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  • 15 January, 2010

    Under construction.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 9:40 pm permalink

    With the advent of the new, new, New Sleekness, I’m thinking of turning this blog into something of a playground for me to fool around with WordPress for a little while. Most of the blogging that I do these days fits better on the New Sleekness anyway, and the paltry number of readers who come here for my personal musings will surely not mind me rearranging the furniture and generally breaking things for a little bit. I hope.

    The first thing to go is the theme, which has served me well for a number of years. The theme may come back, but only if I code it myself this time (I hired someone to do so last time, off my design). However, I really want to start off as simply as possible, so I’ll be dressing the site with Manifest, which is also the theme for The New Sleekness (so if I hit on anything nifty I can port it over to TNS right quickly), and very simple for me to build on.

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    Filed under: Uncategorized
  • 7 January, 2010

    Dreads

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 10:36 pm permalink

    I’ve wanted to write a post about my dreadlocks—the reasons I grew them and the reasons I cut them off—for a long time. It’s such a big subject to me, and something so personal, that I’ve shied away from it with a vengeance. The other day, though, reading a post by Tobias Buckell about dreads, rasta, and growing up, I spewed out a comment which more or less encapsulates the gist of it. I may come back to the topic, but in the meantime, here’s a bit of writing about my dreadlocks:

    I’ve never been religious, and am an avowed atheist, as you know, but since I’ve been exposed to rasta (admittedly later in life, after high school), I’ve known mostly nothing but the same kind of attitude you describe: discipline, commitment, the monk-like approach, as you say. So much so that, years ago, when I resolved to embark upon a major life-change, I decided to lock up in order to signify it.

    I approached one of my closer rasta friends, to inquire about how to go about it, half-expecting an indignant “how dare you”, and a swift dismissal. I should have known better. We sat down, we reasoned, and he said “Dreads are about constance, commitment, strength of spirit; it takes patience and mindfulness to lock up, especially for a man without natty hair, like you. I’d be grateful if you let me help you lock up. If you let me help you on your journey.” And so he did.

    For the years I was locked up, my dreads were a constant reminder to keep going, to stay the course, to not get discouraged when something didn’t quite go the way I wanted it to. It was also a wonderful exercise in patience, as my friend had said—watching them grow from short, skinny baby dreads into full, thick natty locks was a very gratifying experience.

    One day, years later, after I was at the place where I had wanted to be, I decided that it was time for another change. I had just embarked upon yet another phase in my life (the one I’m on now, actually), and I felt that I needed to lose baggage, etc. I cut off mine dread.

    I don’t regret having done it, but I still do miss them so.

    And I do. One day I may put myself back on that path and lock up again. But for now, I’m raspacoco.

  • 4 January, 2010

    2010.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 8:52 am permalink

    Two words:

    Bring it, bitches.

    Well, three words, then.

  • 19 December, 2009

    OCD geekness.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 7:15 pm permalink

    I just spent the last hour and a half coming up with the nicest, cleanest, most organized cable management solution I could muster, and I think I did a decent job. Check out the rest of the images on Flickr.

  • 18 December, 2009

    Smart.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 3:34 pm permalink

    I’m not a huge fan of Michael Hyatt’s, generally speaking. I don’t think he’s often as smart as everyone thinks (I’m also aware that this is probably an unfair bias of mine, a symptom of my ingrained dislike of anything to do with superstition and deism). I’m happy to be proven wrong, on occasion, and today’s the day. Hyatt has posted a fantastic piece on his blog regarding the future of publishing (what, that old bag again?) which I think is spot-fucking-on, from intro to last paragraph. His bullet points below, but please do yourself a favour and check out the full post for Hyatt’s thoughts:

    The line between newspapers, magazines, and books is about to become blurred.

    Publishers will need to envision multimedia content from the beginning.

    Consumer expectations are going to skyrocket.

    The cost of producing digital books will get more expensive.

    Digital content creation and distribution will become our primary focus.

    People will be reading more than ever.

    It’s really a shame that none of the big six publishers seem to have this kind of clear-eyed, forward-looking leadership, and are more interested in whining and moaning about how their business model is under attack (um, yeah, it’s under attack because it’s not sustainable. It actually never was. Now get over it and find a new one).

  • 16 December, 2009

    Readers by Author

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 12:24 pm permalink

    This is brilliant, and hilarious. My faves:

    Ayn Rand

    Workaholics seeking validation.

    Michael Crichton

    Doctors who went to third-tier medical schools.

    John Grisham

    Doctors who went to medical schools in the Dominican Republic. (NB: That would be my dad. I don’t think he would’a been into Grisham. Regardless: AW SNAP)

    Hunter S Thompson

    That kid in your philosophy class with the stupid tattoo.

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Men who can’t lie but will instead be silent if they know you don’t want to hear the truth. (Sadly, this is probably me.)

  • 26 December, 2008

    On the Publishocalypse

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 1:02 pm permalink

    Salon.com’s got a nice post-game on the Publishocalypse that went down earlier this month in Jason Boog’s “Read it and weep.”

    Who will survive publishing’s Ice Age? Undoubtedly, the companies that can command developments in the impending digital book revolution.

    Well thanks, Captain Obvious. The word “book” in the phrase “digital book revolution” is unnecessary—the so-called digital revolution is upon, above, behind, around, inside, between and [insert more prepositions here] us, and it affects everything. To think that printed books are somehow immune to the sea-change that the information economy is imposing on our society is silly and near-sighted, to say the least.

    The question isn’t so much the “what”—it’s the “how ” of the matter that really has a lot of people stumped. For what it’s worth, I don’t disagree with Boog: the real winners here will be the small, agile shops. Hopefully the indies, like McSweeny’s, and Subterranean Press in the SF/F world, but also (and I admit I’m slightly biased, because well, I’d like to keep my job for now, thanks) small spinoffs from large, corporate publishers like HarperStudio and Tor.com.

    Working in publishing, being relatively new to it, and being involved in one large publishing corporation’s efforts to make sense of this series of tubes, I have some thoughts about how things should maybe play out in order for publishers to adapt to modern times.

    On the role of the Publisher

    I think publishers (and editors) need to start thinking in slightly more media-agnostic terms, and they need to embrace the opportunities afforded by being shoved into the digital age (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes not), where your cost-per-unit is not dependent on bulky, expensive, and wasteful physical manufacturing processes (which, in essence, is what commercial book-printing is). While there are other costs associated with eBook production that may not be evident at first look (especially at the onset), electronic always trumps physical when it comes to the accessibility of the means of production.

    Additionally, I think fiction editors need to look beyond the novel—or even the book as we know it—as the final product of their efforts. To paraphrase a co-worker, the truly great editor is an advocate for his authors and their ideas, and I think that this advocacy needs to extend into as many realms as necessary. Upon acquisition, an editor should ask themselves not what kind of book should this piece of intellectual property become, but whether it should become a book at all! Should it instead be an information-dense website; or a live-action movie; or a serialized, episodic narrative on the internet (see how far I’ll bend over backwards to not say “TV show”?), or a video game; or a presentation (think Al Gore); or a work of graphic narrative; or an animated movie (these last two most definitely NOT being the same thing)? Once the editor and the author have decided what this piece of IP should be, media-wise, it’s then the editor’s job, with the backing of the publisher, to find the correct producers for that idea, be they printers, eBook-makers, film-makers, game designers, comics artists, etc.

    On books, specifically

    As a book lover and collector, I do think there will be a space for printed and bound books for a long time to come1. I just think that it will be a very limited market: for people who like books as objects, for art or photography books (including graphic storytelling), or beautiful collections.

    On the technological side, however, things are moving fast. People are starting to read on their iPhones and other smartphones, the ePub format is gaining some serious traction, and devices like the Kindle and the Sony Reader are also becoming more sophisticated (think about the current iteration of the Kindle and similar devices as the same as the 13-inch, black and white tube television prevalent in the fiftes ans sixties). I wouldn’t be surprised to see colour, increased resolution, and maybe even rudimentary animation on eInk technology by the end of 2009, at least in proof-of-concept form.

    This very well may be wishful thinking, but my vision for a holistic book publisher of the future is one which concerns itself with both the analogue and the digital life of a work of fiction, and works at or around three editions of a work that probably need to be published at the same time—this whole business of waiting a year to publish a mass market edition of a book is nonsense in a digital world.

