A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Northern Voice Recap: Friday

Hello you. Welcome to my external brain. Some people call it a blog.

Speaking of blogs, I was at a blogging conference this weekend.

Northern Voice, I’ve been to every one and it is my favourite conference. The diversity is striking compared to other conferences, and I think that’s part of its charm. Northern Voice is a personal blogging conference, which means people talk about biodiversity in nature, the legal aspects of the internet and what doing social good means. Flip charts and powerpoint are kept to a minimum.

Below are my random thoughts that I’d like to recall at a later date. You can stop here if you wish.

Academic podcasting
Appears to be mostly the re-purposing of lectures and that’s not a great form of learning. If I ever teach a course, I will remember this.

SoundCloud looks like a very cool tool for sharing audio/podcast clips. There’s a dropbox that you can put on a MySpace page or other site that let’s people drop audio tracks for you and grab yours. Plus there’s a nice embeddable widget telling visitors listen to your stuff. Might be a good tool for a regular Boxcar Marketing podcast or for course lectures. 
Watch the 3-min. video on Soundcloud.

Online Publishing and the Law

Dan Burnett is a leading defamation and media lawyer in Canada.  He teaches media law at the UBC graduate school of journalism, was lead counsel in a ground breaking Supreme Court of Canada case which revised the law of fair comment to better recognize free speech, and represents web publishers on a wide range of defamation and related issues.

Dan talked about how traditional journalists have insurance and legal teams, but bloggers are exposed.

He also had some key points on Defamation and Libel.

Defamation is any negative statement about someone.

Repeating a libel is a libel.

Avoid making a negative statement framed as truth if you do not have the evidence to back up that statement.

You can identify that someone is making this claim (insert) and that I disagree because (insert).

Quoting someone else does not protect you. Again repeating a libel is a libel. You can, however, quote a statement in privilege (statements made in official proceedings because those are documented, recordable quotes).

Be aware of court cases because they’re landmines for publication bans. Just avoid it. If you’re so compelled, make sure to consult Courts.gov.bc.ca, which has a court ban search.

Citizen journalism and reporting on this that are a matter of public interest are, of course, highly valuable activities. There’s “responsible communication”, which I took to understand to be that if an allegation is of public interest, whether it’s true or not, then you can make that statement in public interest. Although the intricacies of how this works escapes me.

There is also neutral reportage, where you report a statement, say it’s unverified, and you’ve give the person it’s against a chance to respond.

The implications of blogging, even privately, are high. Everyone who participates in a publication is a publisher.

Published is defined as 1 other person sees it.

You can avoid defamation:

1. If it’s opinion, and it’s clear that it’s an opinion.

2. If you avoid negative statements of fact that you can’t prove. Don’t say, for example, Gordon Campbell is an alcoholic, unless you have substantial proof.

3. “In my opinion” helps.
But you can’t say, “In my opinion Gordon Campbell is an alcoholic.”

4. Truth defense.
I missed what this is but I assume that if the statement is true and you can undoubtedly prove it to be true, go for it.

5. Privilege (protects fair accounts of official proceedings and their docs)

6. New defense of “responsible communication:” If something is in the public interest, you can report it responsibly. This means you must give that person a chance to respond before you go public with the story.

7. Don’t take lessons from American examples. Free speech is very different here.

8. Beware of libel tourism.
Sophisticated plaintiffs will seek the best jurisdiction where the laws are in their favour. Celebrities, for example, go to England to sue. There they are a public figure and the laws are different. They can win a lawsuit in England that they would not be able to in the US.

You can be sued anywhere in the world where your publication is available. But practically, if you don’t have assets in that jurisdiction, then it’s difficult for them to collect.

Other things I learned:

The person suing doesn’t have to prove damages.

Are you liable for hyperlinks?
If the link acts as a footnote, there’s no liability unless the accompanying words endorse the libel found on the linked site.
You can’t say, “For the dirty truth on X, click here.”

