(1) THE FINNISH. Finland hosts the World Science Fiction Convention in 2017 — but if you can’t make it to Helsinki, hit the library: more and more Finnish speculative fiction authors are getting English translations, as NPR reports in “Finnish Authors Heat Up The Speculative Fiction World”.
In the middle of Johanna Sinisalo’s novel The Core of the Sun, the reader is interrupted by an ad. It’s for Fresh Scent, a personal fragrance available from the State Cosmetics Corporation of Finland. It’s marketed to woman, although “marketed” is an understatement. In Sinisalo’s nightmarish, alternate-reality vision of her homeland, a tyrannical patriarchy splits women into two classes — docile “eloi” and undesirable “morlocks,” terms cheekily drawn from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine — as part of an oppressive national health scheme that crosses insidiously over into eugenics.
The ad for Fresh Scent is just one of the novel’s many fragmentary asides. In additional to its more conventional narrative, which centers on Vanna, a woman with an addiction to chili peppers (it makes sense a skewed sort of sense, really), The Core of the Sun is made up of epistolary passages, dictionary entries, article excerpts, transcripts of hearings, scripts for instructional films, homework assignments, folk songs, and even fairytales that exist only in Sinisalo’s twisted version of the world. Chillingly, one passage concerning the social benefits of human sterilization is taken from a real-world source, a Finnish magazine article from 1935.
There’s a streak of scathing satire to the book’s fragmentary science fiction, and in that sense it sits somewhere between Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut — but Sinisalo crafts a funny, unsettling, emotionally charged apparition of the present that’s all her own.
(2) SPEAKING OF COLD PLACES. The New York Times captioned this tweet “A Wookie Chills in Washington (Not Hoth)”
Chillin' after #blizzard2016 pic.twitter.com/Gvl9AHxJkN
— Golnaz Esfandiari (@GEsfandiari) January 24, 2016
(3) AN ALARMING INSIGHT.
Yeah, @robertjbennett has social media entirely figured out. #confusionsf pic.twitter.com/G3VktfgkHv
— Michael Lee (@michaellorg) January 24, 2016
(4) DEATH OF A GOLDEN AGE. Saladin Ahmed’s Buzzfeed article argues “Censors Killed The Weird, Experimental, Progressive Golden Age Of Comics”.
In the 1940s, comic books were often feminist, diverse, and bold. Then the reactionary Comics Code Authority changed the trajectory of comic book culture for good.
The comics themselves exhibited wild stylistic variety. A single issue of Keen Detective Funnies could contain one story with gorgeous Art Nouveau-ish illustration, and another with glorified stick figures. The comic books of the Golden Age were also significantly more diverse in terms of genre than today’s comics. On newsstands across America — in an era when the newsstand was an urban hub and an economic juggernaut — comic books told tales of True Crime, Weird Fantasy and Cowboy Love, Negro Romance, and Mystery Men. And Americans bought them.
Even as Amazing-Man and Blue Beetle were rescuing helpless, infantilized women, badass superheroines like the Lady in Red, the Spider Queen, and Lady Satan were stabbing Nazis and punching out meddlesome, sexist cops.
(5) NOW THAT SHE HAS OUR ATTENTION. Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s post “Business Musings: Poor Poor Pitiful Me Is Not A Business Model” actually is not a rant telling writers to buck up, it’s a discussion of the true levers of culture change. But it begins with a rant….
Granted, in the recent past, the major publishing companies were the only game in town. But they are no longer the only game in town. A major bestselling writer can—and should—walk from any deal that does not meet her contractual and business needs.
Hell, every writer should do that.
But of course most writers won’t. Instead, an entire group of them beg for scraps from the Big All-Powerful Evil Publishers, proving to the publishers that writers are idiots and publishers hold all the cards.
I already bludgeoned the Authors Guild letter last week, so why am I going back to the same trough? Because this poor-poor-pitiful-me attitude has become the norm in the publishing industry right now, and I’m really tired of it.
