Monday, June 28, 2021

Media Week (Vol 14, No 6) Using Fiction to Forecast, TikTok Book Clubs, Journal Quality Improves, Either the Flag Goes?

 ‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war (Guardian)

His favorite example of literature’s ability to identify a social mood and cast it into the future is a retelling of the Cassandra myth by the East German novelist Christa Wolf. Kassandra, published in 1983, casts Troy as a state not unlike the late-stage German Democratic Republic, succumbing to the paranoia of a Stasi-like secret police as it veers towards a not-so-cold war. Kassandra, cursed with the gift of prophecy, is also a cipher for the author’s own predicament: she foresees the decline her society is heading for, but her warnings are ignored by the military patriarchy.

If states could learn to read novels as a kind of literary seismograph, Wertheimer argues, they could perhaps identify which conflicts are on the verge of exploding into violence, and intervene to save maybe millions of lives.

All this raw information is fed into Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence platform, which helps convert it into maps highlighting potential trouble spots: green indicates stability, orange highlights instability, red warns of a conflict on the verge of escalation. One German official says the AI prediction system had already given Angela Merkel’s government a few months’ warning of the rebel insurgency in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where security forces are battling with militants trying to set up an Islamic state. But the early warning system is still in development: the aim is to eventually be able to predict conflicts 12-18 months in advance.

The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts (Guardian)

These posts can attract millions of views, and rekindle an appreciation of books in young readers. “I started reading again after six years when I came across BookTok for the first time last October,” says Mireille Lee, 15, who, with her 13-year-old sister Elodie, now runs the high-profile @alifeofliterature account on TikTok.


Publishers are watching with interest. “The pool of people who are guaranteed to buy young adult books is limited to a few thousand dedicated lovers of the genre, but BookTok is exciting, with its short, entertaining videos bringing a new, powerful opportunity to reach and engage non-readers, to create more book lovers,” says Kat McKenna, a marketing and brand consultant specialising in children’s and young adult books. “These ‘snapshot’ visual trailers are making books cinematic in a way that publishers have been trying to do with marketing book trailers for a really long time. But the way TikTok users are creating imagery inspired by what they are reading is so simple, and so clever. It’s that thing of bringing the pages to life, showing what you get from a book beyond words.”

Quality shines when scientists use publishing tactic known as registered reports, study finds (Science)

The trio of journals thought registered reports offered a better way. The approach turns the normal publishing timeline on its head: Authors write manuscripts laying out only their hypotheses, research methods, and analysis plans, and referees decide whether to accept them before anyone knows the study’s results. The innovation is that this guarantees publication for even the most mundane findings. Unlike standard papers, “the decision [to publish] … is based on the importance of the question, and the quality of the methodology you’re applying,” says Brian Nosek, a psychologist at the University of Virginia and an advocate of registered reports.

But until recently, concrete data to support the benefits of this publishing model have been thin. Today, Nosek and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Human Behaviour reporting that reviewers rate registered reports as more rigorous, and their methods as higher in quality, than similar papers published in the standard format. And despite concerns that the approach could stifle research creativity, the reviewers considered registered reports to be as creative and novel as the comparison papers. The findings join the first small wave of studies exploring whether the publishing format—now offered by at least 295 journals—lives up to its promise.

IDG Acquired by Blackstone in $1.3B Deal (Techcrunch)

With IDG, Blackstone gets tech analyst firm IDC along with a collection of tech publications that includes CIO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, Macworld, Network World, PCWorld and Tech Hive. The media publishing arm was once a powerhouse in the 1990s tech publishing world, although its shine has faded in recent years as the publishing industry in general has come under intense pressure.

The company has also been making some additions to the platform more recently with a stronger focus on data and analytics. Last year it bought Triblio, a marketing data platform to help companies deliver more personalized customer experiences. Last month it acquired Metri, an IT pricing service, which can help with IT budgeting and procurement. The latter could dovetail nicely with IDC’s consulting services.

Axel Springer: Mathias Doepfner tells pro-Palestinian staff to quit (ME)

Several staff reportedly complained when the company raised an Israeli flag at its Berlin headquarters during 11 days of deadly violence between the Israeli army and the Palestinian Hamas movement in May, which killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, in the besieged Gaza Strip and 13 people in Israel, including two children.

According to a report from Israel Hayom, CEO Mathias Doepfner said in a video call with staff worldwide on Monday: "I think, and I'm being very frank with you, a person who has an issue with an Israeli flag being raised for one week here, after antisemitic demonstrations, should look for a new job.


See more headlines from past MediaWeek posts - going back to 2006.

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