Wednesday News: Crowdsourced books, bad apps, domestic inventions, and the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’
Kickstarter Hits $100 Million Mark for Publishing, Adds New Countries, New Tools in 2016 – Like much of self/independent publishing, crowdsourced publishing has been robustly growing, with $100 million in fundraising since 2009. Did you know that Kickstarter even has a director of publishing? Margot Atwell believes that Kickstarter has a role to play in making publishing more equitable and diverse, and the platform itself has extended to Hong Kong, Mexico, and Singapore. I guess it makes sense that publishing is coming full circle back to the system of patronage, although I think we need to be wary about believing that such a system = automatic diversification and more equitable engagement in publishing.
Although the number of Kickstarter publishing projects and the amount of money raised for those projects declined slightly in 2016 compared to 2015, the platform helped raise millions of dollars to support an array of unconventional titles. Last year, 32.6% of the 5,617 general publishing projects launched met their pledge goals and were funded, and the category totaled almost $20,543,000 in pledges (down from $22 million raised in 2015). Of the 1,087 projects launched in comics, 58.7% met their funding goals, raising almost $12,561,000 in pledges (down from $13 million in 2015). In journalism, 17.5% of projects met their funding goals, with almost $1,963,000 in pledges (down from $2.8 million in 2015). – Publishers Weekly
Dumping a Bad App? Tips for a Painless Breakup – Remember when Evernote was the greatest free app ever? Yeah, so does Brian Chen, who provides some good advice on knowing when an app has outlasted its functionality or benefit and, at that point, how to manage whatever data and personal information you may have attached to the app. I admire those who have no problem switching apps and searching for apps that better serve their needs; I tend to be more sentimental (read: lazy) than necessary about dumping a bad app, but even if you’re not, sometimes we all need a little extra motivation to stay current.
As a safety measure before changing apps, you should always keep extra copies of your data somewhere, whether it be in the cloud with a service like Dropbox or on a physical hard drive.
Some companies deliberately make exporting your data difficult because they want you to stick around. . . .
Evernote is a good example. It includes an “Export notes” feature, but it only lets you export notes into two formats that are compatible with just a few other note-taking apps. Microsoft’s note-taking app OneNote, along with Apple’s Notes app, can easily import Evernote records. But if your app of choice is something else, such as Google Keep, you will have to manually paste your notes in the new app. – New York Times
These Four Black Women Inventors Reimagined the Technology of the Home – This article offers several noteworthy insights. First it details the inventions of four African American women in the 19th century, one (Sarah Goode) who invented a bed that folded out of a writing desk (a “cabinet-bed” – the first Murphy bed??). The piece also details some of the reasons that such domestic technology has not been widely appreciated – 1) it was invented by women, and 2) it was invented by black women. The mid-19th century, especially, was marked by a surge in domestic engineering as a new area in which women were actually making a mark (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s sister Catherine Beecher was very well known for her work), but much of that work is not remembered, taught, or valued today, and the contributions of women of color are even more systematically overlooked and erased.
[Sarah] Goode was a 19th century inventor who reimagined the domestic space to make city living more efficient. Yet unless you’re a very specific kind of historian, you’ve probably never heard of her name. She doesn’t appear in history books, and what she did remains largely unknown. The same goes for Mariam E. Benjamin, Sarah Boone and Ellen Elgin—all 19th century African-American women who successfully gained patents in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. . . .
Ellen Elgin might be completely unknown as an inventor if not for her testimony in an 1890 Washington, D.C. periodical The Woman Inventor, the first publication of its kind devoted entirely to women inventors. Elgin invented a clothes wringer in 1888, which had “great financial success” according to the writer. But Elgin did not personally reap the profits, because she sold the rights to an agent for $18.
When asked why, Elgin replied: “You know, I am black, and if it was known that a negro woman patented the invention, white ladies would not buy the wringer; I was afraid to be known because of my color in having it introduced to the market, that is the only reason.” – Smithsonian Magazine
RACHEL BLOOM WAS BORN THIS WAY – This year I fell hard for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and for the dark (DARK) comedic genius of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna, in large part because of the way they replicate, investigate, and deconstruct so many stereotypes about women, men, romantic love, cultural identity, and mental illness, and they do it in both deadly serious and hilariously ridiculous ways. If you haven’t watched the series, you can catch the first two completed seasons (I binge-watched season 1 on Netflix) now. But I recommend that you watch the series in order, because context is everything. And what I probably love most is that Bloom, who also stars, is not above any of the types or tropes she is portraying/playing with, so there’s not condescending cynicism or lack of empathy for even the most troubled (and troubling) characters. AND it’s a musical (Bloom co-writes all the songs, too).
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is, all at once, a darkly comic musical satire, a thoughtful exploration of mental illness, a subversion of the still-ubiquitous Prince Charming fantasy, a love letter to female friendship, and a deconstruction of — to risk overstating it — the entire female experience. It is, by turns, raw and matter-of-fact — a recent episode saw one of its main characters calmly but thoughtfully undergo an abortion — and utterly absurd. As Rebecca, Bloom is an anxious-depressive prone to delusion who, in the series’s first episode, runs into her onetime summer camp boyfriend Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) on the streets of New York during a particularly miserable moment, immediately quits her high-paying job at a top law firm, and chases Josh across the country to West Covina, California, in hopes of finally finding happiness. The first season’s finale saw the unlikely reunion of the pair, doin’ it atop a sleek red convertible. The second season, which concluded Friday, was an examination of what happens when you get everything you’d convinced yourself you’ve ever wanted — in Rebecca’s case, a fairytale wedding to her dream dude — but you’re still profoundly unhappy, and then, oh fuck, while you were over there having an emotional crisis, you lost that thing because it spontaneously decided to go to seminary school. The season ends on an aerial shot of Rebecca and her bridesmaids hovering on the edge of a cliff, planning Josh’s imminent destruction. “The show is about to get so dark,” Bloom whispers gleefully. – MTV News