Kevin’s writing and work as a freelance writer and author.

Kevin’s articles from TomorrowSage website

TomorrowSage websiteMy TomorrowSage website currently is on hiatus as I redesign it for use as a storytelling website. As part of that update, blog posts which originally appeared on TomorrowSage.com now have been moved here to KevinABarnes.com. Those posts/articles are:

Article published in The Phoenix magazine

Cover of the December 2011 issue of The Phoenix MagazineMy article “The Future of Ostomy Care: New Inventions, Products and Developments in the Ostomy World” was published in the December 2011 issue of The Phoenix magazine.

The article provides an in-depth look at upcoming developments in ostomy care, as well as examining what breakthroughs and changes industry insiders anticipate during — and beyond — the coming decade. Copies of the December 2011 issue of the magazine, as well as subscriptions, can be purchased from The Phoenix magazine website.

Wolfram|Alpha for Science Fiction Writers

This article originally appeared on TomorrowSage.com

47 Ursae Majoris bWolfram|Alpha1 has been available to the general public for seven weeks now, allowing plenty of time to test drive it and uncover its strengths and weaknesses. What I’ve found is that it’s a surprisingly powerful tool for the science fiction writer.

Where traditional internet search engines like Google return a list of links that may or may not lead to the answer the user seeks, Wolfram|Alpha attempts to cut out the middle steps and deliver the actual answer directly to the user. Wolfram|Alpha really shines when you’re seeking specific factual information. Let’s look at a couple of examples of what might arise when conducting research for a science fiction novel.

Extrasolar Planets
Assume I’m working on the next Nebula-winning novel and I’ve set the story on 47 Ursae Majoris b (an exoplanet I vaguely remember hearing about when it was discovered in 1996). I plug the planet’s name into Wolfram|Alpha and immediately get a wealth of information. I now know that 47 Ursae Majoris b is 45.86 light years from Earth and it is located in the constellation Ursa Major.2 About the only thing it doesn’t tell me is whether the planet is inhabited. (Some things have to be left to the imagination of the writer!) …

  1. If you’ve somehow missed all the hype, Wolfram|Alpha calls itself a “computational knowledge engine.” It essentially is a new kind of search engine. Its ambitious goal is to provide all objective data in a way that allows users to crunch, convert, compute and compare that data. []
  2. In fact, Wolfram|Alpha provides a star map and tells me the exoplanet’s exact location in the sky based on the fact I’m in Milwaukee at the moment. []

The Democratization of Writing and Publishing: Access for All?

So where exactly is the digital revolution taking writing and the publishing industry?

The new issue of The Futurist magazine (July-August 2008) contains the article “The 21st Century Writer” which yet again has me trying to visualize where the publishing industry is headed. In the article, author Patrick Tucker — director of communications for the World Future Society — succinctly summarizes the turning point at which the industry currently finds itself:

“We’re entering an era where the acts of thinking, writing, and to a certain extent publishing are indistinguishable, and where charging money for editorial content is becoming an ever trickier proposition.”*

I remember a college English teacher of mine back in the early 1980s who asserted that the word processor** made it possible for anyone, regardless of skill, to become an author. In retrospect, there is some truth in that claim, and this democratization process now extends beyond the role of the author. Information technology has lowered the entry barrier nearly to zero for almost every role in the process of creating and publishing a book. …