Tag: Web

Insta-mess

I came across this article in my news feed the other day. I admit when it comes to making money off of social media, the whole advertiser, influence gig is a bit of a mystery to me. Personally I can’t imagine anyone being interested in what I am doing but apparently others are and there is money to be made. A lot of money, and when there is a lot of money at stake the game is on. However, once you let the monster out it is not easy to get it back in the cage. Instagram Created a Monster: A No B.S. Guide to What’s Really Going On.

As I said, some of this was familiar to me and and some I had no clue about. I know many make a living on social media and every time I think about it I get that Dire Straits song, Money for Nothing, stuck in my head. But I guess it’s not nothing, a lot of money is spent on getting the word out to people, no matter what the word is, or who the people are, or where it’s coming from. As an unknown writer, (an undiscovered talent I would add), I know I have to reach as many possible readers as I can. Social media is the vehicle to do that, engaging content is the way. But when you don’t have anything, and just abuse the system to make a buck it hurts everyone. When it looks like the system is designed to be abused, well, then everyone looks silly.

A Funny Thing Happened When I stuck My Head Outside for Some Truth

truthThe internet has been full of articles about fake news lately. Just what is fake news? It’s not as black and white as you may think. Speaking of that analogy, there is a video game by Treasure, called Ikaruga where you toggle between a white and black spaceship, while in the white state you absorb bullets that are white but die if you touch anything black, and vice-versa. We’ve become pretty much like that little spaceship, absorbing what we match and reacting violently to anything we don’t. So naturally the the journey to anything resembling truth is a perilous one. I could go on but I think Nathan Bransford summed it up perfectly in this article. http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2016/11/the-end-of-truth.html

A democratic society depends on information, but more than that it depends on information that is delivered equally. That equality is currently under attack. Even as writers of fiction we need truth in small pieces to help us sell our readers the more fantastic bits. That bit of truth creates a common ground for the reader and pulls them into the story. What happens when we don’t agree on what that ground is? We get confusion and right now we have a lot of confusion. In the past we relied on truth to give us a common point of reference. Now, not so much. Our differences and our opinions are the new truth. It kind of gives me an idea of a story where no one experiences the same reality. Wait a minute, according to Quantum Theory that’s what we do every day. So then is truth overrated?

All That We Have Lost

As writers we exist in a nebulous sphere of confusion and discord when it comes to copyright. We obviously want our works protected and only earning money for us, their creator. We also know that in order to build our audience we need to get our works out there for the public to see. These two concepts seem to work against each other. Added to this is the various content industries’ assertion that every work that is not paid for is effectively stolen. This notion largely is in error. I have read many a book or listened to many a CD of material that I wasn’t looking to purchase. In some cases I enjoyed what I experienced so much I did seek out and purchase the content for myself. Yet when it comes to the digital world we are constantly reminded that piracy is everywhere and to that end we have allowed several our our personal liberties to be taken away by the upholders and protectors of copyright profits. Do I have a solution. Not even close.

I came across this article on TorrentFreak pointing out some of the liberties we have lost in the ever escalating war on piracy. It is an interesting read and when you think of it we probably should have been more enraged by some of these. In Memory of the Liberties Lost In the War on Piracy

Get Social Media Right

analyticsThat title might be a little bit of link bait, as I have yet to master all of my social media. (medias?) At any rate I did come across this article from ProBlogger that has some very good insights and useful numbers. I recommend giving it a look.

http://www.problogger.net/archives/2014/12/11/get-social-media-right-five-things-you-just-cant-miss/

What you see there is one of the recommendations stressed in the article. Social media is all about engagement. I think too many writers err on the side of using social media as a broadcast platform. Even myself I can see some posts where I’m guilty of this. What really makes social media work is the social side of it. Share and communicate; entice your readers to communicate back. That is advice you cannot go wrong with.

Google Flexes Its Muscle

google Google-iconIn an attempt to curb online piracy Google announced that it changed its search algorithm so that sites that point to pirated content appear deeper in search results. http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2376655/google-modifies-search-algorithms-in-bid-to-curb-online-piracy Okay. I guess. Many of these sites are nothing more than ad farms that make money the minute you hit their page so I would like to see less of them. If I am looking for information on a movie or some music I would rather see that information rather than someplace to download a free copy. Still, I have to wonder, is piracy so rampant, (if it is indeed as rampant as the studios would like us to believe), because it is available or because there is a breakdown in the value of content. On one hand we have a company like Apple handing out copies of U2’s latest. Granted they paid the band handsomely so this is not piracy but the message to the consumer is, “here is free music.” I mean if U2’s music is free why not Coldplay, or Katy Perry? Nearly every video streaming service entices you with either free months of service or a few free downloads. Again this only reinforces the idea, stuff on the internet is free. Intelligent minds should recognize these ploys for what they are but it would be nice if the sky rained M&M candies every once in a while too.

Another scarier thought is the power that this one company has over information. With just a few lines of code they can bury whole categories of websites. As Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility,” but damn I hope none of my favorite sites get on Google’s bad side. Or do I? Web savvy users have long since known about the dark web, sites that do not appear in searches and can only be found by using their URLs. Google’s action will thwart the average Joe but the real internet pirate like the deep sea variety has his or her browser packed full of bookmarks and links to continue the hunt. In the end Google’s gesture may be just that, a gesture, but it should also remind us just how curated our information has become.

Monkeys Need Not Apply

monkey selfieI noticed this story on The Register that made me scratch my head. US Copyright Office rules that monkeys CAN’T claim copyright over their selfies I don’t personally know many monkeys but I guess some have tried to copyright their selfies. The skeptic in me sent me looking for some corroboration and I did find several news sources reporting the story. Actually the regulation states that the rights to such photos only reside with humans. I know animal discrimination at its worst.

