A few interesting articles of note, one on science, the others on the future of publishing:

First, a brutal, but really funny review of a PLOS editorial on advice for graduate students:

“You will be happier if you don’t do things you hate. I must say that this thought never occurred to me before. Also don’t waste 7 years of your life, which admittedly was my first instinct. Good thing I read this editorial.”

Next, Cory Doctorow’s interestingly reasoned take on why stand-alone e-book readers like the Kindle are doomed to failure. He breaks it down in terms of the economics of production, that there simply aren’t enough readers out there to allow the cost of production of these devices to drop (especially when compared with multi-function devices like an iPhone or GameBoy):

“Frankly, book reading just isn’t important enough to qualify for priority treatment in that marketplace. E-book readers to date have been either badly made, expensive, out-of-stock or some combination of all three. No one’s making dedicated e-book readers in such quantity that the price drops to the cost of a paperback — the cost at which the average occasional reader may be tempted to take a flutter on one. Certainly, these things aren’t being made in such quantity that they’re being folded in as freebies with the Sunday paper or given away at the turnstiles at a ballgame to the majority of people who are non-book-readers.”

—article continues—

Kevin Kelly writes a view of the “long tail” phenomenon from a different angle. He shows the economics of being an artist, and how one only really needs around 1,000 “true fans” to have a profitable career:

“Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans. It’s a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.”

And finally, the ever-wise Fake Steve Jobs explains the business model behind FaceBook. I’ve been trying to work out how so many social networking sites expect to pay the bills, other than by selling ads or selling user information to advertisers. FSJ lets us know that there are other forces involved:

“You have to remember what Facebook’s core business is about. It’s not about helping people stay in touch with friends or express themselves. It’s not about changing the world or creating an ecosystem for small apps makers. It’s not even about selling ads. Facebook is a vehicle through which a bunch of investors in the Valley hope to turn a small pile of money into a much bigger pile of money by selling shares in the public markets. That is Facebook’s core business. That is its raison d’etre as they say in Latin. This is a company created by, for and about venture capitalists. It’s not a company so much as it’s a narrative. A fable. A fairy tale.”