The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Book Bits: Online rudeness, Pew library use survey, Swarming, ‘Garden of Stones,’ Milne/Wodehouse feud

BookBitsSometimes I think the online world takes our worst behavior as drivers and digitizes it into forums, Facebook threads and the comments sections available in blogs and news stories. Articles about drivers’ behavior say that a lot of the rudeness we see on the highways comes from the fact people believe they are anonymous while sitting inside a vehicle. Sad, but true, I think, that people feel it’s okay to be mean as long as nobody knows who’s you being mean.

In a discussion on my Facebook page yesterday about the difficulty of having true discussions on line without people becoming polarized and shouting insults, folks thought rude behavior on line occurs because commenters and posters believe they are anonymous (even on their own Facebook pages), and so dealing out rude putdowns that would never happen around a dinner table or in a work environment, are thought to be okay when commenting about a news story, post, or status update.

Libelous Comments

This was brought home to me yesterday on one of my other blogs in a comment left about a volatile book I mentioned. A commenter, using people’s real names, scoffed at something and then added that person ABC assaulted person XYZ. I see comments like this all the time after online news stories. They bother me for multiple reasons, first because accusing somebody of a crime is libel. Do people not understand this? Making such comments is not only unseemly because of the harm it can cause, but opens up the person and the website or publication to a libel suit. I deleted the comment on my blog and said as much. It also bothers me that people who only know of an incident via a news story or gossip, suddenly believe that they have enough irrefutable  “information” about a prospective crime or a trial to state that a person is definitely innocent or guilty.  Online, it often seems that the hysterical are attempting to lead the chronically uninformed. And vice versa.

Looking at “Swarming a Book Online,” (item 3), we see it’s now possible to organize rudeness and seemly behavior to hurt people one doesn’t like.

Having finished my impromptu editorial, which you’re free to take as worth a hill of beans, I’ll move on to today’s links:

  1. PWlogoNews: Beyond Book Rental: The Next Big Thing on Campus, by Judith Rosen – “Textbook rentals have grown exponentially over the past few years. So much so that Amazon, which has long taken a bite out of new and used textbook sales on campus, entered the rental market last August. Now three rental leaders begun by students as an affordable alternative to buying textbooks—Chegg, Rafter, and CampusBookRentals—have begun to change their models, which were originally adapted from Netflix.” Publishers Weekly
  2. News: 53% of Library Users Want ‘A Broader Selection of eBooks,’ by Jason Boog – “The Pew Internet & American Life project surveyed library users around the country, getting a picture of what patrons want from their local library. An overwhelming majority wanted more coordination with local schools and more help for teaching children how to read.” GalleyCat
  3. Commentary: Swarming a Book Online, by David Streitfeld – “Reviews on Amazon are becoming attack weapons, intended to sink new books as soon as they are published. ” New York Times
  4. winnerObituary: Filmmaker Michael Winner dies at 77, by Jill Lawless –  “‘Death Wish’” director Michael Winner, a British filmmaker, restaurant critic and bon vivant, died Monday. He was 77.” Associated Press
  5. How To: 5 Examples of the Need for Multiple Hyphenation, by Mark Nichol – “Complex and compound phrasal adjectives, in which more than two words unite to modify a noun that follows the phrase, pose a challenge for many writers. How many hyphens are required, and where do they go? ” Daily Writing Tips
  6. How To: Cut the Flab—Make Every Word Count, by Beth Hill – “While not all words have to make a reader’s hair stand on end, every word should contribute. They definitely shouldn’t drain surrounding words of their intent. And phrases should be more than place-fillers.” The Editor’s Blog
  7. EuropeanPaintingReview: “Nineteenth-Century European Painting: From Barbizon to Belle Epoque,” by William Rau – “An exhilarating journey through a pivotal moment in art history conducted by a captivating docent.” Kirkus Reviews
  8. Commentary: The 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations of 2013, by Gabe Habash – “Here are the 10 movies from books we hope are at least somewhat sort of partially worth the hype.” PWxyz at Publishers Weekly
  9. Quotation: “”It has been my honor, privilege and joy to serve IBPA and work with the many dedicated board members, staff, and members through the years. “I will miss them all, but am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends–and exploring the next phase in my career.” — Florrie Binford Kichler speaking of her planned June 30th retirement as President of the Independent Book Publisher’s Association, from Shelf Awareness
  10. grandcentralFeature: A Historic Arrival: New York’s Grand Central Turns 100 – “On Feb. 2, that fabled destination will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, New York Times reporter Sam Roberts has written a book about the terminal. Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America recounts how rapacious robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt built the station for his railroad; credits long-forgotten engineer William Wilgus for electrifying the trains; and documents how a historical preservation movement helped save the place from the wrecking ball.” – NPR
  11. Lists: 10 Teen Books Adults Shouldn’t Resist – “What rational adult willingly revisits adolescence? A lot of us, if a study released by Bowker, a prominent provider of data about books, is any indication—last September, Bowker revealed that 55% of people who read young adult books are over 18 (with the largest segment of those adults aged 30-44!). ” Kirkus Reviews
  12. Viewpoint: Cultural Homogeneity and the Future of Literary Translation. by Burton Pike – “A creeping homogenization is developing in prose fiction, a kind of generic international content and style that transcends national borders.” Publishing Perspectives   See Also: Is Literature Losing a Battle with Commercial Monoculture? by Edward Narwolka
  13. gardenofstonesReview: “Garden of Stones,” by Sophie Littlefield, reviewed by Judith Stockston – “Sophie Littlefield’s novel does an outstanding job of depicting a heartbreaking view of this national failure of conscience.” The Poisoned Pen
  14. Essay: Things Grown-Ups Talk About, by Sadie Stein – A brief look at two writers who began as friends and fell out of favor with each other, A. A. Milne and P. G. Wodehouse.  The Paris Review
  15. Lists: 2012′s Best Books of Poetry by Women, by Amanda Montei – “2012 was great year for poetry, and an even better year for poetry by women. Here’s my impossibly non-comprehensive list of the best poetry picks for 2012, in no particular order.” Ms. Magazine
  16. News: YouTube halts funding for WSJ and Reuters channels; Reuters cuts positions, by Hamish McKenzie – “YouTube has cut off funding to the Wall Street Journal and Reuters that formed part of its $150 million dollar plan to help launch more than 100 premium channels. ” PandoDaily



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2 thoughts on “Book Bits: Online rudeness, Pew library use survey, Swarming, ‘Garden of Stones,’ Milne/Wodehouse feud

  1. I’ve wondered the same things, Malcolm, and my prediction is that before too long we’ll start seeing lawsuits about this sort of thing.

    • Of course, people say that about famous-person trials all the time, and if they’re letter writers or commenters, they might be considered too much trouble to sue (as opposed to big headlines and richer publishers).


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