Category: webwork (Page 4 of 6)
Aaron Wall says books are irrelevant “for all but true enthusiasts, desperate people seeking a manifesto for life change, or those who read as an escape.”
I don’t think it’s like that. Books and online content are not an either/or kind of thing. Most people “surf” the web and scan pages for an items here and an item there. The web is great for that, among other things. But it’s not so good for reading a hundred thousand words in sequence. Although there was a lot of hand wringing about a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll that showed a quarter of Americans didn’t read a book last year, the real news is that three-quarters of Americans still read books. Historically, that’s a very high percentage. You probably know someone who read a novel or a memoir recently. Did they read it online?
I didn’t think so.
Books are a perfected technology. The earliest books, much more than a millennium old, are still perfectly usable, while your computer files from twenty-five years ago may be useless. But I’m not here to put down the web or computer technology. It’s all good.
The point is, it’s true the book industry is in trouble. But the book itself is not. It’s a proven survivor. No worries.
I’ve been a little under the weather, and I haven’t been able to keep up very well with e-mails and comments. I hope to rebound and get caught up soon.
Meanwhile, here’s a review of August. Rightreading is command central, so this roundup gets posted on this site but not on the others (I don’t list what I’ve done here). I try to do this on the last weekend of the month.
FRISCO VISTA (San Francisciana)
- BART plans
- Toll Drive
- San Francisco cable car lines, 1893
- SF Trek
- My Bad
- Lily and snake
- Another record for San Francisco
- Bay Nature
- If you’re going to San Francisco, it’s still okay to wear flowers in your hair …
- Encyclopedia of San Francisco
- Fisher Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio
- Testing the limits
- Transbay Terminal designs
- Free San Francisco WiFi Spots
- Sixth Street
- “The Cancer of the San Francisco Chronicle”
- A scholar’s rock by Zhan Wang
- “The worst-programmed major museum in America”
- What is it?
- Coyote pup killed in park
BURIED MIRROR (el mundo Maya)
- Bloody build-up to Guatemala elections continues
- Palo volador, Chichicastenango
- Felipe Carrillo Puerto
- Hot waterfall
- Tulum and Dean
- Vanilla or Chocolate?
- The fountain at La Merced, Antigua, Guatemala
- Casita in Mixco, Guatemala
- National Geographic’s Maya Feature
- Revolution in Guatemala, 1944
- Deadly elections in Guatemala
- Antigua Door Knockers
FROZEN CULTURE (Freeform)
- The student’s dilemma
- Glass Squid
- What a performer
- Mission statement generator
- Inspirational (?) Star Trek Posters
- Photos Taken with and without Flash
- The classics
- Beware the beheaded rattlesnake
- Bush sees new threat
- Buffalo vs. lions
- What American Accent Do You Have?
- Barbie Cello
- Dog Bites Man
- Fatal error
The server for this site was down for more than two days with “massive corruption to the operating system.” It felt like forever.
Previously scheduled posts should start to appear momentarily (below this one).
Publisher 010 Uitgeverij has made what I think is probably a smart decision to put their 2004 title Dutch Type by Jan Middendorp in Google Book Search. Of course we have seen public domain books in GBS for some time (by the way, it is absurd for Google to claim any proprietary rights at all on those titles just because they scanned them), but recently more publishers have been moving toward allowing their copyrighted materials into the program as a strategy for book marketing and promotion.
It’s easy to be seduced by software. But just because you can do some cool things doesn’t mean you should. It took quite a while for it to dawn on me that my main blog pages are better without showing the related posts generated by the Aizatto software (related posts still appear on individual post pages). Since turning off that plug-in I find the main page more readable. I hope readers will agree that this an improvement.
UPDATE: I see related posts still appear in the feeds. I guess that’s okay …
Looks like Google is starting to throw some weight behind their book search.
The new ability created by Wikipedia Scanner to track Wikipedia edits by IP address has brought some folks hours of entertainment. Where have the collaborative encyclopedia’s edits been coming from?
