Bibliofaction short story website needs a new home

Would you like to run Bibliofaction.com? Despite our best efforts, Andrew and I are no longer finding the time to properly look after the Bibliofaction website and community. So it’s time to find someone new to take care of it. It’s going free to a good home (though it has some costs involved and would benefit from some technical work). We’d like the website to be run by someone who supports the original goals of the site – to encourage everyone to have a go at writing a short story. It should be a welcoming, inclusive and inspiring place – but we won’t have ongoing involvement in the site, so really it’s your call! Here are some top-level facts that might be useful to you: 3,500+ published stories ~10,000 visits per month (it was a bit higher when we were … Continue reading »

Why removing evolution from science textbooks might not really matter

This needs more thought, but writing this has helped me to join up a few ideas I was stewing over with my coffee yesterday morning while my son was napping. So I’ll publish this as is, and your thoughts are welcome. While it’s useful to teach the fundamentals of physics, chemistry and biology in schools, I think what we need to start with and to prioritize is teaching the scientific method, the importance of curiosity and the need to question the answers. As an aside: Question the Answers is also the name of my favourite Bosstones album. Rather than teaching the latest and best hypotheses, we should be showing kids how science as a whole works. How a community of disparate researchers come to agreement on an idea, and how people continue to challenge that idea as best as possible … Continue reading »

On the future of publising, today

I’ve had a couple of interactions with non-traditional publishing of traditional books in the last week, so thought I’d make a note of them as a way to digest the experience. First, I wanted to learn Backbone.js, as it (or something like it) will likely be the basis of front-end web based software interaction for the next few years at least. My usual method for learning a new web technology/language/process is a to get a decent book with functional examples and read it quickly cover to cover. This is how I survey the landscape; like taking a helicopter ride over a national park before setting out to explore it on foot. The real learning happens on foot, but it’s useful to know where the lakes, rivers and mountains are before you head into the jungle. You know you’re exploring the … Continue reading »

The best online page turning book/magazine

I’ve seen a lot a shiny, fancy and useless online page turner book things, and typically hate them for their reliance on flash, the difficulty of reading them and the fact that we’re combining the worst of digital and non-digital technologies mainly to impress the people responsible for publishing the content rather than the people who are meant to read it. This one was great though: http://opim.wharton.upenn.edu/~ulrich/designbook.html The key difference being the link on the left: “Download the MOBI file directly”. I can flick through the book as I would at a shop, get a feel for the content, and then if it’s worth it, email the file straight to my Kindle for a proper reading experience. That’s more like it now.

On 3D printing, and a world unready

With the recent release of the Makerbot Replicator 2, 3D printing tipped into the real world. It moved from a conceptual idea that geeks and tinkerers would try and explain to their doubtful loved ones into something you can have delivered to your door in a matter of working days. It changes everything, and I think the world will be caught off guard. Even now, the ~$2,000 price tag isn’t crazy. It’s more than I would pay, but plenty can afford it. And this time next year the price will halve, the resolution will double and it will print slightly bigger things. Same again the following year. In four or five years’ time, almost anyone who wants one will be able to justify the cost of a 3D printer to themselves. I always imagined playing with Lego with my son when he’s older, … Continue reading »

On ‘We, the Web Kids’

I thoroughly enjoyed reading We, the Web Kids, and could probably have picked a quote from any paragraph to highlight it’s quality. But I’ve picked one in particular as it connects with one of the themes I’ve been writing around here for the last couple of weeks. That is: paying the artist. Like Piotr, I’m happy to pay for the art I love. And whether it’s a painting, sculpture, performance or book, I’d like to pay the artist as directly as possible. In this extract, he captures some of the motivations excellently: “Why should we pay for the distribution of information that can be easily and perfectly copied without any loss of the original quality? If we are only getting the information alone, we want the price to be proportional to it. We are willing to pay more, but then … Continue reading »

Punk rock (self) publishing

Digging through Google Reader this evening I found a mention of Open Site Explorer (posting link here for my own reference). Did a quick search to see who was linking to Bibliofaction and found an old article titled: This is Why Self-Publishing isn’t Taken Seriously. I was worried I’d find a critique of what we’re trying to do with Bibliofaction, but was pleased to find an article that pretty much agrees with what we think is important in self-publishing. I loved this note on Punk rock publishing: “The ethic of: anyone can do it.  Just learn two chords and you can start a rock band.  It was revolutionary.  Self-publishing most certainly has the potential to have that same kind of attitude and purpose, and until that happens it’s going to be perceived as a self-released slush pile, rather than a place where … Continue reading »