It’s no secret that I’m very anti-techtopian people. Anyone talking about Google Glass and how it’ll “solve all publishing problems ever!” is someone I want to run away from. All the industry focus on new “apps” that will “revamp and disrupt the creation, distribution, and monetization of creative content” makes me want to stab my eyes out. Yes, recent technological advances are cool, but I’m with Morozov—a lot of the rhetoric surrounding these advances is just wacky and deluded.
Like this piece from Rob Salkowitz’s PW article The Future of Reading: 10 Trends for 2014 and Beyond:
Machine translation these days is pretty good. It’s not quite good enough for literature, technical publications, or legal contracts, but it’s getting there. The combination of algorithms, data analytics, and crowdsourcing are teaching machines the subtleties of idiom and tone in a variety of languages. Very soon, instant text translation, combined with text recognition, will be available via augmented-reality applications for mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables like Glass. No more waiting for translations of foreign editions to become available; no more foreign rights. Think that will disrupt the publishing and localization industries much?
Kaija’s comment on hearing me read this aloud: “Not quite good enough for literature, technical publications, or legal contracts—THAT’S EVERYTHING!”
Jan’s comment after finishing this: “That’s just fucking stupid.”
Seriously. The day we’re all reading instant translations of Mircea Cartarescu on our Google Glasses is the day I just simply quit.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .