Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Morning Stuff

Via Crooked Timber, here's a great National Journal piece on the political influence of the Blogosphere. It was reprinted from the magazine, and it seemed strange (primitive, really) not to have a bunch of hyperlinks in the body of the text. Really good article, check it out. Excerpts: One milestone came during the confirmation hearings of Chief Justice John Roberts. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, acknowledged having read blogs the night before and then asked Roberts a question based on a post at The Volokh Conspiracy... ..."People sat up and took notice when they heard Senator Cornyn, a 50-something Republican from Texas who is not your stereotypical hipster geek, begin his questioning of John Roberts by saying that Cornyn had stayed up the night before reading the blogs to see what they were saying about him. Then Cornyn proceeded to ask Roberts a question that a blogger had [raised]."

Freakonomics points to the Lulu Titlescorer, which is supposed to analyze the type of title a book has and use decades of best-seller list information to predict the book's popularity. Excerpt: The Lulu Titlescorer has been developed exclusively for Lulu by statisticians who studied the titles of 50 years' worth of top bestsellers and identified which title attributes separated the bestsellers from the rest. We commissioned a research team to analyse the title of every novel to have topped the hardback fiction section of the New York Times Bestseller List during the half-century from 1955 to 2004 and then compare them with the titles of a control group of less successful novels by the same authors. I'm trying to decide whether this is BS or not. Here are some results that Language Log got playing around with this thing last month. Here is the website of the software business partially owned by the guy who developed the statistical model.

Here's an insightful NYT article on the use of footnotes in audiobooks. I'd like to see strategies for how to include maps, charts, and pictures in audiobooks. Maybe include pdf or other image files on the compact disc versions, as happens with lots of music CDs these days. That, or have the narrator say something like, "OK, there's this kind of crooked red arrow that shows how the 4th Infantry Division moved forward, and then there are three swastikas that show where the German tanks were..." etc. as needed.


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