Posts tagged “author”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Virtual Seminar: Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets by Steve Portigal [IxDA Munich] – “Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets: Making Sure You Don’t Leave Key Information Behind”, Steve Portigal’s virtual seminar will be shown in our next meeting. The seminar lasts 90 minutes and it will be followed by a discussion. June 30th 7 p.m., IDEO, Hochbrückenstraße 6, 80331 Munich
  • IndieReader – For Self-Published Books and the Readers Who Love Them – IndieReader is a venue for you to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a super store. And every book on the IndieReader site is reviewed prior to acceptance, guaranteeing that you'll find the "cream-of-the-indie crop". Why is this so important? Because today more than ever, almost everything we produce gets co-opted by corporate culture, turned into a business model, reformulated and churned out like soap with the simple intent to appeal to as many people as possible. In a world where almost everything is packaged by committee, IndieReader offers you books with a single voice: the writer's own.
  • The Expanding Definition of Craft Beer [] – In a world where Nabisco sells “artisan” Wheat Thins, the designation of Samuel Adams as a craft beer seems perfectly fair. But the Boston Beer Company, the brewery that was founded in 1984 and makes Sam Adams, is on the verge of outgrowing its coveted craft status — at least according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group that defines craft brewers in part as producing fewer than two million barrels a year. The federal government defines small brewers similarly, imposing a lower excise tax on those that stay under the two-million-barrel threshold. Mr. Koch predicted that Boston Beer would surpass the two-million mark by 2012. But help may be on the way: John Kerry introduced a bill last month that would increase the yearly production limit for small brewers to six million barrels.
  • Icing, a meme drinking game with Smirnoff Ice [] – The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles. Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.
  • Rethink the Book project from Berlin University of the Art – In cooperation with the schoolbook publisher Cornelsen Verlag a student group of the „New Media Studio Class” experimented with the digital possibilities to think anew the book as media. They linked the book by visual codes with methods of "Augmented Reality". They embeded sensor technology for new forms of interaction and used new methods of production engineering like "laser cutting" to model the book as an object or to publish personalized schoolbooks. In the exhibition they show several prototypes like electronic origami paper or an interactive periodic table.
    (via @cora_l)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Stereotyping people by favorite authors – In our Reading Ahead research, we heard about how people were both exploring and communicating identity through their choices of reading material. Identity is a complex internal and external mechanism, where we (explicitly or implicitly) project outwards to imagine how we might appear to others…an internal act that feels or draws from the external. So the existence of lists like this, while tongue-in-cheek, validate that this process is real.
    (via @kottke)
  • Scott Baldwin on the fine art of listening – Try changing how you listen. Try to capture the message (listen with your ears, mind, eyes and heart). Make eye contact, use an open posture and be attentive to body language, volume, tone and pace. Look deeper than just the meaning of the words and try to understand the reason, feelings or intent beyond the words. Be empathetic, objective and analytical.
  • An iPhone app for ethnography – Really? I haven't tried it but I am not encouraged by the description. What we're looking for doesn't always fit into predetermined categories (indeed, how are you to be innovative if the type of data you are gathering is already classifiable?) and there's a danger in conflating data with insights (or as the blogger here writes "outcomes"). Raw data is overwhelming and takes time and skill to process, if you want to find out anything new. Now, we spend a lot of our time just wrangling (copying, renaming, organizing, sharing, etc.) all sorts of data, so I'm up for tools that can help with that; but I think it's easy to go overboard and create tools for uninteresting – or unreliable – research results
  • Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection – Not an SNL parody ad from 1997, it's a real product line for 2010 (via @CarlAlviani)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Online and on iPhone, authors read 10 pages of their latest work – Aiming to introduce readers to authors they aren't yet familiar with, zehnSeiten (German for ten pages) promotes writers through videos that feature them reading ten pages from their latest novel.

    Available both online and as an iPhone app, the videos are simple, fixed-camera affairs. No dramatic introductions or filmed scenes, just black and white recordings of authors sitting at a table and reading from their work. By eliminating frills, the focus is on the author and production time and costs are kept to a minimum.

  • A Story Before Bed – asynchronous distant storytime – As Jason Kottke explains "A Story Before Bed allows you to record yourself reading a bedtime story to a faraway child…maybe you're away from home on business or a grandparent who lives in another state or just working late. When storytime rolls around, the child sees the book onscreen plus a video of you reading it to them. Slick."
  • Michael Turner on authors, digital, content, and meaning – (highly edited excerpt) – The problem with seeing "digital tools" as "problems" lies in the writer's inability to see the computer and the Internet less as tools than as a medium — the analogy being that the Internet is to the palette what the computer is to the canvas. If an author identifies his or herself as a "good old-fashioned storyteller", someone of bad manners and singular genius, a romantic, a lovable eccentric whose hat is always a little bit too big for their head, then the best way to convey that fantasy — and the book it squirted from — is to complain about "digital tools."

    Some authors have taken to [publisher requests to use digital to promote] better than others…using their books as a device by which to cast shade, create depth, movement, hopefully leading them to new places, new ways of making meaning.
    (via kottke)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Essayist Joseph Epstein Exposes Friendship – "Some aspects of friendship had changed, he averred. Women and men could now meet in non-sexual friendship in a way they could not in his father's generation. And through email, chat rooms, and technology, "techno friends" could be friendly without requiring personal presence."
  • Susan Roane – Small Talk – Keynote Speaker – Business Networking Techniques – Susan RoAne is the leading authority and original expert on how to work a room. Her best-selling books, popular interactive presentations and media interviews help companies and organizations successfully develop, build and manage client relationships that increase business growth.
  • Podcast: Susan RoAne, author of the book Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World – RoAne is an author and speaker on communication but she's blissfully ignorant that the issues she's addressing (When do you email vs. make a phone call? Should you use your laptop in a meeting? Can you wear a bluetooth headset at the opera?) are social norms that are evolving rapidly as new interactive media take hold. What kind of expert proclaims "If you are twittering more than 5 times a day, you should get a life"? Especially in the same breath where she declares it as her new addiction. While she's a champion for the value of real personal connection and considers some of these technologies as excellent ways to enhance those relationships, she also has a top-down view of what's right and wrong without really addressing that sometimes our interpretations about new behaviors are arbitrary (i.e., the act of wearing a Bluetooth headset has no inherent moral value, it's only in the way our society at this time consents to interpret it).

