Cobalt Mining Dilemma: Unveiling Tragedy and Demanding Accountability for Lives Lost

In an era dominated by digital advancements, the seamless flow of information through electronic devices obscures the often-unseen consequences of digital publishing. Beyond the allure of shimmering screens and the convenience they afford, a harsh reality emerges—one of finite resources, exploitative mining practices, and the overlooked toll on human lives. Under the sleek façade of our ubiquitous electronic devices lies a complex process fueled by rare earth metals.

Yet, the extraction of these rare earth metals is far from simple. Exploitative mining practices, characterized by perilous working conditions and environmental degradation, define this industry. Mines, often situated in ecologically sensitive areas, contribute to deforestation and habitat destruction. Moreover, the chemicals employed in the extraction process can lead to soil and water pollution, posing threats to both the environment and nearby communities.

Lax Regulation’s Toll on Workers, Environment, and Human Rights

The cobalt mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is plagued by lax regulation, leading to unchecked exploitation and severe consequences. The absence of stringent oversight has created hazardous working conditions for freelance miners engaged in cobalt extraction. Artisanal mining, lacking proper safety measures, exposes workers to life-threatening risks, including tunnel collapses and toxic substance exposure. The desperate circumstances of these miners perpetuate a cycle of poverty, as they endure dire health consequences for minimal compensation.

Furthermore, lax regulations contribute to widespread environmental degradation in cobalt mining regions. Improper disposal of toxic waste and acidic dust from the mining process contaminate farming land, rendering it infertile, and pollute rivers, threatening local ecosystems and biodiversity. The lack of effective regulations exacerbates the environmental toll, impacting not only local communities but also wildlife.

The absence of robust regulations also allows for human rights abuses, notably child labor, to persist in the industry. Artisanal miners, including children, face harsh working conditions without proper safeguards, jeopardizing their immediate well-being and limiting their access to education and better opportunities. Moreover, insufficient corporate accountability persists as companies, including foreign entities, operate with impunity, accused of exploitation, underpayment, and mistreatment of miners.

The Human Toll and Ongoing Conflicts

In the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), freelance workers endure meager compensation in a perilous undertaking that goes beyond hazardous labor. Intimately tied to historical turmoil, notably the Congolese Genocide, this endeavor has triggered ongoing conflicts involving rebel groups such as M23, Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and the Congo Cooperative for Development (CODECO). This section unveils the profound human toll and the displacement of people due to unsafe mining practices, underscored by recent reports of heightened armed conflict in eastern DRC.

Since May 22, 2022, renewed clashes between Congolese security forces and the M23 armed group have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. M23 rebels launched their most significant offensive against government troops in a decade, reaching the outskirts of the provincial capital, Goma, posing a severe threat to civilians. Despite international humanitarian law, abuses persist, including displacement and loss of life.

Human Rights Watch stresses the obligation of all parties, including rebel forces, security forces of Congo and its neighbors, and United Nations peacekeepers, to protect civilians under international law. Concerns are raised about the danger posed to civilians amid allegations and accusations between Rwanda and the DRC, further complicating the situation.

The complex web of conflicts and geopolitical tensions has already yielded devastating consequences, with displaced communities, property damage, and injuries resulting from recent clashes. The gravity of the situation is heightened by the historical context, where past fighting has led to widespread abuses against civilians and prolonged humanitarian crises.

As the region contends with a resurgence of armed conflicts and accusations between neighboring countries, the toll on civilians continues to escalate. The international community, including the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism (EJVM) and regional forces, must thoroughly investigate and report their findings. This ongoing strife not only complicates the cobalt mining dilemma but also underscores the urgent need for accountability, justice, and the protection of vulnerable populations caught in the crossfire of these conflicts.

Alternative Perspective: Print Publishing

Print publishing emerges as a conscientious and eco-friendly option, notably emphasizing its use of sustainable trees as a primary resource. Unlike the finite nature of rare earth metals extracted for electronic devices, trees represent a renewable resource, underpinning the environmentally sustainable practices of the print industry. Crucially, this alternative perspective also draws attention to the stark contrast in human impact, pointing out the absence of exploitative practices, such as those witnessed in the Congo, within the print publishing supply chain.

In addition to its reliance on sustainable trees, the regulated and ethical practices within the print industry contribute to a smaller environmental footprint. Managed forests, carefully overseen by regulatory frameworks, ensure responsible harvesting and minimize adverse effects on ecosystems and biodiversity. This stands in direct opposition to the exploitative mining practices linked to electronic devices, particularly evident in the hazardous conditions faced by freelance miners in the Congo.

Furthermore, beyond resource use, the print industry’s commitment to sustainable practices extends to other facets contributing to climate change. Unlike the digital landscape marred by lax regulations, the print industry adheres to stringent frameworks that encompass not only paper production but also the operational aspects of printing, including factories and transportation. Trees harvested for paper production often originate from regulated forestry programs, contributing to responsible resource management.


Companies engaging in the extraction and utilization of cobalt must shoulder the responsibility for the consequences of their supply chain choices. Transparency and accountability are paramount, requiring companies to trace the origin of their cobalt and ensure that it is sourced ethically. This includes rigorous oversight to prevent the exploitation of freelance workers and to mitigate the environmental degradation associated with mining activities.

Adherence to international labor and environmental standards, coupled with supporting responsible mining practices, can contribute to alleviating the human suffering and ecological damage inflicted by the cobalt industry. Companies should actively collaborate with local communities, NGOs, and governmental bodies to create a framework that safeguards the rights and well-being of the miners and the surrounding environment.

Equally essential is the role of consumers in shaping the demand for ethically sourced products. Informed choices empower consumers to be conscientious contributors to the broader societal and environmental landscape. Understanding the connection between electronic devices, rare earth metals, and exploitative mining practices is the first step toward responsible consumption.

Consumers should prioritize products from companies that demonstrate a commitment to ethical sourcing, fair labor practices, and environmental sustainability. Seeking out information about a company’s supply chain policies, certifications, and overall corporate responsibility can guide consumers in making ethical purchasing decisions.

Education is a powerful tool in fostering consumer awareness. By raising awareness about the hidden costs of digital publishing and the impact of electronic devices on communities and the environment, consumers can make choices aligned with their values. Social media, consumer advocacy groups, and educational initiatives play pivotal roles in disseminating information that empowers individuals to demand accountability from companies.


A compelling imperative arises for the adoption of ethical and sustainable practices within the rare earth metal industry, prompting a collective reassessment of our digital consumption patterns. As we traverse the vast expanse of the digital landscape, it becomes paramount not to dismiss the concealed costs lurking beneath the sleek façade of our electronic devices.

This collective reevaluation should extend beyond mere awareness to tangible actions. One impactful avenue is the consideration of used technology, a choice that not only aligns with ethical consumerism but also serves as a potent means to avert human rights abuses associated with the mining of rare earth metals. By opting for refurbished or pre-owned tech, consumers can actively contribute to breaking the cycle of exploitation in regions like the Congo, offering a practical solution to mitigate the adverse human and environmental impacts embedded in the production of electronic devices.

Should Companies Put Mobile First?

Taking care of mobile readers is more important than putting desktop readers first. That might sound controversial, but according to the mobile-first doctrine, emphasizing mobile readers has many benefits. These include progressive advancement and prioritizing the larger audience. As reading digital media on mobile devices continues to grow in popularity, the mobile-first approach gains further credibility.

The question of what mobile-first publishing is still causes some confusion. Digiday published an article concerning the mobile-first approach in which they asked higher-ups in popular companies what the mobile-first approach is. The president of Buzzfeed stated, “Mobile-first is not enough. Mobile should be all you care about.” Similarly, the president of Business Insider stated, “It means mobile at the expense of other formats, so an experience that’s great on mobile but lousy elsewhere – or not as good elsewhere.” Dow Jones’s head of consumer product said, “Mobile-first is shorthand for saying that the dominant platform for digital media will soon be portable computers.” Not all means of pursuing the mobile-first approach need to be as ruthless as Buzzfeed or Business Insider’s presidents suggest. Progressive advancement lays a path to prioritizing mobile-first publishing without necessarily cutting the high-quality design desktops are known for.

Progressive advancement is a means of approaching digital media and publishing. Companies have to decide how they are going to divide their time when creating content for digital consumption. The question is whether they should focus on developing content primarily for smartphones, or tablets and desktops. Progressive advancement provides a way forward in the mobile-first approach. This method advocates the development of the content for the mobile platform first. Then, take that product and adjust it for tablet and desktop, adding features and editing the content to make the tablet and desktop versions more attractive and unique. So, ultimately, the progressive advancement method is beneficial for tablet and desktop platforms as well as mobile platforms.

The other method of approaching digital media is called “graceful degradation.” It calls for the prioritization of developing digital content for desktop first, then tablet, and finally mobile devices. The product would like spectacular on desktop with plentiful features, but as one continues down the line to mobile, features are lost and one is left with an “afterthought.” Essentially, priority is given to the desktop device, so mobile devices are left with a skeleton of what was before. Graceful degradation may be a great option for those whose consumers are almost exclusively on desktop as that is where focus is placed.

