Saturday, May 14, 2016

Coffee shops, processors, and writers

When people sit in a coffee shop, typing away on a computer or tablet, what are they working on?  Tristan Montebello asked his fellow slurpers and found out.

 The image below has been shrunk. To see it full size, follow the link.

Scalzi would tell you you aren't fooling anyone by working in a coffee shop, but he'd also tell you he's okay with you typing there (Amazon, Tor - quote below from Tor).
The immediate, obvious value of this book is that Scalzi is in no way shy about telling it like it is. The reader won’t find any flowery, romantic notions about starving artistry in this book. Instead, there are honest discussions of what working in publishing is really like, how to make money as a writer (hint: it isn’t easy and you will have to do work that doesn’t tickle your creative fancy), and how to behave, based on how Scalzi himself made it down the road to be the success he is today
And it’s pretty funny, too.
Word processors in their infancy and the writers who loved them.

 The image below has been shrunk. To see it full size, follow the link. Eve Sedgewick, pictured, looks cozy but also like her neck will start aching in an hour.
The first application of the MT/ST in a literary setting was by the British spymaster Len Deighton’s assistant, Ellenor Handley, who used one in Deighton’s high-tech home office to prepare the manuscript for his 1970 World War II novel, Bomber, (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize). The tape reels containing (as Deighton was to put it in his afterword) “the first book to be entirely recorded on magnetic tape” are long gone, but the final manuscript survives, now in the hands of a private collector; in 2013 Handley was reunited with it, revealing, if you look closely, the bite marks along the edges of the pages where the MT/ST’s mechanical tractor feed had once gripped: the enduring mark of the mechanism.
The book is available at Amazon.
My handwriting is terrible.  Few people benefited more from computers and word processors than I.  And the bite-marks on the edge of the page where the track connected are quite familiar to me.  I remember printing long homework assignments anxiously holding the column of paper and carefully feeding it through the mechanism.
How are writers for Wikipedia motivated?  Sci-Am describes the research.
So, what does Gallus’s research tell us about motivating volunteerism more broadly? Since this study addresses the problem of high turnover in volunteer organizations once people have already made the first move to contribute, the key takeaway is not how to attract volunteers, but how to keep them. In organizations with a steep learning curve, the cost of high turnover is problematic. Since people deeply desire validation and a sense of ownership over their work, simple recognition is a low cost way to give volunteers a stake in the success of the venture. Although this might not seem like a new concept, the challenge lies in understanding what recognition means for each organization’s particular context, and establishing a community in which volunteers want to belong.
Ursula Le Guin on Writing: She mainly points out that the chief rule is that there are no formal rules.  Find someone who appreciates your work and make it fit that shared mold, don't try to fit it a generic reader.

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