An English Sputnik Moment

Delayed response to the Sunday papers. Everyone is a Critic Now ,  the cover story for the Observer, turned out to be fair and balanced, even quite ok about the web. But then I noticed a bit at the end.

We live, then, in a new age of cultural populism – an age in which everyone is not only entitled to his opinion but is encouraged to share it. Nothing could be more American.

Except that some of us are not American. This is an English newspaper I think and I live in the UK. Guardian Media Group is buying this sort of thing in and it may already have appeared somewhere else. Previously there was a piece on internet novels written by Laura Miller. Actually she thought that novels were not enough about the internet. Apart from a blindspot around science fiction I thought her views were sound enough but most of the references were to novels from the USA. 

The Guardian and Observer don't print much explanation. "Here is some copy we found in a USA publication, originally some time ago" or something like that. My guess is that it could  be hard to find similar content written in London. There is still quite enough on web dangers, how social media rot the brain etc.

Could there be some kind of UK / English take on the web that mixed writing, technology and business model? I use the word English as it seems to me the web has taken the centre outside the UK. Maybe this is just one of those things. Maybe there will be some adjustments.

Neil Stockley describes Obama's speech about a "sputnik moment" as a "springboard story".

(What’s a springboard story? Storytelling guru Stephen Denning defines it as:

a story that enables a leap in understanding by the audience so as to grasp how an organization or community or complex system may change.

The Obama version
Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs. This is our generation's Sputnik moment.

It seems to me that UK publishing is some time behind on all things digital. I did some searching to find that the Guardian did report Amazon numbers last Friday online. ( Kindle version outsells paperbacks, and hardbacks by factor of three) Still can't find this in Saturday print.

The comments seems to doubt the source for evidence of growth in ebook sales. I think there has been significant change in the USA for some time. Kindle is now available in the UK.

The main story is that the judges of the Man Booker prize will have an option to read the long list in electronic format, saving on weight and delays in advance copy.  Lead comment from Benedicte Page

The ebook revolution has swept past two more milestones in its ferocious advance upon the bastions of literary culture. 

So this could be the start of something. Then again, maybe not.