Morning Ed: Entertainment {2016.08.14.Su}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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73 Responses

  1. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I disagree about ebooks.

    First, a disclaimer: I am a slow adopter of new technology and resistant to change on that front. I do own a Nook and have used and enjoyed it. But when looking for an ereader, I specifically wanted one that simply gave me the words on a page. The reason is that I am too likely to get distracted. If there are links or opportunities to point away from a text, I will likely take them and this will detract from my reading experience. Now, this isn’t the technology’s fault… it is solely my own. I just hope that the market allows for ereaders and ebooks that are both “books, but digital” and what Will is looking for.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    I am with @kazzy on books here. If an author wanted to create an interactive, then they would start a website or similar. If, on the other hand, they wanted to present a story that you have to pay attention to in order to get the most out of, then the concept of a book is an all ready perfect format. I am thinking of Wolfes Book of the New Sun here, which works specifically with the memory and knowledge of the reader. This is specifically reffered to as an unreliable narrator, but there are many other conventions of fiction that would be lost in the idea of an interactive, notably prose on the level of Cormac McCarthy or word play of a Joycean nature. Keeping a reader engrossed in the book, not allowing the reader to step outside of the world they together create is one of the greatest aspects of literature, one not to be set aside lightly.

    In the end, I see the paperback going away due to e-readers, as they have always been about cheap reading. On the other hand, I see hard backs going the same direction as stick shifts and vinyl records. They will be the objects of enthusiasts.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Aaron David says:

      I think alot of this has to do with terminology. I was just talking about this with a friend yesterday.

      Take hoverboards. Do you think the response — both in terms of the excitement and the eventual backlash — would have arisen if they were called motorized skateboards or handle-free segways (which themselves were really just motorized scooters)? Or drones. Drones are just RC helicopters. But because RC stuff is the province of dorks and weirdos and “drones” sounds good and futuristic, they went with drones and now we’re having a very different conversation.

      E-books and e-readers went the other route. They wanted to work off and connect with an established medium because the familiarity would work to their advantage. And, as such, most of us look to e-books and e-readers to be “books, but digital”. Don’t we already have tablets to provide what Will is looking for? And you can download a “traditional” e-reader app on tablets!Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        Even traditional readers do the sort of thing I’m talking about. They flip back to re-read a scene later referred to or to refresh themselves on who a character is. In fantasy or history books they flip to the front to visualize the geography.

        Where I think ebooks could be really improved is by making these things a lot easier.

        For my own part, the biggest thing is keeping track of characters (“Who is this person again?”) or remembering where a story thread or character previously left off.Report

  3. Avatar notme says:

    Merkel to urge chiefs of big companies to hire refugees, Bild reports

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/merkel-urge-chiefs-big-companies-hire-refugees-bild-112307756–business.html

    What are the businesses supposed to do with folks that don’t have an education, skills or speak the language? Maybe pay them 15 euros an hour to flip bratwurst?Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to notme says:

      First, this assume facts not in evidence. Companies claim they lack the skills and education but we don’t see any data on what skills and education refugees actually have.

      Second… “Merkel will push reluctant German companies to offer more traineeships and position to refugees, Bild reported.” So, right there, in the article YOU linked to, is one thing that the businesses can do if indeed there is a skill or education gap.

      Third… “More than one million migrants flooded into Germany last year, and the government wants to get as many as possible into the job market, which would reduce their dependence on the state and compensate for labor shortages as the workforce ages.”

      You’d think this would be welcome. Integrate them into society, make them financially independent, and allow them to be positive contributors. But… for some reason… it’s not?Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Kazzy says:

        You’d think this would be welcome. Integrate them into society, make them financially independent, and allow them to be positive contributors. But… for some reason… it’s not?

        You seem to forget that it’s not the purpose of companies to do any of those things. Companies exist to make money for the shareholders not act as agents of social change for a gov’t that makes bad policy decisions.Report

        • Avatar Francis in reply to notme says:

          oh cool. A lesson on German corporation law. Although, I have to say, the assertion doesn’t conform with my understanding at all. Can we get links to some (English language) source material?Report

        • Avatar David Parsons in reply to notme says:

          That’s adorable. Is this interpretation pure Cleekian fantasy or have you found a section of German law that can be tortured into supporting what you just wrote?Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to David Parsons says:

            The article doesn’t say anything about what German law requires. It’s discussing that Merkel wants them to take on a financial burden. If you think German law is relevant then by all means tells us which section.Report

            • Avatar Francis in reply to notme says:

              You were the one making the legal claim, sport. You wrote: “Companies exist to make money for the shareholders …”. Companies have such powers and obligations as granted to them by statute. So, let’s hear about German corporation law and specifically about the power of the German govt to direct corporate labor practices.

              (yes, I know that I’m wasting my time. But tweaking notme every now and again is kinda entertaining.)Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Kazzy says:

        Majority Of Migrants ‘Unemployable’ And Just 54 Have Jobs With Top Firms

        “The Kiel-based Institute for World Economics estimated that only two per cent of recent migrants to Germany are employable. Professor Ludger Wössmann, director of the Centre for the Economics of Education in Munich, said his research showed at least two thirds of migrants can’t read or write.”

