Sunday, February 12, 2012

MediaWeek (Vol 5, No 7): Books on Facebook, UK Copyright, Big Data, Ireland & John Synge + More

Interesting experiment to publish a novel via Facebook (Haaretz):
Epstein says that his decision to publish his new book on Facebook, where it appears in a photo-album format, was a response to the situation of the publishing market in Israel: "I'm not saying anything new when I say that the vast majority of writers and poets in Israel are unable to make a decent living from their work." The fact that Epstein cannot support himself from his books is not the heart of the matter; that's already self-evident. What bothers him is the short shelf life of books in the stores.
"In the case of a writer like me," he explains, "who isn't a mainstream and best-selling author, what happens is that the literature has a very hard time reaching the readers. The only way is via the 'book cemetery' that is sometimes called Tzomet Sfarim and sometimes Steimatzky's" - the country's two largest bookstore chains. "A book in those stores is sold not as a cultural item but as a consumer item of the shallowest possible kind. Not because it isn't good, but because that way it gets sold."
Epstein says this paradox confronts many writers and poets: "It's one thing that you don't make a profit, but in the present situation nobody can even read you, because the books don't really reach anyone. What I tried to examine is whether it's possible to reach a relatively broad audience without going through the usual intermediary, who is systematically interested in money rather than culture. I'm interested in the work and not its financial aspect."
The Publisher's Association in the UK is proposing a copyright registry (Bookseller):
The Publishers Association has called for the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange  (DCE), which would act as a "one stop shop" for the exchange of information about how to license copyright online.
The PA has argued the online platform would negate the need for "dangerous" changes to copyright law proposed by the government in parallel consultation on copyright.
In a submission to the feasibility study into the DCE, which closes today (10th February), the PA urged government to suspend progress of the parallel Copyright Consultation launched by the Intellectual Property Office late last year, which recommends "drastically weakening" copyright. The body thinks the proposals would remove or undermine the ability of rightsholders to develop licensing business models, and "go against the grain" of the market-based voluntary arrangements proposed in the DCE.
Amanda Knox book in the works (NYTimes):
This makes the next step trickier for publishers vying this week for the rights to her memoir, whose blockbuster allure has a backdrop of unsettling details: Ms. Knox was arrested in 2007 in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, in what prosecutors described as a sex escapade gone wrong, spent nearly four years in an Italian prison and was exonerated last October after an appeals court overturned the original conviction.
The surge of media attention that will surely accompany the book’s release — normally good for publishers — comes with risks. To some members of the public, Ms. Knox was an innocent abroad who was imprisoned for a crime she did not commit. To others, she is a cunning femme fatale who got away with murder.
And that brings some difficult questions: do book-buying Americans see Ms. Knox as a sympathetic figure? And if the book commands a seven-figure advance, as is widely expected, will it be worth it?
Big Data from the NY Times:
What is Big Data? A meme and a marketing term, for sure, but also shorthand for advancing trends in technology that open the door to a new approach to understanding the world and making decisions. There is a lot more data, all the time, growing at 50 percent a year, or more than doubling every two years, estimates IDC, a technology research firm. It’s not just more streams of data, but entirely new ones. For example, there are now countless digital sensors worldwide in industrial equipment, automobiles, electrical meters and shipping crates. They can measure and communicate location, movement, vibration, temperature, humidity, even chemical changes in the air.
Link these communicating sensors to computing intelligence and you see the rise of what is called the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet. Improved access to information is also fueling the Big Data trend. For example, government data — employment figures and other information — has been steadily migrating onto the Web. 
In 2009, Washington opened the data doors further by starting, a Web site that makes all kinds of government data accessible to the public.  Data is not only becoming more available but also more understandable to computers. Most of the Big Data surge is data in the wild — unruly stuff like words, images and video on the Web and those streams of sensor data. It is called unstructured data and is not typically grist for traditional databases.  
But the computer tools for gleaning knowledge and insights from the Internet era’s vast trove of unstructured data are fast gaining ground. At the forefront are the rapidly advancing techniques of artificial intelligence like natural-language processing, pattern recognition and machine learning. 
Interesting article about returning to Ireland and the ghost of John Synge (NYT)
John Millington Synge writes of walking to see these beehive huts (clochans in Gaelic) in “The Aran Islands,” his classic account of living here for several months in the 1890s, when he gathered the material for his greatest plays. No other writer is more closely associated with this place and its people than Synge, although in many ways he makes an unlikely representative. He was Anglo-Irish, Protestant in his upbringing, fairly well to do, scientifically minded — there could have been, at the time, few Irish people possessing less in common with the peasantry he wound up making his subject and taking for his inspiration. Even in his famed descriptions, you can sense a remoteness. It was the artist in him, the very thing that made him a great writer. He never loved his own people too much to be able to see what was grotesque and silly and consequently most human in them. On his walk to the beehive huts, he’s following an old blind man named Mourteen, a local storyteller who gave him all sorts of material. The man knows the islands so well that Synge cuts his feet trying to keep up, despite the fact that his guide can’t see — “so blind that I can gaze at him without discourtesy,” is Synge’s phrase. The old man at one point indulges “a freak of earthly humour” and starts talking sex, saying what he would do if he could bring a girl into the hut with him. They pass a house where a schoolteacher lives alone. “Ah, master,” the old man says, “wouldn’t it be fine to be in there and to be kissing her?” It’s just the kind of scene that Synge’s detractors hated him for. The heroism of his characters comes purely from their helpless urge to be themselves, against all better judgment.
From the Twitter:

New York Diaries, in the Author's Hand:(NYT)

Pearson Takes 200,000 SF in Hoboken - Daily News Article

Rice University And OpenStax Announce First Open-Source Textbooks (Techcrunch)

Recalibrating Expectations for eTexts. Students are not embracing eTexts:  

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