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Friday News: Reading and the mind’s eye, Twitter and the discovery of superdialects, different pleasures of reading, and smile tv

Friday News: Reading and the mind’s eye, Twitter and the discovery...

Most authors wittingly or unwittingly provide their fictional characters with more behavior than physical description. Even if an author excels at physical description, we are left with shambling concoctions of stray body parts and random detail. We fill in gaps. We shade them in. We gloss over them. We elide. Our mental sketches of characters are worse than police composites. –Slate

The second superdialect is used almost exclusively in rural areas. Gonçalves and Sánchez used a machine learning algorithm to find subclusters within this group and discovered three different variations. These correspond to a dialect used in Spain, a Caribbean and Latin American dialect and another variation used exclusively in South America. –MIT Technology Review

It’s a common and easy enough distinction, this separation of books into those we read because we want to and those we read because we have to, and it serves as a useful marketing trope for publishers, especially when they are trying to get readers to take this book rather than that one to the beach. But it’s a flawed and pernicious division. This linking of pleasure and guilt is intended as an enticement, not as an admonition: reading for guilty pleasure is like letting one’s diet slide for a day—naughty but relatively harmless. The distinction partakes of a debased cultural Puritanism, which insists that the only fun to be had with a book is the frivolous kind, or that it’s necessarily a pleasure to read something accessible and easy. Associating pleasure and guilt in this way presumes an anterior, scolding authority—one which insists that reading must be work. –The New Yorker

“This is a reminder of how we are the ones in control of the content that we consume—we are the ones transmitting it by liking and favoriting,” Hedberg said in an email interview with Newsweek. The Smile TV broadcasts intentionally shortened clips of kung fu films, daytime television programs and more when prompted with a grin. Hedberg aimed to emulate the deluge of cat gifs, rapid-fire news and listicles, shared by millions on the Internet, on the Smile TV. –Newsweek

Thursday News: Apple settlement details revealed, Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited,” online media & reader attention, and book cover quiz

Thursday News: Apple settlement details revealed, Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited,” online media...

If approved by a judge, the $400m will go to consumers. Apple will pay an additional $20m in legal fees.

“In a major victory, our settlement has the potential to result in Apple paying hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for paying unlawfully inflated e-book price,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who announced the settlement ahead of a damages trial that was set to begin on 25 August. –BBC News

The current Kindle Owner’s Lending Library has a one-book-per-month cap, so this could be an option for Prime users who want more access. The Kindle Unlimited test pages also offer around 8,000 audiobooks, something the current lending library doesn’t have. And the promo banners for Kindle Unlimited said subscribers could access their books from “any” device. This likely means any device that supports the Kindle app, like iOS, Android, and Windows phone. –Gizmodo

So what we really have are two versions of the online-media world, both of which exist at the same time: one is the noisy, click-driven, social-sharing ecosystem, which favors speed and shareability — and is more noticeable because of all the Like buttons and Favorite meters and other share-tracking widgets — and the other is a deeper and less noticeable ecosystem of longform articles that people actually read, and likely get shared through slower forms of media such as email newsletters and what some have called “dark social.”

Borthwick argues (and I share this view) that businesses or people who focus on the right-hand side of the chart embedded above — the “hill of Wow,” in other words — may not rack up the huge pageview numbers or highly-visible sharing statistics, but ultimately they will build stronger businesses. As Betaworks data scientist Suman Deb Roy puts it in a quote that Borthwick includes: “The landscape of media content diffusion… is a hill-valley-hill of attention, and you’d probably do better sitting on the right hand hill. People sitting on the left hill appear to be more visible, but there are people on the right hill too. And the latter is growing.” –Gigaom