Monthly Archives: June 2007

Been Busy

I’ve been stuck for the past few days off the internet, caught up in a play (amateur production, don’t you worry) and grappling with several papers. I have admitted defeat to all the work that needs to be done, and I guess I’ll have to adjust my schedule accordingly.

I swear I’ll never let this blog die.

I’m writing articles on paper, constructing and bringing ideas into frution – something which I thank the heavens I’m not short on. I promise each and every one of them will be substantial stuff, but I think I’ll be forced to post once a week.

Another thing: I definitely need a good laser printer. I’ve given up finishing any of the blooks online due to time constraints (and distractions), so I’ll just print everything out, review it and chuck the blook away.

I hope this doesn’t violate any Creative Commons licenses (I don’t think so, though).

The other option I have is to ask for guest bloggers, which we really need if we want to create a blooking community. My schedule is really eating me alive. Wish me luck.

Bookmarked! June 10th

Article 1. Movable Type 4 is now open sourced! It’s the one blogging software I’ve been yearning to try out – and I daresay that it just might beat WordPress as the ideal platform to blook on (marginally easier to code for, but I don’t know yet). I’ll be installing it as soon as I can find the time, and I’ll do a writeup on it, to complete that series on blogging platforms I did awhile back.

Article 2. I Was Just So Relieved the Zombie Didn’t Keep a Blog


1. Charlie Baker sent me a contact message just the other day, alerting me to The Fantasy Years. I’ve tried coming up with a description for it, but I think his words are the best:

It’s satire about America inthe 1990s. It’s unabashedly political. I’m a journalist- Charlie Baker is just a pen name – and my writing is very newsy and based in the real world. It’s pretty much completed and I’m just posting it in small pieces. I’d be curious about your comments.

I can’t at the moment, since I’ve only glanced through it – and I apologize, Charlie. But I’ll make it up to you within two weeks.

2. Lee left me a comment and a link back to his blook: Mortal Ghost. It’s YA, and the first page tells you outright where you can read, how you can read, and where to find every chapter. Again, just a quick glance through – but he’s completed it and even prepared podcasts!

Going to close this really short Bookmarked! post with a site that’s incredibly addictive: One Sentence, which works exactly like it says. Postsecret in words.


Social Networking for Publishers

coin stackIt’s funny what you can find in your local papers if you look hard enough. I flipped through the Technology section of The Star yesterday and was surprised to find a Reuters piece on how social networks are helping publishers sell books.

Oh no … more Web 2.0 hype.

Faced with the challenge of marketing a book with a vulgarity in the title, publisher Rick Wolff turned to Internet blogs and social networking sites to spread the word about his latest business book.

Bookstores were scared of The No A**hole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t, so Rick Wolff sent emails by the bulkload to bloggers and readers.

There apparently is some serious regard for the power of the Internet: Wolff was invited to talk at a panel discussion on ‘the Internet in publishing’ at the BookExpo America trade fair. I’m regarding this as an early toe-dip into the uncharted waters of marketing books on the Internet … what I’m afraid of is that the market would be so saturated with bloggers screaming “read this book, read this book!”

But there are some interesting concepts mentioned by the article: for instance – Harper Collins Children’s Books used Myspace to promote a competition for teenagers to write successive chapters of a novella, which was then voted on by site visitors as the book progressed.

Oh, and apparently Harper Collins is a 26 year old male in Myspace.

I’m not entirely comfortable with publishers making headway into the online review sphere (remember that article about book reviewers being out of print?) – but then again there raises the question of just how influential are bloggers in selling books? I’m reminded uncomfortably of an annonymous comment in Critical Mass:

I find it interesting that a review of a book in the Sunday NY Times is often much more positive than a review of the same book in the Times week day arts section. Many reviews today sound like marketing instruments and you get the feeling, at least with respect to books from well-known authors, with well-connected publicists, that the reviewers are “bought off” or at least have bought into the hype. As a result, I am more likely to pay attention to a review of a book by an obscure author than of a Cormac McCarthy, a Jonathan Safran Forer etc.

One possible problem? Publishers using PayPerPost to get you to review their books. I shudder at the thought of that.

PS: the article mentions Shelfari, and states that 76% of users there would but their next book from site recommendations. Really now? We’ll see.

Collins Dictionary includes Blook!

There’s a funny little piece in Guardian Unlimited about a list of new entrants into the Collins dictionary:

Of course, they’re not new words exactly; rather, they’re words that have been flung at the proverbial brick wall so often over the last 10 years or so that they’ve stuck …

Because the vlog (an internet video journal), the blook (a blog that becomes a book, or vice versa) and the mobcast (an unholy aliance of podcast and mobile phone) are mounting such a determined challenge on the lamestream (traditional media), advances in IT provide a good chunk of the list.

Oh, and while you’re there check out whataboutery, camel toe, and waterboarding! One of which, by the way, is a form of torture.

How to spoil a book

curiousincidentdog_1.jpgJust got off a plane reading The Curious Incident Of A Dog At The Night-Time. Bought it at an airport and then ploughed through it for the duration of the flight.

I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should’ve. A whole party of kids were raising a cacophony and the guy sitting next to me was humming. It was horrible: noisy and claustrophobic, plus the little girl behind me was kicking every few seconds.

A note about the aforementioned book: it was hilarious the first time around (I read the first few pages in Amazon early last year). But as the flight wore on the book grew less and less funny … I’m not sure if that was the way it was meant to be, or if it was the horrible reading conditions on that plane. I guess I’ll never know.

I’ve found a possible equivalent online, though. Horton’s Folly is written so tongue in cheek you can’t help but laugh. A delight to read, nevermind if you never know if it’s fiction or not.

Crossfire: Blooks Are Low Quality Anyway

rubbish.jpgIt was only a matter of time before we started asking questions. Blooks are low quality, are new, are amateurish.

James over at Progression writes on the appalling lack of quality in the Blooker prize nominees – despite it being the benchmark in the industry: ‘our’ Booker prize. Betsy then comments in her blog and adds the following story:

A philosophy professor I’d had for a few classes came into the Writing Center where I was working, and asked me whether I was doing a thesis, so I summarized what I was doing. He asked, “Are any of these blogs any good?” Well, no, I answered him …

It somewhat mirrors a debate I had a couple of months back: in it we talked about how the Blooker winners can never qualify for the Booker. I argued that the Blooker represents the best of what is currently on offer on the Internet – which isn’t much at the moment. And I even contacted Paul Jones (chair of the judges for this year’s Blooker) for his thoughts on the issue.

But now I’m having second thoughts. And I believe this to be a good time for me to take a step back and evaluate objectively that thorny issue of quality that blooking has.

Why do people blook?

  1. To improve their writing
  2. To gain recognition
  3. As an experiment
  4. To get published

1 means the blogosphere gets littered by slush-pile works – only worthy of reading if you want to torture yourself.

2 is better – authors who want to gain recognition would have to put up stories worth reading … but I believe this is tied to 4, getting published (or discovered).

And as for 3 … well. I believe blooking needs more of these kind of people. People who are already established authors, or who have a good story to tell and the means to tell it. Now all they need to do is to set up a blog, flex their fingers and start typing – something terribly easy to do considering the two minutes it takes to set up a new blog at Blogger.

This post doesn’t answer anything, really, but I’m trying to force myself to think – and this I ask of you, too.

How can literature on the net be improved?