The big battles of 2014 and 2015, from all of the fighting over the meaning of Amazon in the past few years to the in-genre squabbling over the Hugo awards that science fiction indulged in last year to the hue and cry indie writers have treated us to over the various changes in Kindle Unlimited since its inauguration have all had the same basic complaint.
Someone—be it a publisher (that Amazon is Evil argument) or a writer (the rest of it)—believes they’re entitled to something, and when they don’t get that something, they complain loudly, on social media or in traditional media or via group letter or through (in sf’s case) hateful spiteful posts about the opposing parties.
Only a handful of people take responsibility for the situation they’re in—if, indeed, they are responsible. Only a few actually analyze why the situation exists.
(6) HIGH PRAISE. The first line in David Barnett’s review of Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds is —
Imagine that Diana Wynne Jones, Douglas Coupland and Neil Gaiman walk into a bar and through some weird fusion of magic and science have a baby. That offspring is Charlie Jane Anders’ lyrical debut novel All The Birds In The Sky.
Do you think that’s a lot to live up to?
(7) TODAY IN HISTORY
- January 24, 1888 — Typewriter “copy” ribbon patented by Jacob L. Wortman. Harlan Ellison still uses one.
- January 25, 1984 – Apple’s Macintosh computer went on sale. Price tag: $2,495.
(8) TRI ROBOT. Mickey Zucker Reichert, the author of To Preserve, is a working physician and the author of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot Trilogy (To Protect, To Obey, To Preserve). The third book will be published in hardcover by Roc in February.
Nate, has been Manhattan Hasbro Hospital’s resident robot for more than twenty years. Nate’s very existence terrified most people, leaving the robot utilized for menial tasks and generally ignored. Until one of the hospital’s physicians is found murdered with Nate standing over the corpse.
As programmer of Nate’s brain, Lawrence Robertson is responsible for his creation and arrested for the crime. Susan Calvin knows the Three Laws of Robotics make it impossible for Nate to harm a human. But maybe someone manipulated the laws to commit murder.
(9) DOUGH-REY. Kip W. pays tribute to characters from that billion-dollar movie The Force Awakens.
Poe, a flier; a fast male flier
Rey, who scavenges a bit,
Maz, a host who knows the most,
Finn, a white shirt drone who quit,
Snoke, a hologram quite tall,
Ren, a very angry joe,
Beeb, a droid head on a ball,
Which will bring us back to Poe. Poe, Rey, Maz, Finn, Snoke, Ren, Beeb, Poe!
(10) FLEXIBILITY. Nick Osment analyzes the benefits of reading science fiction in “What We Can Learn From a Time Lord: Doctor Who and a New Enlightened Perspective” at Black Gate.
If tomorrow you stepped inside a time machine and found yourself standing in the yard of this man who is separated from being your neighbor only by the passage of a century, then suddenly his opinions would become somewhat more relevant because now you would actually have to interact with him. But they would not become any more credible to you just because you were now hearing them face-to-face. You would still hear them from the vantage of having come from the future.
Now imagine your life today not as if you were living in your own time but as if you were visiting from a hundred years in the future. The weight given by proximity, i.e., these people are my neighbors, is leveled off, much the way that visiting that long-dead neighbor would be. Detach yourself from all the noise of the television and the Internet and your workplace, your college, your local pub. See it from a more objective position — of not being of this time, with the knowledge that this time, too, will pass, and all these people who are speaking right now; they all, too, will be dead and most of them forgotten.
(11) BIGGER ON THE OUTSIDE. 11.22.63, the eight-part event series based on Stephen King’s 2011 novel, premieres Presidents Day, February 15 on Hulu.
11.22.63 is a thriller in which high school English teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — but his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, falling in love and the past itself, which doesn’t want to be changed
(12) LONG TAIL OF SALES. Fynbospress summarizes the impact of streaming on the music business, and explains the parallels in book publishing to Mad Genius Club readers in “The Importance of Being Backlist”.
