Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #268

Kathy Sandler
17 min readOct 25, 2023

While I focus on Technology, Innovation, and Publishing, because I have a platform, I also flag items that I think are important, which you might have missed, and try to include a bunch of resources & opportunities. I’d love to hear what you think of this newsletter.

Important Items

PEN America’s Guide to Avoiding Disinformation Regarding the Ongoing Crisis in Israel and Gaza

PEN America’s Media Literacy Toolkit can help you identify misinformation and disinformation to prevent the spread of false and misleading information. Not sure how true a story is? Here are five quick tips to help you verify information before you share it.

Misinformation Is Soaring Online. Don’t Fall for It

This week, we talk about how fake, doctored, and false media is so easily spread, how the social platforms are dealing with it, and how generative AI is making things worse.

AMNH Human Remains Holdings

MT @artcrimeprof Are the remains of your ancestors among the more than 12,000 held in the American Museum of Natural History in New York? I’ve found some information about c. 10,500 individuals, by geographical and/or cultural origin, and put it in a public spreadsheet

7 former Florida college presidents speak out against restrictions on higher education

MT @PENAmerica 7 former Florida college presidents speak out against restrictions on higher education that erode academic freedom & limit students’ access to the information and ideas they need to become engaged citizens.


AI reads text from ancient Herculaneum scroll for the first time

First text inside carbonized scroll from ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, which’d been unreadable since volcanic eruption in 79 AD, decoded using AI algorithm.This could open up 100s of texts from the only intact library to survive Greco-Roman antiquity

DeepMind Wants to Use AI to Solve the Climate Crisis

WIRED spoke with DeepMind’s climate lead about techno-utopianism, ways AI can help fight climate change, and what’s currently standing in the way.

Why AI Is Medicine’s Biggest Moment Since Antibiotics

The dean of Stanford University’s medical school thinks artificial intelligence will transform the medicines you take, the care you get and the training of doctors

Tiny robots, giant steps: how nanotechnology could improve cancer and fertility treatment

An honest guide for innovators everywhere

Innovation is not about building consensus, it’s about changing things. Changing things is disruptive and hard to do. It displaces people and upsets the empires built around the status quo. If you’re truly innovating, expect some controversy. Key topics: knowing the problem, knowing the political environment, protecting creativity, people, and experimentation.


A.I. May Not Get a Chance to Kill Us if This Kills It First

There’s an existential threat to the technology working its way through the courts.

A ‘Godfather of AI’ Calls for an Organization to Defend Humanity

Yoshua Bengio’s pioneering research helped bring about ChatGPT & the current AI boom. Now he’s worried AI could harm civilization, and says the future needs a humanity defense organization

‘The potential to undermine democracy’: European publishing trade bodies call for action on generative AI

HT @publishingtrend Three organizations argue that more transparency is needed after research found AI models have been trained using pirated works by authors such as Zadie Smith and Stephen King

A Chatbot Encouraged Him to Kill the Queen. It’s Just the Beginning

Companies are designing AI to appear increasingly human. That can mislead users — or worse.

AI is causing panic for authors. Now the courts are involved

When novelist Douglas Preston first started messing around with ChatGPT, he gave the AI software a challenge: Could it write an original poem based on a character from some of his books? “What really surprised me was how much it knew about this character; way more than it possibly could have gleaned from the internet,” Preston said. “That was a very disturbing feeling, not unlike coming home and finding that someone’s been in your house and taken things.” This led Preston to sign on to a proposed class action lawsuit accusing OpenAI, the developer behind ChatGPT, of copyright infringement. (OpenAI recently pursued a valuation of $80 to $90 billion.) Preston is joined in the suit by a host of other big-name authors, including John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen, Jodi Picoult and George R.R. Martin.

Are AI Companies Ripping Off Writers? Canadian Authors Speak Out

“The future promised by AI is written with stolen words.” Hundreds of titles by Canadian authors, including Alice Munro, Austin Clarke, Leonard Cohen, and Miriam Toews, were listed in Books3, when searched . We reached out to some of them to ask how they felt about one or several of their books being included.

AI Company Anthropic Recently Secured up to $4 Billion in Investment from Amazon. Now it’s Being Sued for Copyright Infringement by Universal Music Group.

