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8.27.2014

Down the Digital Road...

With comprehensive exams and a few more essays looming in the very near future, get a load of this reading list:

1.      Banks, Adam. Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground.
2.      Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation.
3.      Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art…”
4.      Birkerts, Sven. “Into the Electronic Millenium.”
5.      Bolter, J. David. Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print.
6.      Burnard, et. al. Electronic Textual Editing.
7.      Cohen and Rosenzweig. Digital History: A guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web.
8.      Delagrange, Susan. The Technologies of Wonder.
9.      Eubanks, Virginia. Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age.
10.  Grabill, Jeff. Writing Community Change: Designing Technologies for Citizen Action.
11.  Haraway, Donna Jeane. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature.
12.  Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman.
13.  Headrick, Daniel. When Information Came of Age.
14.  Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture.
15.  Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
16.  Lanham, Richard. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information.
17.  Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture.
18.  Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media.
19.  McGann, Jerome. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web.
20.  Misa, Thomas. Leonard to the Internet.
21.  Nakamura, Lisa. Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet.
22.  Norman, Donald. Living with Complexity.
23.  Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy.
24.  Rice, Jeff. The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.
25.  Sullivan and Porter. Opening Spaces.
26.  Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen.
27.  Ulmer, Gregory. Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy.
28.  Vandendrope, Christian. From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Library.
29.  Vogt, et. al. When to Use What Research Design.
30. Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort. The New Media Reader.

Just cracked open Digital History last night and I'm enjoying it. That said, might not come up for air until some time around Thanksgiving!

8.18.2014

Boo-hoo Breakfast...

We experienced the inevitable this morning with taking our sweet little girl to her first day of kindergarten. It was awesome to walk together to our neighborhood school, which has such a sense of spirit and positivity! Her teacher seems very sweet and knowledgeable, and her class is small.

I must admit to some shiny eyes as she fell into line for her first day. She was so excited that she tossed and turned all night, and I think the experience was overwhelming for her as well. We'll go pick her up around 4:00 and take her to the YMCA, just to get back into a familiar routine for her. 

Big day, friends! Big day indeed...

8.14.2014

The Situation in Ferguson is Surreal...

In New New Media, Paul Levinson writes perceptively about social media and citizen journalism. He analyzes the social context of events such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wallstreet movements. Last night, my Twitter timeline blazed with dozens and dozens of tweets on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. 

Images of armor-clad tactical police units demanding identification from American citizens in a suburban McDonalds are, to say the least, unsettling. Part of the definition of surreal, at least as it applies to politics, is that notion of building an unsettling atmosphere. To see the very symbol of American homogeneity (those ubiquitous Golden Arches) being invaded like a drug house on the other side of the tracks was astonishing. 

It just went downhill from there. Police units firing rubber bullets into crowds and lobbing gas grenades into packs of American citizens. Arresting journalists for taking pictures of the demonstrations.

Sheesh.

Twitter delivered the crazy directly to my couch, in more ways than one. Sure, there was great reporting from legitimate journalists. There was also rabid, angry race baiting and the same kinds of ignorance that caused Zelda Williams to flee social media altogether.

What a double-edged sword. At the same time that folks are using new media to create some form of social justice in a terrible situation, a large and vocal faction has thrown civility right out the window. At least, in the days of print primacy, writers had to sign their names to the letters they wrote to the editorial pages...

The President needs to say something more equivocal on what is taking place there, and the images and stories coming out of Ferguson deserve to be reported. There seems to be a lot of blame to go around in this situation:
County Police Chief Jon Belmar, though, said his officers have responded with "an incredible amount of restraint," as they've been the targets of rocks, bottles and gunshots, with two dozen patrol vehicles being destroyed.
Restricting the flow of information, however, is not a justifiable reaction by law enforcement (the journalists were, however, released without charges). I hope this all ends soon, and with no more loss of human life. This community needs answers, and it needs to heal. The sooner, the better...


