Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Casino

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  • Lyndon Hood,

    I suppose, technically, selling the rights to a book that can be read on a computer is not the same as selling rights to the same plus it can be read out (or for that matter something that can be printed). Odd that they wouldn't have thought of it - I mean, it's data - but there might be a point in there, even if I don't see how it's worth NYT editorial space.

    I mention this because it hadn't occurred to me that way before. I suppose it would really make this an argument about format-shifting.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Well, Kerry,

    Forgive him ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    (I heed, Russell, but I rather think he knows very well what he is doing-)Craig: a rather large number of writers, here & overseas, are bothered by first, the Google saga, and now, the Kindle2 episode. And the latter is percieved as a battle really well worth fighting if only because we suspect there is much more in the pipeline.

    Matters can only be clarified (for individuals, rights holders or not) by this kind of informed considered argument- I hadnt caught up with the full statement from the NFB, for instance. I found the comment that, because the Kindle uses visual controls, the blind culdnt use it anyway, slightly undermined him...

    lest anyone get the wrong impression, I am all in favour of further developements that help visually-impaired people (well, I would be, wouldnt I?!) I just dont think - given other technology currently available, that the Kindle2 TTS function would help more than a very tiny -&wealthy- percentage of us.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    the latter is percieved as a battle really well worth fighting if only because we suspect there is much more in the pipeline.

    Islander, that's fine. If you want to shake more money out of Amazon and Google be my guest.

    BUT, don't let your representatives take this down yet another blind DRM/Copyright extension type alley. That helps no-one and that is what we are beginning to see.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Can I add that the main problem encountered by any text-to-speech software is improperly structured material - including the vast majority of websites where designers routinely break the standards to make things look "pretty". PDFs are a minefield all their own, as is the bizarre fashion for light grey text (ahem).

    However, XML and other aspects of what has broadly been called "semantic web" are gradually making inroads. As mentioned upthread, that's notable in domains like textbook production where the DAISY standard is becoming, well, standard. Russell, Daniel might have mentioned that at Foo as it underpins a lot of his work.

    One simple thing we can all do to improve access is to simply use the built in Heading styles in both web and electronic documents.

    Another believe it or not, is spelling. You can imagine the disruption to the reading flow when your screenreader software slows down in the middle of a sentence to spell out letter by letter a word it can not recognise.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Forgive him ...

    For overusing the "W" word? - never!

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    I am all in favour of further developements that help visually-impaired people (well, I would be, wouldnt I?!) I just dont think - given other technology currently available, that the Kindle2 TTS function would help more than a very tiny -&wealthy- percentage of us.

    However, successfully blocking the Kindle2 TTS will have a chilling effect on anyone developing a cheaper, better model. If Amazon got knocked back, what chance will they have of getting their feature in. So why bother.

    And it condemns blind people who have to use TTS (and not all choose that) to sitting where their computers are, instead of where they want to be, like in bed, or on the deck on a hot day.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Don -agreed. The NZ Digital Rights Forum is - a new kind of start (since it includes most parties.)
    Sacha - spelling? SPELLING? No TTS I've so far encountered recognises a)Maori or b) any idiosyncratic useage - almost as bad as any Spellcheck...but, like voice-recognition systems, it is improving. For conventional English, I totally agree - correct spelling for the region makes a great difference-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Mark, I think you under-estimate the ingenuity of visually-impaired people - and the portability of laptops.-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Mark, I think you under-estimate the ingenuity of visually-impaired people - and the portability of laptops.

    I think you overestimate the number of blind people with laptops.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Keri, I shudder to imagine what a screenreader would make of the eclectic language we use here.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Possibly (tho' they are fairly ubiquitous among my kind of folk i.e VI wordwrights of one kind or another.) They would be a considerably greater percentage of users than those who would want to own Kindle-type machines(which are comparatively *very* limited)...o, and ultraportables/netbooks will be the new goodness...once a couple of wee detriments have been superceded.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Sacha, a pa-in-f-ul-ly s-low o-n-us on part ice pants (got that once!)

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    O, and forget rofflenui-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    I liked Gaiman's comment that, when a machine can do read aloud better than a human, we will have other things to worry about.

    That's hardly setting the bar very high...in some cases. I happend to listen to part of Cory Doctorow's latest audio book yesterday and had to wonder if giving the "reader" (apparently a human) a credit was some sort of AI joke.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    I wish they'd put the reader's name on the blurb, so you can decide whether to listen or not. At first, I thought it was paying some homage to Disney documentaries, but it soon became something that left Hawking sounding over-emotional.

    Which is why I say the TTS feature on a Kindle was never going to be confused with a good audiobook version. A bad audiobook version is another story...

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    (I heed, Russell, but I rather think he knows very well what he is doing-)

    No I don't, Islander. And to be honest, I don't really want to know. If I've horrendously insulted, offended or annoyed you, I'm sorry and will happily withdraw from the subject. I just hope the enormous number of writers who really think the T2S feature of the Kindle is the thin end of some wedge I don't actually see, then I really hope they're going to get some credible, reality-based and results-focused advocates. On the basis of Blount's rather poor NYT op-ed, I have little confidence the Author's Guild is it.

    And for once, I've got to agree with Don. I just don't see what any published writer gets out of a whole new DRM mess -- and how exactly did that work out for musicians, as opposed to those big nasty multi-national corporates?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    Sorry, just to clarify what the underlying issue(s) are?

    Is it?
    - lack of control over the author's ideas?
    - lack of consideration/royalties for the additional format?
    - automated text-to-speech readers seem to be built on the chasis of a 2-stroke lawnmower with a broken throttle?
    - format shifting becomes easy, royalty-free & awful with kindle-like devices.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    seems to me that this stuff is a bit like bootlegging a concert.

    Belgium • Since Nov 2006 • 464 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Craig, my given, legal, and professional (as in writer's) name is KERI-
    and I get offended when some cretin thinks it funny to spell it otherwise. You have insulted me. You have annoyed me.

    And you're not a writer - so, your uninformed and uninvolved comments about Blount et al
    mean - ah well, as much as most of your other witterings on-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    And for once, I've got to agree with Don.

    Eh, steady on Craig. It has happened before.

    Actually, I think Islander and I agreed. She wasn't demanding DRM like controls on text readers. We both were pointing out that if Amazon are going to make a killing out of folks work they should pay the royalties due.

    I may be putting words in Islander's mouth here (hope not) but I think our positions on Copyright are very similar. Over the weeks and months we have debated the issue the only *real* difference I see has been around the ongoing extension of Copyright term. But that's another topic. And that's why I'd love to see a guest post from Islander on this subject.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Is it?
    - lack of control over the author's ideas?
    - lack of consideration/royalties for the additional format?
    - automated text-to-speech readers seem to be built on the chasis of a 2-stroke lawnmower with a broken throttle?
    - format shifting becomes easy, royalty-free & awful with kindle-like devices.

    From the article by the Author's Guild, it appears to be number 2

    seems to me that this stuff is a bit like bootlegging a concert.

    I thing the Kindle is more like bootlegging a crap covers band singing your hard rock songs a cappella recorded from the radio using a cheap microphone positioned 20 feet from the speaker.

    Format shifting is taking a piece of content and moving the identical content from, say, CD to HDD or vinyl to tape. It's still the same content, by the same artist. The Kindle is more about a different access method of the same content and I'd argue that no real value has been added to the work, certainly not in a transformative way.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I get offended when some cretin thinks it funny to spell it otherwise

    Could be an honest mistake. I'm curious. Did T2S get Keri or Kerry closer to your actual name?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10654 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    and I get offended when some cretin thinks it funny to spell it otherwise. You have insulted me. You have annoyed me.

    I don't for a moment think it was actually deliberate. I could probably have helped by drawing attention to it in a less cryptic manner.

    And you're not a writer - so, your uninformed and uninvolved comments about Blount et al
    mean - ah well, as much as most of your other witterings on-

    Steady on. Craig has as much right as anyone else to voice an opinion here. And apart from writing very nicely, he is a prodigious and passionate reader of books. Readers are, after all, the people who make publishing an industry. They're due a voice too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

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