Results tagged “John Scalzi” from kwc blog

The New York Times has an article, Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog, that focuses on Jonathan Coulton -- Hodgman compatriot and Internet geek music star -- to illustrate how a new generation of musicians are using Internet-based fan interaction to create a new business model for music. The model is fairly simple: give away your music and rely on your fans to pay you anyway. A famous example is Jane Siberry's pay-what-you-want model that has resulted in an average price of $1.30/track. This model has two main element of success: that your fans like your work and that your fans like you. The latter leads to e-mail, blogs, MySpace, and other sorts of fan-facing interactions.

We've seen this model evolve over the past several years and it's nothing new, but I find it fun to track it across multiple media. The New York Times article tries to force the implication that the fan interaction becomes a new burden for the artist, but can also provide relief. Sci-Fi writer John Scalzi recently gave a talk at Google in which he mentions that his laziness led him to put his manuscripts online for free. Instead of creating submission after submission, he has been able to draw the book companies to him and sell multiple books.

Scalzi and the NYTimes article do seem to agree that this business model requires a particular type of artist -- it is not a model for a J.D. Salinger, but it can assist the author pushing product on the book tour circuit. To bring back a lesson from the NYTimes article, Jonathan Coulton is able to sample his audience and target his concert performances to where he can sell 100+ tickets. Coulton's performance with John Hodgman also shows that a book reading can be as much a performance as any concert (see also: Lemony Snicket). The fact is that any interaction with your fans is a performance and, like any performance, we buy tickets.

Scalzi talk at Google:

2006 Books in Review


NOTE: you needn't follow along in my self-indulgent look back on my reading list from 2006. I'm merely trying to process for myself the threads of my reading.

I was a little disappointed with myself when I looked back over what I had read this year. I thought I had read a lot, but then I realized that it was mostly graphic novels and easier reading. I didn't quite challenge myself this year -- I won't be crossing any books off of "top 100" literary lists. I guess one of my New Year's resolutions will be to start picking up some of the more challenging stuff gathering dust on my shelves.

Biggest accomplishment

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I've been reading this since 2004, if not earlier. If feels good to check this one off, though that still leaves Confusion and The System of the World, which are both just as long and heavy. I enjoyed Quicksilver enough to attempt the other two books, but it won't be among my Stephenson favorites.


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Fables: 1001 Nights comes at a perfect time for the series. Thematically, it dovetails well with the recent Fables: Arabian Nights release from the regular series, and it also provides a whole lot of character development/origins at a time when the series is ready for it. It also features art by Charles Vess, James Jean, Jill Thompson, Tara McPherson, and more. I'd probably put the other Fables books below on the recommended line, but I this collection stood out.

Old Man's War is John Scalzi's take on Starship Troopers, but instead of the young people going off to fight, it's the old folks. Scalzi provided a comfortable space in which to ponder this twist+homage. I've picked up Forever War as a result of reading this, so that I can continue the thought process.

What the Dormouse Said is a fun book for me, mainly because it pretty much places the companies that I've worked for in an alternate universe: LSD experiments, violent anti-war protests, Rolling Stone, and pot. And all of this lead to the modern computer and Internet.

Fiasco dissects the failures of the current Iraq War from a military strategic point of view. It was a new way for me to look at the failures of the Dubya administration :).

I've already said enough good things about Design of Everyday Things and Thud!.

Not recommended

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I generally like Queen and Country and McSweeney's, but not every release is a hit. I've previously described some of my dissatisfaction with Queen and Country: Declassified Vol 2 as well as McSweeney's 17.

Rest of the Reads

Whole lot of Lemony Snicket

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I'm not sure I felt fully satisfied by the end of Lemony Snicket, and that perhaps was Daniel Handler's intent. It was sadly fun, once it got out of the repetitive rhythm of the first four books and started gaining some continuity. My purchase of the Beatrice Letters falls in the McSweeney's clever packaging gimmick that I repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly fall for.