    1- Premium Printed Edition—The first edition would be a physical object: a beautifully-designed Premium Printed Edition, exquisitely-printed, bound in small numbers, destined for a small market of higher-end customers and collectors—much like music and movie boxed-sets.  Accompanying this tome would be a Unabridged Digital First Edition, which would include any multimedia elements that make up a part of the book (such as embedded movies, music, maps, illustrations, etc); as well as ancillary material that is not necessarily part of the book itself (think documentaries on related subjects, interviews with the author, etc). This would sell for a premium price, let’s say $50-$602.

    2- Unabridged Digital Edition—At the same time as the Premium Printed Edition is released, you release that Unabridged Digital Edition that you included with the Premium Printed Edition as a stand-alone purchase, priced at around $10-$20 bucks. I think this price range is justifiable for a first electronic edition that is chock-full with additional elements that you don’t have in a regular, printed edition of a book. Additionally, buying this edition automatically entitles the buyer to download future, updated editions of the same book, either for free, or for a ridiculously low fee (I’m thinking like a dollar). Once you start including multimedia content with a work of fiction, and packaging it all together in an attractive way, editions become version numbers, and books truly become software in an ideological sense. This changes the work of an editor and an author: if an author so chooses, their work is never finished, and the author retains a very accessible way of adding, amending, and otherwise iterating on a previously-published work in a timely manner; likewise, an editor becomes even more of a shepherd, and the act of editing a book can become an ongoing curatorial pursuit. But I digress. Moving on…

    3- Abridged Digital Edition—Still at the same time as the Premium Printed Edition and the Unabridged Digital Edition are released (remember, staggered publishing is for suckers in the digital age—you only need to walk Canal street on a movie’s theater release date to see the DVDs on display, and the fallacy in that model), you release the Abridged Digital Edition at mass-market prices: Say, $2-6 bucks, tops. This Abridged Edition is just the plaintext of the work in question—well-designed, nicely typeset, but no multimedia, no maps, no art, no entitlement to future iterations, no nothing. Words on a screen. Hell, if it were me, I’d offer this edition as a free download.

    An aside: While incredibly nifty technology, I see Print-on-Demand as a stopgap measure between the phasing out of mass markets and trade paperbacks, and the true ubiquitousness of e-reading, so it doesn’t really fit in this model.

    As it becomes more and more obvious that digital is the way to go for publishing (not that it ever wasn’t, really, it’s just that the big boys are now actually altering course on their big boats), many ideas will hit the market, and many will die before a successful model is found. This, I think, is a scheme that could be sustainable, and embraces the best of both the digital and the analogue worlds. Would it work? Is it too simplistic an approach? Is it going too much against accepted practices in the publising industry? Does it leave too many people that now depend on the infrastructure surrounding printed books out in the cold? I don’t know. What do you think?

    1 At least until people around my age all die off—children nowadays are consuming most of their media via digital interfaces earlier and much more often than before. I would be very surprised if a thirty-year-old of 2030 has a problem with reading off a screen, like many of my contemporaries do.

    2 All dollar values are purely off-the cuff, and more meant to reflect a relative pricing scale for different editions, than reflect any real costs associated with publishing—I’m just sayin’. A formal P&L is not part of this excercise…yet.

  • 9 December, 2008

    “Lynch”? Why, yes, I believe we should.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 1:14 am permalink

    An asshole, too.

    (Reuters) – Merrill Lynch & Co Chief Executive John Thain has suggested to directors that he get a 2008 bonus of as much as $10 million, but the battered company’s compensation committee is resisting his request, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.
    The compensation committee has not reached a decision, but is leaning toward denying Thain and other senior executives bonuses for this year, the people told the paper.

    Let me get this straight: this clown becomes CEO a little over a year ago, after the board ousts the previous CEO in the wake of “losses in mortgage-related investments”, and proceeds to then preside over the takeover of ML by BoA because the company is still b0rked. He then has the cojones to demand that they compensate him to the tune of ten million fucking dollars? What for, hitting the lights on his way out?
    What. The. Fuck.

  • 22 November, 2008

    I always said there was money in that banana stand…

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 12:35 am permalink

    Oh please, please, please, don’t you be fibbin’ now, Opie…

  • 17 October, 2008

    xkcd does it again.

    posted by Pablo Defendini at 11:46 pm permalink

    Finger on the pulse of the pixel-stained techno-peasant, as always, Randall Munroe’s xkcd seems like a description of my life today:

    More xkcd.