Sunday, February 10, 2013

MediaWeek (V6, N6): Google Mapping, Netflix, Higher Ed & Copyright, Library Publishing + More

Gee, I wonder why Google were interested in travel guides. Here James Fallows (Atlantic) interviews Michael Jones of Google about maps (Atlantic).
We think there will be a new literature from the mapping dictionary that’s now being built. There’s an Android app we’ve released called Field Trip. You download it, and it says, “I don’t want to bother you, so how often should I talk to you?” You tell it “all the time” or “rarely” or whatever, and then you turn off your phone and put it in your pocket and don’t think about it again.

Then when you’re walking around, say in Washington, D.C., the phone will buzz and say, “You are 25 feet from an accurate map of 2,700 solar objects. If you go over there to the Einstein Memorial, you can see them.” Or you might be walking down the street and it will beep and say, “The rowhouse one block to the left is the No. 1–rated Greek restaurant within 500 miles,” or maybe: “Around the corner behind you is where a scene from your favorite movie was filmed.” It is using your location to search in a database of “interesting things,” and it learns what kinds of things you care about. It means having your life enlightened by travel knowledge, everywhere, or getting to walk around with local experts who know your tastes, wherever in the world you go.
The Economist on NetFlix's turn to streamed originial content - inevitable. (Economist):
Creating original, high-end television shows for subscribers is a new tack for a firm, the main business of which is renting out and streaming other companies’ content online. Others are following suit. Amazon, an online shopping mall that also offers a video-streaming service, has commissioned six television pilots, and has plans to develop films. Hulu, an online-video site, is also making original programmes, such as “Battleground”. YouTube, Google’s online-video site, which is better known for amateur videos of babies and blunders, has launched “channels” that are run by media companies and celebrities. They offer more professional content, although they have had mixed success so far.

Tune in to the early stages of television’s “third wave”. Online video used to be amateur and short-form. But it is starting to follow the path of broadcast television, and then cable, by offering high-quality content. People are watching more video online, and will be consuming even more of it as quality improves. During the third quarter of last year, Americans on average clocked up seven hours of online video a month, 37% more than they had watched a year before, according to Nielsen—although this is still much less than the 148 hours a month (yes, really) that they spent in front of their television sets.
In Inside Higher Ed Barbara Fister on the ramifications of the Georgia Copyright case and an opinion from the University Press view point (IHEd)
Fister: If a higher court agrees with the publishers that there is no such thing as a fair use of anything that might in some circumstances have been included in a bookstore or copy shop coursepack, or which might someday be exploitable as “custom made-to-order textbooks or other innovative products,” as publishers state in their appeal, then faculty who want students to read selections of books will find it prohibitively expensive and will favor assigning material that’s available for free on the web or articles published in journals already paid for through the library’s licenses.

Salisbury: I'm most intrigued by your statements about the use of scholarly materials, and I do wonder if, in the midst of all these pricing and access experiments, use will indeed become the new standard for payment. Short term loan and PDA programs are blossoming at libraries across the country, particularly with electronic content. Libraries say they only want to pay for what their students and faculty are actually using. In a world where we all have to be mindful of the bottom line, this makes a great deal of sense. But it seems contradictory to espouse a pay for use metric with some materials but not others. To my mind, this course content would fall under the same rubric (depending on how much of a work was used and other factors). It is being used, and used more freely and accessed by multiple students at a time online as opposed to a physical coursepack on reserve, and so, as you say, guess what budget line those fees will be charged to. I say this not out of any shred of animosity to libraries, for you are champions of scholarship and encouragers and facilitators of the very use and access we want to promote as publishers.

But the reality is that someone has to pay the bills. What you do is not free, and it costs you dear to purchase or license books and journals and databases. It costs students to buy textbooks or coursepacks or rent an etextbook. It costs a university presses to peer review, edit, typeset, and print or convert to digital a scholarly book. Yes, libraries have smaller budgets, students have little money, but university presses too are often seeing smaller institutional support, severely reduced coursebook income (which I cannot believe is unrelated to the greater availability of legal or illegal electronic editions) and, as you note, monograph sales are slowing to a trickle. So none of us has much to work with. But OA materials do not materialize out of thin air. Someone has to pay the bill; someone has to pay the researcher to create that content, and someone has to pay or employ the publisher, of whatever stripe, to produce that electronic content.
Is there a movement afoot for more library publishing programs? (Something I wrote about a few years back). Here from The Chronicle;
No place has more experience with library-based publishing than the University of Michigan. John P. Wilkin, associate university librarian for publishing and technology there, oversees MPublishing, a highly developed, increasingly integrated set of publishing operations that includes the University of Michigan Press.

When we talked, Mr. Wilkin sounded a little skeptical about the Library Publishing Coalition, which Michigan opted into as a second-tier contributing member. "Facilitating conversations isn't enough," Mr. Wilkin says. Shared infrastructure would be better. He worries about the term "library publishing," a phrase he hears being used by some academic publishers "to ghettoize what's happening" at libraries. At Michigan, "we're in the business of scholarly publishing," Mr. Wilkin told me.

He's spent the last half-year working to break down the boundaries between the press and the rest of the publishing operation. He considers the University of Michigan Press the "flagship imprint" of MPublishing. Integrating them "gives us an opportunity to think less about revenue, less about the container." That's a good survival strategy in a time of downward sales trends. "Selling books is increasingly hard, right?" Mr. Wilkin says. "We've got to support scholarship here."
Public libraries in the UK get hammered but some private ones have a renaissance (FT):
But amid the furore, it has gone largely unnoticed that some of the UK’s most venerable private libraries – havens of books, conversation and cultural events with histories stretching back centuries – are enjoying an upturn in their fortunes.

Nottingham’s Bromley House Library, founded in 1816, plans to expand after reaching its highest ever membership level. It boasts almost 1,200 members who pay a subscription of £80 a year. Founded in 1841, the world’s biggest independent lending library, The London Library, reports that recruitment of members, who pay £460 a year, is running at its highest level for five years.

“We have something that really appeals to people; people want to join our libraries,” says Geoff Forster, Leeds Library-based chairman of the 32-member Association of Independent Libraries. “There’s a message for the local authorities that traditional libraries are still desired by people.”

Newcastle city council has provoked outrage by proposing to scrap funding to arts organisations and to close 10 of its 18 public libraries. Yet the city’s private “Lit and Phil” library – the Literary and Philosophical Society, which this week celebrated the 220th anniversary of its founding in 1793 – is enjoying its highest membership levels since 1952.
From my twitter feed this week:

Private Libraries of a different sort: LJ on Prison Libraries LJ
Story of the Day: New report predicts MOOCs, tablets will boom
Thompson outlines NYT’s digital push
UK House of Lords Debate the Value of the Publishing industry. Scheduled for 1 Hour. Succinct. Transcript:

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