Monday, February 10, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N6) The Troubles Archive, Dickens, Open Access Models, Innovation in Scholarly Publishing +More

This story broke last year but it remains a intense story about how to capture for posterity difficult and traumatic recent history.  In this case an oral history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the archive established at Boston College. (Chronicle)
Mr. O’Neill, head of the John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College, might have seemed a surprising partner in such a risky venture. His was a world of manuscripts and manicured campuses. But he also had extensive connections in Ireland, traveling in both the north and the south to develop one of the most comprehensive collections of Irish literature and history in the world. Now, with peace in the air, he was looking to fill a gap in the Burns Library, focusing on the recent political history of Northern Ireland. When Mr. Moloney, Northern Ireland editor for The Sunday Tribune, heard of the librarian’s interest, he proposed an archive collecting the stories of former paramilitary members at “the cutting edge of the conflict.”
Thirteen years later the three men would have vastly different recollections of their first meeting. The two Irishmen walked away from dinner thinking that Mr. O’Neill would not pursue the project unless he could assure them that its secrecy was legally protected. Mr. O’Neill insists he would never have made such a blanket promise.
But all agree on one point. In those heady, early days, when talk of reconciliation dominated public discussion in Northern Ireland, none of them imagined their project would get caught up in an international criminal investigation into a four-decade-old murder. How that happened is a tale of grand ambitions undermined by insular decision-making and careless oversight.
I've been trying to get through the Dickens books I haven't read (currently reading Tale of Two Cities and last year Bleak House) and from the New Republic is a rehash from 1933.  (New Republic)
In short, as everybody who has read him will admit, Dickens can stand a good deal of cutting. But Dickens has been abridged before, and nobody cried blasphemy; it is quite true that most people who have read “David Copperfield,” “Nicholas Nickleby” or “Oliver Twist” have read them only in a juvenile abridgment. What Mr. Graves has done, however, is more than merely cut away adipose tissue and supernumerary tear-glands: in order to shorten the length without sacrificing the continuity he has rewritten the whole book. His version is “not an abridgment for schools, but a rewriting for the ordinary reader”; and therein lies his crime. But none of the famous scenes or dialogues or characters is lacking. In fact, you cannot tell what is lacking until you read the chapter of the original which Mr. Graves has appended as contrast with his own version. Then you will see that what is missing will never be missed. If you were to read “The Real David Copperfield” without knowing what impious hands had been laid on it, your inevitable comment would be: “I had forgotten what a good book ‘David Copperfield’ is!”
Looking to show a willingness to accommodate new revenue models, Academic and Scientific publishers have been experimenting.  Last week IOP announced an 'open access' model with an Austrian consortium (THE):

The agreement between the Institute of Physics’s publishing arm; the Austrian Science Fund; library consortium the Austrian Academic Consortium and the Austrian Central Library for Physics at the University of Vienna will see the Austrian Science Fund cover the article fees for every author it funds to publish open access with the Institute.
In exchange, the publisher has agreed to lower the cost of accessing its journals for participating members of the Austrian Academic Consortium in proportion to the extra funding it receives from article fees.
Last week the UK’s universities and science minister David Willetts called on publishers to give a boost to the take-up of journal-provided gold open access by reaching such price offsetting agreements with individual universities, ensuring that their total expenditure on journals did not increase.
A long article on innovation in scholarly publishing from the LA Review of Books:
To make sure humanities scholarship thrives, it is crucial that we cut through the fog of pixel dust–induced illusion to the practical realities of what digital technology offers to scholarship. Among the prevailing misconceptions about digital production of any kind is that it is cheap, permanent yet somehow immaterial, and that it is done by “machines” — that is, with little human labor. We could add to this another pervasive two-part misperception, that “everything” is digitized and that everything digital is available on Google. Each of these views is profoundly inaccurate. Costs of production and maintenance (or, to use the current grant-required buzzword, sustainability) are much greater with digital objects than print. Every aspect of the old-school publishing work cycle — acquisition (highly skilled and highly valued/paid labor), editing (ditto), reviewing, fact-checking, design, production, promotion, and distribution (all ditto) — remains in place in the digital environment. The only change is in the form of the final production, which becomes a matter of servers, licenses, files, delivery, and platform-specific or platform-agnostic design instead of presses, paper, binding, and so on. The fact that the print object is removed means the single obvious revenue-producing part of the work cycle is eliminated, replaced with a dubious business model of digital sales that as yet doesn’t seem to work well for most authors, and even less well for scholarly monographs.

From Twitter:
CJR Be the next Ezra Klein!
Twitter is offering a small number of research institutions access to its public and historic data  
ONIX 3.0 Raises Standard for Ebook Metadata, By Graham Bell, Chief Data Architect at EDItEUR /bookbusinessmag  

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