Archive for October, 2008

B&N's new social networking site

Posted: October 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

B&N Launches Social Networking Site

By Lynn Andriani — Publishers Weekly, 10/27/2008 8:17:00 AM

Barnes & Noble has introduced its answer to Shelfari, Goodreads and other social networking sites for books. It’s called My B&N, and it is live now. My B&N allows users to create free personal profiles around their preferences for books, music and movies. Users can customize their profile pages with a pen name, avatar, virtual library, reviews and ratings. B&N has also improved its list-making tools, and expanded its customer review and ratings features.

Much like other book social networking sites, My B&N has features that let users showcase the books they’ve read and what they’re currently reading (the site also lets them feature music and movies). The site reminds users of their recent purchases so they can add them to their library. Users can create lists that they can e-mail to friends and family, and share on Facebook, Digg and other outlets. An “EssentiaLists” feature allows them to create up to 100 customized lists on any topic or theme.

My B&N is accessible through a button on the homepage of BarnesandNoble.com.

Campaign '08 Links

Posted: October 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

The New York Times article about Joe Biden’s role in the last few days before the election.

Obama’s tax plan from The New York Times.

Obama’s campaign and spending from The New York Times.

Loads of articles on both candidates from The L.A. Times. Plenty here to keep you busy.

Freedom of the Press? Or not.

Posted: October 31, 2008 in Uncategorized

From The New York Post (full text):

SHOULD Barack Obama win the presidency and Democrats take full control of Congress, next year will see a real legislative attempt to bring back the Fairness Doctrine – and to diminish conservatives’ influence on broadcast radio, the one medium they dominate.

Yes, the Obama campaign said some months back that the candidate doesn’t seek to re-impose this regulation, which, until Ronald Reagan’s FCC phased it out in the 1980s, required TV and radio broadcasters to give balanced airtime to opposing viewpoints or face steep fines or even loss of license. But most Democrats – including party elders Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and Al Gore – strongly support the idea of mandating “fairness.”

Would a President Obama veto a new Fairness Doctrine if Congress enacted one? It’s doubtful.

The Fairness Doctrine was an astonishingly bad idea. It’s a too-tempting power for government to abuse. When the doctrine was in effect, both Democratic and Republican administrations regularly used it to harass critics on radio and TV.

Second, a new Fairness Doctrine would drive political talk radio off the dial. If a station ran a big-audience conservative program like, say, Laura Ingraham’s, it would also have to run a left-leaning alternative. But liberals don’t do well on talk radio, as the failure of Air America and indeed all other liberal efforts in the medium to date show. Stations would likely trim back conservative shows so as to avoid airing unsuccessful liberal ones.

Then there’s all the lawyers you’d have to hire to respond to the regulators measuring how much time you devoted to this topic or that. Too much risk and hassle, many radio executives would conclude. Why not switch formats to something less charged – like entertainment or sports coverage?

For those who dismiss this threat to freedom of the airwaves as unlikely, consider how the politics of “fairness” might play out with the public. A Rasmussen poll last summer found that fully 47 percent of respondents backed the idea of requiring radio and television stations to offer “equal amounts of conservative and liberal political commentary,” with 39 percent opposed.

Liberals, Rasmussen found, support a Fairness Doctrine by 54 percent to 26 percent, while Republicans and unaffiliated voters were more evenly divided. The language of “fairness” is seductive.

Even with control of Washington and public support, Dems would have a big fight in passing a Fairness Doctrine. Rush Limbaugh & Co. wouldn’t sit by idly and let themselves be regulated into silence, making the outcome of any battle uncertain. But Obama and the Democrats also plan other, more subtle regulations that would achieve much the same outcome.

He and most Democrats want to expand broadcasters’ public-interest duties. One such measure would be to impose greater “local accountability” on them – requiring stations to carry more local programming whether the public wants it or not. The reform would entail setting up community boards to make their demands known when station licenses come up for renewal. The measure is clearly aimed at national syndicators like Clear Channel that offer conservative shows. It’s a Fairness Doctrine by subterfuge.

Obama also wants to relicense stations every two years (not eight, as is the case now), so these monitors would be a constant worry for stations. Finally, the Democrats also want more minority-owned stations and plan to intervene in the radio marketplace to ensure that outcome.

It’s worth noting, as Jesse Walker does in the latest Reason magazine, that Trinity Church, the controversial church Obama attended for many years, is heavily involved in the media-reform movement, having sought to restore the Fairness Doctrine, prevent media consolidation and deny licenses to stations that refuse to carry enough children’s programming.

Regrettably, media freedom hasn’t been made an issue by the McCain campaign, perhaps because the maverick senator is himself no fan of unbridled political speech, as his long support of aggressive campaign-finance regulation underscores. But the threat to free speech is real – and profoundly disturbing.

Brian C. Anderson is editor of City Journal and co-author, with Adam Thierer, of “A Manifesto for Media Freedom,” just out from Encounter Books.

For more on the Post and  its reputation/bias, see Wikipedia. It is a right-leaning newspaper.

Grain of salt, people.

From Guardian.co.uk:

” More bad news for library users in a month where culture secretary Andy Burnham has ticked them off for not “looking beyond the bookcase”. The amount UK libraries are spending on books is down for the third year in a row, according to a report to be released later this week, with further reductions predicted next year.

Book spend fell to £76.8m in the year to end-March 2008, down 1% on the previous year and equivalent to just 8.7% of UK libraries’ overall expenditure, which was flat this year compared to a fall the previous year. By contrast, spending on audio-visual materials – largely DVDs – was up 4.2% over the period. ”

Read more …

A Brooklyn Librarian's Fine

Posted: October 30, 2008 in Uncategorized

From NYTimes (letter-full text)”

Re “A Brooklyn Librarian Is Fined for Promoting His Daughter’s Book” (news article, Oct. 22):

In the seemingly small action of the Conflicts of Interest Board is revealed the truly monstrous in the exercise of government authority.

A man who spends his life working in a school library has the temerity to indulge his parental pride by placing his daughter’s wholly appropriate book on a display table (an act that netted neither him nor his daughter any financial gain in that he gave the books away). For this he’s humiliated, disciplined and penalized, all so a flying wedge of petty bureaucrats can congratulate themselves on their swift application of justice.

Is it too much to ask that our government apply rules and regulations with something approaching a sense of proportion? One would hope not. The failure to do so has the certain effect of alienating its citizens and undermining its legitimacy.

Bill Finkelstein
New York, Oct.

From MercuryNews.com (Silicon Valley):

By  Chris O’Brien

“When I heard Google had settled its feud with book publishers, I knew exactly whom I wanted to call first: Brewster Kahle, the digital librarian who is the founder of the Internet Archive.

I first talked to Kahle back in 2004, around the time Google launched its Book Search. The program riled publishers, who felt it amounted to a massive copyright violation, triggering the class-action suit.”

Read more …

NaNoWriMo

Posted: October 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

November is National Novel Writing Month.

If you’ve been reading my blog a while (and why wouldn’t you?!), you’d know I’ve participated in this for the past two years. In 2006 I finished, writing 50,000 wds and “winning” – which just means I finished, by the way. But in 2007 I fell flat on my face. I hated the novel I started and went off on a tangent. So I just gave up. Oh, and the 50,000 words I wrote in 2006? I haven’t touched that project again.

But what the heck. I’ll try it again this year. I’m only a full-time grad student, part-time employee at my library, wife and mother of three. Surely I must have a little time to spare?

Yeah. Something like that. Either that or I’m insane.

The jury’s still out.