Perhaps the question is why mobile-first is the approach to pursue. The basic answer is that exploring the internet via mobile phone has exploded in popularity. In 2016, mobile internet usage was higher than desktop internet usage. At 51.3%, mobile internet usage was about 3% higher than desktop internet usage with a continuing trend towards mobile internet usage. Smartphone sales were higher than desktop sales as early as 2012. Allconnect published an article with more recent statistics regarding the discussion. As of 2022, mobile phones constituted 60% of web traffic while desktops and tablets only had a total of 39%. Additionally, adults in the United States generally spent over five hours per day on their mobile phone in 2022.

Another aspect of mobile-first publishing that should be considered is that of applications. Applications (apps) have become a normal part of everyday life for many. As of 2021, about 51% of mobile phone users check their apps between 1 to 10 times per day and an additional 25% check their apps between 11-20 times a day. These statistics open a discussion of whether companies should spend the time and resources to develop an app for consumers to use. Depending on the size of the company, the answer is most likely yes. An app where one’s publishing will be viewed is better favored by the public than accessing the content via the device’s browser.

Publishing with a mobile-first approach is becoming more popular, with some new companies strictly operating and publishing on mobile devices. As mobile devices have become more prevalent and efficient, desktop computers are not as necessary and are less convenient in terms of mobility. However, a mobile-first approach does not mean the end of desktops, nor does it mean leaving desktops as an “afterthought” either, but if companies take the progressive advancement approach to the mobile-first doctrine, mobile phones, tablets, and desktops can feature high-quality published content. Mobile-first publishing has multiple definitions and applications in terms of how it is planned out, but putting mobile first will result in putting the majority of one’s consumers first as well.

Digital Preservation: Safeguarding the Future of Literature in the Digital Age

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy 

If we are all at war with time, digitally published literary works are on the same battlefield. In the constantly developing sphere of digital literature, the need for effective preservation tactics has become paramount. While the transition to digital forms have revolutionized the ways in which we access and read literary works it does not come without some distressing challenges. 

File Format Migration: Navigating the Challenges

One of the chief challenges met by e-book publishing platforms is the risk of outdated file formats becoming obsolete over time. As technology advances (time and time again), file formats evolve, potentially rendering older formats incompatible with modern devices and software. One real-world example of this occurring is the transition from the physical media, floppy disks, to CDs and DVDs. Content that may be stored on older media also becomes inaccessible as new devices phase out support for those older media’s formats. Likewise, e-books transitioned from “.lit” which was introduced to the Digital Publishing Sphere by Microsoft Reader to more widely adopted formats like “.epub” and “.mobi”.


To address this challenge, forward-thinking e-book platforms adopt a proactive file format migration strategy. A classic approach involves sporadically updating the digital library to align with the most recent updates and standards. This ongoing effort not only ensures the accessibility of literary works across various platforms but also prevents the loss of content due to format obsolescence.

There have been several platforms to embrace this approach. It would be in the best interest of any e-book author to acknowledge the importance of staying ahead of the curve in the fast-paced digital landscape. A reasonable plan would include assessing digital library’s file formats, identifying files at risk of obsolescence, and implementing conversions to current standards when necessary. 

Libraries and Institutions: Guardians of Digital Literary Heritage

Libraries like Library of Congress and Internet Archive alongside an organization called Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) are among those platforms that part in the essential role of preserving digital literature. 

The Library of Congress actively contributes to digital preservation initiatives by including archiving websites, electronic journals, and e-books. The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library that aims to provide “Universal Access to All Knowledge.” It has been archiving the web, digital books, and other digital content for decades, making it a valuable resource for preserving digital literature.

DPC is an international organization that brings together various institutions and agencies with a shared interest in preserving digital content. It provides resources, guidance, and collaborative opportunities for digital preservation efforts.

Harvard Library’s Format Migration Initiative:

Harvard Library who boasts a 20-year history of preservation stands as a prominent case of an institution dynamically betrothed in confronting the challenges of file format migration. Their Format Migration Initiative aims to ensure the long-term accessibility of digital content within their collections. By proactively and effectively managing format transitions, Harvard Library enhances the sustainability of their digital assets which in turn benefits not only the researchers who take time to collect the data for reports etc., but also the scholars and the wider public.

Putting it All Together:

By understanding and addressing challenges such as file format migration, the digital publishing community, libraries, and institutions can collectively contribute to safeguarding our literary heritage for future generations. Adopting proactive strategies ensures that the timeless words of authors past and present continue to resound in the digital realm for years to come. The lack of standardized preservation practices for digital archiving poses challenges. Without a proactive approach, the risk of information loss increases.

Romance – Demystifying the Genre’s Digital Dominance

Americans are reading less—unless they’re readers of romantic fiction, at least.

