Sunday, November 22, 2009

Media Week 47: SharedBook, Virtual Classrooms, Google Legal

Sunday Papers:
  • Observer: The Martin Beck crime series and the queen of crime
  • TimesOnline: The conversation: James Ellroy - Author reads from his book and tells of his breakdown, divorce and drugs
  • London Times Review: THE JUNIOR OFFICERS’ READING CLUB And what fighting in Afghanistan is all about - pretty grim.
  • The Age on The Cornwell factor That's Patricia Cornwell.
SharedBook (via SharedDoc) has launched their document commenting platform in beta and is looking for testers (Techcrunch):

SharedDoc is an online document platform that lets anyone upload a document online and then share the file to a community, so they can add comments. We have 500 free invites for TechCrunch readers here.

Once you upload a Word or Google Docs document to SharedDoc’s platform, you can send email invites to a friends or colleagues to comment on the document. In order to comment, a user needs to set up an ID. Users can then highlight portions of the the document where they’d like to leave a comment and post their input.

Comments can be seen by by everyone invited on the document and commenters can respond to others comments. Each comment carries the ID of the user, and the date of posting. SharedDoc also creates a permanent record of the comments by saving or printing the document with the comments as footnotes.

Virtual classrooms get some attention from the New York Times:

Teacherless or virtual-teacher learning is described by enthusiasts as a revolution in the making. Until now, they say, education has been a seller’s market. You beg to get in to college. Deans decide what you must know. They prevent you from taking better courses elsewhere.

They set prices high to subsidize unprofitable activities. Above all, they exclude most humans from their knowledge — the poor, the old, people born in the wrong place, people with time-consuming children and jobs.

Champions of digital learning want to turn teaching into yet another form of content. Allow anyone anywhere to take whatever course they want, whenever, over any medium, they say. Make universities compete on quality, price and convenience. Let students combine credits from various courses into a degree by taking an exit exam. Let them live in Paris, take classes from M.I.T. and transfer them to a German university for a diploma.

“This is putting the consumer in charge as opposed to putting the supplier in charge,” said Scott McNealy, the chairman of Sun Microsystems, the technology giant, and an influential proponent of this approach. He founded Curriki, an online tool for sharing lesson plans and other materials, and was an early investor in the Western Governors University, which delivers degrees online.

Google launches legal search tool within Google Scholar and a shot across the bows of West and Lexis. (Blog):
Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of "separate but equal" facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.

We think this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all. To understand how an opinion has influenced other decisions, you can explore citing and related cases using the Cited by and Related articles links on search result pages. As you read an opinion, you can follow citations to the opinions to which it refers. You can also see how individual cases have been quoted or discussed in other opinions and in articles from law journals. Browse these by clicking on the "How Cited" link next to the case title. See, for example, the frequent citations for Roe v. Wade, for Miranda v. Arizona (the source of the famous Miranda warning) or for Terry v. Ohio (a case which helped to establish acceptable grounds for an investigative stop by a police officer).
Resource Shelf has a complete discussion of the new database.

Dan Brown helps Random House to $23m e-book sales (Bookseller)

Gartner sees 2010 and the real year of the eBook (Softpedia):
Gartner Technology Business Research Insight reached the conclusion that even all the heavy promotion of e-book readers during 2009 wouldn't be able to match what 2010 would bring. According to Gartner, e-books and their e-readers haven't become as popular as they can be because of multiple factors.

One factor is the limited features of e-readers. Namely, most such gadgets are exclusively built for allowing the reading of books in the electronic format. Although this is their intended purpose and they have perfectly carried out this task, Mr. Weiner believes that e-reader applications are and should be a focus of the manufacturers.

“Book applications for smartphones have the potential to become a bridge to other devices such as tablet readers and netbooks. Apple, for example, could migrate the more than 500 book applications in the iTunes store to a tablet device and Google, which recently announced a browser-based e-reader, could offer applications for Android-based devices of various form factors,” Mr. Weiner shared.

What this implies is that fixed devices, namely those built solely for reading, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s family of devices, should not be considered even close to being the final stage of evolution of these gadgets.

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