Links for 25th March 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. The Challenge of Defining Irony

    "One of the definitions I've used is that irony is "characterized by a poignant difference or incongruity between what is expected and what actually is," where the key word is "poignant." Sometimes I'll say that irony is when the outcome is poetically different from what is expected, or there is an oddly appropriate opposite result from what was intended. So, it is ironic that Juliet's plan to save herself and Romeo results in both of their deaths (and, irony on irony, as Blue Oyster Cult says, "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity"). "

    Tagged with: writinglanguageironystories

  2. "Lancing the f***ing boil": how digital killed Big Music

    "Knopper describes how the labels wrote new contracts to cover the new format, contracts which featured larger "packaging reductions" and "free goods allowances." In addition to the deductions, artist royalty rates were reduced. "After labels factored in these newfangled deductions," Knopper says, "typical artists received roughly 81 cents per disc. Under the LP system, artists made a little more than 75 cents per disc. So labels sold CDs for almost $8 more than LPs at stores, but typical artists made just six cents more per record."

    Such practices fueled a CD boom that ran from 1984 through 2000, at which point the bottom began falling out of the industry. After two decades of expensive music—and little support for cheap singles—labels had grown fat on pumping out albums with a couple of hits."

    Tagged with: musicbusinessrecordlabelsformatsCDmp3RIAAdigital

  3. When ‘Mad Men’ Meets Augmented Reality

    "Blended-reality technology could play in a limited, walled-garden world, but history suggests that it won't really take off until it offers broad freedom of use. This means, unfortunately, that ads, spam, and malware are probably inevitable in a blended-reality world. We're likely to deal with these problems the same way we do now: Good system design to resist malware, and filters to limit the volume of unwanted ads. All useful and necessary, but there's a twist: Filtering systems for blended-reality technologies may allow us to construct our own visions of reality. " Cascio.

    Tagged with: futurismadvertisingaugmented-realityubicompmobiletechnologymalwaremarketingcyberpunknew-southsea

  4. Rural Mexican villages dig moats to repel gangsters

    "Since right before Christmas, armed raiders repeatedly have swept into both villages to carry away local men. Government help arrived too late, or not at all. Terrified villagers — at the urging of army officers who couldn’t be there around the clock — have clawed moats across every access road but one into their communities, hoping to repel the raids."

    Tagged with: Mexicovillagesiegedefencemoatinsurgencyconflictnation-statescollapseglobal-guerillas

  5. Brain quirk could help explain financial crisis

    "I think this explains a lot, if not everything, about the current market situation," he adds, urging people to take expert advice – fiscal, medical or otherwise – more shrewdly. "In my opinion, decision-making shouldn't be handed over to anyone, expert or otherwise." Spoken like a true anarchist, sir. :)

    Tagged with: sciencepsychologyeconomicsexpertopiniondecisionsadviceanarchism

  6. The Coming Merging of Mind and Machine

    "The Law of Accelerating Returns shows that by around 2020 a $1,000 personal computer will have the processing power of the human brain—20 million billion calculations per second. The estimates are based on regions of the brain that have already been successfully simulated. By 2055, $1,000 worth of computing will equal the processing power of all human brains on Earth (of course, I may be off by a year or two)." The ever-confident Ray Kurzweil.

    Tagged with: KurzweilsingularitytranshumanismposthumanismAIartificial-intelligencecomputingtechnology

  7. UK Researcher claims there are just eight patterns behind all humour

    "Evolutionary theorist Alastair Clarke this week published details of eight patterns he claims to be the basis of all the humour that has ever been imagined or expressed, regardless of civilization, culture or personal taste. Clarke has stated before that humour is based on the surprise recognition of patterns but this is the first time he has identified the precise nature of the patterns involved, addressing the deceptively simple unit and context relationships at their foundation." Can't help but think of the Monty Python skit.

    Tagged with: psychologyhumourpatternsculturetemplates

  8. What Do Editors Look For?

    "PLOT: Does the plot rely on someone acting stupid for the story to succeed? Would the whole book fall apart if the hero and heroine had an honest conversation? Is it too linear, or not linear enough? Is there too much story for one book? Does it feel like a short story stretched beyond the breaking point? At key moments, is there something else that could go wrong to intensify the plot or the mess the characters find themselves in? (One of the key questions to ask as a writer or editor: "What else could go wrong here?") Is there someone who needs to die to forward the plot that the author seems reluctant to kill?" Great little crib-sheet of basic writer's errors.

    Tagged with: writingfictioneditorialcriteriaanalysisliteraturestorytellingtips

  9. Pat Cadigan interview

    "It would be an easy world to navigate if all villains woke up every morning twirling their mustaches and thinking, “Aha, what can I do today to make widows suffer and orphans cry? How can I excel at pure evil in ways that I never have before?” By the same token, it would be equally wonderful if all the would-be good guys got up every day brimming with virtue and ready to feed the hungry and cure cancer. Strangely enough, it is often the case that the right things get done for reasons that are completely selfish; innocent people who are wrongly convicted of crimes are sometimes guilty of other things equally bad or worse; good people can have bad children and good children can have monstrous parents; and sometimes people are brilliant by accident and stupid due to bad luck. If we are all cogs in the world machine, it’s a machine designed by Rube Goldberg on steroids and crack." Pat Cadigan is my new favourite person ever.

    Tagged with: authorwritersciencefictioninterviewPat-Cadigan

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