Monday, January 3, 2011

Things to Watch, Hear, and Read, New Year's Editon

Welcome to 2011, and to the second anniversary of World Wide Woodard. To kick off the New Year, a few items of interest from the wider world.

Wikileaks - The Documentary: My blog got its start in Reykjavik, where Wikileaks made its first big pitch for sanctuary. I'm wondering if they'll be increasing their presence in Iceland if things get too hot and heavy in Sweden for founder Julian Assange. The most comprehensive documentary on the group's "history" -- if one can use that word for something so young -- aired on Swedish television last month. Friends and foes alike will learn something from setting aside an hour to watch. (The "Collateral Damage" helicopter tapes are still chilling.)

Ruins of Detroit: The Guardian has this arresting slide show of images from a dying American city. It provoked a lengthy capital vs labor blame game discussion when I posted it on my Facebook page. See what happens when you post it on yours. [Update, 1/5/2011: a friend-of-a-friend created this engaging video documentary, Detroit Lives, offering a second, more optimistic take on the Motor City,.]

Borders on the Brink: Speaking of Detroit, Ann Arbor-based Borders Books & Music is also in trouble. Publishers Weekly reported on Dec. 31 that the retailer has been cut off by one of the big six New York publishers after it stopped paying its bills. The Detroit News has this sobering follow-up, suggesting the firm may not survive.

Books on the Brink?: Will the Kindle and Amazon destroy the book industry or revive it? The Boston Review has an excellent and wide ranging article on the state of publishing, and what industry consolidation, big boxes, Amazon, and e-books have done to it. One of many depressing factoids: "It has become common practice for representatives of large retailers to weigh in on everything from book covers to sample chapters of manuscripts. In some cases, retailers even demand changes...Without their buy-in, the publisher is unlikely to go forward with a book." Perhaps Borders will be surrendering their seat to Amazon or Wal-Mart shortly.

Hungary on the Brink? Hungary's government is showing its true colors, and they aren't pretty. My friend Dumneazu has a comprehensive round-up of the situation from there. Good news is, I understand support for the farther-right Jobbik party -- subject of some of my not-so- recent reporting from the region -- has been on the wane.

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