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The Latest Trend in Literature? Twitter Fiction

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Some of today's most exciting new literature is being doled out 140 characters at a time. The Atlantic reports that more and more writers are publishing fiction on Twitter, embracing the challenge of the character limit and coming up with creative new storytelling techniques. 

Nick Belardes was perhaps the first person to write an entire Twitter novel. The author posted the story Small Pieces on the social media site periodically from 2008 to 2010. Since then, both new and established writers have increasingly started to create works specifically for Twitter. Some of the stories, like David Mitchell’s latest work, about computer hacker I_Bombadil, are, in part, promotional: The tale is being released to publicize his upcoming novel, Slade House, which also got its start on Twitter.

Others are just about embracing the challenges and creative opportunities the medium presents. In 2012, Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, published Black Box on the New Yorker’s Twitter, while Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, spent several months in 2013 tweeting the story of a friendly housefly named Jeffrey. 

Pullman and Mitchell’s stories, in particular, illustrate the various styles of Twitter tales. While Mitchell’s I_Bombadil piece is written in the first person, as the “real” Tweets of a fictional character (complete with cryptic abbreviations and slang), Pullman’s is more like narrative poetry, with a bit of humor mixed in:

Traditionalists might roll their eyes, but Twitter literature is just the latest in a long tradition of literary experimentation. “It’s the role of literature to play with forms,” Melissa Terras, professor of Digital Humanities at University College of London, told The Atlantic. “With Twitter fiction, people are taking the limitations of 140 characters and doing something creative.” 

[h/t: The Atlantic]

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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Live Smarter
Amazon Will Now Deliver Whole Foods Groceries To Your Door
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Since its acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has slowly been ramping up synergy between the two brands. An Amazon Go concept convenience store in Seattle allows customers to enter, scan their cell phone, and walk out with groceries without having to stand in line; select Amazon products, like their Echo devices, have made their way onto retail shelves.

Now, consumers in Austin, Dallas, Cincinnati, and Virginia Beach can use their status as an Amazon Prime customer to get free home delivery of their Whole Foods groceries. Beginning Thursday, February 8, the market will drop off orders within two hours. (One-hour delivery carries a $7.99 charge.)

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Most everything in the store is eligible for delivery, though we’re not certain they’d deliver a live lobster. “Select” alcohol is also available. You can visit primenow.com to see if you’re in their delivery region. Keep checking, as they plan to expand throughout 2018.

If you’re not near a Whole Foods at all, other regional grocery chains like Wegman’s also offer home delivery on a subscription-based pricing structure.

[h/t The Verge]

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