Friday, February 4, 2011

Around the Word

Today, we're offering up three takes on the state of letters in the digital age:

It’s an underdog story to give any self-publishing writer hope: MediaBistro reports that HarperCollins has just bought a supernatural teen romance novel from publishing house’s online writing community, While HarperCollins runs the site and promises that all manuscripts that make the community’s coveted “Top Picks” list will be read by a HarperCollins editor, first-time novelist Leigh Fallon’s The Carrier of the Mark is the first book to get picked up by the publisher via the site. Have you turned to social media to get your work noticed? We want your tales from the digital publishing trenches.

Last week, Obama delivered the annual State of the Union address. But while the president has the luxury of getting lofty, says Vital Speeches of the Day’s David Murray, “America’s mayors, in their annual state of the village speeches at local libraries, chambers of commerce and community centers, are compelled to keep it real—which makes their speeches a truer test of the state of the nation as it is, rather than as we hope it may someday be.” On VSOTD, Murray takes the national temperature by perusing “every state of the village address I could get my hands on,” and finds that, while mayors across the states are uniformly quick to “take credit where credit is due,” their visions for the future vary. Check out the results of his findings here.

Rupert Murdoch’s long-awaited iPad-specific newspaper, The Daily, launched this week, and the results are, well, mixed. The New Yorker’s Blake Eskin calls its current incarnation a “hybrid of the New York Post, the iTunes store, and elements of other iPad periodicals,” but points out that “even a digital newspaper needs time to hit its stride.” But according to Alex Alvarez at Mediaite, you don’t need to take Eskin’s word for it—even if you don’t have an iPad. That’s largely thanks to Andy Baio’s new tumblr, "The Daily: Indexed".

Even without Baio, the iPad-less masses can read The Daily’s content,since the publication does release free, web-based versions of their articles. It’s just that The Daily doesn’t index their content online, so unless you’ve got the Apple apparatus, it’s hard to find anything—without an iPad, in other words, you can’t peruse The Daily’s content. That’s where Baio’s project comes in: an online index of permalinks, which lets non-iPad users skim the virtual paper, clicking on links to articles of interest. And Baio points out the tumblr isn’t just for us technological retrogrades, since the current version of the iPad app makes it nearly impossible to search for past content. Since the legalities of Baio’s informal index are fuzzy (“Frankly, I’m also very curious about the legal implications,” he says), it’s unclear just how long "The Daily: Indexed" will stick around. “Enjoy it while you can!” advises Alvarez.

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