10 June 2014

The Third Way

Those who can, do. Those who can't do, teach preteen children (and there's a problem right there). Those who can't do or teach, go into sales... or advertising...

  • During the most-recent business-structure change in the music industry, the long-tail advocates claimed that musicians could make up for everything they lost in sales of recorded copies by going on the road. Leaving aside the dubious ability of most untrained musicians to do so — the real skill imposed by extensive training is the ability to reproduce (or close to it) a performance in an unfamiliar environment, and that lack of training shows up in a disturbing proportion of popular/folk/etc musicians' performances on the road — the finances don't work so well, either. And the less said about the problems of songwriters (as distinct from performers), the better.

    Then, too, "on the road" isn't exactly remunerative for authors...

  • There's a current kerfluffle/meme about the putative shame of reading YA books, perhaps (this time) triggered by a certain film doing the rounds. Arguments like these always make me shake my head, for a simple reason: YA is not a description of the content, but of the marketing strategy adopted by the publisher... often by personnel at the publisher who have not read the work. Consider, for example, whether in today's market Animal Farm might be treated as "YA" by someone who had not read it, but looked only at a 125-word nonevaluative summary... or, more to the point, whether A Wizard of Earthsea would continue to be treated as a "children's book" (there wasn't a "YA" category when it was first published). And what of "boys' adventure stories"... like She?
  • I'm not sure which is a greater indictment of the Turing Test: That a program designed to mimic a 13-year-old second-language boy "passed" by convincing 1 in 3 observers after a five-minute "conversation" that it was not a machine... or that the observers clearly knew so little about 13-year-old boys. All they needed to do was ask some leading questions about internet porn!
  • There's been lots of international copyright news of late, much of which I'm still digesting and trying to see how it relates to other bits and pieces. One piece that stands fairly well on its own, though, is that proposed "exceptions" (defenses) to UK copyright infringement for private copying and parody are back on the calendar for 01 October 2014. Again, they could make it simpler and better by adopting the First Amendment first; it may be flawed, but it's one helluva lot better than anything else that anyone has come up with.