Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Do Physical Libraries Still Matter?


Are libraries—the ones you have to leave home to visit—still important?

Libraries

Image Courtesy of Holger Dieterich ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/holger

Can they survive in this digital age?

Will they become digital themselves?

Are physical books and their collections going away?

I have a few handfuls of posts I’ve done on libraries and I should share four of them:

So, What Are Libraries Good For, Now That So Many People Use the Internet?

The E-Book Wars & Your Public Library . . .

Publisher Helps Local Libraries Become Community Publishers !

A Place Called LibraryThing ~ A Space To Have A Love Affair With Books

I have a friend who’s a prison librarian and he recently sent me a link to an interesting article on SlateWhat Will Become of the Library?

I know one thing my friend probably liked about that article was the mention of Andrew Carnegie—the man who endowed 2,500 public libraries in the United States.

As a young boy, Carnegie benefited form a lending library operated by someone from Pittsburgh, the hometown of my friend the prison librarian…

I encourage you to read the full article over on Slate but I need to share one particular quote:

“A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen, instead. … A mall—the shops—are places where your money makes the wealthy wealthier. But a library is where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary, instead.”

Then, there’s another article about libraries I discovered on my daily scans of the news—written by the Director of the Harvard Law School Library—Why Libraries [Still] Matter.

He brings up the facility of seeking information on the Web and says:

“I co-authored a study investigating link rot in legal scholarship and judicial opinions, and was shocked to find that, circa late 2013, nearly three out of four links found within all Harvard Law Review articles were dead. Half of the links in U.S. Supreme Court opinions were dead.”

I can only imagine how many links to non-law-related information are dying every second…

He ends the article with this statement:

“In a world suffused with so much transient information as to inspire epistemic paralysis, we acutely need libraries’ power, independence, and ethos: institutions conceived to fight on behalf of their patrons, which is to say for the public and for the preservation and intelligibility of the public record.”

Do you still visit physical libraries?

What do you think they can do to stay alive when military spending, among other financial escapades, is inducing public austerity and stripping libraries of the funds they need?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Check Out our Latest Poll…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

 

Friday Poll ~ Where Do You Read?


As always, we’ll look at last week’s poll first.

Where I like to read

Image Courtesy of Alice Konieczna ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/alko

The question was: What Are Your Special Writing Rituals?

Special Music came out on top with 23.53% of the vote.

Second place went to “Nothing Special” at 17.65%.

Third place was an 11.76% tie between Special Drink, Space, and Computer Program/App.

Then, with 5.88% each were: Special Food, Quietness, and “Burn aromatherapy oils like rosemary or lemon to aid concentration”.

Now, this week’s poll—Where Do You Like To  Read?

Again, I’ve put only a few specific answers in the poll and provided the “Other” Space for your own choices.

If you like, select a few I’ve given and also include a few in the Other space :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

All About Bookstores . . .


Since I write my blog to help folks explore Reading, Writing, and Publishing; and, since Amazon has been getting way too much press lately, I decided I should write about bookstores :-) 

Bookstores

Image Courtesy of Brendan Gogarty ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/brendan76

I also wanted to use a Web app I’ve been exploring—Buzzsumo.

Here’s one user’s description of this app:

“Identify the links that are most shared on social networks, as well as influencers for specific topics. .. really easy to use.”

So, I put in “bookstores” and added the filter for the past 6 months.

Buzzsumo shows how many times each article has been shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

I’ll only give the total shares across all those platforms.

And, I’ll have a question for you at the end…

Here are the 10 most-shared Web articles about bookstores in the last 6 months (with the total number of shares):

1. 17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life — 241,249

2. World’s coolest bookstores — 84,501

3. The French Do Buy Books. Real Books. — 26,682

4. Literary City, Bookstore Desert — Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan — 20,386

5. Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again — 17,873

6. One NYC Indie Bookstore Survives By Being Small And Specialized 15,572

7. Bookstores of New York — 10,806

8. 9 Awe-Inspiring Bookstores Around the World — 9,382

9. 14 New York City Bookstores You Should Visit Before You Die — 8,979

10. The 14 Absolute Best U.S. Kids’ Bookstores (As Chosen By Teachers) — 7,738

So, my question for you is:

Why do you think these particular articles had the most social network shares in the last six months?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Check Out our Latest Poll…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Is Voice Recognition Software As Good As They Say It is?


Voice recognition software’s been around for quite awhile now.

