Sunday, July 24, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N30): Arundhati Roy, JSTORE Illegal Downloads, Kaplan's $1.6mm Bill, High Journal Prices, Three Rules of Reviewing + More

The New Statesman has a long feature article on Arundhati Roy and this is only a small sample (NewStatesman):
Roy has not published any fiction since The God of Small Things, much to the impatience of the six million people who bought that book (and, you imagine, her agent David Godwin). Over the past 14 years, she has instead devoted her energy to India's most urgent political challenges: nuclear tests, dams, Kashmir, Hindu nationalism, terrorism, the emergence of a super-wealthy elite and the 800 million citizens who still live on less than Rs20 (30p) a day.Roy's version of India is uncompromising.

The country, she says, is in "a genocidal situation, turning upon itself, colonising the lower sections of society who have to pay the price for this shining India". Its leaders are "such poor men because they have no idea of history, of culture, of anything, except growth rates". The prime minister, Manmohan Singh, is a "pathetic figure as a human being". Democracy is thriving "for a few people, in the better neighbourhoods of Bombay and Delhi". The Indian elite are "like an extra state in America". The country has a defence budget of $34bn this year. "For whom?" she asks. "For us." In her account, there is a war taking place, not with Pakistan or China, but within India's borders: the sham democracy has turned on its poorest citizens.
Activitst and technology innovator Aaron Swartz faces 35yrs in jail for illegally accessing and downloading millions of articles through the JSTORE account at MIT. (Clearly, a speed reader). Inside HigherEd takes a look at the charges (IHEd)
Swartz has been involved in numerous efforts to make more information available free to more people. But the charges he faces make no distinction between his possible philosophical goals and any other kind of theft. "Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars. It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away," said a statement from U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

While Swartz could not be reached for comment, his many fans mobilized support online, charging that the government was essentially treating him as a criminal for violating the terms of service in place at MIT and with JSTOR members. More than 15,000 people signed petitions on his behalf within hours of word of the charges he is facing.

The blog of Demand Progress -- a group Swartz previously led as executive director -- published a statement saying that "he is being charged with allegedly downloading too many scholarly journal articles from the Web. The government contends that downloading said articles is actually felony computer hacking and should be punished with time in prison."
The Chronicle blog Wired Campus notes the move by research libraries UK to take a more aggressive stand against 'high journal' prices with particular attention paid to Elsevier and Wiley. This activity stems from a report commissioned by the group in November and a subsequent journal article published in March, 2011. (Wired Campus)
David C. Prosser, executive director of the association, said it is pushing for a reduction of 15 percent in the cost of Big Deals, and that it focused on Elsevier and Wiley because those contracts expire at the end of 2011. “It was a slow and gradual realization” that they had grown too expensive, he said. “There are many benefits to the library community of the Big Deals. So for quite a while, those benefits were outweighing the major concerns.”

But like their counterparts in the United States, British research libraries have endured financial strains lately. In Britain that included not only the global recession and a major reorganization of higher-education financing but a crash in the value of sterling in 2008. Mr. Prosser said that hurt libraries in Britain because they pay most of the larger publishers in euros or dollars, not in sterling.
“So we lost hundreds of thousands of pounds of buying power overnight,” he said. “That was the point at which people began saying, ‘We’re tied into things over which we don’t have a lot of control.’”

According to Mr. Prosser, Elsevier and Wiley have both proposed deals with new terms, but neither comes close to satisfying the group’s conditions. “We are having to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we may not be able to reach a deal,” he said.
From Dow Jones: A Kaplan school has agreed to pay $1.6mm in fines related to a whistle blower case on fraudulent enrollment practices. The wire report also notes the resignation of two senior Kaplan executives (DJ):
The suit was initially brought by David Goodstein, the campus's former director of education. The U.S. Department of Justice contacted Kaplan about the program in 2008, according to Washington Post securities filings.Under the settlement, CHI will make total payments of $1.6 million. An attorney for Goodstein said in a press release that the payment includes $1.13 million for the federal government and just under $500,000 to satisfy student loans of program participants. Goodstein will receive a percentage of the government's settlement amount.

