Towse: views from the hill

March 30, 2009

Book trailers.

Filed under: book promotion,books,video — Towse @ 3:28 pm

Book trailers are like movie trailers, in a way. Movie trailers cut and piece from the movie to give you a taste of what you will see when you see the movie, to lure you into the theater to buy a ticket.

Book trailers are a video advertisement for a written book. They cut and piece from the book — add sound, action, pictures, sometimes live actors — and turn the result into what would be a mini-trailer for the movie the book would be if the book were a movie. The hope is that you will see the trailer and buy the book.

Came across this one just now and thought it was a good example.

There was a panel that included some talk on book trailers at LCC a few weeks ago. You can make your own trailer for something less than $100 (and up) and post it on Facebook or your blog or you can pay one of the companies that know what they’re doing (Circle of Seven Productions was specifically named) and for something in the range of $2K-3K (although the price can be much higher, depending on your needs) you get a professional video and the placement/marketing expertise of the company. Or you can make your own trailer and contract with a company like Circle of Seven to do the promotion.

Book trailers as advertisement. As lures. With hopes that the trailer will go viral and the fever will translate into sales.

This trailer (Michael Connelly, THE BRASS VERDICT) is a more sophisticated production with screenplay and actors.

Would you buy a book from a book trailer?

Do you ever send them on?

March 27, 2009

Brooksley Born – Cassandra?

Filed under: financeconomics,history,people — Towse @ 4:12 pm

Brooksley Born – Prophet and Loss, an article in STANFORD Magazine, March/April 2009.

An article on his nibs’ cousin is the cover feature in the current STANFORD Magazine. Interesting writeup of the happenings at the CFTC in the late nineties.

If they’d listened to Born and implemented her proposals, could it have prevented the meltdown?

Update: She’s also getting one of the Kennedy Library Foundation’s 2009 Profile in Courage Awards for the days back then.

March 25, 2009

Belated Ada Lovelace Day: Let us now praise techie women

Filed under: libraries,technology — Towse @ 11:54 pm

I was gone yesterday. Awoke a bit after 5A to catch the 9X over to the Cow Palace for the day-long Get Motivated! seminar (more on =that= experience to follow).

I left the seminar early (mid Michael Phelps’ presentation) to catch the 9X back to Washington Square Park, where I transferred to the 30 to get to Fort Mason where I met up with his nibs to kill time (kill time, check-in and get wristbands, kill time, stand in line outside in chilly breeze, kill time) until we were let inside (Front Row for us!) for the Zócalo/New America Foundation joint event with Craig Newmark.

“He’s just like I expected,” said his nibs.

“You should read his blog and Twitterfeed,” I answered. “He’s exactly as he is. Which is a good thing.”

(But then we’ve always identified with engineering rather than marketing and sales. …)

Writeup and video with photos here.

There I am! (We’re #3 & #4 in line. I’m wearing black, shades, carrying my handy-dandy AAAS-NSF bag stuffed full the night before with the paper/pens/stuff I thought necessary for the day’s events.)

We walked home. Walked up to Bay and headed east. Cut over onto Columbus and stopped off at LaTrappe (corner of Columbus and Greenwich) because I was in need of some moules frites and Koningshoeven La Trappe Quadrupel. Sal satisfied, we continued home, arriving after midnight.

Ada Lovelace Day had been and gone.
My post praising techie women would be late. Alas.

Let us now praise techie women

Ada Lovelace Day is/was an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants. The list of tech-related careers is endless.

The list of people I could honor is near endless. Grace Hopper was my first choice, but I decided my Ada Lovelace Day post should honor a living WIT. (Others chose differently, honoring, among others, Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Hedy Lamarr, Rosalind Franklin, and Marie Curie.)

Who to choose? Who to choose? Who to choose?

Let us now praise, Jessamyn West, purveyor of (since 1999) and her personal blog abada abada.

Back in 2001, I wrote the following about Jessamyn.

[n.b. This extract is from my Feb 2001 column for Computer Bits [RIP]. The column was titled, ROLL OUT THE CARPET – PASSIONS GREET THE MILLENNIAL DAWN, and covered a batch of sites run by people who were passionate about a subject. The Degree Confluence Project was mentioned earlier in the column.]

I thought I was so clever. I thought, “I’ll pop the Degree Confluence Project into Altavista [yes, Altavista was my search engine of choice in those days] and see who else links to it and maybe write about those sites.” and got sucked into hours of roaming the links of Jessamyn (not that Jessamyn) West’s personal site.