Why Don’t We Have a Spotify for Books

I have been a Spotify subscriber for almost a year now and use it every day at work. I am an avid eBook reader, I read every day, and I still long for a service that can do for my reading habit what Spotify does for my music habit. For those unfamiliar, Spotify is a music streaming service that for a very reasonably fee allows you to access a library of millions of songs across a variety of devices. It has it’s detractors, sure, http://torrentfreak.com/artists-think-instead-spewing-spotify-hate-140222/, but the service does provide, for me, at least a very attractive alternative to maxing out my credit cards or piracy.

Digital has forced a rethinking of ownership. In the analog days we owned vinyl albums, printed books, VHS tapes. These were all physical things that took up space on our shelves, in our closets and under our beds. In the digital age consumption has replaced ownership. For most things I am okay with that. I still look with pride on my shelf of H.P. Lovecraft collections, yet I would be lying if I did not say I enjoy the convenience of having them available on my smartphone when I’m waiting for an appointment. The ones on my shelf make up a collection; the ones in my phone are for my consumption.

Nathan Bransford poses an interesting question on this very same topic, http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2014/02/will-there-ever-be-successful-netflix.html His take has tasked me with questioning do we need a service for books. I usually read two eBooks a month, rarely spending more than $4 a book. That is less than my Spotify or Netflix account, yet I would still welcome a subscription service. Currently I buy eBooks, consume them and will probably leave them to occupy the ones and zeroes of cyberspace. I don’t really need to own these books once I have read them and I can’t sell them or in most cases lend them. I would just as soon pay $8 for a service that lets me consume those books as well as ones costing $9 or even the insane price of $14. At that point the service is saving me money.

Let’s go to the elephant in the room, the ugly painting on the wall, the word you probably have been shouting at this point. Libraries. In the interest of full disclosure I have no trouble saying I am a librarian and my opinion of borrowing eBooks from the public library, in a word, sucks. Many of the services I have tried are the epitome of shoehorning advancing technology into the status quo. As Leonard Hofstatder said, “way to think outside but press up against the box.” The Kindle Lending Library comes close as well but does me no good on my smartphone or tablet. So we still lack a competitive service for readers. That being said libraries are trying to move forward. I do feel the library has a reader’s best interests at heart and many of these issues get lumped in with the library continuing to evolve in our digital online connected world. Platforms like BiblioBoard show some real process. As does the concept of the Library as Publisher, http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/wanna-write-good-one-library-publisher. We are eventually seeing some real progress from libraries, but I can still hope for my eBook version of Spotify. Can’t I?

Social Networks to Watch in 2014

If coming up with your message isn’t hard enough finding the best home for it can add another wrinkle. While Facebook, in many eyes, may seem synonymous with social networking, as writers trying to reach out target audience, we need to be aware of alternatives and the audiences they attract. This article has some good descriptions of the various networks and their audiences. I would even add there is one network that I have never heard of,,but read more by clicking the link below.

http://blogs.adobe.com/digitaleurope/2014/01/03/social-networks-care-2014/

Got Writer’s Block? Let Your Readers Help

I have already written a post about author Silvia Hartmann and the Naked Writer Project. Holly McDowell has taken her writing process for King Solomon’s Wives to the web in a different way. As reported by the Huffington Post Ms. McDowell has engaged her readers before the book ever hits the shelf. The concept here is to have readers guide the story along using the latest in tracking software. The author knows where readers stop within the manuscript, which chapters they re-read and what characters they want to know more about. All this is possible through her publisher, Coliloquy, which allows readers to guide a book along on it’s development. This latest trend in digital publishing is called an interactive serial novel. Readers of King Solomon’s Wives look forward to a new episode in the story released every three to four months. They can then vote on where the story goes from there.

I am intrigued by the concept and the technology that brings it to life. I don’t foresee us facing a glut of novels written by general consensus in the near or distant future, but anything that brings readers and authors together for the better of the work can only be a good thing. As for myself I will file this along with the Naked Writer Project as something I may take part in if I have the right project. And really how many of us already do some level of this on our own in our limited circles. Every time we share pages with a spouse, friend, writing circle are we not engaging in this same behavior? Do we not listen and make changes based on what our readers say? Like everything else on the web this just kicks things up a notch.

Stop SOPA

Wikipedia Goes Dark

I figured that rather than making my blog go dark in support of the SOPA protests, I would chime in with my feelings. As a writer and musician I understand the threat that online piracy represents and that people need to pay for the media that they consume. That being said I do think the legislation in its current form is too broad to perform as intended. Especially when current measures under the DMCA are working.

Supporters of this legislation would have you believe that billions of dollars are lost to online piracy and with it jobs. I cannot really speak to that but I do have to question their methodology for arriving at that figure. I do not accept the assumption that every piece of pirated content is a lost sale. I didn’t buy that when the music industry first used it as their argument against Napster. My decision to purchase content is always weighted against many factors one of which is, do I want to support this creator. There are plenty of movies that I will sit through but very few that I want to own and sit through again. Just as when I was using Napster I downloaded many songs to listen to; some I liked and bought the artist’s CD while others I didn’t like so I deleted them.

Again, do not let this issue be distilled down to a matter of you either support SOPA or you are for online piracy. Anyone who pushes that line needs to be asked; do you support the free exchange of ideas and information or do you advocate for a strong central body that can turn off the flow of information at their choosing. Artists need to be supported. That does not mean that we need legislation to guarantee that support at the sacrifice of our core principles. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.