Universal Music Publishing Group, Concord Music Group, and ABKCO sue Anthropic, saying it violated copyrights by using existing song lyrics to train AI models

Unbundling AI

Today ChatGPT sometimes seems more like the original PCs than like Excel (or VisiCalc). It’s a general purpose technology, there’s a command line, and some stuff that’s theoretically magic, and a few things that are extremely useful to a few people, but we don’t yet have the richness of all the software that came on top — all of the embodied use cases. Right now, ChatGPT is very useful for writing code, brainstorming marketing ideas, producing rough drafts of text, and a few other things, but for a lot of other people it looks a bit like those PCs ads of the late 1970s that promised you could use it to organise recipes or balance your cheque book — it can do anything, but what? Via ⁦@benedictevans⁩

Springer Nature AI writing tool

HT @BISG Global research shows it takes non-native English speaking scientists 51% more time to write a paper,which creates an unequal divide in research,limiting the advancement of knowledge+impacting high quality research

American Federation of Teachers partners with AI identification platform, GPTZero

RT @briansolis The second-largest teacher’s union in the U.S. has partnered with a company that can detect when students use artificial intelligence to do their homework. 🔎

Humans Are More Likely to Slack Off When Working With Robots, Study Finds

The findings raise safety concerns for workplaces that engage in dangerous and repetitive tasks.

Fortnite creators will get paid for encouraging players to spend

HT @TheTiltNews It’s another move by Epic Games to keep creators creating content for them and encouraging them to promote players spending more on the platform.

Amazon launches drone delivery of prescription drugs

Some Amazon customers in Texas can now receive their medications via drone within one hour, the company said.

Accidental Spies: Amazon Ring Owners May Be Unknowingly Emailing Police

An investigation by The Markup found that Ring’s social platform funnels suspicions from residents in Whiter and wealthier areas of Los Angeles directly to police

Disneyland Unveils Test Droids Roaming The Theme Park — Will This End Well?

Disney Imagineering has issued videos that showcase the new technology that allows the free-roaming droids — called “droids-in-training” — to interact with guests. “The robots actually learn to imitate artistic motion — that’s the secret sauce to make them work so quickly. They can actually emote and learn to dance,” Moritz Bächer, associate lab director at Disney Research, said in one of the clips. “They can get really angry and the eyes turn red. They walk over uneven terrain. They can still balance. They’re really robust.”

TikTok scores sizable Disney deal including a content hub and publisher partnership

ByteDance Signs Up Disney for Hub on TikTok, creating a “first of its kind” dedicated destination within the video app where fans can watch videos and create their own

Utah sues TikTok, claiming app has harmful impact on children

EU turns up the heat on X over illegal content in wake of Israel-Hamas war

New X users in New Zealand and the Philippines will have to pay $1 a year to post or engage with posts in the app.

Why the Internet Isn’t Fun Anymore

The social-media Web as we knew it, a place where we consumed the posts of our fellow-humans and posted in return, appears to be over.

If You Post a Delicious Bagel Sandwich on the Internet, Do You Have to Say Where You Got It?

A TikTok hunt for a New York bagel started as a joke beef over “gatekeeping” — and ended as a story about how going viral doesn’t always have a happy ending.

Netflix is planning to launch retail destinations in 2025

Part shop, part restaurant, part immersive entertainment.

Inside FTX’s All-Night Race to Stop a $1 Billion Crypto Heist

The same chaotic day FTX declared bankruptcy, someone began stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from its coffers. A WIRED investigation reveals the company’s “very crazy night” trying to stop them.

Publishing & Media

Scholastic Offers Option to Exclude Diverse Books from Book Fairs

Scholastic has separated out many LGBTQ books and books about people of color into an optional add-on box. One librarian calls this policy a “bigot button.”

Outraged at Scholastic’s Option to Opt in — or Out — of Receiving Diverse Books, Librarians Seek Book Fair Alternatives

Amanda Jones has hosted Scholastic Book Fairs in her Louisiana school library for nine years. There will not be a 10th. “I was so disappointed in Scholastic this year and canceled my fair for next year,” says Jones, a Louisiana middle school librarian and 2021 School Librarian of the Year.

