Monday, December 10, 2012

Media Week (V5, N50): MOOC Business Model, Popova Profile, Tim Cook, Printing 15th Century + More,

Wondering where the business model is for MOOCs? Some providers are now charging for access to student data (Chronicle):
On Tuesday, Coursera, which works with high-profile colleges to provide massive open online courses, or MOOC's, announced its employee-matching service, called Coursera Career Services. Some high-profile tech companies have already signed up—including Facebook and Twitter, according to a post on Coursera's blog, though officials would not disclose how much employers pay for the service. Only students who opt into the service will be included in the system that participating employers see, a detail stressed in an e-mail message that Coursera sent to its nearly two million past or present students on Tuesday.

Each college offering a course through Coursera is also given the chance to opt out of the service—meaning that if a college declines, then no students in its courses can participate in the matchmaking system.

"Some universities are still thinking it through, so not all have said yes," Andrew Ng, a co-founder of Coursera, said in an interview on Tuesday. "I don't think anyone said, 'No now and no in the future,'" he added. "This is a relatively uncontroversial business model that most of our university partners are excited about."

Udacity, another company that provides free online courses, offers a similar service. Udacity works directly with professors to offer courses, rather than signing agreements with colleges.
Profile of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings) in the NY Times:
She has faced criticism, of course. She has been dismissed as elitist and condescending. An initiative she helped start last spring, the Curator’s Code, which called for more respect and attribution in the Twittersphere, was harshly criticized. Ms. Popova responded in a blog post that began, “In times of turmoil, I often turn to one of my existential pillars of comfort: Albert Einstein’s ‘Ideas and Opinion.’ ” She ended with this thought: “There is a way to critique intelligently and respectfully, without eroding the validity of your disagreement. It boils down to manners.”

Old-fashioned, indeed.

As for her future, Ms. Popova said she had little interest in expanding her brand. “I get asked all the time, ‘How’s it going to scale?’ ‘What’s next?’ ” she said. “What I do is what I do, and I don’t think I’m ever going to change that.” The woman who rails against her contemporaries for turning their backs on old books said she had no interest in writing one. “That’s such an antiquated model of thinking,” she said. “Why would I want to write something that’s going to have the shelf life of a banana?”
Long interview with Tim Cook of Apple in Businessweek:
The key in the change that you’re referencing is my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation—and I didn’t just start believing that. I’ve always believed that. It’s always been a core belief at Apple. Steve very deeply believed this.

So the changes—it’s not a matter of going from no collaboration to collaboration. We have an enormous level of collaboration in Apple, but it’s a matter of taking it to another level. You look at what we are great at. There are many things. But the one thing we do, which I think no one else does, is integrate hardware, software, and services in such a way that most consumers begin to not differentiate anymore. They just care that the experience is fantastic.

So how do we keep doing that and keep taking it to an even higher level? You have to be an A-plus at collaboration. And so the changes that we made get us to a whole new level of collaboration. We’ve got services all in one place, and the guy that’s running that has incredible skills in services, has an incredible track record, and I’m confident will do fantastic things. Jony [Ive, senior vice president of industrial design], who I think has the best taste of anyone in the world and the best design skills, now has responsibility for the human interface. I mean, look at our products. (Cook reaches for his iPhone.) The face of this is the software, right? And the face of this iPad is the software. So it’s saying, Jony has done a remarkable job leading our hardware design, so let’s also have Jony responsible for the software and the look and feel of the software, not the underlying architecture and so forth, but the look and feel.

I don’t think there’s anybody in the world that has a better taste than he does. So I think he’s very special. He’s an original. We also placed Bob [Mansfield, senior vice president of technologies] in a position where he leads all of silicon and takes over all of the wireless stuff in the company. We had grown fairly quickly, and we had different wireless groups. We’ve got some really cool ideas, some very ambitious plans in this area. And so it places him leading all of that. Arguably there’s no finer engineering manager in the world. He is in a class by himself.
Some interesting ideas (relevant for books) on better magazine publishing for digital from Craig Mod:
A Subcompact Manifesto:

Subcompact Publishing tools are first and foremost straightforward.

They require few to no instructions.

They are easily understood on first blush.

The editorial and design decisions around them react to digital as a distribution and consumption space.

They are the result of dumping our publishing related technology on a table and asking ourselves — what are the core tools we can build with all this stuff?

They are, as it were, little N360s.

I propose Subcompact Publishing tools and editorial ethos begin (but not end) with the following qualities:
Small issue sizes (3-7 articles / issue)
Small file sizes
Digital-aware subscription prices
Fluid publishing schedule
Scroll (don’t paginate)
Clear navigation
HTML(ish) based
Touching the open web
Two interesting data modeling/visualization projects:

The expansion of Printing across Europe during the 15th century (The Atlantic):

Harvard's metaLAB is "dedicated to exploring and expanding the frontiers of networked culture in the arts and humanities," pursuing interdisciplinary research like this fascinating look at the spread of printing across Europe in the 1400s. Drawing on data from the university's library collections, the animation below maps the number and location of printed works by year. Watch it full screen in HD to see cities light up as the years scroll by in the lower left corner. Matthew Battles, a principal and senior researcher at metaLAB and past Atlantic contributor, describes the research and technology that went into the visualization in an interview below.
And Bombsite, a project that shows where bombs fell on London during the Blitz.
The Bomb Sight project is mapping the London WW2 bomb census between 7/10/1940 and 06/06/1941. Previously available only by viewing in the Reading Room at The National Archives, Bomb Sight is making the maps available to citizen researchers, academics and students. They will be able to explore where the bombs fell and to discover memories and photographs from the period.

The project has scanned original 1940s bomb census maps , geo-referenced the maps and digitally captured the geographical locations of all the falling bombs recorded on the original map. The data has then been integrated into 2 different types of applications:

And a good day in Sport:

Manchester United and a very exciting game (Guardian)

England Cricket win (Guardian)

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