Keeping Writing

The Pareto principle when applied to business and marketing argues that 80% of sales will be generated from 20% of the product. This holds especially true for the publishing and literature industry, whereby the majority of physical retailers only stock a miniscule percentage of the total books published, in favour of the already popular and already profitable. The publishing industry is notoriously hard to crack and due to the limited shelf space in physical book stores many unknown or smaller authors are not given this elusive shelf space.

Lynn Shepherd an author in her own right published earlier this year an opinion piece written for the Huffington Post, in which she urged that if  J.K Rowling cared about writing, she should stop. In this piece Shepherd argues that “Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do”. She continues on appealing to Rowling that “you’ve had your turn” and other authors need the shelve space. Following the Pareto principle Shepherd has an almost valid concern. 

But with the advent of online retailers such as Amazon, Book Depository and even Indie Bound, the Pareto principle is slowly being challenged by the Long Tail effect. The physical limitations of a bookstore is no longer an issue (Anderson 2004). This infinite shelf space allows aggregators like Amazon to connect niche audiences with niche products (Kelly 2008) long after their release date or initial popularity. Due to the infinite shelving space online the growing thousands of books published each year are offered exposure and the breathing space that Shepherd demands.

Shepherd’s piece has been labelled by many to be a publicity stunt, or to be the simple rant of a disgruntled author. As an avid fan of the Harry Potter series and the fiction genre in general I cannot agree more with this view. Authors such as J.K Rowling, Stephen King or Dan Brown should not step aside once successful, if anything their novels bring more consumers to the stores both physical and online. Once there these consumers may even pick up another book from a struggling author, they may even click their way through the recommendation links all the way to Lynn Shepherds. (Although, once there they may note the 90+, 1 star reviews)

Every author, should have the ability to publish and produce content. The aggregate number of the remaining long tail sales outnumber the mass market, which should give hope to every aspiring creator and author. 

 

References

Anderson, C 2004, The Long Tail, Wired, 12 October, viewed 28 August 2014, <http://archive.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html?pg=3&topic=tail&topic_set=&gt;.

Kelly, K 2008, Better Than Free, Edge, viewed 28 August 2014, <http://edge.org/conversation/better-than-free&gt;.

 

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A Constant State of Readiness

Technology is a major contributor to the blurring  and the almost extinction of the physical borders and boundaries that once defined workplaces. The shifting of the global workforces from physical labour to knowledge and information based work can be seen to be a result of the growing digitalisation and interconnectedness of the world (Bradwell & Reeves 2008).  This digitalisation leads to the concept of ‘liquid labour’ and the pressure that many professionals, students and workers feel to be in a constant state of readiness. By its very nature liquid labour flows around and through any physical borders of an office. 

“Machines can be shut down, information just flows”(Mitew, 2014).

As human beings we often find it hard to switch off from work and technology especially when mobile devices make it ever so easy to instantly respond. Whilst advances in technology and information systems have created this ‘liquid labour’ it is our relationship with technology that allows for “presence bleed”(Gregg) and our constant state of readiness.

The constant barrage and flow of alerts and notifications from our smartphones, tablets, laptops and even Smartwatchs can lead to information overload, lack of focus and stress.

Striking a balance between work and life is a need that every human shares, but finding this balance is becoming impossible to find. We all need to ‘Look Up‘ every once and a while to see the world we may be missing out on. A purposeful and deliberate disconnection from technology is a crucial step in preventing a personal disconnection with life outside work. 

References

Bradwell, P., and Reeves, R. (2008) Economies. In Networked Citizens (pp. 25-31) Accessed 22 August 2014.

Gregg, M, ‘Function Creep: Communication Technologies and Anticipatory Labour in the information workplace’, 

Mitew, T 2014, ‘Liquid labour: global media industries and the costs of immaterial production’, lecture, DIGC202, University of Wollongong, viewed 19th August 2014.


Rules of the Internet

The process of redefining freedom, equality, self-government and property for the technological age and Cyberspace is and has been for more than a decade a salient and prominent concern for both the residents of Cyberspace and the “Governments of the Industrial World” (Barlow, 1996). Barlow’s impassioned and somewhat naive ‘Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace‘ states that the world of Cyberspace is “without…prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.” (Barlow, 1996).

Whilst this idealistic statement may be partially true in regards to the fact that when participating in online activities factors such as race, gender and station of birth are not overtly on display. However, access to the internet is severely limited in some areas around the world namely Nicaragua, Pakistan and Africa in general. In addition to this up until recently domain names were only available in English whilst it is estimated that more than 45% of Cyberspaces content is in languages other than English. 

Even on the self-proclaimed Rules of the Internet sexism and racism are noticeably present, but so is self government and social contracts. “-∞+1. Rules are meant to be broken! Rules of the internet are not meant to be!” this one rule to me sums up the proposed rules of the internet, however, I doubt this was the utopia that Barlow imagined, however, all sentiments from the “debasing to the angelic”(Barlow, 1996), must be allowed as a part of the global conversation. 

Barlow may have imagined a world free from the constraints of flesh and steel but can a utopian Cyberspace really coexist with global inequality and prejudice. 

References

Barlow, J.P. 1996, ‘A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace’


Internet, A History

It wasn’t that long ago when messages had to physically traverse the globe in search of their recipients to be heard and read. The internet and cyberspace we know, love and immerse ourselves in is a very recent development of human communication and connection.

The development of the first nodes and network, ARPANET in 1969 and the ever increasing number of networks during the 70’s and 80’s led to the development of this global nervous system and the coining of the term the ‘internet’. As Sterling demonstrates the history of the internet is a swift and complex mix of humanity’s need for technological advancement and its need for interaction.

We as a generation assume that instantaneous, rapid and real time communication and connection was ever present but for the not that much older generation the internet was and is still a mystery.

The internet has become so ingrained in our culture, society and global network that there has been speculation and debate about labeling the right to access the internet a Human Right.

How much things change in 20 years.

 

Sterling, B 1993, ‘A Short History of the Internet’, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

<http://sodacity.net/system/files/Bruce_Sterling_A_Short_History_of_the_Internet.pdf>


A little about me

Trying to identify the things that define yourself and coming up dry is terrifying. It’s that feeling you get when people ask what you can do with your degree after you graduate.

Serious existential crisis happening.

Everything we do affects who we become and how we approach life. But everything we use to describe ourselves  generates a list of assumptions and stereotypes in our audience.

I am Tom. I am attempting to complete a double degree of International Studies and Commerce, with majors in international communication,mandarin and business law. Unfortunately, there is not much more to say about me.

I seem to spend a fair amount of my time reading, relaxing and surfing the internet (Youtube and Imgur mostly). My other interests lie  in the direction of travel, politics and how the internet has impacted on both.

I haven’t ever blogged or tweeted before so this could be a potential trainwreck. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @ThomasA_Burrow.