A New Report on Agenting

MT @elizabethscraig Literary agents: concerns about the business model’s viability, diversity, and burnout in a demanding job.

How Simon & Schuster’s Sale to KKR Could Affect the Company

HT @publishingtrend As an investment firm, KKR will probably make sure that Simon & Schuster is highly profitable. There may be some minuscule editorial and administrative changes here and there to make sure it posts big profit growth. And then, when it becomes profitable enough, KKR will likely sell the publisher to another investment firm, just as it did with RBMedia. Hence, neither KKR’s ownership of Simon & Schuster nor the shareholder benefits it wants to introduce is not set in stone. The publisher may have to find new owners again, possibly shaking it up all over anew.

The sale is likely to result in a company restructuring in the short term, with the possibility of job losses and changes to the company’s operations. In the long run, the sale may result in a shift in the company’s focus because KKR may have different goals and strategies for the company than the previous owners. It may also result in an increase in the company’s debt, as KKR may purchase the company using debt financing, as it did with Toys “R” Us.

A Treatise on the State of Middle Grade and Young Adult Publishing Today

HT @publishingtrend

22% of Americans have low literacy skills

Alarm across Europe as English-language export editions skewer domestic markets

European publishing professionals have voiced concern at the ’unpleasantly colonial’ prominence of English-language editions putting the squeeze on local-language titles across the continent.

Silicon Valley Ditches News, Shaking an Unstable Industry

News organizations are scrambling to adjust to the latest rift in the long-fractious relationship between publishers and tech platforms.

D.C. lawmakers to introduce new bill funding local news via vouchers

The bill, if passed, would mark the first time a local news voucher program like this would be implemented by a local government in the US

Britain’s Ladbible owner LBG acquires US women’s brand Betches for $24m

The price may rise as high as $54m if the company hits certain profitability targets by 2026.

Ava DuVernay Wants Every American 16-Year-Old To See Her New Film for Free

“Origin” is inspired by the best-selling nonfiction book by Isabel Wilkerson, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.” While “Caste” is a nonfiction read that ties together Wilkinson’s theory about a powerful caste system in the United States, similar to those of India and Nazi Germany, DuVernay’s film is a narrative film. DuVernay launched, a website where anyone can visit and donate $16 to gift a ticket and a digital learning companion to teens in the United States. #teamPRH

Marketing in the messy middle

New Google research: What we now know about ‘decoding’ consumer decision-making

Future of Strategy 2023: Foresight as activism — researching vs. making culture

The best way to visualize tomorrow is not to keep researching or studying it, but to be an active participant, making it alongside others, says Matt Klein, Head of Global Foresight, Reddit.

Which acronym best represents our larger social and business environment:

VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)?

BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible)?

RUPT (Rapid, Unpredictable, Paradoxical, Tangled)?

Or TUNA (Turbulent, Uncertain, Novel, Ambiguous)?

The Future of Strategy 2023: Marketing is in desperate need of a reality check

Marketers operate in an alternate reality, Marketingland, where they are far removed from the lives of the people they’re meant to understand and reach. The industry can do better, says Richard Huntington, CSO, Saatchi & Saatchi. He calls for The Marketing Reality Movement, a movement that turns the tide on aspirational marketing, one that better represents and serves the real needs of real people.

6 Things I’ve Learned Covering Book Bans

Via @veronikellymars Everything you say will be taken out of context and make you famous in right-wing social media.

Updated List: Every Known Florida School District Book Ban, July 2021 Through June 2023

According to the PEN America report, public school districts in Florida logged a whopping 1,406 book bans during the 2022–2023 school year, surpassing reigning censorship champ Texas by a wide margin.

Which banned books have been removed from Iowa schools? Our updated database lists them

A new law approved this year by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa’s Republican-controlled Legislature has already resulted in the removal of hundreds of books from school libraries throughout Iowa, and that number could reach the thousands by the start of the new calendar year. Senate File 496, signed into law by Reynolds in May, bans books with descriptions or depictions of sex acts from school libraries and prohibits instruction on gender and sexual identity until seventh grade, among other effects.

