Talk:Robin Williams (writer)

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Quote about Sweet Swan...[edit]

_ _ For starters, i am removing the following cite:

<ref>Katona, Cynthia Lee. ''Book Savvy''. USA: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 2005. ISBN 978-0810854345.</ref>

The only purpose it can serve is to verify that Katona wrote that book, which is hardly useful in establishing the credibility of either writer: note that Book Savvy was written 2005 and the book the quote refers to was written 2006, per Williams's publisher's March 2006 newsletter. But even moving it, to immediately follow "Book Savvy" (to lessen the likelihood of some users inferring that that is where the original of the quote will be found), would leave it too confusing to be justified by merely proving Katona really did publish a book.
_ _ Keep the removed ref here on talk to help someone who wants to write a bio on Katona.
_ _ The publisher is also presumably the source of the quote, so the URL of the publisher's version should replace that of one of the dozen booksellers who presumably copied it, either from there, or from something the publisher provided more privately to retailers.
--Jerzyt 20:09, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Actually, there is a longer version of the quote (by about 40%) at Mary Sidney -- Reviews, implying that none of the other sites are the source for it, and suggesting it as a possible source for all the others. Note that it has the smart-quotes and the "Williams' " construction, in violation of the "Williams's" one that IIRC our WP:MOS (or a pertinent article?) commends for modern names; these are probably the most likely places for "mutations" to occur if there were multiple steps of propagation of the quote. (For example, i replaced the smart quotes, per WP practice, and i almost added the S before realizing i was about to corrupt a direct quote, by changing its spelling!)
Unfortunately, that Web page is copyright by none other than the subject of the bio, so the situation deteriorates to this:
  1. none of the sources we've found is specific about their source of it, beyond Katona's authorship, and
  2. the only known source that could be the source for all the others is on a page created by the person the quote praises.
These conditions are consistent with Williams's source being a private communication from Katona, which would make verification by WP impracticable at best; if such a communication should turn out to be oral, with Williams making a paraphrase of its substance, verification by anyone would be impossible even in theory. But besides the issues of certainty that the communication took place and that its content is faithfully represented by the quote (uncorrupted by the carelessness, wishful thinking, and/or intentional misrepresentation that a private communication can enable), even a verifiably perfect record of a private communication presents problems for us about the relative notability of more or less private communications. Specifically, there's an aspect to a communication that lawyers call "dignity": for instance, a contract written on a paper napkin can be binding, but the effect of conflicts between contracts can depend on their relative "dignity". In our case, someone saying "your book is good" becomes a stronger endorsement if followed "tell you publisher to say i said so", and still stronger if the speaker themself publicizes the fact of their having told you so. So in our case, Williams presumably has become thoroughly publishing-savvy in the course of dozens of books, and understands the value in publicity of demonstrating the verifiability and "dignity" of an endorsement. Yet she fails to say anything that so demonstrates them about the endorsed book. IMO, this creates a presumption that the quote embodies a private communication, and one whose author has not verifiably acknowledged it.
Finally, the assessment is attributed to a close colleague, the teacher who introduced her to close study of Shakespeare:
Cynthia Katona at Ohlone Community College unveiled my passion for Shakespeare.
per Williams's personal bio. This would seem to heighten the probability that the endorsement's role as testimony to the quality of the book deserves to be discounted in recognition of a likely role as helping out a friend, or seeking pride or other indirect benefits through her success.
In light of all that, i am removing the "better" citation i provided, and rather than using this new best-one-so-far, putting a {{fact}} tag on it.
--Jerzyt 06:48, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
A minor note: i finally tumbled to the fact that our copy of the quote, true to the source it was attributed to, had lost the italics on "Sweet Swan" that appear in the long Web version. All the other versions that Google came up with had also done so, with the exceptions of Guy Kawasaki's blog copies, and Amazon (which presumably lost the italics by italicizing the whole quote. It did retain the other features (smart quotes, and making the possessive of Williams by simply adding an apostrophe) which appear in some of the other copies, so one possibility is that all the others copied from Amazon but converted the whole quote back to non-italic text. FWIW.
--Jerzyt 07:36, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Computer groups[edit]