The campus had been the focus of other investigations, including a program review by the Education Department.Earlier this week, Kaplan said that the chief executive and chief financial officer of Kaplan Higher Education were resigning. The organization is shifting many services provided by that unit into two separate institutions--one for campuses and the other for its online operation.
Here is the corresponding press release from Kaplan on the executive changes:
Kaplan, Inc. Chairman and CEO Andrew Rosen today announced a more cost-efficient organizational structure for Kaplan Higher Education (KHE). This change will reallocate resources to preserve and enhance quality student services and academic innovation, while streamlining general and administrative activities. Most centralized services provided under the KHE umbrella will be shifted to the units that house its two separate types of institutions—the Kaplan College/Kaplan Career Institute campuses, and Kaplan University. Some centralized services will move to Kaplan, Inc. The KHE administrative infrastructure will essentially disappear.

Jeffrey Conlon, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of Kaplan Higher Education since 2009, will be leaving his post. Conlon has been with Kaplan since 1993, first in its Test Prep division. He joined Kaplan University in 2004 and became President of its campus-based schools in 2005. He took over as president of Kaplan Higher Education in 2008.

“During his tenure, Jeff has been instrumental in improving student outcomes, raising academic standards, and introducing the bold Kaplan Commitment initiative, which helps ensure that our students are making well-informed educational choices,” said Rosen. “He has been an important part of Kaplan for many years, and we owe him a deep debt of gratitude.”

As part of the restructuring, Lionel Lenz relinquishes his role as chief financial officer for KHE. Lenz joined Kaplan in 2009 and has earned a reputation for managing complex operations to support large-scale growth.

Scott McLemee in Inside Higher Ed takes a view on the changes in book retailing (IHEd):

But schadenfreude at corporate misfortune is, in this case, a bit shortsighted. The impact of “restructuring” the retail book and magazine trade (to use the blandest possible term for this wave of creative destruction) goes beyond the obvious immediate effects on consumer behavior. A revival of independent bookselling is the least likely outcome, at least in the short run. Rather, the shrinking number of outlets for hardbacks and paperbacks will create a greater incentive for publishers to emphasize e-books. (As if wiping out the expense of putting unsold copies in a warehouse were not enough.) The tendency is likely to be self-reinforcing: the easiest way to get an e-book is from an online vendor. Last summer, a prominent cyberpundit predicted that the printed book would be “dead” as a major cultural form within the next five years. This seems a little less preposterous all the time.

There are three rules of book reviewing - once you get past the introductory passages on how nasty you can be (Slate):

In that old style-sheet, put together when books and newspapers were in their heyday, I found the three principles that have guided me ever since as a writer and as a reader. Of course, this three-part Golden Obligation may be filled compactly, on the way to essayistic arguments and insights, as in many a Slate piece. Great models like G.B. Shaw's music reviews or Max Beerbohm on theater are great because they show how to do the essentials, then get quickly beyond them, in ways that are fun to read.Every book review, said the anonymous document, must follow three rules:

1. The review must tell what the book is about.
2. The review must tell what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.
3. The review must tell what the reviewer thinks about what the book's author says about that thing the book is about.

And in sports, Tiger proves he still has something left to surprise us with (in a nasty way) NYT

From the twitter:

BBC News - Author Lee Child wins top crime award

Documentary about graphic designer Milton Glaser.

BeyondChron: Open Letter to AG Holder: Don’t Let Authors Guild Hijack “Google Books” and “Freelance” Copyright S'ment

Prospect of privatizing Toronto’s library sparks outcry - Macmillan Fined Over Africa Contracts Fraud

RLPC-Charterhouse gets 500 mln euro loan for BvD buyout

Move to seize David Hicks' book cash will test US military conviction

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