How the ‘sex act’ has become a potent weapon for book banners in Iowa

MT @ThePlumLineGS This is nuts: Hundreds of books have now been pulled from schools across Iowa, many due to a new law targeting depictions of “sex acts.” They include:


Brave New World



Critics of these laws have been vindicated. Free link:

These 450 Books Were Banned in Iowa

Schools across Iowa pulled at least 450 books — including the Holocaust memoirs Maus by Art Spiegelman and Night by Elie Wiesel, dozens of classics, and books written for young readers — from their shelves at the start of the school year.

These are the 68 books set to come off shelves at Iowa City-area schools in 2024

The Iowa City Community School District’s comprehensive “ban” list includes books like Stephen King’s “It,” Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale,” Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” and Steig Larsson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The list also includes Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay,” which stirred controversy in the district after bomb threats were made against Northwest Junior High in March.

Kentucky school district bans more than 100 books, citing anti-LGBTQ+ law

A series about a teen who rides dragons in a dystopian universe.

A graphic novel based on the diary of Anne Frank.

These are among the more than 100 books banned from libraries in Boyle County Schools.

After LGBTQ library fight, a Michigan town tries something new: compromise

MT @veronikellymars The people who cry about the nanny state find nannying a compromise. The library will paste descriptions of the books..on the books. Which already have descriptions.

Lafayette Louisiana library’s community reading program paused, puberty books shelved with adult books

Resources & Opportunities

The Business of Audiobooks Today and Tomorrow

Want to learn about the biz of audiobooks? Hear from this awesome panel of experts Michele Cobb (Executive Director, Audio Publishers Association), Ally Demeter (Associate Producer of Audiobooks at Macmillan), Alexandra (Ali) Hammond (Head of Merchandising at Chirp Audiobooks), Larissa Helena (Head of Content, Americas, at Yoto), and Jennifer A. Perry (Director of Audiobooks at Barnes & Noble). 10/25 5:30–6:30pm ET virtual. FREE for WMG members; $15 for non-members

How Gen Z is Changing the Workplace

Hear from Nicole Harrison (Head of Talent Acquisition at Hearst Magazines), Bucky Keady (Head of People and Culture for Editorialist), Rebecca Knight (Future of Work Journalist), Casey Lewis (Head of Content and Communications for the venture capital firm Seven Seven Six), and Chandra Turner (Recruiter for Talent Fairy). 11/2 12–1pm ET virtual. FREE for WMG members; $15 for non-members

An Insider’s View of the WGA Strike and How It (Probably) Affects You

As a member of the Writers Guild of America, WMG member Sarah Montana spent 148 days on strike and became a leader on the local WGA East council. In this members-only conversation, Sarah will discuss her perspective on the WGA’s motivation, tactics, final settlement, and how the resolutions could impact other creative sectors. She’ll also share how to support labor actions like this in the future. 11/7 12–1pm ET WMG Members Only, Free.

Freelance Opportunities Newsletter

MT @kaitarford Shamelessly promoting my Freelance Opportunities! newsletter that compiles freelance jobs for writers, designers, journalists, editors, developers, animators, social media managers, virtual assistants, videographers, photogs, and independent contractors.

16 Freelance Rate Databases for a More Transparent Look into Setting Freelance Rates

MT @kaitarford Wondering what to charge clients? I rounded up a few freelance rate databases, surveys, and resources to consult as a freelancer. Give it a read, and if you like it, please share.

15th Annual Langston Hughes Literary Arts Festival: Voices and Stories

FREE 10/28 12–5 Queens

The Future of News

With Peter Kafka & Sara Fischer 10/25 5:30pm at CUNY $5

WomenHeard Podcast on AI

MT @NYWICI Unlock the future of work with AI in the latest Women Heard Podcast! Cathy McPhillips talks about how AI makes marketing more accessible. Listen for her tips on integrating AI and her journey to Chief Growth Officer.

Publishers Without Borders: A New Way for Publishers to Meet

Publishers Without Borders’ (PWB) raison d’etre is to provide a platform where publishers around the world can meet and socialize, providing support and information on book fairs and trade events to international colleagues.

AdColor 11/9–11/11 in LA

Feminist Press Apprenticeship Program

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Kathy Sandler

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