When I received this comment on my blog today: “you have put together one of the worst pieces of writing that I have come across for sometime” I was a bit hurt but duly got my revenge by marking it as spam. I was quite heartened, then, to read this article at Guardian Education by the esteemed Marc Abrahams “Don’t let the trolls get you down” in which he reports, unsurprisingly if you know his work, an academic study in which a lecturer has come up with a scientific definition of a troll, and advises on how to deal with one: “Trolling can (1) be frustrated if users correctly interpret an intent to troll, but are not provoked into responding, (2) be thwarted if users correctly interpret an intent to troll, but counter in such a way as to curtail or neutralise the success of the troller, (3) fail if users do not correctly interpret an intent to troll and are not provoked by the troller, or, (4) succeed if users are deceived into believing the troller’s pseudo-intention(s), and are provoked into responding sincerely. Finally, users can mock troll. That is, they may undertake what appears to be trolling with the aim of enhancing or increasing effect, or group cohesion.” (inevitably there are lots more suggestions in the comments to this academese (why can’t academics write plain English?), including some that have been “removed by the moderator”).
In a different type of Internet abuse, Nature ran a couple of thought-provoking articles on cyberwarfare last week. An Editorial opines that “National cybersecurity plans should go beyond the cold-war mentality of an arms race and focus more on linking traditional computer security with protections for industrial control systems.” And an accompanying News story focuses on a new type of threat to critical infrastructures, for example underlying water and energy supplies.
While on the topic of Nature, the Internet and threats, I can’t resist a linguistic-association link to this News story: “Underwater spiders use webs as gills”. Fascinating stuff.
Back to more on-topic subjects for this blog: someone has just decided to share my opinion that Atonement is Ian McEwan’s masterpiece. It’s a great book and as it was written in 2001 it would be the first on my list of “best novels of the last decade” if I ever get around to writing it (which I doubt I will as I haven’t read enough good novels published over that time period – What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn would be another one, though).
Someone on the Internet runs a recurring post “questions to which the answer is no”. Here’s one for the collection: Would you fund your favorite [sic] author? Actually, I might fund my favourite author but that isn’t what this is about, this is about a new service called Unbound that “lets authors pitch ideas and collect funding from readers”. Sounds awful, when added to the tsunami of self-published e-books that are swamping Amazon and all points webwise.
However, if you are an author who publishes in academic journals, I smiled at this intriguing tool to see how close you are to having published with your nominated Nobel laureate (or anyone). Sabine does not mention Kevin Bacon but if I do you’ll get the drift.
Links in brief:
250 books by women that all men should read. (It’s a riposte!)
Swedish book review is online! (I may be the last to know.) Often this magazine carries articles by the English translator of a Swedish novel before the book is actually published in English – these insights are fascinating. Here’s a taster of Camilla Ceder’s second novel, Babylon, by translator Marlaine Delargy.
Lost collection: Art left on public transport – a new exhibition made up of art that’s been left unclaimed on the London Underground, buses, London Overground trains and Black Cabs.
How Nicola Morgan became a top trend on Twitter via her idea of asking users to nominate #lessinterestingbooks. Examples include Lord of the Files (which I think sounds quite interesting!), Jude the Fairly Obvious, Mein Kampsite, War and Peas, etc. As well as on Twitter itself, there are lots of suggestions at Nicola Morgan’s blog post and a Facebook group (link at post). Very droll.
The official media has finally caught on to sofalising– “people sitting at home watching a programme on TV while at the same time discussing what they are watching on another screen with friends, or indeed strangers, on social media sites.” Everyone under the age of 25 seems to do this automatically, it seems to me, and more than a few who are older than that if my Twitter feed is anything to go by (cue for a cull when it does happen, though).
Sad: US postal service faces collapse. “Delivery of first-class mail is falling at a staggering rate. Facing insolvency, can the USPS reinvent itself like European services have—or will it implode?”
Which author should write the next Bond novel? (Guardian open thread). Many of the suggested authors/titles/parodies are so funny, eg “The Good Man James and The Scoundrel Bond”, “From James, With Love & Squalor” and “Alexander McCall Smith: “I’ve been expecting you, Rra Bond.” ”
One last laugh: tell us about your worst night at the theatre. (Guardian again). Alexis Soloski writes “in my time as a theatre critic I’ve been stalked in my seat and groped onstage. What’s your lowest theatrical moment?”. Read if you dare.