Print sales of romance novels saw exponential growth in 2022 with a 52.4% increase in sales from the year prior. While print books are seeing a spike in popularity amidst a backdrop of literary social media trends such as BookTok, eBook sales trends tell a similar story about consumers of romantic fiction. Although romantic fiction saw a 16% decrease in 2022 eBook sales, the digital units that did sell represented 60%  of total romance books sold that year, highlighting the overall dominance of the genre—particularly its digital dominance.

The grip that the genre has on its readers mystifies many; the loyalty of the fanbase is practically unmatched. The genre’s readership has been a major force behind the big screen adaptations of popular romance novels like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, the latter of which grossed more than $570,000,000 throughout box offices globally. The readership has also been a major force behind the genre’s success in digital publishing.

But the demand for romantic fiction is only partially to credit for its success, particularly in the world of digital publishing.

The Readership

Despite the prevalence of the common “print vs. eBook” preference debate, readers of romantic fiction show unprecedented flexibility that might take many of them out of such debates. In fact, readers of romantic fiction may even prefer eBooks to their traditional predecessors. This is because the habits of the average reader of romantic fiction just happen to complement eBooks….perfectly.

The typical reader of romance will finish a book within just 7 days of starting it, while the average American is not even finishing 2 books within 30 days. Some readers of romantic fiction have reported finishing as many as 5 novels in a single week. The rate at which the readership completes a novel primes the genre well for the world of digital publishing, where the barriers of working through a publishing house and an agent are problems of the past. Authors of romantic fiction are able to set the pace of their releases at their discretion, and alter as they see fit based on collected analytics.

Readers of romantic fiction also display a tendency to be more open-minded when it comes to checking out books by new writers, which also helps explain the genre’s success with a digital format. In fact, at least 50% of romantic fiction readers surveyed answered affirmatively when asked whether or not they’d be interested in reading a novel by a new author, a phenomenon not witnessed by consumers of other genres of literature. Amazon’s online Kindle store speaks to the romance readers’ innate hunger for variety, with hundreds of thousands of new authors available right at their very fingertips without ever having to leave their home.

The Genre

In addition to the reading habits of consumers of romantic fiction, the genre itself has certain characteristics that provide additional insight into the reasons for its digital dominance. Chiefly, its formulaic structure that readers have come to know and love over the decades.

Romance novels most often utilize a three-act structure with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end, but the ending is the most critical part. The hallmark of any romance novel is its Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. This ending is optimistic, meant to evoke positive feelings within the reader after they have watched the novel’s main character go through a series of obstacles within the story’s first or second act. The ending shows readers a win, and that kind of optimism is a large back of what keeps readers coming back for more despite the overall predictability of the plot structure-the desire for the happy ending. This three-part typically also unfolds quickly, as most romance novels are fewer than 100,000 words in total, quite possibly reminding its readers of the earlier fan-fiction days that preceded eBooks.

The Industry’s Response

The digital dominance of eBooks is so prolific that even the largest traditional publisher of romance, Harlequin, which was first founded in 1949 could not ignore it. In 2000, the publishing house created a website where readers and writers of romantic fiction could interact with each other, as well as purchase both print and eBook selections. Seven years later, the publisher would become the first of its kind to release 100% of its new titles in digital format. Seven years later, the traditional publisher would also become the first to form a digital publishing entity, Carina Press. The offshoot works to help bridge the gap between readers of romantic fiction and the genre itself by meeting reader demands, chiefly demands for more diversity.

As publishers digital and traditional alike continue to watch book sale trends and social media wars of opinion, these concerns have seemed to largely passed right over readers of romantic fiction. While eBook sales may be taking a dip, readers of romance novels have their feet dug in the ground, and after analyzing how well the genre adapted to digital publishing, it isn’t difficult to see why. Regardless of digital publishing trends yet to pass, readers of romantic fiction seem content to sit on the sidelines and simply finish an eBook–or 5.

Digital Publishing for the Youth

Many schools have implemented the use of a digital publishing platform to expose students to the online publishing world while also giving them an outlet to express themselves and refine their writing skills. Colleges and high schools have encouraged students to post on these online platforms. But as a student, how do you edit these works? What are the steps in creating an article for online publishing? How do you get started?

This article will discuss tactics and tips on editing, writing, and properly publishing work on a digital publishing platform for your school or university.

What do I write about?

This question seems to be at the forefront of every student’s mind when given the task of writing an article online. It might sound simple, but choosing your topic is the most important step. Finding material that you enjoy and that hasn’t been overdone can be the most difficult part of writing a digital article. More specifically, when publishing online, there are so many other articles and people writing alongside you, so choosing an original idea can feel almost impossible.

The goal isn’t to find a brand new idea but to find an entirely new perspective. Think of something you enjoy then find an aspect about it that you find interesting.

Time to build credibility: research.

