December 16, 2010

Tangentially related to editing . . .

The New York Times’ public editor makes a case for the value of human attention to online content: “The system of commenting at The Times owes much of its success to the human beings who actually moderate comments — read them, filter them and decide which ones to publish. This filtering process yields, in many cases, substantive commentary by a readership that feels empowered to participate online”

About The Times ’ reliance on human moderators (in other words, editors):
“The goal was to create quality, and it worked.”

Now The Times “needs to supplement its comment moderation staff to meet the demand.”

Meanwhile, a newspaper article asks, “Can digital readers and books coexist?” and quotes from many bookworms on the pros and cons of e-books vs book-books. 

Yes, book-books. Does that make us book-bookworms?

For those of us who are book-bookworms, a gift: Lisa Gold’s links to websites with photos of the most beautiful book-bookstores and print libraries in the world. Thank you, Lisa.


  1. Great links, Kyra. There are so many ways to think about e-books and my views are all over the map and always shifting. As a writer I want my books to be available in whatever format readers want them. As a reader I'm sticking with new books, used books, and library books as long as I can. When did books get classified as "too heavy," by the way?

    One thing that often crosses my mind in the e-book vs. book-book debate is the environmental cost of the electronic reading devices (the life-cycle assessment, which includes health issues connected with production). The NYT has a fascinating article on what goes into producing a book-book and an e-reader.

    It was eye-opening to me to think about how much stuff (some toxic) goes into an e-reader. My sense is that with the proliferation of e-readers and new models coming constantly to replace the old ones, that we're just adding a new item to the e-junkpile. In contrast books tend to kick around for decades, not only as reading material but as decor in photo shoots and re-purposed art objects.

    Raz Godelnik of Eco-Libris, committed to greening up the book industry, has this editorial in Independent Book Publishers Association's August 2010 newsletter, He makes the sobering point that Amazon does not seem to be willing to release information about the material used in making the Kindle. Some companies, Apple for instance, appear more transparent. So it seems to me that in making choices about how to read as well as what to read, the very least we can do is learn more about these e-readers and their possible contribution to toxic waste.


  2. I'd like to post a comment on the first part of Kyra's post--the part about moderated comments. I belong to several e-mail listservs, and by far the one I like best is moderated. People send in comments and the moderator sorts them by topic and sends out a mailing with some continuity. She also corresponds with commenters if she thinks they've expressed themselves in inappropriate ways.

    The result of the moderator's work is that I receive a coherently-organized mailing that never stoops to flaming or ridicule.

    On the other hand, when I look at online newspapers, I read a well written story or editorial, followed by a bunch of people sounding off with withering comments about the writer. I've stopped reading the comments as a result.

    Online publications have been hailed for their interactivity, but I'm afraid I prefer having a human being as moderator between the published writing and the reader comments. Open forums are the equivalent of meetings where one bully rambles on and prevents others from accomplishing anything.