Technology * Innovation * Publishing Newsletter #283

Kathy Sandler
15 min readFeb 12, 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

Russia Is Boosting Calls for ‘Civil War’ Over Texas Border Crisis

An all-encompassing Russian disinformation campaign is using everything from bots to lifestyle influencers to powerful state-run media to sow division in the United States.

SARS-CoV-2 is sowing the seeds for a dementia epidemic

MT @outbreakupdates Analysis from over a million post-COVID cases reveals a chilling 58% spike in the risk of new onset dementia. A ticking time bomb set to detonate particularly at the 12-month mark post-infection. For those hit hardest by COVID-19, the risk of descending into dementia skyrockets nearly eighteen-fold. Women stand on the frontline of this emerging crisis, disproportionately bearing the brunt of this cognitive degradation.

New Evidence Suggests Long COVID Could Be a Brain Injury

“A new study has found that these symptoms may be the result of a viral-borne brain injury that may cause cognitive.. health issues that persist for years.” “The brain deficits found in #LongCovid patients were equivalent to 20 years of brain aging”

Up-to-date scientific information on COVID

Rampant COVID Poses New Challenges in the Fifth Year of the Pandemic

“The virus is rampant. We’re still in a pandemic. There’s a lot of complacency at the individual level, and more concerning to me is that at the government level…. stay home if you’re unwell but also seek medical care if you need to seek medical care. Get tested so that you can get the right treatment course. Wear masks when you’re in crowded places. If you’re going to be around older people, test yourself before you go; use a self-test — things such as that… Our concern is a variant that’s highly transmissible, that is more severe and that has significant immune escape, which [would mean that people would] really need to get revaccinated right away.”


Human Brain Cells on a Chip Can Recognize Speech And Do Simple Math

Indiana U Brainoware is a brain organid hybrid bio-computer composed of human brain cell tissue integrated w an electronic chip able to perform speech recognition & math-related tasks

Elon Musk’s Neuralink implants brain tech in human patient for the first time

ICYMI The company is developing a brain implant that aims to help patients with severe paralysis control external technologies using only neural signals. If the technology functions properly, patients with severe degenerative diseases like ALS could someday use the implant to communicate or access social media by moving cursors and typing with their minds.

NYU Tandon researchers fabricate the world’s first chip designed through conversations with an artificial-intelligence platform


Meet Your New Robot Co-Writer

HT @publishingtrend The rise of AI poses an insidious threat to fiction. Is there still time to save the novel from AI collaborators?

Microsoft in deal with Semafor to create news stories with aid of AI chatbot

Microsoft has begun work with media startup Semafor to use its artificial intelligence chatbot to help develop news stories

Small news publishers are making great strides with GenAI

HT ⁦@BoSacks ⁩Some use cases:

  • interview transcription,
  • story idea generation,
  • assisting with new products (such as coming up with a name for a growth and development newsletter),
  • AI-generated voice-over for social media video promos
  • Take content we’ve already produced and repurpose it for special projects.
  • Mark Talkington, editor-in-chief at The Palms Springs Post in CA, used GenAI to create a tool that could “cover” a Palm Springs Planning Commission meeting and generate a story on one of the agenda items.
  • AI as a research assistant: For a newsroom that covers the electricity market, use AI to read and interpret reports, analyse data sets, keep track of public correspondence, and alert the reporters whenever there is something going on.

OpenAI is adding new watermarks to DALL-E 3

OpenAI says watermarks in image metadata are not perfect, but they help build trust of digital information.

Apple releases ‘MGIE’, a revolutionary AI model for instruction-based image editing

Apple has released a new open-source AI model, called “MGIE,” that can edit images based on natural language instructions. MGIE, which stands for MLLM-Guided Image Editing, leverages multimodal large language models (MLLMs) to interpret user commands and perform pixel-level manipulations. The model can handle various editing aspects, such as Photoshop-style modification, global photo optimization, and local editing. For example, given the input “make the sky more blue”, MGIE can produce the instruction “increase the saturation of the sky region by 20%.”

How to keep your art out of AI generators

Some AI companies provide ways to opt images out of being used in training data, while tools like Glaze and Nightshade can interfere with AI models directly.

Meta says you better disclose your AI fakes or it might just pull them

The company is going to start watermarking AI photos across Instagram, Threads. and Facebook. And it’s going to punish people who upload realistic AI videos without disclosing it.

LinkedIn’s New AI Chatbot Wants to Help You Find Your Next Job

A chatbot interface on LinkedIn tries to speed up job searches by offering advice such as an assessment of how well a job opening matches a person’s skills.

