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Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Little Bird Told Me You Love Literary Theory

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I can say from personal experience that Twitter is a great tool for procrastination, but could it also be one for learning and productivity? A new study says it might be the tool that literature teachers have been looking for. Lots of professions (including science writing!) now practically require an active Twitter presence, but many still scoff at the idea that the social media site could actually become part of the serious literary world.

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Stalk your favorite celebrity or write a novel, the choice is yours

Launched in July 2006, Twitter takes microblogging to an extreme by allowing a maximum of 140 characters per entry, or “tweet”. With over 500 million users, it’s easily the most popular platform for social blogging. Twitter has destroyed careers and fueled movements, and following the site during a presidential debate is arguably more interesting than watching the real thing.

“Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literary Practice,” addresses the idea that Twitter could be considered a new literacy practice, or a tool to use in increasing student literacy. The study, published by Christine Greenhow of Michigan State University College of Education, compiles previous research on Twitter and other forms of social media. Greenhow concludes that using Twitter for literature classes makes college students feel more connected to what they’re reading. Use of the website improved communication between students and professors, taught students how to voice their thoughts succinctly, and even allowed students to reach out to authors and researchers.

Outside the classroom, the site has already become a new literary platform: Of course there are thousands of authors on Twitter, but some of them are actually authoring on Twitter. Much as Charles Dickens once released his classics in serial form, some writers have taken to breaking down their novels into 140-character tweets. Perhaps less gimicky are those who use Twitter to publish high-concept poetry, who use the website without leaving their readers literally hanging on each sentence of a long story.

Wanting to celebrate their new position as a literary form, Twitter has announced the first Twitter Fiction Festival, a “storytelling celebration” to “feature creative experiments in storytelling from authors around the world.” If you think you have a good idea for a literary experiment that’s made for tweeting, you can submit it now. The five-day festival will start on November 28th and highlight the most creative proposals.

Just keep in mind how short 140 characters is! It’s really easy to run out of room, especially when you’re just getting to the really good–

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s The Pirate Bay!

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Founded by Swedish rapscallions, TPB has been going strong for almost a decade

The Pirate Bay, the site of choice for illegal downloaders everywhere since 2003, has moved its operations skyward. The site, which serves as a sort of search engine for available files, partners users with shareable data with users who want to download it for themselves. Self-billed as “the galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site”, The Pirate Bay will now use multiple cloud servers across the globe instead of existing in physical locations that can be raided.

But how on earth do they get away with it? It’s not like The Pirate Bay pretends not to offer free downloads of copyrighted material, after all. It’s the whole wide world’s one-stop-shop for absolutely free music, games, movies, porn, and now even templates for use with 3D printers. Technically, European Union law states that someone who provides an information service is not responsible for the information that is shared on it, but the line is blurring between allowing copyright infringement on your website and encouraging it. That gray area is where The Pirate Bay often gets caught.

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The Pirate Party: Always here to remind you that Sweden is just cooler than you are

Although Sweden is notoriously supportive of file-sharing and has a political party based on the support of it, the founders of The Pirate Bay have been convicted of aiding copyright infringement before, and probably will be again.

The Pirate Bay is always adapting to thwart enemies of file sharing. This past February, the site made the switch from hosting torrent files to hosting magnet links. While torrent files are stored on a server, leaving the website vulnerable to legal threats,  magnet links only hold enough info to connect you to other users who have the file on their computers.

Now The Pirate Bay has gone a step further by shifting to cloud computing hosts located in two different countries. With bits of data stored on virtual machines instead of in physical servers, the website will now be even more difficult to shut down.

Whatever your views on illegal file-sharing, you can’t deny that The Pirate Bay has got moxie. It has over five million registered users (and really, who registers before downloading?) and over four million available downloads. Its resilience is owed in part to the conviction of its founders, who in launching it were motivated as much by their belief in anti-copyright activism as they were by profit. Whether it’s a modern-day Robin Hood or a menace to society, The Pirate Bay is here to stay.