Some good reading on the Intarwebz today! First up, I bring you today’s Big Idea column over at the Whatever, where Mr. Scalzi brings word of Brad Meltzer’s new children’s books about Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln. Parents of small children, especially daughters, go check this out. Especially if you’re fans of Calvin and Hobbes. The art for the Amelia book looks adorable.
Meanwhile, Jim Hines has put up a good post today going over a writing advice question I hear time and again: i.e., whether you should try to write to the market. I said over there, and I’ll say here too, that even though “don’t try to write to the market” and “be aware of the market” seem contradictory on the surface, for me they’re actually kind of not. You want to be aware of what people who aren’t you are writing, so you aren’t writing in a complete and utter vacuum, and accidentally writing stuff that people lost interest in reading five or ten or even more years ago. Plus, you never know what awesome ideas you may have spark for your next book.
Fellow Carina fantasy author Shawna Thomas is talking up her work over at Eleri Stone’s place, and in particular about coming-of-age fantasy. Go give her a look, ’cause fantasy by Carina is love!
I’ve been following the news posts on TheOneRing.net for a while now, because hi, yeah, Tolkien geek, yo. But this post of theirs made me up and join their message forums for the express purpose of voicing my appreciation to their forums member who wrote some nice fanfic about Dís, the mother of the dwarves Kíli and Fíli, the only female dwarf Tolkien ever named. Looks like Cirashala’s getting her epic on with further fanfic about the character, too, based on what she’s saying in the thread that the news post links to. I approve!
For those of you who may not have seen this yet, this story started going around last night. I saw the LJ Twitter account link to it, so one presumes this is indeed legit. The article’s talking about future plans for LJ, and it’s looking like the ongoing trend of not giving a damn about the old-school LJ user base isn’t stopping for the foreseeable future. The money quote is this one:
LiveJournal’s leadership has made it clear that their future American business strategy lies in generating new traffic rather than catering to the service’s current small-but-loyal membership. The challenge for Petrochenko and other executives at LiveJournal will be redefining the brand’s identity in a crowded media marketplace.
I am not abandoning LJ quite yet. But I HAVE shifted a lot of my primary reading over to Dreamwidth–so if you’re on both sites, and if you are actively posting to DW, I’ll be reading and replying to you on DW. So if you plan to make the jump and you’re on my LJ friends list, let me know so I can add you on DW.
So, the geekier amongst us have been keeping track of Diaspora for a while, given that it’s touting itself as an Open Source alternative to Facebook and Google+ and Twitter and such. Right now it’s in very early development stages, and while it’s possible to join existing Diaspora pods, it’s not exactly non-geek-friendly right now.
I’ve been on LJ long enough to be fairly sure that even if Diaspora attracts a geek audience, it’s unlikely to pick up significant numbers–and in particular, not likely to deal much of a blow to the huge numbers of Facebook, Twitter, or G+ users.
But I might be wrong! And I’m curious just to see what y’all think about it and whether you plan to use the system. I myself am not planning to at this time, in no small part because I’m barely able to keep track of the social networks I’m already on, and do not have time and patience to learn another one. Especially one so early in its development.
What do you think? If you’re seeing this post on LJ or Dreamwidth, please click on over to the annathepiper.org version of the post–the polls won’t work from LJ or DW.
I’ve seen a lot of news going around about this, but for those of you who haven’t, LJ has just turned on new functionality to crosspost to Facebook and Twitter.
On the face of it this seems fine. I crosspost regularly, as y’all probably know; all my posts these days originate from my WordPress blogs, but from there they head out to LJ, Dreamwidth, Facebook, and Twitter all at the same time. I’m fine with LJ allowing that to happen for stuff that originates on LJ.
What I’m not fine with is that you can apparently now also crosspost comments. Including comments on locked posts, or posts which are set to screen all comments. The crossposted comments will include a link back to the original post–and if that post is locked, sure, only the people who are authorized to see it will still see it. But there’s no way of knowing if those crossposted comments might quote bits of the original post.
So there’s big privacy fail here. There’s also just general fail of manners, because seriously, it’s just rude to link back to locked posts that people on other sites can’t read.
I wouldn’t have been turning on this functionality anyway since my crossposting originates off of LJ and I therefore do not need it. But I’m leaving it off also on general principle just because of this big gaping security hole. I encourage you all to do the same. Also, while I don’t often post locked posts or posts with screened comments, I do ask that if I do, please don’t crosspost any comments off of them.
The FAQ post about the new functionality is here. The new news post that mentions it is here.
If you feel passionately about this, I encourage you to submit feedback to LJ about it.
If you feel really passionately about this, enough to bail on LJ, I have Dreamwidth invite codes. Let me know if you want one.