West linked to the Degree Confluence Project because she has a quirky page where you can note a latitude and longitude and find out where you’d end up if you tunneled through to the other side of Earth. I knew West was a kindred spirit because her tunneling page also links to the Library of Congress map pages, mentioned in my November 2000 column.

West has links to everything that interests her and beyond: Naked Librarians (indeed!), Tracy Kidder, confluences and her journal, abada abada — and a fine journal it is. I’d heard of the huge numbers of people these days who keep their journals upfront and personal on the Web, but I’d never had the inclination to check out the sites. “Boring, self-centered clods,” I thought. Boy, was I wrong.

West’s journal includes such life slices as the description (with pictures!) of how she wound up with a printing press last year. “It started out innocently enough, playing pool with my friend Margaret talking about getting a hobby. Next thing you know, I’m en route to a scrap metal place in Burien and before you can say “dingbat” I am the owner of a tabletop letterpress machine. As my Mom said to me ‘this is how your father wound up with the pipe organ…’ “

Dad, by the way, is Tom West, featured in Tracy Kidder’s Soul of a New Machine. On her Tracy Kidder page, West remembers how Kidder stashed himself on the couch at the Wests on weekends as he wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

West’s journal starts in January 1997. I turned my mouse to this month, then that, another year, a different month, fascinated, clicking links, watching West’s writing style and interests grow and change over the past four years. Check out West’s journal and site and you will discover what the attraction is, why I’ve becoming a peeking Sal, peering into someone else’s life and passions.

Is Jessamyn technically a technological woman? She doesn’t do HW design. She’s not a SW engineer. What Jessamyn is is a community technology librarian, a guide to the wonders of the Web and technology, a friendly host, an answerer of questions. She works to get technology working in small community libraries. She is a moderator at and runs the Q and A part of the site, Ask MetaFilter. She is the visible face (and the sometimes cranky voice) of library technology. People like Jessamyn West are the link between the technically inept and the technology available these days at your local public library.

There is a boatload of information online and for those who can’t afford to have a personal connection in their home, the public library is the nearest and friendliest place.

So, what do we need to do? Get the technology into libraries. Get the library staff up to speed on using the technology.

Add patrons with questions and problems. Voilà! Solutions. Questions answered. Problems solved. Here is how you fill out the online food stamp application. Here is how you file an SSD or SSI application online. Here is how to use Craigslist or other online resources to find rentals. Here is how to file a complaint online. Learn to budget. Repair a faucet. Find a mechanic. Be a mechanic. Here is a site that lets you study and practice for your driver’s exam.

Let us now praise Jessamyn West and her sisters in library and technology who are wielding the machetes of technology to lead the lost and bewildered through the jungles of confusion to the “good” stuff available on the ‘net.

Let us now praise Jessamyn West and her sisters in library and technology who spend their days at sometimes thankless work, without whom the interWeb and its resources would be unavailable to a large swath of the public.

(‘sted, K, Eva, others. You know who you are. Consider yourselves praised as well.)

March 24, 2009

Robert Frost and his heirs and assigns: THE ROAD NOT TAKEN.

Filed under: video — Tags: , — Towse @ 4:05 am

“Is Frost out of copyright?” his nibs asked.

“Could be, I suppose,” I answered. “All depends on whether his heirs and assigns renewed during that period when copyrights needed to be renewed.”

“Well, look at this. I’ll send you a link.”

The link was to Creativity, whose links self-destruct soon after they’re posted.

Here’s another link. Ford and the Road Not Taken.

March 23, 2009

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

Filed under: culture,science,video — Towse @ 4:46 pm

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos is available for free! at Hulu.

In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.

[via JDRoth’s twitterfeed]

March 17, 2009

Christopher G. Moore and Christopher Moore

Filed under: books,writers,writing — Towse @ 5:59 pm

Christopher G. Moore was at Left Coast Crime 2009.
Christopher Moore was not.

The book dealer who brought Christopher Moore’s books to sell to conference attendees didn’t know the difference, or thought that conference attendees didn’t. No excuse, really. The list of conference attendees included a hot link to Christopher G. Moore’s Web site where ’tis obvious he writes a very different tale than Christopher not-G Moore.

Imagine your surprise if you’d purchased a Christopher Moore book from the book dealer and, having reached the head of the “have Christopher Moore sign your book” line, you discovered the Christopher Moore (Christopher G. Moore) in front of you looked nothing like the author photo on the (Christopher Moore) book you had in hand.

