Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #229

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Important Items

Florida Bars AP African-American Studies Course From Public Schools

The state used Ron DeSantis’ “Stop WOKE Act” to block the proposed program from its schools. As the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “Let’s be clear. They didn’t block AP European history.”

COVID-19 Surges Linked to Spike in Heart Attacks

New data analysis from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai found that deaths from heart attacks rose significantly during pandemic surges, including the COVID-19 Omicron surges, overall reversing a heart-healthier pre-pandemic trend. The spikes in heart attack deaths have tracked with surges of COVID-19 infection — even during the presumed less-severe Omicron phase of the pandemic. Furthermore, the data showed the increase was most significant among individuals ages 25–44, who are not usually considered at high risk for heart attack.

Surge In Remote Working Fuels Record Employment For People With Disabilities

HT @LauraB7 After generations of being overlooked and sidelined in the job market, Americans with disabilities are enjoying an unprecedented employment boom — thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Widespread acceptance of remote working and an overall labor shortage have opened up historic opportunities for some of the nation’s most skilled and underutilized workers.


The World-Changing Race to Develop the Quantum Computer

A full-scale quantum computer could crack encryption protocols, open new frontiers in math, address climate change & food scarcity, and reconcile Einstein’s theories w particle physics, enabling discoveries about space and time.

Will the metaverse be your new workplace?

When we look back in 50 years’ time, it is likely that the 2D internet we now all use will seem laughably archaic. Not only will the internet likely no longer exist behind a screen, but it is probable that we will interact with it differently. We’ll manipulate objects using augmented reality (AR), explore virtual-reality (VR) worlds, and meld the real and the digital in ways we can currently not imagine. And what will that mean for the world of work? #Metaverse

This Week In XR

MT @CharlieFink @ForbesTech @ThisWeekInXR Insights (or something) from Davos. #Metaverse #AI #XR

90% of online content could be ‘generated by AI by 2025,’ expert says

The question is: Will it be junk? #AI

Who Owns the Generative AI Platform?

MT @neilperkin @a16z had a great piece this week looking at the market dynamics and models of generative #AI and mapping out a likely shape of how it will fit into the tech stack. #AI

AI Tools

MT @neilperkin Getinference collects together a whole bunch of AI tools (categorized and ranked by upvotes or recency) for use in marketing and creative. #AI


TikTok’s Secret ‘Heating’ Button Can Make Anyone Go Viral

MT @ebakerwhite Employees at TikTok and ByteDance have access to a secret back-end button that can make any video go viral, immediately pushing it to more viewers. The practice, which TikTok has never disclosed, is known internally as “heating.”

Getty Images is suing the creators of AI art tool Stable Diffusion for scraping its content

RT @fakebaldur “Getty Images is suing the creators of AI art tool Stable Diffusion for scraping its content” There are going to be more of these. A lot more. Then another wave once the EU normalises its copyright regulations

OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic

HT @justinhendrix In order to train the AI, they needed to label examples of violence, hate speech, and sexual abuse, To get those labels, OpenAI sent tens of thousands of snippets of text to an outsourcing firm in Kenya. Much of that text appeared to have been pulled from the darkest recesses of the internet. Some of it described situations in graphic detail like child sexual abuse, bestiality, murder, suicide, torture, self harm, and incest. These invisible workers remain on the margins even as their work contributes to billion-dollar industries.

SBF, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and the Spectacular Hangover After the Art World’s NFT Gold Rush

Auction houses and talent agencies thought the Web3 works were a fast track to billions. If it weren’t for a global crypto meltdown, they might have pulled it off.

Buy With Prime Expands Nationally

HT @BISG Buy With Prime program lets retailers offer shoppers Prime experience: Seamless checkout, same/next-day free shipping & simplified returns. Amazon charges retailers a service fee, payment processing fee & fulfillment/storage fees per unit.

Walmart, Salesforce Team Up on Fulfillment Services

In light of Amazon’s announcement about Buy with Prime above, this seems interesting: HT @BISG Walmart, Salesforce Team Up to provide Walmart’s delivery and fulfillment services to a wider swath of merchants in Salesforce’s app store.