Research is the foundation of any credible written work online. It’s one thing to say you know something, but digital publishing requires you to directly link your sources to your work. When you find all your sources, you will have to URL link them to the phrase or word you are citing from them. This seems difficult, but it provides your reader with direct links to your thoughts and trusted information.

This being said, be sure to not quote non-credible resources. This could include Wikipedia, WikiHow, and any other website that allows users to edit and add information that is not reviewed. Finding research will likely take you the longest amount of time when writing an article if done correctly, but don’t let this discourage you. It will be worth it in the end.

What about the title and format?

It’s the moment you have been waiting for. You have all your research ready and have picked a solid and interesting topic. It’s then you realize that you don’t have a title or any idea how to format your writing. The first thing to remember is that it is better to write your title once your article is complete. This will ensure the title fully matches what you have written.

The format can be a bit more tricky. It needs to be simple and easy to follow. So your font should be easy to read and at a size many won’t have to strain to read from a screen. You are going to want to break each section into subtopics to make it easier for the reader to follow along and skim the work. This also helps keep your thoughts and topics organized and structured. Each subtopic will have a mini-title. Be sure these titles have their own line, are short, and are bolded so they can easily be spotted.

When you eventually get to the title, be sure it is bold and larger than the subtitles. Each section of the article is meant to be easily digestible and to the point. Reframe from longer paragraphs and too many pictures, one or two max. With these steps, formatting will be a breeze.

It’s time to write!

So, you’ve been set you up with a topic, have done your research, and understand the format. It’s time for you to put all the prep work into action. It’s easiest to begin by engaging your audience with a scenario or by simply summarizing the topic at hand. It doesn’t need to be long and expressive. With online publishing, it’s better to get straight to the core of what you are discussing.

The most basic and arguably the most important step with writing online is making sure your grammar and spelling are checked. Readers are going to find you less trustworthy if you display a lack of knowledge of basic literacy. So be sure to check your work with a teacher, student, or an online tester.

You’ve got this!

It’s time to begin! Write with confidence, interest, and credibility. These steps will help you on your journey of successfully publishing on your school or university’s online forum and beyond. Starting is the hardest part, but with this article’s help, it might start being the easiest.

Creepypasta: Horror Published by the Internet

Creepypasta is one of the most popular niches of creative works published to the internet. Several stories in this online literary horror genre have become mainstream, such as the 2018 film Slender Man based off the creepypasta of the same name. However, while many of these stories have evolved to stand on their own in whatever form, their conceptions were heavily reliant on the internet as a medium. In order to understand the origins of these stories and how they got their success, one must learn more about the relationship between creepypasta and the internet.

What is Creepypasta?

Creepypasta is, at a basic level, online horror content. Its name comes from the phrase “copypasta,” which is an internet-born phrase referring to, as Merriam-Webster states, “data (such as a block of text) that has been copied and spread widely online.” The merging of this word and “creepy” refers to the nature of creepypasta as horror images and stories posted online and spread around the internet. In this way, creepypasta somewhat resembles oral storytelling. There is a source for the story (usually an image or ambiguous post), then an established canon writing, then internet users spread the story and add on pieces of their own. An article by Annalee Hewitz called “Has Creepypasta Reinvented Classic Folklore?” posits that creepypasta has the same “fluid and ever-changing” nature as an oral folktale. However, in the case of creepypasta, the story does get to be published (if not in the traditional sense) online.

“Something Awful”

While creepypasta has historically come from various different sources, many of the most recognized stories from the genre have come from the online forum known as “Something Awful.” The Library of Congress digital archive refers to the forum as “a comedy website housing a variety of content, including blog entries, forums, feature articles, digitally edited pictures, and humorous media reviews.” One of the threads on Something Awful is dedicated to original horror stories written by members of the site, and in June of 2009, user Gerogerigegege posted a thread asking for submissions of “paranormal images” created by fellow users. This thread led to the creation of Slender Man, one of the most recognizable and popular creepypasta stories. Additionally, Something Awful was used to spread the “Smile Dog” creepypasta, which began as a single edited image and became a full story with abundant lore. The site is doubtless one of the leading sources for the spread and creation of creepypasta content.

Slender Man

Slender Man, by Eric Knudsen, is a creepypasta featuring a tall, faceless pale man in a suit. The story started when Knudsen, using the username Victor Surge, posted edited pictures of the character to the aforementioned Something Awful thread. He paired these black and white images with a cryptic caption: “We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time … 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.” The creature Slender Man is characterized as an enactor of chaos and violence, usually grooming young children into doing his bidding. Knudsen expanded his creepypasta into an established intellectual property, beginning with lore that he shared on the internet, then with the indie game series of the same name, and leading to the 2018 Slender Man film.

