Invasion of the Cyber Hustlers

New Statesman • 6 December 2012

Scrooged. Deflate your holiday cheer with Steve Poole's screed on "cybertheorists"—self-styled boosters of social networking like Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky. Poole's acerbic critique cuts a wide swath through the techno-buzz echo-chamber—bah, humbug!

Let's start this new year with rants and tirades. Here Steve Poole puts on his best Jeremiah outfit and starts pointing fingers at all those he's decided are false gods—"Hearken not to the words of the prophets that prophesy to you, and deceive you: they speak a vision of their own heart . . . " etc. Jeremiah 23:16. It should also be noted that Poole has made a profession of this kind of declaration, most recently taking on the foodie industry in You Aren't What You Eat. (Michalko)

What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web?

Smithsonian Magazine • January 2013

Lanier's lament. The motivation for Jaron Lanier's defection from the techno-utopian movement are illuminated in this insightful profile. Lanier traces his discontent to the Web 2.0 "information must be free" mantra, which he blames for enriching the few at the expense of the rest, noting that building an information economy based on free products and services is not a viable business model. Check out Lanier's views on how technology is undermining both the economy and society.

This outburst is driven by the fervor of the apostate. Embodied by Lanier, all the inverse energy of the newly and deeply contrite is brought to bear. (Here's a short Slate essay that neatly captures the heretic and apostate distinction.) (Michalko)

The Music Industry Dropped DRM Years Ago—So Why Does It Persist on E-Books?

Ars Technica • 24 December 2012

Speak out. Digital music sellers have largely succumbed to customer pressure to eliminate DRM from their downloads, but e-book publishers have been reluctant to follow suit. One possible explanation is cultural: e-book customers tend not to remix texts as often as music buyers do; they also lag in putting files on multiple devices; and finally, they just don't "get as outraged as music fans," says editor Alissa Quart. Maybe it's time for the e-reading public to get loud.

This isn't really a rant. It's more of an appeal looking to foment some rage into discussions of the e-book business model. The author makes some good distinctions between the music and book markets and ends with a librarian's vision of hell—the book as a service. (Michalko)

How the Grimms Cast a Spell on the World

Der Spiegel • 20 December 2012

"Our oldest testament."Grimms' Fairy Tales, compiled from texts originating in a diverse mix of cultures, are notable for their enduring popularity and universal themes. "What we don't know is exactly where these tales come from, when they originated and how they were disseminated. This is the great mystery. They go back to pagan times," says fairy tale scholar Jack Zipes. Read on for more on how this 200-year-old collection taps into the hopes and fears of our collective consciousness.

Some outrage comes through here. People are angry that the tales are sanitized or that they are sexist and racist or that they've been perverted by modern packagers of culture e.g., Disney. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter goes a long way towards remedying these issues. (Michalko)

Will Gutenberg Laugh Last?

Rough Type • 1 January 2013

Not so fast. Despite its somewhat simplistic title, the actual results of the recent "E-Book Reading Jumps; Print Book Reading Declines" Pew study reveal a robust print market and e-book sales that are slowing. Check out Nicholas Carr's interpretation of this latest examination of Americans' reading habits.

We don't want to end angry so here's an argument that may please a lot of ATF readers. It's a credible contention, based on some accumulating evidence, that the shift to e-books from traditional print will take a lot longer than has been forecast. Happy new year. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, in order to more effectively achieve their mission of having collections be useful and used, special collections must do what?

Get the answer.