Amazon Axes ‘Smile’ Charity Program, Citing Limited Impact

Amazon introduced AmazonSmile a decade ago, as it sought to expand its then-middling Prime membership business, enabling customers to designate 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases to the charity of their choice. There was no additional cost for customers to donate. The open policy inspired more than a million charities to sign up.

Meta to stop letting advertisers target teens by gender

This means advertisers can market to teens based only on age and location. #Meta

Instagram pulls back from social shopping?

RT @benedictevans Instagram will remove the ‘Shopping’ tab from the app (and move the ‘create’ button back down there). IG is pulled in different directions: how much should it be about sharing with your friends, and how much about your interests (and hence be a place to drive discovery and engagement with stuff you might like — and better ad targeting data?). And as it tries to hold share of time and engagement against TikTok, how much is that the same graph with a new content primitive (as stories were) and how much is it a new graph of content from different people (the point of the TikTok recommendation model)?

Discord acquires Gas, the popular app for teens to compliment each other

Gas has quickly become popular among high schoolers, with more than 1 million daily active users.

Publishing & Media

Bookwire partners with Google to offer customers auto-narrated audiobook technology

Using Google’s technology, Bookwire customers will be able to create auto-narrated audiobooks within the framework of Bookwire’s WAY audiobook service, which will “complete production and quality assurance of these audiobooks.” #audiobooks

DBW Redux

A super round up of Digital Book World from @publishingtrend’s @LWShanley Digital Book World is back in NYC after an absence of six years. Since Bradley Metrock bought the program and moved it to Nashville, it has evolved into a great place for publishers and vendors to see how technology is changing — and will change — the industry. From AI-narrated audiobooks to the melding of podcasts with audiobooks and the rise of ChatGPT and blockchain, the conference attempted to cover it all. While many of the presentations were thinly disguised pitches, the quality of most of the products was high enough to warrant a listen.

Digital Book World Focuses on Data and Accessibility

“There are more people in the world who are blind than have red hair. There are more people who are dyslexic than are left handed. So this is a huge group of of people who cannot read your books unless they are accessible,” per Benetech’s Michael Johnson, VP of Content. That it may be as much as 20% of the population. “When we talk about DEI [diversity, equity, inclusion] efforts, you cannot leave out the letter, A, for accessible.”

Digital Book World: Startups Are Entering ‘A New Age’

A presentation at DBW discussed Thad McIlroy’s new report on startups within the publishing industry, along with the trends re-shaping the publishing world. The report, which was first produced in 2017, was updated last fall and now covers more than 1,366 companies. including 558 companies focused on publishing tools and a further 778 providing services, plus including companies working in emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

Laurie McLean’s Crystal Ball: Publishing Predictions for 2023

How Barnes & Noble transformed its brand from corporate bully to lovable neighborhood bookstore

After years of store closings, Barnes & Noble is making a comeback with 30 new stores planned for 2023 — and a new image.

12 Book Marketing Mistakes to Banish in 2023

For many authors, selling a book is even harder than writing it. But whether you’re self- or traditionally published, learning to market and sell your work is a key factor in author success. In this post, Reedsy’s co-founder Ricardo Fayet shares the 12 most common marketing mistakes he’s observed in the past few years.

Faber unveils paperback of Kate Bush’s lyrics with invisible ink messages inside some copies

This seems innovative: RT @thebookseller In April @FaberBooks will publish How to be Invisible, a paperback of Kate Bush’s selected lyrics, with a small number of copies containing a message written by the musician in invisible ink.

Bar Chart Race of 2022 “Top Titles” list from Public Libraries

RT @LibraryThing 2022 Top Titles in US Public Libraries. Assembled from thousands of libraries by Syndetics Unbound from @LibraryThing and @ProQuest.

