“I’m more of an Idea Bot”

I continue to talk to people online and offline about machine learning and the current zeal for AI doing creative work and one of the writers, Chuck Wendig, who I linked to last month (and who, unsurprisingly, does not find AI-authored writing as a wave of the future to be surfed).

Image: “The Idea Man” by Terry Fan

One of his posts from last week drills down to one of the reasons I find the AI creativity craze so annoying: the fact that these algorithms are focused on ideas over process. If you’re a writer or other creator, you may find yourself nodding as you get deeper into the post. Almost every writer I know has some version of a person telling said writer that they have the best idea, but “just need someone to write it up.” And this person resolutely believes that simply having the idea is the equivalent of actually writing the script or the novel or the article or what-have-you. In fact, the idea alone might be better than all that objectionable actual writing nonsense, a skill they do not have, but which they find an inconsequential skill… that they desperately need you to exercise so their idea can spring to life.

Now those deluded people have an algorithm.

The whole piece is worth a read and is definitely written by a pesky human.

A Business Model to Optimize Crap

Hey, if you think that’s a startling headline, the original title of the article by Cory Doctorow in Wired is not-safe-for-work. But it does touch on something you may have suspected or outright observed about social media sites and their lifecycle of desperately needing content and eventually not being that useful, but obnoxiously necessary.

It may motivate you to think rather unsociable thoughts.

In any case, I found it interesting and in line with many of my recent posts that touch on technology and how we implement it.

Maybe You’re More of a Luddite than You Thought…

On Monday, I had another discussion with folks online about machine learning being employed for creative tasks and the inevitable “it’s inevitable” angle people who stand to benefit from that automation like to promote.

One of the things I brought up is that people can not want technology to be implemented in a certain way and not be anti-technology, which reminded me of the term “Luddite,” commonly used these days to describe someone who is against technology.

Richard Coniff over at Smithsonian Magazine dives into the actual history of Luddites, who Ludd was, and how they actually weren’t as anti-technology as the current usage implies.

Granger Collection, New York

Don’t fret if you’ve been using Luddite as a catch-all for curmudgeonly folks against anything more advanced than a slide rule. I suspect the same people happy to obfuscate the reality of the McDonald’s coffee lawsuit are happy there’s this confusion.

HarperCollins Strike Reaches Tentative Agreement

Hey, it’s not just future TV I’m interested in, I find all sorts of creative industries of interest.

In this case, one of the “big five” publishers, HarperCollins, recently reached a tentative agreement with its union. So right about now, you might be asking:

  • HarperCollins has a union?
  • That union is part of the United Auto Workers?
  • Wait, what? (miscellaneous)

Well, to learn more, you can check out:

Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It’ll be interesting to see what changes this has on the other publishers in the “Big Five.”

Alien Life, But Not As We Know It

Common refrains I hear from sci-fi fans are both “I want the aliens to be more alien” (often when referring to certain film or TV aliens) and “You have to check this out: the aliens were really alien” (often when referring to certain books). The latter sentiment makes sense, because when you start considering how evolution might have taken place on other words, the bilaterally symmetrical humanoids that dominate much of cinematic science fiction seem less likely. In fact, there might be a whole host of unstated assumptions about anatomy and body chemistry that are very Earth-centric.

These are some of the trains of thought astrobiologists are busily boarding, as detailed in an article by Sarah Scoles for Scientific American.

Credit: William Hand

This is the sort of thought experiment that I’ll always find exciting, because one day, we’ll find out just how right or wrong we are. In the meantime, I might try and find a copy of the entirely fictional, but enormously enjoyable Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials.

Writer Rates Fixed in Amber?

After contributing a horror short story to an anthology last Fall, I’ve been researching what the current markets are like and came across this piece by longtime writer (and longtime writer of the business of writing) Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Picture of a writer convincing themselves they’re being zen by eating the marshmallow now.

Now, referencing the Stanford Marshmallow Experiments might make this interesting alone, but the real reward is staying with the piece as she goes through plenty of historical numbers of what writers have been paid and, well, prices have been remarkably fixed since the Great Depression… meaning that writers during the Great Depression likely made more per word and per work, on average, than many a writer today (and by giving away less rights).

So, yeah, it’s from 2012, but from what I’ve read from current authors, it’s not like there’s been a big course correction in terms of payment or rights, so for those of you considering how to value your writing work, here you go.


I’m Afraid the Force is with this Mashup, Dave

Look, I wasn’t looking for this. You weren’t looking for this. But the Internet finds ways of creating things we weren’t looking for. So enjoy one of the classics of sci-fi (2001) cited occasionally by some for why they don’t like sci-fi mashed up with another one of the classics of sci-fi (Star Wars) cited continually by too many as something that “ahktshually, isn’t science fiction.”

The Streaming Boom is Gone

I’m interested in the future of TV in an industry-watcher kind of way and, like many of you, my wallet also has a keen interest in what happens next, because it’s very much involved. Peter Kafka and Rani Molla over at Recode (part of Vox) delve into where the industry is going. Two big takeaways? First, the huge spending sprees investing in new content are at an end. Second, everyone is expecting some consolidation of services, which has pros and cons.

Get ready for the Great Conjunction, Streaming Edition!

Incidentally, The Dark Crystal doesn’t appear to be streaming as part of any subscription service at this time, but it is available on demand.

A Behavioral Scientist on Time Management

Evidently, I last tagged a post “Time Management” back in 2017. I’m not sure how this reflects on my overall time management skills, but it’s certainly a choice.

Choice is all about Michelle Drouin’s brief article about choice in how we manage our time, and also some of the psychology around it.

If this seems too squishy for you, you can always check out Stephanie Vozza’s article on cutting doown your email inbox which, statistically, is piling up for most of you.


Dungeons, Dragons, & IP Lawyers (Yes, an OGL Post)

Given many of the folks I know, there was little chance that I wasn’t going to get bombarded by statements, screeds, and opinions about the possible changes to the Open Game License (OGL) the owner of Dungeons and Dragons currently offers and many people (including some of said folks) use.

Now, there should be news as soon as tomorrow, heck, something went up as I was writing this post, but if RPGs are your jam, why not start down the rabbit hole now?