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1. How Did We Get Here?

If, by the title, you are expecting to read a philosophical debate about the origin of man, you have come to the wrong place, my friend. Portsong isn’t that deep and neither am I. Being somewhat near the ocean, one cannot dig in our fair town without hitting marshy, useless saltwater. Likewise, if you dig into me, all you get is blank stares, a shrug of the shoulders, and an incoherent grunt or two.

I do like blogging, though. It’s freeform nature resonates with me. If someone stood over me and gave me specifics (AKA – school), my pen would quickly run dry. With my blog, I can do whatever I darn well please. Sometimes what I write strikes a chord with people and sometimes a piece stands on an island of loneliness – a masterpiece waiting to be read and appreciated (or not).

I don’t obsess with stats, but I have my favorite thing to check. I like seeing where people come from in the world and how they got here. Many times, the only listing is “unknown search terms”. But every once in a glorious while, I get to see what people Googled to get here… and I laugh at them.

It’s all in the title.

ob·fus·cate [ob-fuh-skeyt, ob-fuhs-keyt] verb (used with object)

  1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
  2. to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.

 

Everything in red is exactly as typed (misspellings and all)3892771349_0b8c6f5cc7_z

Take for instance some poor kid doing a report on the civil war. He typed: colonel and from yhe south and got to a post about Colonel Birdwhistle from my books.

One kid wanted to know if andrew jackson electable today and found out that I think Andrew Jackson was a presidential man’s man.

Women still Google Tom Selleck:                did tom selleck have curly hair & are there a lot of women who don’t like tom selleck?   I wonder what they thought about:  Tom Selleck owes me an Apology.

Here are some other funnies:

you like a pirate                     He’s a Pirate 

thou shalt now curse          Thou Shalt Not Curse at Missionaries

what dogs get fined when they get runned over              A story of my dog, Winston

leggings via brazil            Prospector Dances & Brazilians in Leggings

stuff under sink at hospital         Hospital 101 for the Incurably Immature

what is irony ice cream     Irony & Ice Cream

I find this one alarming: touching sleeping teen. If their intent was bad, I hope Don’t Poke a Sleeping Teen pacified them.

I have no idea where this person went: meat loaf progeny

By far, my two favorite were these:

This is one search, so I don’t know why the phrases were paired together:

“job physical” “prostate exam”   Either way, I’m sure he enjoyed Shaking Hands with your Urologist

And the chef d’oeuvre! A real gem! The Magnum Opus!

Yes someone got to my blog by typing:

youfart  

Although he hasn’t found the space bar, I feel like Can You Fart at Cotillion was written just for him.

 

 

Subterfuge? Prestidigitation?

I don’t know, I just like coming up witty titles.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Michael Keen

 

 

 


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

5 Comments on How Did We Get Here?, last added: 7/15/2014
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2. How Did We Get Here?

If, by the title, you are expecting to read a philosophical debate about the origin of man, you have come to the wrong place, my friend. Portsong isn’t that deep and neither am I. Being somewhat near the ocean, one cannot dig in our fair town without hitting marshy, useless saltwater. Likewise, if you dig into me, all you get is blank stares, a shrug of the shoulders, and an incoherent grunt or two.

I do like blogging, though. It’s freeform nature resonates with me. If someone stood over me and gave me specifics (AKA – school), my pen would quickly run dry. With my blog, I can do whatever I darn well please. Sometimes what I write strikes a chord with people and sometimes a piece stands on an island of loneliness – a masterpiece waiting to be read and appreciated (or not).

I don’t obsess with stats, but I have my favorite thing to check. I like seeing where people come from in the world and how they got here. Many times, the only listing is “unknown search terms”. But every once in a glorious while, I get to see what people Googled to get here… and I laugh at them.

It’s all in the title.

ob·fus·cate [ob-fuh-skeyt, ob-fuhs-keyt] verb (used with object)

  1. to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy.
  2. to make obscure or unclear: to obfuscate a problem with extraneous information.

 

Everything in red is exactly as typed (misspellings and all)3892771349_0b8c6f5cc7_z

Take for instance some poor kid doing a report on the civil war. He typed: colonel and from yhe south and got to a post about Colonel Birdwhistle from my books.

One kid wanted to know if andrew jackson electable today and found out that I think Andrew Jackson was a presidential man’s man.

Women still Google Tom Selleck:                did tom selleck have curly hair & are there a lot of women who don’t like tom selleck?   I wonder what they thought about:  Tom Selleck owes me an Apology.

Here are some other funnies:

you like a pirate                     He’s a Pirate 

thou shalt now curse          Thou Shalt Not Curse at Missionaries

what dogs get fined when they get runned over              A story of my dog, Winston

leggings via brazil            Prospector Dances & Brazilians in Leggings

stuff under sink at hospital         Hospital 101 for the Incurably Immature

what is irony ice cream     Irony & Ice Cream

I find this one alarming: touching sleeping teen. If their intent was bad, I hope Don’t Poke a Sleeping Teen pacified them.

I have no idea where this person went: meat loaf progeny

By far, my two favorite were these:

This is one search, so I don’t know why the phrases were paired together:

“job physical” “prostate exam”   Either way, I’m sure he enjoyed Shaking Hands with your Urologist

And the chef d’oeuvre! A real gem! The Magnum Opus!

Yes someone got to my blog by typing:

youfart  

Although he hasn’t found the space bar, I feel like Can You Fart at Cotillion was written just for him.

 

 

Subterfuge? Prestidigitation?

I don’t know, I just like coming up witty titles.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Michael Keen

 

 

 


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

0 Comments on How Did We Get Here? as of 7/16/2014 6:01:00 AM
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3. Rebooting Philosophy

By Luciano Floridi


When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. An old version of Firefox, the free Web browser, was infamous for its “memory leaks”: it would consume increasing amounts of memory to the detriment of other programs. Bugs in the software actually do slow down the system. We all know what the solution is: reboot. We restart the computer, the memory is reset, and the performance is restored, until the bugs slow it down again.

