Your occasional and opinion-laden round-up of interesting links, marketing & publishing news, fun stories and, you know, stuff.
People are using libraries less/more
Pew Research on how Americans use libraries:
Americans remain steady in their beliefs that libraries are important to their community, their family and themselves. Two-thirds (65%) of all of those 16 and older say that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community... [but] traditional activities such as checking out a book or getting help from a librarian are somewhat on the decline.
The number of people borrowing a print book has declined over the past three years, as has 'asking a librarian for help'. But attending a class, program, lecture or meeting has held steady, checking out ebooks has increased (slightly - not as much as print books has decreased) and 'just sit and read, study, or watch/listen to media' has increased.
These trends seem to parallel all the recent research about how bookshops are (or should be?) evolving. Libraries are being used as places of learning (in the greater sense) as opposed to solely as book distribution or research centres. If anything, that only increases their value to the community - as long as they aren't measured solely on the old metrics.
Because everyone likes to give social media advice
An interesting study on why people read blogs - this article is an excellent summary, but it is worth noting that this is all based on a 2010 report using 2007 data. At which point, 'blogs' weren't the only game in town, but were certainly one of the largest and newest:
I suspect, 8 years on, the reasoning is still correct, but for 'blogs + social media + vlogs + podcasts' as a whole. Still, it makes a lot of sense. And, turned on its head, I'd suggest that anyone creating a blog (or other platform for online expression) for either personal or commercial reasons, think about what audience motivation they might be fulfilling.
For more practical advice, a couple good posts I've noticed recently:
- 20 tips for your Facebook business page
- 10 social media tips for your business
- PR tips for busy business owners
All good advice for, say, authors/artists/bloggers/websites as well as other businesses.
Bursting your Twitter bubble
Actual research into how being exposed to multiple points of view will help you generate better ideas. On Twitter, at least. A great study from MIT, concluding that, for Twitter to work effectively as a tool to help you spark ideas:
It’s not the number of people you follow on Twitter that matters; it’s the diversity within your Twitter network.
Also some nice stuff about using Twitter to engage with experts and to share content within an organisation. But that's less important than the bit above. As we all know, it is incredibly easy to only follow people you agree with, and use Twitter to reinforce the things we already believe. It is also incredibly easy to believe that a network of ideological peers is somehow representative of the entire cultural landscape... and then be surprised when the world doesn't conform to the 'majority' view of one's feed (see, for example, the UK general election).
I don't think the report's advice is 'follow people you hate' or 'use Twitter to argue with strangers'; more a reminder that we are living in an unprecedented era of access to news, information and opinion, and, to get the most out of it, we should be using it to expand our views, not reinforce it.
That was all a bit soapboxy, but I wonder if there's something like a #follow10strangers movement that should happen.
Pornokitsch people elsewhere
A rapid-fire interview with Molly Tanzer, first reviews of the Apex Book of World SF 4, Mahvesh on Day Four, io9 hearts The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, Jean Gray dies (spoiler!), and, of course, Dragonlance.
By 2013, Medjed had become a full-fledged meme, and took on a life of his own, as memes often do. His fearsome role as Osiris's guardian (he is said to be able to fly and eats human hearts) and cute, simple appearance allow for a versatile range of depictions.
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