, how do things develop, was gently pushed around by himself and Ivor Indyk, without many surprises presenting themselves; one point which I'm sure Malouf has made on other occasions like this was that his second book, An Imaginary Life, could really have been written at the end of his career, and all the others written between that and Johnno. He spoke at some length about family history, a classical education and the impact of Ovid, and bilingualism in children.
There was a funny question from the floor about the 'physicality' of Malouf's writing practice, in the sense of 'how do you move around the house? do you go for walks?' to which Malouf replied with a nice anecdote about Patrick White ringing up to ask if he was interrupting the ironing, complete with vocal impressions.
He also made the rather remarkable suggestion that grappling with 'the matter of Australia' had been a task authors took on over about the last forty years, but that it was now pretty much over - that young Australian writers are not interested in it. I wonder what someone like Julienne Van Loon, who set her latest book in the Pilbara region, would make of that suggestion.
I think I was here this time pretty much to see how Fed Square rates as a MWF venue, to watch old people struggle with BMW Edge steps, in much the same way they would do at the Beckett or Tower Theatres at the Malthouse (where there must have been lifts, I guess.) Fed Square has tremendous potential apart from the access issues in several areas, and the bloggers who were there this weekend will have seen more of that (links to follow) than I did on the relatively quiet Thursday and Friday.
It would be good to have something slightly smaller available for smaller sessions, as well as the Festival Club in the ACMI function space - one of the younger Americans I visited professed herself a bit intimidated by the size of ACMI 2: Mark Sarvas, of course, took it in his stride, and it was lovely to finally meet him and be able to thank him briefly for the inspiration of The Elegant Variation, on which a lot of newsy book blogs are based.
I enjoyed the Thursday session on small(!) mags with Julianne Schulz of Griffith Review, Sally Warhaft of the Monthly, and Philip Gourevitch of the Paris Review. Having these three, along with Briton Michael Burleigh, chewing the fat on the coverage and editorial practice of their publications was pleasurable, if only for the heartwarming thrill of hearing these smart, smart women give enthusiastic and articulate summaries of their considerable achievements. The blokes were also fine - the women, though, were particularly fine, went for GOLD, you might say.
The blogging session the following night was also very good - Antony Lowenstein and Margaret Simons, along with blogger extraordinaire Professor John Quiggin, did not let the chairperson, John Lenarcic (from RMIT Business no less), get away with any nonsense about blogs versus mainstream media, or pyjamas and cats.
Evidence of the digital/techno divide was steadfastly dismissed by Margaret Simons (Lowenstein did try to address it in part) and I felt for the poor lady who begged for some elucidation of how one found worthwhile blogs to read ("I have children and I work, what am I going to do when the paper is gone? I don't have time to blog") - feed reading is something that I think libraries could offer classes in, and is maybe something you're more likely to get information about from the ABC than a newspaper (though they do offer explanations of what RSS is on their websites, I think).
The working family woman made the salutary point that radio is surviving. That is interesting in itself, of course, and sometimes users do manage to win some fights with technology.
The title of this presentation maybe should have been, "Growing and Changing Media", with the focus squarely on changes, rather than the potential destruction of traditional media: change was certainly discussed intelligently by all panel members, and they were generally able to maintain that focus in the face of small, ineffectual diversions by the convenor.
I met Angela Meyer of LiteraryMinded there, which was terrific - what a top blogger about books and writing this dynamic young person is, and what contacts in new publishing she has! do subscribe to her feed at once if you haven't already. Angela recommended Lowenstein's book to me, so I snapped that up along with the latest Meanjin, which is damn pretty - bravo Sophie, the design overhaul was long overdue and will have to go some ways towards increasing sales in a design crazy town like this one.
I also took in the Going Down Swinging commission, Static: White Noise, which again was beautifully framed by Beamer Edge.
Festival highlights for me then - saying hi to Mark, and picking up Robert Gray's book, which I've hardly put down. But a truly sublime treat was sitting in Teh Edge and hearing Orlando Figes and Alison Croggon discuss and read Anna Akhmatova's poetry: like Oliver, I want some more.
It is lucky Twitter wasn't around in Eliot's day - Milton is up for some serious dissociation over there.
