Friday News: ebook sales drop, female representation in tech already dropped, punctuation evolves, and Sociality Barbie rules
E-Book Sales Fall After New Amazon Contract – Is anyone surprised? Or rather, does anyone really think that publishers care? Given traditional publishing’s reliance on the hardcover, what, precisely, is the incentive to encourage higher ebook sales? In fact, the comment below about higher sales of paper books suggests a belief that paper and digital books are interchangeable for readers. Which is one reason I refuse to buy a new paper copy of a book I find to be too expensive in digital.
Pricing e-books is a Goldilocks problem for the book giants: For years they worried that consumer prices were too low, and now they are seeing the disadvantages of bumped-up prices. Publishers said the current pricing model involves some sacrifice but they felt it was worth it to keep Amazon in check. What’s more, they have noticed a bump in sales of physical books that is possibly related to the higher price of digital books.
To figure out how to set prices, a team of data specialists at Macmillan’s Manhattan offices in the Flat Iron building sifts through a database of 74 million transactions looking for trends. Amazon looms large in that decision-making: It accounted for 64% of the U.S. e-book market, by units sold, during the second quarter, according to Codex. –Wall Street Journal
THE 26%: WOMEN SPEAK OUT ON TECH’S DIVERSITY CRISIS – Since 1990, the percentage of women in computing has dropped almost ten percent. In a field like robotics, the numbers are even worse, as the recent DARPA Challenge demonstrated, with only 5.2% female participation. This five-minute interview with Melonee Wise of Fetch Robotics is motivating (Wise is amazing) and also frustrating as hell. There is nothing natural about the lack of female representation in tech, as Wise’s own experiences clearly demonstrate.
This summer’s DARPA Robotics Challenge finals, a major matchup of leading engineers from around the world, was designed to push forward the field and highlight its possibilities.
But it ended up underscoring a serious problem for the discipline as well: Among 24 teams composed of some 444 competitors, only 23 were women, an imbalance that the Washington Post and other publications highlighted.–Re/code
The mysterious origins of punctuation – A great primer on the evolution of punctuation, which depended not only on new technologies (the printing press, computers), but also on religion (e.g. Christianity’s emphasis on written texts rather than oratory) and cultural and linguistic shifts.
In the 3rd Century BCE, in the Hellenic Egyptian city of Alexandria, a librarian named Aristophanes had had enough. He was chief of staff at the city’s famous library, home to hundreds of thousands of scrolls, which were all frustratingly time-consuming to read. For as long as anyone could remember, the Greeks had written their texts so that their letters ran together withnospacesorpunctuation and without any distinction between lowercase and capitals. It was up to the reader to pick their way through this unforgiving mass of letters to discover where each word or sentence ended and the next began. . . .
Aristophanes’ breakthrough was to suggest that readers could annotate their documents, relieving the unbroken stream of text with dots of ink aligned with the middle (·), bottom (.) or top (·) of each line. His ‘subordinate’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘full’ points corresponded to the pauses of increasing length that a practised reader would habitually insert between formal units of speech called the comma, colon and periodos. This was not quite punctuation as we know it – Aristophanes saw his marks as representing simple pauses rather than grammatical boundaries – but the seed had been planted.–BBC News
Hipster Barbie Hilariously Mocks Being “Authentic” on Instagram – Hate the endless stream of spontaneous (aka posed as hell) selfies on Instagram? Then check out Sociality Barbie. So brilliant.
Happily, there’s a new account that is is doing a perfect job mocking the social struggle that is Instagram. Meet Socality Barbie, who recognizes the struggle that is finding those “perfectly candid” moments to share with your friends. With her tousled brown hair, thick-framed glasses and occasional heart-foam latte, she’ll make you laugh at the joke that is authenticity on Instagram.
It’s now become so complicated to simply share moments, now that those moments need to be perfectly planned out, complete with a variety of hashtags for optimum likes. There are even aggressive articles making the rounds about how you’re failing at Instagram that detail the unspoken rules of the site. –E! Online