8.06.2014

Kindle Unlimited a Race to Ubiquity and Dominance?

Musician David Byrne said some interesting things a few months ago about Spotify, and it will be interesting to see how Kindle Unlimited stacks up on royalties over the coming months. Hugh Howey touched on this in his balanced blog post on the service.

I have a few titles available in Select (Maximum Dark, and a couple of short stories), and I'm taking a cautionary approach with going all-in. 

The thing is, that one can experience some marketing spread by sticking with other vendors. I love Amazon as a business for its customer experience, to be sure, and they've done a good job with busting the ebook market wide open. I tend to fall in line more closely with Howey, and I think that this will have a similar effect on the market that the KOLL program had. 

But Byrne's comments are keen. Writers need to realize that there are other ways to market and value their wares. Consider a Goodreads ad campaign (yes, I know where the revenue goes) or a BookBub promotion. Consider bumping prices to a more sustainable $4.99-$7.99 for novels.

Until we see the figures by Amazon, it's hard to gauge what these subscription services will do for writers. Best to just keep working and watching the market...

8.04.2014

Kindle Unlimited has a Residual Effect

So I'm still not sure how the Kindle Unlimited program will impact my earnings for last month, when I had a number of titles just finishing their window of exclusivity with Select. One thing I do find fascinating, however, is the broader reach of the program. 

In the first few days of its existence, I had seventeen reads (more than 10% of the text qualifies the book) in either Kindle Unlimited or KOLL. Since the first of August, I've had four more, and I wondered how that was possible, since I'm out of Select. So these were all KU reads. 

Well, as the terms of service indicate, a user might include your book in that monthly bundle (I think up to ten titles a month), and then not read it for some time. Whenever they cross that 10% threshold, even if you are no longer participating in Select, it triggers a read in the program. 

So there is some potential for growing your audience well after you make your titles available in other distribution channels as well. I have nothing insightful to say on this--but I do see it as an interesting facet of how this subscription service changes the dynamics between authors and readers. 

It will be interesting to see how Amazon computes the KOLL/KU units for last month, and how much they put into the pie for August. 

Exciting times, I tell you...exciting times in the world of disruptive technologies!

7.31.2014

Publishing is Loosening Up!

The tectonic shifts taking place in the world of publishing are yielding some interesting outcomes. Years ago, when I began submitting short stories with the hopes of cracking into venerable magazines such as Cemetery Dance and Fantasy & Science Fiction, attention to editorial uniformity was such a big deal. Everyone seemed to use William Shunn's "proper" manuscript format (I use it still, for the most part, by the way), and many magazine would conclude their guidelines with the dour sentiment that they would reject the work directly if it didn't adhere to the guidelines. 

If you published your work online (outside of the remarkable exceptions of folks like John Scalzi, who did just that with his first novel prior to being offered a contract), then most agents and publishers wouldn't touch it. The stain of amateurism was, alas, too great for a work to even enter the slush stream.

But now, with markets like Simon451, Hydra, and Alloy Entertainment sensing an opportunity to work with (primarily) digital authors to market and publish (yes, that ordering is intentional) their writing, it seems those ideals are loosening up a little. Many of these hybrid publishers will re-brand an already proven independent success. They'll accept a work in a number of different formats, and the guidelines are less stringent. 

I think this phenomenon is remarkable. It happened relatively quickly, and it illustrates just how fast a segment of the market has shifted to remove some of the traditional barriers to publication that were once pervasive. It also illustrates that content is once again king. That's not to say that professionalism and appearance don't matter, because they surely do. Your submission should still follow a rhetoric of organization and clarity that allows the reader to focus on the story, and not be distracted by typography or novelty.

But I think writers can relax a little, and focus more closely on the story. Write the work you want to read and, hopefully, your readers will agree, support you, and the piece will garner additional attention. Then, when a third party comes knocking, just send them the file and let them make sense of it. If they want it, they'll grab it, regardless of its attention to the almighty guidelines...