I found

is a founding member of the New Mexico Internet Professionals Association,[1] the Santa Fe Mac Users Group,[2][3]

and kept the refs while reducing the text they support to

has been a leader in New Mexico computer-related groups

In this fashion, we can support OR by others without burdening the article with unencyclopedic text that arguably violates WP:SYN by seemingly trying to prove how vigorous she is in non-notable pursuits.
--Jerzyt 20:09, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Notability issues, including conflict of interest[edit]

IMO, the bio is notable for her computer books and should not be deleted, but i don't want to go too long without getting, say, WP:PR on the notability of her foray into the works of Shakespeare. My sense for a need for considering that is heightened by

  1. the emphasis given to the opinion of her community-college prof who turned her on to the subject;
  2. the consistency between the facts and some scenarios where Peachpit might avoid her carrying out her intention to privately publish Swan of Avon..., for reasons unrelated to their hope of turning a profit via its sales (or, for that matter, unrelated to making a worthwhile contribution to knowledge): e.g.
    - they're not funding her imprint, or
    - she twisted their arm, or
    - they believed she had a chance of taking it and her future computer titles elsewhere, or
    - they believed her value to them as a tech writer would be impaired by the embarrassment of her becoming a self-publisher, or
    - as she suggests, they're just nice people; and
  3. the partisan diligence of the major contributor, and the evident friendship between her and him:
    1. Navy.enthusiast (talk · contribs) has brought the prose from 6 sentences to almost its current state with 2 secns of prose and 4 of lists (my ensuing edits removed some prose since his last edit), and from 2,768 to 8,851 bytes, from 04:14 on the 16th, to 13:19 on the 19th of December 2007 (with insignificant changes by a few intervening editors).
    2. The most significant intervening edit was the conversion by an IP of a "birth_date =" field from user:Hjal's (Hjal (talk · contribs)) April '07 "c. 1954" estimate to "1953"; interestingly, Navy.e converted that to an exact day within the next 2 hours).
    3. I have deleted the image that appeared in the author box, but i presume that at least admins can still see the verbal matter that accompanied it on the image page(s). Navy.e claims there to have communicated with the subject by EMail, and that she both has thanked him (addressing him as "George") for adding the pic and/or his editing, and placed her photo in the public domain. (On reflection, she can do that only if she took the photo with a timer; otherwise, only the photographer can, unless it was a work-for-hire paid for by her publisher, in which case only they can do it.) In any case, he implies they are two different people and that she can put it in PD, but he wiki-signed our statement that he is the copyright holder. Assuming he's not her, she feels he deserves thanks for furthering her interests.

--Jerzyt 22:34, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Navy.e also used the tricky syntax required to single out Category:Mac OS, among the Cat tags he added, to have Williams listed above the alphabetical A entries (i.e., behind only the significantly name article Mac OS, and ahead of, e.g., Apple Guide, Inside Macintosh, Macintosh File System, and MultiFinder). IMO this is a serious part of the pattern of PoV.
--Jerzyt 23:34, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I find it very strange that virtually all the sources cited are in fact ones originating from the subject of the biography herself. She is the founder and voice of the "Mary Sidney Society." Therefore, the biographical details found there and cited here are quite likely written by Ms. Williams herself. Most of this entire entry seems to me to be self-originating, and the praise provided for the subject by one of her closest colleagues, as discussed earlier, makes me even more uncomfortable. Perhaps one who is more familiar with Wiki protocols could tell us why we have a biography of a person written and supported mostly by the person herself?Doc5467 (talk) 03:49, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Because Ms. Williams is author of Sweet Swan of Avon and is currently very involved in Shakespeare studies (she is teaching Shakespeare Authorship courses at Brunel University), I am changing the first sentence to reflect that fact that she is not to be defined solely as the author of computer books.Jdkag (talk) 18:05, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

  1. ^ "New Mexico Internet Professionals Association". 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  2. ^ "Santa Fe Mac Users Group". SFMUG. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16. 
  3. ^ "SFMUG". Robin Williams. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-16.