Here are some of my most interesting blog and news reads of the week.
Biggest controversy of the week? Authors buying book reviews for their books. One of the biggie self e-publishing authors, John Locke, is at the forefront of this story, although he is far from being alone in it. Porter Anderson gives a pretty good overview with an aggregation of posts about the issue, and Nathan Bransford offers a short post on what might be more of an alternative perspective – ie: maybe it’s not as bad as we think. I don’t like the idea of straight up paid reviews, though I can see Bransford’s point that a paid review doesn’t have to mean sketchy results. However, it is one more obstacle in the early explosion of digital self-publishing that troubles me and why, at this point in time, I still have so many problems with this corner of the publishing market.
As someone who wrote a novel where the protagonist is of a different ethnicity than I am, I appreciated Laurie Halse Anderson’s post about “Whose Story Is It?” She talks of the challenges of writing stories and characters of those who are “different” than you are. More specifically and especially important, I think, is that of white authors writing stories of non-white characters. The best line from her post? “A lot of white people in the US don’t know they’re white. They think they just are, they think they are the default setting.” (Kind of reminds me of John Scalzi’s post about being on the lowest difficulty setting in life as a straight, white male). Her post has great insights for white writers and excellent sources to further explore the responsibilities and implications for writing in a non-white voice.
This article is an older one, but with Virginia joining the ranks a few months ago, I’ve been interested in public opinion. States are beginning to require students to experience an online course before graduation. Different states are approaching it in various ways (with Tennessee demonstrating a pretty good structured approach, I think) and as one who works in online education, I’m obviously an advocate for the opportunities, but I am skeptical of the requirement aspect at this point. A few articles I have read indicate the concern about technology equity, but as an insider, I am more concerned with support. Independent learning and pacing is not to be taken lightly and I have seen some districts look at online learning as an economical savings that sometime includes the idea that students don’t still need the support of district personnel. I am interested in your thoughts.
Video of the Week:
One Republic has a new album coming out and this is the first single released from it – “Feeling Again”. It’s garnered a little extra attention for both donating some of the sales proceeds to Save the Children and for using real recorded heartbeats of children from Malawi and Guatemala. Check out the article from Mashable, which talks a little bit more about it and includes further links about the project.