Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Whip Round: Litblogs, Morality, Aggregators

This is an excellent article from The Australian newspaper in guess where. The author Genevieve Tucker takes a long look at the development of lit blogs and reflects - just a little - on activity in Australia. She sees the development of lit blogs as reflecting the desire of readers and book lovers generally to converse about their reading experiences and notes that declines in traditional media attention (newspapers) has sped the growth of these blog sites. In conclusion she says the following:

Above all, readers of books who also enjoy reading blogs are conscious that they are drawn to the most highly powered technology in their homes and offices to talk about the simplest cultural technology there is, one that can be picked up, kept for many years on a shelf, borrowed and lent and returned to at will without needing to be refreshed or substantially remodeled. It is this poignant attachment to old technology, together with a well-balanced sense of the rich possibilities offered by new media, that is probably closest to the heart of blogging about books and writing.
In this article about moving the traditional publishing model into the 21st century we hear of a new approach from a company named

The process is straightforward: After posting an extract from a completed work on The Front List, a writer is allocated five works to critique while his or her extract is, in turn, read and annotated by five other authors. Marks are given out of 50 - based on five set criteria, which vary according to genre.
The purpose is to provide real feedback to authors wishing to have their books published by a traditional publishing house. is attempting to bridge a gap between publishers who do not accept unsolicited manuscripts and agents that are inundated with so many submissions there is little chance they can offer constructive feedback. As most realistic and unemotional publishing practitioners know, the odds are heavily stacked against a first time author. In my view this experiment with not work mainly because I think they will find that the 'population' that may make use of this type of site can't edit. (I also found Mrs Dalloway dull).

Speaking of Virginia Woolf; Book World is reading her dairies and she can't put them down!

Here is a magazine you don't skim every day; American Thinker (no comments!). This article reflects on the morality of current publishing given the O.J. Simpson, James Frey and Kaavya Viswanathan issues of the past 12 months. The author leaves us with this rather damning comment:

And therein lies the dilemma faced by the contemporary book publishing industry: where a Maxwell Perkins could nurture, cajole, develop, and protect his stable of writers, and do so with the intention of adding valuable intellectual products to the culture, publishers today have been forced - both by the interest and tastes of the marketplace of readers and the uncertainties of publishing economics - to go in directions earlier editors and publishers might have thought untenable and inappropriate. They have been forced to transform the profession of publishing from one in which ideas were generated and preserved for society's good into a process where the pursuit of profits overshadows this primary, seemingly nobler purpose. That tension shows no sign of subsiding, which means that the hard choice between "culture and mammon" will no doubt continue to have repercussions on the business of bringing books to life.

I guess we have a lot of work to do - or perhaps we continue to cater to what the audience want or expects....

Since I read this article by Scott Karp I have been thinking about it a lot. I don't agree with all of it but it a very interested view point on data/content aggregators and content creators. There is a under current of negativity associated with the 'aggregator' business model which I don't agree with. Here is his opening paragraph:

Can anyone think of a content business meaning a company that produces original content that has scaled dramatically in recent years? I can't. Look at the businesses that have scaled Google, MySpace, YouTube all platforms for content, but not producers of content. Compare those to original content businesses like Weblogs, Inc., Gawker, TechCrunch, Paid Content they are successful at their scale, but that scale is still tiny compared to the scale of the aggregation businesses. Even portals like AOL and Yahoo are much more aggregators of content than original producers of content.
It is worth a read and I might attempt my own view at some point.

Lastly I hesitate to comment on the Ashes test other than to link to thiarticleaticle about a job offer for a "waitress" to help fetch and carry for a bunch of English blokes at the Melbourne test in a few weeks. It will all be over by then and this waitress is going to be a very tired girl.

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