This Week’s Insights: The collapse of self-publishing platforms… How “wisdom of the crowds” really works… Books are still the key to modern libraries… Why Alexa threatens the BBC… Tanglewood talks the talk.
- Self-Publishing Platforms Are Now A Cesspool: The self-publishing revolution was the great liberation of authors. Suddenly, anyone could get their book published, and many writers found success as authors. But inevitably, opportunists moved in, and those who game the system have turned the platforms into a largely unworkable mess. Authors Guild president Douglas Preston: “Counterfeiting, author ‘doppelganging,’ title cloning, ebook piracy, cut-and-paste plagiarism and other rip-offs … the variety and cleverness of these cons is breathtaking.” And they’re difficult to police.
- The Key To Mining “Wisdom Of The Crowd”: One of the revelations of the internet age has been that open source knowledge gained through asking communities to participate often beats the efforts of tightly-controlled single entities. But not always. So what makes a difference? A new study sheds light: “In order for the wisdom of crowds to retain its accuracy for making predictions, every member of the group must be given an equal voice, without any one person dominating. As we discovered, the pattern of social influence within groups — that is, who talks to whom and when.
- Libraries Have Reinvented As Community Centers. But… it’s still important that books is at the core of what they do. Libraries have never been just about books, but reading and books are more important than ever for contemporary society, and public libraries occupy a unique position as a public reading institution. And, importantly, they have opportunities to build communities around reading.
- Give People Choices And They’ll Take Them: Turns out that smart speakers like Alexa are turning out to be threats to institutions such as the BBC. “While, traditionally, people might tune a radio to their favourite station and leave it there, listening on devices such as Amazon’s Alexa involves asking for a channel each time – so there are more opportunities for convincing people to try something different … [such as] niche digital-only outlets.”
- Tanglewood Expands Its Focus: But only a little. “With the opening this summer of the Linde Center for Music and Learning, the campus’s first major construction project in a quarter of a century, [the Boston Symphony’s summer home] is dramatically expanding its programming of lectures, talks and master classes.” Turns out there’s an audience for building culture around the art form.