In summary, if publishing continues to mirror music, then streaming will continue to increase, but frontlist sales may continue to fall, and it become harder and harder to get discovered in the initial release period. However, backlist volume is growing, and people are discovering their way through the things that have been out there a while. So, while you can and should do some promotion of your latest release – if it fails to take off, don’t despair. Instead, write the next book, the greatest book you’ve written yet. Sometimes you make your money on the initial release surge, and sometimes, it’ll come in having a lot of things out there all bringing in an unsteady trickle.
(13) TWO COMIC CONS MAY SETTLE. A settlement may be at hand in the San Diego Comic-Con’s suit against the Salt Lake Comic Con for for trademark-infringement. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Thursday, attorneys for both conventions asked the judge to extend a procedural deadline so that they could work “diligently” on a settlement. The conventions have scheduled a meeting with Adler on Wednesday in San Diego.
Drafts of the agreement have been exchanged,” according to the Thursday court filing requesting the extension, “and the parties hope to soon reach agreement as to all terms.”
San Diego Comic-Con is a trademarked name, and lawyers have argued that the similarity of “Comic Con” in the name of the Salt Lake City event has confused people into thinking the event is somehow associated with San Diego’s convention.
As Salt Lake’s organizers have seen it, the legal battle isn’t just between them and the flagship convention; it’s a threat to the dozens of other comic book conventions around the world that also use “comic con” in their names. Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer Bryan Brandenburg previously asserted that if San Diego wins the case, the precedent will allow it to do this to other organizations.
(14) RING OF POWER. Jim C. Hines snapped this photo at Confusion:
.@scalzi recites the Secret Cabal oath: "Let those who worship Hugos' might, beware my power, Tor Cabal's light!" pic.twitter.com/j9zxhfjn9i
— Jim C. Hines (@jimchines) January 24, 2016
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jim Henley.]
@Ray I agree with JJ. I think the pool of people who might be interested in nominating and possibly attending the Hugo awards is larger than we think. And larger than the Easter con goers, that’s for sure.
But if the mechanisms of announcing the Hugo awards do everything to keep that announcement, insular, that works against that pool of people who might want to participate but aren’t so connected as to do so. The excitement of the award nominations being released at the Easter cons is great for those cons, and for the people in the know, but its terrible for everyone else.
And we (the entire SFF community) should be proud of the premier genre award. Why would we want to keep the nomination announcement under a basket, as it were?
My use of a clause beginning with “If…” was supposed to be a signal that I’m aware it hasn’t happened.
I’m trying to convince you of something– you need to set the goalposts. It seemed like the best way to find out what you would consider valid metrics would be to ask what you would rely on if you were making an argument on this topic.
Petréa Mitchell: It seemed like the best way to find out what you would consider valid metrics would be to ask what you would rely on if you were making an argument on this topic.
I already answered that question in one of my previous posts; I encourage you to go back and read it again, if you haven’t already.
Petréa Mitchell: I’m trying to convince you of something.
You’re trying to convince me that a Saturday announcement of Hugo finalists at Eastercon and Minicon is increasing Hugo participation, based on the feelings of the SMOFs and con-runners involved.
As I’ve said, “feelings” aren’t going to convince me.
Now, if like Hampus, you’re willing to say, “look, we’re announcing it at the Easter conventions because that’s the most fun and exciting for the people who attend those cons and not necessarily because it’s what’s going to maximize Hugo participation”, then fine.
But if you’re going to try to make the claim that this is increasing Hugo participation, then you’re going to have to provide some actual evidence in order for me to be persuaded.
But the announcement is not being kept under a basket (afaik). I’m sure there are press packets sent out to all the news organisations, and all the usual PR stuff that goes with it.
I don’t think making the announcement on a Wednesday, for example, is going to lead to a massive increase in coverage.
I don’t think a short piece in the mainstream press is going to get people to sign up for a con. I would expect that most people who would consider going to a con are getting SF news from other sources. The alternative strikes me as very unlikely.