Jennifer Mills is travelling in the States and blogging, vividly as usual, all about it here.
It sounds like Eddie Campbell's parents' attic is the perfect archive away from the archive. That's one graphic artist whose parents bought some good books, isn't it?
On the subject of children's books, this small but well-formed Vintage books blog came to my attention via WeHeartBooks, a sweet site dedicated by bookselling mums to young readers and their parents everywhere. (Found via a MWF blog alert, of all things. Love this searching stuff.)
The only truly amazing kids books I own in collectors' terms, though, are two pristine Ant and Bee reprints we found on Brunswick Street about six years ago, bought for the future with my daughters' blessing - we all felt they was something we could not leave in the shop. They are no longer worth about $300 each, but even when they were, mine were not for sale, they are to read with little people only. (And serious comedians of course.)
Finally, do keep an eye out for what Boynton finds in that NLA Newspaper archive, because it's bound to be gold.
From the National Young Writers Festival newsletter (and the website, on this page), there's been a callout for participation in the Interactive Narrative Workshop, to take place very soon in Newcastle and virtual spaces:
Electrofringe and the National Young Writers’ Festival are presenting an interactive narrative workshop at the 2008 TiNA festival. The session will be held in the Process Space on Friday 3rd October from 4-6pm, and is free and open to all. It will be the first meet up session to kick-start the process. Writers will be teamed up with interactive specialists and form groups for future collaboration. Following the initial workshop, the project will further organise frequent meet-ups in Sydney and Melbourne where collaborators can show their work and exchange ideas.
The project’s online home will be the ABC’s new POOL platform (www.pool.org.au), which will permanently form the goto and exchange place for people to post ideas and work in progress, and discuss projects as they unfold.
It looks as though online participation is a goer if you can't get to Newcastle for the workshop (read further here). So email Elmar Trefz at email@example.com with the following details:
* Contact details
* Artform(s) (fiction / playwriting / video / web development / flash development / interactive media / artist / etc)
* Any projects or ideas you’re working on, concepts, scripts, proposals, areas of interest or obsession.
if you are a young writer this interests.
Although launched and hosted by the independent publishing house
Canongate, Meet at the Gate is not a typical publisher's website
you can search the Canongate catalogue and find out more about the
excellent and diverse array of books and writers we publish, but Meet
at the Gate has much broader and bigger ambitions. It's about the
creation of a cultural hub, one that is totally independent in its
spirit and content, a place with a particular focus on books, film,
music and websites that will help guide you to the most interesting
Not only does Canongate Publishing's blog invite the public (including the publishing industry) to contribute posts (called gateposts), but it selects blogs of note to feature every once in a while. (This I discovered via Stephen Mitchelmore at UK blog This Space, featured last week. )
Not only that, it's the front page of the whole establishment, the first hit for Canongate on Google and the publisher's public face is integrated quite well into a social network site. Haven't seen anything else like this yet; I will have to get out a bit more, I think. A search turned up this article by Hannah Davies in The BookSeller (thanks to Book Addicts for the link), which will be my starting point for further forays. Davies notes that Canongate's site was in beta in September and due to be launched, so I would say this is still very new.
The Canongate site could do with some more navigation aids either on top or to the side. It seems to have been designed by someone who thinks most blogs are messy affairs, however most of (er, most of) our mess has some purpose or other. Because of the lean design, presently the search box on the Gateposts page of Meet At The Gate can only help you find things you already know are there, unless they're the latest or greatest posts, of course.
Keep your eyes peeled and you'll be able to browse topics and contributors from the side menu on the front page (though sadly you cannot find the posts on featured blogs easily). See, our categorised archives exist for a reason...and there could be a reason why there's no room for them here, also.
There appear to be dribs of more innovative technology drabbed here and
there through the site - a Twitter feed of news and some MySpace and
Facebook addresses are mentioned, but only from one page.
Otherwise it's an interesting experiment and I am reasonably impressed by their efforts to bring writers, publishers and the public together in a social network. A fair bit of thought has gone into this, and given the prestige of bloggers in the UK (most of the prominent bloggers were sent Sony E-readers to trial in September), it would want to be pretty to attract their attention.
