Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #282

Kathy Sandler
14 min readFeb 5, 2024


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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, 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

Transgender People in Florida Face Having Their Driver’s Licenses Revoked

Transgender people in Florida could have their driver’s licenses revoked or face prosecution if they try to change their gender markers.

Florida Dem Congresspeople To Biden: Block Trans License Ban With Real ID Act

MT @ErinInTheMorn In a huge move, EVERY member of the Florida Dem congressional delegation has signed a letter urging Biden to use the Real ID act against Florida’s trans drivers license ban. It is the first time a congressional delegation has made such an ask.

Oregon high court says 10 GOP state senators who staged long walkout can’t run for reelection

The Oregon Supreme Court said that 10 GOP state senators who staged a record-long walkout last year to stall bills on abortion, transgender health care and gun rights cannot run for reelection. The decision upholds the secretary of state’s decision to disqualify the senators from the ballot under a voter-approved measure aimed at stopping such boycotts. Measure 113, passed by voters in 2022, amended the state constitution to bar lawmakers from reelection if they have more than 10 unexcused absences. Last year’s boycott lasted six weeks — the longest in state history — and paralyzed the legislative session, stalling hundreds of bills.

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US

Wastewater tests show COVID infections surging, but pandemic fatigue limits precautions

Just wear a mask! It’s the least you can do to protect yourself and others!! Although it’s spotty and inconsistent in many places, wastewater testing is pointing to a new wave of COVID-19 infections, with as many as one-third of Americans expected to contract the disease by late February.

‘Silent’ organ damage found in more than half of long Covid patients, warns new study

A recent study has found that organ damage persists in long Covid patients, even in those initially not severely affected, raising serious concerns about the long-term health impacts of the virus.

Three fourths of adults have hidden infectious illness to work, travel, or socialize

MT @luckytran According to a new study, up to 75% of adults have concealed an infectious disease from others in order not to miss work, travel, or social events. Unacceptable behavior.


Google shows off Lumiere, a space-time diffusion model for realistic AI videos

Shopify’s “Magic” AI image editor can make any product pics look professional

The media editor has generative image fill & conversational search powered by AI. Users can change photo backgrounds with no Photoshop exp & AI will suggest backgrounds.


Creators of AI George Carlin special sued by late comedian’s estate

Copyright infringement lawsuit is against Dudesy, a media company that used GenAI for an hr-long comedy special still live on Dudesy podcast’s YouTube channel since 1/9 w 500K views

We Asked AI to Create the Joker. It Generated a Copyrighted Image

AI image generators are trained on other people’s artwork. Are the tools violating copyright in the process? A series of tests run with the technology suggests as much.

The Sleepy Copyright Office in the Middle of a High-Stakes Clash Over AI

The Copyright Office within the Library of Congress is reviewing how centuries-old laws should apply to artificial intelligence technology, with both content creators and tech giants arguing their cases.

Test Yourself: Which Faces Were Made by AI?

Tools powered by AI can create lifelike images of people who do not exist. See if you can identify which of these images are real people and which are AI-generated.

The New York Times is building a team to explore AI in the newsroom

MT @NiemanLab The NY Times is hiring engineers and editors for a new team that will experiment with generative AI, and journalists will still write, edit, and report the news.

Axel Springer Unveils AI Redesign at Politico

Politico has given its Europe, German and French websites a redesign to improve readability for generative AI large language models.

News Outlet Blames Photoshop AI for Making Australian Lawmaker’s Photo More Revealing

Interesting that they blamed Photoshop, but Adobe said not true. The news outlet gave her a cropped top! HT @nicole_dimella

‘There is no such thing as a real picture,’ says Samsung exec

Samsung weighs in on AI photo editing: “The industry needs to be responsible and it needs to be regulated.”

Taylor Swift is not the first victim of AI: How to decode the deepfake dilemma

“With a short video of yourself, you can today create a new video where the dialogue is driven by a script — it’s fun if you want to clone yourself, but the downside is that someone else can just as easily create a video of you spreading disinformation and potentially inflict reputational harm.”

World’s first AI child unveiled in Beijing

The AI entity was unveiled at an exhibition by the Beijing Institute for General AI. Called Tong Tong, or Little Girl, she can assign herself tasks + learn autonomously

How audio-jacking using gen AI can distort live audio transactions

And some tips on how to protect yourself from audio jacking attacks.

