Monday, February 07, 2011

Reality is broken

Jane McGonigal Thinks Reality is Broken, and She Wants to Fix It, according to this story by Michael Anderson in the Wired magazine. He says:

"McGonigal’s new book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make us Better and How they Can Change the World, hits bookstores (in the US) on Jan. 20, and expands upon the central point of her presentations: reality is broken, because games do a better job of making us happy. Rather than attacking games as an escapist outlet for avoiding real-world troubles, why don’t we subvert those game mechanics to make the world a better place?"

I am not a 'gamer' in the hardcore sense of the word. I play Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Bubble Ball on my iPad and iPod Touch for a few minutes daily. I am not obsessed with them, although winning a 'level' does make me feel good. I don't like to tax my brain too much after a long day, nor do I care much for 'bang-bang-bang', 'shoot-shoot-shoot' games. To each his own, I guess. Building cities and farms and what-have-you, don't excite me either. I cannot see the point.

Anderson says: " The book is structured in three sections: The first delves into what makes us happy, the second embraces the notion of entering alternate realities, and the third addresses the challenges and potential embodied in massive collaborative projects."

Fiction makes me happy. It embraces the notion of alternate reality like nothing else does. But I am still grappling with the part about, 'addresses the challenges and potential embodied in massive collaborative projects.' Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don't. For me, fiction is the greatest game of all. I would love get my hands on that book, though.

Wired magazine

Bedtime reading

Read this on Galleycat: Author Sean Cummings has started a Facebook group with a practical way to save publishing. Cummings theorized that the industry could be salvaged if everyone made a habit of reading ten minutes before bedtime.

I have browsed through his Facebook and also his website, and came up with this: "Do you believe in the power of the written word? Human beings have been reading in some form or another for the better part of the last five thousand years. Books are snapshots of our times, they're a window into the world we live in, and they represent a living record of humanity's journey through the ages. Books have the power to give meaning to our life and times, and they endure. Technology has shaped the written word, and it's ironic that while technology gave the power of reading to the masses, it also threatens the viability of an entire industry and the lives who those who eke out a meager living from the solitary pursuit of writing.

Recent years have seen the publishing industry (books, magazines, newspapers) face immense pressures. Independent book stores are closing, advances on royalties for debut authors are declining, publishers are going bankrupt, and at the heart of this is the fact that fewer people are reading."

I don't know about saving the publishing industry (I feel it needs to be saved more from itself by, first, giving it back to people who know and care about it), but it looks pretty cool. Check it out.

The Galleycat

Does anyone read book reviews anymore?

I was a little surprised when I read this story by Anis Shivani in The Huffington Post recently, because I thought I was the only one who didn't. Yes, confession: I seldom read book reviews, and I haven't read one for a while. Why? Well, for one thing I'd rather judge a book by its cover (and its first page). Second, I receive good recommendations from friends. Third, I am sort of adventurous; I like to try out new stuff. And fourth, well-written reviews are a joy to read, but have become increasingly difficult to find.

Still, there are some people who come into Silverfish Books looking for titles, with cutouts of book reviews from the local dailies (many completely out of date).

Anis Shivani asked several American critics, "How can book reviewing be relevant to the new generation of readers?" Here are some responses (extracts only):

Jay Pirani, author: Today the newspapers print badly argued, often showy, and usually brief takes on a book. The quality of a reviewer's prose, and the quality of sympathy brought to the book itself, seems not to matter, to editors or readers.

Ron Charles, Washington Post: Get over it: They (the new generation) don't subscribe to newspapers, and they're not going to.

Steven G. Kellman, book critic: Accuracy and honesty remain urgent.

Kelly Cherry, author: The Internet is commodious but for that very reason tends to collapse into fiefdoms. How much do Internet reviews really affect readers' choices?

Read more

The Huffington Post