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While I focus on Technology, Innovation, and Publishing, because I have a platform, I also flag items that I think are important and try to include a bunch of resources & opportunities. This week, an extra lot of censorship content as it was Banned Books Week. I’d love to hear what you think of this newsletter.
HT @JaneMayerNYer @JessicaValenti Alliance Defending Freedom (the Christian Conservative group where Amy Coney Barrett & Josh Hawley trained a generation of legal warriors) has won fifteen Supreme Court cases. Now it wants religious exemptions to anti-discrimination laws — and is going after trans rights. The president of the most powerful conservative legal group in the country says banning birth control is at the top of his wishlist: “We are on a winning trajectory…It may be that the day will come when people say the birth-control pill was a mistake.”
HT @shannonrwatts Over the past year, over 500 schools in the US have been subjected to a coordinated campaign of fear that exploits the all-too-real American danger of school shootings.
NEW report confirms that crime prediction software can’t deliver on its claim to fame: predicting crime. The tech that tells police where to patrol was right less than 1% of the time.
RT @superwuster So depressing that the US healthcare system costs more than other countries, has yielded shorter lives, and is entirely resistant to meaningful change. Biggest collective policy fail of the last 40 years
A cheap malaria vaccine that can be produced on a massive scale has been recommended for use by the World Health Organization. The vaccine has been developed by the University of Oxford and is only the second malaria vaccine to be developed.
‘Einstein ring’ snapped by James Webb Space Telescope is most distant gravitationally lensed object ever seen
It’s 21 billion light-years away.
Physicists created Poisson Flow Generative Model, physics-inspired generative AI model using an electric field that creates images of same quality as those produced by diffusion-based approaches, 10–20 times faster
Newspaper, digital and magazine executives are lobbying members of Congress on protections for their work in the era of AI.
MT @datasociety The debate about who should regulate AI has been very top down — making the WGA’s new contract an especially big deal. “It shows that AI can, in fact, be regulated” — and by rules that are imposed from the bottom up.
Advances in artificial intelligence are making it easier to clone and generate voices. It has huge implications for voice actors.
The BBC says it blocked OpenAI and others from scraping its data, but plans to explore using generative AI, including for journalism research and production
Mathias Döpfner: “The boring stuff of our business — translation, technical production, fact-checking — we can delegate that to bots.”
ChatGPT-style AI can tackle the drudge work of responding to RFPs faster than humans. Sales teams at Google, Twilio, and others say productivity is spiking.
G/O Media’s Deadspin Bot is back up and running, cranking out more than 30 new articles since restarting production last month.
The Messenger is entering a multimillion-dollar partnership with AI firm Seekr to help journalists “eliminate bias in reporting.”
MT @benedictevans OpenAI is apparently now working on a device of some kind, supposedly designed by Jony Ive (Designer of the iPhone) and with $1bn of funding from Masayoshi Son (CEO of SoftBank)
Meta’s decision to create AI characters based on Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady and MrBeast is paying off — for the stars themselves.
Meta is rolling out generative AI tools that can create content like image backgrounds and variations of written text for all advertisers.
ICYMI They’re not going make you subconsciously crave McDonald’s, but they are pretty cool as optical illusions.
Regimes in China and Russia are rushing to repress what chatbots can say. It’s an early warning about a new frontier of online censorship.
Google, Meta, and others test their algorithms for bias using standardized skin tone scales. Sony says those tools ignore the yellow and red hues at work in human skin color.
A research team found it’s easy to evade current methods of watermarking — and even add fake watermarks to real images.
Untruths spouted by chatbots ended up on the web — and Microsoft’s Bing search engine served them up as facts. Generative AI could make search harder to trust.
MT @histoftech “Microsoft increased worldwide water consumption by a whopping 34% — up to almost 1.7 billion gallons annually — last year. That’s dwarfed by Google, which used 5.6 billion gallons last year, a 20% jump that’s also likely attributable to machine learning”
Checking out this AI chatbot’s new features? Here are some privacy tips to protect your prompts and assert some control over what information you give Bard.
From the astrology software of the 1970s to the Co-Star app, spirituality has proliferated online. Now, large language models can find overlooked ways to connect with a higher plane.
Location-enabled tech designed to make our lives easier is often exploited by domestic abusers. Refuge, a UK nonprofit, helps women to leave abusive relationships, secure their devices, and stay safe.
X appears to be rolling out a new mobile ad format that can’t be reported or blocked, lacks an ad label and user profile, and doesn’t disclose the advertiser
Publishing & Media
RT @JVA_writes All right, fuck it. I wasn’t going to do this on main but this just kicked me over the edge. I’ve spent the last year recording every english language fiction deal in Publisher’s Marketplace, googling over 4000 authors, and this is what the current book deal landscape looks like
- RT @query_queen339 Barnes and Noble dropped their “Best YA Books of 2023” list and every. single. author is white. Y’all. I feel like a broken record at this point because this happens every day
Spotify is entering deals with publishers to offer subscribers free audiobooks, as it looks to cut into Amazon’s chokehold on the market.
RT @emilyhughes reminder: if you have a horror or horror-ish book coming out in 2023–2024, please let me know about it here and I’ll add it to my big public masterlist of new horror! shares very appreciated.
HT @samatlounge ICYMI
HT @samatlounge Award winning children’s author Maisie Chan shares her tips for building professional relationships.
