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Librarian Blog

Disappearing

Top editors and perhaps others are leaving the New Republic magazine, according to The New York Times.

They're leaving in a dispute with the magazine's owner over the future of the publilcation.

The owner wants more attention to be paid to digital, and he wants to cut the number of issues published each year. The editors don't.

Thus continues the story of how old media are struggling in today's new-media-controlled landscape.

The New Republic is slowly committing suicide by cutting the number of publishing dates. I read the number as 10 times a year, which is just not enough times to keep up with the pace of events and to stay at the forefront of anyone's mind.

And if the publisher thinks that by cutting to 10 he will push people to some online version, he's just wrong about that. It's very difficult to produce quality content for two masters, print and digital. And it's very expensive. You can't cut resources and make it happen.

Yet that's what a lot of publishers want to do.

If the New Republic publisher has deep pockets, and he apparently does as one of the founders of FaceBook, he can afford to lose money for a long, long time. That doesn't mean he's smart to do so, though.

Unethical?

Infodocket.com reported this week that Twitter is now tracking other apps its users have installed on their mobile devices "so it can target content and ads to them better."

Whoa!

Am I the only person who thinks this is intrusive, rude and unethical?

I know that this sounds OK if you consider that if you subscribe to certain magazines, the publishers will sell your contact and other information to other marketers. But, I never liked that, either.

When I was in the newspaper business we followed a strict rule: If you subscribed to the newspaper, we would never sell or give your information to anyone else. We considered that a matter of trust.

And it sounds OK if you consider that Amazon tracks your habits so it can better tailor ads and messages to you.

I consider this an erosion of trust, as well, but there's not a single thing I can do about it except avoid using Amazon.

I don't use Twitter at all. And won't, for certain now.

Different games

My middle daughter was the great reader among our children.

And it was through her that I discovered a, well, novel kind of novel.

One day she brought home from the school library a book that was written in such a way that the reader could choose paths to take to get to the ultimate resolution. So, there were several possible endings depending on the pathway you chose. And you could choose all of them one at a time, just for the heck of it.

Pretty neat, I thought.

Now I am reading about online games that do the same thing, and they are not animated, blow-'em-up, shoot-'em-up boy videos.

Using a program called Twine, girls are writing games that take players all kinds of places to find an ending, according to a story in The New York Times Magazine published Sunday by Laura Hudson.

Lots of traditional gamers are claiming these aren't games at all, but those build them claim they are.

I can't speak to that controversy.

I can just say that I find it encouraging that girls are getting into online activities that raise their profiles and, maybe, make them a little money.

Learning one more thing

In the well-I'll-be-darned department:

One of our volunteers, a regular reader of The Wall Street Journal, dropped off an article for me to read, and I'm sure glad she did.

It was about a program I have never heard of, and I've read a whole lot about World War II.

Jennifer Maloney writes in the Nov. 21 issue about a new book by Molly G. Manning called "When Books Went to War."

Seems that during World War II, big American publishing houses scoured their backlists for books that could be printed in paperback editions small enough for our troops to carry into combat. Ultimately, they printed 120 million miniature, light-weight paperbacks.

Thus was established the paperback niche, and thus was established an entrenched following of young male readers.

I am guessing there is no similar program for American troops on foreign soil these days.

I asked a Vietnam veteran what he and his buddies did for entertainment. He said they watched re-runs of the TV series "Combat."

What?

Be still ...

The main article on my favorite blog, called Brain Pickings, last weekend was about a book by Pico Iyer that I really need to read and heed.

It's "The Art of Stillness," and Iyer's right. Stillness is definitely an art, one I have most assuredly not mastered, although I thought I might try in retirement.

I did try, but wasn't good at it, possibly because I didn't know how to do it.

Iyer sought out Leonard Cohen, the great musician, who became a nearly isolated monk to get away from it all/

But, he talked to others, too, and he has this observation:

"We’ve lost our Sundays, our weekends, our nights off – our holy days, as some would have it; our bosses, junk mailers, our parents can find us wherever we are, at any time of day or night. More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk."

Isn't that true?

One place where you can, though, get away from it all: the Wimberley Village Library.

Come on in.