Calling all linguaphiles

I was recently made aware of an international holiday at this blog.  It is the International Day of Awesomeness, which is celebrated today, world-wide.  it is a day devoted to something I do very well – being awesome.  Because of this, I feel the holiday should really be celebrated on my birthday instead of March 10, but Chuck Norris was born first, so I guess I lose.  In this one instance only.

If you are interested in more information, details can be found here.  The reason I wish to share the wonder of this day with you all goes beyond just celebrating awesomeness in this case.  There’s a need.  The need is in part to spread the awesomeness around a little – the main website contains a plea for translation of the main page.  I  figure we’ve got Leo for the Japanese, Shelly could do French, Corina’s got the Spanish (if she ever has time to read my blog again) and maybe some miscellaneous people would help me with the Chinese?  That’s a pretty good spread, at least to start.  Let’s take up the torch!

I would like to awesomely suggest that this whole ‘international’ thing could be parlayed into a map with photo and video and text comment, similar to ‘Twittervision’.  Also, if anyone would like to document or suggest feats of awesomeness for today, I’m all ears.  Or rather, all eyes, since this is a blog, and I’ve moved past the age of reading out loud.  We hope.

The stories we want

Looking online for sparks of coolness, I was pleased to discover this little article documenting some of the ways the bigwigs are now approaching storytelling.  Basically the article gives outlines of how a variety of disciplines are trying to make thier storytelling more vibrant with today’s community.  How can you make things more welcoming for content sharers and those who ‘remix’ content without getting your copyright tromped on?  What constitutes a “legal” remix, and what threatens the copyright with a variety of content mooches?

As a blogger, I understand the annoyance even cold, hard companies might have with content mooching.  I get annoyed when spammers try to steal entire posts and use them to boost ad revenues on their own sites.   I mean, I put this stuff out there just to think ‘out loud’ and give vent to things – what about people who actually have gone through the process of legally protecting their work?  How do they feel about content mooching?  Not grand, I’m sure.

But still, a part of being in the culture of the time has to do with putting your work up for comment by the public.  Where, after all, did spoofs come from?  And this kind of revisionist use of existing material ultimately gives the original work renewed vigor.  Would I have the same admiration for the shadow play of Errol Flynn if I’d never seen Robin Hood: Men in Tights?  Probably not.

In the end, imitation is supposedly the highest form of flattery.   And if television is already capitalizing revenues through websites and memorabilia, if films are making the majority of their money from products related to the film (but not from theater revenues only), there needs to be some big adaptations taking place.  My advice – limited releases.  Make certain screen shots or film clips available, specifically for editing.  Release more than the usual film trailers – give us games, online interviews, outtakes, anything that might spark related interest in the film.  I first found out about the Baudelaire orphans from an online game, before I’d even heard of the books and long before there was even rumor of a movie.  I could even deal with ad content on various websites, along with interest-building content.  Just give me more.  Give me options.  Above all, give me creativity.

Speaking of creativity, this website about the conference itself is great.  I recommend the Web Awards section.

Even More Bad Things about Water

So, though previous posts didn’t have as much to do with current and breaking news, it both amused and frightened me this morning to read this article of recent studies into the trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water.  Evidently the badness of water is on the rise, amusing me with the image of water-as-villain.  Also amusing me was the name of one of the men interviewed for the article: Benjamin Grumbles.

There are issues of legitimacy associated with the report, of course.  All the compilation of data was done by the Associated Press, with an angle to prove…something.  At least with the idea of supporting a story.  And what headline would break: Trace Amounts of Prescriptions in Water Found Harmless to Humans?  Still, I think the idea merits further review.  Could trace amounts of a wide variety of prescriptions be damaging to our long-term health?  Could these same trace amounts have a negative impact on wildlife, or come back to haunt us once they’ve completely penetrated our aquifers and surface water?  How long do these medicines remain in our system, and could they build up in higher organisms (i.e., do animals eating many plants with trace amounts build up a higher dose in their bodies, and what effect might this have?)  Also, if trace amounts are getting through our water purification system, are there ways to modify the system to eliminate these trace amounts?

Ultimately these are questions that need to be answered by a mostly impartial group of researchers.  Which brings us to other questions.  Who will research it?  What should be done?  And most important, who’s going to bankroll the whole thing?  Obviously not the pharmaceutical companies, and not the water treatment organizations (many of which refused to be tested for the article).  The government?  I would guess that ultimately, you and I will be paying, one way or another.

The point’s the thing (or, the end justifies the means)

 I am reading a fiction book I found in the bargain bin at my local bookstore – to protect the innocent, I will not mention its title here.  And there’s nothing wrong with being in the bargain bin – the classics are often there.  I recently picked up a hardcover Eco book there for a dollar.  It was The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, so arguably not one of his best works, but still.  And if I can get that for a dollar, anything I’m getting for $3.65 has some kind of worth.

It is more of an enjoyable quick read, but I still appreciate that type of fiction.  The thing that I don’t value about it is the way it portrays writers.  You see, it’s a frame story in places.  One of the characters is a writer who we see writing within the tale.  We even get to read some of her story.  The point of contention with me is that the writer of the frame story (who happens to be male) has the female writer in his work write the perfect story a chapter at a time with no revision.  None.

Now, the female writer inside the story is writing a children’s book, it’s true.  And while this does mean less  actual words to edit, and perhaps a different standard of writing, to believe this woman just writes and then sets aside her ‘perfect manuscript’ threatens my credulity.  Does the male author expect us to believe anyone can just slop it down for children’s fiction?  Did he, in writing the frame as well as the innards, do that children’s book section in one easy sitting?  I certainly hope not.

Perhaps I’m being to harsh.  Perhaps this particular work of fiction is driven to one specific message, and the details of realism occasionally slip aside.   Perhaps the superb rough-draft of this female writer is a firmer implication of the idea that she was ‘meant’ to write that story.  Perhaps it’s simply a case of the main point, the main end of the tale, overshadowing the smaller details.  However, at the end of the day, I would not consider Cesare Borgia in my friendship circle.  And I doubly don’t trust Machiavelli.  For that reason, I am hesitant to embrace their particular credo, even if skewed to fit a very different time and a very different set of circumstances.