I’m generalising from my own experience, obviously. I’ve never been to an SF con, maybe never will go – I’m hardly a fandom insider. But I’ve been aware of the Hugos for years, and I’m interested in the nominees. I don’t expect to see coverage of the shortlist or the winners in my local paper, and certainly not before I’d have seen more detailed coverage online.
So it seems to me that the Worldcon organisers are making a reasonable decision – the primary audience for their announcement is ‘people who are interested in SF and SF conventions’. That doesn’t mean other people are ignored. But the primary audience is driving the announcement date.
What percentage of respondents would need to give what answers in order to persuade you that the weekend announcement is okay to do?
Would this need to be a multi-year survey comparing weekend and non-weekend announcements, or would a one-off do?
How would you interpret a result where a strong majority answers “I got into this to stop the Puppies”, which seems like a likely result if such a survey is done in the next few years?
With the announcement simultaneously going out online as well, why is it necessary for it only to correlate with physical attendees of those two conventions? Why those two specific ones out of all the cons it’s announced at?
Because heaven forbid the people actually running the awards should know anything about them?
You keep returning to a focus on two specific cons and a theme of an insular community. What I’m hearing overall is that you feel that the ability to attend an announcement in person is a special and desirable experience, and that since you are not able to obtain this special experience, you feel that the people who set it up are performing an act of deliberate exclusion. Am I anywhere near correct?
If that is the case (If! If! If!), then I will say that certainly it’s a datum pointing toward a need for adjusting the messaging. Announcing the finalists at several cons, with as wide a geographical distribution as possible, and also announcing it online at the same time so that as many people as possible can share the experience, is intended to create a feeling of inclusivity. In your case, I accept that it has completely failed to do so. This could be a useful datum, which I would be happy to take to a couple of con-running forums I follow for people to mull over.
Buzz, not participation, though I believe that we both consider increased participation a secondary effect of increased buzz. Also I’m trying to convince you that it’s announced in a lot more places than those two conventions. Hopefully at least the second point is easy to subject to objective scrutiny.
Presenting the Hugo Awards is a core function of Worldcon, despite an assertion to the contrary above. It is, in fact, one of a tiny number of things that a Worldcon must do, by definition in the WSFS Constitution. (Incidentally, Worldcons aren’t actually required to hold a Hugo Awards ceremony, but they do have to administer and present the Awards themselves.)
However, the target audience for the World Science Fiction Convention tends to be fans of SF/F who are interested in attending SF/F conventions. Furthermore, we’ve tended to focus on the lowest-hanging fruit of getting the existing members of Worldcon to participate in the Hugo Awards (and we still have a lot of room left there).
Therefore, it makes a fair bit of sense to promote the Hugo Awards and Worldcon to people most likely to join Worldcon or who are already Worldcon members. The Hugo Awards are not a profit center. Worldcons have to pay the cost of organizing them. Therefore, doing things that increase the exposure of Worldcon and the Hugo Awards to the people most likely to join Worldcon and participate in the Hugo Awards strikes me as an effective use of a Worldcon’s pretty limited promotional resources.
The conflict here strikes me as a dispute between people who think that the Hugo Awards are primarily a promotional tool to benefit authors and those who think that the Hugo Awards are a the gift of the members of the World Science Fiction Convention to the creators of the works they like.
My point, badly expressed, was that they are not the core function, they are one of the many things Worldcon does.
I don’t think making the announcement on a Wednesday, for example, is going to lead to a massive increase in coverage.
I do think that the Saturday of Easter weekend is about as quiet a spot as you can possibly manage in the Spring, though.
To tie in the current political campaign, the Democratic debates have similarly been in “dead zone” times and days, almost as if the point was to dampen the attention put on them. That’s what the Saturday before Easter feels like to me, but of course, feelings are not data.
Maybe you’re right and putting it on the Tuesday won’t make a dime’s worth of difference. And as Kevin puts it, its more effective use of resources to put it in front of likely con voters, rather than the potentially peripherally interested. :shrug:
I don’t think that’s true of the conversation here, and I’m not convinced that it’s entirely true of the wider conversation. Scalzi for example argues against the Easter release and does not seem to be demanding the awards become what they’re not.