A Powerful Prescription: Pediatrician Uses Books to Connect with Kids

Last year, I saw a teen patient for a well visit. Her mom had died a few years earlier. Since then, the teen had felt lost and alone. She told me school was not great. She could not focus. She said she hated her weight, hated her body. She is bisexual and did not know how to tell her dad. She was tired of COVID, tired of bad news every time she looked at her phone. She told me she was tired of everything.

So, I wrote a prescription

• Starfish by Lisa Fipps, for her body image.

• Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca, for losing her mom.

• Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff, for the journey of discovering who you are.

• Donuts and Other Proclamations of Love by Jared Reck, for vulnerability.

• I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy ­Nelson, for loss and finding your voice.

• Flamer by Mike Curato, for ­choosing yourself.

• We Dream of Space by Erin ­Entrada Kelly, for finding strength in bad news.

Of course, I did all the “doctor stuff,” too. But in talking about books, I listened to her and acknowledged where she was, that her struggle was real, that it hurt and was not fair, that she was not alone. She agreed to see a therapist and looked a little less burdened when she left. A few months later, she sent me a message: Therapy is good. The books are better. I’m going to keep trying. Thank goodness all of the titles were available to her.

Meet the historian who is driving a bus full of banned queer books across the U.S.

With LGBTQ2S+ books under attack in the U.S. at record rates, author Eric Cervini and his boyfriend, actor Adam Powell, knew they wanted to take action. The pair are working on buying, then building, what they call the Rainbow Book Bus, a bookmobile carrying queer and trans books to small towns. After reaching their crowdfunding goal of USD $100,000 at the end of December, Cervini and Powell are now able to pay a specialized company to retrofit a school bus to become a beacon of queer literature.

Book Censorship News

Right-wing politicians got the new legislative year off to an impressive start with several new bills across the country directly targeting books, reading, and intellectual freedom. Of course, we know that these bills aren’t about the books at all, but instead are another avenue to chip away at the rights of marginalized populations: people of color, queer people, and young people.

If you live in these jurisdictions, it is crucial to begin calling and writing your representatives. If you live in these areas and are part of an anti-censorship group, it is time to begin mounting an information campaign and engaging your community to respond. This is tiring and exhausting work, but you cannot give up now. Consider creative ways to have your voice heard — at a library in British Columbia facing pushback for a drag story time, supporters threw a fabulous party in support of the event, making their position and beliefs heard loud, clear, and in a downright fun way (as, of course, is the entire point of these events).

North Dakota weighs ban on ‘sexually explicit’ library books

The bill, which would prohibit books depicting sexual or gender identity, proposes up to 30 days imprisonment for librarians who refuse to remove banned titles.

Resources & Opportunities

Editor on Call: Tips from A New York Times Editor to Get You Published

HT @EstelleSErasmus If you write about health and science, whether your articles are evergreen or news-based, The New York Times is an ideal forum for your work. In this conversation with Julia Calderone, Senior Editor, Well, “All About the Pitch” columnist for Writer’s Digest, and NYU adjunct instructor, Estelle Erasmus will discuss what it takes to pitch, submit and get published there. Free, online 3/2 at 12:30–1:30pm ET.

PENAmerica Emerging Voices Fellowship

RT @PENamerica The deadline for the 2023 years emerging fellowship is less than two weeks away. Don’t wait, submit your application today! For more info & to apply, visit:

Moth Teacher Institute

RT @TheMoth Empower your students, your community, & yourself through immersive storytelling lessons through our 12th annual Moth Teacher Institute (MTI) this Spring from March 14th-April 1st, 2023. Applications are open until January 23rd

Media Changemakers: Real Actions You Can Take To Make A Difference

Do you have a New Year’s Resolution to find your purpose? Do you want to make a real difference for causes you believe in? How do you do that with a full-time job in media? Women’s Media Group is pleased to invite you to a Master Class with some powerful and purposeful media changemakers who will share their stories, vision, and how they made it happen. Learn from:

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Sr Mgr, Content Applications, Penguin Random House * Innovation * Technology * Publishing * Opinions expressed are my own

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Kathy Sandler

Sr Mgr, Content Applications, Penguin Random House * Innovation * Technology * Publishing * Opinions expressed are my own