I took this photo at the Michael Jackson auction exhibition in Beverley Hills in April 2009. Have been a huge admirer for years through all his troubles. Only saw him perform live once, in Leeds a few years ago, and had tickets to see him at the 02 in London. Very very sad that he has passed away. He was an inspiration and an original.
I seldom import whole blog posts but this is so good and so very sensible that I'm including all of it. It's from Bruce Sterling's great blog Beyond The Beyond
1. Literature is language-based and national; contemporary society is globalizing and polyglot.
2. Vernacular means of everyday communication — cellphones, social networks, streaming video — are moving into areas where printed text cannot follow.
3. Intellectual property systems failing.
4. Means of book promotion, distribution and retail destabilized.
5. Ink-on-paper manufacturing is an outmoded, toxic industry with steeply rising costs.
6. Core demographic for printed media is aging faster than the general population. Failure of print and newspapers is disenfranching young apprentice writers.
7. Media conglomerates have poor business model; economically rationalized “culture industry” is actively hostile to vital aspects of humane culture.
8. Long tail balkanizes audiences, disrupts means of canon-building and fragments literary reputation.
9. Digital public-domain transforms traditional literary heritage into a huge, cost-free, portable, searchable database, radically transforming the reader’s relationship to belle-lettres.
10. Contemporary literature not confronting issues of general urgency; dominant best-sellers are in former niche genres such as fantasies, romances and teen books.
11. Barriers to publication entry have crashed, enabling huge torrent of subliterary and/or nonliterary textual expression.
12. Algorithms and social media replacing work of editors and publishing houses; network socially-generated texts replacing individually-authored texts.
13. “Convergence culture” obliterating former distinctions between media; books becoming one minor aspect of huge tweet/ blog/ comics/ games / soundtrack/ television / cinema / ancillary-merchandise pro-fan franchises.
14. Unstable computer and cellphone interfaces becoming world’s primary means of cultural access. Compositor systems remake media in their own hybrid creole image.
15. Scholars steeped within the disciplines becoming cross-linked jack-of-all-trades virtual intelligentsia.
16. Academic education system suffering severe bubble-inflation.
17. Polarizing civil cold war is harmful to intellectual honesty.
18. The Gothic fate of poor slain Poetry is the specter at this dwindling feast.
You’ve heard about a book which sounds vaguely interesting, so when you have a spare moment you search for it on the web. What form does your actual purchasing behaviour take from there on in? I have to confess that my usual method is to look on Amazon and if the book’s available new at a good price I often buy it there and then.
I prefer to get it direct from the Amazon store but sometimes I buy from the New and Used section. If it’s only available from a high-price reseller, I often assume it is out of print, move on and forget about it. Unless I’m really keen, I’m afraid I probably won’t look anywhere else. I do also buy from bookshops, but these days that tends to be a special trip where I set aside some time for serendipitous browsing. I keep a list at the back of my notebook for things I’ve been looking for and I consult that when bookshop browsing, but for targeted buying I always go to Amazon first.
While I’ve been here in the USA on a temporary stay, my book acquisition behaviour has changed a bit, but I’m gradually swinging back to Amazon. The current picture is that first I visit the university library, with mixed success. Second, I visit local bookshops in Santa Barbara – there are quite a few and it helps me to get to know the area. I start with Borders in Goleta, then the Borders on State Street, then maybe Barnes and Noble, then move on to my list of used bookstores (which involves a fair bit of driving around). But sadly the result is nearly always the same – nobody has the book I want. They offer to order it, but I usually decline in the hope that the next shop will have it. An alternative would be to sit and ring round them all, but that can be time consuming and I don’t enjoy the tedious business of doing call-arounds. When I get home, I pull out my dog-eared list and sit down with Amazon. A few days later, I have what I want, sometimes new, sometimes used.
But these are titles I need for my research, books which I have to pursue. But idle purchases, for general pleasure and interest, are at the mercy of Amazon. If Amazon has it I buy it. If it's not there, or relegated to expensive used copies, I’ll probably never look for it again unless I remember to add it to the list in my notebook.
How do you buy your books? Have you, like me, grown to be largely dependent on Amazon for information about what’s available?
My daughters were born in 1976 and 1979, which means it's around 30 years since I have made any serious baby/toddler purchases. Now that I have 2 new grandsons I find myself shopping for baby toys and clothes once again, but the whole experience is some kind of bizarre time travel experience going back to the years when I myself was a toddler in the early 1950s. Why? Because the world of children today, far from being the ungendered paradise my friends and I worked towards so optimistically in the 70s and 80s, is now much more riddled with sexism than it was even before we started. I've been struggling with it for a while - it's almost impossible to buy clothes for my grandsons that are not blue, for example - but the sight of these toys in Marks and Spencer today completely enraged me. In the Daddy and Me range we find a bulldozer and toolkit, whilst in the Mummy and Me range you can get a vacuum cleaner, a toaster, and myriad other domestic tools.
How has this happened? Only last year a report came out (only one of many) showing that nothing has changed in the 30 odd years since my kids were born:
Women are still the victims of persistent gender inequality in the workplace, with very little change in their working conditions in Britain for almost two decades, according to a landmark report on Thursday. Women are working longer hours because they are still shouldering the bulk of household duties like cleaning and childcare. (Women stiil face workplace inequality, Reuters, December 2007)
What on earth is going on? I know from my own sons-in-law and their friends that men today are individually much less sexist than men of my generation, so how come the shops are still peddling these reactionary ideas? Do people really subscribe to these damaging ideologies? And if not, are they voting with their pockets and refusing to buy such damaging nonsense?
It's not often that I blog as personally as this but I am depressed and demoralised by such sexist marketing. Come on young parents, do something!!! Make a stand!!! Let's travel towards the future, not the past!
It's around 4.30am here in the UK and I'm watching CNN waiting for Obama to speak in Chicago. A few minutes ago I did what I always do at momentous times - I went outside and looked up at the sky to get a feel for how the world is now. In this city, where natural rhythms are often disrupted, birds sing all night and tonight is no different - they are out there loud and clear.
I was 16 when Martin Luther King was assassinated and I never dreamed I would see a day such as this in my lifetime. I'm so happy that I'll be in the US on 20th January to celebrate this most important inauguration.
Obama faces a daunting task, but he harnessed social networks to mobilise a community to vote, and he will also be able to use the same methods to lever much-needed invigoration and renewal. For those of us who work in social media, this is a fantastic opportunity to find even more and better ways to use it for the benefit of everyone. A wonderful and joyous night.