Sunday, October 23, 2011

MediaWeek (Vol 4, No 43): Tom Waits, Children's Books, The Booker, "Close the Libraries", Textbooks & Education + More

Interview with Tom Waits in the Observer:
"Music has generally involved a lot of awkward contraptions, a certain amount of heavy lifting," he says. "The idea that it will just be a sort of vapour that you listen to out of speakers the size of a dime alarms me. It's like injecting yourself. Or eating alone."

He is, he says, equally wary of the ease of search and shuffle. "They have removed the struggle to find anything. And therefore there is no genuine sense of discovery. Struggle is the first thing we know getting along the birth canal, out in the world. It's pretty basic. Book store owners and record store owners used to be oracles, in that way; you'd go in this dusty old place and they might point you toward something that would change your life. All that's gone."
Does he ever stray online?

"No," he says. "But then I'm one of those guys that is still a bit afraid of the telephone, its implications for conversation. I still wonder if the jukebox might be the death of live music."
In Observer, there is a section devoted to reading with kids and here an essay on asking why young adults are so interested in dystopian fiction (Observer):
A new wave of dystopian fiction at this particular time shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. It's the zeitgeist. Adults write books for teenagers. So anxious adults – worried about the planet, the degradation of civil society and the bitter inheritance we're leaving for the young – write dystopian books.

We create harsh, violent worlds. These are dark, sometimes bleak stories, but that doesn't mean they are hopeless. Those of us who write for young people are reluctant to leave our readers without hope. It wouldn't be right. We always leave a candle burning in the darkness.

And we write good stories. That's why teenagers read them.
Gaby Wood reflecting on the Booker prize (Telegraph):
But when our shortlist became the fastest-selling since records began, all hell broke loose. Clearly, our choices must be too “commercial” and not “literary” enough. Significantly, none of this discussion was a response to the actual books on the list.

Of the people who have scoffed, asked me if I’m embarrassed, or who pronounced the prize to be on its last legs, not a single one has read The Sisters Brothers or Half-Blood Blues or Pigeon English, all shortlisted and all quite sophisticated exercises in voice-throwing or genre-bending. There is something magnificent about this: that books which in another year would be classed as too odd or offbeat or even experimental have been derided as too commercial. Readers, we have slipped you some truly wonderful, surprising stuff in the inadvertent guise of the mass market.

Of course, The Sense of an Ending in any case makes these arguments instantly out of date, since its author is not a controversial or “unliterary” choice, and the book is a masterpiece by any measure. Most of the judges loved it as soon as we read it, all of us have read it several times, and no one doubts that it improves with every reading.
We should close the libraries says John McTernan who has an MA in librarianship and has 280 comments - so far. (Telegraph):
The final defence of the public library is that it is a place for the pupil who has nowhere else to study and revise. Once again, this is the 21st century. Virtually every kid has a desk at home – even if it often has a games console on it. And libraries at secondary schools are, in my experience, uniformly good and open places for young people.

Few institutions are timeless. Most reflect the period when they were created, and have to change as society changes if they are to survive. The crisis in our libraries is not because of the “cuts” – it’s because they are needed less.
And there are currently 280 comments including this one from "billfanshel"
"Google a subject and you can become ridiculously well-informed ridiculously quickly."
No, Google a subject and you can become ridiculously misinformed ridiculously quickly, with the result being an increasing susceptibility to demagoguery. A

major job of a librarian is to help patrons distinguish good information from bad. Having apparently been out of the profession for 17 years, the author has become out of touch with the modern library and the evolving role of librarians. That is, of course, assuming that he ever was in touch with those things.

As a librarian in the U.S., my philosophy regarding online resources is "supplement not supplant." In other words, the Internet should add to what is available in print and not replace it. It is sad to see that public officials in Britain are as ill-informed and anti-intellectual as those in the United States. However, based on this comment thread, it is encouraging to see that the British populace is as supportive of its public libraries as the U.S. populace and will fight attempts to eliminate them.

A few years ago, as part of austerity measures, the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wanted to close down 11 of the city's 54 public library branches. The people balked at that prospect, and the library branches remain open. Do the same in Great Britain!
Is this war? In wake of Pearson's unveiling of a free LMS, Blackboard announces moves to promote sharing of open course content. (InsideHigherEd):
The company plans to unveil both of these moves at its corporate session here today. Ray Henderson, the president of Blackboard’s LMS product line and chief technology officer at the company, discussed them with Inside Higher Ed here at Educause on Tuesday.

“We look at the market and we see there’s a real curiosity in trying to extend the mission that the institutions have and who they serve,” Henderson said. “And there are a lot that take inspiration from, say, the MIT OpenCourseWare project, where they would really like to have their catalog of courses, and the course materials that they’re creating -- they’d like to contribute those more openly.”

Under the partnership with Creative Commons, Blackboard instructors will be invited to tag their course content with different licenses that indicate exactly how others can use it. Instructors will then have the option of sharing the course on Twitter or Facebook.

The company is also working to make the licensed course content more visible to public search engines, so that it can be discovered more easily by instructors searching the Web for free course content.
Under proposed legislation government grant money will be denied to developers of open access educational content (Inside HigherEd)
The move is a boon to publishers, who have feared that government support for the freely available, modifiable course materials, known as “open educational resources,” or OERs, would eat into their profits and give the free programs an unfair advantage. If effective programs are already for sale, they argue, the federal government shouldn’t spend extra money to reinvent the wheel.

Advocates for community colleges and online education argued that the provision, if enacted, would stifle innovation and restrict colleges to the publishers’ more expensive programs.

“We hear any concerns that the subcommittee might have about duplications of efforts and resources,” said James Hermes, director of government relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. “If there really is truly an alternative already in existence, you don’t want to duplicate that and create something from scratch that’s already there.”
From the twitter:
Philip Pullman: Using the internet is like looking at a landscape through a keyhole - Telegraph

Editing Wikipedia at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:

An Indiana School System Goes Digital:

Cengage will partner with Moodlerooms:

No comments: