Sunday, March 27, 2011

MediaWeek (V4-N13): Bookclub for the Homeless, Plagiarism or "Creative Reuse", Hollywood, Gallimard, Jean Auel

Bostonia magazine tells us about a Boston lawyer who set up a book club for homeless readers (Bostonia):

For years, Resnik, a tall, unassuming civil litigation defense attorney, had been walking from his Back Bay condo to his State Street law firm, McDermott Will & LinkEmery. He made a nice living trying high-profile product liability cases, mostly representing manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and biotech products. When he had extra time, he took the long way home through the Common.

“I’d see homeless people and I’d walk by them,” Resnik says, sitting in his high-rise office, the glass windows framing a sweeping scene of the Common and Back Bay, the Charles River rolling toward the Atlantic. “Sometimes I’d give people something, sometimes I wouldn’t. I had no meaningful interactions.”

Resnik’s path took him past the spot Chris and Rob had staked out, and he returned their hellos. The exchange became routine, the door cracking a little wider each time. Little by little, Resnik ventured in, stopping to discuss the weather or sports, and eventually life on the streets. One day, he ribbed Chris about his New York Giants jacket.

“I kidded him, ‘You’re brave to be wearing that jacket on Boston Common.’ And Chris said, ‘Where I get my clothes, this isn’t a New York Giants jacket. It’s a warm jacket.”

In the same issue of Bostonia a look at plagiarism or "creative reuse" (Bostonia):

But in this age of file-sharing, mashups, Wikipedia, and music sampling, has the practice of borrowing without asking become more pervasive? More acceptable? Is Griggs right? Yes and no, says Susan Blum, an anthropologist at Notre Dame University and author of My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture (Cornell University Press, 2009).

“I think we are probably in a fuzzy place,” says Blum. “Standards are always changing and evolving. The ones we have now have not been eternal. They were born in a certain moment in time, when authorship and copyright were being established, mostly in England. So those of us who are writers, or who operate in the academic context, have a certain set of practices that we would probably all agree upon, but those are not necessarily universally shared.”

Case in point: German writer Helene Hegemann, all of 17 years old. In February 2010, she copped to lifting passages in her best-selling and award-nominated novel on Berlin club life. Instead of hanging her head, she defended the practice, arguing that she mixed the borrowed material and placed it in a different and unique context. “There’s no such thing as originality anyway, only authenticity,” she said at the time.

Former longtime Boston Globe reporter and books section editor David Mehegan (GRS’11), a doctoral student at BU’s Editorial Institute, covered several plagiarism scandals at Harvard, and he worries that attitudes like Hegemann’s will soften resistance to literary theft. “She implied that in this modern age, the whole idea of authorship is antiquated,” he says. “I think there’s this idea out there that this is OK. That’s very tempting for young people.”

Not sure it's limited to young people....

A very interesting article from The Economist about the challenges movie production companies are facing as the distance between them and consumers gets constricted and how the decisions they are making on content distribution at creating conflicts in their traditional sales channels (Economist):

The DVD slump has also divided Hollywood. Film executives, though they eat in the same few restaurants and attend the same parties, cannot agree on the best way of reviving the home-entertainment market, or even on what has caused it to slump. But so perilous is their position that some bold experiments are under way. Chaotically, but quickly, the studios are about to bulldoze conventional wisdom about how films should be sold.

About one thing the studios are fairly sure. Piracy, which was widely viewed as the greatest danger facing the film business a few years ago, has been eclipsed as a threat. Illicit streaming and downloading are certainly rampant in countries like Russia and China. But such places never had much of a home-entertainment market. They have simply moved on from pirate DVDs to illegal streaming. Piracy there represents growth forgone rather than losses.

In developed countries, particularly America (by far the biggest home-entertainment market), people have switched from buying to borrowing. Since 2007 the number of films rented in America has grown by 10% even as spending on home entertainment has steadily declined. People still go shopping for animated films that will keep their children quiet, and for beloved blockbusters: more than 30m DVDs and Blu-ray discs of “Avatar” have been sold worldwide. For everything else they are turning to a range of innovative, legal and—best of all—cheap alternatives.

One of the new entrants that worries the studios can be seen in a shopping mall in Crenshaw, at the smart end of south-central Los Angeles. The Walmart that anchors Crenshaw Plaza carries a good selection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. On a recent visit “Red” could be had for $15 plus sales tax and “Toy Story 3” for $19.96. A triple pack containing a DVD, a Blu-ray disc and a digital copy of “Despicable Me” was going for $24.96.

The guardian takes a look at the history of french publisher Gallimard (Guardian)

A century ago Gaston Gallimard set up the publishing house that brought Camus, Sartre and Gide to the world. An exhibition of its archive celebrates a peculiarly French success story.

The exhibition currently on show in Paris, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, celebrating the centenary of the Gallimard publishing house, puts on public show the gems of its archive. Gaston Gallimard and his colleagues were also astute: aware that an archive of such richness would go on acquiring value, early on they invited their authors to contribute to it. There is a note from Jean Paulhan on show, kindly requesting authors to "throw away nothing, tear nothing up, burn nothing". Instead they were to send manuscripts, diaries, letters, essays and poetic juvenilia to the rue Sébastien-Bottin, the elegant hôtel particulier in the seventh arrondissement where Gallimard settled his rapidly growing enterprise in 1929, and where it remains today.

In 1930, Henri Manuel was commissioned to photograph the new quarters: they are austere but chic, and there is a picture of the "authors' room", which, as Gallimard proudly explained to Valery Larbaud, "will be equipped with writing tables, telephones, good armchairs, a bar and a view of the garden". He was as good as his word and, in the images of the comité de lecture in the early years at least, the likes of Camus, Queneau and Paulhan are sunk deep in the brown leather of the fauteuils club. Roger Martin du Gard, whose handwritten plan for his huge family chronicle Les Thibault, looking like a very long menu card, is on show, captured the essence of the place, writing to Gaston in 1939: "it is a kind of family . . . where the bosses are called by their first names; a rather fantastical gathering of cultivated souls." Physical comfort was merely an extension of the moral comfort lavished on authors, once they had been admitted to the august imprint.

The smell of old books might lead to clues in saving them (Guardian):

Walk into a library or museum and you cannot fail to note a distinctive musty smell. This is made up of a cocktail of compounds given off by ancient tomes and exhibits. For some the experience is pleasant; for others, such smells are fusty. But for chemist Dr Lorraine Gibson, of Strathclyde University, these odours are the bread and butter of her research.

Profile of Jean M. Auel on the eve of the publication of what may be her last installment (Oregonian):

In the next room, the pool table is covered with stacks of advance copies of "The Land of Painted Caves," the final volume in the series that started with "The Clan of the Cave Bear." It'll be published simultaneously in 17 countries on Tuesday, and the story of Ayla, the beautiful Cro-Magnon orphan raised by Neanderthals, will come to an end.

Auel is 75 and says she hasn't really accepted that her life's work could be over as well.

Maybe after the book is published and all the publicity ends, maybe then she'll "start crying, or whatever I'm going to do." Right now, though, she's on what to her is an odd schedule that has nothing to do with jet lag from a recent trip to London. Because of obligations connected to the release of "The Land of Painted Caves" -- a book tour, lots of interviews with blogs that didn't exist when her last book, "The Shelters of Stone," was published nine years ago -- Auel has been getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. She doesn't like it.

"I'm a Night Auel, with my last name being pronounced like that," she says. All her life, even when she was raising five children, working full-time at Tektronix and taking night classes at the University of Portland, Auel has had to force herself to be active in the morning. When she became obsessed with Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons and brought armloads of books home from the Multnomah County Central Library, it was a decision to stay up late that changed her life.

From the twitter this week:

Darnton on A Digital Library Better Than Google’s -

Visually stunning. Say hello to Google's online magazine -

Cult of Mac: iPad Learning Firm Inkling Gets Multi-Million Dollar Funding from Educational Giants

Google Books Settlement filing (USGov)

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