Google’s Gemini Advanced

RT @ThadMcIlroy “For the first time since ChatGPT’s release, there is another company with an LLM that can compete with Open AI’s most advanced model.” Via @emollick

Here’s the Thing AI Just Can’t Do

Google says its powerful new chatbot Gemini can supercharge your creativity. But who is really providing the creative spark?

Roblox releases real-time AI chat translator

Players will be chatting with Spanish speakers without needing to learn Spanish.

Sony’s Crunchyroll Erasure Of Funimation Anime Libraries Is Inexcusable

MT @QueenOfRats A harsh reminder that when you “buy” a digital copy of something, you’re actually just buying the license to watch/read it. the real owner, the company you “bought” it from, can alter or remove it at any time.

Disney Ready for Big Bet on Apple Vision Pro

The Apple Vision Pro headset “is a platform that allows us to tell stories in a different way. This is just the start for these types of devices.

Amazon Adds Social Media Twist to Online Shopping With Consult-a-Friend and Inspire

HT @BISG To access the capability, users can select a product they’d like feedback on and tap the “Share” button. From there, they can toggle a “Ask for your friends’ votes” button. Friends will receive a message directing them to the Consult-a-Friend link on the Amazon Shopping app, where they can respond with a quick emoji reaction or share commentary. This builds on Amazon’s Inspire capability, an in-app shopping platform introduced earlier this year that provides more ways to discover new products and shop content created by influencers. Inspire allows users to share their favorite products with other shoppers with the new “Create” feature.

Amazon abandons $1.4 billion deal to buy Roomba maker iRobot

ICYMI iRobot CEO, who co-founded the company, is stepping down, and the company plans to lay off 350 people.

YouTube TV says it has more than 8 million subscribers

It’s poised to surpass the leading satellite providers soon, and could have more subscribers than cable rivals in the next few years

Over Three Decades, Tech Obliterated Media

HT ⁦@neilperkin Via @karaswisher

Techno-admin will ruin your life

It’s a pervasive phenomenon, whereby we customers are forced into infuriating, confusing, absurdly time-consuming and bleakly unrewarding tasks by a machine.

Digital Culture Scorecard

HT ⁦@neilperkin This scorecard is designed to help score your organisation and teams against the criteria that are most important to digital culture.

Publishing & Media

‘Reading is so sexy’: gen Z turns to physical books and libraries

Model Kaia Gerber launched a book club, Library Science. Gerber, the daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford, describes it as “a platform for sharing books, featuring new writers, hosting conversations with artists we admire — and continuing to build a community of people who are as excited about literature as I am.” “Books have always been the great love of my life,” she added. “Reading is so sexy.” Gerber isn’t alone. Last year in the UK 669m physical books were sold, the highest overall level ever recorded. Libraries are also reporting an uptick in gen Z users who favour their quiet over noisy coffee shops. In the UK in-person visits are up 71%.

Hachette Book Group Owner Restructuring

Hachette Book Group is owned by Hachette Livre, which is a subsidiary of Lagardère Group. Their owner Vivendi will be split into four groups, “each of which would be listed on the stock market.“ The fourth division, under the restructuring, will be a new company that groups “assets in publishing and distribution,” namely Lagardère and magazine-publisher Prisma Media.

15 Rules For Advertising Books

HT @samatlounge ⁩via @DavidGaughran

Everyone’s a sellout now

So you want to be an artist. Do you have to start a TikTok? This article says yes.

Author Platform Is Not a Requirement to Sell Your Novel or Children’s Book

@janefriedman says no.

Children’s Publishers on the Role of BookTok

BookTok has transformed publishing since it evolved during the beginning of the pandemic — but children’s publishers seem to agree that the magic can’t be artificially created.

Incorporating Accessibility into the Editorial Process

MT @LauraB7 The key to moving the needle on accessibility in book publishing is to get editorial staff and freelancers invested. A blog post thinking about how to incorporate accessibility considerations into the editorial process in book publishing.

Anime is huge — and here are the numbers to prove it

HT @FoSTorg For GenZ, anime is bigger than the NFL. 42% watch anime weekly. In the US, the audience of anime fans is more diverse than the national population. Fans of titles like Demon Slayer find the characters and stories more relatable.

‘We didn’t expect this phenomenon to last’: France’s comic-book tradition is hitting new heights

Librarian Hides Phones in Books to Help People Escape Domestic Violence

Molly Riportella, head of adult services librarian at Westwood (MA) Public Library, started BiblioUnderground in 2020 to get burner phones and other resources to people struggling to get out of abusive relationships.

