Tuesday, February 18, 2014

MediaWeek (V8, N 7); Rain in Fiction, Library of Congress Holdings, MOOCs, Adobe Killer + More

There's a lot of rain about in England at the moment. (Guardian)
Some of these books began their lives in water: English literature has for centuries courted the rain. The Canterbury Tales, the first great epic of English daily life, starts out with the sweet showers of April which bathe the dry land. This first shower is an alluringly sensual one, piercing the earth, finding its way into every bodily "veyne" of plants and people alike. If Mediterranean writers found their hot dry climate conducive to love songs, the English were not going to miss out on the competing erotic potential of rain. For Edmund Spenser, too, launching The Faerie Queene from a standing start as Una and the Redcrosse Knight go gently "pricking on the plain", rain is the beginning of narrative. Weather breaks into the stillness: "The day with clouds was sudden overcast, / And angry Jove a hideous storm of rain / Did pour." The change has been made; the action begun. Moving to shelter, the protagonists find themselves in Faerieland, with adventure springing up around them. These rainy beginnings loosen language and storytelling into life. Rain, being rained on, and finding shelter will become central subjects and structuring principles of British writing.
But things get much wetter than benign April showers. Even A Midsummer Night's Dream, so often chosen by directors for staging on warm evenings in the park, promises no such thing as balmy entertainment. The play's imagery of midsummer is not headily hot but confusingly sodden. A personal quarrel between Titania and Oberon has leaked out to become an atmospheric disturbance, legible in the winds and the cold and the rheumatic dampness of the air. There was foul weather in 1594 and drowned summers in the two years following. Titania's images were apt when the play was first performed – "The fold stands empty in the drowned field … The nine men's morris is filled up with mud" – and are no less apt today. We have all seen work and games thwarted, rotting crops in puddled fields and rain stopping play.

The Library of Congress reported on its activities during 2013 (LoC):
  • Recorded a total of 158,007,115 physical items in the collections:
  • 23,592,066 cataloged books in the Library of Congress classification system
  • 13,344,477 books in large type and raised characters, incunabula (books printed before 1501), monographs and serials, music, bound newspapers, pamphlets, technical reports and other print material
    • 121,070,572 items in the nonclassified (special) collections, including:
    • 3,530,036 audio materials (discs, tapes, talking books and other recorded formats)
    • 68,971,722 manuscripts
    • 5,507,706 maps
    • 16,816,894 microforms
    • 1,697,513 moving images (film, television broadcasts, DVDs)
    • 6,751,212 items of sheet music
    • 14,472,273 visual materials, as follows:
    • 13,728,116 photographs
    • 104,879 posters
    • 639,278 prints and drawings
    • 3,323,216 other (including machine-readable collections)
  • Welcomed more than 1.6 million onsite visitors and recorded 84 million visits and more than 519 million page-views on the Library’s web properties. 
  • At year’s end, the Library’s online primary-source files totaled 45.2 million.
From IHE, Stanford are beginning to see some success from MOOCs:
The most significant change, however, “is that the course is now explicitly about participation, not about getting a good grade at the end,” Devlin said. He has stopped short of giving students points for a task such as posting on the forum, saying he wants students to appreciate the rush of solving problems that at first glance seemed impossible. “What I’m looking for is intrinsic rewards,” he said.
Devlin said he has also changed what it means to complete his MOOC. To earn a certificate of completion in one of the previous versions, students had to score 60 percent or higher on a final exam. Now, students who are consuming the lecture materials and interacting with their peers can still experience “valuable learning, even if they haven’t solved a single math problem,” he said. After the standard eight weeks, students are also invited to join a two-week “Test Flight” program, which challenges them to apply the “mathematically-based thinking skills” they have learned in the course to math itself.
When "news" isn't current (CJR):
Other educators agree that assessing the timeliness and contemporary relevance of a piece of content is a foundational concept in news literacy. “The issue of recirculating content relates to several information trends and important news literacy lessons,” says Peter Adams, senior vice president for educational programs at the News Literacy Project, also via email. “It often comes up in discussions and lessons with students about viral content and the need to use specific fact checking tools (like reverse image search, which can show you how long an image has been circulating).”
Over at the Good E-Book reader "Adobe has killed e-Readers"
Adobe has issued a proclamation that starting in July, the vast majority of e-reader apps and hardware devices will not be able to read purchased eBooks anymore.
This announcement stems from a massive upgrade to the encryption system Adobe has implemented in their new Digital Editions 3.0 and will have reverberating effects on ePub books all over the world. Unless thousands of app developers and e-reader companies update their firmware and programming, customers will basically be unable to read books they have legitimately purchased. In effect, Adobe is killing eBooks and e-readers.

Is Self Publishing killing anything? (Guardian):
Publishers are now racing to recapture the digital ebook market from self-published authors, particularly in pivotal genres like science fiction, fantasy and romance that have proved so popular with ebook readers. New digital-only imprints like Hydra seem designed to compete in that space, but it's an open question why any author would sign deals that have been staunchly challenged by professional writers' organisations. The more natural strategy seems to be for major publishers to cherry-pick the most successful self-published authors and promote them to genuine bestseller status, as they have done with EL James and Hugh Howey. The "hybrid" author, who retains control of ebook rights while signing print-only publishing deals, may now become the new standard for publishing.
From the PND Twitter feed:
Strong, interesting female characters are the secret of House of Cards’ success
Classic films reimagined by Federico Babina – in pictures  
Reader's Digest sold for £1
Piers Morgan was questioned by Scotland Yard's hacking squad
Sid Caesar - The German General
Library contest has teens create video trailers for books


Mike Perry said...

Quote: "Adobe has issued a proclamation that starting in July, the vast majority of e-reader apps and hardware devices will not be able to read purchased eBooks anymore."

Not so. Amazon's Kindle dominates the ebook market and has its own encryption system, which is unaffected. The same is true of Apple's iBooks and the other major players. Use your own encryption and you don't have to pay Adobe.

This only applies to ereaders who use Adobe's encryption system, mostly minor players with small market shares, certainly not any "vast majority."

And "issued a proclamation"? As far as I know, no one has appointed Adobe king. The remark also implies that the proclamation will change things. It won't. All that's happening is that Adobe now has a new encryption scheme ebook retailers can use. If ebook vendors continue to use the old encryption scheme, it'll make no difference to legacy ebook readers. More recent news has Adobe stepping back from any July deadline. This change may end up taking years. Goodereader in fact has this article:


Read the article and you'll find that, although it starts with that silly quote above, later in the article it admits that what is said wasn't true, although again with weird language about "lie in bed with Adobe." Adobe the king has become Adobe the prostitute. Weird!

MC said...

Adobe the prostitute is far far better!

Thanks for the qualification.