Tag: All reading is reading

Well, I Didn’t Know That! #3

In today’s Well, I Didn’t Know That! post, I feature an article which introduced me to a book I have added to my TBR that I haven’t seen elsewhere, and frankly, would have had no idea it even existed!

As a blogger and part of an online community, I see a lot of books floating around in that circle. As we all read similar things, I often find that the same books come up time and again. That’s not a bad thing, because it’s books I am interested in for the most part. However, I wanted to branch out a little and decided to take a look at the bookish pages of some of the biggest news providers to see what they were sharing!

Naturally, some very different books came up.

For this post, the article in particular I feature is The Guardian’s list of five best science-fiction and fantasy books of 2022. If you are interested in other genres of book, they have articles sharing their top five for each of the big genres.

 

What’s different?

Immediately, this article had my attention because they listed one of my favourite reads of 2022 – Babel by R.F. Kuang. Clearly, the curator of this article has taste! Even though we have this particular book in common, the rest of the listings in this article are the books that I am not familiar with from my blogging circles.

Most of the books featured in this article are very science-fiction heavy as opposed to leaning towards fantasy; in that respect, Babel is the exception! I enjoyed reading each of the little reviews and synopses of what these books are about. For a listicle style post, it strikes the balance of detail whilst maintaining readability very well.

 

What caught my eye?

It is the first book on this list that caught my eye. It was winner of the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Book of the Year and is the first full-length book to be written in its minority language for over 50 years.

The book is written in Orcadian Scots, a dialect spoken in the Orkney Islands. Combine that with its science-fiction setting, and that it is written in verse, and you get a very unusual combination!

I have a good grasp of English, but other than that, I am not great with languages. At a push, I might be able to read a children’s book in German. Certainly, no more than that.

Having read a sample of Deep Wheel Orcadia, I like that it is written in a dialect of English that I’m not too familiar with. There are words that you can identify quite easily based on the spelling, or sometimes they are best interpreted phonetically. I am sure some of it will come with context as well. However, there is enough variation from English to make you think about what you’re reading. If you’re not overly interested in the language element, this book does have a parallel translation to English. You can’t get stuck reading this book because it does the hard work for you.

 

Summary

Whilst I have read books such as A Clockwork Orange in the past (and hats off to any other readers out there who also managed to get through this one!), Deep Wheel Orcadia is a completely different type of book. I wouldn’t have discovered it in the blogosphere I’m part of. 

It just goes to show why it pays to reach out and discover something new from time to time!

 

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Well, I Didn’t Know That! #2

Could AI become a one-stop-shop tool when you’re in need of legal defence?

That is the feature of today’s post as part of my new series, Well, I Didn’t Know That! and a recent article in New Scientist magazine (issue 3421, pg.10).

To stress, the scenario featured in this article is about a trial. Of the AI. Obviously there is also a legal trial – this one about a speeding ticket.

 

New Scientist – AI Will Advise a Defendant in Court

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic lately. You may have had a play with ChatGBT which has become popular recently. Or, you may have seen discussions around the inter-web about digital art, or artificial intelligence being used in ways in which it could replace human creations.

The idea of artificial intelligence being clever enough to do even more than it already does is a little bit frightening. Now, for the first time ever, artificial intelligence is being tested in a brand-new scenario – the courtroom. Normally, such technology is not permitted. You won’t find yourself defended by anyone other than a lawyer anytime soon. However, a company behind artificial intelligence has found somewhere in which a device supporting AI can be used… and is taking the opportunity to do so.

 

What’s happening?

The firm behind the artificial intelligence, DoNotPay, are trialling the use of its technology in defending against a speed ticket. The company has promised to pay any fines in the event that the AI does not succeed in its defence. In order to represent the defendant, a smart phone is being used to listen to proceedings and advise the defendant on how to respond via an ear piece.

As this case is not due to take place until next month, we won’t know how successful AI will be in this scenario. It was originally developed and trained to assist with legal issues by sticking to factual statements. In a courtroom scenario, the best course of action could be different. That is clearly why the company want to expose their artificial intelligence to this situation. It relies on data. Currently, it has no data of how to respond to this scenario. After this case, that will change.

 

What could it mean?

If we ever see artificial intelligence playing a significant role in legal issues, it is a long way off. In order to get this first trial, the company have had to search long and hard to find somewhere it would be permitted. They are able to implement the technology as a defence tool under a technicality that isn’t really in the spirit of the rules. If AI were to become mainstream, there would have to be significant changes in the law to permit it to be used.

The article in new scientist suggests that AI may instead be used to assist lawyers, rather than replace them. However, at this stage, who can say? Until we get an idea of how well it performs and if the attitude of society changes, we won’t know if it has any permanent role in the courtroom.

