Monday, September 10, 2012

MediaWeek (V4, N37): University Press Publishing, Georgia Copyright, MOOCs, + More

Three directors of University Presses take to Inside Higher Ed to discuss the realities of publishing in today's academic environment (IHEd):
It is self-evident that the books and journals we publish benefit faculty in their roles as authors, researchers, and teachers. Less evident is that our conduct of peer review and the luster of our imprints together support the tenure and promotion system that has characterized American higher education for generations. Sadly, this system has allowed colleges and universities without presses to "free ride" on the backs of those that have them; it costs them no more than the university press books and journals they choose to buy. Any solution to university press support might do well to address such freeloading.

Less recognized in the academic world is the degree to which university presses, through their publications, serve students. It is true that few presses publish core textbooks such as “Introduction to Economics” (though that’s an area where we are helping in the development of open-access texts), but a very large proportion of the books read either alongside or in lieu of a core text are university press publications. Indeed, our lifetime best-selling books are virtually always those read in undergraduate and graduate courses.

University presses have become the leading regional publishers in the country. State university presses in particular have played a major role in publishing books that help citizens recognize and celebrate what makes home, home. From histories to natural histories to cookbooks and sports books, we help give American citizens a better sense of who they are.
Somewhat expected, publishers are appealing the Georgia e-Reserves case from a few months ago (Chronicle):
In a conference call with reporters, publishers’ representatives emphasized the need to protect their authors’ intellectual property, and described the legal action as regrettable but necessary. Blaise R. Simqu, president and chief executive officer of SAGE Publications, said that “engaging in litigation with a fellow member of the academy is not taken lightly.” But “we believe that authors entrust publishers with their intellectual property,” he said. “We consider this to be a very, very sacred trust.”

Mr. Simqu said he had personally contacted more than 50 SAGE textbook authors to sound them out on whether to appeal the decision. “All but two of the authors not only were supportive but felt very strongly, very passionately that it was critical SAGE continue with this appeal,” he told reporters.

Niko Pfund, academic publisher and president of Oxford University Press, expressed similar discomfort with the situation. “We are obviously in an uncomfortable position being in an adversarial position with a library,” Mr. Pfund said. “I want to stress that, as a community, we really, ardently do believe in fair use.”

Mr. Pfund also presented the decision to appeal as regrettable but necessary. Many university presses operate “with razor-thin budgets,” Mr. Pfund said. “What enables us to keep operating is our backlist titles.” He added, “Our concern is that this decision would cut us off at the knees in that regard.”
MOOC's are very much the rage in education at the moment. The Atlantic takes a look at Stanford's new online education program by interviewing their new vice provost of Online Learning John Mitchell. (The Atlantic):
What do you think is the most exciting thing going on in online learning right now?

I think the MOOCs are the tip of the iceberg in a sense. That's the most visible, most wide- reaching phenomenon so far. But really, there is much more to this. I think we'll see an evolution of a range of different ways of using technology, and probably some expansion of the set of options that a student has. Instead of going off to college, maybe some students will live in their parents' homes or elsewhere and take a first year or two online. Or they'll spend two years in college and finish two years online as they work. There will be different, in effect, educational programs coming out of this phenomenon that offer credit, certification, job placement, and other things beyond the self learning that MOOCs provide. So I think we really are going to see a transformation in the way teaching and learning are developed and delivered.

At the same time, we may in 5 years understand what is different and what isn't different. And maybe some fundamentals will stay the same. Just as video conferencing hasn't put the airlines out of business, I think we're still going to see people going off to college in some form. When possible, it's just great to talk with someone one-on-one in person -- by video, by Skype, by some other medium. I don't think that prepared, canned video is itself the one major answer to the future of education.
Also from Campus Technology an article that references a study into what the future of education may look like in 2020. (CT)

It has been a while since there has been a Stieg Larsson related article so how about this one from the Economist (Schumpeter):
The first lesson is that the next big thing can come from the most unexpected places. Scandinavia is probably the most crime- and corruption-free region in the world: Denmark’s murder rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people, compared with 4.2 in the United States and 21 in Brazil. Scandinavians are also lumbered with obscure and difficult languages. A succession of mainstream British publishers rejected “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, Larsson’s first book, before Christopher MacLehose decided to publish it. Mr Indridason at first had poor sales because people found it hard to grapple with Icelandic names.

Yet Scandinavia has a number of hidden competitive strengths: a long tradition of blood-soaked sagas; an abundance of gloomy misfits; a brooding landscape; and a tradition of detective writing (Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, a husband-and-wife team, enjoyed local success in the 1960s with their ten-volume Martin Beck series). There are prizes and classes galore to help crime writers on their way: Ms Lackberg started by taking an all-female crime-writing class. Even before the current boom, crime writing was so remunerative that it sucked in talent from everywhere. Mr Mankell started out writing mainstream plays and novels. Mr Nesbo was a footballer, stockbroker and rock musician before creating his hard-bitten detective, Harry Hole.
I just read The Snowman and it was gory but enjoyable.

A long report from Booz Hamilton on Digitization and Prosperity reproduced in Strategy+Business. Here are the intro paragraphs:
Policymakers today face an environment transformed by information and communications technology (ICT). More people today have access to a mobile phone than to electricity; the amount of data generated globally is expanding exponentially. In every country, leaders of government and business are deciding — through their policies and strategies for ICT, Internet access, communications media, and digital applications — how to promote and structure the digitization of their economies. These choices have enormous consequences. Countries that have achieved advanced levels of digitization, defined as the mass adoption of connected digital technologies and ICT applications by consumers, enterprises, and governments, have realized significant economic, social, and political benefits. For them, digitization is a pathway to prosperity. Other countries are falling disproportionately behind.

The difference among countries was a core finding of a recent study conducted by Booz & Company, “Maximizing the Impact of Digitization.” Other studies on ICT and prosperity have focused primarily on Internet access: whether people are able to connect to wireless and broadband technologies. But by looking more closely at the ways people use digital technologies and applications, we found that the greatest social and economic benefits depend on factors related to adoption and usage: such as pricing, reliability, speed, and ease of use. In any geography, these factors determine the level of digitization, which in turn has a proven impact on reducing unemployment, improving quality of life, and boosting citizens’ access to public services. Digitization allows governments to operate with greater transparency and efficiency, and it has a dramatic effect on economic growth, but not all at once. Countries at the most advanced stage of digitization derive 20 percent more in economic benefits than do those that are just beginning.
From the twitter:
Thank God Someone Finally Stepped In and Explained the Internet to Women - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic
Amazon vs. Penguin
Watch Charles Bukowski Recount the Worst Hangover of His Life
BISG Unveils Powerful New Bookstats Features, By Eugene G. Schwartz 

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