Posted tagged ‘New York Times’

The A.P. Steps Up

April 6, 2009

This is something that’s been looming for a while, and it looks like it’s finally happening.  As reported in the Times, the Associated Press is beginning a crack down of the use of its articles by news aggragators such as Yahoo, Google, and the Huffington Post.  From the tone of the article this sounds like the calmest copyright kerfluffle to date.  Although not all of the A.P.’s members are in agreement with this course of action (some like getting the added traffic a link from Google can send their way).

This is definitely a story worth watching.

Books and Games Again

October 6, 2008

The Times (via Linda Braun) has another report of books and video games today, but this time I’m feeling a little more cynical towards it.  The article is split between libraries and schools using games to foster scholarly activities and novelists capitalizing on the interest in gaming to market their books.  The former point is well taken (although I find the arguement that reading instruction manuals will improve literacy a bit dubious, particularly because hard core gamers don’t read them).

The later is true, but the article uses some really poor examples.  There are some great works in both the publishing and the video game world that bridge the two.  This article sticks entirely with the novels, and focuses on one person in particular who is in marketing first and an author second, not a great formula for success.  On the other hand there are people out there like Sean Stewart who came to the form (via Cathy’s Book) after having his feet firmly planted in both worlds first.

And on the other end of the spectrum, the article seems to presuppose that video games have not yet found a way to reach the same level of narrative complexity as books.  And while I agree they could be better, so could the great majority of novels being written today, and there are a huge number of games that have found ways to incorporate truly clever writing (Psychonauts, Sam & Max, Portal), complex narratives (Killer 7, GTA), and fictional worlds with incredible depth (Bioshock, Okami).  There may not be a game yet that has successfully combined all these elements, or at least not without sacrificing the gameplay to accomplish it, but there are plenty that have come close (I’ll actually accept some arguements in favor of Portal and Okami for having succeeded) and I have no doubt we will be there in the very near future.

Education and the new media

September 8, 2008

There’s a pair of good articles up today on the educational possibilities of my two favorite vices.  The Times has an interview with comics expert Scott McCloud (via Linda Braun) on his recent Google Chrome tutorial.  Then on Wired Clive Thompson has written a nice editorial on how video games teach the scientific method.

What’s a Twiller?

August 31, 2008

Matt Richtel of the Times has aparently begun to publish a story of his over Twitter (via Linda Braun), 1 sentence at a time.  The idea is to let fans read the story as he writes it.  It’s a neat idea, but it’s a form of publishing that libraries cannot really participate in.

Aging and the news

August 18, 2008

The New York Times (via Kathryn Cramer) has an article up on the current demographics for tv news, and it’s a bit startling.  The median age of the television news viewer is over 60 (with the median Fox News viewer 63.9).  The actual article is kind of garbage, focusing primarily on the difficulties in courting young voters given those statistics.

Which begs the question, will traditional tv news broadcasts (somehow I don’t think the Daily Show was included in this study) survive another generation?  And is that actually a problem?  I’m certainly amongst those who refuse to watch the news broadcasts, prefering to get my news from a number of online sources (they update faster, don’t have commercial breaks, and I can find sources with less of a bias).  News is just one of the things the internet excells at (although not how to navigate it).

So I hope the reason for the age gap in the news is that people are just going to other sources, although opting for ignorance wouldn’t surprise me terribly either.

The Fate of Reading

July 28, 2008

I’ve been thinking a bit about the current state of literacy in the wake of reading the Times article I posted yesterday, and I’m very troubled.  On one level I’m perfectly fine with the idea of on-line reading skills replacing the previous printed page paradigm for some people.  They are two totally different skill sets and I don’t believe one is necessarily superior to the other, and if the end result is more people reading then that’s great.

But I am worried that what’s going to get lost eventually are our current ideas of narrative and story.  On-line reading is great at promoting critical thinking and research skills, but I find it also tends to distribute a person’s focus in ways that are anathema to the ways one traditional reads.  And maybe this is something harmful in the long run.

One of the ongoing theories to come out of Readercon is the idea that storytelling is something ingrained in the wiring of our brains.  Cold facts cannot convince a person of a new idea nearly as well as a good story can (yes this is the faith vs. science argument).  For another example just try to tell someone about your day by merely listing your itinerary without embellishing it a little.  Those little details change your life into a story, and are the only way to really hold another person’s interest.

We need narrative in our lives, and that is what gets stripped out when we bounce around like we do while web surfing.  And if the theory about stories and how we think is true then maybe this way of reading could prove to be outright harmful.

R U Really Reading?

July 27, 2008

I don’t normally post on Sundays, but I needed to share a link to the Time’s article on the internet and its effect on reading that was in today’s paper (Via various people on Twitter).  The article does a good job of covering both the pros and cons of using the internet as ones primary source of reading material, but I agree with Candy Scwartz that it frames the debate in a distressing all-or-nothing sort of way.

Definitely worth a look though.

Changing idea of obscenity

June 24, 2008

The New York Times has a fascinating article up today on an obscenity trial in Florida, in which the defense is using google’s statistics to prove that a community’s standards differ from what people profess in public.  I think this is a brilliant way to address the insanely inconsistant rules dictating obscenity cases.

I have some first hand experience with this.  Back in college I worked on an anthology of student comics, and since one of our best submissions featured some nudity the editors decided to run it by a lawyer from student legal services prior to distribution.  We met with a lawyer and all we got out of the experience was a photocopy of the definition of obscenity from a legal dictionary (he also felt the need to highlight it for us).

After a bit more research we found out the issue was even more confusing than we suspected.  I went to school at UMass: Amherst, which is part of a 5 college consortium in the Pioneer Valley.  We decided we would distribute our book on all 5 campuses, plus a few bookstores in the area.  What our research showed was that each town, and actually each campus would have its own legal community standard.  In the end we threw our hands up in the air and released the thing as planned (it helped that it was a very liberal area) and we didn’t have any difficulties.  But I can’t begin to imagine what people elsewhere have to deal with considering that the standard for us was essentially that there wasn’t one (until someone complains anyway).

So, I applaud the efforts going on down in Florida.  This is a law that needs to be reexamined and this is a great way to point that fact out.

The State of Publishing

May 30, 2008

The Times has published an article with a bleak analysis of the publishing industry, despite the fact that sales increased (albeit by a mere 0.9%).   The problem being the the outlook isn’t very good, sales are expected to plummet and there isn’t another Harry Potter phenomenon on the horizon.

But what’s bad for publishers may be a boon for libraries.  The basis of the slump is after all the economic downturn and books are luxury items after all.  It’s no surprise they’re one of the first things to get cut out of a person’s budget (just not my own unfortunately, it’s lots of pasta for me instead).  Thus I’m really hoping that circulation counts will increase as the sales continue to slump.  Cause I really need to have some hope.

Morning Links

May 29, 2008

There are just too many good articles that came my way this morning to discuss them all fully, so here’s a bunch of links:

The Times discusses the problems of Congress’ attempt to reform copyright to account for orphaned works.

PC World lists the top 100 new technologies of the past year, and explains why Hulu is so good.

Jenny Levine continues to be the best library technology writer out there with a nice discussion on how to cope with social networking.

Finally, Jon Ippolito has a great paper on why art should be made available for free via the Creative Commons.