Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week In Review/Preview - Drinking Koolaid, Kindle Fire and Funny Floppies

Just 24 Hours before I start the next dare!

The Round Of Words In 80 Days Challenge begins Monday. Am I ready? As ready as I will ever be. I am glad I took the last week and a half off. I am back to battling the cold, and the cluster-(bleep) at the day job involving the new computer order has continued to get bleepier as drop-dead dates zoom past, and we have less and less time to resolve unresolvable problems. (Just a usual fall semester....)

I am, however, very much looking forward to the new dare. The Goals are posted Here. The rules demand an update on Sundays and Wednesdays, so those days will be devoted to that here on this blog, although I will often include a related post about productivity or something, especially on Wednesdays. (Since weekends are the "review/preview.") For instance, this Wednesday I will be talking about how I use my excess of writing gadgets and tools in the maintenance of this dare.

Drinking the Koolaid?

I love Janet Reid, a funny and generous agent who maintains a couple of great blogs (including The Query Shark). Recently, though, she pissed off a bunch of writers by making a comment about how writers shouldn't "drink the Koolaid" of self-publishing.

I actually sympathize with her feeling that indie publishing is kinda like a cult. Sure people get excited and make mistakes, and maybe follow advice a little too slavishly. But I agree with those who think she got the wrong end of the stick on this "drinking the Koolaid" metaphor.

Here's the thing: drinking the Koolaid isn't about getting excited and making mistakes. Excitement and mistakes are GOOD and NECESSARY things. Drinking the Koolaid doesn't happen at the start of something new, it happens at the end -- when the system is teetering and there is no reason to continue to support it, but you do something self-destructive out of loyalty.

Right now, self-publishing isn't going to do anybody any harm at all. Zero harm. It may not do you good -- other than be a learning experience -- but it won't do harm. Signing a publishing contract right now, on the other hand, could do you a lot of harm. Signing a contract is a commitment. And right now, the contracts are crazy, and really force a huge commitment on the writer. Same with agency contracts.

Look, the industry is changing. Everybody is flying blind. You don't want to make commitments right now. You don't want to lock up your rights. THAT is a lot closer to drinking the Trademarked Sweetened Beverage.

Kindle Fire Released!

This week, Amazon released their iPad killer -- the color touch-screen Kindle Fire. Honestly... I think it's more of a Nook killer. It will push Apple on a couple of elements (namely size and price) but it doesn't appear to be a full-featured tablet computer.

But you never know, it might grow into one. (Just remember that the iPad evolved from the iPod, which wasn't originally a multitasking device.)

What excites me is that they are now offering sub-$100 Kindles, and better yet, a SMALLER Kindle! Yes yes yes! It's close to the dimensions of a mass-market paperback. If Apple were to come out with an iPad that size, I'd buy it in a second. That extra inch or so of screen space is exactly what I need to make my iPod Touch more useful.

Unfortunately, the tiny Kindle is not the one with the fancy color touch screen.

Now, I don't own an iPad yet because, cool as it is, it fits my lifestyle exactly wrong. It doesn't fit in my purse to carry around like my Touch, and adding a keyboard would make it bigger and clunkier than my netbook. And because it doesn't play Flash, my video viewing choices online are limited. (For instance, Hulu wants you to pay for a subscription before you can watch their media.)

The new color Kindle does not beat the iPad on any of those. It might be smaller, but not small enough to make a difference. Typing isn't any better. As for the video functionality? It sounds like the content choices may be worse. I haven't seen any definitive answer, but it sounds like it's really geared toward Amazon content, and limited online sources.

Upcoming Posts

  • Monday Covers: Evocative Images With Little or No Text
  • Tuesday Short Stuff: The New World of Short Fiction -- finding current stuff. (The web is crawling with short fiction... it's coming out of the woodwork!)
  • Wednesday Update: Update on ROW80 -- an a look at my implements of destruction, er, I mean my writing tools and gadgets.
  • Thursday: Coverage vs Critique (or Reader vs. Writer -- or is it about you or me?)
  • Friday: Delayed Gratification, and What Holds a Story/Series together. (With a look at the TV Show Castle, and the movie Arsenic and Old Lace.)

Video Of The Week: Dramatic Floppy Drives

Okay, maybe it's not as dramatic as the Singing Tesla Coils playing the same tune at a deafening volume, but it's still pretty cool....

See you in the funny papers (if the floppy drives don't take over the world....)

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