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Friday News: BuzzFeed is following you, Amazon, Hachette, and DRM, interesting beauty experiment, and online content v. comments

Friday News: BuzzFeed is following you, Amazon, Hachette, and DRM, interesting...

BuzzFeed is Watching You – In my everlasting quest to understand the phenomenon that is BuzzFeed, I come across pieces like this. Which makes me think of Facebook. Which makes me even more wary of BuzzFeed and its seemingly enormous online reach. Want to know what kinds of information BuzzFeed likes to collect about you — especially when you’re taking those nifty quizzes, check out Dan Barker’s breakdown. And be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

In other words, if I had access to the BuzzFeed Google Analytics data, I could query data for people who got to the end of the quiz & indicated – by not checking that particular answer – that they have had an eating disorder. Or that they have tried to change their gender. Or I could run a query along the following lines if I wished:

Show me all the data for anyone who answered the “Check Your Privelege” quiz but did not check “I have never taken medication for my mental health”. –Dan Barker

How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage – Well, this is interesting. While I think the article’s title is bullshit, I love the idea that Hachette’s dogged support of DRM is now turning back on them. Amazon, the argument goes, is putting their DRM on Hachette’s books, which means that Hachette cannot engage in encouraging people to buy their digital books from other outlets, stripping DRM, and reading them on their Kindle. I don’t know how big a deal this really is, given the number of people who already do strip DRM, but it is a nice little illustration of how antediluvian DRM has become in our rapidly evolving digital marketplace.

It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can’t afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion’s share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon’s DRM. –The Guardian

Before & After – Esther Honig introduces her project by noting that “In the U.S. Photoshop has become a symbol of our society’s unobtainable standards for beauty. My project, Before & After, examines how these standards vary across cultures on a global level.” So she sent an unadorned photo of herself to 40 individuals in 25 countries and asked them to use Photoshop to “make her beautiful.” The experiment is intended to demonstrate different standards of beauty in different cultural contexts. Honig is caucasian, which significantly limits and qualifies the results, I think (e.g. are the Photoshoppers interpreting the standard of beauty relative to the model or to their own cultural/racial/national/ethnic standards), and it would be really cool if the project could be more diversified in regard to the model, but I think the concept is fascinating and revealing, and is something to build on. –Esther Honig

Social media is important for journos but let’s keep things in proportion – Perhaps some of those websites that have shut down comments might instead want to post a copy of this article for readers to chew on. Here’s the upshot: a ridiculously small proportion of people who read articles online actually comment, and those who don’t comment are often the ones who consider information and arguments without the need to let everyone witness the friction their braincells produce in the form of commentary. Boy, do we all need to remember this, because, as the article points out, if we become too consumed by online comments, our content can be ruled by them — or, more importantly, by fear of or desire for them.

Martin Belam, digital editor at the Trinity Mirror group, crunched the numbers and made a startling calculation. If 2,600 people post at least 40 comments each, then their total must be more than 104,000, which means that a maximum of 496,000 comments are written by everyone else. In other words, at least 20 per cent of the comments on the website each month come from just 0.0037 per cent of the Guardian’s declared monthly audience.
. . .
Let me make the counter-argument. The vast majority of readers do not comment on articles or write to journalists using Twitter. Instead, these people read, consider the arguments and reach their own conclusions, without leaving much of a digital footprint. That it is extremely difficult – impossible, even – to decipher what they believe does not mean they do not exist. Indeed, they are often exactly the people who may consider changing their minds. The silent majority, sceptical and open to new arguments, is the very audience journalists should try to reach. –New Statesman

Thursday News: Feedly & Evernote attacked, abuse allegations against Marion Zimmer Bradley , Amazon sells a lot of Hachette e-books, and Lego to sell female scientist figures

Thursday News: Feedly & Evernote attacked, abuse allegations against Marion Zimmer...

Note: Some comments contain discussion and descriptions of abuse and sexual assault.

Feedly, Evernote And Others Become Latest Victims Of DDoS Attacks – So in case you haven’t been online in the past two days, Feedly and Evernote were hit with giant DDOS (denial of service) attacks that included a ransom from the attackers. Evernote seems to have recovered relatively quickly, but as of yesterday, Feedly was still trying to work around the attack to get back online. User information was supposedly still secure on both sites. On a side note, Tweetdeck was hacked yesterday, as well, wreaking havoc with people’s RT streams.

These attacks seem to be increasing in frequency, and now leave a long line of victimized sites in their wake, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo,, SAY Media/TypePad, Namecheap, Plenty of Fish and Moz, to name a few of the more recent victims. –Tech Crunch

Marion Zimmer Bradley was a child abuser – says her own daughter – Yesterday it was revealed that Marion Zimmer Bradley allegedly abused, among many others, her own daughter, making her far more than collaterally culpable in her husband’s long history of abusive behavior. In fact, Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, says that her mother was actually worse, because she was an angry and violent abuser. Beyond the horrific nature of these violations, Greyland’s revelations also double down on the question of whether Bradley’s work can be separated from the facts of her life. I often think it’s easier to keep a good opinion of someone’s work is you read it before these types of situations are revealed. But once you know, it becomes very difficult to read the work without having it tainted by the personal details.

Well, for those who argue that the biography or rap sheet doesn’t matter, and that literature is indifferent to the actions and morality of the creator, here’s a test for you. Marion Zimmer Bradley, celebrated science fiction and fantasy author, recipient of the, cofounder of the Society for Creative Anachronism, posthumous recipient of the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, has just been revealed by her own daughter Moira Greyland as a repeat child molester, who not only countenanced her sometime husband Walter Breen‘s relationship with an underage boy, but also violated her own daughter, and other children, of both sexes, repeatedly, over many years. –Tele Read

Amazon Accounts for 60% of Hachette’s eBook Sales in the US, 78% in the UK – So this is pretty interesting. According to an investor’s brief for Hachette’s parent company, “Amazon accounts for around 60% of Hachette’s digital revenues in the US and 78% of digital revenues in the UK,” Nate Hoffelder reports. Which means, among other things, that both Amazon and Hachette have a very substantial investment in making a deal that benefits their own interests. Which probably also means that it’s going to be a long game of chicken between the two corporations.

On a related note, that slide focuses on just the 2 markets because the rest of the markets where Hachette Livre operates have negligible ebook sales. It’s only in the US and UK that ebooks make up 30% and 27%, respectively. –The Digital Reader

LEGO To Release Female Scientist Figurines – Swedish geochemist Dr. Ellen Kooijman came up with a winning idea for Lego Ideas, namely a “Research Institute” populated by female scientists. This is super-cool and much happier news than the rest of the stories today. So go check it out, and decide which of the figurines — astronomer, paleontologist, or chemist — you’re going to buy first when they release in a couple of months.

The motivating behind her submission, she explained on her blog, was that “as a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available LEGO sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures. It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female minifigures in interesting professions to make our LEGO city communities more diverse.” –Mental Floss