Monday News: Android monopoly?, books for Syria, YA diversity, and startling satellite photos
Is Android a monopoly? – There are rumblings that Google is being investigated for anti-trust violations via the Android operating system. With 59% of the US smartphone market controlled by Android, it may not seem like a monopoly on the face of it, but given the limited options for smartphone manufacturers other than Apple, which has its own OS, and maybe Microsoft, which hasn’t been proven yet, the choices are limited to nearly one:
There are currently just three options for any smartphone company without its own operating system. The option Google would like everyone to choose is Android with the Play Store and Google Play Services, which are increasingly integrating more and more of the core Android functionality. That comes with a measure of Google’s influence, but is generally preferable to option number two: a stripped-down Android without an app ecosystem and deprived of Google’s latest security updates. Anyone familiar with the US (or European, for that matter) smartphone market will instinctively know that Android without the Play Store is essentially not Android for the majority of consumers. Windows Phone, soon to become simply Windows 10, is the distant third option, though no one outside of Microsoft is convinced by it yet. That’s how we arrive at a situation where the choice for manufacturers is practically nil: if you want to break into the US smartphone market, you go with Android and rely on the Play Store to flesh out your software proposition.
This is Google’s soft power monopoly. The Mountain View company doesn’t need to own any phone vendors to have effective influence over them. That’s why it was comfortable with selling Motorola last year, in a move that also convinced Samsung to toe the line and rein in its Android skin customizations. Any company that wants to deploy Google Play Services on its devices is more than welcome to do so, but the price Google charges for that privilege is a loss of sovereignty. Google wanted to have a “Powered by Android” graphic featured in every Android smartphone’s boot-up animation, and it got it. It wanted simpler, less ornamental skins from phone makers, and it’s getting them. – The Verge
Book world joins forces for charity – Authors including Hilary Mantel, Neil Gaiman, Marian Keyes, Jacqueline Wilson, and Lee Child are working with Waterstones Bookstore and Oxfam to raise money for Syria. “Buy Books for Syria” also involves publishers willing to donate books that will be sold through the program, following a successful campaign by Patrick Ness Ness last month:
With the support of many major UK publishers, including Penguin Random House, Pan McMillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Faber, Waterstones hopes to raise one million pounds for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal.
The books, donated by publishers, will be stickered with ‘Buy Books for Syria’ and will go on sale in Waterstones shops from 1 October. . .
“With £1m our programme could deliver clean water to another 150,000 people in Syria, or support to tens of thousands of people in Jordan over the next year,” said Mark Goldring of Oxfam. –BBC News
My Thoughts on “What happened?!” on YA Twitter on Friday (9/25/15) – You may be following the recent controversy over Rae Carson’s National Book Award nominated YA novel, Walk on Earth A Stranger. Debbie Reese, a Pueblo educator who runs American Indian in Children’s Literature, has been chronicling her reading of Carson’s novel, which is set in the mid-19th century and includes a Cherokee character (I haven’t yet read the book so cannot provide a plot summary). It’s apparently a Gold Rush-era story (gold was discovered in Georgia — where the Cherokee originally resided — in the late 1820s, but not until about 20 years later in California), and Reese takes issue with a number of the historical and cultural representations, which she outlines in her notes on the book, which can be read here. Her commentary raises larger questions of what responsibility a book has when it is aimed at young readers and when it is nominated for a prestigious award like the National Book Award.
For now, I want to say this to all the writers who are afraid of getting a Native character wrong. Please read my notes. Please read my blog. They are my effort to help you see what I see. I do what I do to help you.
My end goal is books that don’t give non-Native children incorrect information. I think Carson’s book does that. Her protagonist pushes back on racism, but I believe the take-away for most readers is not sufficient to undo what she introduces with respect to grave-robbing Indians and measles infected blankets. I believe their takeaway is going to be a subconscious “yeah, those Indians were really savage.” I think that will be the take-away because grave-robbing Indians dovetails with the existing misinformation about who we were, and who we are. . . .
What makes it all the more troubling for me is that Carson’s book is on the long list for the National Book Award. With that and her best-seller status as an author, her book will stand tall as one-that-should-be-read, and as-one-that will-be-assigned. American Indians in Children’s Literature Tumblr
Mighty and Ominous Satellite Images of the Human Condition – These images are not only stunning, but they will certainly make you think about how humans are using the planet. Benjamin Grant started his site, which features satellite photographs, by accident, when in preparing for a lecture on space and the “overview effect,” he ended up getting an image from Apple Maps that made him aware of how beautiful, haunting, and important these images could be.
Since then, Grant has been on a constant prowl for equally beautiful—and sometimes disturbing—landscapes, curating them at his site Daily Overview. In all the pictures he sources from his partner satellite company, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, he tries to show evidence of human impact, be it agriculture, mining, transportation, or music festivals. He sometimes goes newsy, too; when the Nepal earthquake hit in April, he found an image revealing emergency shelters popping up all over Kathmandu.- CityLab