Category: Science & Technology

Our Top Genre Picks This Week: Nonfiction

Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just so we can ensure consistent, high-quality recommendations. This week's nonfiction picks range from the origins of humanity to the fine print of computer programming. Looking for a different genre? Check back next week for new picks, or send us your ideas and we'll do our best to curate hot titles.

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Apple Hiring Writers and Editors To Improve Siri

Ultron was a dick. Hal 9000 was a liability. Wintermute + Neuromancer= bad. The eternal struggle of man vs. machine has inspired a plethora of literature regarding the topic. If there is one thing we have learned from the cautionary tales of science fiction—it’s that artificial intelligence is probably not a good thing. Worst case scenario, human beings create self-aware machines that ultimately rebel and replace us as the dominant species.

think artificial intelligence GIF by Massive Science
IMAGE VIA GIPHY.COM

The sometimes swift and other times comfortingly slow (if the predictions that exist in popular fiction are any indication) advancement of artificial intelligence has startled some of the greatest minds in history. People who rely on technology. Stephen Hawking wasn’t pleased, Bill Gates has expressed fear and Elon Musk once urged people at the highest levels of government to slow the f down. Still, no group of people has been able to better articulate the growing concern of artificial intelligence than writers. Stan Lee, Samuel Butler, William Gibson, Frank Herbert, H.G Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, and Mary Shelly; all of these writers and MANY more played with themes of technology and the danger of playing God.

IMAGE VIA SMITHSONIANMAG.COM

Ironically, things have now come full circle. Writers are needed to aid with the development of Siri—the “chick” is a dial tone (I’m going to put every pronoun in quotes because she’s technically not a she). Apparently, the female-voiced ominous agent of societal collapse lacks relatability. In an article published on Thinknum Media‘s website, it was reported that Apple is looking to hire teams of writers and editors to help improve the way their virtual assistant, Siri, communicates. The goal is to make Apple’s low-key mischievious “madame” more engaging. Siri’s popularity is in peril as she lacks the amount of sports knowledge, anecdotes and incidental information necessary to succeed as an A.I. I guess people are just doing things themselves due to a lack of interest in Siri’s narrative? God/secular tyrants built by us forbid. The adjectives “witty” and “funny” were used to describe the way in which they would like “her” to be improved.

Thinknum Media has tracked hiring data over the past few months and found job posts that revolve around making the digital assistant more entertaining. Various job listings aim to recruit engineers with a deep knowledge of and appreciate for particular subjects; however, the top postings are of the literary variety—-a Siri Editorial Manager and an International Creative Writer, as seen above.

Siri, along with her cohorts Alexa and Google, have helped us play our favorite songs, schedule various appointments, and order food (for which we are forever grateful)…It’s worth mentioning that I am more of a Droid fan and have no idea what Siri is capable of…Should the literary community lend “her” a pinch of the quirkiness that is invaluable and unique to human beings? Maybe we owe it to “her.” I for one think that this particular form of magic should not be lent to a potential threat. The kind of magic that is often a beautiful result of chance or sometimes something that took hours of hair pulling, chain-smoking, and rewriting to lend to a fictional character conceived in our mind.

So I implore writers and editors reading this to harbor their wit. Don’t apply to those available positions. Save it for your friends, family members, and star-struck groupies who follow you on your book tour when you inevitability publish the next great cautionary tale of scientific corruption. Save it for the page.

…but if you are unemployed and REALLY need some income…I guess go for it. I mean I did apply; although this article probably offsets any good my brown-nosing cover letter did.

Featured Image Via Apple.com/Images Via Media.thinknum.com

Authors Oprah Winfrey, Jane Goodall Included in Activist Art Installation

Equal rights activists, artists, and married couple Gillie and Marc Schattner are bringing gender-balanced public art to global cities with their new initiative, “Statues for Equality,” which aims to introduce statues of living women to cities that favor statues of male figures (so, most cities). New York will be the first city to display 10 of the artist-couple’s statues, all of which will pay tribute to living women. Authors among these women will include renowned public figures Oprah Winfrey (author of What I Know for Sure) and Jane Goodall (author of In the Shadow of Man).