Smile Dog

“Smile Dog” has a far more ambiguous origin than that of Slender Man. The creepypasta comes from a heavily edited image of a dog with human-like teeth that was spread around the internet. This became an established story about the image in which anyone who sees it becomes haunted by dreams of the creepy dog until they themselves show the image to someone else. The author of the official story is unknown, but it is still considered as the official canon. The image itself was shared to Something Awful, like many other creepypasta images.

Creepypasta Vs. Traditional Horror

One question that may come to mind when considering creepypasta is how it is any different from the regular horror genre, like any scary story from a book in the library. The definitive factor here is the internet as a medium. The internet is interactive, which is one of its most definitive features. When one picks up a book from the library, with the author’s name and publishing company emblazoned on the cover, there is a disconnect between the reader and the story that allows a sense of removal from the events occurring in the narrative. The reader may become captivated by the story, and even frightened by what is depicted within, but there is a comfortable padding of reality that comes from a traditionally published work. With the internet, and especially spaces like Reddit or Something Awful, there doesn’t have to be an announcement of the story’s fictional nature. The interaction between the reader and content is far more intimate without the red tape of published works, and strips away some of the comfort provided by a printed fictional work.

Creepypasta and its Legacy

The internet has provided a new avenue for digital publishing that transcends the restraints of traditional publishing companies. Stories like Slender Man and Smile Dog might never have been conceived within a traditional setting, especially given the components heavily reliant on an internet format (such as the original images associated with the stories). As Hewitz states, “creepypasta stories — whether visual or written — are always undergoing transformation.” There is a fluidity to online storytelling that cannot be replicated in a fixed format like a printed book. In this way, creepypastas are more similar to stories shared verbally, and contain the same kind of ingenuity and originality that comes with collaboration of such a large scale.

The Digital Visual Novel

It’s not unusual to see crossovers in technical industries. An innovative tool adapted from the realm of video games is seeing an emergence in digital publishing—the digital visual novel. These formats play like a video game, encouraging users to make decisions and provide visual and audio elements to engage the user in an immersive and interactive experience with the material. Digital visual novels present a unique and engaging medium with promising implications for educational materials in particular. These interactive books have the potential to revolutionize traditional learning methods. As technology continues to integrate into education, exploring the implications of digital visual novels in this context becomes increasingly relevant.

One of the primary benefits of this medium lies in the immersive nature of the visual novel. By combining narrative or expository elements with visuals and real-time decision-making, learners can actively engage with the content. This interactive storytelling approach fosters a more dynamic and participatory learning experience for the user. It can be particularly effective in subjects that require a hands-on, contextual understanding, such as medical or technological sciences, industry technical manuals, children’s educational tools.

The visual novel can be an especially useful tool for providing easy access to learning materials for children or adults with reading or learning disabilities as they can cater to different learning styles. Visual learners may benefit from the rich graphics and illustrations, while textual information caters to those who learn best through reading. The inclusion of audio components adds another layer, accommodating auditory learners. This versatility allows educators to address diverse needs within a single platform.

The branching narrative structure inherent in many visual novels also offers a personalized learning experience. Students can make decisions within the text, influencing its progression and outcomes. This not only enhances critical thinking and decision-making skills, but also provides a safe space for experimentation and learning from consequences. It encourages students to explore different paths and perspectives, promoting a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The gamification aspect of visual novels can make learning more enjoyable. Incorporating elements like points, achievements, or progression levels can motivate students to actively participate and complete educational modules. This gamified approach taps into the psychological aspect of reward systems, making the learning process inherently more engaging.

Accessibility is another key advantage. Digital visual novels can be easily accessed and distributed through online platforms, overcoming geographical barriers. This accessibility ensures that a wider audience, including remote learners, can benefit from the educational content. Additionally, the ability to update and modify digital content allows for ongoing improvements based on feedback and evolving educational needs.

However, challenges exist, including the need for careful content curation to ensure educational integrity. While the immersive nature of visual novels is advantageous than the traditional printed or electronic text, it also demands a balance to prevent distraction from the educational objectives. Striking this balance requires thoughtful design and alignment with curriculum goals.

Furthermore, the integration of digital visual novels into educational systems may face resistance due to traditional perceptions of gaming as a distraction. Educators and institutions must recognize the educational potential of this medium and work towards overcoming skepticism by demonstrating its effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes.

The implications of digital visual novels as educational materials are vast and promising. Their immersive, interactive, and personalized nature aligns well with modern educational goals. As technology continues to advance, embracing innovative mediums like visual novels can contribute to a more engaging and effective learning experience, preparing students for the evolving demands of the digital age.

