German authors join Amazon e-book protestMonday, August 18, 2014
NEW YORK TIMES. Berlin, 17 August 2014. Taking a page from their colleagues across the Atlantic, more than 1,000 writers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland have united to vent their frustration over the tactics Amazon is using against the Bonnier Group and the authors who are published under its name.
The writers, supported by several hundred artists and readers, have signed an open letter to Amazon, the online retailing giant, accusing it of manipulating its recommended reading lists and lying to customers about the availability of books as retaliation in a dispute over e-book prices.
Peretti's power of positive thinkingThursday, August 14, 2014
Recently surfaced on LinkedIn, here's a communiqué from BuzzFeed co-founder and chief exec, Jaques Peretti (pictured left), revealing his strategy for the company in the coming years. It's caused a bit of a stir, because Peretti says he sees the future of BuzzFeed as the face of media for the new generation. BuzzFeed made its name publishing lists disguised as news articles and, it appears, now intends to publish news articles disguised as lists. The ratio of cliches, claptrap and psychobabble to total word count in Peretti's communiqué is unbelievably high and even the New York Times has observed that no-one in the volatile world of new media holds the key to next year's thing.
It's good that someone like Peretti acknowledges the importance of quality in news reporting, but it's a real pity that so many people greeted the ramblings as a peak in business philosophy. In true BuzzFeed style, here's a list of my top seven meaningless statements from Jonah Peretti combining management bollocks with bar-room futurology:
1) "Nothing is more powerful than small groups of talented people with the freedom to do their best work. This is the key to our future." (That is if you don't consider global conflict, haemorragic viral disease and climate change as very powerful, of course).
2) "Web culture is global, youth culture is global, news is global, and this provides a clear path for BuzzFeed to globalize as well." (Stuff being global is a clear path? Really?)
3) "...luck only takes you so far. We need to get good and then we need to be great." (Is this a plan or half-time pep talk?)
4) "There seems little doubt that the future 'TV network' will be social web video that is viewed and spread on mobile." (Unless you want to watch a movie on your home cinema, that is.)
5) "Lists are an amazing way to consume media. They work for content as varied as the 10 Commandments, the Bill of Rights, Google search results, ESPN’s Sportscenter, and internal company emails." (Not to mention "War & Peace" in numbered paragraphs, my favourite foods, and everyone in the world.)
6) "...Ben has been growing his team ... aggressively, building new teams to cover topics from business to travel..." (Someone seems to have forgotten architecture and zoology.)
7) "We need to build on our past successes but also continue to make changes in how we operate as we move ahead." (Why not ignore the past and stay exactly where you've always been?)
Anyway, here's communiqué. It's where the future's at, apparently:
Amazon boxes cleverMonday, August 11, 2014
I happen to be a Kindle author. I've made about £3 in sales to date—largely because I'm not really trying. Just seeing how the thing works. Anyway, Amazon have been kind enough to try and co-opt me into their fight with Hachette over e-book pricing. Below, you can read the full text of the email the company is sending out to registered Kindle Direct Publishing authors.
I confess that in this particular battle, it's hard to know where to stand. On the one hand, a major multinational publisher and on the other hand a major multinational publisher. Both of them also sell books online—although one of them started out doing this, while the other began life as a publisher.
So, not much to choose between them. And I must say, I believe many of Amazon's arguments in this battle do have merit. The paperback book does provide a useful comparison to the ebook, and—as the email notes—it was seen as a threat by many established publishers when it was introduced. But the fact is that nobody ever sought to monopolise the trade in paperbacks, notwithstanding Allen Lane's market lead when he introduced the Penguin format. And—as the Guardian has noted—Amazon's use of a partial quote from George Orwell is a piece of bold-faced mendacity that would merit a commendation from the author's own Ministry of Truth in 1984.
Victory: format shifting and parody clear last hurdleWednesday, July 30, 2014
OPEN RIGHTS GROUP. London, 30 July 2014. After nine years of campaigning, we have finally done it, writes Javier Ruiz of the Open Rights Group. The House of Lords yesterday cleared the last hurdle for parody and private copies to be legal under copyright law in the UK. Several new limitations to update copyright were agreed in June, but private copying, often called format shifting, and parody were held back, creating fears that they might be dropped.
Net neutrality and the global digital divideWednesday, July 30, 2014
ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION. San Franciscso, 28 July 2014. EFF's position on net neutrality simply calls for all data that travels over the Internet to be treated equally, writes Jeremy Malcolm. This means that we oppose ISPs blocking content based on its source or destination, or discriminating against certain applications (such as BitTorrent), or imposing special access fees that would make it harder for small websites to reach their users. We have called for the FCC to assume firm legal authority to protect the neutrality of the net from these sorts of abuses, while explicitly forbearing from going any further to regulate the Internet.
The new face of ‘networking’Friday, July 25, 2014
NEW YORK TIMES. New York, 4 June 2014. The anemic labor (sic) market has forced the unemployed into various contortions in their efforts to get a job. The latest: joining a special social network so that maybe, someday, they can work for Zappos.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Zappos, the online shoe store, would replace its job listings with something called Zappos Insiders, where job seekers can “network with current employees and demonstrate their passion for the company — in some cases publicly — in hopes that recruiters will tap them when jobs come open.” It’s unclear how long applicants will need to stay on the network to get a job, but the company’s head of talent acquisition “thinks those who identify with the company’s vision will stay connected for as long as it takes.”
NEW YORK TIMES. London, 10 July 2014. Google is about to start a grand tour of Europe, writes NYT correspondent Mark Scott.The search engine company will soon send a group of executives and legal experts, including the company’s executive chairman, Eric E. Schmidt, around the region to explain Google’s stance on online privacy.
The series of meetings, which is expected to start as early as September and last up to nine months, will form part of the company’s response to a recent European court ruling that gives people the right to ask that links about themselves be removed from certain Internet searches.
International PR firms agree to stop abusing WikipediaWednesday, June 18, 2014
Some of the biggest PR companies in the world have signed a collective pledge to abide by the policies of Wikipedia after a “sock puppet” scandal in which spin doctors manipulated references to their clients on the site, according to Ian Burrell writing in the Independent.
Late last year Wikipedia named and shamed a Texas company after discovering that 300 so-called “sock puppet” accounts – created using false identities – could be traced to the same firm.
The company, Wiki-PR, was issued with a “cease and desist” warning by lawyers acting for the Wikimedia Foundation, the charitable organisation behind the giant volunteer-authored site which contains more than 30 million articles in nearly 290 languages.
Eleven leading top PR frims, including Ogilvy & Mather and Edelman, produced a statement yesterday in which they promised to “abide” by the “fundamental principles guiding Wikipedia”.
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