According to the couple’s website, fewer than 3% of public statues in New York depict women, and even fewer depict historical women who made or are making significant contributions to society—as opposed to children’s book characters. Writers, world leaders, researchers, and more will debut at 1285 Avenue of the Americas on August 26th, 2019.

 

A statue of Eleanor Roosevelt sits at West 72nd Street and Riverside Park. Image Via Wikipedia Commons.

 

Gillie and Marc are perhaps best known for their widely popular sculpture The Last Three, a massive work featuring three life-sized northern white rhinos stacked precariously on top of one another that was installed at Astor Place and which was intended to immortalize the three remaining northern white rhinos in the world. (Since the statue’s debut, the last male northern white rhino has died while two females are still alive; all three are depicted in the sculpture.) The statue is now located at the San Antonio Zoo in Texas. According to their website, Gillie and Marc have nicknamed themselves “the world’s most loving artists” due to their tendency to focus on humanitarian causes in their work.

 

Gillie and Marc’s Astor Place installation ‘The Last Three.’ Image courtesy of Gillie and Marc Schattner.

 

In addition to Goodall and Winfrey, the summer installation will also feature Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, P!nk, Tererai Trent, Janet Mock, Tracy Dyson, Cheryl Strayed, and Gabby Douglas. You may recognize Harriet Tubman (St. Nicholas Avenue and West 122nd Street) and Joan of Arc (West 93rd Street in Riverside Park) as two of the existing five statues of historical women figures in the city—sculptures depicting fictional figures include Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Fearless Girl.

There are no plans for the statues to remain permanently at 1285 Avenue of the Americas after the exhibition closes, but the team’s website emphasizes that Statues for Equality is a global initiative, and the sculptures will likely travel. Gillie and Marc will expand their initiative to other cities after the New York launch and are still accepting nominations from the public for future statues.

 

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

7 Products Every Book-Loving Night Owl Needs

The nighttime can be the best time for reading. It’s calm, quiet, and you can leave the stress of the day behind as you flip through the pages of your favorite book. But reading at night can also be a pain! You want to lay in bed and get ready for sleep, but the room  is too cold, the lighting isn’t right, and all in all you just cannot relax!

These products will help you with any of your late night reading needs. Just don’t count on them helping you get any sleep.

 

  1. HD Horizontal Glasses

 

Prism-Glasses-for-Bed-Reading

Image via Hobrr.

 

With these glasses, you can finally read while laying down without the strain on your neck or eyes! Just put them on, lay back, and the reflective mirrors will do the rest.

 

Sold by Anri via Amazon

Cost: 13.95 US Dollars

 

2. A Heated Throw Blanket

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 2.43.09 PM

Image via Target.

 

For those extremely cold nights, or for anyone who likes a warm comfort while they read. Set the temperature to the right heat level for you, and then relax the night away!

 

Sold by Biddford via Target

Cost: 59.99 USD (currently on sale for 44.99 US Dollars)

 

3. MagniPros 3x Reading Magnifier

 

wide horizontal handheld reading magnifier

Image via Hobbr.

 

Sometimes you want to set the mood with your favorite read and turn the lights down. This light up magnifying glass will help you to see in the dimmest of settings.

 

Sold by MagniPros via Amazon

Cost: 39.99 US Dollars (currently on sale for 26.95 US Dollars)

 

 

4. Walter Drake Book Pillow Holder

 

Book-Pillow-Holder

Image via Hobrr.

 

With this cushion, your book will be held up for reading. No hands required, except for page flipping of course. It also comes with a long tasseled rope sewn to the cushion to be used as a bookmark. When you need to answer the door for some midnight pizza, this will definitely come in handy!

 

Sold by Fox Valley Traders via Amazon

Cost: 14.95 US Dollars

 

 

5. Ember 10oz Temperature Controlled Ceramic Mug

 

Ember Temperature Controlled Ceramic Mug, White, 10 oz

Image via Google Express.