Your Book’s Back Matter: The E-book Advantage

Once the story is over, everything after that is back matter, which can include anything from author biographies to indexes. E-books have unique advantages over print books when using back matter as a marketing tool. Back matter is most effective as a passive marketing tool where publishers and authors fill these pages with promotions and other information for their readers.  Passive marketing is a beneficial and desirable form of marketing because, once in place, it requires little to no effort on the author’s part to be effective in selling her books.

Print books have page limits on their back matter because of how the printing process works, and these limits will be especially true for traditionally published books. Physical books are printed in signatures, typically in groups of 16 or 32 pages. If you are traditionally published, how much back matter you can include will be determined by how many pages in the signature are left after the end of your story and if you request to have back matter. A publisher will only sometimes include it on their own, and it needs to fit in whatever pages are left over. Anything longer, and the publisher will want an excellent reason to pay for another signature.

Printing cost is not a problem for e-books, and a digital format does not have page constraints. If you wanted, you could have zero back matter at the end of your e-book, letting the book stop at “the end.” However, if you are self-publishing, you will miss a huge opportunity if you don’t use back matter. A reader who has gotten to the back matter of your book is a reader who has finished your book presumably because they loved your writing and just had to finish the story you were telling them. In book marketing, this position is a good one. Once you’ve drawn a reader in, you just have to keep them wanting more; this is where the use of back matter shines.

As a self-published author, you can leverage your back matter as a marketing tool in many ways.  Where you are in your publishing career affects how best to use your back matter, and the most essential step is to figure out where you want the reader to go next. Is this your first book? Send them to your website or the sign-up page for your mailing list. Are you writing a series, or do you already have multiple books published? Send the reader to the next book of yours they should read with links to that book. Make it easy for them to know what you want them to do. That next step should be the first page of your back matter.

If the next step is sending the reader to buy another of your books, remember when including buy links in your back matter that each vendor will need links to return to their own store. For example, back matter on a book purchased from Amazon should never have links to the Google Play or Nook store. You must create separate back matter for each vendor-specific version of your book. This process seems time-consuming, but you can make it easier for yourself if all your back matter is identical, except for the links.

It is essential to keep the back matter of your book updated. Authors should keep all links to a website, mailing list sign-ups, and other books as current as possible to benefit most from this form of marketing. Independent authors should update the back matter of their e-books whenever they change their website URL or switch to another mailing list servicer.

Keeping all this information current is not necessarily possible with a traditionally published or printed book. Traditionally published authors have to seek permission from their publishers to update back matter, and since new back matter in this format includes a new printing cost, it is entirely up to the publisher if they will make the change.

Even if you publish independently, e-books will always be more effective at marketing with back matter than printed books. Back matter in printed books is static. That copy will always remain the same. An author can update her back matter in future printed editions, which means constantly gaining new readers who will see the updates. Marketing to gain new readers is not passive, which negates using back matter as a form of passive marketing. Changes to an e-book’s back matter automatically happen for anyone who owns the book, giving them access to the new information without any extra work on the reader’s part.

Even though print costs for the number of pages do not constrain e-book length, it is wise to keep the back matter of your book shorter. E-readers track a book’s length by estimated page count or percentage left, and your readers will use these numbers to track their progress through a story.  If too many pages or too large of a percentage is left after the reader sees “the end,” it can have a negative psychological effect, making them feel cheated out of an entire book.

In book marketing, e-books have a clear advantage over printed books, and self-published authors have a clear advantage over traditionally published authors regarding back matter. This passive marketing tool is an excellent way to keep readers already interested in your books from looking elsewhere for the next thing to read.

Incubator Program offering an Edge

The Publisher Desk Incubator program has announced the opening of 2024 applications. It is a program focused on providing digital publishing companies with a comprehensive suite of support and services. The ten chosen digital publishers will receive services and tools valued at up to $50,000, enhancing everything from monetization to SEO and content strategy.

The application is open to all digital publishing platforms and once that has been submitted, they will proceed to the interview portion of the qualifying companies chosen. The program outlines a set of standards that the companies chosen must display in order to be considered for the award. There are no publicized stipulations in reference to location, subject matter, or specific parameters that the company must have in order to qualify. However, they emphasize that the companies that will receive the awards are ones that display a promise of growth and innovation.

“There is a tremendous amount of creativity and drive among publishers online, and we know that it often takes a boost to take a publisher to the next level,” said Chris Ward, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of The Publisher Desk. “Our program is geared toward growth-minded publishers and entrepreneurs who want to take their content and maximize it in a way that scales their business.”

Incubator Programs

The Publisher Desk Incubator Program is not the only one of its kind. There are many similar organizations offering services and tools to companies that are working to establish, or even expand, their companies that need assistance to navigate the most optimal paths forward.

Some programs are even offered at universities. They open applications to their students. Then dependent upon how many the program has allotted for; those students are immersed in an intense and unique curriculum intended to provide services and tools to encourage mastery.

