Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, August 13, 2021

birding
Once again, I must cite Bill Simmons’ bold prediction on the future of sports journalism, as published by ESPN The Magazine:

…I see a day when the following sequence will be routine: Player demands trade on blog; team obliges and announces deal on Twitter; player thanks old fans, takes shots at old team and gushes about new team on Facebook. We will not need anyone to report this, just someone to recap it. Preferably with links.

Only three months after writing that, Simmons is seeing his vision come true. At least a healthy chunk of it. Because today, the Tampa Bay Lightning followed that social-media script by teasing, and then formally announcing, a player trade via Twitter.

Granted, the deal was hardly earth-shaking: Underachieving forward Evgeny Artyukin to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for winger Drew Miller and a third-round draft pick in 2010. It’s certainly nowhere near the magnitude of tonight’s NFL news about Michael Vick signing with Philadelphia (which was delivered through traditional media). But it does demonstrate a willingness by a National Hockey League club to bypass the established channels with high-level news that’s especially relevant for fans. And it’s significant that this was an announcement directly from an NHL front office, versus the roundabout way in which the NBA’s Shaquille O’Neal learned about his trade, through his tweetstream.

Suddenly, social media outlets are official major-pro sports communication organs. The players are likewise utilizing online media. The future’s now. And while sports reporters aren’t out of a job (and won’t be, given that there’ll always be dirt to dig up that will never be tweeted or permalinked by the primaries), they increasingly will be competing to be heard, and will have to refine their message accordingly.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/13/2009 09:45:09 PM
Category: Basketball, Football, Hockey, Media, Social Media Online
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It’s one thing to post online fan-fiction starring Lizzy and Darcy. It’s quite another to build it atop the original Jane Austen prose, and then package that into a best-selling parody book.

But then, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is more than just fanfic: It’s the result of a clever remix of classic literature and modern pop culture.

Quirk Books editorial director Jason Rekulak said he was inspired by the Internet-unleashed wave of “creative copyright infringement” — musical and video mash-ups that mangle styles and genres for comic or dramatic effect.

He made a list of classic books whose copyrights have lapsed and were ripe for pillage, from “Moby Dick” to “Great Expectations.”

“Then I made a list of things that might enhance these novels — robots, ninjas, zombies,” Rekulak said. “As soon as I drew a line between ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and zombies, I knew I had a great title.”

The irresistible title is key to the success of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” The book itself keeps most of Austen’s story — girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl is won over by boy’s good looks and large fortune — with added chunks of zombie violence by U.S. writer Seth Grahame-Smith.

Indeed, that title and imagery is the hook. I first came across Quirk’s offering during a recent visit to a bookstore. The cover caught my eye and drew my gaze to an otherwise out-of-the-way corner of the store. I got a chuckle out of that sight. It wasn’t enough for me to pick it up and buy it, but I recognized a good literary joke when I saw one. I didn’t know then about the content mash-up, which is about 85 percent original Austen and 15 percent new-material supplemental. If I were a fan of the Austen source material, I’d probably give it, and the inevitable spin-offs like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”, a read.

As with any take-off or riff, this subgenre has limited appeal. I can’t imagine how much someone would enjoy this stuff unless they were also familiar with the originals — and then, it’s just as likely to offend the fans. And at root, it’s a gimmicky approach that can’t help but burn itself out sooner rather than later. Not before some opportunist slips up and gives similar treatment to a still-copyrighted work — I’m betting on “The Catcher in the Rye with Shotguns” being the first target of litigation…

Still, I can see these monster-mashed editions being popular enough for teachers to assign them side-by-side with the original classics in high-school lit courses, as an enticement to get kids to read critically. So the zombification of 19th-Century chick-lit can’t be all bad.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/13/2009 03:21:47 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Pop Culture, Publishing
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Only a couple of years after multiplying like crazy, a suddenly-slimmer American banking industry is looking to shut down many of its local branches.

For starters, some banks aggressively overbuilt in the years leading up to the crisis, experts note, hoping to capitalize on the housing market boom among other things.

“There is no question there were some areas that were overbranched,” said Scott MacDonald, a professor of banking at SMU’s Cox School of Business. “If you go to somewhere like California, there was literally a branch on every corner.”

As of the end of last June, the U.S. banking industry boasted over 99,000 branches. Five years earlier, that number stood at just under 88,000, according to recent data published by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Nowadays however, banks are coping with the fact that branches are generally much less profitable nowadays as banks have become reluctant to issue new loans in light of troubling economic signs like rising unemployment.

Much like how Starbucks’ overextended itself with across-the-street dueling locations, banks now have to retrench. I just think it’s funny how a strategy that so obviously resulted in over-saturation of the market was considered convention-defying genius during the boom cycle, and is now reassessed as foolhardy during the bust. Economic context is everything.

Personally, I wouldn’t miss a nearby human-staffed branch. All I need is a reliable ATM that accepts deposits without envelopes/slips (most of which do now). I just wonder what will move in, in place of those teller windows and such. With both the banks and *$ retreating, only the ubiquitous Duane Reade stores will remain as street-corner fixtures in Manhattan…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/13/2009 01:18:51 PM
Category: Business
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