Sen. Brian Schatz is ready to regulate social media: “An algorithm doesn’t have a First Amendment right”

US Lawmakers Tell DOJ to Quit Blindly Funding ‘Predictive’ Police Tools

Members of Congress say DOJ is funding the use of AI tools that further discriminatory policing practices. They’re demanding higher standards for federal grants.

Which entertainment jobs are most likely to be disrupted by AI?

An estimated 62,000 entertainment jobs spanning film, TV, music and gaming will be disrupted by the rise of artificial intelligence.

Hottest Job in Corporate America? The Executive in Charge of AI

Many feared that AI would kill jobs. But hospitals, insurance companies and others are creating new roles to navigate and harness the disruptive technology.

Google Bard AI generates photos now, finally

It uses Google’s Imagen 2 text-to-image model. Bard, now powered by Google’s Gemini Pro LLM, was always going to have this feature, but was assumed it would be from Gemini Ultra, but that’s still in dev.

Google expands ‘conversational’ generative AI tools for advertisers powered by Gemini

Google is expanding use of its powerful new Gemini AI model to let more search advertisers create campaigns with a single URL.

Microsoft LASERs away LLM inaccuracies

Let’s hope GenAI hallucinations go away! Microsoft’s LASER method seems counterintuitive, but it makes models trained on large amounts of data smaller and more accurate

Microsoft Teams now supports 3D and VR meetings

Microsoft Mesh is now out of preview and ready to make Teams meetings a lot different.

Arc Search combines browser, search engine, and AI into something new and different

‘Browse for me’ is the new search engine, at least if The Browser Company is right about the future of the internet.

Google bringing Gen AI to Google Maps

Will try to help users find cool places. LLMs will “analyze Maps’ detailed info of >250M places + insights from >300M contributors to quickly make suggestions for where to go.

Yelp will use AI to tell you if that burger’s any good

Yelp’s new AI review summaries will highlight a location’s atmosphere, best dishes, prices, and more.

Amazon made an AI bot to talk you through buying more stuff on Amazon

Amazon is calling its shopping assistant Rufus, and it’s rolling out to select customers now.

Amazon Turns $2.7 Billion Loss in 2022 to a Profit of $30 Billion in 2023

The Tremendous Yet Troubled State of Gaming in 2024

A deep dive into the gaming industry by @ballmatthew

Publishing & Media

The Most Powerful Person in Publishing Doesn’t Like to Talk About Himself

Nihar Malaviya, Penguin Random House’s C.E.O., is a behind-the-scenes operator with a significant task: leading the company after a period of messy, and expensive, turbulence. #teamPRH

Want to Improve Your Amazon Ranking? Improve or Update All of Your Book Descriptions

By @Bookgal via @JaneFriedman

Spotify Pays ‘Tens of Millions’ to Audiobooks Publishers

HT @craicer via @Goodereader Spotify has paid audiobook publishers “tens of millions” since launching audiobooks in premium in the UK, Australia, and the US last year Although publishers broadly welcomed the move, some agents and authors expressed concern about the lack of detail released about the deals and how they may affect author income.

Byron Allen’s Latest Takeover Bid: Paramount for $14 Billion

Byron Allen makes a ~$30B offer, including debt and equity, to buy all of Paramount; sources. Allen plans to sell the Paramount film studio and keep Paramount+

Media Layoffs Top 3,000 in Past Year as Digital Ads Disappoint

More than 3,000 editors, reporters and journalism industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past year, according to estimates.

The Messenger is shutting down

MT @sarafischer 🚨 The Messenger is shutting down after running out of cash. It’s a spectacular flameout for a high-profile media startup that blew through $50 million in less than a year. CEO was scrambling to raise cash to keep it afloat but missed deadline

Awl Women’s Site Returns with AI Clickbait

In 2018, the indie women’s website the Hairpin stopped publishing. This year, the Hairpin has been Frankensteined back into existence.

A Publishing Giant’s Risky Fight Against Book Bans

HT @theRealSkipDye A fiery board meeting inspired Penguin Random House to actively challenge the removal of books from school libraries. #teamPRH

Books for All: Protect the Freedom to Read in Your Community

MT @IFRT_ALA In case you missed it, the New York Public Library and ALA released a “Books for All” digital toolkit. You can download flyers, book discussion guidelines and more resources for this anti-censorship campaign. They are providing opportunities for teens across the country to access frequently banned books, participate in events, and exercise the freedom to read.

