Science, Fiction, and points in between
The unregulated and anonymous nature of the Internet offers opportunities for mischief beyond stuffing the ballot boxes of online polls. A recent Salon essay describes the plight of author Katherine Neville, whose book The Magic Circle was the target of a barrage of vicious reader critiques on Amazon that reduced the book's Amazon rating from four stars (out of five) to two. Despite evidence the anonymous posts were written by the same person, Amazon declined to remove them.
A front page article in the June 29th Los Angeles Times considers this case and others, including a post by one anonymous reviewer who blatantly signed his review with the president of Amazon's email address. (Amazon did remove that one.) [Unfortunately the LA Times' links remain valid for only a day or two, after which articles are moved into pay archives.]
Weblogs, noted last month, are one of the less predictable ways that web journalism is developing to be unlike the paper-bound traditional press. A more obvious way is noted by Slate editor Michael Kinsley in a Boston Globe feature on webzines.
Q: What's the most surprising thing you've learned doing this?
(Locus Online suspects that web publications divided up into ''issues'' (not to mention ''volumes'' and ''numbers'') will soon seem as quaint as early cinematic efforts that planted an unmoving camera before a staged dramatic production. --ed.)
A: I guess I'm going to look like a fool for being surprised, but the enormous demands for speed and immediacy. I started out thinking we would
literally be a weekly magazine published on the Web. Yet we were updating every
day, from day one. Now we're updating constantly. We hear from readers who say,
''It's been 45 minutes since the school shooting, and you have nothing on it.''
(Tue 29 Jun 1999)