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diversity

Wednesday News: Antitrust concerns for Comcast merger, China’s book banning, Publishers Weekly talks about diversity with publishers, and Walt Whitman’s advice to Oscar Wilde

Wednesday News: Antitrust concerns for Comcast merger, China’s book banning, Publishers...

According to the 16-page submission, the merger will reduce competition by providing Comcast with over 40 percent of the market for broadband internet services, and make it easier for the incumbents to hobble “over-the-top” challengers like Netflix by congesting their internet traffic.

The document, signed by antitrust experts from across the country including Columbia’s Tim Wu and Stanford’s Mark Lemley, comes as the FCC decides whether or not to approve the $45 billion merger, which was announced in February. A decision is expected in 2015. –Gigaom

China has detained a prominent scholar who helped blind dissident Chen Guangcheng flee to the United States two years ago and has banned books by eight writers in an escalating crackdown on dissent.

Guo Yushan, a founder of the Transition Institute, a think-tank that researches business regulations, reform and civil society, was detained on Thursday, his wife, Pan Haixia, said.

More than 10 police officers took him away along with his laptop, wireless router, mobile phone and iPad, she said. –Reuters

The panel drew a small but lively audience that, while more diverse than most industry gatherings, inadvertently highlighted one concern among many attendees: the people with the power to address the issue of diversity in the industry are not making it a priority. Only one senior publishing executive from a Big Five house attended the panel with the majority of the audience consisting of editorial staffers. There was only one person from marketing, cited during the program as a key department for providing support to a diverse list. –Publishers Weekly

The real subject of Whitman’s conversation wasn’t literary form; it was how to build a career in public, with all the display that self-glorifying achievement requires. We can deduce that with confidence because the first thing Whitman did when he reached his den was to give his guest a photograph of himself. Whitman had pioneered the idea that a writer in search of fame should fashion himself as a literary artifact. When Leaves of Grass was self-published in 1855 it did not have Whitman’s name on the title page; instead, it had his portrait on the preceding page, showing the author standing tall in workman’s garb, his collar open, his left hand in one pocket of his slacks, his right resting on his hip, his bearded head topped by a hat set at a cocky angle, and his eyes meeting the reader with a stare simultaneously casual and challenging. No writer had ever presented himself to the public this way, let alone so intentionally. (Or with a visible button fly.) This frontispiece is now considered, the scholars Ed Folsom and Charles M. Price write, “the most famous in literary history.” –New Republic

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