Monday, September 16, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N37): New Zealand, College Bandwidth, Google Translation, Flipped Classrooms + More

Could New Zealand be the first country to go entirely self-publishing?  Here's a reflective article about the state of New Zealand's publishing industry after several large publishers pulled out. (Stuff)
So, take out Hachette’s 30 titles, cut HarperCollins’ list by half and factor in the likely rationalisation of Random House and Penguin’s publications following their July global merger, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that fewer Kiwi writers will end up in print. Unless they slap a self-published text on Amazon and embark on the difficult task of self-spruiking. “I think it will mean that,” says International Institute of Modern Letters director Damien Wilkins. “The idea that you could become a writer is absolutely mainstream now and that’s been a huge change over the past 20 years. But you have that at the same time as these eroded outlets and potential for getting your work to readers. So it’s a very curious paradox.”
The need for bandwidth  is stressing out many college campus CIO's (IHE)
Howard’s experience is far from the norm. Many CIOs, facing tight budgets and pressure to keep costs from rising, are using their funds merely to replace aging hardware once it powers down for good or is rendered technologically obsolete.  “I have an adequate budget to replace 20 to 25 percent [of access points] every year,” Rowe said. In other words, if she spends part of her $90,000 budget to increase the number of access points on campus, fewer will be replaced. “In the meantime, I expect bandwidth demand and drain on the access points to continue.”
Google has long been looking at ways to eliminate the language barrier but their efforts may be intesifying (DerSpiegel)
For now, however, the company's goal is to perfect the service, and its path leads through the smartphone. The Translate team has developed an app that transforms smartphones into a talking translation machine, with the ability to handle about two dozen languages so far.  The app works very well, as long as sentences are kept relatively simple. For instance, someone who wants to tell a taxi driver in Beijing that he urgently needs to get to a pharmacy simply has to speak into his smartphone in, for example, German, and it promptly repeats the sentence in Chinese, correctly but in a somewhat tinny voice: "Qing dai wo qu yijia yaodian."  Och feels that the application is still "slightly slow and awkward, because you have to press buttons." The quality of the translation is also inconsistent. But only a few years ago, people would have said he was crazy if he had predicted what Translate could do today.
The Altantic wonders in the 'post-lecture' classroom how will students fare?
A three-year study examining student performance in a “flipped classroom” — a class in which students watch short lecture videos at home and work on activities during class time — has found statistically significant gains in student performance in “flipped” settings and significant student preference for “flipped” methods.  The study, provided exclusively to The Atlantic, is one of the first to examine a “flipped” classroom in the current state of its technology. Russell Mumper, a Vice Dean at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, conducted the study, and two separate articles based on its findings are now in press in the journals Academic Medicine and The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. The education technology company Echo360, whose technology was used in the classes examined, funded the study with a $10,000 grant.
An obit from The Economist on Elmore Leonard:
For years Elmore Leonard had a recurring dream that he was falling down a flight of stairs, never reaching the bottom. After some professional success, this changed: he continued to fall from great heights, but somehow survived. Leonard associated great heights with visibility, with vulnerability. It was better to be at ground level, amid the flow of people, unseen and observant. Meanwhile his bad-guy characters fell from balconies, through windows or drove over cliffs.
Like a jazz musician, he returned to familiar scenes and motifs in his work, discovering novelty in the repetition. “I begin with characters … and see what happens.”
In fact Leonard began with westerns. He thought it would be easy to write a good one (“when I picked up Zane Grey, I could not believe it was so bad”), and he swiftly infused this moth-eaten genre with a new psychological tension. But television killed the market for westerns, so Leonard turned to crime writing.
From Twitter:
Fairfax County libraries under fire after 250,000 books are tossed

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