Saturday, July 25, 2015
This week's must-read - the latest wave of the IPO's tracking survey into digital media consumption (legal and illegal) was released. Apologies to everyone who got caught up in me livetweeting reading survey results - I suspect that made for some boring, boring social media.
But this is pretty cool stuff.
First, for its core reason - a study of illegal downloading. There are some very interesting figures when it comes to downloading and attitudes towards illegal downloading. I think the big 'shocking' headline - people who do some illegal downloading also buy more stuff legally - is less surprising, especially when you start looking at the attitudinal statements. The majority (but not all) of the illegal downloaders are coming from a place of appreciation for the content. It is still a selfish activity - in that, they're taking what they want without thinking of the repercussions or the effect on others - but fundamentally they are taking it because they want it. So, that makes sense: this would be the same group of people that are also buying more because they like stuff. Which, all things considered, makes the education and discussion job around piracy all the more important. Virtually everyone is united by an appreciation of the content, and that should provide some sort of platform for mutual respect. At least, so I'd hope. But, as Kotaku pointed out, it is virtually impossible to get a reasoned debate going.
Second, setting aside the illegal downloading discussion, the IPO survey is really interesting as a publishing geek. As I've moaned repeatedly, there's virtually no good data in publishing - a combination of terrible tracking, no consistent surveys, a monopoly that hordes its data, inconsistent (and mysterious) sales data and a cultural defensiveness that means that unhappy results are buried.
Which means that surveys like this - big, cross-sector surveys (5000+ respondents) that happen to encompass publishing - are really very valuable. (Plus, infographics!) But even having a decent estimate of '72% of digital books come from Amazon' is useful. Or '5.6m UK people accessed ebooks in the last three months'. Or '50m physical books and 26m ebooks are consumed every quarter'. Or even 'Average individual spend of £10.65 per quarter'. Are these all totally right? Not sure. But do we have something to work with? Yes! Finally! Plus, of course, the ability to compare with other sectors.
Data joy! Anyway, I'll be fussing with the results from this for a while. And if you find anything interesting - please share!
The best way to win an argument, via MindHacks:
One group was asked to give their opinion and then provide reasons for why they held that view. This group got the opportunity to put their side of the issue, in the same way anyone in an argument or debate has a chance to argue their case.
Those in the second group did something subtly different. Rather than provide reasons, they were asked to explain how the policy they were advocating would work. They were asked to trace, step by step, from start to finish, the causal path from the policy to the effects it was supposed to have.
The results were clear. People who provided reasons remained as convinced of their positions as they had been before the experiment. Those who were asked to provide explanations softened their views, and reported a correspondingly larger drop in how they rated their understanding of the issues.
An investigation into how homesickness works. Which, as you might expect, is rather bittersweet:
Maybe you need to have a balance: every time you have a conversation on Skype, you say hello to a neighbour. For every hour you spend on Facebook, you take an hour to check out a flea market or go somewhere different for breakfast. Every time you download one of your favourite podcasts, you try tuning in to a local radio station.
D&D is back on top! And, better yet, it looks like the tabletop RPG segment is growing as a whole - a leap from $15m to $25m over the past two years. Quality graphing below:
We still have a long way to go until we're back in the heady days of the 1980s. (TSR - then-owner of Dungeons & Dragons - alone had a projected revenue of $27m in 1982.) But given the constant concerns that video games have killed RPGs, stability - much less growth - is a great sign.
Our favourite not-us pop culture blog - The Cultural Gutter - is hosting their annual Gutterthon. Support a great site... and get very nice rewards!
Pornokitsch People Elsewhere
Bex toured r/fantasy and spoke at the BSFA.
Mahvesh and Jared lanced dragons (with special guests).
Molly hosted a screening of Big Trouble in Little China.
A lot of us are going to Fantasy in the Court and Nine Worlds (more on that later).