Cast as Criminals, America’s Librarians Rally to Their Own Defense

As libraries become battlegrounds in the nation’s culture wars, their allies are fighting to preserve access to their collections and keep themselves out of jail, or worse.

Trauma, Book Bans, and Libraries: A Resource Guide for Library Workers, Library Supporters, and Beyond


American Intolerance and Book Bans

This is the fifth in a series of posts that will offer insights and calls to action based on the results of three recent surveys conducted by Book Riot and the EveryLibrary Institute. The surveys explored parental perceptions of public libraries, parental perceptions of librarians, and parental perceptions of school libraries. The first post in the series emphasized how data overwhelmingly supports libraries and library workers. The second looked at how what’s happening in school libraries is foreshadowing the future of public libraries. The third, on why library workers need to be their own advocates of the library, and the fourth, on the erosion of trust in professional library workers despite parental trust in those same professionals.

Pressed by Moms for Liberty, Florida school district adds clothing to illustrations in classic children’s books

Pippin submitted formal challenges to the Indian River County School District seeking the removal of In The Night Kitchen, which she calls “pornographic.” Pippin challenged other books with drawings of figures without clothes, including Unicorns Are The Worst, a book about a goblin complaining about how much people like unicorns.

Nassau County (FL) schools remove 34 books, including ‘The Bluest Eye’ and ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’

MT @FLFreedomRead 34 books, including ‘The Bluest Eye’ & ‘The Hate You Give’, were removed from Nassau Schools (FL)⁩ shelves. The removal comes after members of Citizens Defending Freedom (CDF), brought the books before the Board.

Minneapolis schools added more librarians. Now books are flying off the shelves

MT @EveryLibrary This district fulfilled its promise to staff a library media specialist at each school More than 1,500 titles have been checked out so far this school year That’s 4 times as many as last year! More librarians means more children reading.

Freedom to Read Act Reintroduced in New Jersey

MT @veronikellymars New Jersey senators have introduced one of the most comprehensive freedom to read acts in the country, including provisions to protect the safety of library workers and educators:

Bill proposes jail-time for Utah public school employees if in possession of banned books

Washington State Introduces, Advances School Anti-Book Ban Bill

Resources & Opportunities

WMG’s 50th Anniversary Gala Tickets Now on Sale!

WMG Members: Early bird pricing for @WMG_NYC’s 50th Anniversary Gala extended until 2/9! Non-members and guests welcome! Tickets on sale now for our fabulous celebration on 3/25 6pm at New-York Historical Society. See for info on tix & sponsorships!!

Pitch Calls

MT @job_writers Let’s start of Feb with some pitch calls 👊👊👊 Bustle, Business Insider, POPSUGAR, Urban History Assn., Vulture, and more. Rates from $150 — $500 💸 Full opps list with links below ⬇️⬇️

Literary Agents of Change Fellowship Program

MT @marcelalandres Highly recommended: Literary Agents of Change Fellowship Program matches college students from diverse backgrounds and historically underrepresented groups with a literary agency, deadline 3/1

The Donald Hall Prize for Poetry — University of Pittsburgh Press

MT @marcelalandres

American Society of Journalists and Authors Membership

MT @kaitarford The American Society of Journalists and Authors has extended its offer! Use promo code ASJA24FON by February 15, 2024, and ASJA will waive its application and initiation fees (a $75 discount).

The Ira A. Lipman Fellowship Supporting significant reporting regarding civil or human rights

MT @LipmanCenterCJS The Ira A. Lipman Fellowship is open to all full-time staff reporters or writers with a U.S. news agency, magazine or online outlet, or independent journalists working in the United States. The deadline is Feb. 15, 2024. Application guidelines:

Children’s Media Association Mentorship Program

HT @cnascenzi

National Book Foundation Teacher Fellowship

MT @nationalbook Applications for the 2024/25 National Book Foundation Teacher Fellowship are now open! The initiative supports and celebrates 6th-12th grade teachers using innovative methods to make reading for pleasure a part of their students’ school day experience.

Podcast series features ADCOLOR

Barnes & Noble Book Festival

MT @BNUnionSqNYC Don’t miss the Barnes & Noble Book Festival in March! Tickets will go on sale on Monday at 9AM. Please note: there are two separate ticketing pages, one for each day.



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Kathy Sandler

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