        Yes, they need 15 euros an hour. Or a corporation should teach them how to read and write

        http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/07/07/major-german-companies-employing/Report

      • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Kazzy says:

        I went looking for unemployment stats for Germany, and as of May 2016 it was 6%, just a tick over what the Fed considers full employment. So, there is probably a demand for labor there, but is there a demand for labor that doesn’t speak German? Probably not.

        Here in the U.S., they would probably be able to find work in restaurant kitchens, or doing landscaping work. I don’t know if that sort of labor market exists in Germany.

        I have a friend whose brother moved to Sweden several years ago. The Swedish government promptly enrolled him in Swedish language courses and gave him a stipend that allowed him to contribute to the household while becoming a functioning member of Swedish society.

        So, the question is: do we go for the sink or swim method seemingly advocated by @notme as practiced here in the U.S. and (maybe) Germany? Or do we go the route of Sweden, and Henry Ford, and do everything in our power to assimilate new entrants?

        We can already see what creating an unassimilated underclass has done for France. I don’t think we’d like to repeat the experiment in GermanyReport

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    1. I just can’t get into e-readers. They don’t have the same feel as the real thing.

    2. Pandora does seem to push their subscription service heavily. I wonder how much money they make from me listening to 6-10 ads on the way to and from work vs. me paying 5-8 dollars a month for streaming.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Not much. IIRC, the real problem with streaming is the licensing and royalty model. (It might have changed, but I don’t think so). If streaming music paid like radio royalties and licensing fees like radio did, they’d be making a lot more money.

      And e-readers are fantastic. There was a bit of a hump, but I can carry my whole library around. About the only thing I’m irritated at is Amazon’s utter refusal to let you organize your books online (forcing you to use the clunky e-reader interface) and not offering you default categories like “By author” or “by genre”. WTF, Amazon?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

        About the only thing I’m irritated at is Amazon’s utter refusal to let you organize your books online

        I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY THEY DON’T DO THIS!

        The same for Google Play. Specifically, I’d love to be able to create folders or even private tags so that I can bring up a bunch of apps. There are some generically named apps it takes me ten minutes to buy.

        But the Amazon thing is even more inexplicable, because there you are actually paying for it, and the more you buy (which they should want!) makes your user experience progressively worse.Report

        • The screen on my ancient Kindle finally died, so I bought a new Paperwhite and copied all my books over to it. At first, it appeared hat almost all of them had failed to make it, but eventually I figured out that it’s a UI issue, It has two views for contents: All and Downloaded. But All doesn’t mean “everything “, it means “everything in your Amazon account”. Books I’ve gotten from other sources, like Gutenberg, only show up in the Downloaded view.

          There’s also a weird issue where books I’ve bought from Amazon show up twice: one entry that works, and another saying it’s not licensed to this Kindle.Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Re: the Iceman article. When it showed a picture of William Zabka, i thought the author was going to include great video from about a year ago about how Daniel-san was the real bad guy

    Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    The real big advantage of e-readers is that they help you save on space atvyourbplace and allow you to carry really long books around easily. A traditional book is more interactive though. I find I read deeper with a printed book than an e-reader.Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not Lee, but…

        Ebooks are great for narrative text: books where you start at the beginning and read through to the end and that is that. I find that for disposable fiction, an ebook is much better than a paperback, due both to simply physically manipulating the object and the ebook being more flexible about fonts and lighting. But physical book is better whenever I might want to flip back and forth, which in a sense is interaction. So is notetaking. Ebook notetaking functions all suck, if only due to the absence of a real keyboard. With physical books I write notes on the flyleaf with page number references. Then there is the issue of anything other than text. The Paperwhite display technology is far superior for text, but terrible for pictures or charts or graphs.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Printed books are not interactive in the technological sense but I find that you interact more with the text in a printed book. You can go back and forth easier, take notes, underline, and read more deeply than an e-reader. E-readers lend themselves to skimming more than careful reading.Report

  7. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    they should be “Interactive web-pages tied along a long, single story.”

    Color me extremely skeptical. The art of creating narrative text has a long history behind getting it to work well. I won’t say that there is no way to do well a interactive web pages tied along a long, single story. But there is going to be a lot of fail experimentation along the way, and I’m not volunteering as guinea pig. I foresee a lot of pointless gimmickry, breathlessly marketed.Report

    • I think you start small. Tap on a name, get a refresher on who they are and where they fit into the story. If making a reference to something that happened previously that the reader may have missed, link to the previous point in the story. Or if it’s a historical reference, a bit more of the history surrounding it. If it’s something that involves maps, then maps. From there you can expand to more detailed biographical information for characters. Stuff that you can skip if you don’t care about (because the important stuff is in the straight narrative) but read if you do.

