ATG Caught my Eye 3/18/15

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Could An Overdependence on Data Hurt The Book Industry? is a piece from the editors at BookBusiness that raises some interesting questions.  It points out that in this world of big data “some in the industry have expressed concerns that an overreliance on data in service of reducing risk could stymie the creative aspects of title acquisition and diminish the vibrancy of the industry.”  While the authors recognizes the role the collection and analysis of data can play in reducing risk, they also notes data’s “limitations, in that by its very nature it is about the past. It tells us little about subject matter that remains unexplored, or genres not yet invented.” And then they pose a follow-up question: “Could diminishing the role of creative thinking prevent publishers from breaking new ground and from having a diverse set of offerings that satisfy readers?”


  • Is there a library-sized hole in the internet? is a fascinating interview that Sarah Bartlett, a freelance copywriter, conducted with David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.  In it, Mr. Weinberger expresses his concerns about the relevance of libraries. He fears that “library knowledge – the content; the metadata; what librarians and the community know about items held – is being lost to the web.”  In order to meet this threat Mr. Weinberger supports the idea of the “library graph” which he admits “is a concept rather than a physical entity at this point, is a means by which the library world can publish its knowledge in an extensible and highly useful way” and “open up library knowledge to every other website, every field, every person, in the form of machine-readable data.”

  • Have digital textbooks turned a corner? is a post on the Publishing Technology website that starts by admitting “the results for digital textbooks have not been promising” up to this point. However, according to this piece there is some evidence that may be about to change. The article notes some recent developments including:
  1. UK educational publisher J.S. Group releasing its latest set of financial results which attributed ‘significant growth’ in sales of digital textbooks as a main cause behind its higher education business growing by 14.5%
  2. the US-based online textbook rental service, Chegg, has just reported its first profits.
  3. Pearson states that it planned to invest $50 million in new digital products in 2015,
  4. digital textbook start-up RedShelf  has secured an extra $1m to pursue its plans to roll out a digital textbook platform across US colleges.

The article also concedes that “the biggest challenge” remains, … proving why eTextbooks “are better than their paper     equivalent to the end user. In this respect there is still some way to go…”


Evidently, this is the case for those hoping to find a home in the journals of the UK publisher Open Access Publishing London (OAPL). It seems that OAPL “has … died, or at least gone into hibernation.” Initially OAPL was a big success publishing “roughly 1,500 articles over some 730 days” with “many of their journal editors being established scientists.” This post raises some red flags for both authors and librarians about new and untested publishers.


  • The Role of Privacy Practices in Information Management tackles privacy issues from a university wide perspective. Writing in Educause, authors Tracy Mitrano, former Director of IT Policy and Law, Cornell University; and Jake Cunningham, Information Security Officer, University of Massachusetts Amherst  claim that the emergence of cloud computing shifts the institutional burden from technology to contract formation. They note that today’s cloud technology requires that “privacy practices and technical security controls must be negotiated up front with the vendor.”  They then offer six essential steps for a college or university when preparing for “privacy, security, and other compliance needs” in developing cloud computing contracts.

 

 

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