Public domain is when the author has been dead 50 years. Public domain is not because it’s on YouTube.

Fair dealing only applies to news or criticism or private study. You are required to credit the source. Non-excessive use is met. The rules are slightly different for satire, parody, and commentary, but the legal restrictions in Canada are quite limiting.

Parody and satire is not fair dealing in BC.

David Ng: The structure of a great presentation

David Ng always gives a great presentation. I think this is because he knows how to tell a story. Perhaps he’s internalized Tod Maffin’s presentation on what “IT” is.

He starts with a scientific question.
Then tells a story that establishes a universal truth, in this case that the “actual size” is not as seen on the package.
Next makes the connection between that scientific question and the narrative.

In this case he’s talking about what’s actually happening in the interwebs vs what’s talked about a lot, as if it’s happening.

Great intro. Great setting the stage.

Now on to what we want to talk about. Biodiversity and science and how crowdsourcing and the internet can be used to create opportunities for wider learning.

Next up: audience participation, keep the brain paying attention to David.

David shows us a photo of a bird
Who knows what it is?

Eight of us know that it’s a European starling. An invasive species here in BC that is everywhere.

Now, who knows what this is?
Many more hands are raised with the photo of a Pokemon character.

Oh dear.

The purely fictional has greater recognition than an invasive species that’s in our face every day. Yes, here is another universal truth.

So how can we combine widespread understanding and knowledge of things spread through the internet with scientific discovery and understanding?

David introduces The Phylomon Project. Very cool.

We leave with a clear set of tasks for participating and understanding scientific study.

1. See something
2. Think of a reason why
3. Figure out a way to check your reason
4. Now, everyone gets to dump on you
5. Repeat until consensus is formed

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Social Media and the Vancouver Opera

Remember when we blogged the opera?

Ling Chan of the Vancouver Opera and Capulet Communications have been doing a couple of sessions for business groups on blogger outreach and twitter. Vancouver Opera’s success and Capulet’s expertise are written up in the Victoria Times Colonist, and the story went out on the Canwest wires and has been picked up by the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal.

Hooray for Vancouver Opera, and congratulations to Capulet for being such superstars.



The opera’s blog is used to make it more accessible to people, educate them, increase awareness and make connections, Chan said. Other organizations have approached the opera about its social networking methods, which only started in spring of 2008.

Warmest regards,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Gratis vs Libre: Giving Books Away for Free

BookCampTO was this weekend and it stimulated my brain.

Mitch Joel, who I admire greatly, was in attendance and we had a couple of excellent thought exchanges, one of which is playing out on his blog.

Here’s a fleshed out version of my comment “Gratis vs. Libre.”

The thing of value that publishers and authors have is the content of their books. Setting the value of that content at zero is not the way to go. (Although there are interesting examples of free PDFs that lead to great value for the publisher and author. See the D&M case study on The Tar Sands (PDF).—Thank you Alison for sharing!)

Giving the content away for free (in whatever format the book takes) is like my fellow apartment dwellers who toss books into the “free” box in the laundry room. Those books are gratis. They are one step above being thrown away. The value exchange between giver and taker is “meh”.

Freeing the content, as in libre, is what publishers and authors are after. It’s the quest to give—as in a gift—that allows the value exchange of the content to remain in tact.

Why did the D&M campaign meet its goals with the free PDF? Partly because it’s still early days for free PDFs. D&M captured our attention by giving away the entire book because there are few people doing that as a marketing strategy. There is value in the rarity.

More important though is that there was a strategy to this campaign. They set measurable goals in advance. And they didn’t set the only goal as increasing sales because they recognize that there’s not a direct correlation between a single marketing campaign (with multiple facets) to sales. But most important of all, they treated the PDF as a gift.

It was available for a limited time. And it was available, in particular, to journalists and bloggers as a file that they could gift to others. It was libre—free to travel, free to be shared.

