Saturday, February 20, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 8: Larsson Trilogy (or More), Learning, Reader's Digest, BGov.

If you want to see the first movie versions of those very popular Stieg Larsson books you will need to look hard because they don't have a US distributor this despite the fact that they have collected all kinds of critical support in Europe. The last (or is there a fourth?) title has been available in the UK for months but will not be out in the US for many more so while waiting amuse yourself with a profile of the actress who plays Lisbeth Salander and contemplate George Clonney for Mikael Blomkvist: Could it happen? - Times Online

It is Salander, the unlikeliest of literary heroines, with whom Rapace has become inextricably entwined. As the character’s screen embodiment, she has starred in all three film adaptations of the books, the third of which has just opened in Scandinavia. Belatedly, the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is about to launch in the UK; the other two follow later in the year. It has been worth the wait. The story of the wealthy Vanger family and the unresolved disappearance of the patriarch’s niece in 1966 is far from a trashy screen translation. A superior thriller, it has been nominated for gongs across Europe, not least for its female lead.

There is a touch of Salander about Rapace in real life. “I am not senti­mental,” she shrugs. “The prizes, I give them to my manager.” At one point during filming, she even threatened to quit after a blazing row with the director, Niels Arden Oplev. “In every creative circus, it’s good to have some fights,” she offers. “In Sweden, in most film productions, everybody’s friends and everybody’s afraid of conflict.”

Switching gears a bit - The Chronicle of Higher Ed looks at how scholars are looking into how the brain deals with multi-tasking particularly in respect to learning and memory: (Chronicle)
That illusion of competence is one of the things that worry scholars who study attention, cognition, and the classroom. Students' minds have been wandering since the dawn of education. But until recently—so the worry goes—students at least knew when they had checked out. A student today who moves his attention rapid-fire from text-messaging to the lecture to Facebook to note-taking and back again may walk away from the class feeling buzzed and alert, with a sense that he has absorbed much more of the lesson than he actually has. "

Heavy multitaskers are often extremely confident in their abilities," says Clifford I. Nass, a professor of psychology at Stanford University. "But there's evidence that those people are actually worse at multitasking than most people."

Indeed, last summer Nass and two colleagues published a study that found that self-described multitaskers performed much worse on cognitive and memory tasks that involved distraction than did people who said they preferred to focus on single tasks. Nass says he was surprised at the result: He had expected the multitaskers to perform better on at least some elements of the test. But no. The study was yet another piece of evidence for the unwisdom of multitasking.

The problems of Reader's Digest UK and its imminent collapse may bewilder some but many long time readers will miss the title if it disappears. Here is Alexander McCall Smith's portrayal: Reader's Digest: a teacher, and a friend (Telegraph)

And that was the problem: the Reader's Digest was unashamedly middlebrow. It had no intellectual pretensions: it sought to entertain and, yes, educate its readers. This was at a time when everything was going the other way. It was no longer fashionable to claim an educational role in the mass media – everything had to be entertainment, everything had to be slick and, if possible, sensational.

The Reader's Digest clung stubbornly to the notion that mass reading could be part of the process of educating the public about the world. It published popular science; it published factual articles about economics and business, about history and endeavour. This all continued at a time when radio and television were turning away from any serious educational objectives. The Reader's Digest stuck to its mission. It was a magazine for autodidacts.

The NYTimes is to implement sometype of pay wall later this year but some research conducted with smaller newspapers may mean the NYTimes will be forced to reverese its decision quickly thereafter. From Viewsflow, Early newspaper paywall results suggest that the New York Times' plan is doomed (Viewsflow)

Fancy yourself a writer, then perhaps you should follow some of these simple rules: Ten rules for writing fiction (Guardian)
From Roddy Doyle, Number One: Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
News a few weeks ago that Bloomberg is to build a legal reference product to compete with West and LexisNexis is now followed by confirmation that the company also intends to build a government data reference business. (Acquisitions anyone?) Washington Technology
Mark Amtower first reported the rumor earlier today on his Amtower B2G blog. Bloomberg officials confirmed the acquisition when contacted by Washington Technology, but would comment on the value of the deal or expand on Bloomberg’s strategy in the government space.

However, rumors have swirled in recent months about Bloomberg wanting to create a Bloomberg Government business to be named Bgov. The enterprise will compete with the likes of Congressional Quarterly, but with a focus on how government actions impact publicly traded companies.

United had a chance to go top this weekend and blew it.

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