Round up #151: eye-tracking, pick the human quiz

Round up #151: eye-tracking, pick the human quiz

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

iReaderReview: “The Biggest Revolution in Books since Gutenberg & Inflection Points

This one is an interesting post by switch11 examining where we are in publishing. It talks about how readers now have the power, and how the compensation for curation (which is suggests is what publishers do) is currently much too high.

I recommend reading it, although I don’t agree with all the points. I don’t think it gives enough credit to what traditional publishers do…it’s not just about choosing which books to publish. There are a lot of other risks assumed by them, and tasks handled. That doesn’t mean authors can’t do it without them…clearly they can. That’s not a big problem with the piece, though, and it does have a lot of value.

I thought this was an interesting line:

“Established Authors are just as scared of the Barbarians at the Gate as Publishers and Retailers.”

Oh, and what is an inflection point? I thought this was somewhat of a weird use of it, but maybe I’m just not familiar with it as idiom. Let’s say you throw a ball up into the air in a big arc. The point between where it is going up and when it is coming down is the inflection point, as I understand it. I suppose the use here might be that we can now go either direction, or maybe that it is at the point of no return? Not sure…

Mini-review: Cop Hater

Cop Hater (87th Precinct)
by Ed McBain

The 87th Precinct books were published over about five decades…and there were more than fifty of them.

I’d never read one before. I’d certainly heard of them, and sold many as the manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Why did I finally get around to it?

Amazon bought the backlist.

It publishes the books, and that means the books participate in Amazon publishing programs, including the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

The KOLL lets Kindle owners who are qualifying Prime members borrow up to a book a month at no additional cost. It’s always a tough choice as to what to borrow, but this seemed like a good bet.

We do read mysteries…I say “we”, because my Significant Other and I sometimes read the same books, thanks to the licensing from Amazon making that easy.

I’ve read some hard-boiled stuff over the years (Dashiell Hammett is a great writer, regardless of genre), and expected this to be like that.

I’d say one of the key differences is that this focuses on the process, rather than really on individuals.

It’s about being a cop…not about a specific cop.

Certainly, we have a hero that we follow, and whose personal life matters.

Still, you can see clearly how this has influenced “police procedurals”. We watched CSI during the Grissom years, and the  inspiration  is clear.

That doesn’t mean it was without precedent: McBain credited Dragnet as being something that influenced these stories.

Oh, that brings up a piece of advice from me: skip the foreword. We both felt like we would have enjoyed the book more without the scene setting.

We did both enjoy the book, although we didn’t fall in love with yet. It’s certainly possible I’ll read more in the series at some point.

I’d put it as this is worth reading.

Galaxy S IV to have eye-tracking?

I’ve really liked my Samsung Captivate, which I know isn’t entirely cutting edge.

On March 14th, Samsung will introduce the Galaxy S IV, and this

New York Times article

says it may have eye-tracking.

If so, that will be somewhat ahead of what I predicted in

The Year Ahead 2013

where I did predict eye and gesture tracking, but thought it wouldn’t arrive this year.

It has obvious advantages…your phone (or tablet, eventually) will be able to tell where you are looking on the screen. When you get to the bottom of a page, it can automatically show you the next one.

I run into that issue now with my Kindle Fire, when I am exercising in the morning. I have the Fire on top of the towel rack in the bathroom for some of it, getting my morning Flipboard read. I have to keep switching to the next page, or going back to an article selection screen, using my finger. It would be a lot better for the rhythm of the exercises if I could keep moving my arms the way I was, and just use my eyes to switch.

While some of you are immediately picturing problems, it’s going to depend on how smart it is. It has to understand the difference between when we flick ahead to see what is coming, and when we’ve really read everything up that point.

It may require some human training…pausing for a certain length of time, even looking at a “turn page” spot, but I think it would quickly become as subliminal as driving a car or riding a bike.

Of course, this could also be valuable for advertisers, if Samsung sold back to them information about where someone’s eyes went when reading a website…count on Google doing this in the future. 😉

The Real Character of the Wizard of Oz

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of the Oz books. I’ve written a piece about the real character of the Wizard of Oz, and how it might compare to what we will see in Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful. If you are interested, it is here:

The Spoiler Zone: the real character of the Wizard of Oz

It’s part of “The Spoiler Zone” because I do reveal plot points in it…if you haven’t read the Oz stories yet, you might want to skip it until you have.

Racter would be proud

This one is a lot of fun, and a real challenge!

Machine translation or Faulkner?

It’s from a site called Reverent Entertainment that has a series of Reverent Quizzes.

For example, you can see if you can tell the difference between a painting done by an ape and one done by a human artist.

In this case, Mikhail Simkin gives you a series of quotations…and you decide if they are the result of machine translation, or written by William Faulkner.

I did take the test quickly, but I’ll admit it, I did terribly…42%.

It won’t surprise me if some of you do much better than that. 🙂

Racter, by the way, was an artificial intelligence program (although one can debate about that term) that wrote poetry. I’m happy to own a copy of

The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed: Computer Prose and Poetry by Racter- The First Book Ever Wrritten by a Computer

which is not currently available for the Kindle.

Does this mean that computer translation is getting so much better, or that maybe great works taken out of context don’t appear to be as great? Perhaps both… 😉

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

4 Responses to “Round up #151: eye-tracking, pick the human quiz”

  1. switch11 Says:

    Hi Bufo.

    Regarding this: I suppose the use here might be that we can now go either direction, or maybe that it is at the point of no return?

    By Inflection Point I mean the point of no return. The point at which there is so much momentum that something can’t be stopped.

    We’re very close. However, we’re not yet at the speed at which we need to be.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, switch11!

      Wow! I really appreciate you coming here and clarifying that. I’m sure that’s a good use of the term…I’m just not that familiar with it.

      I’m hoping some of my readers get some good insight out of what you said…particularly the authors. 🙂

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    Eye tracking. I want it now! Might be a little tricky to use with a reading app (all those saccades) but it would be a godsend for accessibility. Seems like it could be just as good as using a finger for turning pages, at least. Dictionary lookup.

    Presumably it would trigger a touch event if you stare at a certain screen location for some amount of time, with some sort of adjustable tolerance. Then apps would not necessarily need to be aware that there was any eye-tracking capability.

    But no multitouch unless you can cross your eyes.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      People clearly can learn to use eye-tracking: it is used in some situations for accessibility now. It might require staring for a fraction second at a “page turn point”, as I suggested. It could even provide some feedback, perhaps changing to a different appearance once it recognized the user’s intent.

      You’re right…it wouldn’t work for many apps the way that we use them now. “Pinch and spread” would be difficult, but other “gestures” could possibly be substituted. Rolling your eyes, blinking, even raising your eyebrows. That last one might be a way to make something zoom, for example.

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