Monday, August 22, 2011

MediaWeek (V4, N34): Content Management Systems, Student Knowledge, Textbook Rentals, Archives + More

Thinking of a content management system (or why yours doesn't work) then read this (AdAge):

BusinessWeek, however, is just one egregious example of an ugly truth: There’s no such thing as a CMS success story. At least, successes are elusive, which is a problem for anyone in media, as content management systems—the software used by writers, editors, and producers to create digital content for websites—have become as essential as oxygen.
“There’s nobody that can walk in the door for any price tag and say, ‘We have the solution,’” laments Time Inc. CIO Mitch Klaif. “If someone had a silver bullet, I don’t know if I’d have them shoot it at the sites or at me.”
Until recently, those dependent on websites—everyone from The Huffington Post to a Fortune 1,000 brand—had seen little change in the systems needed to build them, says Brian Alvey, CEO of CMS platform Crowd Fusion. “The only innovation in [the last] 15 years was blogging and blog platforms,” he adds.
Unfortunately for these companies, the onrush of social networking—part of a larger shift in which sites are moving from static Web pages to pages assembled on the fly in real time—has overwhelmed the abilities of CMS software. In Alvey’s view, most of those systems could barely handle the existing content mix they were producing, including blog posts, stories from print editions, photos, videos, and online polls. “The tools suck,” he says.
From Inside Higher Ed, "What Students Don't Know" (IHE):
The most alarming finding in the ERIAL studies was perhaps the most predictable: when it comes to finding and evaluating sources in the Internet age, students are downright lousy.
Only seven out of 30 students whom anthropologists observed at Illinois Wesleyan “conducted what a librarian might consider a reasonably well-executed search,” wrote Duke and Andrew Asher, an anthropology professor at Bucknell University, whom the Illinois consortium called in to lead the project.
Throughout the interviews, students mentioned Google 115 times -- more than twice as many times as any other database. The prevalence of Google in student research is well-documented, but the Illinois researchers found something they did not expect: students were not very good at using Google. They were basically clueless about the logic underlying how the search engine organizes and displays its results. Consequently, the students did not know how to build a search that would return good sources. (For instance, limiting a search to news articles, or querying specific databases such as Google Book Search or Google Scholar.)
The Heller Report takes a look at the business of Textbook rentals (Heller):
In the past two years, the post-secondary textbook rental market has exploded. Driven by the outcry over book prices, federal legislation, readily available pricing information on the Internet, and sophisticated web-based rental management platforms, old and new competitors are disrupting the $10 billion college textbook business. Book rental isn’t really a new phenomenon—a few college stores have been renting books since the Civil War. The National Association of College Stores (NACS) proclaimed fall 2010 as the “Year of the Rental.” Players include long-timers like Follett and Budgetext, institutional stores and fast-growing start-ups. BookRenter, started in 2008, netted $40 million from investors in a funding round this past February. Chegg, started in 2007, has raised $200+ million in venture capital and attracted senior management from Yahoo and Netflix. The same drivers are growing trade in used books, eBooks, and online instructional content. Rental is also driving new business models for sourcing and distributing educational materials that may carry the industry forward into digital. Having book inventory isn’t necessarily required—at least one high-flying firm, BookRenter, exists mainly as an online marketplace. Read on to see how this change in distribution is impacting the higher education market.
The economist suggests that the papers of literary folk don't necessarily need to be housed where they lived (Economist):
That should mean more writers can earn a pension by offloading their archives without seeking a foreign buyer. But does retaining writers’ collections really offer a broader cultural benefit? British libraries scrimp, save and appeal to lottery and charitable funds to buy collections, but cataloguing, the next stage, is also pricey, so some archives are inaccessible for years. The most important results of plundering authors’ stores are biographies, collated letters and literary criticism, which can be read anywhere. And even book-lovers may find musty papers harder to appreciate than, say, art by Titian (Italian) or van Dyck (Flemish), whose works have also been “saved” under this scheme.In any case, literary protectionism may have passed its peak. Authors increasingly use computers, rather than pens or typewriters: it is hard to say if a hard drive will conjure the same aura of fascination as a personal letter, says the British Library’s Rachel Foss. Electronic records should also be instantly replicable—all of which may rob literary archives of the magic and exclusivity that currently gives them their financial value.
Also from the Economist a look at vinyl record sales (Economist):
What is going on? Oliver Goss of Record Pressing, a San Francisco vinyl factory, says it is a mixture of convenience and beauty. Many vinyl records come with codes for downloading the album from the internet, making them more convenient than CDs. And fans like having something large and heavy to hold in their hands. Some think that half the records sold are not actually played.
Vinyl has a distinction factor, too. “It is just cooler than a download,” explains Steve Redmond, a spokesman for Britain’s annual Record Store Day. People used to buy bootleg CDs and Japanese imports containing music that none of their friends could get hold of. Now that almost every track is available free on music-streaming services like Spotify or on a pirate website, music fans need something else to boast about. That limited-edition 12-inch in translucent blue vinyl will do nicely.
Is the US Statistical Abstract now doomed (WaPo):
I am a devoted fan of the Stat Abstract. In four decades of reporting, I have grabbed it thousands of times to find a fact, tutor myself or answer a pressing question. Its figures are usually the start of a story, not the end. They suggest paths of inquiry, including the meaning and reliability of the statistics themselves (otherwise, they can mislead or tell false tales). The Stat Abstract has been a stalwart journalistic ally. With some interruptions, the government has published it since 1878.

No more. The Stat Abstract is headed for the chopping block. The 2012 edition, scheduled for publication later this year, will be the last, unless someone saves it.

From the twitter:

Vocational Schools Face Deep Cuts in Federal Funding: NYT

College One-Stop Shop: Chegg Buys Web Tutoring Service - Digits - WSJ

Librarian of Congress James Hadley Billington on leading the nation’s library - The Washington Post

McGraw-Hill retains investment bank to explore spinoff of its education division (NYT)

No comments: