Friday News: Digital development, new Tolkien story, fictional languages, and printing the old-fashioned way
Digital Fairness vs. Facebook’s Dream of World Domination – A provocative article on the willingness of private industry to try to narrow the global digital breach. While the public sector has a strong vested interest in digital fairness and broad-based access, it has largely been the private sector that has been actively putting resources toward digital growth in countries where economic and digital growth are poised to rise together. What are the ethics of this trend, and what is more important, access or fairness?
As founder of the nation of “Facebookistan,” Mark Zuckerberg has his hands full with over a billion worldwide users. But as you may have heard, he has an even bigger dream — to hook up the 4.5 billion people around the world who lack internet access. The one-year-old Facebook-led initiative, called Internet.org, is designed to offer free access to a select set of websites like a “lite version” of Facebook, Wikipedia, and others, along with a limited number of content services on mobile phones. Facebook and the consumer make a deal: the consumer gets free access to a limited form of the internet and it’s a good bet that as more people get this access, Facebook itself will be one of the biggest beneficiaries. . . .
We believe there’s an even more fundamental issue at play here: What does a digitally “fair” world entail? Is it better for a society to be more digitally inclusive, even with the help of corporations (while also pursuing their business interests), or should a guarantee of absolute principles of net neutrality come first – regardless of whether it deters such private initiative?–Harvard Business Review
Unfinished Story by J.R.R. Tolkien to Be Published – No, not another dusty, undiscovered manuscript pulled out of someone’s attic or basement, but rather a story that was already published as part of an academic project that now, apparently, “deserve[s] more attention.” Which, in the wake Harper Lee’s recently published first manuscript, reads to me like “likely to make some money as a commercial publication.”
Tolkien scholar Verlyn Flieger transcribed the unfinished story in about 2009, copying it from the author’s handwritten manuscript at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. She published it, along with two talks the author gave about it, in an academic journal in 2010, but she felt it deserved more attention. Now it will be published for the first time for mass audience, coming to the U.K. on August 27 and the U.S. in April.
“The Story of Kullervo” (pronounced COAL-ervo) is about a boy brought up in the homestead of a dark magician who has killed the boy’s father and kidnapped his mother. Tolkien’s version, which fills both sides of 13 foolscap sheets, breaks off just as Kullervo discovers that he has unwittingly seduced his twin sister, Wanona. On the final page, the author sketches an outline for the remainder of the bleak story. –Wall Street Journal
Why Klingon, Elvish, and Dothraki Should Be Considered Real Languages – Speaking of Tolkien, his interest in developing languages specific to his world building is part of the context for this TestTubePlus series on language, more specifically on how language is constructed, evolved, and interactively engaged with the brain. In many ways, language helps define (in both an inclusive and exclusive way) community. So should fictional languages like Elvin or Klingon be treated with the same regard as, say, Mandarin, Amharic, Farsi, etc.?
Fantasy novelist JRR Tolkien created quite a few languages. In 1910 through 1973, he created “Elvin tongue”. It’s is said to be inspired by Finnish and Welsh. He even created different Elvin dialects. Although Tolkien created parts of the languages quite thoroughly, it doesn’t really have a complete grammar. But that hasn’t stopped hardcore Tolkien fans from evolving the language. It’s not unlike Klingon, which is another fictional language developed by Star Trek fans. If you’d like to learn to speak Klingon, there’s an entire Klingon Language Institute (KLI.org) devoted to developing and teaching the language.–TestTubePlus
The End of an Era: A Short Film About The Last Day of Hot Metal Typesetting at The New York Times (1978) – So I was reading this BBC piece on new book technologies, thinking, yeah, we’ve been talking about these issues in the Romance community for a while now. Yawn. Then I stumbled across this 1978 documentary about the very last day the New York Times was printed using linotype. Don’t know what that is? Watch the movie and contemplate the speed at which technology continues to evolve and diversify. It definitely reminded me again how privileged countries like the U.S. are in our digital development.
Until the 1970s, with the rise in popularity of computer typesetting, newspapers were printed the same way for nearly a century. Linotype machines would cast one line at a time from molten lead. Though an improvement from handset type, where printers would assemble lines of type one character at a time, linotype still required numerous skilled printers to assemble each and every newspaper edition.
The New York Times transitioned from that venerated production method to computer typesetting on Sunday, July 2, 1978. David Loeb Weiss, a proofreader at the Times, documented this final day in the documentary Farewell – Etaoin Shrdlu. –Open Culture