Monday, November 1, 2010

Around the Word

Today on the BloGG, science supports the savvy typist's hunch, Cory Doctorow self-publishes, and Bob Lehrman sings the praises of healthy online debate.
  • When it comes to typos, your fingers are your third eye, suggests a recent study by psychologists at Vanderbilt University. Attempting to "tease apart the various ways people catch their own mistakes," researchers engineered a computer program—essentially a doctored typing test—to surreptitiously correct some typos made by the subjects while secretly inserting others. Wired Science reports that while the typists couldn't consciously tell their real errors from the computer-induced ones, their bodies could sense the mistakes. After hitting a wrong key, the subjects' fingers slowed going into the next keystroke—even if the computer automatically corrected the word on screen.
  • It takes a village to self-publish a book—that's one take-away from best-selling science fiction writer Cory Doctorow's experiment in self-publication. Pulling every string in his social media network, Doctorow is building buzz around his collection of stories, With a Little Help, and has already made $10,000...and the book isn't even out yet. Doctorow describes his business model on NPR's All Things Considered. You can read an excerpt from the book here. Do his guerrilla publishing tactics inspire you to eschew Random House for the control—and potential rewards—of self-publishing? And if you're already in Doctorow's self-published company, how did you market your work?
  • Earlier this month, we blogged in support of PunditWire co-founder Bob Lehrman's bid to be the Washington Post's "Next Great American Pundit." He made it all the way to the top ten before getting cut in the third round. As the final three wannabe-WaPosters out-opine each other for a chance at the gig, Lehrman reflects on his stint in the contest—and the nature of online discourse.
  • Add "natural editor," to the list of Keith Richards's gifts. In The Daily Beast, Life's ghostwriter James Fox debriefs on working with the star. "We sat down at a table with the manuscript, and I read the whole thing [aloud]....There is a musical rhythm to his prose, dots and dashes and that kind of stuff....He cut according to the sound of it." Capturing the figurative music of Richards's voice was just one of the project's challenges—there was also Richards's literal music to contend with. "I remember our first negotiations," recalls Fox. "I said, 'Keith, we're going to have a slight problem if the music's this loud.' And he said, 'Well, that's kind of too bad.'"

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