Here at least we have a debate between people with a common destination in mind, but different ideas of how to get there.
Scalzi argues that the Hugos, as the most prestigious SF awards, are the de facto industry awards.
If they were the industry awards, organised by the publishers and writers professional bodies, it would be different. The goal from start to finish would be to maximise publicity for the nominees in order to increase sales.
But they aren’t really industry awards and that isn’t what they’re for. It’s a happy side effect.
If they were industry awards, they would be paid for by the marketing departments of the major publishers
Petréa Mitchell: You keep returning to a focus on two specific cons
That’s because the first time the news is announced, it is live at those two cons (though also at any other cons taking place that weekend). Why is it surprising that I am focusing on that?
Petréa Mitchell: What I’m hearing overall is that you feel that the ability to attend an announcement in person is a special and desirable experience
Well, of course it is. I’m sure that it’s quite enjoyable for the people who are at the Easter weekend cons, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Petréa Mitchell: What I’m hearing overall is… a theme of an insular community… that since you are not able to obtain this special experience, you feel that the people who set it up are performing an act of deliberate exclusion. Am I anywhere near correct?
No, you’re not. What you are doing yet again, is attempting to impute motivations to me which are not supported by what I’ve said.
My objections are that 1) I think that it would be possible to do a better job of raising awareness and participation by choosing a different way of announcing the winners, and 2) that people are claiming that making the announcement in this way raises awareness and participation — without providing any data to support that assertion.
Ray: If they were the industry awards, organised by the publishers and writers professional bodies, it would be different. The goal from start to finish would be to maximise publicity for the nominees in order to increase sales.
Really? You’re claiming that that is the purpose of the Academy Awards (the Oscars)?
Kevin Standlee: The conflict here strikes me as a dispute between people who think that the Hugo Awards are primarily a promotional tool to benefit authors and those who think that the Hugo Awards are a the gift of the members of the World Science Fiction Convention to the creators of the works they like.
That’s not how it strikes me, and it’s certainly not my stance on it. My stance is that some people are claiming the current announcement method is increasing awareness and participation in the Hugo Awards, and I’m saying that while that might be true, I’m not sure that it is true, and I think there are better ways of increasing awareness and participation in the Hugo Awards than burying the announcement on a Saturday night.
Because there are those other cons, plus the online announcement to a global audience. Reducing it to “Eastercon and Minicon” makes it sound like you are complaining about something completely other than what it is.
As we have established a little earlier in this thread that the specific data you would accept hasn’t had a chance to be collected yet, I guess this is where we have to leave it. See you in other threads, everyone!
Petréa Mitchell: Because there are those other cons
What are the other Easter weekend cons? I haven’t been able to find information on any others scheduled that weekend.
Petréa Mitchell: As we have established a little earlier in this thread that the specific data you would accept hasn’t had a chance to be collected yet
You mean “we have established a little earlier in this thread that no one has made the attempt to collect that specific data” — not that it hasn’t had a chance to be collected.
JJ and Petréa: You’ve made me a little bit curious about how to measure the impact of the Hugo nominees announcement.
I ran a search on Google for four days beginning with April 4, when the finalists were announced. As you all remember, most of the coverage was driven by the Puppy takeover of the ballot. Here are examples of when the story hit various sites (I am deliberately leaving out the blogs and sites that are designed for audiences of actifans, which I figure will report the shortlist whenever it’s released.)
April 4 – Nominations released
Galleycat (on Adweek)
It’s true that almost none of the mainstream outlets reported the announcement on the weekend. But they reported it when they got around to it on Monday, or later.
Now, over the summer some bigger platforms wrote stories about the controversy, and because of that followed up with stories about the final Hugo Awards results. These are platforms that did not cover the nominations.
You can get a story about the Hugos into WIRED, the online Wall Street Journal, TIME and the like — if there’s a cultural controversy.
