4/28/12

Be seeing you


Blogger has done a silly thing. Blogs that were once "blogspot.com" now direct to one of 15 local URLs depending on the country in which the user is logged on. The complete set of URLs is
India [blogspot.in], Australia [blogspot.com.au], UK [blogspot.co.uk], Japan [blogspot.jp], New Zealand [blogspot.co.nz], Canada [blogspot.ca], Germany [blogspot.de], Italy [blogspot.it], France [blogspot.fr], Sweden [blogspot.se], Spain [blogspot.com.es], Portugal [blogspot.pt], Brazil [blogspot.com.br], Argentina [blogspot.com.ar], Mexico [blogspot.mx]
So although this blog is hosted in the US as ".com" it will appear as ".com.au" if you're viewing it in Australia and ".fr" if you're viewing it in France, etc. But why? This is difficult to explain without shouting but Amit Argawal manages to do so:
"So why is Google switching to country-specific blogspot.com URLs? The answer is simple – this gives them the ability to censor (or remove) content hosted on Blogger country-wise.
By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.
"For instance, if the Indian government (or court) orders Google India to remove offensive content from a blog hosted at abc.blogspot.com, Google can simply block those pages in India while they’ll continue to be available in other parts of the world.
The hack for getting around the country specific URL redirect is to paste ten lines of Javascript into your Blogger template. Anil from San Fran has a How To on his blog. Tip: cut and paste the code from Anil's site into a plain text editor such as TextWrangler or Notepad to ensure that the quotes stay "dumb" (i.e. straight not curly) before pasting them into your Blogger template.

(Pic: The Prisoner.)

4/20/12

Special characters




Tonight I went to an evening in celebration of Nobel Prize Laureate Tomas Tranströmer, with the poet himself in attendance. Tranströmer's poems were read in translation by Philip Fox and in the Swedish by Krister Henriksson (Wallander) and the musical performances included Simon Lepper on piano (Frank Bridge's 'At Dawn'), guitarist Nils Klöfver and soprano Hanna Husáhr. Joint was going off.

The poems in the programme which I marked with my thumbnail included 'Klangen' ('Ringing') and 'Romanska Bågar' ('Romanesque Arches'). Another one that struck me was 'C-dur' ('C Major') which Tranströmer discussed in an interview with Tam Lin Neville and Linda Horvath:
Horvath: I was curious about the place of the ego in your poems. I mean I had to read quite a way before I came to an "I."

Tranströmer: Well, this is true of my first book. In the first part, I really was afraid of using "I." But the "I" comes a little more in the second book and it grew and it's one of the differences between earlier poems and later poems—the late ones are full of "I" 's. It doesn't necessarily mean that the earlier poems have less ego in them, just that I was shy to talk about myself. Often I used "he" in my "middle period" (laughs). '"When he came down to the street after the rendezvous, and the air was swirling with snow." ("C Major") The "he" was me of course. But now I don't hesitate to say "I." But that was an ambition I had, that you shouldn't be too visible as a person. But now I think it's more honest to use "I." After all you are writing from your own experience and writing to show that.
(Pic: Krister Henriksson by Jan Düsing)

4/13/12

Flashbacks


After writing on screen all day I had a night dreaming of texts: word by sentence, in sequence. I've experienced this before after working in an office or on a deadline when the images I'd been staring at would return in my dreams: text, pictures, page layouts, code; in detail and at length, strobing like some bad movie flashback. I suspect this has something to do with the way the brain remembers glowing images. And it gives me pause when considering ebooks and e-readers: do I really want another screen to stare at?

But then I stopped worrying about it. My early short stories are already available on Kindle and soon they will be joined by two new titles. The first will be a revised edition of my second novel Heaven; the second, the short story collection The Man Who Wasn't Feeling Himself featuring new cover art by Ian Dalziel and an appendix about the life and works of Jann Pilka. Publication dates TBC.

I've also been working on two scripts. (I know, I said I wouldn't.) The first is a sequel to the comic strip I did with Jonathan King, City Lights, and the second is based on one of my novels. I was struggling with dialogue for the adaptation before I remembered that I'd already written a whole lot of it for the book. So I used that. It still worked.

People ask why I'm not a better correspondent. It's because I find myself staring at a screen of one sort or another all day. After a while I have to look away.

4/5/12

Close up


If T.S.Eliot was alive today he would tweet about working in the bank. Would that make us like him more or less? I'm thinking less. Writers have news every four or five years; publishers a little more often. But not a lot. Up to the minute postings on those margin notes in Tender is the Night? I don't need them. You don't, either.

Nevertheless, here we are.

Part of it's age: I don't need news that often. My time scale has shifted. And a lot of my favourite authors are dead. But many people's favourites are dead: even today's best-sellers are unwell. Books are a thing of the past: not an object or an industry but because all art is a record -- something someone did that continues to entertain or be relevant or attract attention. You finish a work and it's over -- all that living text / hyperfiction / augmented reality bunk? That never happens. A novel is constantly dying. But books don't cling to life: they're meant to go out of fashion and fade and be reduced by history to maybe or maybe not be rediscovered. Books are meant to sit on a shelf. It's readers who are afraid of death. We're the ones who are scared.

Technology has made 24/7/365 visibility possible, but not necessary. Publishing says we need it: tweet this, post that, be exciting. It's a distraction.