And, quite cleverly, there are still reasons for us to talk about Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of a Continent by Andrew Nikiforuk because the publisher has created this case study to share as a gift to other publishers and authors who are debating the merits of posting a free PDF. Thank you again for sharing!

Book publishing is an industry in a cribbage game—and it’s not about avoiding getting skunked by your fellow publishers, it’s about avoiding getting skunked by every other industry vying for consumer attention. You are playing as an industry, not as individual players.

BookCampTO is one example of how we can work together and I really hope to bring that conversation to the west coast. Thank you for the Toronto hospitality.

I’ll be posting my BookCampTO notes at http://www.breakthespine.com/. If you’re interested in attending the Vancouver debrief session sign up for email alerts at Break the Spine, email me, DM me on twitter—chose your means.

Email Alerts from Break the Spine

Website: http://www.breakthespine.com/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/breakthespine or http://www.twitter.com/somisguided


Monday, June 01, 2009

Kill a Critic: A Revenge-Lit Contest

imageBiblioasis and SeenReading have launched the Kill a Critic: A Revenge-Lit contest, to celebrate the Launch of Terry Griggs’s Thought You Were Dead.

The first entries are up at www.revengelit.blogspot.com and the deadline (pardon the pun) is June 12.

How to Entry
Write 250 words or so on the Death of a Critic (Literary or Art), and what they did to get there.
Send entries to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Visit RevengeLit.Blogspot.com for details 

Everybody Hates a Critic. Some people hate them more than others.

Terry Griggs’s new comic-noir biblio-mystery Thought You Were Dead kicks, err, off with a literary critic found under a hedge with a knife in his head, and literary revenge plays an increasingly important role as the novel unfolds. The literary world, and especially the Canadian literary world, can be a small, spiteful – and occasionally murderous – place. Character assassinations abound, books are regularly murdered in the (shrinking) book pages across our fair land, while others are smothered with damningly faint praise. More than a few knives, even if thankfully metaphorical, have been buried hilt deep in authorial backs.

Do you bear the scars of CanLit’s internecine wars? Have you spent a small fortune on postage and only have a drawerful of rejection slips to show for it? Has the world been slow to recognize your evident talent? Then, dear reader, this contest is for you.

To celebrate the launch of Terry Griggs’s Thought You Were Dead, Biblioasis and Seen Reading are teaming up to help you unleash the murder we know is in your heart with our Revenge-Lit contest. Pen a flash fiction of 250 words or so (though, in truth, no one is likely to count them) on the (fictional) literary critic whose body once filled the chalk outline and what he did to get there and send it by June 12th to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The best of the entries will be published as they are received at RevengeLit.blogspot.com. The winning entry will:

1) Receive a one hundred dollar cash prize

2) Be published in a forthcoming issue of CNQ: Canadian Notes & Queries

3) A Biblioasis press catalogue of in-print trade titles (approx. 40 books, retail value approx. $1000.00)

Entries to be judged by Dan Wells, Julie Wilson and Terry Griggs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Burning with Feedburner: SoMisguided On Fire

As my mother used to say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I tell people that they should offer email subscription options as well as RSS because many people still prefer to receive email. That said, I had set up a Feedburner account, then crashed my website, then fixed it (thank you Hop Studios), then noticed the wrong “Sign Up for Email Alerts” was being used.

Alas ... I’m back up on Feedburner, thank you for your patience.

If you’re keen to receive missives via email, please subscribe here:
Subscribe to So Misguided by Email

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shebeen: Old Publishers Have to Think

Come out to the Shebeen.

Old Publishers Have New Think Coming

The Shebeen Club
Monday, April 20, 2009
6:00pm - 9:00pm

What: Old Publishers Have New Think Coming call to arms!

When: Monday, April 20th, 6pm-9

Where: The Shebeen, behind the Irish Heather, 210 Carrall Street.

$15 cash at the door includes dinner and a drink.

And yes, it’s okay to show up without RSVPing first.