Here’s the basic difference ‘twixt the two:

“Think Dashiell Hammett in Bangkok.” —San Francisco Chronicle (Christopher G. Moore)

“Moore’s storytelling style is reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams.” — Philadelphia Inquirer (Christopher Moore)

Now you know …

Buy either. Buy both. Different reads. Very different reads. Both worth reading.

March 16, 2009

On a clear day … Mauna Kea

Filed under: photographs — Towse @ 10:40 pm

The first days of the conference were cloudy and a bit wet, but what harm does warm rain do? Folks who were interested in hiking, sunning, exploring had to deal with the weather. I was there to soak up panels so the rain only meant I’d get wet if I left the conference grounds in search of food.

A couple days of sunshine followed. The conference ended on a partly-cloudy note.

On one of the sunny days, I walked over to the nearby shopping center to pick up some lunch from the grocery store and discovered that the cloud cover that had hidden Mauna Kea was gone for the nonce.


Posted by Picasa

March 14, 2009

Winging home

Filed under: photographs — Towse @ 9:25 pm

Coming into San Francisco, up from Los Angeles (all the seats on the direct Kona->SFO flights being full).

Moon above the cloud cover. Sun rising behind me, spilling pink on the clouds.


Posted by Picasa

March 3, 2009

Social isolation a significant health issue

Filed under: culture,life,news — Towse @ 8:11 pm

So I open my Chron yesterday to find this article: Social isolation a significant health issue by Katherine Seligman.

I promised yesterday to blog about why the article’s focus annoyed me so much.

They could have more friends than ever online but, on average, Americans have fewer intimates to confide in than they did a decade ago, according to one study. Another found that 20 percent of all individuals are, at any given time, unhappy because of social isolation, according to University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo. And, frankly, they’d rather not talk about it.

i.e. “friends online” aren’t considered fodder for intimate confidences.

The article also points out that 80% of people are not feeling socially isolated, but that doesn’t sell books. (I doubt their 20% figure anyway.)

The article goes on to quote Jacqueline Olds, a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School and co-authored “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-First Century.” “People are so embarrassed about being lonely that no one admits it. Loneliness is stigmatized, even though everyone feels it at one time or another.”

Olds wrote the book with her husband, Dr. Richard Schwartz, because, she said, she wanted to bring loneliness “out of the closet.” The two were struck by findings from the General Social Survey (conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago), showing that people reported having fewer intimate friends in 2004 than they had in 1985. When asked how many people they could confide in, the average number declined over that same time period from three to two.

Why would three be better than two?

In 2004, almost a quarter of those surveyed said they had no one to discuss important matters with in the past six months; in 1985, only 7 percent were devoid of close confidantes.

Two separate issues [1) no one to disuss important matters with in the past six months, 2) devoid of close confidantes for a year]

I’d be interested re 1) in what the question text was. Was it, “Did you discuss important matters with a close personal friend in the past six months?” If so, what if there were no “important matters” to discuss with anyone? Does a “No” answer mean that you’re lonely?

Those who know me can see where I’m going here.

#1 The authors writing these books are obviously more comfortable with people around to talk things over with.

#2 The authors writing these books obviously don’t think that people can “talk things over” with online buddies. It’s F2F or on the phone or nothing at all, according to them.

So I read on

But humans are not wired to live alone, researchers say. The impulse for social connection – though it is stronger in some people than others – is rooted in the basic urge to survive. The need is so great, says Cacioppo, [John Cacioppo, whose research was mentioned at the beginning of the article and who has also! written a book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection] that it is reflected in our neural wiring. Most neuroscientists agree, he said, that it was the need to process social cues that led to the expansion of the cortical mantle of the brain.

In “Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection,” which he co-authored last year, he wrote, “In other words, it was the need to deal with other people that, in large part, made us who and what we are today.”

Loneliness, Cacioppo explained in an interview, has more in common with hunger, thirst and pain than it does with mental illness. It signals that something is wrong and needs to be corrected.

and at about this point I twigged that Olds and Seligman and others who worry so much about loneliness and being alone are probably extroverts, eh?

See the Atlantic article Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch, to see what I mean. (DT recently reposted a link on his Facebook page, just in time for me to get my every-couple-years re-read of a great article.)

March 2, 2009

Limbaugh to Steele

Filed under: media,politics — Towse @ 9:36 pm

You’re not the boss of me!

Update: Steele to Rush: I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership. Sorry!

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress