Tag Archives: publishing

The iPad Kindle Thing

So I bought a Kindle the other day, and have been thinking whether I should have bought an iPad instead. But the more I use the Kindle, the more that seems like an irrelevant question, despite all the debates that rage around it. For example, somebody I know recently mused that “… in some way the Kindle is like a crippled iPad: only monochrome, poor browser, etc.” His point was that if you look at the technology, the Kindle appears to exhibit a rather crippled sub-set of that provided by the iPad. As a new Kindle user, here’s my view on that.

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“I’ll Never Read From a Screen”

With the launch of the Apple iPad just days away in the UK, I’ve been reading reviews of the device in the popular press (a typical article here).

First let me state that I probably will never buy an iPad unless I’m forced to do so. But one good thing it’s done already is apparently kill off – stone dead – the idiotic notion that ebooks will never take off because they lack a mystical property of paper that makes reading from a screen somehow against human nature.

What was previously de rigour when discussing anything that presented itself as something on which you might be expected to read large amounts of text, is now seemingly taboo. Not a single iPad review I have seen in the last couple of weeks refers to this hitherto insurmountable problem.

Of course, there is nothing magical about the iPad that makes reading from its screen any easier than a Kindle or a Sony Reader (or even a boring old laptop). It’s just that the cult of Apple is so strong that what was once a required criticism is now suddenly not an issue. Good. Bring on the final death of dead tree media, and with it the end of the last shackles of the information age. There will be plenty of problems to fix in the future, but wondering what to do about Caxton’s ghost is not now one of them.

Copyright and New Righteous Indignation

On January 5th, 2010, The Independent published a photo as a backdrop to a feature inviting readers to submit pictures of the snow and cold weather. But they never asked the photographer if they could use his work.

Newspapers and magazines have of course from time immemorial sometimes used work without either attributing, asking or paying the creators. There are a number of reasons for this, and cock-up is certainly one of them. Were it, say, 1970 and not 2010, the rights holder would have doubtless written to the newspaper telling them that they had used his or her work and demanded payment. If the paper refused, then Small Claims court would have been the next stop. All things being equal, the paper would have then paid up because in those days copyright was boringly simple.

In 2010, however, copyright is no longer boring. It is no longer the preserve of industrial regulation, it has many shades of grey and personal opinion associated with it. So instead, this is a rather subtle tale of Internet-age righteous indignation, confusion about the law, contract, the prevailing culture of media and art, and the nature of marketing and popularity.

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Majectical Electrical

Michael Forrest has his new album out today. I’m downloading it now, and I commend you to do the same. It reminds me of artists as diverse as Cobra Killer through ATR to Momus and Barry Adamson. This is definitely going out on my ShowCenter.

I’m always interested in the way artists choose to distribute their work – in may cases more so than the work itself. Forrest is notable not least by adding some weight to a casual observation I made about a similar online distribution of a work by Paul Robertson. Forrest distributes the work via the Internet direct to the audience, but this time imposes a time window of 25 days. He also says nothing about any licence.

In the absence of any further information about the license, we must assume it defaults to restrictive copyright. However, I find this an intriguing development not only because Forrest is silent on this point, but also because he invokes the concept of scarcity.

In the digital age, there is copyright and shades of it meditated by CC. There is also the idea that nothing matters as long as its free. I don’t quite know how to deal with scarcity in either context. Perhaps I’m making too much of all this – but my point is that I think those who have championed alternative licensing models may have misjudged the way the public will use (or ignore) the provisions of such schemes. If REM can release videos under a perl licence, “rip, mix, burn” may start to apply to more than just the work itself.