Now I'm off to read Maria Hyland's post - whoo hoo. Hope I can comment....nope, I am too shy. Never mind how she feels about Helen Garner being nominated for a prize alongside her - I can't even put fingers to keyboard when I have the chance to talk to MJH. I must have some favourite writers after all, and this is the test I will apply in future.
Also she's published by Text, Canongate's partners down under. So I am left wondering if the arrangement's so very different from providing a few choice sentences for a cover blurb. While not as gratingly obvious as the author blogs at Faber, some of which seem to be simply webpages put up on Blogger under industry pressure, this is a funny state of affairs. Do the authors volunteer for this activity? How does this work exactly?
(The blog of the month at Faber for November, that of Richard T. Kelly, author of a bio of Sean Penn and other works, is worthy of a post on its own on author blogging. He's doing quite a nice job with whatever it is that he thinks he's doing there. The labelling is a tad gratuitous, but he seems to like, and 'get,' blogging, which is more than can be said for the blog I found there in October, which has discreetly disappeared from the site.)
There are also snippets from Canongate's 'archives', which I assume doesn't always include sniffy correspondence like this. I am going to follow the Gate site for a bit and see what else turns up, and I will keep you informed of any progress I make.
From Creative Economy Online comes a link to this story from the New York Times about a Chicago news publisher who has decided to hand out blog stories as free newspapers, splitting profits from advertising between himself and the bloggers. Claire Cain Miller suggests that some (though not all) free dailies are still in a good position as print news battles to stay afloat across the globe, thanks to the relatively constant value of local advertising:
'Ads from local businesses are one reason that free dailies have been a rare bright spot in the newspaper industry. Unlike struggling car companies and department stores, which are mainstay advertisers of metropolitan dailies, small businesses have increased their ad spending during the recession, several publishers said.
“All growth in the newspaper industry for the last 20 years has been in free papers, and the fastest-growing segment of that for the last five years has been in free dailies,” said H. Harrison Cochran, publisher of The Aurora Sentinel in Colorado and past president of Suburban Newspapers of America.'
And the name of this new paper? Oddly enough, The Printed Blog.
It appears that a bigger Kindle is in the offing, and that some are bruiting the possibility that this will assist in the online shift for newspapers.
It appears more likely to me that it will also assist in increasing the digital divide, but it would be good to hear what these guys think about it too.
Meanwhile at Newspaper Death Watch (horrible, horrible name for a blog, isn't it), it is reported that there is an upsurge in enrolments in journalism studies in the States. So there will continue to be writers and critics who prophesise with their pens...but they must keep their eyes wide for that chance.
That venerable UK literary organ, Granta, did a site rebuild recently and has announced via the monthly email newsletter that the online content on Granta.com has been refreshed.
New on Granta.com in May 2009:
'Rhyme and Reason' by Adam Gopnik: In conversation with the award-winning poet and essayist Katha Pollitt.
'Letter from Gaza' by Hisham Matar: The tragic life of Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani.
'Dragon Island' by Laura Fellowes: The most recent in our New Voices series.
'The Last Modernist' by Chris Petit: A consideration of the life and work of J.G. Ballard.
'A Vacation from Myself' by John Beckman: ‘What I gained, and lost, from antidepressants.’
'The Public Poet' by Lavinia Greenlaw: An appreciation of Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s first female poet laureate.
'Getting Lost' by Heidi Julavits: One wintry weekend in the Berkshires.
It will be noted by the observant that online content is available via RSS in seven categories. I may have seen this when I first visited this sexy looking new site about a month ago: for some reason it looked overwhelming and I plumped for the email newsletter.
So I guess if I really don't want to know about events I can't possibly attend, I could just subscribe to the half dozen other feeds on the online content page.
Or the email newsletter, which gave me the list above in a neat little bloggable text package. Hey, it's my choice.
Do note that it is also possible to subscribe to New Voices, which is definitely an exciting choice. Enjoy.
There has been a lot of wild speculation afoot regarding the potential release of an Apple product which might (gasp!) combine e-reading with other things. Mitch Ratcliffe of Booksahead is trying to put out some of the flames before there's a fire. Bookseller.com has more information here.