An incubator program’s purpose is to give companies access to mentorship, investors, and other support to help them get established. In the case of The Publisher Desk Incubator they integrate advanced monetization strategies, proactive website monitoring, and strategic keyword research, all designed to enhance content visibility and optimize revenue.

Another example of an incubator program for digital publishing that companies may consider is Le Labo de l’Edition (the Publishing Laboratory). It is a digital publishing incubator based in Paris. “Le Labo is unique in that it’s developed by and funded by the city of Paris itself, aiming towards educational collaboration and partnership. The goal of the incubation program is to assist traditional publishers to evolve in response to the shift to digital publishing. Le Labo connects members of publishing community to develop a continued strategy for growth and development of the organization.”

Taking the Initiative

With a growing demand for digital content, and specifically for scientific, technical, medical, legal, and business text, competition will become more intense. Enrolling into a program like The Publisher Desk Incubator will offer these digital publishing companies an edge over their competitors. It will also prepare them for the potential challenges that other companies have already faced, offering them an insight into how to prevent falling victim as other publishers have inevitably done.

According to Technavio’s market analysis, “The Digital Publishing Market size is expected to grow by USD 138.76 billion, accelerating at a CAGR of 13.12% during the forecast period.” Speculations cite the “digitization of paperback books is notably driving the digital publishing market.” However, there are still pitfalls that can result in the failure of companies like, “high subscription costs may impede market growth.”

Enrolling into a program that offers insight into these positives and negatives, while also being educated about the various tools and services offered, will provide digital publishers with the power to make educated decisions that will best benefit them. As the industry grows companies that take initiative into reinforcing their growing potential will statistically prove better equipped to maintain relevance and have a higher chance of success.

According to Technavio, if digital publishing continues the current trends, then between 2024 and 2028 the market dynamics speculate that three major challenges will hinder digital publishers. They are:

  • Real-time monetary transactions in digital content entail potential financial loss for consumers if critical data is lost, fueling consumer concerns about the security and privacy of their account details and potentially hindering market growth.
  • Piracy remains a longstanding threat in the content industry, set challenges such as file sharing, copying, and downloading from illegal online sources, emphasizing the critical need for premium digital content protection among the service providers.
  • Illegal downloading of digital content results in billions of dollars in losses, restricting the growth of the global digital publishing market.

The Publisher Desk Incubator program will educate their chosen publishers on how to combat these challenges. The purpose is to provide the most comprehensive information in order to provide the building blocks necessary to be successful in such a booming industry. With the saturation of competition there are ample reasons for publishers to look into the resource that offers such an edge over the competition.

Faster News, Faster Changes

These days most teenagers and young adults do not read newspapers or magazines. Instead, they read news and articles on their smartphones and laptops (O’Brien, 2021). Getting news and media online instead of in print is an example of how “digital media” is changing society. A 2021 magazine article talked about the effects of digital media on jobs like writers, editors and publishers (“Impacts of Digital Media”, 2021). 

The article said that digital media creates both challenges and opportunities for these careers (“Impacts”, 2021). One challenge is that news cycles are much quicker now. Writers have to publish stories very fast on news websites (“Impacts”, 2021). They do not always have enough time to check facts or do proper research before posting articles. Another challenge is that publishers and editors now worry more about fake viral news spreading online (“Impacts”, 2021). When false information goes viral, it makes their publications seem untrustworthy. Fact checkers have to work extra hard to protect against false news (“Impacts”, 2021).

However, digital media also provides new opportunities. Writers can now share news globally within seconds (“Impacts, 2021”). Before the internet, they only reached local readers. Digital tools also allow greater creativity. Writers use multimedia like online videos and podcasts to tell better stories (“Impacts”, 2021). For publishers and editors, digital analytics help them understand reader interests better (“Impacts”, 2021). Online data shows them which types of articles perform best with audiences. This helps guide their decisions.

Overall the article argued modern digital media pushes writers, editors and publishers to be more flexible and adapt quickly (“Impacts”, 2021). Roles are changing. Writing skills now emphasize speed. Editors oversee more fact checking than before. Publishers track online data patterns more closely. Digital technology will likely keep disrupting old media models (“Impacts, 2021”). Jobs depend on adjusting to new internet-centered systems.

In conclusion, a shift toward online media impacts many traditional writing and publishing jobs – often in both favorable and challenging ways (“Impacts”, 2021). These careers face pressure to change accustomed practices. But digital platforms also allow greater reach and insight. Moving forward, striking an balance between print and online formats could be wise until new internet-native models emerge.


O’Brien, D. (2021, January 10). Print media in decline as young people move online. Business Daily.

Impacts of digital media on writing and publishing careers. (2021, March 31). Publishing Perspectives.