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One Year Later…

Can it really have been over a year since I last posted on Late Age of Print? Evidently, yes, which is hard to believe, given how regular I was at posting during the first three or so years of this blog. It seems almost too glib to say this, but life has been almost unimaginably busy, especially over the last year.

I’m writing from my beautiful new surrounds in Boulder, Colorado. Much of what consumed my time over the last year was the reorganization—and eventual dissolution—of my previous department, Communication & Culture, at Indiana University. It was time for a change, and I’m delighted to have joined the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It’s a place teeming with energy and good feeling, not to mention brilliant faculty and students who are already challenging me in new ways.

I’m also thrilled to be a part of the newly-minted College of Media, Communication, and Information, the institutional umbrella under which Advertising & PR, Communication, Critical Media Practices, Information Science, Intermedia Arts, Writing, & Performance, Journalism, and Media Studies are all gathered. This seems to me precisely the way in which Communication and Media ought to be organized in and for the 21st century. We’re headed by Dean Lori Bergen.

One important last bit of news: I’ve managed to secure Open Access rights to just about all of my published journal articles and have made them freely available through my page on Academia.edu. (I’m also working on making them available through SSRN.) Download and enjoy, my friends.

I have at least one more announcement—not about me—that will be coming in the next week or so, so you can anticipate waiting less than a year between blog posts.

 

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I’ll Tumble for Ya

Because I know people inhabit multiple platforms online, I’m pleased to announce that I’m now on Tumblr.

Don’t worry—I’m not shutting down this blog.  But if it wasn’t obvious already, I’ve had difficulty  keeping up with The Late Age of Print over the last year or so, a result, mainly, of my academic workload.  Since I love blogging but have less time to deliver substantive content, I figured Tumblr would be the perfect place to engage in some of the work I do here, albeit in shorter form.  You can still expect to see extended meditations on book- and algorithmic culture on this blog, at least from time to time.  But if you’re looking for regular content, then my Tumblr’s the place for you.

I’m excited about Tumblr because, as I’m learning, it seems to be as much (if not more) about curation as my own commentary.  I like the idea of being a little less “bloggy,” as it were, and instead sharing a range of artifacts that say something about my disposition toward the world.  That’s largely how I’ve been approaching Twitter over the last few years, as it turns out, but sometimes I’ve felt too constrained by the 140 character limit.  I appreciate how Tumblr gives me an opportunity to say more, absent the compulsion to be overblown.

I should mention that my Tumblr is all about you, too.  Many of the stories I’ve shared on Twitter and elsewhere have been sent to me by friends/colleagues/acquaintances, and I’d like to keep the tradition alive as I move into Tumblr.  And of course, you can expect credit where credit is due. Always.

 

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Looks a Little Different Around Here

In case you haven’t noticed, The Late Age of Print blog is looking a bit different these days.  I changed my WordPress theme a week or two ago from the busier look you used to know to this—something cleaner and more stripped down.  Not only did I want to freshen up the blog, but I also wanted to make it more visually consistent with my professional website at Indiana University antabuse tablets.  The new theme is considerably more mobile friendly, too, which seems prudent given all the talk about the post-PC era.  I hope you like it.  Feedback is welcome, of course.

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WordPress

Lest there be any confusion, yes, indeed, you’re reading The Late Age of Print blog, still authored by me, Ted Striphas.  The last time you visited, the site was probably red, white, black, and gray.  Now it’s not.  I imagine you’re wondering what prompted the change.ir-leasing.ru

The short answer is: a hack.  The longer answer is: algorithmic culture.polvam.ru

At some point in the recent past, and unbeknownst to me, The Late Age of Print got hacked.  Since then I’ve been receiving sporadic reports from readers telling me that their safe browsing software was alerting them to a potential issue with the site.  Responsible digital citizen that I am, I ran numerous malware scans using multiple scanning services.  Only one out of twenty-three of those services ever returned a “suspicious” result, and so I figured, with those odds, that the one positive must be an anomaly.  It was the same service that the readers who’d contacted me also happened to be using.

Well, last week, Facebook implemented a new partnership with an internet security company called Websense.  The latter checks links shared on the social networking site for malware and the like.  A friend alerted me that an update I’d posted linking to Late Age came up as “abusive.”  That was enough; I knew something must be wrong.  I contacted my web hosting service and asked them to scan my site.  Sure enough, they found some malicious code hiding in the back-end.

Here’s the good news: as far as my host and I can tell, the code — which, rest assured, I’ve cleaned — had no effect on readers of Late Age or your computers.  (Having said that, it never hurts to run an anti-virus/malware scan.)  It was intended only for Google and other search engines, and its effects were visible only to them.  The screen capture, below, shows how Google was “seeing” Late Age before the cleanup.  Neither you nor I ever saw anything out of the ordinary around here.

Essentially the code grafted invisible links to specious online pharmacies onto the legitimate links appearing in many of my posts.  The point of the attack, when implemented widely enough, is to game the system of search.  The victim sites all look as if they’re pointing to whatever website the hacker is trying to promote. And with thousands of incoming links, that site is almost guaranteed to come out as a top result whenever someone runs a search query for popular pharma terms.

So, in case you were wondering, I haven’t given up writing and teaching for a career hocking drugs to combat male-pattern baldness and E.D.

This experience has been something of an object lesson for me in the seedier side of algorithmic culture.  I’ve been critical of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other such sites for the opacity of the systems by which they determine the relevance of products, services, knowledge, and associations.  Those criticisms remain, but now I’m beginning to see another layer of the problem.  The hack has shown me just how vulnerable those systems are to manipulation, and how, then, the frameworks of trust, reputation, and relevance that exist online are deeply — maybe even fundamentally — flawed.

