Monday, April 04, 2011

MediaWeek (V4 N14): Long Distance Learning, OpenSource Textbooks, CCC, Harpercollins

Forbes takes a look at the rapidly expanding long distance learning market in India (Forbes):
The $260 million (market cap) Everonn uses a satellite network, with two-way video and audio. It reaches 1,800 colleges and 7,800 schools across 24 of India's 28 states. It offers everything from digitized school lessons to entrance exam prep for aspiring engineers and has training for job-seekers, too. "Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I would be doing what I am doing today," says 49-year-old Kishore, who along with his family owns nearly 19% of the company. "When I started out I would have been happy if I'd reached 50 schools in south India."
Everonn debuted on FORBES ASIA's Best Under A Billion list in 2010. Revenues for the first three quarters of this fiscal year, through December, rose to $65 million--from $40 million the previous year. Profits touched $9.2 million--up from $6.1 million last year.
Edutopia opines about open source textbooks:

The Argument for Open-Source Curricular Materials:
The week this announcement was made, Edutopia had an article on the use of open source curricular materials – a growing trend being driven, in part, by the extraordinary cost of commercial textbooks. The argument for open curriculum has many elements in common with the argument for the increased use of open-source software. The most obvious feature of free open source (FOS) materials is the lack of cost for the materials themselves – most open-source content is free of cost in digital form. Historically there has been a tradeoff: low-cost (or free) comes at the expense of quality. (In other words, "There is no free lunch.") But FOS is different. Indeed, I've long argued that FOS software has the advantage of being free of cost, while, at the same time, providing greater value to the users.

This Lunch Is Not Only Free, It's Really Good:
The pairing of high quality with reduced cost seems counter-intuitive at first glance, but makes sense once you look into the open source community more deeply. Many of the developers and maintainers of open source materials are people who use these materials themselves, and thus have a strong interest in keeping the quality as high as possible. Historically this has been true since the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary – arguably the definitive dictionary of the English language whose entries were (and are) submitted by language fanatics, making it one of the largest and earliest open-source documents.
Washington Post on Orphans:
This may well be a practical solution, but the issue should not be Google’s to decide. As the lawfully elected representatives of rights holders and readers, Congress is best positioned to determine how copyright should apply in this case. An essential piece of any such solution is a body, similar to the recording industry’s ASCAP, that would be able to search for rights holders, disperse funds and oversee collective licensing of copyrighted works. This is an accepted strategy for exactly such situations, where an opt-in approach would be prohibitively onerous.
And Tracey Armstrong CEO of CCC comments on the above that this entity already exists (WAPO):
In fact, such an organization has been in existence for more than 30 years: the Copyright Clearance Center.
Mercury News on Orphan legislation:

However, Google might choose to a drop its court efforts altogether and take its cause to the legislative branch, one that would benefit the public interest.

This new strategy would be to have Congress pass legislation that would primarily make orphan works available to the public. Congress has considered similar legislation before, once in 2006. At that time, the U.S. Copyright Office advocated that after a thorough search failed to uncover the rightsholder, orphan books should be made available to the public. The legislation stalled because Congressional policy makers wanted to see how the Google Books case would play out in the courts.

Now that the outcome is known, Congress can act. Legislation would not only allow Google and commercialized enterprises from digitizing works, but libraries and universities too.

Allowing these organizations to scan out-of-print books and make millions of printed works readily available to the public will usher in an era of digital enlightenment.
Cory Doctrow in the Guardian on loaning eBooks:
Now, in point of fact, many ordinary trade books circulate far more than 26 times before they're ready for the discard pile. If a group of untrained school kids working as part-time pages can keep a copy of the Toronto Star in readable shape for 30 days' worth of several-times-per-day usage, then it's certainly the case that the skilled gluepot ninjas working behind the counter at your local library can easily keep a book patched up and running around the course for a lot more than 26 circuits.

Indeed, the HarperCollins editions of my own books are superb and robust examples of the bookbinder's art (take note!), and judging from the comments of outraged librarians, it's common for HarperCollins printed volumes to stay in circulation for a very long time indeed.But this is the wrong thing to argue about. Whether a HarperCollins book has the circulatory vigour to cope with 26 checkouts or 200, it's bizarre to argue that this finite durability is a feature that we should carefully import into new media. It would be like assuming the contractual obligation to attack the microfilm with nail-scissors every time someone looked up an old article, to simulate the damage that might have been done by our careless patrons to the newsprint that had once borne it.
From the twitter:

Reuters Special Report: Nic Callaway the publisher of the Madonna "Sex" book now building book Apps

Gallimard: 100 years in publishing

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