But can you get them to pay attention to the shortlist just by putting the announcement during the week?
I can’t understand why mainstream press should care about when nominees are announced. Winners, yes, but nominations?
The nominated should be happy if they are mentioned when the winners are announced. The rest is for the genre press.
The Booker prize longlist etc usually engenders press coverage.
As for the best day well, some days are more favorable for news than others but that doesn’t help solve the question. A weekend maybe less favorable spot for an announcement of any kind but that means less competing news i.e. it is easier to be more noticeable at a weekend than it is during a weekend?
If it isn’t possible to tell then it probably doesn’t matter.
@Ray: But the announcement is not being kept under a basket (afaik). I’m sure there are press packets sent out to all the news organisations, and all the usual PR stuff that goes with it.
What gets sent out is not the basket. What actually gets picked up is the basket. Weekdays are when the press cycle is in high gear and the reader figures are highest. Fridays and weekends are “Take out the trash” days where people try to dump their PR disasters when no one’s paying attention. (This has been well-known in PR circles for decades. It was such a well-known phenomenon that West Wing did it.) Hope they wait a few days to report and get the story out Monday? Okay, but larger sites look at press packets more than 24 hours old as stale news. It’s no longer a scoop, and they aren’t going to put the effort into it. The weekend of a major holiday, especially a major travel holiday, is where you send press packets to die.
There are people who debate whether this is still the case with the newfangled interwebs, which would be relevant, but, from experience, it’s still absolutely true that blog traffic drops precipitously on weekends from its weekday level. Holidays, just forget it. Pageviews are ridiculously hard to get on holidays. It’s a great time to dump stories you don’t want people to read. Because, statistically, they don’t.
Internet sites, SFF-oriented or mainstream, may not be the primary target audience of the Hugo announcement. Fair enough, I definitely get the community value of making that announcement a special perk for the Easter weekend con-goers, and also the difficulty of changing a tradition when it knocks up against the rise of the internet. I’m not saying they ought to do it differently or prioritize things differently. But if we’re going to discuss why people don’t think the timing serves the Hugos well, I think it’s useful to recognize that in the common wisdom of news and blog traffic, the timing of that press release is pretty close to the “in the cellar with the lights and stairs out, in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard'” of public announcement strategies.
You don’t think it is? Over the years the month, weekday, start time and format of the awards have changed around a lot, all on the basis of “what will get the highest TV audience?” The awards themselves are by far the biggest thing the Academy does.
The Booker prize comes with a big cheque 🙂
That’s no accident. The prize is an advertising campaign, in this case for the sponsor. They provide the money for the winner and the awards dinner, they stay out of the judging process (although they do have a say in the selection of judges), and the quid pro quo is an event designed to maximise media coverage
yes, understood. Is a larger news site/paper going to cover the Hugo nominations as breaking news? I don’t think so, even if they are released at 10am on a Wednesday, New York time.
They might get a comment piece on the books pages, but that’s not on a new schedule.
and the creation of new blog posts drops too.
So maybe the Hugo shortlist announcement is not blogged, or read on blogs, until Tuesday. (shrugs)
Look, I understand, if your concern is the news scrolling across the bottom of the screen, there are times when viewing figures for that scroll are high, and times when it is low. But the problem is not that the Hugo shortlist announcement is going on that scroll at 10pm on Sunday when viewing figures are low. The Hugo shortlist announcement is not getting on that scroll at any time. It is not a rolling news item at any time of the day or night.
You don’t think it is?
Sorry, but no moving the goalposts. That’s not what you said, and it’s not what I asked.
What you said was:
Ray: The goal from start to finish would be to maximise publicity for the nominees in order to increase sales.
I think the main purpose of the Academy Awards is, like the Hugos, for people who love something to give out recognition for the best creators and creations of that something during the past year.