Philosophy is a bit like a computer with a memory leak. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, its very success slows it down. Philosophy begins to care more about philosophers’ questions than philosophical ones, consuming increasing amount of intellectual attention. Scholasticism is the ultimate freezing of the system, the equivalent of Windows’ “blue screen of death”; so many resources are devoted to internal issues that no external input can be processed anymore, and the system stops. The world may be undergoing a revolution, but the philosophical discourse remains detached and utterly oblivious. Time to reboot the system.

Philosophical “rebooting” moments are rare. They are usually prompted by major transformations in the surrounding reality. Since the nineties, I have been arguing that we are witnessing one of those moments. It now seems obvious, even to the most conservative person, that we are experiencing a turning point in our history. The information revolution is profoundly changing every aspect of our lives, quickly and relentlessly. The list is known but worth recalling: education and entertainment, communication and commerce, love and hate, politics and conflicts, culture and health, … feel free to add your preferred topics; they are all transformed by technologies that have the recording and processing of information as their core functions. Meanwhile, philosophy is degrading into self-referential discussions on irrelevancies.

The result of a philosophical rebooting today can only be beneficial. Digital technologies are not just tools merely modifying how we deal with the world, like the wheel or the engine. They are above all formatting systems, which increasingly affect how we understand the world, how we relate to it, how we see ourselves, and how we interact with each other.

The ‘Fourth Revolution’ betrays what I believe to be one of the topics that deserves our full intellectual attention today. The idea is quite simple. Three scientific revolutions have had great impact on how we see ourselves. In changing our understanding of the external world they also modified our self-understanding. After the Copernican revolution, the heliocentric cosmology displaced the Earth and hence humanity from the centre of the universe. The Darwinian revolution showed that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through natural selection, thus displacing humanity from the centre of the biological kingdom. And following Freud, we acknowledge nowadays that the mind is also unconscious. So we are not immobile, at the centre of the universe, we are not unnaturally separate and diverse from the rest of the animal kingdom, and we are very far from being minds entirely transparent to ourselves. One may easily question the value of this classic picture. After all, Freud was the first to interpret these three revolutions as part of a single process of reassessment of human nature and his perspective was blatantly self-serving. But replace Freud with cognitive science or neuroscience, and we can still find the framework useful to explain our strong impression that something very significant and profound has recently happened to our self-understanding.

Since the fifties, computer science and digital technologies have been changing our conception of who we are. In many respects, we are discovering that we are not standalone entities, but rather interconnected informational agents, sharing with other biological agents and engineered artefacts a global environment ultimately made of information, the infosphere. If we need a champion for the fourth revolution this should definitely be Alan Turing.

The fourth revolution offers a historical opportunity to rethink our exceptionalism in at least two ways. Our intelligent behaviour is confronted by the smart behaviour of engineered artefacts, which can be adaptively more successful in the infosphere. Our free behaviour is confronted by the predictability and manipulability of our choices, and by the development of artificial autonomy. Digital technologies sometimes seem to know more about our wishes than we do. We need philosophy to make sense of the radical changes brought about by the information revolution. And we need it to be at its best, for the difficulties we are facing are challenging. Clearly, we need to reboot philosophy now.

Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford. He was recently appointed as ethics advisor to Google. His most recent book is The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality.

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Image credit: Alan Turing Statue at Bletchley Park. By Ian Petticrew. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Rebooting Philosophy appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Watch Glen Keane’s New Google Short ‘Duet’

Watch Glen Keane's new short "Duet" that he debuted this morning at the Google I/O developer conference.

0 Comments on Watch Glen Keane’s New Google Short ‘Duet’ as of 6/26/2014 4:59:00 PM
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5. Eve’s Leg Hair

“I can only find three leg hairs” observed my youngest from the back seat. The chemotherapy killing her tumors also attacks any fast-moving cells – thus the hair loss, fingernail lines, and white blood cell reduction. She is twelve and had kind of fuzzy, blond legs a couple of months ago. Her smooth legs weren’t troubling to her, just something she noticed.

“Well, that would come in handy if you cared about that stuff yet,” I said, glad she didn’t.

“Why do girls shave their legs anyway?” she wondered. “I mean, who started that whole thing?”

A very interesting question. Who did start that? I assume Eve had leg hair when Adam popped the question. Do you think when they ate from the tree, not only did they figure out they were naked, but Adam also noticed her furry legs for the first time? Did he made a snide remark about Eve being only a slight step up from his former companion, the chimpanzee? Every guy knows the remorse of SCS – Stupid Comment Syndrome. The moment you say something to your wife and immediately wish you could turn back time to retract it. Adam’s comment sent Eve into a tizzy trying to scrape the hair off with a stick while stitching together the fig leaf bikini we see in all the pictures. If God created enmity between woman and serpent, imagine the enmity Adam created with his wisecrack.

image

 

Ah, here is where I began a quest for knowledge. I had no interest in important knowledge, anyone can get that. The learning I sought is practically irrelevant outside of bar bets, board games, and trivia competitions. When did women first start shaving their legs?

Any thoughts?

Where do I turn? My best friends and cohorts in the immaterial: Google and Wikipedia, of course. Google brought me facts that I have to believe. It seems that women were so covered before the turn of the 20th century that it wasn’t necessary for them to shave – their body hair was kind of a honeymoon surprise. But as hemlines raised in the early 1900’s, razor sales increased. I can buy that.

The more compelling facts I found were about why women began shaving their underarm hair. They involve motion pictures, flappers, and old western women of ill repute. I would explain, but everyone likes a cliffhanger. My true audience is only twelve and wanted to know about leg hair anyway.

Besides, while on my search, I found a website called Mental Floss. It is like a Mythbusters of the inane. My evening was shot. I learned why bacon smells so good, 15 reasons we love Mr. Rogers, and why baby names have become increasingly female-sounding. Forget Wikipedia, some of that might actually be true. I have a new homepage!

After about three hours of copious research into absolutely nothing worthwhile, my daughter asked me why women started shaving their legs and I had to admit that I could tell her all why cows moo with accents, but had crammed so much useless knowledge into my finite brain, I had forgotten why women shaved their legs.

She left disappointed. Back to Wikipedia to start over…

But wait – an article titled, Do Racehorses Really Pee All That Much simply has to be read!


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

4 Comments on Eve’s Leg Hair, last added: 6/12/2014
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6. SundayMorningReads

I put down roots in the Haute this weekend. We’ve finally had a sustained break from all the rain and hopefully there will be no morefarm morning frost so I got vegetables and herbs planted in my garden.

There are a couple of pieces of land close to campus that have been divided into plots for community members to grow crops each summer. Sounds nice, huh? Well, it gets even better! There are tool sheds on the grounds with gardening implements and wheel barrows. Leaf mulch and horse manure mulch is available and area farmers provide inexpensive straw to help the soil retain moisture. This wonderful deal isn’t free. There are dates by which certain progress must be made and a portion of the harvest must be donated to the local food agency. Nope, nothing is free, but this comes awfully close!

My sister drives over from Indy and we’re farming together. We’ve planted cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes (too many!), sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, turnip greens, okra, sage, dill, fennel, basil and catnip. While the herbs will be a welcome part of the harvest, they’re also strategically placed in the garden to ward off pests.

I’ll be balancing my time at the garden with the time needed to finish the few dozen books I have to finish for BFYA which will be at ALA in a few short weeks. I won’t do much there other than committee meetings and catching up with people I’ve probably never met before. If you’re going to be there, please let me know!

I do plan to see Kathy aka The Brain Lair and I’ll congratulate her in person for being named her local Teacher of the Year. This is an awesome accomplishment for any educator but, especially for media specialists/school librarians who most people don’t recognize as such. From the article, from knowing all the great things Kathy does, I know she’s more than deserved this award!

I never give a second thought about what I share here. I find information I enjoy and I look forward to sharing it. When it comes to the give-a-way on Anali’s First Amendment, I have had second thoughts. I so want to win one of those prizes that I hate to limit my chances! But I will, not only for the sake of my readers but also to help draw more support to The Arc.

Anali’s First Amendment is hosting the All Aboard the Arc annual fund raiser to benefit The Arc of Massachusetts, which serves men, women and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The blog has much more information about the Arc and ways you can donate to support this worthy cause. To help bring attention, there’s a giveaway and it ends Monday 20 May.

  • Firehouse Subs gift cards
  • Greyston Baker brownies
  • The Greyston Bakery Cookbook

Author Meg Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass) also recently blogged about one of her passions, Partners in Print, an organization which supports literacy development mostly for ENL students. In the post, Medina provides unique insights into what it’s like being bilingual.

I have a co-worker from Congo who often tells me what a disadvantage she has because she’s not a native English speaker. (I’m smiling because she often reads these posts.) She’s lived here some 40 odd years, but still translates in her mind. One wouldn’t know this because she never misses a beat, no matter it be a technical cataloging question or a casual conversation filled with U.S. idioms.

Most native born Americans only speak one language like me and will have a difficult time understanding the difficulties these adults and these students, face. I am so amazed by their linguistic abilities, that I don’t see the problems. Thanks to Medina’s post, I understand more.

Don’t miss artist Jimmy Liao  (The sound of color )in the Gallery on the PaperTigers website.

Have you looked at Google+Hangouts yet? Again I say: Google concerns me. I was listening to a piece about Google on NPR this past week about their new voice search. The story also mentioned Google Travel which will read information from peoples’ photos to help plan vacations. They’ll look at both faces and places to determine your ultimate spot. One more way for them to collect data. No, I’ll not be using an Android, Google Chrome or Google Glass. I want to think I’m making you work for my information.

I don’t watch Scandal; I’m an Elementary girl. I think it’s interesting that while Kerry Washington, an African American woman, can be promoted for her sexuality, Lucy Lui, an Asian American woman, cannot. Neither can Sandra Oh who preceeds Scandal in Grey’s Anatomy. Read Lucy Lui on this topic :” I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.” MORE

If you have time to up your professional reading this summer, don’t miss Voya’s 5 Foot Bookshelf: Essential Books for Professionals Who Serve Teens.

I’m so glad to be getting my hands in the soil! So thankful to be growing my own food and for the people I’m meeting in the process. I’ve found one more thing to help fill my summers days, but there’s always time for the things we want to do!

 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Steve Jobs

 

 

 

 

 

 


Filed under: Sunday Reads Tagged: garden, giveaways, google, meg medina

3 Comments on SundayMorningReads, last added: 5/22/2013
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7. Shakuntala Devi Gets a Google Doodle for Her 84th Birthday

doodle100

Google has created a Doodle to celebrate Shakuntala Devi’s 84th birthday.

Devi became well-known for her ability to generate complicated mental calculations which earned her the nickname, “the Human Computer.” Through her lifetime, she wrote and published novels, cookbooks, and nonfiction titles. Here’s more from the Times of India:

Shakuntala Devi figured in the Guiness Book of World Record for her outstanding ability and wrote numerous books like Fun with Numbers, Astrology for You, Puzzles to Puzzle You, and Mathablit. At the age of six, she demonstrated her calculation skills in her first major public performance at the University of Mysore and two years later, she again proved herself successful as a child prodigy at Annamalai University.”

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Publicize to Your Google+ Pages

Back in September we announced some cool new ways to connect your WordPress.com site to your Google+ account. One major improvement was the ability to bring your WordPress.com and Google+ profiles closer together by sharing your content via Publicize.

Make your content visible on your Google+ Page

Today we’re happy to announce yet another way to integrate the two platforms. You can now use Publicize to share your WordPress.com content on your Google+ Page too!

While Google+ Profiles are used by individuals, Google+ Pages function as a space for organizations, companies, public figures, and other branded entities (for example: your blog!). You’d use your Google+ Profile to interact with friends and personal acquaintances; your Google+ Page would serve your public persona as a professional, business owner, artist, or blogger.

To get started, head over to your dashboard, then go to Settings → Sharing. When you’ve reached the Publicize screen, click the “Connect” button next to the Google+ logo. Once you’ve authenticated your account over at Google+, you’re set!

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 5.21.57 PM

Choose between your Profile, your Pages, or both

It’s important to note that when you connect to Google+ and select an account authorized to manage Pages, you’ll have the option to select whether your content will be shared on your Google+ Profile or Page(s). You can connect multiple times to select both.

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 10.12.17 AM

WordPress.org users: you can enjoy this feature, too! We have just released Jetpack 2.7, which also includes a Google+ Publicize option. You can visit the Jetpack announcement for more details.


Filed under: Features, Social, WordPress.com

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9. John Steinbeck Gets Google Doodle For His Birthday

steinbeck doodle

Google has created a Doodle to celebrate John Steinbeck’s 112th birthday. Throughout his writing career, Steinbeck penned many beloved works including East of Eden, Of Mice & Men, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning title, The Grapes of Wrath.

To this day, Steinbeck is a widely respected and read author. According to SFGate, the organizers behind the Steinbeck Festival plan to celebrate the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath at this year’s event. In April, the Of Mice & Men play starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd will open on Broadway.

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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10. The Revolution in Interactive Storytelling Has Arrived, and Surprise, Google Is Behind It

Last week, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group released the second animated short, Buggy Night, in its Spotlight Stories, a series of interactive mobile-specific animated films available on Moto X phones. Like the first film in the series, Windy Day, which debuted last October, the new short relies on spatial awareness and the sensory inputs of a mobile device to create a distinctive storytelling experience. Readers would be warranted in expressing skepticism at the words ‘interactive’ and ‘animation’ being used in the same sentence. The concept has been touted often, yet rarely executed in a manner that suggests it could become a viable alternative to linear entertainment experiences. These shorts have finally proven, to me at least, that there is a promising future ahead for interactive animation and immersive worlds where multiple stories can unfold at the individual viewer’s pace, with no two viewing experiences alike. While it still requires some imagination to see where this could all go, and how it might eventually figure into our emerging augmented reality environment and mixed digital-physical world, the idea no longer seems as far-fetched and impractical as it once did. Before we imagine the possibilities, let’s look at the pathbreaking animated shorts that exist before us today. The stories of both Windy Day and Buggy Night are simple but effective ideas designed to explore the interactive concept: in one, a mouse loses his hat on a windy day, and in the other, a group of bugs attempt to hide from a hungry frog. Since most readers of this site will not have a Moto X readily available to experience these shorts, simply imagine that you are standing in the middle of an animated scene. The action takes place all around you in a 360 degree space. Anywhere you turn your phone—left, right, up or down—could potentially reveal something happening. The film’s running time depends entirely on how often you, the viewer, chooses to move your camera—the more you move it, the longer it takes to finish the story. This video gives a sense of the physicality of the viewing experience: The interactivity in these shorts not only feels natural, but adds immensely to the viewing experience. This success can partly be attributed to the amount of interactivity allowed to the audience. While control of the camera is ceded to the viewer, the overall narrative remains in the hands of filmmakers. It’s a careful balance between interactivity and linear storytelling that recognizes tried-and-true narrative structures can’t be reinvented—the only thing that changes is how we experience them. Over the years, we have moved from oral tradition to literary form, and finally, visual delivery systems like film and video. While each new mode of expression presents a distinct set of narrative possibilities, the underlying story form must remain intact, an idea heretofore not clearly acknowledged in interactive attempts. Google’s entry into interactive storytelling and immersive animation began almost accidentally with their purchase of Motorola Mobility in 2012. Eager to explore the untapped potential of phones as an experiential device, they launched an open-ended research group called Advanced Technology and Projects—ATAP for short—to foster innovation and develop next-generation concepts. Spotlight Stories is one of the ideas that has emerged out of ATAP, alongside complementary technologies like Project Tango. (Google sold Motorola a month-and-a-half ago, but as an acknowledgement of ATAP’s importance, the group was not part of the sale and remains a part of Google.) Google/Motorola also learned something that it took the computer animation industry decades to fully understand: if the creative potential of a technology is to be fully unleashed, creative people need to “challenge the technology,” as John Lasseter is fond of saying. Google hired incredibly qualified people to push the limits of interactive storytelling. The first two films have been directed by Jan Pinkava (creator and co-director of Ratataouille) and veteran animator Mark Oftedal (who animated on Toy Story and A Bug’s Life among other films). Another Pixar vet, Doug Sweetland (Presto), supervised the animation, and notable children’s book author/illustrator Jon Klassen (This is Not My Hat) styled the look of the shorts. Continuing this trend of working with A-list talents, another upcoming Spotlight short will be directed by Glen Keane. The Spotlight Stories aren’t just exploring new ways of telling stories interactively, they are also pushing forward the technological development of mobile devices. Google touts in their promotion of Spotlight Stories that mobile graphics processors now rival the capabilities of video game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360, a fact that will come as a surprise to the average smartphone user who is accustomed to the primitive worlds of Candy Crush and Angry Birds. This dormant computational power is finally being used, and in turn, developed further to meet the demands of the Spotlight Stories. Among the numerous technological highlights, the shorts contain the first-ever real-time subdivision surfaces on a mobile device using Pixar’s open graphics standard, OpenSubdiv. Not so coincidentally, Windy Day’s director Jan Pinkava also directed the Oscar-winning Geri’s Game (1997), which was the first Pixar production to use subdivision. Stay tuned to Cartoon Brew, where next week we will dig more deeply into the creative and technological challenges of interactive storytelling in an interview with Jan Pinkava. (Disclosure: Google provided Cartoon Brew with Moto X phones to view the Spotlight Stories. The phones have been used for the sole purpose of viewing the shorts.)

