Monday, April 19, 2010

Media Week (Vol 3) 16: Mad Women, Nigella, Kipling, Review Scams, Elsevier's Peer Review, Higher Ed Retention

Were the mad women of literature really sane? Critical questions asked in a new BBC radio program(me): (BBC)
The violent and feral Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre, the mysterious Woman in White whose escape from an asylum begins Wilkie Collins's gripping thriller, and the terminally delusional Emma in Madame Bovary.

But were they really mad? Would we today recognise them as mentally ill or were our heroines merely misunderstood, not to mention a tad inconvenient?

For Radio 4 documentary, Madwomen in the Attic, medical historians, psychiatrists and literary specialists gave their diagnoses of our troubled heroines.

Nigella Lawson is the latest TV chef to release an iPhone cooking app, Nigella's Quick Collection from Random House, which contains 70 recipes, along with videos. The app costs £5 and is reviewed by The Times:
The first generation of cooking apps has been big on numbers (America’s Big Oven boasts of having 170,000 recipes on its database) but not so great on design, but Jamie Oliver’s 20-minute meals app, launched last year, set a new benchmark. With its sexy graphics, slick videos and cheeky chat, it’s not just a list of recipes with synchronised shopping lists but a way of aligning ourselves with a brand.

From this week, we can cosy up to Nigella in our pockets too. The Nigella Quick Collection contains 60 of her speediest, easiest recipes. Here, we exclusively reveal five of the dishes that will have you rustling up supper in no time.

Kipling's Jungle Book is to appear as a new animated series. I'm not sure about the 52 episodes however since its hard enough to keep track of The Old House. The Times:
Mr Andrew said: “The world of the jungle is looking glorious in the series and will reintroduce this brand to a generation who might not know this fabulous story”.

Others were not so sure, however. Sharad Keskar, chairman of the Kipling Society, a registered charity that guards the author’s legacy said it was doubtful that the new series would be faithful to his book.

He said: “We’re used to this kind of thing. The poor man has often been maligned. The Disney one just wasn’t Kipling, it was amusing and light. Although The Jungle Book is ostensibly written for children, it is quite a scholarly book.

“I don’t think anyone is strongly against these adaptations, but there is general light-hearted disapproval. The text isn’t really represented properly,” he added. Tapaas Chakravarti, chief executive of DQ Entertainment, said: “We are thrilled that Mowgli and all these much-loved characters will be returning to the UK screens in the near future.

“Considerable time and effort has been given to produce an animation series worthy of the rich heritage The Jungle Book represents.”

Several authors with too much time on their hands get into bother over online reviews. This isn't the first time this has happened but why are the leading academics so dumb? Telegraph:

The row has sent shock waves through the normally genteel world of academia as claim and counter-claim have been circulated by email to other top writers.

Prof Service, a biographer of Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky; Kate Summerscale, author of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher; and Dr Polonsky were the three writers targeted by Dr Palmer's distinctly unfavourable 'customer reviews'.

Questions were first raised by Dr Polonsky after she read comments on her latest work, Molotov's Magic Lantern, on Amazon's UK site.

Higher Ed looks at how retention can be improved for long distance education programs (HigherEd):

A growing body of research has all but obliterated the notion that distance education is inherently less effective than classroom education. But even the most ardent distance-ed evangelists cannot deny persistent evidence suggesting that students are more likely to drop out of online programs than traditional ones. The phenomenon has many explanations, not least the fact that what often makes students choose the flexibility of online learning -- being too busy to enroll in a classroom course -- can also make it harder for them to keep up with their studies.

But Hersh believes there is another major factor driving the gap between retention rates in face-to-face programs and those in the rapidly growing world of distance education: the lack of a human touch.

And unlike the reality of adult students’ busy lives, Hersh says the human-touch problem can be solved. In fact, he thinks he knows how.

Hersh’s solution is to incorporate more video and audio components into the course-delivery mechanism. Most professors who teach online already incorporate short video and audio clips into their courses, according to a 2009 survey by the Campus Computing Project. But it is rarer, Hersh says, for professors to use video of themselves to teach or interact with their online students -- largely because the purveyors of major learning management systems do not orient their platforms to feature that method of delivery.

A new process for peer review is presented by Elsevier (FT):

Indeed, the reliability of peer review is increasingly in doubt. A paper in Nature in 2006 suggested that it was impossible for peer reviewers to detect all fraudulent, falsified or plagiarised research. The writer also noted that feedback from reviewers can be unhelpful, and that ideas from rejected papers can be stolen by editors and used for their own purposes. Many such researchers seem to keep quiet for fear of ruining their prospects by complaining.

Meanwhile, scientific integrity has been called into question on a broader scale. We have had the recent scandal about e-mails between researchers on climate change that appeared to suggest they wanted to alter results. And in the US, an editor of an orthopaedic journal earned $20m in royalties from an implant manufacturer who received favourable press.

From the twitter:

InfoToday's review of the revised WorldCat Record Use Policy Changes at OCLC Also, LJ follows up with some of the comments that have been generated by the community since the policy was released (LJ):
On that official feedback page and elsewhere, many in the bibliographic community agree that the revised policy features much improved language and clarity (though some have questioned whether that clarity breaks down when it comes to specific use cases).

Jennifer Younger, President-Elect, OCLC Global Council and Edward H. Arnold Director of Libraries, University of Notre Dame (and Record Use Policy Council's co-chair), told LJ the Council has been pleased with the commentary they've seen so far "through the community forum on the policy, through individual blogs, tweets, Webinars and e-mails directed to the Council and to individual Council members. We are hearing from a wide range of constituencies and partners in the library community, and we encourage continuing input. Steady input from the community has enabled us to continue to expand the FAQ."

The proposed policy will be discussed with the Global Council next week, she said, adding that the Records Council "will be meeting through mid-May to address questions, concerns and comments that have been coming to us since we posted the policy draft last week.”

The Illustrated London News goes on line today.

And in sports, there is slim but slightly more hope this week for MU and the championship. Also the Australian Open 1976 (Flickr).

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