For several days now, LJ’s feed of custom styles has been broken–which has meant that the custom style I set up to let it download a feed of my Friends list into my mail client hasn’t worked, so I’m totally behind on keeping up with all of you!
If anybody posted anything addressed specifically at me, can you link me up in a comment? Thanks! *^_^*;;
Tonight, I learned that pretty much every character major and minor in the cast of The Venture Bros. has an in-character Twitter account! This came onto my radar when I saw Nathan Fillion answering tweets from @numbertwentyone and encouraging people to follow him–and then flirting with @DocGirlfriend, who was all over flirting right back.
Naturally I started following all of my favorite characters and being highly amused by tonight’s exchanges between them. Then I noticed I’d picked up a new follower of my own. And the following ensued:
annathepiper: Don’t look now, but I appear to be followed by @DeadlyMolotov. No no you fool, I said DON’T LOOK! She can shoot your eye out! DeadlyMolotov: @annathepiper Retweeted and favourited. annathepiper: @DeadlyMolotov Thank you kindly! Partner says to tell you “By the way darling do not forget lunch date in Volgograd.” DeadlyMolotov: @annathepiper As long as he brings the dolphin; Tell him that. He’ll know what it means. annathepiper: @DeadlyMolotov Partner’s a girl. Also, a supervillain! Come to think of it, this probably explains where she got the dolphin… DeadlyMolotov: @annathepiper Oh? Even better. mistwolf: @DeadlyMolotov @annathepiper Your partner with a dolphin scares me deeply. annathepiper: @mistwolf @DeadlyMolotov I’m quite sure I don’t want to know her intentions for that dolphin, here OR in Volgograd. I already know too much!
So there I was about to answer @heatheringemar’s lovely supportive tweet about my cake-resistance efforts tonight, as well as tweeting my previous post, when Twitter suddenly inexplicably fell over. No fail whale, no nothin’, just suddenly I couldn’t get through.
Didn’t think anything of it though until I saw this post show up on JournalFen’s Fandom Lounge community–from which solarbird has concluded that Twitter’s apparently suffered a name service hack. From what the JF poster saw before Twitter vanished completely, it looked like a group in Iran tried to take over the site. One expects in retaliation for Iranian students trying to use Twitter as a protest mechanism. Dara doublechecked by trying to get data off of Twitter’s nameservers, and yeah, they were reporting bad hosts and everything before Twitter just dropped completely off the net.
Anyway, y’all, if you can’t get through to Twitter tonight, this is very probably why. I don’t envy Twitter’s support team right now; they must be having a very stressful night!
ETA: Dara has more tech-oriented details over here.
ETA #2: And we’re back! We now rejoin your regularly scheduled tweeting, already in progress.
Okay, so as of today the prevailing winds of opinion on the Net appear to be hitting three major points:
It’s nice that Amazon did acknowledge their error, although from scattered reports I’m picking up, not everybody has had their previous sales rankings restored. I have not yet been able to confirm any specific de-ranked books that haven’t been restored, myself.
It’s not nice that Amazon hasn’t actually come right out and said “we’re really, really sorry about this, yes, this was a screwup of the highest order”. I’ve seen at least one author outright demanding an apology since her writing is her only source of income, and Amazon screwing this up therefore adversely affected her.
It’s also not nice that the mechanism for hiding items globally is there to begin with. Charles Stross ably expressed concerns about this over here.
So as I was waiting for Norwescon to wind down, I settled in to hang out in the lobby and check in online. And I found that the Internet has apparently exploded this afternoon. Yeah yeah yeah, I hear you say, isn’t the Internet always exploding about something or other?
This one, though, is personal. They’re calling it #amazonfail on Twitter, and here’s the sitch: apparently Amazon has started de-ranking books on “adult” topics. This has the effective result of making books so quantified very, very hard to find on the site; it’s the equivalent of pulling them off the shelves in a physical bookstore and forcing people to go to the Customer Service desk to ask for copies.
The problem? By “adult”, they’re including a whole host of GBLT-themed books, many of which aren’t “adult” in theme at all, such as Heather Has Two Mommies and John Barrowman’s autobiography. To add insult to injury, if you search for “homosexuality” on Amazon right now, the top hit is something called A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Books of similar nature also show up in the top ten search results.
And this hits me where it hurts. Those of you who have read Faerie Blood know that two of the second-tier characters are a male couple, and should I get to write Books 2 and 3, chances are good that a couple of the other second-tier, female characters will form a couple as well. So if this policy of Amazon’s remains in place by the time Faerie Blood comes out, it’s certainly possible that you’d have a hard time finding the book there.
While I respect the principle of needing to be careful with adult content on a site that can be searched by minors, I am deeply offended that what’s getting called “adult” in this case is so blatantly discriminatory. I’ll be telling them as much, and I’ll be prepared to take my business elsewhere if this policy does not reverse itself pronto.