Thursday, July 31, 2008

Google launches Knol

KnolNicole Martin writes in The Daily Telegraph that Google has launched an online encyclopaedia to rival Wikipedia.

'Knol, which stands for unit of knowledge, allows internet users to write articles on their own areas of expertise.'

Google says that this free service will be different from Wikipedia. Unlike the latter, Knol will not allow people to make changes or contribute to a person's Knol without their permission. 'Knols written on the same subject will also remain separate and compete for the attention of visitors, who will be able to give online feedback. Pictures of authors will also be displayed on their knol web pages.'

So why should anyone contribute to Knol when they can freely write any misinformation they want without permission in Wikipedia? (BTW Kafka is listed as an author from Austria and Czech Republic, and also a German writer. Also take a look at the writers from Malaysia list. Oh, Tash Aw is listed under UK.) 'Contributors will be able to make money from the service by allowing adverts which relate to their articles to appear on their

If you want to contribute to Knol go to

The Daily Telegraph


RushdieSalman Rushdie's new writing success

Maev Kennedy writes in The Guardian that Salman Rushdie has set a new world record when he signed his name in full on 1000 books on his book tour to promote his latest, The Enchantress of Florence, in Nashville in 57 minutes. He is said to have broken the previous record by broken wine writer Malcolm Gluck who is said to have signed 10001 books in 59 minutes.

Gluck is quoted: "Well, if that's true, I'm humbled ... I'm delighted to learn of Salman's achievement. I think it's very funny actually, it's like men boasting about the size of their sexual
equipment ... just such a male thing."

The Guardian

The Claude GlassNo such thing as bad publicity

Tom Bullough books are flying off the shelf, not because he won something but because he didn’t. The writer suffered a "national embarrassment" when his name was wrongly read out as the winner the of Wales Book of the Year 2008 Awards ceremony, and he made his way to the stage to collect the GBP 10,000.00 prize, only to be told the real winner was poet Dannie Abse instead.

Normally no one would hear or remember runners-up. But this gaffe has done Tom Bullough little harm. Yes, he was embarrassed and probably wanted to crawl into a hole and die that night. But his books are selling. Call it sympathy, pity, curiosity or whatever. No one is ignoring him.

Wales Online

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One-million English words

Russell Jackson writes in The Scotsman: English is spoken by more than 1.35 billion people worldwide, and it will soon celebrate a new milestone -- that is, one million words. The report says that a new word is created every 98 minutes and, currently, stands at 995,844 words. The million-word mark is expected to be passed on 29 April, 2009. One of the latest words added is 'e-Vampire': 'a noun describing electric equipment that consumes energy while in standby mode'.

English is spoken as a first, second or auxiliary language. This has resulted in an unprecedented amount of sources for new words to be developed.

Paul Payack, founding president of the Global Language Monitor, an association of academics, wordsmiths and bibliophiles who analyse trends in word usage and choices and their impact on culture, is quoted: "English is different to most other languages in that it absorbs words like no other language in history. Language boils up from the people and we see this by the assimilation of words from 'hip hop', 'Hollywood' and 'Bollywood' ..."COED

But an average person's vocabulary is 14,000 words. That much?

Meanwhile another story in the BBC says that 'credit crunch' has been recognised as a new word by the Concise Oxford English Ditionary, which records 240,000 words and phrases. Here are some meanings:

credit crunch -- a severe shortage of money or credit
sub-prime -- home loan to those with a poor credit history
boiler room -- an office that is home to high-pressure telephone sales
sleb -- the informal word for a celebrity
leetspeak -- the use of numerals or characters to represent words

There are many more new words. Follow the links.

The Scotsman


Replace a book with a tree

Eco Libris logoThis initiative by Eco Libris aims to replace each book purchased in the United States with a planted tree in Central America and Africa.

The United States uses about 20 million trees per year to produce about 4.15 billion books of which only 5-10 % is recycled material. Although major publishers have pledged to increase the recycled content of their books, there is still a long way to go.

I do not know if the scheme is available to readers outside the US (but I am sure they will not refuse your money), but this is what happens. Readers choose how many books they want to balance out with Eco Libris, pay for it online, and a tree will be planted for each of these books.
A specially designed Eco Libris sticker made from recycled paper, will then be sent to the donor to put on the cover of the books they have balanced out, to show their commitment to sustainability and responsible use of natural resources.

To ensure that donations are not misused, Eco Libris will work with planting partners chosen for their knowledge of local tree species, mixed forest planting, and the flora and fauna of the area. Eco Libris is currently working with: The Alliance for International Reforestation, Ripple Africa, and Sustainable Harvest International.

In order to make sure that trees planted attain maturity, Eco Libris hires local community members trained to tend the planted trees. 13 trees are planted for every 10 trees donated because not all of the trees will make it to maturity. The extra trees balance out the
anticipated loss through drought, disease, or some other malady.

It costs USD 5.00 to plant 5 trees (with discounts for larger numbers.) Eco Libris was formed a year ago on the 1st of July. They celebrated their first birthday having balanced out 50,005 books, with 65,586 new trees.

There is a lot more on their website.

Eco Libris