 

We’ve all been there. We have a fantastic book in our hand that’s so entertaining we forget about everything else around us, including our late night drink. By the time we come to, it’s already room temperature and not to our taste. Blech! At last a solution has been found!

This mug has Bluetooth and syncs up to an app on your phone. From there you can set the temperature of your drink and enjoy that relaxing lavender tea, sweet delightful cocoa, or energizing latte for however long you want. Or for at least as long as the battery lasts.

 

Sold by Ember via Best Buy

Cost: 79.99 US Dollars

 

6. The Night Book

 

Image via Design Boom.

 

For anyone who wants to shed a little light in their library. This little book shaped light reveals its light when you pull it out of the casing it comes in.

It can also lie on its side to provide a little light wherever you are at home (or even away from home), or you can have it tucked away in your bookcase so you can see any other books you might want to read.

 

 

Sold By Y.S.M Products

Cost: 24,000 Japanese yen (roughly 220 US Dollars)

 

7. SUCK UK Book Rest Lamp

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 10.49.07 AM

Image via SUCK UK.

 

Doubling as a dim light and the perfect place to have your book rest. This is the ideal book nerd nightlight!

This is awesome if you’re the type who cannot sleep unless there’s some light in the room. It’s also great for seeing at night, so you don’t knock your shin into the corner of the bed for the hundredth time in a row.

The cute house shape is also good for holding your place in your book.

 

Sold By SUCK UK via Amazon

Cost: 72.53 US Dollars

 

 

Featured Image via Etsy.

nanowrimo

The Best Apps for Every Step of NaNoWriMo

So it’s the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, and you only have time to do things like go to school for eight hours, sleep for an inconvenient five or so, and occasionally eat. Writing does take time, but you have more time than you probably think (unless you thought you had twenty-four hours in a day, which is technically accurate but unlikely for a functioning person). While there are some circumstances where you can’t whip out your laptop, there are far fewer cases where it’s unusual to take out your phone. So instead of lamenting your wasted time, use the moments you do have to chip away at that 50k on iPhone or Android… with some (all free!) apps to help you with every step of the process.

 

1. The research process 

 

 

Charlie Kelly from 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Image Via Imgur.com

 

Evernote, free for iPhone and Android, is perfect for keeping track of all your research and inspirational quotations. Its Web Clipper feature allows you to incorporate your source material directly into your notes, so you don’t crash your computer (again) with your 22 dubiously-useful open tabs.

 

2. The outline 

 

 

Millie Bobby Brown Gif

Gif Via Tumblr.com

 

Go Writer Lite for iPhone incorporates note-taking into the writing process with the draft board feature, a temporary storage space for text fragments (like that one sentence you just can’t figure out). As a bonus, the app will read your text aloud to you, so you can hear for yourself what sounds the way you imagined it.

 

Workflowy for Android is perfect for complicated outlines, allowing users to see any heading and its subheadings in isolation to prevent distraction (to the extent that it can). The app also includes searchable hashtags, so you can mark problem areas you want to remember for later—and then actually remember them.

 

3. The first draft

 

 

'Tom and Jerry' Gif

Gif Via Github.com

 

Writer for iPhone is more powerful than your typical word processor, saving all drafts of your product so that you never lose any material. In addition to your usual built-in spell check, this app also comes with a built in thesaurus to help you find the right (write?) word. On top of that, the app has simple yet varied table of contents formatting to help you and (and your eventual readers!) stay organized.

 

4. The editing process 

 

 

Frantic Typing Gif

Gif Via Gfycat.com

 

Unlike your typical sticky note phone app, Jotterpad for Android keeps track of your word count, paragraph count, character count, AND reading time. With a built in dictionary and thesaurus, this app is already better than many word processing computer programs. Jotterpad is especially good for your second and third drafts, as its snapshot feature allows you to revert to earlier versions of your story.

 

With any luck, these apps will help you put your (relatively few) moments of down time to work writing the novel of your dreams (or occasionally your nightmares).

 

Featured Image Via WeScreeplay