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A Game of Books
August 19, 2014 – 02:58 pm
Injustice Version 2.0 Update

I’m well aware that this is insane behavior. But hear me out. You guys know how much I love Heifer International. I wouldn’t take time away from my own fundraiser to encourage you to put money somewhere else unless it was a good cause.

Here’s the thing. A couple months ago, I got an e-mail about something called The Game Of Books. It seemed like someone was putting together some sort of grand project, and he was a fan of my books and was wondering if I’d like to be involved. It was something about libraries… and reading… and games….

All things I like. But honestly? It was a long e-mail, and I didn’t have time to give it any serious attention, so I forwarded it to my lovely assistant Amanda with the instructions, “Figure out if this is bullshit or not.”

A couple weeks later, she comes back to me and says, “I’ve e-mailed with the guy in charge, and that Game of Books thing looks like it might be pretty cool.”

This really isn’t what I was expecting. And it’s not what I wanted to hear, either. Because I need another project like I need to be punched in the neck.

Still, Amanda is smart. I wouldn’t have hired her if she wasn’t smart. What’s more, she was a teacher. So she knows about education. And she likes my books, so she obviously has good taste as well.

“Fine, ” I say, sitting down by the computer. “Show me.”

So she pulls up a website and starts to explain about the Book Genome Project. About how they’re going to take all this information and turn it into a card game that will help people find books they like, and get kids reading, and….

“Wait.” I said. “I’ve seen this before. It’s bullshit. It said my book was about firefighting.” I’m irritated. I’ve got so many things to do, I can’t waste time with this…

(Click to Embiggen.)

But Amanda is enthusiastic. She points out that this guy has some heavy hitters on his side, like the American Library Association.

“Do we have a number for him?” I ask.

We do. So I dial him up. (His name’s Aaron Stanton, by the way.)

I plan on spending no more than ten minutes on the phone with this guy. I’m going to be polite, thank him for wanting to involve me with the project, and ask a few questions that will confirm my suspicions that this whole project is well-intentioned but ill-conceived bullshit.

Some of you may not know this, but in addition to being a writer, I was an English teacher for a goodly while. I’ve taken entire graduate classes that centered around the critical assessment of writing. I was a writing tutor for fifteen years. I used to *train* writing tutors.

What I’m saying is that I know how complicated interpreting a piece of text can be. It is something that computers suck at, because while computers are meticulous, they are in no way intelligent. I don’t care how good your algorithm is. A computer cannot grade a paper. It cannot give substantive editorial advice. It cannot understand a text.

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Interesting facts

Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル, Batoru Rowaiaru) is a Japanese novel written by Koushun Takami, completed in 1996 and published in 1999. The story tells of school-children who are forced to fight each other to the death.
The novel was ranked as the number four by Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! 2000, an annual mystery and thriller guide book published in...

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