      When I read No One’s Expecting in ebook format, it was in some ways more useful than a paperback because I could utilize the Search function. It was also less useful in others because it’s often easier to thumb through to find a chart. The best of both worlds would be, if referencing a data table to be able to link to it. No searching necessary. That can’t be as easily done with a paperback, and isn’t yet done with ebooks. It should be.

      For Game of Thrones, there is basically one map at the beginning of the book, but that’s it. Being able to, at any point in the book, be able to tap the map of what troops and characters are where, would be an enormously helpful reading aide. And not something paperbacks can replicate. (Not to mention how helpful a character index would be on a story with that many characters!)Report

      • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Will Truman says:

        Tap on a name, get a refresher on who they are and where they fit into the story.

        Isn’t this the idea behind Kindle’s X-Ray function? I’m not sure. I played with it when I got my first Kindle, and pegged it as being some combination of non-functional and merely pointless. I suppose there could be occasions where it could be useful.

        The links to charts could be useful, but I’m not sure how this would work. What do you mean by “referencing a data table”? Sure, if the text has “as shown in Table 8” that is easy. But what about when the text talks about the stuff on the table for four pages?

        Maps created to show the situation at any point in a long series of books? That sounds, well, expensive. I can see this being done for Game of Thrones. For your average potboiler, I am happy if there is any sign that a copy editor ever looked at it.

        What makes me nervous about talk of all these links is that either the links will be visible or invisible. If invisible, it becomes a game of hide and seek to actually use them. If visible, the are a distraction: is there useful information behind this link or not? Only one way to tell… Of course there is no reason the reader couldn’t control whether they are visible or invisible, but that becomes a more subtle distraction.

        I’m not saying this sort of thing couldn’t be done well. But it a whole lot more likely to be done poorly: either half-assed or overwhelming the actual text. Or both.Report

        • I haven’t toyed around with the X-Ray function. That sounds either involved on the development end of useless on the user end. What I’m envisioning is along the lines of the following: The character Harry has a bio page that tells the story of Harry before the story began and then

          Any time you double tap on Harry Grennell’s name (or whatever), it gives you a very brief summary of who he is (Undersecretary of State for Eastern Europe, husband to other character Debbie Grennell) followed by a summary of where he is in the story, stopping at whatever point in the story the reader is (well, stopping at the end of the previous chapter). So it explains briefly that Grennell was approached by Russian intelligence about becoming an asset and declined, but didn’t inform his supervisor, and in another chapter we learned about his gambling debt. So now, if we forgot who Harry is because he hasn’t yet become important, we know why he’s calling Russian intelligence.

          This wouldn’t be as difficult as one might think, including the part where the profile is dependent on what chapter the reader is on. It’s a few paragraphs separated by tags determining when they will and won’t appear (If current chapter is greater than two, display this…)

          The same applies to maps. You have the basic area map as a background and are moving things around with Photoshop in layers, updated at various important points, saved, and stacked into the book.

          How much a particular book does depends on a number of factors. Something like GoT would have a lot. Other things might have fewer. GoT might have very nice looking maps, others would have maps that look like the ones from the Revolutions Podcast.

          You could probably make the links visible or invisible based on user preference. Someone who uses these features aggressively might keep them on. You, on the other hand, might keep them off and then turn them on in particular areas. There are a number of ways to go.Report

  8. Avatar KenB says:

    Being able to, at any point in the book, be able to tap the map of what troops and characters are where, would be an enormously helpful reading aide.

    That would be amazing. And it would also be a tremendous amount of work to put together, way beyond just digitizing the contents of the book itself. So the question is whether enough readers would be willing to spend the extra bucks for this sort of content to motivate either the original authors or third parties to create it and thus sufficiently motivate Amazon or B&N or whoever to pay to develop the engine for it.

    For popular books, I could see fans being willing to create that sort of content, but then you get into the weeds of figuring out who gets paid for what.Report

  9. Avatar fillyjonk says:

    I prefer “paper” books to “interactive web-page-like streams” because I am easily distracted. I actually dropped a subscription to a (scientific) journal I used to read because they went heavily to “sidebars” and big infographics and stuff and I’d go crazy wondering, “Do I interrupt my reading of the actual article (and maybe have to go back and start again from an earlier point to pick up the thread) to read the sidebar, or do I wait until I’m done (and maybe miss something I need to comprehend the article that’s in the sidebar)?” I also hate the trend in textbooks (I am a prof) to lard them up with sidebars and infographics and stuff that I just find intrusive and distracting. Maybe kids today aren’t so easily pulled off task, I don’t know.

    And about Darkwing Duck: How I wish one of the three Disney channels would start running a block where they re-run some of the “classic” 90s cartoons like DWD, and Talespin, and Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers…..I was already nominally an adult when those came out but I still enjoyed the heck out of them then, and I’d probably watch them again now.Report

  10. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I read Hard Wired when I was deployed. I don’t think I bought it, but rather borrowed it from someone. It was completely forgettable cyperpunk (a pale attempt at William Gibson work), but that cover… that stayed with me, mainly because of Dolph and Sheena Easton on the cover.Report

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