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Ghost-writers Ink

Stuart White
THE WORLD IN BLACK-N-WHITE

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why I put myself under pressure to produce this weekly article – invariably I end up working late into the night on the evening before deadline day – trying to get thoughts and ideas down in some readable semblance of order. 

Of course the reason is clear – if you work in commerce, academia, research, education, government, medicine, technology – any field involving theory and changing events or updates – your career can only benefit from publishing articles in your area of expertise.  Bottom line – you have to graft for your craft….. or do you?

Everyone deserves a break sometimes but the nature of the media industry beast basically doesn’t allow for slow-downs or stoppages.  So when your holiday ‘me’ time comes along, the reality of the weekly article commitment comes to the fore – how does one cope?

Yes, you can do double duty for days beforehand, staying up into the wee small hours, tapping away to get a few spare articles  backed up to fill the weekly allocation of words or you could summon up a kindred spirit in the guise of a ghost writer who can fill in the blanks while you’re on leave.

Ghostwriting has been around for longer than one may think. The term first came to prominence in the Twenties when sporting heroes – with syndicated columns published across the country –  were too busy bashing fists or slugging balls to experience writer’s cramp, and the ghost was born.
 
So ghost writers have long been around but right now, books and articles are being ghosted at the fastest rate ever. It is estimated that up to 40% of published material has been ghost written – one might say it’s a boo-ming industry!

But what exactly is a ghost writer? According to Wikipedia, a ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other content which are officially credited to another person.  But, is it cheating?

Apparently not, the reason being that it is supposedly the author's ideas, concepts and stories that are used to create the article or book, just not necessarily those particular words in that particular order. Ghostwriters, like publishers, are necessities of the industry. They are just not widely understood by most people outside the publishing business, so they take on an air of secrecy, hence the haunting terminology.

Being published is all part of the 24/7 fame branding process these days and people of note and/or notoriety don’t always have the time to pen their own so having a ghost is a necessary evil!  It’s become a status symbol to have a ghostwriter writing your book or article for you – a bit like having a platinum credit card or driving a Mercedes Benz.  

It means that you have something important to say, that you are too busy to write it yourself, and that you have enough money to pay someone  else to put pen to paper, an anonymous hack who makes a living out of putting words into someone else’s mouth.  Of course anonymity is hard to maintain in the modern world of multiple social media, smartphones and spy cameras. 

Occasionally a best seller has the name of its real author leaked, such as with Gordon Ramsay’s “Humble Pie”.  It was a 2006 bestseller but it was the award-winning feature writer Rachel Cooke who proofed the pudding – and her slice of the pie was a £100,000 share of Ramsay’s rumored £750,000 advance! 

Others in ‘vanity publishing’ include Sharon Osbourne’s ‘Extreme’ and Victoria Beckham’s “That Extra Half Inch”, two ladies never far from the media spotlight and known more for their fashion style than their literary flair – fair to say that without a bit of help neither of them would have stood a ghost of a chance of completing a whole shopping list, much less a book.

One of the newer types of ghostwriters is the web log, or blog ghostwriter.  The success of a blog is rated according to how many “hits” it receives.  It is becoming common for ghosts to post comments on corporate sites, using various pseudonyms, and thus increase the traffic flow of “real” hits. 

While companies providing blog ghostwriters claim that falsely attributed postings are a legitimate marketing tactic, the practice has been deemed unacceptable by a major US paper, The Los Angeles Times which fired Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik for fabricating postings in his blog using alternate 'identities'.

As the ghostwriter is only occasionally acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her assistance, to be a successful ghost you really have to check your ego at the door and be prepared to spend a long time listening to someone talk about themselves or their ideas.

It helps if they have empathy with their writer – be it a physical person or a theoretical idea – and if they are any good, the subject’s voice or topic will come through and the burning issues they wish to cover will be laid down with clarity and cleverness for the delectation and delight if the reader.   

So, what it comes down to is that life is short – maybe much too short to be spent sitting at my desk staring at a blank piece of paper.  So excuse me whilst I slip into my beach mode and head off to exotic climes to explore my favourite haunts….. leaving you to wonder if you’ve just seen a ghost.

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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