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News Roundup: The Crowdsourced Cat Book, Infinite Permutations of the Digital Book, EBay vs. Amazon (Round 2)

The Crowdsourced Cat Book

Amazing but True Cat Stories is a 38-page coffee table book born from the combined efforts of Mechanical Turk contributors. The creator/editor of the book, Björn Hartmann, describes the genesis of the project on his blog:

The idea for this book was born in Terminal A at Washington Dulles, where I was stranded for some hours in late July 2008. To spend my time, I posted the following two tasks on MTurk:

1. What’s the craziest thing your cat has ever done? Write at least one paragraph about a funny, unbelievable or otherwise memorable incident involving your cat. This should be a real story that happened to you or your family.

2. Sketch a cat. With or without an environment and toys. The cat can be drawn in software or on paper. Do not upload photographs of cats. Have fun! (Continue reading)

Infinite Permutations of the Digital Book

James Bridle discusses the near infinite malleability of digital books. From booktwo.org:

Imagine a book that told a different story every time it
was opened. The story might change depending on the gender
of the reader, or the sex. It might depend on the location
of the reader, or the position of the book in time; the time
of day, or time in years. Centuries might pass before the
book tells the same story again. (Continue reading)

EBay Wants You to Buy It Now

EBay is moving into Amazon’s territory. Citing reduced consumer interest in online auctions, eBay is refocusing on fixed-price “Buy It Now” products. From the New York Times:

Among the changes being announced Wednesday [8/20/08] is a new pricing plan for sellers who offer fixed-price items in eBay’s “Buy It Now” format. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay only 35 cents to list an item for 30 days, a reduction of about 70 percent in upfront fees. EBay also announced that it would no longer allow most customers to pay by check or cash, a change aimed at curbing fraud. Users will need to pay with a credit card or through eBay’s PayPal online payment service.

Direct competition between eBay and Amazon is nothing new. Amazon tried to capitalize on eBay’s success by launching its own auction business in 1999, but by 2001 it had scaled back its auction efforts.

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