Thoughts on BookCamp Toronto 2010

This past Saturday a bunch of local and not-so-local book folks got together for BookCamp Toronto 2010, an “unconference,” which I think is a buzzword for conferences that have seminars rather than lectures or presentations. Most of the sessions were like that: lots of conversation around a particular topic with a moderator (or moderators) keeping things moving. I was a little rusty, but felt at home in almost no time at all. Most of my university courses followed that format, and I was very, very good at university (much better than at this whole grown-up, working-for-a-living thing—that’s why I was so gung-ho about becoming a professor—some people can work a party, some people can work a phone line or a sales floor: I can work a classroom). But in all seriousness, I hope that I was able to add something to the discussion for others. I attended the following sessions:… Continue Reading

Do Books Need to be “Social”?

Social media isn’t going away. Anyone arguing that isn’t paying attention or is just straight up not very bright. Everything is “going social”. Services like Facebook and Twitter, when coupled with the rise in popularity and greater affordability of mobile computing are making it easier for folks to stay connected to one another over long distances, and to feel like they have a relationship with their favourite brands, celebrities, media outlets, whatever. In some ways it’s a marketer’s wet dream. There’s this idea that social media, or the social web, or whatever you want to call it, is about making direct connections between people rather than, say, connections between dumb web pages and PDF documents and what have you. This dichotomy is true if you think of the Internet as being largely made up of automated, corporate-controlled, business-centred websites and tools. Accurate statistics have always been hard to come by,… Continue Reading

Bam! Pow! Thung!

So Ken Auletta wrote this thing in the New Yorker about ebooks. I’m feeling kind of schizophrenic about it: I want to talk about it, and I want very badly to not talk about it at all. I don’t know much about him, but in the Washington Post, Jack Shafer said, “I dare you to name a more plugged-in media and communications technology reporter than New Yorker staff writer Ken Auletta,” and I can’t decide if he’s being serious or not. A quick look at Auletta’s books tells us that, in long form at least, he’s not a media/tech writer at all, but rather a business writer who happens to write about the the business of media and technology, which is whole other fucking box of frogs, and is a nuance Shafer, as a reporter who specializes in calling out other reporters for lack of rigor (coughmonkeyfishingcough) probably should understand.… Continue Reading