0 Comments on The Revolution in Interactive Storytelling Has Arrived, and Surprise, Google Is Behind It as of 3/14/2014 6:41:00 PM
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11. Why sourcing photos matters – how misattribution is amplified on the web

I wrote an article for Computers in Libraries last week about the PicPedant account on twitter and the odd preponderance/problem of unsourced images flying around the internet. This is just a true thing about how the internet works and people have been misattributing things since forever. However, there’s a new wrinkle in this process where the combination of popular blogs/twitter accounts along with some of the “secret sauce” aspects to how Google works creates this odd phenomenon which can actually amplify misinformation more than you might expect. Here’s my example.

Hans Lansgeth

This man is Hans Langseth. I know this because I was a kid who read the Guinness Book of World’s Records a lot and I recognized him from other pictures. He has the longest beard in the world. The image on the right is a clever photoshop. However, if you Google Image search Hans Steininger, you will also find many versions of this photo. This is curious because Hans Steininger (another hirsute gentleman) died in 1567, pre-photography. His beard was also about four feet long whereas Langseth’s beard was more like 18+ feet long.

What happened? Many websites have written little lulzy clickbait articles about Steininger (sourcing other articles that themselves source actual articles at reputable-ish places like Time magazine which are inaccessible because of paywalls) and how he supposedly ironically died tripping over his own beard. They all link to the image of Langseth and don’t really mention the guy in the photograph is a different guy. The image and the name get hand-wavily semantically linked and search engines can’t really do a reality check and say “Hey, we use this image for a different guy” or “Hey, we can’t have a photograph of this guy because he lived in the 1500s”

google results for hans Steininger

Not a huge deal, the world isn’t ending, I don’t think the heirs of Langseth are up in arms about this. However as more and more people just presume the search engine and the “hive mind” approach to this sort of thing results in the correct answer, it’s good to have handy counterexamples to explain why we still need human eyeballs even as “everything” is on the web.

5 Comments on Why sourcing photos matters – how misattribution is amplified on the web, last added: 3/27/2014
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12. Why Spying on Your Competition is a Great Way to Be Successful…

Spying is a catchy way of saying “do your research and stay tuned in.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mandatory part of being successful. It’s also a great way to build connections. There’s an old saying that to be successful you have to stop obsessing about the competition. I agree with that to a certain degree, but to not be aware of what other authors in your genre are doing is never a smart idea.

Regardless of what you write you need to be dialed into the competitive landscape. Knowing what others in your target market are doing, writing about and promoting can be key to your success as well. Not that I would ever encourage copying, but being in tune with your genre and market can be a fantastic idea generator, not to mention it gives you the ability to stay ahead of certain trends that haven’t even surfaced at the consumer level yet.

First rule of spying: study your target market, the books as well as other authors in the industry. It helps you to also differentiate yourself from them in products, services, and pricing. Again, you don’t want to copy, you just want to be aware. Another lesser known reason for doing this is that if you’re struggling with your social media (like me)—both from the aspect of what platform to be on to what to say to drive more engagement—keeping these authors on your radar will greatly increase your marketing ideas. Living in a vacuum never made anyone successful.

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you want to know who else is writing on your topic or in your genre. Google search is a great place to start. The results will not just turn up names and book titles but also show you the best ways to interact with your reader.

Google is packed with names of authors who write about your topic or genre. As you begin to compile your list I want you to do one thing: ignore big brands because it’s likely that they can do anything they want and still be successful. If you’re a middle grade writer, names like Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull come to mind. These authors are big, powerful brands. You want the smaller names, the people you may not immediately recognize. Why? Because they have to try harder. If tomorrow Riordan or Mull decided to put out a book on poetry, while their fans might be surprised they would likely still buy it. But if a lesser-known author did that they’d look like they have writer-ADD. Not good.

So start putting your list together, as you do sign up for their mailing lists, and follow them on Twitter and any other social media site they use. That’s what I do. Aside from the obvious reasons why you want to do this, I’m a big fan of supporting other authors in my market. Share their Facebook updates, retweet their great Twitter posts, etc.

One of the hidden gems of this research is it will also show you what social media sites to be on. If you've been struggling to figure out where your market resides, this strategy should really clear that up for you. Why? Because if you’re plucking names off of the first page of Google you know one thing: whatever they are doing to show up in search, they’re doing it right. Google has made so many changes to their search algorithms that you simply can’t “trick” the system anymore to get onto page one. Look at their updates. What are they sharing and why? How often do they blog? Are they on LinkedIn instead of Facebook? Is there much going on for them on Pinterest? Really spend some time with this. Not only will it help you tune into your market but it will cut your learning curve by half, if not more.
Successful authors leave clues. Are you following their bread crumbs?

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13. “It’s Only Scary Because It’s New”

I just did something that was not objectively scary at all. No rational person would think so.

Yet for me it was slightly terrifying. I’ve been putting it off for years because I knew it would scare me.

But I’m not into being limited by my fears, so today I did the thing.

And the whole time, I repeated a line in my head that I heard last weekend in a movie called The Internship, written by and starring Vince Vaughn. It was a sweet and funny film and I ended up watching it twice over two days. Obviously I recommend it.

The plot of the movie revolves around Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson entering a summer internship program at Google. When they first arrive on campus, they’re a little lost, and Vince suggests they ask for directions from the person in this car going by. Only there’s no one in the car. It’s self-driving.

For a brief moment, both men stand there in shock. But then Vince turns to Owen, slaps him on the back, and says, “It’s only scary because it’s new.”

And isn’t that true? About so many of the things we’re afraid of? Until we’ve done it once and can see what it’s about, we put it off and fear it and avoid it. At least I do.

Or at least I did. I’m actively working to let go of that habit.

So thanks, Vince. I needed that. I needed it over and over this morning on a loop inside my head.

Maybe some of you out there could use it, too. Because maybe this is the summer you do whatever that thing is for you.

Be brave! It’s the most fun way to be!

And remember, you can always decide to do the thing now and schedule your fear for sometime later when it’s more convenient.

Come on, gang. Let’s do this.

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14. Rachel Louise Carson Gets Google Doodle for Her 107th Birthday

A new Google Doodle has been unleashed to celebrate the 107th birthday of National Book Award-winning author and marine biologist Rachel Louise Carson. According to The Washington Post, Carson became well known for her bestselling nonfiction titles: Under the Sea Wind, The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Silent Spring. In fact, Silent Spring has been credited as the work that "ignited the modern environmental movement." continued...

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15. SundayMorningReads

Another small press to put on your radar: Brown Girl Publishing.

From their site:

Our Company: Brown Girls Publishing is a boutique publishing company, focusing primarily on digital content, while still providing printed books through Amazon. Our goal is to provide a voice for literary fan favorites, while introducing the next generation of authors.

Our Founders: Between them, National Bestselling authors, ReShonda Tate Billingsley and Victoria Christopher Murray have more than two million books in print. The dynamic duo decided to combine their respective talents in a highly popular series, in addition to their successful solo careers. So naturally, their next endeavor would be something near and dear to their hearts – helping build the next generation of authors, while at the same time, spotlighting some fan favorites. Victoria, a former successful entrepreneur, also holds an MBA from New York University. ReShonda is a former TV journalist and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience.

Beautiful summer weather this Sunday afternoon! I began my day in the garden and had my first harvest. I had so little on my ‘to do’ list yesterday, no more than to go to the market and to  read. The market here hasn’t even begun. And, the #weNeedDiverseBooks session at BEA was yesterday. I got myself to a diner to follow the tweets where I learned about plans for #WeNeedDiverseBooks to work with the National Education Association and First Book to plan a KitLit Diversity Expo in Washington DC in 2016. The jam-packed room resounded with support for the need for more diverse books and the momentum is just beginning.

No doubt it will take every day from now until then to plan the expo, but it will take everyone one of us being involved in kidlit to make it successful. Now more than ever is time to be present and any and every forum that relates to young adult literature, not just diversity. We have to continue showing up to stay part of the conversation. Join them on Twitter or Facebook if you can’t join in person.

As I reflect on the yesterday’s events, I considered two groups: librarians and young adults themselves.

I think it will be very hard for many young adults to express their desire for more books with characters like them. Those who do have a high level of awareness and will make extremely articulate cases for why we need more diverse books.

My own story is not unlike many of my generation, of not knowing I wanted books with black people until I’d found them. I grew up in Catholic all white schools and as an avid reader, I read whatever I could find. I remember going to the public library in the black neighborhood as a child. Black librarians (or were they clerks?) worked there but I do not remember books with black children then. I remember the good sisters giving me anthologies that contained stories and poems written by black authors and while I was initially embarrassed, I cherished those books and read them again and again. Probably in high school I found the Soul Brothers and Sister Lou. Definitely in high school I found Sammy Davis’ Junior’s Yes I Can and Margaret Walker’s Jubilee. I don’t remember any others, but I know the desire was there. Junior year I know I read Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Gwendolyn Brooks with some discomfort in my all white classes yet the topic I selected for my research project that year was LeRoi Jones.

Of course teachers need better training on cultural awareness, but the issue I’m looking at is the lack of books available to me in the library. What if I could have found them freely on my own? What if my classmates could have read books about black kids? Or Latina? Or Asian? How much more would we all have grown and developed? I can’t help but think that if I’d read more books with characters like me, I’d have found my voice sooner.

What experiences are young people of color today having with their reading selections? How many are able to find what they want? How many want more books with young people of differing color, nationality, sexual orientation or abilities? I remember how powerful Ari’s voice was and would like to hear from more young people.

I have to shake a finger of blame for the lack of diversity at my fellow librarians who continue to complain ‘the books are too hard to find’. I’m right here sharing book news as is Diversity in YA,  Rich in Color, and American Indians in Children’s Literature as is your library’s booksellers as is Amazon!! (hint: search young adult African American) Library shelves should reflect the diversity of America!

In April, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) released “The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children”.

“The white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society.  The paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community.”

“The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action” was just released by the Young Adult Library Services whitepaper coverAssociation. The report affirmed that teens find libraries to be a safe haven, but it also reported on how many libraries are at risk of losing teen spaces. Who are these teens you ask?

“According to an analysis of the 2010 census data completed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there are currently 74.2 million children under the age of eighteen in the United States; 46% of them are children of color.14 All of the growth in the child population since 2000 has been among groups other than non-Hispanic whites.”

The report goes on to enumerate the many social issues confronting these teens and dynamic programs libraries across the country have developed not necessarily to address these issues but to address literacies this empowering teens through measures that are equitable and just.

And it starts with the books on the shelves that reflect the world in which we live.

Literacy. I haven’t talked tech in a while. Google scares me not because of their admitted lack of diversity but because Google continues to develop more and more Artificial Intelligence capabilities. Oh, it began with how they studied search patterns (knowledge seeking behaviors) it blossomed with Google Glass and thrives when we hear about Google devices in surgeries and now Google Nose?? Let’s keep our kids literate. Follow these stories and know how information and technology is being used in our world.  Let’s keep them reading! Let’s get them Binging it!

That beautiful sunshine has morphed into a dark gray sky, thunder and pouring rain. Diversity is beautiful.

 

 


Filed under: Diversity Issues, Sunday Reads Tagged: #weneeddiversbooks, ALA, ALSC, Brown Girl Publishing, google, yalsa

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16. Google Forums for Writers & Publishing Professionals

Looking for some guidance with literary Google products? At a Social Media Week event in Los Angeles, Google’s Melissa Daniels and Jacky Hayward outlined how the tech giant reaches out to users in online forums.

We explored these forums, finding the most useful communities for writers and publishing professionals to explore. Follow the links below to visit:

1. Google docs forum about the online writing tool

2. Google Books API forum about the book search tool

3. Books on Google Play support page for digital book readers

4. Blogger forum for troubleshooting problems on your blog

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17. Will Google Glass Require a New Breed of Writers?

Writers could have a new kind of work in a world where everyone wears a computer. In an inspiring essay, The Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal looked forward to a world where everyone is wearing Google Glass–a pair of glasses that work like a computer screen.

While wearing these glasses, we would receive a stream of information about the world around us, but Madrigal reminded us that it will take a new kind of writer to create content for these devices. Check it out:

To me, in the extremely attention-limited environment of augmented reality, you need a new kind of media. You probably need a new noun to describe the writing. Newspapers have stories. Blogs have posts. Facebook has updates. And AR apps have X. You need people who train and get better at and have the time to create perfect digital annotations in the physical world. Fascinatingly, such a scenario would require the kind of local knowledge newspaper reporters used to accumulate, and pair it with the unerring sense of raw interestingness that the best short-form magazine writers, bloggers, tweeters, and Finderyers cultivate.

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18. Use Free Google Docs Tools: NaNoWriMo Tip #2

 

Need some help keeping your National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project organized?

We asked the Google Docs team for some suggestion on how to use the free suite of online writing tools during NaNoWriMo. We’ve collected five ways you can use Google Docs below.

This is our second NaNoWriMo Tip of the Day. As writers around the country join the writing marathon this month, we will share one piece of advice or writing tool to help you cope with this daunting project.

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19. How To Connect Your Google+ Account to Your Online Writings

Perfect Market chief revenue officer Tim Ruder has helped writers at media companies around the country create a stronger online footprint. At the AllFacebook Marketing Conference this week, he shared a crucial piece of intelligence for writers: your Google+ profile can help your online writings get noticed.

Google can connect stories you have published online with your Google+ profile, attaching your name, profile and picture to search results for your writing. Ruder explained: “Social brings a level of trust to results that is really powerful … Trust is shifting from publisher to little face–the picture of someone beside an article. That is a pretty indelible stamp of trust.”

Below, we’ve outlined the steps you need to take to connect your Google+ profile with your Google search results.

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20. Better Google Searches for Writers

Hands down, the Internet beats the old days when writers had to go to the library to research a topic. Now anyone can retrieve information with a few computer clicks. I frequently use Google in my searches and have discovered the following ways to improve results:

  • Use the asterisk (*) as a wild card with the words you’re searching. For example, if you wanted to search for me on the Web but couldn’t remember my last name but knew I was a children’s author, you could type Ronica * children’s author and related sites would pop up, providing my last name.
  • Use the minus sign before words you want to exclude from the search. Using a similar example, if you searched solely on my first name, Ronica, and a bunch of “Ronica Smith” sites showed up, you could eliminate Ronica Smith from your search by typing Ronica -Smith.
  • Put quotation marks around a word or two (such as “Ronica Stromberg”) to pull up sites only with the word (or words) as quoted.
  • To find the word you’re searching for on a Web site that came up, hit Control-F (Command-F on a Mac) and enter the word you’re searching for again. This will highlight the word you’re searching for. I’ve found this useful when a Web site has page after page of text but no clear indication where the word or phrase I’m searching for may be.
  • To restrict search results to a specific URL, add site: in front of the URL. For example, dognapper site:nytimes.com would pull articles printed about dognappers at The New York Times domain.
  • To find sites similar to one you’re using, type related: before the URL of the site (as in related:nytimes.com).
  • Use two periods between numeric ranges to find information about a range. For example, if you wanted to find information about gasoline prices between 1970 and 1980, you could type gasoline prices 1970 . . 1980. Writers of historical novels may find this particularly useful for research.
  • To use Google as a dictionary and look up the definition of a word, type define: immediately followed by the word.
  • To find the current weather in a town (in case you are about to set off on a book talk or other trip), type weather in followed by the town’s name.
  • To convert currency or measurements, use search formats such as 50 pesos in US dollars or 100 kilometers in miles.
  • To find the title of a song that lyrics come from, type some of the more distinct lyrics followed by :lyric. For example, when I type want to be a paperback writer:lyric, several sites appear, letting me know this line of lyrics comes from the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” song.
  • To get alerted about breaking news on a topic, go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the topic and your e-mail address. Google will then e-mail you the next time news on the topic appears on the Internet. I know a lot of authors type their name or key words from their works into this site to track online publicity and, also, to check whether their writing is being plagiarized.

Instead of doing a general search of the whole Internet, I may have only a specific area I want to search. The following are my favorites.

blogs     http://www.google.com/blogsearch

books     http://books.google.com/

finance     http://www.google.com/finance  This search of the latest financial news may be of particular interest to business and financial writers.

images     http://images.google.com  This site can be misleading. When I searched on “F. Scott Fitzgerald,” the name of one of my favorite authors, photos of him–and a bunch of other people–cropped up. Had I not already known what F. Scott Fitzgerald looked like, the site wouldn’t have helped much.

news     http://news.google.com/

patents     http://www.google.com/?tbm=pts

videos     http://www.google.com/videohp


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21. Who Will Win the Screenplay Academy Awards?

Who will win the Oscars for best adapted screenplay and screenplay? Below, we’ve linked to all the nominees in the top writing categories.

On Monday morning, this GalleyCat editor will talk about the screenplay winners along with a team of Oscar experts in a Google+ hangout. Here’s more about the virtual event:

Join GalleyCat’s Jason Boog, TVNewser’s Alex Weprin, FishbowlLA’s Richard Horgan and GoldDerby editor Tom O’Neil for a post-Oscars Google+ hangout. What book adaptations were snubbed? How did TV news cover it? Learn more about the history of the awards show and get the L.A. perspective.  All this and more on Monday, Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m.  And we want to hear from you. With the hashtag #mbhangouts, send us your questions and comments on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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22. Social media and the culture of connectivity

By José van Dijck


In 2006, there appeared to be a remarkable consensus among Internet gurus, activists, bloggers, and academics about the promise of Web 2.0 that users would attain more power than they ever had in the era of mass media. Rapidly growing platforms like Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), and Twitter (2006) facilitated users’ desire to make connections and exchange self-generated content. The belief in social media as technologies of a new “participatory” culture was echoed by habitual tools-turned-into-verbs: buttons for liking, trending, following, sharing, trending, et cetera. They articulated a feeling of connectedness and collectivity, strongly resonating the belief that social media enhanced the democratic input of individuals and communities. According to some, Web 2.0 and its ensuing range of platforms formed a unique chance to return the “public sphere” — a sphere that had come to be polluted by commercial media conglomerates — back in the hands of ordinary citizens.

