February 2009 Archives

Hearst Gets Into the E-Reader Game

Hearst Corp. is developing its own wireless e-reader that may debut this year. From Fortune: According to industry insiders, Hearst, which publishes magazines ranging from Cosmopolitan to Esquire and newspapers including the financially imperiled San Francisco Chronicle, has developed a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines. The device and…

Four short links: 27 Feb 2009

Four short links: 27 Feb 2009

The Economist in Chinese, online news, concurrency, and community. Have a great weekend!

  1. Translating the Economist — Andy Baio reports on a Chinese electronic community that, each week, splits up and translates The Economist articles into Chinese. The DIY ethos here, “we want this, it’s not here yet, let’s make it happen”, is tremendous.
  2. Business Models of News — excellent insight into the travails of newspaper business. “In essence to secure the advertising for the print edition, they have in the past completely undermined the business they need to survive in the future. They have told every one of their advertisers that online adverts are not worth paying for.” (via Julie Starr)
  3. Embracing Concurrency — Ignite UK North talk on parallel coding, at a high and clear level, by Michael Sparks of BBC R&D, who is also author of Kamaelia.
  4. Things I’ve Learned From Hacker News — Paul Graham on social and community lessons from running Hacker News. “Probably the most important thing I’ve learned about dilution is that it’s measured more in behavior than users. It’s bad behavior you want to keep out more than bad people. User behavior turns out to be surprisingly malleable. If people are expected to behave well, they tend to; and vice versa.”

State of the Computer Book Market 2008, part 5 — eBooks and Summary

In this final post, 1, 2, 3, and 4 were posted earlier, we will provide a summary of the first four posts and include some data on electronic books and how the digital world is catching up the the print world.

TOC Twitter Visualization Contest Winner

The winner of our impromptu contest for best visualization of the TOC Conference Twitter activity is Stephen Smith for his tag clouds and stats over at toctweet.com: Congrats to Steve, who gets a free full pass to TOC 2010! (With an honorable mention to @thewritermama for banging out 720(!) tweets during the show.)…

Four short links: 26 Feb 2009

Four short links: 26 Feb 2009

Three stories about old-media in new-media age, and some patent goblins to leave a bad taste in your mouth:

  1. The Kindle Swindle — the Authors Guild president argues that the robot voice of the Kindle does away with audiobook royalty streams, lucrative for some titles. Doesn’t mention the vast majority of books for which there is no audiobook. Creators have attempted to regulate use with licenses, but I think the plasticity of bits argues against this being possible for much longer. Now “audiobook”-ness is a feature of the device, not a feature of the retailed artistic work, and the question is not only how to charge for it but whether it makes sense to continue to charge for it. Neil Gaiman, by the way, doesn’t feel the same way as the head of the Author’s Guild.
  2. If You Want to Save Newspapers, Learn to Love Your iPhones — a long Observer piece about the “future of newspapers”, reinvention in the mobile age, subscription models, the curse of Google, etc. Many great quotes, for example: “Google is great for Google, but it’s terrible for content providers, because it divides that content quantitatively rather than qualitatively. And if you are going to get people to pay for content, you have to encourage them to make qualitative decisions about that content.” — Robert Thomson, the managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.
  3. NYT ArticleSkimmer — reminscent, vaguely, of Arts & Letters Daily, the original “big heap o’ content” page. Between this and Big Picture, I’m enjoying the experimentation in online newspaper formats.
  4. Microsoft Sues TomTom Over Patents, Including Linux Kernel — Microsoft patented elements of the FAT filesystem, including the system for representing long filenames on systems that only handle 8.3 filenames like CRAPWARE.EXE. This filesystem is used in pretty much every digital camera and Flash filesystem device, and the TomTom system in question. This Ars Digita article raises the interesting possibility that the Open Invention Network could respond by flexing its patent portfolio muscles and make it clear that nobody wants a battle over patents (except lawyers who are paid by the hour).

Indigo's Shortcovers Launched Today: A Good Start, But Room for Reader Improvement

The Shortcovers website and companion iPhone and Blackberry apps launched today. Put simply, it's a website for buying ebooks. But there's a few interesting twists that (for now) set it apart. Though most of the current content is books, the primary unit of the service is the "shortcover" — things like an article, a blog post, and a book chapter. That means publishers have the option of making individual chapters available for sale (or as free samples). But perhaps the more interesting consequence of that is something they're calling "mixes," where readers can combine multiple shortcovers into a single "mix" (think iTunes playlist), and share that with other readers.

Hallway Video from TOC Conference: Tim O'Reilly on Open Publishing

The folks from the RIT Open Publishing Lab have posted a short video talking with Tim O'Reilly in the hallway of the TOC Conference about Open Publishing:…

Karmic Koalas Love Eucalyptus

Mark Shuttleworth recently announced that the release of Ubuntu 9.10 will be code-named Karmic Koala. Whilst many of the developments around Ubuntu 9.10 are focused on the desktop, a significant effort is being made on the server release to bring Ubuntu into the cloud computing space. The cloud effort begins with 9.04 and the launch of a technology preview of Eucalyptus, an open sourced system for creating Amazon EC2-like clouds, on Ubuntu.

DIY City Releases DIY Traffic

DIY City is a new tech movement aimed at empowering geeks to remake their cities. The site has forums where people can propose projects and then discuss the potential solutions. Since its launch in late 2008 many local chapters have sprung up. Today DIY City is launching its first project, DIY Traffic. It uses Twitter to send an receive traffic updates from subscribers. So far there are three cities that have gone live. You can check out San Francisco, Chicago, and Portland to see the app in action or to participate.

State of the Computer Book Market 2008, part 4 — The Languages

In this fourth post on the State of the Computer Book Market, we will look at programming languages and drill in a little on each language area. Overall the market for programming languages was down 5.9% in 2008 when compared with 2007. There were 1,849,974 units sold in 2007 versus 1,740,808 units sold in 2008, which is a decrease of 109,166 units. So the unhealthy 8% loss in the Overall Computer Book Market was not completely fueled by programming-oriented books.