In a more philosophical vein, the algorithms about which I’ve blogged over the last several weeks and months attempt to model “the real.”  They leverage crowd wisdom — information coming in the form of feedback — in an attempt to determine what the world thinks or how it feels about x.  The problem is, the digital real doesn’t exist “out there” waiting to be discovered; it is a work in progress, and much like The Matrix, there are those who understand far better than most how to twist, bend, and mold it to suit their own ends.  They’re out in front of the digital real, as it were, and their actions demonstrate how the results we see on Google, Amazon, Facebook, and elsewhere suffer from what Meaghan Morris has called, in another context, “reality lag.”  They’re not the real; they’re an afterimage.

The other, related issue here concerns the fact that, increasingly, we’re placing the job of determining the digital real in the hands of a small group of authorities.  The irony is that the internet has long been understood to be a decentralized network and lauded, then, for its capacity to endure even when parts of it get compromised.  What the hack of my site has underscored for me, however, is the extent to which the internet has become territorialized of late and thus subject to many of the same types of vulnerabilities it was once thought to have thwarted.  Algorithmic culture is the new mass culture.

Moving on, I’d rather not have spent a good chunk of my week cleaning up after another person’s mischief, but at least the attack gave me an excuse to do something I’d wanted to do for a while now: give Late Age a makeover.  For awhile I’ve been feeling as if the site looked dated, and so I’m happy to give it a fresher look.  I’m not yet used to it, admittedly, but of course feeling comfortable in new style of anything takes time.

The other major change I made was to optimize Late Age for viewing on mobile devices.  Now, if you’re visiting using your smart phone or tablet computer, you’ll see the same content but in significantly streamlined form.  I’m not one to believe that the PC is dead — at least, not yet — but for better or for worse it’s clear that mobile is very much at the center of the internet’s future.  In any case, if you’re using a mobile device and want to see the normal Late Age site, there’s a link at the bottom of the screen allowing you to switch back.

I’d be delighted to hear your feedback about the new Late Age of Print.  Drop me a line, and thanks to all of you who wrote in to let me know something was up with the old site.

 

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And…We’re Back!

It’s been awfully quiet around here for the past six weeks or so.  I’ve had a busy summer filled with travel, academic writing projects, and quality time with my young son.  Blogging, regretfully, ended up falling by the wayside.

I’m pleased to announce that The Late Age of Print is back after what amounted to an unannounced — and unintended — summer hiatus.  A LOT has gone in the realm of books and new media culture since the last time I wrote: Apple clamped down on third parties selling e-books through the iPad; Amazon’s ad-supported 3G Kindle debuted; Barnes & Noble continues to elbow into the e-book market with Nook; short-term e-book rentals are on the rise; J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore website went live, leaving some to wonder about the future of publishers and booksellers in an age when authors can sell e-editions of their work directly to consumers; and much, much more.

For now, though, I thought I’d leave you with a little something I happened upon during my summer vacation (I use the term loosely).  Here’s an image of the Borders bookstore at the Indianapolis Airport, which I snapped in early August — not long after the chain entered liquidation:

The store had been completely emptied out by the time I returned.  It was an almost eerie site — kind of like finding a turtle shell without a turtle inside antabuse tablets 500mg.  Had I not been in a hurry (my little guy was in tow), I would have snapped an “after” picture to accompany this “before” shot.  Needless to say, it’s been an exciting and depressing summer for books.

Then again, isn’t it always?  More to come…soon, I promise.

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A Little Break

Sorry for all the quiet around here, especially after such an exciting spring at The Late Age of Print blog.  I’ve been under the weather for the last week, and the fog that is/was my head kept me from writing anything intelligible.

Anyway, I’m on the mend and writing to let you know that I’m going to take a short break — probably for a couple of weeks.  I’m in the midst of composing the preface to the paperback edition of The Late Age of Print, but since I was ill I’ve fallen behind in my writing.  FYI, the paperback should be released sometime early next year, and the preface will elaborate on some issues I’ve been developing here over the last year.  Mostly it will focus on e-books  and the future of reading.

Apropos of the theme, I thought I’d leave you with this great Radio Shack ad from 1986, which I discovered yesterday on BoingBoing.

Talk about taking the idea of an e-book literally!  I love it — plus the nerdy little kid kinda reminds me of someone who was about the same age in 1986, wore glasses, and was a little too into computers…

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Reboot

Thanks, everyone, for your patience during my few-weeks hiatus from The Late Age of Print blog.  My partner and I are thrilled to have had a child in early January.  Ever since then life has felt like something of a time warp.  I should have anticipated needing to take a short break from blogging, but I guess the hubris of first-time-parenting got the better of me.  In any case we’re all beginning to settle into something of a routine — to whatever extent you can call the first month of anyone’s life “routine.”  As I write this, our little guy is chilling in a bassinet right next to me.

I’m not exactly sure what the immediate future holds for this blog, beyond the fact that I intend to keep it up, running, and active.  I suspect that I’ll be making shorter (and hopefully more frequent) posts, but we’ll see.  In any case, please be sure to keep coming back; more content will indeed follow shortly.

Until then, don’t forget that you can download a PDF of the complete text The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture from Consumerism to Control for free by clicking on the DOWNLOAD link at the top of the page.  Happy new year and enjoy.

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The Late Age of Print…Coming Soon

The Late Age of Print blog is currently under construction. You can expect to see changes in the site’s design and features happening over the next couple of weeks, so check back here from time to time. I’m planning a “soft opening” for sometime in early to mid-February, and the blog’s grand opening will coincide with the release of my book–hopefully in March.trevordiy.wordpress.com

Stay tuned for more….

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