Libraries: the best form of government

“Libraries are one institution where we use our resources to give each other what we need, use them to build something that simply helps all of us, because that’s the way it should be. That’s the way everything should be.”

Target removes Black History Month book from shelves for misidentifying Civil Rights leaders

“The Civil Rights Magnetic Learning Activity” mismatched the names and photos of Carter G. Woodson, a historian and author, sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, who was an author and educator.

‘Do not sell:’ Jacksonville (FL) woman denied purchase of Black History books at local Target store

And there were repurcussions — They used it as an excuse to ban all the Black History Month titles: “Each book as they were rung up, they came up ‘do not sell’,” said Orr. The books, which covered figures like Barack Obama, Langston Hughes, Jackie Robinson, and more, all came back with the same message. After being told she would be unable to purchase the books, Orr asked to speak with a manager. “Every single book on all these different Black history figures, every single book had a misprint? It didn’t make sense,” said Orr. When we went into the Target Orr had visited the day prior, the Black History display she’d found the books on was gone.

Penguin Classics celebrates James Baldwin’s 100th birthday with new books and Hay Festival partnership


Vox, Dotdash Magazine Editors Talk Change

Town cars are over, transparency has replaced aspiration and diversity finally exists. Top editors talk about leading a style magazine in 2024.

Forbes Up for Sale Again by Investment Firm

Several potential buyers have taken a look at Forbes, including Axel Springer, which held some early-stage talks but ultimately passed.

News companies reverse course on hard subscriptions

News companies are reversing course on hard subscriptions — once seen as a safer alternative to the volatile ad market — in favor of flexible paywalls, membership programs and more ads.

Is the media prepared for an extinction-level event?

Ads are scarce, search and social traffic is dying, and readers are burned out. The future will require fundamentally rethinking the press’s relationship to its audience.

Substack to Begin Helping Creators Sell Ads

Substack has started experimenting with a new pilot program that helps creators on its platform find advertisers and coordinate ad buys.

Missouri Secretary of State Candidate Promises to Burn Books

In a message posted on Twitter February 6, 2024, Valetina Gomez, a candidate running for Missouri’s Secretary of State, stands poised with a flamethrower in her hands. The text introducing the video explains precisely what viewers will witness were she to be elected: “I will BURN all books that are grooming, indoctrinating, and sexualizing our children. MAGA. America First.”

Philly Mayor requires all library social media posts and fliers be reviewed by their office before posting

MT @dhm The Philadelphia Mayor’s office told all 54 library branches they were no longer able to post on social media or put up fliers without their office reviewing them first. The reason for this new policy, the office told the Inquirer last week, is that a false rumor reached the mayor’s office. An important detail to add is: It had not been posted to social media by any city agency.

A Bill in Virginia Would Ban Book Bans by School Boards

Resources & Opportunities

Join WMG’s 50th Anniversary Gala!

Wait until you see the list of ah-mazing @WMG_NYC 50th Anniversary Gala Award Honorees — they will be announced soon. Stay tuned to for more info., and get your tix quick!! Gala at New-York Historical Society 3/25 6–9pm. Non-members and guests welcome!

Muppets in Moscow

RT @WMG_NYC Join us for a captivating conversation with filmmaker Natasha Lance Rogoff & Sesame Street historian Betsy Loredo on Feb 21, 6–7 PM ET. Hear the unexpected challenges behind the creation and production of Muppets in Moscow! Free for WMG members; $15 for non-members. REGISTER.

Ask an Agent Anything

Are you interested in learning more from literary agents in cookbooks, fiction, and YA? Sign up for @WMG_NYC’s virtual program 2/27 6–7:30pm ET. FREE for members, $15 for non-members.

Journalism Job Openings: The February List

More than 200 job listings from @RebeccaAguilar

Women writers from underrepresented groups

Check out this amazing opportunity: Storehouse in a Box and Penguin Random House wants to help amplify your story. Hear speakers from #teamPRH and friends, and submit your manuscript

James Patterson Announces a New Bookstore Bonus Program

In honor of his new book, ‘The Secret Lives of Booksellers and Librarians,’ up to 500 booksellers from ABA member stores across the country get $500 bonuses for a total donation of up to $250K. Nominate today!

National Book Foundation Announces a New Funding Opportunity for Literary Arts Nonprofits

Via @nationalbook

New Funding Opportunity for Nonprofit Literary Publishers

Via @CLMPorg

Shakespeare & Co. Opening New UWS Location

Shakespeare & Co. is opening at 2736 Broadway at West 105th Street. This will be the store’s third NYC location and second Upper West Side spot. (No cafe or espresso book machine.)

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Kathy Sandler

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