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I’ve got a new book on order, which should arrive next week. It’s called The Evolution of God, written by Robert Wright. Wright is an author who writes about science and culture whose books I’ve enjoyed very much: Nonzero and The Moral Animal in particular. This new book sounds very interesting, and perhaps a bit…

The Evolution of God

I’ve got a new book on order, which should arrive next week. It’s called The Evolution of God, written by Robert Wright. Wright is an author who writes about science and culture whose books I’ve enjoyed very much: Nonzero and The Moral Animal in particular. This new book sounds very interesting, and perhaps a bit controversial. It’s about how society’s idea of God changes over time. The Atlantic excerpted a part of the book in the April 2009 issue: One World, Under God. Robert Wright is currently a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. He is also the founder of Bloggingheads.tv, a wonderful site for frank discussion about current issues, science and politics. Here is an excerpt from The Atlantic article that gets to the heart of what Wright will descuss in the forthcoming book: “In any event, whether or not history has a purpose, its moral direction is hard to deny. Since the Stone Age, the scope of social organization has expanded, from hunter-gatherer society through city-state through empire and beyond. And often this expansion has entailed the extension of mutual understanding across bounds of ethnicity, religion, or nationality. Indeed, it turns out that formative periods in both Islam and Judaism evince the same dynamic as early Christianity: an imperial, multiethnic milieu winds up fostering a tolerance of other ethnicities and faiths.”

Here is Publisher’ Weekly’s description of the book, which has been 10 years in the making: “In his illuminating book, The Moral Animal, Wright introduced evolutionary psychology and examined the ways that the morality of individuals might be hard-wired by nature rather than influenced by culture. With this book, he expands upon that work, turning now to explore how religion came to define larger and larger groups of people as part of the circle of moral consideration. Using a naïve and antiquated approach to the sociology and anthropology of religion, Wright expends far too great an effort covering well-trod territory concerning the development of religions from “primitive” hunter-gatherer stages to monotheism. He finds in this evolution of religion, however, that the great monotheistic (he calls them “Abrahamic,” a term not favored by many religion scholars) religions-Christianity, Islam, Judaism-all contain a code for the salvation of the world. Using game theory, he encourages individuals in these three faiths to embrace a non-zero-sum relationship to other religions, seeing their fortunes as positively correlated and interdependent and then acting with tolerance toward other religions. Regrettably, Wright’s lively writing unveils little that is genuinely new or insightful about religion.”

Posted by Joel on May 30 2009 • Books

Skin Magazine

This is certainly taking magazine publishing to a new level. In an age that has magazine publishers looking for a medium more renewable than ink on paper, this publisher has created something more permanent than the page. He published his latest issue as a tattoo--on himself. From the Wall Street Journal: “Marc Strömberg is a 22-year-old graphic designer in Ume, Sweden, and his leg is still sore. He creates record sleeves and posters for bands, and in his spare time he runs his own magazine, Tare Lugnt. Instead of publishing the latest edition in traditional paper and ink, he has had issue three entirely tattooed onto his left leg. The leg has now been photographed, and large-scale prints are due to go on display in Göteborg and Stockholm this month.”

“Q: Why did you do it?

“It seemed like a really untraditional and extreme way to publish the magazine. I think that everyone should explore new mediums, all the time. We should experiment and have the guts to do something that stands out. It would have been boring to do just another magazine on paper. I originally wanted to do a pair of long underwear, with the articles printed on the material, so you could wear them, lie down on the couch and read the magazine off your own legs. It sprung from that idea, taken a little further.”

Posted by Joel on May 24 2009 • Multimedia

25 Rules of Editing

John McIntyre, copy editor for the Baltimore Sun and former president of the American Copy Editors Society, has created his top 25 rules of editing. These are great. I can certainly relate to number one on his list, McIntyre’s Ratio: The project will require three times the planned time to achieve one-third of the desired result.

(Another good one: 12. A thesaurus in a reporter’s hand is like a pistol in a toddler’s.)

Posted by Joel on May 02 2009 • Journalism

Magazine v. Television

A recent study conducted by McPheters and Company found that magazines are much better at reaching potential customers. As an advertising vehicle, magazines compete very well with television and the internet. As reported in this research brief from The Center for Media Research: “To find the relative effectiveness of ads on television, in magazines, and on the Internet, McPheters & Company used 30-second TV ads, full-page 4-color magazine ads, and Internet banner ads in standard sizes, and employed eye-tracking software to determine if (and how) Internet ads were actually seen by respondents.”

Here are some of the study’s findings:
* Within a half hour, magazines effectively delivered more than twice the number of ad impressions as TV and more than 6 times those delivered online.
* Magazines had ad recall almost three times that of Internet banner ads.

Study results, in combination with information on probability of exposure, found that:
* A full-page, 4-color magazine ad, was determined to have 83% of the value of a 30-second television commercial.
* A typical Internet banner ad had 16% of the value of a 30-second television commercial.

Posted by Joel on May 02 2009 • Multimedia