The Guardian has a great interview with Shaun Tan, as well as news of the discovery of some previously unseen letters of Flaubert's in a British stash.
I have been following this guy so I can find out things like this quickly. Richard Nash speaks to Publishers' Weekly about his past at Soft Skull and his newest venture, Cursor.
I have enjoyed reading Kris Hemensley's correspondence with his brother in Dorset this week. And I am very fond of the Australian Ballet's excellent blog, Behind Ballet. Here is their tribute to the late Merce Cunningham, by Martyn Pedler, complete with video.
While Bob Stein's address on the future of the book at the Capitol on Thursday night was riveting stuff, its delivery was not without some issues - it never ceases to amaze me how MWF administrators manage to program digital publishing events in venues with no Internet access. While two years ago anyone appearing with Net-dependent stuff should have come armed to the teeth with backup plans (including the ability to use a screen set up in a tent!) it's a tad surprising in 2009 that we still need to spell this kind of thing out to festival organisers.
Is it really that hard to let a presenter on digital issues know that there are digital issues with the venue well in advance? Not only that, but as with Germaine Greer's address in this venue a year ago (not part of MWF), it was apparently not possible to have stage lights dimmed, making it hard for Stein to see his own laptop screen while presenting. I doubt the magnificence of the venue made up to him for that, if indeed he could see the damn place at all (Greer could not, and complained she could not see us several times).
Rant over. In a rather large nutshell, early work with text and video at the Voyager Company showed Stein that 'a book is a medium where the user is in control of their experience', in other words, 'user-driven media'. In the early '80s, a book was also what he described as a 'random access device' - and in that sense, without the availability to the general public of recording and rewinding tools, television was not.
In his work on the Criterion series of films recorded on laser disc for Voyager, Stein watched films and 'read' movies the way he read books, turning back and forward, stopping, repeating bits he needed to see again, developing multimedia features now common on DVD, such as director commentary.
He left Voyager in the mid-90s but was coaxed back into publishing sometime in the 'noughties, eventuating in the development of the annotating tools and projects for which he is best known.
A blog assisting in the production of New York University professor Mitchell Stephens' book, Without Gods, was shown (Stephens' latest project with the Institute can be seen here.)
His remarks on the use of CommentPress software to produce Ken Wark's book and online publication Gamer Theory suggested that Wark's work was the first time he had noticed that making comments alongside the work seemed to change the nature of the conversation - he said Wark became 'a professor at a seminar, and led conversation past the boundary of the book'. Teachers who have used CommentPress (blog-like software that allows text to be commented on in paragraph blocks, to one side of the page rather than at the end) have said that it changes the boundaries of the classroom.
The Golden Notebook project, one of the most recent uses of CommentPress, involved seven writers of different ages reading Lessing's novel together and providing their commentary. To Stein's mystification, none of them liked the book very much (it is one of his favourites) but loved the process.
From these experiments he has drawn the conclusion that 'an old-school author's commitment is to engage with a subject matter on behalf of readers, while new-school author makes a commitment to engage with readers in the context of a particular subject.
(Sadly he did not get to Sophie in any detail - I do have the reader software installed on my desktop so I guess I'd better just have a look at it sometime.)
In question time some other eggs were laid: in answer to a question about the future role of the editor, he said that the 'great publishers of the future will be able to build and nurture communities around the work', and that editors will be of tantamount importance in future networked writing, as well as designers.
He said that it had been his custom to say that the worth of content would sink to zero and community would replace it, but that this had frightened everyone too much! so he now says, 'let's redefine content to include the conversation'.
One future direction for fiction would involve authors creating worlds in which readers will direct narrative - this is not a new suggestion, as those working with the Australia Council's Story of the Future program would know.
Someone else asked if the word 'book' was something of a hindrance - to which he said, provocatively, that we will know we have got somewhere when we don't use the word anymore, when we have another word for this experience. 'The locus of social discourse is the printed page,' but this is changing. He said also in response to this question that he thinks we will come to a time when many books will not be finished, and 'the author will become leader of a group of writers'.