- Fox News. You will be shocked — shocked! — to learn that they have been spinning items in a conservative direction.
- Diebold, the electronic voting machine vendor. Those rascals deleted 15 paragraphs critical of their machines.
- Walmart. It seems their employee compensation is better than some might think (same link as above)
- Mittromney.com. Someone there is leaning “a little more toward voting FOR Mitt Romney.”
- The BBC. Someone there thinks GWBush is a wanker.
- Whereas at the New York Times they just think he’s a “jerk.”
- The National Institute on Drug Abuse. Someone there prefered one of their press releases to the existing wikipedia article.
- Susan Collins. Someone in the senator’s office thought her entry didn’t make her sound moderate enough.
- Not to mention still more Republican hijinks, from the Republican Party of Minnesota. People there don’t like Harry Potter but they do like “penis gourds.”
- The CIA. Iran is on someone’s mind there.
- The Vatican. Someone there is interested in Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.
- And let’s not forget the Democratic National Committee, where someone felt that Rush Limbaught’s entry should not omit the highly pertinent observation that “Most of [his listeners] are legally retarded.“
No doubt more revelations will be forthcoming.
Update, 32 Aug. The Dutch royal family admits scrubbing an entry.
You didn’t think you had any privacy online, did you?
(The wikipedia scanner link, at this writing, is down .)
At theBookseller.com, Ann Rafferty talks about her redesign of the Penguin UK site. In essence the site is moving a little in the direction of web 2.0 — of adding more interactive features and offering more content. Rafferty explains:
As to why we’ve redesigned (and this is by no means the end – there’s a list of more changes just waiting to take effect), the answer is simple. Our readers told us to. We conducted extensive quantative and qualitative usability research with a specialist consultancy involving a lot of sitting behind two-way mirrors and biting back squeals of frustration when real-life readers couldn’t use our site – and we listened to all of the recommendations that they made. Months of workshops, designing, testing and re-designing later and we’re happy that we’ve shifted our site from being a company on broadcast to being genuinely reader-centric.
There’s some Steve Martin movie — okay, we’re not at le niveau culturel le plus élevé here — where he’s pulled over while driving, and the cop asks him to do handstands, backflips, and god knows what.
“Damn,” he says, “your drunk tests are hard.”
Some captchas are just about as hard. Here’s a sample from the list over at the English Headwear Blog.
If you like your literature bite-sized, Daily Lit could be the answer. It will send you a five-minute passage of a selection of public domain books by e-mail or rss every day (or on request). War and Peace, for example, comes in 675 parts, so you could finished it up in a couple of years, reading five minutes a day. So if you are long-lived and read your e-mails regularly you could make your way through as many as two or three dozen books of that length in your lifetime. Then again, you could knock off the Daode jing in just a couple of weeks.
The Daode jing (Tao Te Ching) is an interesting case. Daily Lit’s web page for that book shows an image of the cover of the Stephen Mitchell edition. If you click on the book it takes you to the book’s Amazon page. But the Mitchell rendering is not public domain. The sample text Daily Lit shows begins like this:
Ch. 1. 1. The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.
2. (Conceived of as) having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; (conceived of as) having a name, it is the Mother of all …
That doesn’t sound much like Stephen Mitchell to me. The Mitchell version starts this way:
The tao that can be told
is not the eternal tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name
The unnameable is the eternally real
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
For comparison, here the version I published, by Red Pine:
The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
in not the Immortal Name
the maiden of Heaven and Earth has no name
the mother of all things has a name
Why does Daily Lit link to a copyrighted version of the book from which they are offering public domain snippets? I suppose they monetize their site through the Amazon Associates program, figuring after a few months of e-mailed bits of a book you might be hooked enough to actually buy the book. Why you would do so by clicking through from Daily Lit isn’t clear to me, but I imagine the link is included in the feeds and e-mails. Is that a viable business model?
There’s a nice selection of (mostly) postwar Polish posters at a Grayspace Poster Gallery.