HT @samatlounge Cover design trends and rip-offs
The Athletic has canceled many local podcasts or left them dormant, telling writers they are free to relaunch them elsewhere and monetize them as they see fit
Elle UK is launching its first reader membership program, part of a broader initiative at Hearst to monetize its magazine titles.
Unlike Facebook and Google, LinkedIn is highly enthusiastic about the news business. “News is essential to us,” says editor Daniel Roth.
Gannett is entering a multi-year deal with Jackpocket, which will allow audience members to order lottery tickets from their phones.
RT @ALALibrary “Books, even bad ones, let you live another life for a few hundred pages. They let you walk in the souls of people you may never meet and connect you in ways you might not expect. And that frightens a lot of people.” Brian Lyman
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Succumbs to Dubai’s Soft Power Strategy
HT @BookRiot While Texas and Florida lead the charge in banning books, it’s not isolated to any one area: book bans have increased from coast to coast. Most of the books challenged are by BIPOC and/or LGBTQ authors.
As reported by Kelly Jensen over the past year: BookLooks is a content rating website with ties to Moms for Liberty and a tool used by the the right in a movement to ban books in public libraries.
MT @ALALibrary Some believe book bans lead to more book sales. Authors say the effect of those bans is devastating for their careers.
The point is not whether one can get a book that’s been prohibited in a school; it’s about whether someone’s ready access to ideas has been denied or diminished in a public institution and why. “It is not only the most blatant prohibitions on books that are of concern to those who believe in protecting the Freedom To Read, but also the full range of ways in which authorities may exert control over access to information.”
RT @FLFreedomRead We are beyond “culture war” when the Attorney General of a state is arguing in court that the government has complete control over all speech in the school house and can censor whatever it wants based on viewpoint. Don’t downplay what is happening here.
ICYMI MT @FReadomFighters When children can’t read a book about a crayon, there is something wrong. Shame on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
In an October 2 filing, the plaintiffs argued that staying a federal judge’s decision to enjoin HB 900 would “radically upend the status quo” and leave booksellers in a precarious position. But that is exactly where things stand.
RT @PENamerica Without notification, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has apparently implemented an “approved vendor” policy for its prisons, a type of censorship that can seriously limit the flow of books to incarcerated people.
One Utah school district spent $100,000 to deal with more than 200 challenges, almost all from one couple. And in Texas, documents show that more than 16 employees spent over 225 hours at a cost of $30,000 on a single book challenge at the Spring Branch ISD.
Indiana: Educators, Librarians Could Face Criminal Prosecution And a Level 6 Felony Over Controversial Books
MT @pbromberg “All of the complaints had been submitted by verified residents… but she noted that most had only recently obtained library cards.” Normal Americans get library cards to read books. Book banners get cards so they can restrict what books others read.
In Front Royal, VA, 53 local radical traditionalist Catholics filled out some 600 reconsideration requests to remove 139 LGBTQ+ books from the public library. And that was just the beginning.
Families concerned about temporary library closures at Escondido Union School District (CA) over ‘inappropriate’ content
MT @PENamerica Days after Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law banning book bans in California schools, libraries in the Escondido Union School District were closed temporarily because of ‘inappropriate’ content
The Books Unbanned initiative offers free digital access to banned books to teens and young adults across the country.
Three book buses — from MoveOn, PRH, and the ‘New Republic’ — are on the move this October, spreading awareness about the freedom to read and giving away copies of frequently challenged books. #teamPRH
AHA staff and Council members have written articles and made public appearances highlighting the challenges teachers and educators face from legislation restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts” and issues related to teaching history with integrity.
Young people are fighting for libraries — speaking at school board meetings to stop book bans, working within libraries, and organizing around libraries as community spaces
MT @voiceofwitness If you want to speak out but aren’t sure how to talk about book bans at school board meetings or public library meetings, here are some simple suggestions from PEN America.
Download a one-sheet to print and share
Resources & Opportunities
Do you need media training? Come join WMG to learn how to be media-ready from pro Paula Rizzo! 10/10 12–1pm ET, virtual. Free for WMG members, $15 non-members. All proceeds from this event support the Women’s Media Group Educational Foundation.
Come join us for a Literary Tea to Benefit WMG’s Educational Foundation! Sun., 10/22, 2 pm ET at The Madison Theatre at Molloy University, Rockville Centre, NY (a 45-minute train ride from Penn Station) $60 per person, includes a 3-course tea by boutique bakery and one of the authors’ books of your choice. Featuring a highly esteemed group of women authors with vastly diverse careers as writers, this is a not-to-be-missed event, so register today! A portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to WMG’s Educational Foundation, which directly supports our annual scholarships, fellowships, and members-only professional development opportunities.
Amanda Litman’s Run for Something Civics helps people run for school board to stop book banning — this looks like an amazing resource! In many states, the only requirements to run for school board are that you are a resident of the state, and over the age of 18. Right now, the median age of school board members is 59. Meanwhile, more than half of all Americans are millennials or younger. The extremists might be loud, but they are not representative of the American people. You can get involved with your local school board to stop book bans and protect kids’ freedom to read. We’ll help you.
#DVpit: An Annual Pitching Event. for un-agented, self-identifying historically marginalized authors & illustrators
HT @marcelalandres 10/11 on Discord
MT @PromptEngConf Oct 12th: All Generative AI enthusiasts meet online at Prompt Engineering Conference. 2 tracks (10 hours in total!) of the Prompt Engineering content: tech talks, Q&A sessions, and more! Program, schedule, how to join — on the website. And it’s all FREE! See you there!