Voice Recognition Software

Image Courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/juliaf

I haven’t tried it yet (except to run a couple Google Searches) but an article on the ALLi blog—Writing: Voice Recognition Software – Is It the Author’s New Best Friend?—peaked my interest.

Even if you’re not a serious writer, give it a read…

I thought I’d do my normal reportorial routine and give you excerpts from my link-out but my Best Friend, Author Jane Watson, has been using voice recognition software for quite awhile and was kind enough to give us this appraisal (the links were added by me, not Jane’s VRS):

“I first tried voice recognition software about 25 years ago. At that time voice recognition was in its infancy and, in my opinion, the programs that were available to individual users then, who did not have a special need (which perhaps qualified them for funded software, costing around $10,000), were very limited, experimental, and hardly worked at all.  I tried to use a program for the Mac called “iListen”. It could have been more appropriately called “I shout at you and you ignore me”. So many frustrated users would raise their voices when they were trying to talk to it, that there was actually an instruction in the manual telling the user that the program would not hear them better if they yelled….

“Then things improved. First with Dragon NaturallySpeaking for Windows and then DragonDictate for the Mac. At this point I began to get results that were nothing short of miraculous. I did not expect a program like this to be able to transcribe a writer’s thoughts, sometimes my sentences were long and convoluted, sometimes they did not follow what I would call conventional syntax, and yet this marvellous piece of software took it mostly in its stride. I had a special page of dictation that I used to test new microphones  – this page described a visit to a country town near where I lived and referred to an incident that had occurred, regarding the loss of a coat. Imagine my astonishment the first time I dictated this passage and DragonDictate was able to immediately recognise the word, Daylesford,  the name of the, not very well known, country town.

“I don’t agree that you cannot use software like this to ‘talk’, i.e. you have to consciously ‘dictate’. It is true that when I first began to voice my writing I found it difficult to relax and feel that I was actually ‘writing’. Initially it seemed odd to voice punctuation such as ‘comma’ or ‘ellipses’, but after a while this became second nature, just as folks once learned to press return on the keyboard instead of pushing the lever on a typewriter. This process of acclimatisation and learned relaxation is very similar to the struggle people had when they moved from the old typewriters to the new word processors. No one ever thought they would be able to write on those either…

“I realised however that I had reached the point where the software had become a tool that could increase my creativity when I did Nanowrimo, which is the insane attempt to write a 50,000 word novel every year in the month of November.  In one month I dictated all 50,000 words into Scrivener, my choice of writing software, and when I reached the end and read through what I had written I realised that what I had written was no better or no worse than what I would have done if I had pounded the keyboard – some was drivel, some seemed to have promise :-)

“In the last couple of years the accuracy of voice recognition software has become even better. It now literally takes hardly more than five minutes to train the software to a standard where it can actually start recognising your voice no matter what accent you use.

“Do I use this program every day? No, but I should. I am still a little hesitant that folks may hear me talking to the computer. But I am going to get over it. It saves an enormous  amount of time and frees me up to think. In fact, I have just dictated these paragraphs whilst relaxing in my armchair.

“Microphone off.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jane lives in Melbourne, Australia
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Check Out our Latest Poll…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Finding The Best Writing Advice


Finding good writing advice can be an extremely frustrating process.

Writing Advice

Image Courtesy of Robbie Ribeiro ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/robmania

You may be excited by the promise of articles and books on writing, only to become disheartened  when you apply the advice and your writing doesn’t improve.

If I could offer only one piece of advice, it would be that you need to improve from the Inside Out…

When you’ve changed your Self and your inner motivation to write, your writing will improve.

You may still have to revise like a maniac, but even your revision efforts will improve.

I’ve tagged over 300 posts, nearly a third of everything I’ve written here, as posts to help folks write…

Do, please check the Top Tags widget in the left side-bar :-)

I did bit of scanning and came up with three posts to get you started:

“Writerisms and other Sins”

Bad Advice for Writers = Most Advice for Writers

An Online Writing Group that Looks Like It Could Work . . .

And, I’ll add the Topic Headings from an article on the site Now Novel151 must visit writing websites:

Structure and Plot

Characterisation

Researching Agents and Writing Queries and Synopses

Publishing and Business

Editor and Agent Blogs

Self-Publishing

Creativity, Inspiration and Writing Prompts

Workshops and Forums

General Writing Advice

Grammar and Language

Romance, Women’s Fiction and Chicklit

Literary Fiction

Crime, Mystery and Thrillers

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

Children’s and YA

Historical

 

And, Check Out our Latest Poll…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,110 other followers