Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sara Lloyd's manifesto and captcha finally gotcha

This looks pretty interesting (and it looks like the first installment of a multi-part manifesto). I particularly liked her way of putting things here:

The publishing model has evolved over history in a very slow, organic fashion. The sedate pace of change has suited publishers. Stated simply, the journey of a text from author to reader has been a linear one, with publishers traditionally fulfilling the intermediary roles of arbiter, filter, custodian, marketer and distributor. There has been some blurring at the edges, some tinkering with the process, but little radical change. In the literary world, agents have, at least partially, usurped the arbiter and filter roles. Retailers have become, to some extent, marketers and, occasionally, have even become publishers themselves. However, by and large, the stages in the process have been clearly delineated and the role of the publisher clearly defined. From a print perspective at least, publishers have offered one key, relatively unique set of abilities: to produce, store and distribute the product to the market. The rise and rise of the Internet has begun to disrupt this linear structure and to introduce the circularity of a network. More challengingly, perhaps, it has raised the distinct possibility of publisher disintermediation by more or less removing as an obstacle the one critical offering previously unique to publishers - distribution. (the complete article will appear in Library Trends)
Read the piece.

The reading/writing process is indeed, now, rather circular. One of its circularities is that when writing a blog one has to 'read' some 'machine unreadable' text in order to prove that we are not machines, but truly human. The captchas on Blogger are getting really tricky.

I am sure that the captchas are more iffy than they were a month ago. Does this mean that computers are getting better at pattern recognition and the randomised but possibly still human-readable images need to be even more convoluted? Or is it that my brain is getting fuzzier and my cerebellum more Turing-mechanical and senescent? Well you can be the judge of the matter. But if this blog suddenly stops with no explanation, and there is a prolonged silence for a matter of weeks, there is no need to send out search parties, no point in sending me belated fan-mail, you can assume that the captchas have ratcheted up to another level of difficulty and I have been completely defeated, silenced, by their 'disrupted linear structure' (to use Sara Lloyd's apposite phrase).

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