In closing answers, he also felt that humans were not threatened by multitasking demands that new technology makes, but that they will simply LEARN to do it: that we are moving away from immersive, deep reading models to new things, and we do not yet know what form they will take. Several times during the night he mentioned that the first novel did not appear until 300 years after the printing press (he made the claim for Richardson's Pamela), and considers that 'completely new forms of collaboration' will take a while to develop.
Australia is to have its own Institute For The Future Of The Book, if:book Australia, in Queensland from 2010. Kate Eltham announced this good news at the digital publishing session in the morning, and you can read more about that here.
For it is true, some of us live in an Internet world. And isn't "Internet Tendency" just the best name ever for a service delivering an i-Phone app from indie publishers? How 'hubbly jubbly'.
Mc Sweeney's email newsletter promises great things for its new iPhone app, The Small Chair:
No longer will T-Pain be your only salvation on trains, during lunch, and through all the other empty gaps in a day. Allow McSweeney's to fill your moments of solitude, moments of togetherness, moments of intolerable boredom.'
Und so weiter. There's a review making extravagant claims about sales of The Small Chair, here at Boldtype.
Why Google and Other Humans Don't Read Your Book ReviewsThe book and media industries are going through interesting times, to put it mildly. As physical books prepare for their demise, the confusion around pricing of digital ones grows. Yet, whether physical or digital, to sell books you need marketing. People need to hear about a book before they buy it.
Alex Iskold of ReadWriteWeb haz most of teh bomb on online book reviews.
In short, most reviews published online as part of large media outlets' contribution to book reviewing ARE NOT TAGGED SO THAT GOOGLE CAN FIND THEM (and I want to shout this from the rooftops, I do).
Which partly explains, as you'll see if you read further into that post, why all the reviews I ran here last year carrying 'review' in the title did quite well in search results, thanks.
A Simple Way to Please Google
So how should the book reviews be tagged?
To start with, the title needs to make it clear, that this is a book
review. Of course humans may find a more subtle title more enticing,
but for the sake of machine: Book Review: Manhood by Mels has to be
present. It would be even better to mark up that this is a book review,
and here is the book title and here is the author.
Next, the post needs to be adorned with the right tags and keywords.
L.A. Times' reviews are certainly very clever, but again, Google does
not get humor. A better tag would the title of the book, the name of
the author and the non-conspicuous phrase "book review".
Iskold obligingly runs through how this important task might be done better through the use of structured formats or markup, of which there are now quite a few breeds around. This is of course so damn important I had to stop my self-imposed Internet weaning exercises to tell you all.
I'm assuming you've looked at Iskold's example of tagging, but I will go further and tell you why Zadie Smith's review of E.M. Forster's radio show scripts in the New York Review of Books, the link to which I fluffed a while back, can be easily found online, even without review in the title: because the NYRB in their wisdom used a structured markup known to all good cataloguers and digital archivists as Dublin Core, a subset of RDF (see the comments in Iskold's post for further technical discussion on these matters.) This is an EVEN BETTER WAY, particularly if your subbies don't want to see a page full of titles screaming REVIEW. It works well, however my little reviews also work with none of this fancy metadata (to play with that I have to pay Typepad more dollars), only with review in the title.
(If you want to see the tags, go to View in the browser toolbar, and click on Page Source for a similar view to that shown in Iskold's post. Typepad doesn't like the long lines of markup text, so I won't waste time producing it here.)
What, then, are newspaper owners thinking while they skinny up our Saturday papers and threaten to lock up their book reviews behind paywalls, all for the lack of a little measly markup? "Hooray, no more book reviews, nobody has complained so they obviously weren't reading them anyway"???
Don't know why = don't want to know....!!
Do they care? One has to wonder, seriously.
The small amount of research I have done into this across several sites, including Book Forum (where not all metadata in reviews is equal) and Flavorwire (which often has 'review' in titles, though they do lose some findability in a 'Daily Dose' reviews segment) suggest that the very simple act of including book review or review in the title can make all th
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This is one of the more sordid things book bloggers have gotten up to in recent times.
And then there's this- it started here, and then got ginormous very quickly.
In other news for bloggers, there's a new plugin for photos available on Wordpress that enables you to find Creative Commons-licensed photographs and publish 'em way quickly. Link via Sarah Perez of ReadWriteWeb.