Solicitation Chutzpah

About a year ago, an editor at New Design Magazine pursued me aggressively to write an article for them, based on what they’d seen on this blog and elsewhere on the web. We batted around some ideas and I agreed to do it. They weren’t going to pay me, which sucks, but is somewhat par-for-the-course in our content-bloated world.

It got awkward when they did agree to pay an author I referred them to (a colleague of mine), and further awkward when my piece (created under a serious publication deadline) didn’t appear. Indeed, trying to find out what was happening with my piece was difficult; they just stopped returning my messages once they had their free article. As far as I know, they never ran it, but they never communicated any final decision back to me, either.

Perhaps this serves me right for not insisting on payment, and for not having any sort of formal agreement. But if they are going to use karmic currency, they better get their account back in balance. I’m obviously never going to write for them again.

So it was astonishing to see a solicitation in my email today, inviting me to purchase print advertising in their magazine. Now I should give them money? “The cost for each full page would be ¬£950, but new design will go fifty:50 with you on this rate. You pay just ¬£475.”

Shyeah, right.

Internet prank opportunity (for the truly motivated)

Famed blogger/writer/Internet-activist Cory Doctorow will custom-inscribe his books for you

If you’re interested in a signed, inscribed copy of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town or my collection A Place So Foreign and Eight More, you can call, fax, or email your order to the store, and they’ll get me to sign copies with your inscription.

So if you pay your money, Cory “has to” write whatever you tell him? Oh, hilarity could ensue! Someone needs to coordinate many purchases (yeah, this prank isn’t free. You have to buy the book) and similar requests for inscriptions.

Perhaps, recycle some existing Cory-friendly memes:

  • The Internets are tubes
  • All Your Base Are Belong To Us
  • Snacks On A Plane
  • Y’arr I’m a pirate

or, make up your own future meme and hope that Cory blogs about it when he gets millions of inscription requests

  • Donuts are for rolling, not strolling
  • Deely boppers, my ass
  • I ate my own tickle

or, make fun of the author or the book

  • This book sucks
  • I didn’t write this book
  • I hope you hate this book

or, take on some of Cory’s information/free/privacy causes

  • I hereby certify that I did not write this book
  • This book is hereby released under a Creative Commons license
  • I do not need to see your privacy policy
  • Steal this identity

I’m sure someone can do better than I can. Any ideas?

JPod: A Novel by Douglas Coupland

JPod is a new book by Douglas Coupland. I consider myself quite loyal to Coupland, having been significantly moved by Generation X to stick through a variety of highs (i.e., Hey Nostradmaus!) and lows (there have been several) over the years. But as I’ve written before, when an author introduces himself into the story as a character, I must quickly step aside. To me it seems like a cheap trick (akin to some Very Special Episode cliches from TV like the clip show, or the homage to It’s A Wonderful Life) that suggests the author’s ability to observe the world has been ruined by their own success (since the world that now includes the author). It could be a clever post-modern trick, but aren’t we really really tired of cutesy pomo hackery? Maybe I’m missing out on a great book or something, but I’m just a little bit offended by someone who I have long respected and enjoyed.

New Yorker profiles Roald Dahl

From a lengthy New Yorker profile of Roald Dahl comes this story of a formative exposure to the notion that the products we experience are the result of conscious deliberate decisions by others, and that this is a process one can engage in.

He and the other boys at Repton also enjoyed a curious perk, courtesy of the Cadbury chocolate company. “Every now and again, a plain grey cardboard box was dished out to each boy in our House,” Dahl writes in Boy. Inside were eleven chocolate bars, aspirants to the Cadbury line. Dahl and the other boys got to rate the candy, and they took their task very seriously. (“Too subtle for the common palate” was one of Dahl’s assessments.) He later recalled this as the first time that he thought of chocolate bars as something concocted, the product of a laboratory setting, and the thought stayed with him until he invented his own crazy factory.

Dahl is brilliant at evoking the childhood obsession with candy, which most adults can recall only vaguely. In his books, candy is often a springboard for long riffs on imagined powers and possibilities. Far from being the crude ode to instant gratification that critics like Cameron detect, Dahl’s evocation of candy is an impetus to wonder. When Billy, the boy in The Giraffe, the Pelly, and Me (1985), opens his own candy shop–talk about wish fulfillment!–he orders confections from all over the world. “I can remember especially the Giant Wangdoodles from Australia, every one with a huge ripe red strawberry hidden inside its crispy chocolate crust,” he says. “And The Electric Fizzcocklers that made every hair on your head stand straight up on end. . . . There was a whole lot of splendid stuff from the great Wonka factory itself, for example the famous Willy Wonka Rainbow Drops–suck them and you can spit in seven different colours. And his stickjaw for talkative parents.” The word “confection” has a double meaning in Dahl’s world: candy is a source not only of sweetness but of creativity. On a field trip recently, I sat next to three nine-year-old boys who spent forty-five minutes in a Wonka-inspired reverie, inventing their own candies.


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