Yes, of course they are doing it in such a manner that it generates publicity — but no, I don’t believe that “The goal from start to finish would be to maximise publicity for the nominees in order to increase sales.” AAMPAS members are many competing companies, producers, directors, distributors, and actors, most of whom are not going to get a nomination this year (or maybe any year), and they’re not going to all of this effort just to increase sales for someone else’s company rather than their own.
But they’re doing it on the understanding that next year it could be their movie that gets nominated. And everyone involved in the academy is, by definition, someone who is eligible to be nominated for an award
It doesn’t really work though. No-one really knows who Booker is, and Man gets forgotten all the time. I seem to remember that Booker was involved in a long running strike in a chain of mushroom farms. Not sure that’s their core business. Yes, I could go ask Mr Wikipedia, but that I’d have to shows how little the sponsor gets out of the award.
Man are a big hedge fund. They signal their prestige and wealth by their association with the prize and their charitable donations. Now they have an image that can set them apart from the other funds, and is not reliant on last year’s ROI.
If you don’t have a large sum to invest, they don’t mind if you don’t know who they are.
Great description. So true.
I personally don’t really care about the buzz on news sites, but rather on sources like Twitter. Social media. (Yes, I’m a youngster.) Two days is an eternity in Twitter-time. So everybody who doesn’t check their feed on Easter weekend has to spend Monday (or Tuesday if you celebrate on Monday as well) left out of the conversation that happened two days back. Last year, it felt like the agony of discovery was drawn out over multiple news cycles as waves of fans on the internet caught up over the next few days and figured out something had gone awry with the nominations. (This is, of course, a perspective of someone from the internet rather than an attendant of any of the live events.)
Social media is a great tool for being able to chatter about a subject in real time across time zones and continents, to friends and fellow fans. It’s very now, now, now. So it seems kind of a waste of that tool to release interesting information when attention is low. The immediacy gets lost.
A similar scenario would probably happen if, say, the finalist list were to be released at a New Year’s Eve con party. There just won’t be as many people paying attention, internet-wise, because people have their own meatspace celebrations to go to. The topic morphs into slightly stale hangover-day tweets.
(Or, for a Filesque example, a scroll you missed that Mike added a few days ago – grown to about 300 comments already and making you feel like the turtle at the bottom of the stack when you finally get around to reading the thread.)
…gah. This whole comment probably sounds like #MillennialMediaProblems. Sorry for that!
@Ray: Look, I understand, if your concern is the news scrolling across the bottom of the screen, there are times when viewing figures for that scroll are high, and times when it is low. But the problem is not that the Hugo shortlist announcement is going on that scroll at 10pm on Sunday when viewing figures are low. The Hugo shortlist announcement is not getting on that scroll at any time. It is not a rolling news item at any time of the day or night.
I’m not singling out mainstream news sites, where the coverage is, like you say, a bit of a stretch. This pattern is also true on average of SFF news sites and other niche blogs. (Universally, no, there may be some that buck the trend. But in my experience… well, in my experience, I’ve never seen a site, big or small, that didn’t see their weekend content bring in relatively few pageviews.) Posts scroll down the average blog site, too, and on Monday morning, people only read back so far in the scroll. Leaving the first page is rare, and for a smallish or mid-sized site that publishes four or five posts a day, that prompt repost of the Hugo announcement is off the front page by Monday morning. People actively looking for Hugo news will find it, but fans who aren’t already aware this is the weekend just won’t see it. Sites want to be first with big relevant announcements, so they’ll try to rush it out, but news that gets published on a weekend is being released with a whimper, not a bang, even if it’s published on a site targeting its niche – it languishes on the weekend and falls out of view by Monday.
Monday, maybe they feel that the first business day is timely and appropriate to publish, but after that you’re starting to get into the period when sites feel uncomfortable chasing old announcements. They’re three days late, and they don’t want to be viewed as late to get the big news in SFF, because their credibility, and their service to their readers, lies in being plugged into the news when it’s fresh. They want the scoop less than 24 hours old. And that’s the worst time any site could publish it, if the goal is having readers see it. Not just for mainstream news. Blogs on the weekend are a complete fizzle.