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Monday News: National Book Award Finalists, Jim Hines on Kathleen Hale, Margo Howard v. Vine, and Laurie Penny on the “ramification of misogyny”

Monday News: National Book Award Finalists, Jim Hines on Kathleen Hale,...

Bad reviews are also a thing. Hating someone’s book is not bullying. Sharing your opinion, suggesting others stay away from a book or an author, is not bullying. It might cost you some sales, and that sucks, but it’s not bullying, nor is it an organized campaign to destroy someone’s career.

Hale’s account does not convince me that she was a victim of online bullying. But even if she was, there comes a point where she crossed a line from victim to perpetrator. She admits to stalking Blythe online. She then began stalking her in real life. She showed up at Blythe’s home, called her on the phone. –Jim Hines

Well, they were “Vine Voices” I found out. Amazon explains: “Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions.” Well, swell. A fellow customer would have read those pre-publication “reviews” and thought the book was dreckalthough some people, I have to hope, would have spotted these attacks for what they were: ad hominem attacks. God and Bezos only know how many “trusted reviewers” there are. In any case, these people are given freebies … cold cream, sneakers, pots and pans, and … books! I submit to you that free stuff does not a book reviewer make. One could fairly think of Vine membership as offering an all-you-can-eat buffet of things. –New Republic

Games and pickup artistry gave a formal structure to that mindset for this generation, but it’s older than that. The gamification of misogyny predates the internet, but right now, in this world full of angry, broken, lost young men convinced that women have robbed them of some fundamental win in life, it’s rampant.

The trouble is that treating other human beings like faceless opponents doesn’t work in the real world.

Gender isn’t a game you can play and win by brutalising and harassing and shaming and hurting the other ‘side.’ Ultimately, there is no other side. Gender oppression is structural. Everybody loses, in the long term, because everybody has to live in a culture where it’s normal to hound women out of their homes for daring to demand fairer treatment, normal to shame girls and queer people into silence for suggesting that there might be other interesting stories to tell. There is no way to win this game, except by not playing at all. –Laurie Penny

Friday News: Wireless ISP allegedly blocks email encryption; Whisper v. Guardian on privacy; diversity in publishing; and 33 free Philip K. Dick stories

Friday News: Wireless ISP allegedly blocks email encryption; Whisper v. Guardian...

In the second instance, Golden Frog shows that a wireless broadband Internet access provider is interfering with its users’ ability to encrypt their SMTP email traffic. This broadband provider is overwriting the content of users’ communications and actively blocking STARTTLS encryption. This is a man-in-the-middle attack that prevents customers from using the applications of their choosing and directly prevents users from protecting their privacy.

This is scary. If ISPs are actively trying to block the use of encryption, it shows how they might seek to block the use of VPNs and other important security protection measures, leaving all of us less safe. Golden Frog provides more details of what’s happening in this case. . . –Tech Dirt

Among other things, Whisper Editor-in-Chief Neetzan Zimmerman says:

Whisper does not collect nor store any personally identifiable information (PII) from users and is anonymous. To be clear, Whisper does not collect nor store: name, physical address, phone number, email address, or any other form of PII. The privacy of our users is not violated in any of the circumstances suggested in the Guardian story. The Guardian staff, including its CEO and multiple members of the US editorial team, have met with, partnered, and worked with Whisper since February 2014 and published multiple stories utilizing Whispers, with full understanding of our guidelines. The Guardian’s assumptions that Whisper is gathering information about users and violating user’s privacy are false.

The Guardian insists:

The company behind Whisper, the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be the “the safest place on the internet”, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.

The practice of monitoring the whereabouts of Whisper users – including those who have expressly opted out of geolocation services – will alarm users, who are encouraged to disclose intimate details about their private and professional lives.

Whisper is also sharing information with the US Department of Defense gleaned from smartphones it knows are used from military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws. –The Guardian

Let’s go back to some of those stats that Chris was throwing out. Do publishers just not think there’s an audience for work by writers of color?

[Chris] Jackson: No, I don’t think that’s true. I would say what’s happening in some of the larger publishing companies is that they’re publishing fewer books generally than they have in the past, and so they’re trying to publish those to audiences that they think they have mastered, they’ve already identified. And there’s a lot of data now in the way there wasn’t in the past, which can cut two ways. The olden days of “gut feelings” is passing away, and that’s not such a bad thing—gut feelings are often laced with implicit and untested biases. But my fear about more data-driven publishing is that it leads to companies engineered to sell books to people they’ve already identified.

And that means that it’s almost like, if you got on the boat already, you’re in. But if you’re not on the boat already…then the boat’s gone, and you’re not getting in. So lots of audiences that haven’t been as identifiable or easy to reach, or whatever, I think you have a lot more trouble with those kinds of books.

The good thing is that there are a lot of writers who are finding ways to get themselves out there without needing a publishing machine the way that they did in the past. –Scratch Magazine

If you’re not intimately familiar with his novels, then you assuredly know major films based on Dick’s work – Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly and Minority Report. Today, we bring you another way to get acquainted with his writing. We’re presenting a selection of Dick’s stories available for free on the web. Below we have culled together 33 short stories from our two collections, 600 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices and 550 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free. The stories, it appears, are all in the public domain. –Open Culture