Google's announcement of their new media destination yesterday was met with a collective "huh?" and much indifference, possibly because it isn't actually new. The announcement accompanied the debut of a browser-based site, but the Android Market has run the new look for several months already. The concept is an iTunes-esque cross-platform media destination and a mass rebranding effort. Expect your Android Market to evolve into the oddly-named "Play Store" in the coming weeks though pretty much everything else will be the same. Google Play will also consume the traditionally problematic Google Books, which will become "Play Books" (everybody now!: "huh?") Though the polished-up incarnation of the Books platform excitingly undercuts Amazon on price.
Due to a recent collection and facilities expansion, The James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University found itself in need of a room reservation system that mirrored its commitment to accessibility and fairness. While they considered analog room sign-ups, they eventually decided to adopt the OpenRoom, an open source room-booking software developed at Ball State University. The group behind OpenRoom developed the system in 2010 for similar reasons and the system is currently used in 4 institutions including Ball State and VCU. Both VCU and Ball state felt that current ILS-based and commercial booking software failed to produce successful patron-driven room booking systems.
Today Jo and I attended the Panel to Consider Recent Developments in Access to Research at Columbia University. The panel was meant to discuss the Elsevier boycott, the Research Works Act, and the Occupy movement as they relate to traditional and digital scholarly publishing. This article is a compilation of collaborative notes we took during the presentation. The panel included:
Allan Adler, Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Association of American Publishers
Oona Schmid, the Director of Publishing at the American Anthropological Association
Peter Woit, a blogger and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Columbia University
Booktype is a social book creation platform which allows users to seamlessly collaborate and edit e-books.
The books are organized hierarchically by chapter, but in practice the titles are organized more like a website than a book perhaps because of the constantly available sidebar navigation. This makes for reference book-esque content, a refreshing born-digital departure. The group capability seems very useful too, especially for editor control of collaborative projects. It could make a very slick long group paper in a classroom setting and it doesn’t hurt that it’s free and endlessly cross-formattable.
Booktype’s UI is extremely simple, perhaps even plain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in a book creation platform, but it looks like an antique next to the lush, media-heavy offerings from Apple and Inkling. They also don’t seem to have attracted a very active user base; many people have signed up for the site but very few are actively creating books or groups.
This article analyzes data from publishers, providers, and libraries to draw conclusions about the future of libraries in relation to e-content. E-readers are becoming more prevalent and traditional book-centric reading is no longer the standard for many people. Still, she argues, the library’s place is to provide the format that patrons require and there are many reasons to resist digital purchasing especially with the perpetually uneasy relationship between publishers and libraries.
OCLC’s 2010 publication Perceptions of Libraries shows that “books” is the word people most strongly associate with libraries. The marketing of libraries will have to change dramatically for increasingly book-independent institutions. The shift from “book” to something like “knowledge” or “collaboration” will rely on the creation of spaces, resources, and collections that accept new information formats and add value. Our strategies for doing this are well accepted but our worth will have to be defined separately from our role as a content provider.
What does it take to create the educational video game of the future? Props if you guessed a successful gaming startup, data and software from the Millennium Institute, Facebook, Swiss angel investors, and a million dollars. Shadow Government has been in the pipeline for over a year but with Playmatic’s first political title set to drop later this month, the hype may be on the up. The startup was behind the much talked about Find the Future gaming experience put on by the New York Public Library last year and seems to have an ongoing commitment to creating games with tie-in or real life applications.
Flatworld Knowledge is hacking the CS textbook in honor of Open Education Week. They aim to flash create an OER, adaptable textbook for computer science in one day, March 8th. It seems like an effective plan for a subject that doesn’t always gel with traditional publishing models. They’ll gather a group of experts in Boston, eke out a table of contents collaboratively and break out to color in the content. The result should be a fresh to death testament to web-inspired content creation models, but even if it flops it sounds like a party. Sign up here!
Elegant and magical, Clik lets you control any browser with your phone by simply scanning a QR code on their website. As of today, only the proof of concept YouTube app is functional, but the Clik platform is open for development and cooler things are most certainly on the way.
It’s foolproof. Available for Android and iPhone, it’s as simple as downloading an app and going to a website. Multiple users can share the same QR code, a feature which is sure to revolutionize group YouTubing. The most exciting part of the app is its potential to streamline group presentations and make all the squitchy clickers and cables obsolete. The app will most certainly soon expand to Google Docs— how nice would it be to know you could have your presentation at hand as long as you have an Internet connection?
Digital publishing is something of a changing neighborhood, but recently the level of hostility has escalated noticeably. Last week Penguin terminated its contract with mega library content provider Overdrive over clashes with Overdrive’s Kindle lending agreement. The Penguin e-books were licensed to lend through the Overdrive platform, but Kindle lending requires books to route through Amazon first. Not cool, Overdrive. Abandoned by all but Random House of the big six publishers, Overdrive’s singular hold over library lending seems tenuous.
In a similar shenanigan, Kno is taking legal action against Cengage Learning over their e-book extras. Kno’s platform featured a “journal” feature which allowed students to export passages of text into a virtual notebook for later use. Cengage claims this amounts to the creation of a derivative work and violates copyright. Cengage terminated their licensing agreement with Kno and Kno has filed a suit to keep the content. Kno relies on Cengage for a sizable chunk of their sales and holdings but as Mashable’s Sarah Kessler reports, there’s currently a glut of platform options for textbook publishers.
Libraries have long been concerned with preservation, but the budget crises of recent years have called for sacrifice. This article examines the creation of a sustainable academic library in the context of the University of Washington’s 2Y2D (Two Years to Two Decades) program. The goal of the program is to use long-term goals to inform short-term strategies and create sustainable practices that should guide the university through the changes of the coming decades.
The library’s goals centered around collaboration in the form of consortia, shared digital repositories as collection expanding tools, and flexible spaces aimed at digital resources and group work. The Research Commons emerged as UW’s vision of library sustainability. Offering services and resources on demand and modular furniture to encourage ad hoc collaboration, the space has been embraced by the student community. There is also an online version of the space which streamlines resource gathering and equipment availability.