Monday News: Voat, Authors Guild, Go Set A Watchman, and Comic-Con
Welcome to Voat: Reddit killer, troll haven, and the strange face of internet free speech -With the recent trouble at Reddit — from charges of corporate-minded censorship (the platform is owned by Conde Nast) to the controversy over Ellen Pao’s termination (both from those who protested her position and those who protested her firing) — some Reddit users have transferred over to a site called Voat, which appears to be a Reddit clone, which some users have found appealing, while others find concerning, both because of the less savory corners of Reddit, and also because of the difficulties in protecting speech without enabling or practicing censorship.
Some people want Voat to be a reset button, as Reddit was to Digg years ago. But to a casual visitor, the distinguishing features are its small-town feel, the relative ease of mocking the obese, and the volume of threads complaining about Reddit. And only the first of those things is conducive to a lasting community. For all the anger and betrayal that Voat members feel toward Reddit, hoping it crashes and burns right now might be the most counter-productive thing they could want. . . .
The site’s devotees frequently cite its founding principle as the reason they made the switch; the FAQ says “our policy is to not meddle and not censor content unless said content is illegal.” Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao has said administrators only ban groups for harassing people outside their subreddit, not expressing themselves. But some people interpreted the decision as advertiser-friendly whitewashing and a slippery slope. Or, as one Voat user put it, “censorship at Reddit is getting out of control.” The recent blackout protest hasn’t improved the situation. –The Verge
Review: Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Gives Atticus Finch a Dark Side -So let’s think about this for a minute: Harper Lee wrote Go Set A Watchman before To Kill A Mockingbird, and basically rewrote it into what eventually became Mockingbird. And we’re supposed to believe that Lee was excited about the possibility of publishing this manuscript — a manuscript she was originally asked to re-write, and spent two years doing so, into a book (Mockingbird) that became a cornerstone work in American literature and culture. And in more than 50 years since its 1960 publication, neither Lee nor her sister ever even hinted that she had written Watchman. Why? Maybe because it was never meant to be published? I would love for Harper Collins to answer this question: how does Watchman not violate and undermine the literary and cultural legacy of Mockingbird.
Though “Watchman” is being published for the first time now, it was essentially an early version of “Mockingbird.” According to news accounts, “Watchman” was submitted to publishers in the summer of 1957; after her editor asked for a rewrite focusing on Scout’s girlhood two decades earlier, Ms. Lee spent some two years reworking the story, which became “Mockingbird.” . . .
Students of writing will find “Watchman” fascinating for these reasons: How did a lumpy tale about a young woman’s grief over her discovery of her father’s bigoted views evolve into a classic coming-of-age story about two children and their devoted widower father? How did a distressing narrative filled with characters spouting hate speech (from the casually patronizing to the disgustingly grotesque — and presumably meant to capture the extreme prejudice that could exist in small towns in the Deep South in the 1950s) mutate into a redemptive novel associated with the civil rights movement, hailed, in the words of the former civil rights activist and congressman Andrew Young, for giving us “a sense of emerging humanism and decency”? –New York Times
Authors Guild Slams ‘Inadequate’ E-book Royalty – As part of the Authors Guild’s “Fair Contract Initiative,” the organization critiques the 25% publisher royalty rate for ebooks, in the hopes that bestselling (aka more powerful) authors will stand up to publishers in an attempt to reset digital royalty rates for all authors. Because that’s going to happen anytime soon.
The Guild analysis traces the history of the e-book royalty rate, and points to the watershed moment in 2004 when Random House, which had been paying 50% of e-book revenue to authors, changed its rate “significantly.” This led to e-book royalties coalescing around the 25% level.
Acknowledging that authors and agents “ought to have pushed back” against the lower royalty, the Guild said that e-book sales were so low prior to 2009 that “it didn’t make much sense to risk the chance of any individual book deal falling apart over e-royalties.” The Guild added that when e-book sales rose, the organization wrongly assumed that authors would only sign with publishers offering an e-book royalty above 25%.–Publishers Weekly
Bryan Cranston said what?! The five biggest OMG moments from Comic-Con – Maybe it’s just that some things don’t translate well — like a joke that’s only funny when you hear it and not when you try to re-tell it afterward — but I’m kind of nonplussed at the idea that these are the highlights from Comic-Con. –CNN