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timrichards

@timrichards@aus.social

Travel writer living and working on Wurundjeri land in Melbourne, Australia. Rail travel expert, current books on sale include Heading South and Ultimate Train Journeys: World. See my published writing at iwriter.com.au.

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timrichards , to bookstodon group
@timrichards@aus.social avatar

A fun bit I just read in The Mating Season by PG Wodehouse...

@bookstodon

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  • timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    Off to Ballarat then Clunes by train, for the annual book festival. @NarrelleMHarris will be promoting her new novel 'The She-Wolf of Baker Street', which is out today. (See https://www.clandestinepress.net/products/she-wolf-of-baker-street)

    @bookstodon

    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    Free for all to read at my Patreon... I review an extraordinary new book that expands our knowledge of - and empathy with - the oceans and their inhabitants:

    Review: Deep Water, by James Bradley https://www.patreon.com/posts/100643060

    @bookstodon

    ajsadauskas , (edited ) to Technology
    @ajsadauskas@aus.social avatar

    In an age of LLMs, is it time to reconsider human-edited web directories?

    Back in the early-to-mid '90s, one of the main ways of finding anything on the web was to browse through a web directory.

    These directories generally had a list of categories on their front page. News/Sport/Entertainment/Arts/Technology/Fashion/etc.

    Each of those categories had subcategories, and sub-subcategories that you clicked through until you got to a list of websites. These lists were maintained by actual humans.

    Typically, these directories also had a limited web search that would crawl through the pages of websites listed in the directory.

    Lycos, Excite, and of course Yahoo all offered web directories of this sort.

    (EDIT: I initially also mentioned AltaVista. It did offer a web directory by the late '90s, but this was something it tacked on much later.)

    By the late '90s, the standard narrative goes, the web got too big to index websites manually.

    Google promised the world its algorithms would weed out the spam automatically.

    And for a time, it worked.

    But then SEO and SEM became a multi-billion-dollar industry. The spambots proliferated. Google itself began promoting its own content and advertisers above search results.

    And now with LLMs, the industrial-scale spamming of the web is likely to grow exponentially.

    My question is, if a lot of the web is turning to crap, do we even want to search the entire web anymore?

    Do we really want to search every single website on the web?

    Or just those that aren't filled with LLM-generated SEO spam?

    Or just those that don't feature 200 tracking scripts, and passive-aggressive privacy warnings, and paywalls, and popovers, and newsletters, and increasingly obnoxious banner ads, and dark patterns to prevent you cancelling your "free trial" subscription?

    At some point, does it become more desirable to go back to search engines that only crawl pages on human-curated lists of trustworthy, quality websites?

    And is it time to begin considering what a modern version of those early web directories might look like?

    @degoogle

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @ajsadauskas @degoogle I actually contributed to one! I was a writer at LookSmart for four years; we manually created categories and added websites to then, with short descriptive reviews. Though an algorithm listed more sites below our selections, we could force the top result, eg we'd make sure the most relevant website was the first result of a search on that topic. Old-skool now, but had better results in some ways.

    PMKeeling , to histodons group
    @PMKeeling@mastodon.me.uk avatar

    Before 1918, general elections in the UK were spread over multiple weeks, as each constituency's returning officer could choose their own nomination and polling days.

    Pleased to share a short piece by me on the long life (and quiet death) of the long

    Somewhat ironically, the article is only free to read for a week...

    @histodons

    https://www.historytoday.com/archive/history-matters/end-britains-weeks-long-general-elections

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @PMKeeling @histodons Interesting that the first one-day election in 1918 was held on a Saturday. In Australia we have our elections on Saturdays.

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @PMKeeling @histodons IMO Saturday is a good day for it; off work for most people, and schools are free to act as polling places.

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @PMKeeling @histodons Ha. Our state government in Victoria has made the day before the Aussie rules football grand final a public holiday. Very low bar. :)

    ajsadauskas , (edited ) to Technology
    @ajsadauskas@aus.social avatar

    My real worry with Google's voyage into enshittification (thanks to Cory Doctorow @pluralistic the term) is YouTube.

    Through YT, for the past 15 years, the world has basically entrusted Google to be the custodian of pretty much our entire global video archive.

    There's countless hours of archived footage — news reports, political speeches, historical events, documentaries, indie films, academic lectures, conference presentations, rare recordings, concert footage, obscure music — where the best or only copy is now held by Google through YouTube.

    So what happens if maintaining that archival footage becomes unprofitable?

    @technology

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @ajsadauskas @pluralistic @technology Needs to be nationalised; or more precisely, converted to a non-profit body.

    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    I think after this I should give these cycling adventure books a rest. I like the descriptions of the places they visit, though they rarely spend much time in cities. But they endlessly eat the most horrible food just for the energy intake, makes me feel slightly ill reading about it. :)

    @bookstodon

    timrichards OP ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @benfinch @bookstodon If only it was that classy! The guy in my current book is endlessly eating peanut butter from the jar.

    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    When I was in a book club, I wouldn't show up if I hadn't read that month's book. I eventually left when almost no one each month read the book. The socialising was nice but, c'mon, read the book.

