In a long tradition of online experimentation, Amazon has now started including something called “Shopping-enabled Wikipedia Pages” in its internal search results (see the second result here). Now you can view a copy of Wikipedia pages for authors like David Foster Wallace, J.K. Rowling, Jonathan Franzen, and probably thousands of others. How can Amazon do this? Wikipedia pages are free for anyone to reuse for almost any purpose, so long as the license info is displayed. Why is Amazon doing this? It wants free content that it can monetize.
In 1946, George Orwell wrote that political prose was formed “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
“But upon learning that the unmarried 60-something Ms. Welty was a fan, the 50-something Macdonald — Ken Millar, to use his real name, as he does in these letters — dashed off a note of thanks. A reply followed within a week.” On a new book of letters between Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald. You could also read Jonathan Clarke on the letters of Willa Cather.
Year in Reading alum Maria Popova of Brain Pickings writes her first book review for The New York Times on Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall, a Harvard cosmologist. Randall proposes ”that a thin disk of dark matter in the plane of the Milky Way triggered a minor perturbation in deep space that caused the major earthly catastrophe that decimated the dinosaurs.” Jenny Hendrix writes about modern-day extinction for The Millions.