Gutenberg was an early adopter. Very few people know that.

Call to action from Monique: I’m going to organize a panel in Vancouver. We’re going to create a model for publishing and marketing books. We’re going to move forward as an industry. Leaders will be identified. Roles will be assigned. If you’re not open to totally change everything you’re doing, then you are not ready for this revolution. Don’t come.

Who’s in?

Monique Trottier is the owner of Boxcar Marketing, an internet marketing company in Vancouver, BC. As the former internet marketing manager of Raincoast Books, she spearheaded major online marketing campaigns, including online promotion of Harry Potter and the creation of the first Canadian-publisher podcast and blog. Her thoughts on marketing and technology can be followed on Twitter at “somisguided” or on her blogs at http://www.boxcarmarketing.com/blog and http://www.SoMisguided.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day: Julie Wilson

Ada Lovelace Day is when we celebrate women in technology who inspire us. I am in awe that I made Kate’s list because Kate is truly inspirational to me.

My shout out, since I’ve been negative about the publishing industry, needs to go to Julie Wilson of SeenReading.com who continues to come up with phenomenal ways to capture the attention of book readers.

She’s promoting poets for Poetry Month:
30 in 30 video

She also has a kick-ass google mashup of bookstores across Canada and about a million great ideas for promoting books online.

I love you Julie. Thank you for rocking my world!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SXSW: Kicking Ass With Controlled Metadata

Saturday, March 14th at 03:30 PM


  * Jenny Benevento - Bento Artisanal Metadata
  * Tom Conrad - Pandora Media Inc
  * Abby Blachly - Librarything


Web 2.0 is all about tagging, right? Many content types are not findable with user-generated metadata. More web projects are using controlled & expert created metadata to complement user tagging to enhance user experience, findability, social networking, & site popularity. We’ll show you how & why it can help you.


Why you should/could use normalized metadata?
Users want to get shit done.

LibraryThing started because I guy wanted to share his book list and pulled the info from the US Library of Congress. That became social as more people wanted to do this. The Dewey number, bisac, etc. are fields of metadata that are pulled into the site in order to take marked records and to make it into an understandable, searchable archive.

Tagging is also present on the site so there’s a good mix of user-generated metadata along with normalized metadata. In addition, users are able to add controlled metadata for things like series titles.

... lull in blood sugar ...

SXSW 09 Interactive

I’m really excited to be at SXSW this year. I have wanted to come every year and have always had some excuse. This year, I’m here!

Today is my second day and I’ve attended two sessions so far that are worth blogging about. Here are my notes on the Boxcar Marketing site:

Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong
This was a quick comparison of transcendental changes in the film industry and how those same types of changes need to occur in web design.

Curating the Crowd Sourced World
Nice panel discussion from people who are currently letting the crowd do the driving (but, of course, the wheel is only controlled at any one time but one person). Perhaps the panelists are more interesting individually.

Fun Facts

SXSW Bag Pickup

There are 6500 registrants for the interactive portion. These are the participant bags.

The speakers’ name signs are last name only. This is so that the cards can be reused by all speakers with the same last name. Now that’s a cool planet-saving measure.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Photographers’ Night at the Opera: Blogging Rigoletto

Blogger Night at the Opera included a lot of photo taking by those much better equipped than I. Here are a few of my favourite picks from my fellow opera bloggers:

Rigoletto as seen by Tris Hussey




See more photos by Tris ...

Opening Night from Tanya’s Point of View

[photos to come]

Tanya’s photostream is here ...

Kimli of Delicious Juice



Look at more photos from Kimli ...

Miss604 was also in the house



More photos from Rebecca ...

Vancouver Opera Performs Verdi’s Rigoletto
March 7 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 17, 2009

Buy Tickets

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monique Trottier Is Today’s Reader on SeenReading.com

Listen to me reading an excerpt from The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway.

During the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted 3 years, a shell struck a group of 22 people who were waiting in line for bread. For the next 22 days, Vedran Smailovic, a renowned local cellist, played Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor at the site in honour of the dead. His actions inspired Steven Galloway to write this novel.

The part I read is from page 75..

The woman is Arrow, a sniper. Nermin is her boss. He has brought her to this spot to hear the cellist for her first time. She is to ensure that the cellist is not killed by enemy snipers.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Show Us Your Balls Super Bowl Commercial

Giant Ant Media and AdHack.com teamed up a couple of months ago to film their alternative to the Super Bowl commercial.

I can’t say the Super Bowl commercials were great this year, but I definitely had a good laugh at the AdHack “Show Us Your Balls” ad.

I loved it so much that I agreed to help promote it. Here’s my hefty press release talking about the secrets to making a great ad. and, for your viewing pleasure ...

Now that you know what the crazy avatars are all about, go check out AdHack’s Contest page where you can write the follow-up script for a chance to have your version filmed.

And those are my “balls balls” at the end of the commercial.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Northern Voice: Blogging Conference Feb. 20-21

Northern Voice is Feb 20 and 21 this year. UBC Forestry Building.

Registration opened yesterday and there was a flurry of activity. The conference sells out every year so if you are interested in attending, here’s the place to buy your tickets.

Dave Olson's paper point presentation

I will, under no circumstances, miss Dave O this year.


Friday is the best day for me to geek it up. I love the on-the-fly scheduling.

The Cool Shoes Project

The people attending, and speaking, all rock. (This is Megan Cole. Definitely worth meeting.)

Kris Krug

And you never know what kk is going to do, so it’s totally worth coming out to Northern Voice for curiosity sake.

Look mom! Blogging with no hands. (That’s called podcasting.)

WordCamp Whistler: January 24

WordCamp Whistler

WordCamp Whistler is a WordPress and social media conference taking place in Whistler, BC, on January 24, 2009. 

WordCamp Whistler is organized by the esteemed:

Every person attending the event will receive access to the conference event, along with a complimentary WordPress souvenir, and admission to the social event in the evening on the 24th. The swag is apparently very cool.

Doors open at 9 am.

For more information, please visit the official website at WordCampWhistler.com

Early bird pricing of $35 is only valid until Friday, January 9. After that time the price raises to $40.

If you plan to stay overnight, the Fairmont has reserved some rooms at a sweet price, but book soon. Fairmont will be releasing some of the reserved rooms into the general populace shortly. If you want to book, please use this link.

For tickets, please visit our EventBrite page:

I am very sad not to make it. Please go so I can glean info from you and look at the photos.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Roughing It In The Books

Alexis and Melanie have started Roughing It In The Books. I love the tagline, “someone always dies in the end.”

Roughing It In The Books is what I love best about the internet. Here are two women who love books, reading, writing, publishing and are having an online conversation about it that we can all follow and/or join.

The site focus is on Canadian Literature.

I don’t know anyone who reads the classics anymore – not the Canadian Lit. classics anyway. Ask Canadians about them and they roll their eyes and mutter something about Roughing it in the Bush – which, unless you have actually taken a University level Canadian Lit. course you probably haven’t read. Susanna Moodie’s whiney tale of life in the New Country is the quintessential Canadian novel people love to hate. Ask a non-Canadian and their reaction would probably be, “Canadian what?”

So true!

When you talk to people who haven’t studied Canadian Literature, they really have no idea that we live in a land full of amazing writers. And the reference to Roughing It In The Bush by Susanna Moodie is another clever inside joke. Even those of us to studied Canadian Lit. were steered to Sinclair Ross (1908-1996), Ernest Buckler (1908–1984) and Susanna Moodie (1803-1884). All great authors for many reasons, but they just don’t stir up the same connotations as their English or American counterparts. There’s even something sexy and unknown about Australian Lit. or Caribbean Lit.

I’m enjoying the current updates on the Canada Reads Challenge.