Skytrain to Nowhere

Brandon Adamson’s Skytrain to Nowhere is an 80-page book of what he calls “free-form poetry.” If that term usually causes you to run very fast in the opposite direction, don’t worry. To be sure the writing is carefully crafted in poetry style, but never overwrought or incomprehensible. Indeed most poems would pass as (very) short … Continue reading “Skytrain to Nowhere”

Digital Longevity

Digital storage is extremely compact and offers exact, rapid, and nearly cost-free replication through infinite iterations, whether to another digital storage medium or a playback device for human readers (watchers, listeners). This is obviously quite fantastic and caused a great deal of existing and new content to move to digital storage and onto the Internet. … Continue reading “Digital Longevity”

Stack Overflow: Quality by Quantity

Programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow has attracted legions of volunteer moderators (including privileged users possessing various editing capacities) with a “gamified” reputation system, but the quality of this moderation is increasingly coming under attack. A thread on Stack Overflow itself asked in April 2014, Why is Stack Overflow so negative of late? I’ve been using … Continue reading “Stack Overflow: Quality by Quantity”

Published Opinion Fractures

Le journalisme est un enfer, un abîme d’iniquités, de mensonges, de trahisons, que l’on ne peut traverser et d’où l’on ne peut sortir pur, que protégé comme Dante par le divin laurier de Virgile.– Honoré de Balzac, Illusions perdues (1843) Not only is journalism hell, it hardly pays anymore either. NiemanLab’s Ken Doctor recently published … Continue reading “Published Opinion Fractures”

Of Manuals & Magazines

Remember the massive printed multi-volume documentation sets for C++ compilers in the good old days? They are long gone, and Andrew Binstock bemoans the general decline of manuals for developer tools. After an abortive attempt to move traditional comprehensive manuals from print to digital formats, documentation has generally shrunk to brief online references – if … Continue reading “Of Manuals & Magazines”

Return of Patronage

Who will pay for intellectual works that are easily copied over the Internet, and why? I think the strongest component will be voluntary payment, a.k.a. patronage, and it’s already much more common than generally admitted. The core distinction is the following: People will pay after “consuming” (listening, reading, watching, playing) a work if they decide … Continue reading “Return of Patronage”

Robot Writer News

Computers still struggle to master the Turing test, but that doesn’t matter for low demands on writing quality. In today’s sampling of publishing news we learn that this includes social networks, professional journalism, and scientific conference proceedings. The Scientific Bot In February, science publishers Springer and IEEE were forced to retract over 120 papers from … Continue reading “Robot Writer News”

Twitter, Land of the Bots

A year ago, Barracuda Labs analyzed over 70,000 fake Twitter accounts and found that fake followers are cheap (only $18 per 1000) and plentiful (49k per average buyer). A more recent study by Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli examined the eight most popular seller services. They estimate there are 20 million fake followers in … Continue reading “Twitter, Land of the Bots”

Reality Check for Digital Artists

Not long after pop music’s transition from physical recordings to downloads, the latter are giving way to streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. Consumers love the low monthly fee of $10 or less, but artists only receive about half a cent per play. By comparison, the 7-10 cents they got on a $0.99 iTunes … Continue reading “Reality Check for Digital Artists”

Google Reader Fallout Hits Keep

People won’t shut up about Google’s termination of its essential Reader service. Ed Bott’s Embrace, extend, extinguish documents Google’s successful promotion of Reader as a universal RSS back-end, eventually forcing BlogLines to shut down and NewsGator to abandon its consumer business. The promotion continued until those two significant competitors were defeated, in September 2010. Just … Continue reading “Google Reader Fallout Hits Keep”