I’ve set the background to white in the selections above, using the “remove background image” and “page color to white” bookmarklets (I realized afterwards that I should also have set the text to black, and I found the zap colors bookmarklet that both sets the background to white and the text to black). I like clarity. Not everyone does. Without the bookmarklets applied the site looks like this:
Publishers Weekly compares three book cataloguing sites: LibraryThing.com, Shelfari.com and GoodReads.com. These sites allow users to keyword tag and comment on books they own or have read. The oldest of the sites, LibraryThing, has been around for a couple of years — a long time in internet terms — and publishers and book retailers are finally beginning to take an interest, either by investing in the sites or by providing members with advance review copies of forthcoming titles.
The PW article tries to make distinctions between the three services (the unfortunately named LibraryThing has by far the most members) but for me largely fails to do so at the user level. Below are screen shots of the sites’ intro pages.
Another end-of-month roundup of what’s going down at the sister sites.
- Virgin Airlines
- Tu Lan
- Wildlife uprising, part 3
- Secret List of Buildings You Can’t Photograph
- Golden Gate Bridge, Sunset
- Wildlife uprising continues in the city
- Newsreel of 1906 San Francisco earthquake
- San Francisco Magic
- The Josh Kornbluth Show
- Taxi fare finder
- Cleaning the Bay
- Muslims and Evangelical Christians “have significant similarities”
- Good dog!
- What do you think — Did these people inhale?
- Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan
- Bao Xishun marraige picture
- “Gay Sweaters” were McCain’s downfall
- Dept. of Weird Headlines
- You Can’t Take the High Horse and Then Claim the Low Road
- Dept. of Unintended Irony
- Department of images that tell the entire story
- You have delighted us long enough
- Xensen Simpson
The Institute for the Future of the Book has released a WordPress theme “designed to allow paragraph-by-paragraph commenting in the margins of a text.” Information about the theme can be found at its dedicated site, although an if:book (the institute’s blog) post probably makes a better introduction. As explained there:
This little tool is the happy byproduct of a year and a half spent hacking WordPress to see whether a popular net-native publishing form, the blog, which, most would agree, is very good at covering the present moment in pithy, conversational bursts but lousy at handling larger, slow-developing works requiring more than chronological organization—whether this form might be refashioned to enable social interaction around long-form texts.
Enabling a social approach to long texts via a blogging platform is an interesting project. I’m not certain how transparent the read/write interface is at the moment, but it’s still developing, and certainly something to watch. It seems most applicable to texts that reward close scrutiny, because it’s rather slow going. Finnegans Wake might be an interesting text to experiment with — could we add a choral audio file for different voices to add their readings to the mix?
For an example of the theme in action, click through on the image above.
BookSwim is attempting to replicate the netflix model for the book world. They’re offering a service where you pay a monthly fee and receive and return books without the obligation to purchase. No late fees.
I think this is a questionable plan. People are used to renting movies — renting books would require developing a new behavior. The turnaround on DVDs is much faster for most people, so that the value to the consumer of a subscription is greater. Perhaps most importantly, books are a lot heavier than dvds, so the postage costs will be much higher. Plus, books show wear after repeated shipping and reading (just ask publishers who see their margins eaten up by hurts and returns). That’s probably why plans start at $20/month. It would take a lot of overdue fines to make that cheaper than the library.
via literary lotus
Every now and then I post a roundup of what’s been going on at my companion sites. Here’s the latest.
- Four Keys to Haggling
- Maya Symbology: Bat
- Wedding Hotels in the Maya Riviera
- Mayan Theater, Los Angeles
- Song clips from the “golden age” of Mexican popular music
- Pilgrimage Sites in the Haight
- Bod Dylan’s 1965 Press Conference in San Francisco
- San Francisco Bay Area Progressive Directory
- Is SF gayer than NYC?
- Top 10 Affordable Restaurants in San Francisco
- How Expensive is San Francisco?
- Time Lapse Photos of San Francisco Bay