 

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Well, I Didn’t Know That! #1

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s first ever post of my new series, Well, I Didn’t Know That! For today’s post, I’m sharing information I learned from an article in Writing Magazine (October edition, pg. 5) that indicates how financial technology have future impact the publishing world.

If you want to find out about the series, you can check out the link to the Well, I Didn’t Know That! introduction post. I’ll also be keeping an index there of historical posts in the series, as well as update it with future topics. Of course, if you’d like to take part in Well, I Didn’t Know That! for yourself, I’d be thrilled. Please just link to my introduction page so I can check it out and readers can find out about the series.

Whilst the article of today’s feature focuses on textbooks sales (as they are more expensive than most books and frequently sold on after use by students), it is clear the whole publishing world will latch onto this idea if it works.

The article title is listed below if you wish to read it for yourself.

 

Textbook Publishers Plan Tech to Control Secondhand Market

If you are familiar with the financial market, you may have heard of technology called blockchain. It’s commonly associated with the likes of digital art or cryptocurrencies. I won’t go into any of the boring detail, because I’m not going to pretend I understand the ins and outs of it. I will, however, try to summarise simply so you get a feel for how the technology publishers wants to use works now.

Cryptocurrencies are unregulated investments, and the trading of these digital assets is done through blockchain. Blockchain, put simply, is a decentralised system that records transactions. In order to record these transactions, the digital assets being re-registered need to have a non-fungible token (NFT) – in basic terms, a unique identifier which certifies proof of ownership. This is the technology publishers want to harness.

 

Why?    

Publishers lose out on second hand sales and exchanges of digital assets. Whilst it is certainly not encouraged, there are currently no restrictions on sharing digital copies of books with others. That could well change if publishers can successfully harness this technology.

By embedding NFT’s – the unique identifiers – into ebooks and any other digital asset, it is possible to restrict access to just the individual recorded as the owner of the digital asset. With this change, publishers can prevent unauthorised access to these documents. They cannot be shared as is currently possible.

 

What do publishers gain?

These changes will inevitably have an impact on first-hand sales, as these digital assets can no longer be owned and accessed by more than one individual at a time. However, it appears from the article that they are primarily targeting second-hand sales too. How will they do it?

With the use of the unique identifier, digital assets are registered to a singular owner. If an individual wanted to transfer their ebook etc to another person, it would need to be re-registered at a decentralised location to enable the new owner to access it. The publisher benefits as they can impose fees to do so. By imposing these fees, they can set minimum re-sale values of their books and in taking a cut, gain a source of revenue that they are currently not tapping into at all.

 

What does it mean for us?

If the technology proves successful and publishers decide to outlay the costs necessary to implement the technology, it will inevitably mean paying more for second-hand assets. As digital books don’t degrade or have any wear-and-tear as physical ones do, it’s justifiable that the cost of such an asset should be a lot closer to retail value. And the trouble is, publishers will have the power to dictate that.

Arguably, this would take time and money to implement. And, for the majority of books, we’re not talking mega bucks. It is more exaggerated in the case of textbooks, because they are pricey to begin with.

I doubt we will be seeing this change coming into force anytime soon. However, I found this article interesting in that it shows how the publishing world flouts it’s stereotypical ‘traditional’ image by embracing new, developing technology.

 

 

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Well, I Didn’t Know That!

I have wanted to create a series on my blog for some time that encouraged me to read more non-fiction. The other defining feature I wanted for this post is to emphasise that all reading is reading.

Yes, I read a lot of books. But, that’s not an exclusive requirement. There is far more reading material out there – magazines, online articles and reference sites, periodicals etc. They are a great starting point for touching upon or discovering a new topic of interest. Most importantly, they are more accessible to read.

I’m all about encouraging reading – any kind of reading! Whilst I feature books heavily on my blog already, Well, I Didn’t Know That is a series that makes dedicated space for other mediums.

Of course, if you like the idea of this post and want to post your own spin on it, please do! The aim is to encourage reading in all ways – I’d only ask you link back to this introductory post so anybody else interested can take a look at how it works!

I’ll be starting the series in earnest on 18th January 2023. Today’s post is merely the introduction! If you want to look back at previous features, I’ll keep an index below as a reference. If you have read something interesting and you’d like me to feature it in a future post – get in touch with me and let me know!

 

Well, I Didn’t Know That!

 

Upcoming Posts

08/02/2023 –  Business book tops the bestsellers charts

 

Previous Posts

  1. How FinTech could give publishers more control over their digital assets than ever before
  2. Could AI replace lawyers in the courtroom?
  3. A unique book featured in The Guardian’s top five of 2022 

 

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