06 November 2006


Snippets collected over the last few days:
  • Bogus patent applications can be amusing, as shown by the IPKat. They can also be amusing in a very, very sad way, like the "plot patent" application.
  • I've discussed the problems with celebrity memoirs before. Now even the mainstream UK press is paying attention... at least a little bit. The Independent gave its own opinion, which suffers both from the "immediate return" fallacy and some pretty arrogant cherry-picking. Of course, turning authors into quasicelebrities doesn't seem to help much, either.
  • Prizes in the arts are always good for a few laughs. On the one hand, one all too often ends up with "different is avant garde, and therefore good" dominating award juries. This creates serious problems in credibility, particularly in "arts for the masses" forms like popular music. That, however, is probably a better outcome than what may be happening to French literary awards: They've been accused of adopting the American method of graft, corruption, and nepotism. Then there's the purported moral issue, such as a prizewinning book for teenagers that includes language teenagers actually use. Hint: Most teens don't use Bowdlerized vocabulary.
  • And it wouldn't be Monday if there weren't a few incredulous articles about how money and the arts interact (or don't, as the case may be). Reuters expresses wide-eyed amazement that digital rights are creating contract controversy in Hollywood (cf. the second item above). On the other hand, the LA Times is puzzled because arts volunteerism is down; possibly the editorial board and reporters have forgotten that one of the most-common adjectives used along with "artist" is "starving." Income distribution in the arts has skewed similar to that in the general US population: Total income is up, but the slope of the distribution curve has greatly increased since the mid-1980s. That is, a smaller proportion of those who earn their livings through the arts as artists (as distinct from middlemen) accounts for any given percentage of the total "artists' income" now than it did circa 1983. On the one hand, it's great to see the irreplaceable elements of the arts production cycle receiving appropriate value for their uniqueness. On the other hand, it reminds me all too much of the California Gold Rush... which isn't exactly a rational economic or personal model.