23 July 2013

Such a Lonely Word

  • As further proof that there is no publishing industry — only the bastard offspring of a three-century-long orgy among thirteen distinct "publishing industries" — consider this utterly misleading piece proclaiming another One True Way to publishing success. The key paragraph is the second one — the one in which Mr Altucher reveals that publishing "success" is, for him, a different measurement entirely:

    Every entrepreneur should self-publish a book, because self-publishing is the new business card. If you want to stand out in a world of content, you need to underline your expertise. Publishing a book is not just putting your thoughts on a blog post. It’s an event. It shows your best curated thoughts and it shows customers, clients, investors, friends and lovers what the most important things on your mind are right now.

    I probably can't say "bullshit" any louder than I already have. Mr Altucher is not just following the path pioneered by In Search of Excellence — he is proclaiming that it is essentially the only path. And things get more interesting when delving into who qualifies as an "entrepreneur"; the centrality of "platform" to everything else in his approach, his article, his way of thought; his misstatements of fact concerning the wide range of publishing, such as "[a] typical book is anywhere from 40,000-80,000 words" (which is absolutely, positively false for commercial-category fiction other than romance, and misleading even for that; indeed, it's not even true for self-help and entrepreneurship books). In short, anything of interest or value that Mr Altucher has to say is buried inside grandiose overgeneralizations and hype. What a surprise from yet another self-publishing booster (in all of the bad, Sinclair-Lewis-tinged meanings for the word "booster"). That that link is a few days short of nine years old and remains accurate (and unrefuted) should tell you all you need to know...

    The fundamental flawed assumption that Mr Altucher makes is that methods that work in one of the thirteen publishing "industries" aren't just worth consideration in others: They are mandatory and must be adopted or authors working in those other "industries" will fail. That is not, of course, the only flawed assumption in the article — but it is one that is particularly obvious. Really, now: Apply his "Publishing 3.0" model to illustrated children's books...

  • But that's more intellectually honest than trying to "pardon" Alan Turing. Leaving aside the whole "pardoning a dead man" problem, a pardon just gives the pardoning class (and it's always a class issue) the opportunity to say "See? We've changed. Now go away and let us get back to the usual shenanigans."
  • Professor Goldman inadvertently demonstrates just about everything that is wrong with the current debates on copyright on the internet with his even-handed summary of a "conference" concerning the DMCA at Stanford that fails to point out the roaring silence. (Note: I am not criticizing Professor Goldman; I am criticizing the conference organizers.) There was a representative from the EFF, spewing forth the usual party line in public statements; there were representatives of Google, eBay, CafePress, and the Ripoff Report, all aggregators/targets of takedown notices; but...

    There was no representative of natural-person creators of copyrighted works. Several months ago, I remarked that:

    The current debate over copyright, especially as it is on the 'net, uncomfortably resembles the partition of a colony by colonial powers without a voice at the table for the indigenous peoples (or at least not one drowned out by moneyed interests like the East India Company). It seems to me that we've made that mistake a few times before with unsatisfactory results. We really, really shouldn't be repeating it.

  • (emphasis and link in original) I think I was perhaps too restrained.

    Bluntly: The composition of that panel was intellectually and academically dishonest. The conference organizers simply failed to accept that not all copyright owners are, or are like, the RIAA sending blanket takedown notices covering (potentially) hundreds or thousands of works. For many copyright holders, a DMCA takedown notice is the only realistic way to deal with certain kinds of piracy. And contrary to the implications of actual notice patterns (and the EFF's rhetoric is particularly misleading on this issue), natural-person creators of textual works must and do rely upon notices.

    Finally, I want to add a "worst practices" to the list: Web-based takedown forms that do not automatically send a record copy of the notice to the party providing the notice. I have a strong personal preference to use my own form letters (which are organized as required by the statute) so that I retain a record copy of notices optimized for my purposes. I could live with a web-based form that puts the critical elements in a slightly different order... if I could see what gets submitted. And that's sort of ironic, because one of the requirements of § 512 notices is providing a way to contact the person making the notice!

    Not acceptable.

  • Professor Hasen discusses a study with some actual data concerning voter-ID efforts. There's a more-cynical way to look at the results of the study: Either advocates of voter-ID aren't trying hard enough, or their suppression of civil rights just doesn't work. Neither is anything to be proud of...