Monday, January 16, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N3) JStore, Reg Hill, Hockney, Research Works Act + More

JStore is experimenting with a new access model (IHeD)
Under the new program, unsubscribed visitors will be allowed to check out three “items” from the JSTOR archive every two weeks, which they will be able to read for free. In order to prevent piracy, the texts will be displayed as image files (so that text cannot be copied). Users will not be able to download the files.
The depletion of the traditional professoriate has produced a new demographic of unmoored scholars who might not have “the consistency of access that they want,” says Heidi McGregor, a spokeswoman for JSTOR. The goal of Register & Read would be to better serve that population — as well as others that the organization might not have even known about.
Seventy journals are participating in the pilot, including Ecology, American Anthropologist, PMLA, the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Finance, and the American Historical Review.
Since 1995, JSTOR, which aggregates the back issues of more than 1,000 scholarly journals, dating back hundreds of years, in its digital archive, has made its bones selling subscriptions to libraries — charging its largest clients up to $50,000 per annum. The organization says that business model is still working, despite reports that many libraries are cutting expenditures. JSTOR has operated at a 5 percent surplus in each of the last five years, according to McGregor.
An appreciation for Reginald Hill who died last week. Read his books, they are great (Telegraph):
I once saw Reginald Hill, who died last week aged 75, being interviewed on stage alongside John Banville. Banville was explaining how every day he would decide whether to rattle off a few thousand words of one of his “Benjamin Black” thrillers or to wring from his brain a paragraph or two of one of his “literary” novels. Hill responded mildly that every morning he too said to his wife over breakfast, “‘now, shall I work on my Man Booker Prize-winning novel today, or my bestselling crime novel?’ But you know, it’s funny, every day I come down on the side of the bestselling crime novel.”

Hill loved Literature with a capital L. He drew the themes for his novels from the works of Francis Bacon, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Emily Dickinson; A Cure for All Evils (2008) updates Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon and gives it an ingenious conclusion. But, having “decided to grow out of” reading crime fiction in his teens, he discovered after a “decade of maturation” that many crime writers “were still as interesting and entertaining as the ‘serious novelists’ I now revered”. All of his 40-odd books are crime novels or thrillers: the genre proved flexible enough to accommodate all he wanted to say about the times he lived in.
The Hockney Show at the Royal Academy has been overwhelmed with Culture Vultures but one critic at the Telegraph doesn't get it:
Whether or not we accept this argument, the simple truth is that the show is far too big. Like a sprawling oak in need of a tree surgeon, it required a stronger curator prepared to lop off the deadwood. I could happily have done without the watercolours recording midsummer in east Yorkshire in 2004, or the suite of smallish oil paintings from the following year.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but I don’t understand paintings like these. Fresh, bright and perfectly delightful, they are much too polite and unthinkingly happy for my taste: if they offer a vision of arcadia, it is a mindless one. Moreover, they resemble the sorts of landscapes that we expect from amateur Sunday painters. Hockney is anything but that – yet whatever game he is playing here eludes me.

The iPad drawings from 2011 are similarly irksome. Some people get excited because they were made using a piece of fashionable technology (a tablet computer with a touch screen). Yet the technique is surely immaterial – as Hockney says, an iPad is just another tool for an artist, like a brush.
The Guardian worries that all state funded research would be locked away under the Research Works Act (Guardian):
This is the moment academic publishers gave up all pretence of being on the side of scientists. Their rhetoric has traditionally been of partnering with scientists, but the truth is that for some time now scientific publishers have been anti-science and anti-publication. The Research Works Act, introduced in the US Congress on 16 December, amounts to a declaration of war by the publishers.
But what's good for science isn't necessarily good for science publishers, whose interests have drifted far out of alignment with ours. Under the old model, publishers become the owners of the papers they publish, holding the copyright and selling copies around the world – a useful service in pre-internet days. But now that it's a trivial undertaking to make a paper globally available, there is no reason why scientists need yield copyright to publishers.

The contribution that publishers make – coordinating editors, formatting, and posting on websites – is now a service that authors can pay for, rather than a bargaining chip that could be worth yielding copyright for. So authors making their work available as open access pay publishers a fee to do so, and the publisher does not own the resulting work.
On the CITE blog they report on an initiative lead by NACS Media Solutions (National Association of College Stores) to help college stores grow their custom content businesses (CITE):
To be clear, this initiative is not about “dumb custom” – i.e., the “custom that is not customized.” For example, taking a book, ripping off the cover, putting in the faculty syllabus (maybe), and putting a new cover on with the school and faculty member names on it would be considered "dumb custom." Our focus is on “smart custom” – i.e., custom aggregated content that is aligned or matched to student learning outcomes. Smart custom is created in partnership with faculty and linked to course descriptions, syllabi, and accreditation targets for student learning outcomes. It is in recognition that one of the biggest complaints of students is that the faculty member does not use large portions of the course materials required, and also considers where course materials are headed in the future with increasingly custom course material offerings.

There is ample evidence to show that by building custom (and by that I mean smart custom, not dumb custom) stores can lower the cost of course materials for students, increase the value of the course material product for students, increase faculty satisfaction, increase store and publisher revenues, and create an opportunity for competitive advantage. It is a strong win for nearly all players. It is a sound strategy for building market share and driving traffic. The strategic timing for focusing on custom is now as the percentage of custom is poised to grow and many of the college store's traditional and future partners are focused on customized learning solutions.
From the twitter:

Has Microsoft Word affected the way we work? The Guardian

Tim O’Reilly: Why I’m fighting SOPA OReilly

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