    Why we keep showing up to book clubs — even when we haven't read the book https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-01-18/book-clubs-still-popular-bringing-readers-together/103326462

    @bookstodon

    timrichards OP ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @siftinsand @feather1952 @bookstodon I've heard about that concept and I like it. I did find with my book group that you read more widely, but it cut into your time for reading things you liked.

    timrichards OP ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @sister_ratched @bookstodon So it's now really a social group, not a book club I guess.

    timrichards OP ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @realn2s @Arlenecw @siftinsand @feather1952 @bookstodon Yeah I get the feeling the standard book cub concept was invented partly to encourage busy people to read. But I'm always reading antway, so I don't want the book club choices to cut into my preferred reading.

    dilmandila , to bookstodon group
    @dilmandila@mograph.social avatar

    Oh my God! Oh fck! I wake up to this big news and all I can say is fck! I went to bed having read something about Philip K Dick Awards (I can't even remember what I read about it!) and I wake up to learn that my book, Where Rivers Go To Die, has been nominated for this and its a big deal to me and all I can day is f*ck! What a way to start the year!

    https://www.norwescon.org/2024/01/09/2024-philip-k-dick-award-nominees-announced/

    @bookstodon

    timrichards ,
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    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar
    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    Christ, imagine being so deranged that you'd post negative reviews of books of fellow new authors you perceived as rivals. Goodreads is turning into the YouTube of the literary world (no that's not a compliment).

    ‘It’s totally unhinged’: is the book world turning against Goodreads? | Books | The Guardian

    @bookstodon @NarrelleMHarris https://www.theguardian.com/books/2023/dec/18/goodreads-review-bombing

    timrichards OP ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @joannaholman @bookstodon @NarrelleMHarris I have it linked up to my Kindle so it automatically registers the books I've finished reading. Otherwise I never remember to go there. There are been too many scandals about dodgy reviews, it's decreased my interest in it.

    ajsadauskas , to Fediverse
    @ajsadauskas@aus.social avatar

    With BlueSky moving towards finally opening up federation, I'm interested in how people feel about it?

    Would you be open to the idea of Mastodon, Lemmy, Pixelfed, and other Fediverse platforms adopting the AT protocol in order to federate with it?

    If those technical hurdles could be overcome, would you support your instance federating with BlueSky?

    Does the same go for other commercially-owned platforms, such as Threads and Tumblr?

    @fediverse

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @ajsadauskas @fediverse I'd quite like to be able to link up with people I miss who are on other platforms.

    Likewise , to bookstodon group
    @Likewise@beige.party avatar

    Tell me a good book you’ve read this year that you’d recommend.

    I’ll start: Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom
    @bookstodon

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @SirNameless_1 @Likewise @bookstodon That's my favourite from PGW. Very apt too - Roderick Spode is such a comical Trump figure.

    pretensesoup , to bookstodon group
    @pretensesoup@romancelandia.club avatar

    Ok, if you're in a book club and the book really doesn't speak to you...do you force yourself to finish it?

    Maybe a result of being in the middle of a lengthy and serious writing project, but I've bounced out of a lot of books this year, and a lot of them have been from book club. Maybe I should be pushing myself more, but this isn't grad school, so...I don't know.

    @bookstodon

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @pretensesoup @bookstodon when I was in a book club, my rule was that I wouldn't attend unless I'd read the whole book. So it left me open to not reading it, but that would mean that I wouldn't show up.

    marcroberts , to bookstodon group
    @marcroberts@mastodon.social avatar

    This landed on my doorstep today, can’t wait to read Julia, the retelling of Ninteen Eighty-Four by Sandra Newman.
    I think it’s going to make me satisfyingly uncomfortable.
    @bookstodon

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @marcroberts @bookstodon @dilmandila Looks intriguing, just downloaded the Kindle sample.

    ChefleGrand , to histodons group German
    @ChefleGrand@social.cologne avatar

    A british comedian wrote a book. In his early ife he studied history. During the pandemic David Mitchell crafted an entertaining History of England's Kings and Queens: "Unruly". Ive got the audio-version, and I love it. Instead of a amazon link, a link to an interview he gave about his book: https://youtu.be/INabb1VL8qg?si=iQrnYq5xMAQXKUeQ

    @histodons

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @ChefleGrand @histodons Cool, just downloaded the ebook sample.

    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    Received more royalties for my book Ultimate Train Journeys: World, which is very welcome... not as much as the previous six months, but it's still on the bookshop shelves and selling (coming up to two years since it was released).

    Ask for it at your local bookshop, or check out more info here: https://www.hardiegrant.com/au/publishing/bookfinder/book/ultimate-train-journeys_-world-by-tim-richards/9781741177350

    @bookstodon

    Barros_heritage , to histodons group
    @Barros_heritage@hcommons.social avatar

    Venice to start charging visitors entry fee next year (Reuters).

    "Venice plans to experiment with an admission fee of 5 euros($5.35) for day trippers next year to try to manage the flow of tourists drawn to its historic canals, the city council said on Tuesday.

    The fee will be applied on a trial basis on 30 days next year, focusing mainly on spring bank holidays and summer weekends when tourism numbers are at their peak. All visitors over the age of 14 will have to pay it.

    The aim was to find "a new balance between the rights of those who live, study or work in Venice and those who visit the city," Venice tourism councillor Simone Venturini said."

    @academicchatter
    @histodons
    @sociology
    @culturalheritage

    https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/venice-start-charging-visitors-entry-fee-next-year-2023-09-05/

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @seindal @Barros_heritage @academicchatter @histodons @sociology @culturalheritage I can't see €5 stopping anyone from visiting. They'll have spent a lot more on getting there.

    timrichards ,
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    @seindal @Barros_heritage @academicchatter @histodons @sociology @culturalheritage How is the fee designed to help with those issues? I don't quite follow the idea. It seems too small to make any change.

    timrichards , to bookstodon group
    @timrichards@aus.social avatar

    If you live in Melbourne's southeast, come along to my free talk at Cheltenham Library about the epic rail journey that led to my book Heading South. It's on Wednesday 30 August from 6.30pm, and you can book your place here: https://library.kingston.vic.gov.au/whats-on/events-activities/tim-richards

    @bookstodon

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