Whole lot of Usagi and Japanese-themed graphic novels:

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Usagi continues to delight -- Grasscutter I is one of my all-time favorite graphic novels. Soon I'll be caught up all the way through volume 20. Lone Wolf and Cub is dark enough for me that I don't think I will need any more of Tatsumi's depraved Push-Man-like stories.


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Terry Pratchett keeps filling that humor niche for me, though I'm testing the waters with Christopher Moore. I tried to see if Augusten Burroughs would be a good Sedaris fill-in: I was entertained but not impressed. I wasn't too impressed with Bruce Campbell's novel either, but it knew what it was and embraced it, so I respect that. On the graphical novel front, I've enjoyed filling in my historical knowledge of Penny Arcade, Groo, and Barry Ween. It's amazing how many good graphic novels there are to buy when you take 10 years off from collecting comics.

And the rest (good, possibly great, but no comment right now)

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Newsjunkie by keyword


PubSub lets you create virtual RSS feeds based on a search term. For example, you can subscribe to Nanotechnology, Stanford, or a search term of your own, and it will return articles from over a million blogs. Here's one I created for the mars rover.

If only Google News could add this feature to their search -- they have news alerts, but those are e-mail based.
(via Brad Choate)

Update: With Brad Choate (maker of fine MovableType plugins) showing up in the comments within 10 minutes of my posting, this made me realize that this is a powerful tool in support of Scalzi's Law of Internet Invocation. Instead of having to actively Google your name to find new mentions of yourself, PubSub will deliver all new occurrences of your name directly to your news reader within minutes of it being posted. Those Internet Spirit Summoning spells will work that much quicker now.

While I'm on the topic of "laws"


Just after I made the previous post, I found this on Kottke:
What's Your Law?

There are a bunch of eponymous laws listed, some I recognize, some I don't. For example, there's Godwins Law (see below), which I seem to see mention on a daily basis now. Then there's Strogatz's Second Law of Doing Math (also see below), which I haven't heard of, but my bastardize corallary seems to backup my use of Google to verify Scalzi's quote :).

Godwin 's Law

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Strogatz's Second Law of Doing Math

To figure out if something is true, check it on the computer. If the machine agrees with your own calculations, you're probably right.

Unattributed Bastard Corollary of Doing Research

To figure out if something is true, check it on the Google. If the machine agrees with your own research, you're probably right.

Law of Internet Invocation


metamanda reads John Scalzi's WHATEVER blog all the time, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this comment from Scalzi on Making Light (poppy z. brite thread)

Also, as a general rule, if you don't want someone to show up on your site, or in your discussion (or whatever), don't name the discussion (or whatever) after them (and especially, I would think, don't name them after authors, who are by nature curious about being fictional creatures in someone else's universe). Thanks to the twin powers of search engines and personal vanity, putting someone's name on something on the Internet is tantamount to inviting their presence, not unlike (depending on your perspective) invoking angels or demons. And we all know how much trouble that class of creature can be.

Henceforth, the above observation is to be known as the Law of Internet Invocation: "If you name them, they will come."

This is assuming no one else has yet made this observation (which I'm sure someone has). Posted by: John Scalzi on January 11, 2004 06:09 AM

I searched for "If you name them, they will come," and all I turned up was an Oct 2002 police report mentioning the names on a police warrant, so at the very least attributing this to Scalzi passes the Google Test, which does carry a certain level of omniscient certitude.

I found this quote to be serendipitous, given that metamanda's postings on her blog have summoned Scalzi, Paul Dourish, and others, which for me brings everything full circle. One of my postings attracted Eric Meyer's attention, but only due to it's incorrect attribution which he kindly corrected (by giving the credit to someone else). My postings have also managed to attract the attention of submitters to the Style Invitational, Khleo generics fans (but probably the man himself?), and who knows who else. Go Google/Technorati/Trackback!

Update: Scalzi's own post on the matter. Also, more on eponymous laws in the next thread.