Eight years after the apex of techno-utopian celebration, a number of large platforms have come to dominate a social media ecosystem vastly different from when the platforms just started to evolve. It’s time for a reality check. What did social media do for the public — users like you — and for the ideal of a more democratic public space? Do they indeed promote connectedness and participation in community-driven activities or are they rather engines of connectivity, driven by automated algorithms and invisible business models?  Online socializing, as it now seems, is inimically mediated by a techno-economic logic anchored in the principles of popularity and winner-takes-all principles that enhance the pervasive logic of mass media instead of offering alternatives.

Most contemporary social media giants once started out as informal platforms for networking or “friending” (Facebook), for exchanging user-generated content (YouTube), or for participating in opinionated discussions (Twitter). It was generally assumed that in the new social media space, all users were equal. However, platforms’ algorithms measured relevance and importance in terms of popularity rankings, which subsequently formed the quantifiable basis of data-driven interactivity wrapped in “social” rhetoric such as following, trending, or sharing. In this platform-mediated ecosystem, sponsored and professionally generated content soon received a lot more attention than user-generated content. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook gradually changed their interfaces to yield business models that were staked in two basic variables: attention and user data. By 2012, once informal social traffic between users had become fully formalized, automated, and commoditized by platforms owned and exploited by fast growing corporate giants. Although each of these platforms nurses its own proprietary mechanisms, they are staked in the same values or principles: popularity, hierarchical ranking, quick growth, large traffic volumes, fast turnovers, and personalized recommendations. A like is not a retweet, but most algorithms are underpinned by the norms of popularity and fast-trending topics.

The cultivation of online sociality is increasingly dominated by four major chains of platforms: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. These chains share some operational principles even if they differ on some ideological premises (open versus closed systems). Some consider social media platforms as alternatives to the old mass media, praising their potential to empower individual users who can contribute their own opinions or content to a media universe that was before pretty much closed to amateurs. Although we should not underestimate this newly acquired power of the web as a publishing medium for all, it is hard to keep up the tenet that social media are alternatives to mass media. Over the past few years, it has become increasingly obvious that the logics of mass media and social media are intimately intertwined. Not just on the level of platforms mechanics and content (tweets have become the equivalent of soundbites) but also on the level of user dynamics and business models; YouTube-Google now collaborates with many former foes from Hollywood to turn their platform into the gateway to the entertainment universe. Newspapers and television stations are inevitably integrated in the ecosystem of connective media where the mechanisms of data-driven user traffic determines who and what gets most attention, hence drawing customers and eyeballs.

This new connective media system has reshaped the power relationships between platform owners and users, not only in terms of who may steer information but also who controls the vast amount of user data that rushes through the combined platforms every day. What are the larger political and social concerns behind deceptively simple interfaces and celebrated user-convenient tools? Where in 2006 the notion of user power still seemed unproblematic, the relationship between users and owners of social media platforms is now contentious and embattled. In the wake of the growing monopolization of niches (Facebook for social networking, Google for search, Twitter for microblogging) it is important to redefine and reappraise the meaning of “social,” “public,” “community,” and “nonprofit.” The ecosystem of connective media has no separate spaces for the “public”; it is a nirvana of interoperability which major players argue for deregulation and which imposes American neoliberal conditions on a global space where boundaries are considered disruptions of user convenience. Common public values, such as independence, trust, or equal opportunities, are ready for reassessment if they need to survive in an environment that is defined by social media logic.

José van Dijck is a professor of Comparative Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam; her latest book, The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media has just been published by Oxford University Press (2013).

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23. Toni Morrison to Headline Google+ Hangout & Digital Book Signing

Novelist Toni Morrison will headline a Google+ Hangout and a digital book signing.

Morrison will join the hangout from Google New York offices on Wednesday, February 27th starting at 3:00 p.m. EST.  You can watch this event online via the Google+ page, Morrison’s Google+ page or the Google Play YouTube channel.

Here’s more about the event: “Using a Wacom tablet, Morrison will sign digital versions of her newest national bestseller, Home, published by the Knopf Doubleday Group, and will be signing the Vintage Books paperback edition of Home for Google employees. The live Hangout celebrates the paperback release of Home, as well as the culmination of Black History Month events sponsored by the Black Googler Network.” (Image Via)

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24. Google To Kill Google Reader; Digg Promises To Build New Service

Do you use Google Reader?

Google will end the RSS reader service in July, but AppNewser collected five alternatives to Google Reader. In addition, Digg promises to build a new reader in the coming months. Check it out:

We hope to identify and rebuild the best of Google Reader’s features (including its API), but also advance them to fit the Internet of 2013, where networks and communities like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Hacker News offer powerful but often overwhelming signals as to what’s interesting. Don’t get us wrong: we don’t expect this to be a trivial undertaking. But we’re confident we can cook up a worthy successor.

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25. Google Game Inspires eBook Series

Google will publish a series of eBooks based on its Ingress game, a game that interacts with the real world through an augmented reality app. Watch the video embedded above to learn more about the game.

AppNewser has more:

Niantic Labs, the startup that lives inside of Google and has produced projects like the Google Field Trip app, has plans to launch a line of eBooks based on the augmented reality game Ingress. Ingress is an augmented reality game that Google launched this past November and it is currently in the invite-only beta stage. Ingress’s website boasts,”the world around you is not what it seems,” and Nianticproject.com is full of cryptic messages and codes.

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