Thursday, October 15, 2015

Media Dragon's Ways to Beat Writer’s Block: The internet is an information landfill

INK BOTTLENor is the people’s judgment always true:
The most may err as grossly as the few.
~ John Dryden, “Absalom and Achitophel”

Blogging is working in public ... With friends like Nichols and Barrowman who needs enemies in public? “The literary appeal of the pseudonym and of the reclusive genius tend to go hand in hand.” LitHub Jozef Imrich aka Imgold 

“Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied,” Zadie Smith counseled in her ten rules of writing

I’m happy to offer some tips that work for me. And I hope that others will chime in with their own suggestions below, just on the vanishingly small chance that what works for me isn’t universal. Hah. But before I do, I want to ask you something: are you entirely sure the problem is writer’s block? Because it sounds an awful lot to me like a case of approach-avoidance.

Writer’s block is the temporary or intermittent problem of not knowing what to say, or how to say it. You get approach-avoidance when you know there’s something you ought to do, or maybe even want to do, but the actual doing of it is daunting, or high stakes, or mired in so much stress and other emotional baggage that your mind latches on to any excuse to temporarily abandon the task. And the moment you finally relent brings a wave of relief, legitimized by the solemn promise that you’ll try again real soon, and that it’ll be totally different when you do.
Ten Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

The globalization of literature. While English has acquired elite literary status, other languages are dying at an unprecedented rate...  Slavic Ironies  »

Ivan Maisky became Soviet ambassador to London in 1932. He stayed for 11 years. His diary — dishy, insightful — rewrites the  era  ...

New Ivan Maisky became Soviet ambassador to London in 1932. He stayed for 11 years. His diary — dishy, insightful — rewrites the era... more »
York Times – The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead

Here is the thing about how discrimination works: No one ever comes right out and says, “We don’t want you.” In the publishing world, they don’t say, “We just don’t want your Cold River story.” They say, “We’re not sure you’re relatable” and “You don’t want to exclude anyone with your work.” They say, “We’re not sure who your audience is.” Buzzfeed 

“Three thousand’s not bad.”NPR 

“I’d like to capture an individual in a single sentence, a soul-stirring experience on a single page a landscape in one word! Present arms, artist, aim, bull’s-eye! Basta. And above all: Listen to yourself. Lend an ear to the voices within. Don’t be shy with yourself. Don’t let yourself be scared off by unfamiliar sounds. As long as they’re your own! Have the courage of your own nakedness.”
Speaking of Plots, Consider the blurb. What began with a note from Emerson to Whitman has become pervasive — even though there's little evidence that blurbs sell any books... Cold River  »

“We asked the staff to turn down the music, and they just stared at us and said we needed to talk to the manager, who was not there. There were about five readers, and a cluster of people who wanted to hear them. TV screens were locked on some kind of game, the music was blasting. We were trapped. And then, hats off to the late David Poindexter, publisher of MacAdam, he grabbed a chair and hoisted it over his head, and we all followed him through the bar and out onto the sidewalk.”  LitHub: How LitCrawls Have Made Readings Much – MUCH – Less Boring 

And if no less a luminary than George Orwell — way back in 1936 — credited the decline of the novel (even then!) with “the disgusting tripe that is written by the blurb-reviewers,” one question naturally arises: Why are blurbs still around — and still, at least among publishers, so popular?  NPR 

Gary Shteyngart: “‘I’ll look at a first sentence [of a galley], I’ll look at the cover and it just comes to me,’ he says. ‘Reading randomly from a book is also very helpful. Sometimes I try to read further — but you know, how far can you get? Does anyone even read these books anymore?’ That said, he doesn’t hold back. ‘I’ve compared people to Shakespeare, Tolstoy or whatever.'” NPR 

News release: “We’ve heard from journalists that they want an easy way to make Facebook a more vital part of their news gathering with the ability to surface relevant trends, photos, videos, and posts on Facebook and Instagram for use in their storytelling and reporting. Today we’re excited to introduce Signal, for Facebook and Instagram, a free discovery and curation tool for journalists who want to source, gather, and embed newsworthy content from Facebook and Instagram, across news, culture, entertainment, sports, and more—all in one place. This step continues our collaboration with the journalism community just after last week’s launch of Mentions for Profiles.Discover what’s trending now on Facebook  Journalists interested in seeing what conversations are resonating on Facebook can monitor which topics are trending and then quickly display related content that has been shared publicly—unranked and in chronological order— from both people and Pages for deeper context on those trends. Search functionality makes it easy to surface content directly related to a story or topic they are tracking. Search Instagram for visual content surrounding news events around the worldUsing location-tag and topic-related search functionality, journalists can search Instagram for public posts related to specific hashtags, associated with specific public accounts, or tagged with locations using an interactive global map…Signal is now available at no cost to journalists and leverages our own Media Solutions APIs, as well as third-party APIs includingCrowdTangle and Storyful who each power feeds within the product. This is a first step in helping journalists use Facebook and Instagram more effectively and we’ll gather feedback and iterate to make Signal as useful as possible for industry professionals. For further information about Signal, visit”

The problem with the internet is that “nobody trusts it, yet everybody is referring to it.” That’s Nikhil Sonnad, a reporter and former philosophy student, in an article at Quartz about how the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a model for improving the internet.

Its creators have solved one of the internet’s fundamental problems: How to provide authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers…

The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off. The story of how the SEP is run, and how it came to be, shows that it is possible to create a less trashy internet—or at least a less trashy corner of it. A place where actual knowledge is sorted into a neat, separate pile instead of being thrown into the landfill. Where the world can go to learn everything that we know to be true. Something that would make humans a lot smarter than the internet we have today. How the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a model for improving the internet