Monday, May 6, 2013

The Future(s) of Print

I am pleased to present the draft iteration of our class project: a collaboratively-authored book in both Apple iBooks Author format (with hyperlinks, slideshow galleries, embedded video, and the like) and Adobe PDF format (with more traditional e-document affordances).  For a limited time only, readers of this blog and friends of our course may download this draft document free of charge from an open folder on our Google Drive.  (All contents are copyright the authors!)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Suggested readings about hyperlocal news

There has been an explosion of writing and scholarship over the last several years about the potential of hyperlocal news as a viable business strategy for newspapers and news-gathering organizations. Two articles, in particular,  helped me to understand and analyze the promise and the pitfalls of hyperlocal news. The first was "Local and Niche Sites," a chapter of a 2011 report by the Columbia Journalism Review about the Business of Digital Journalism.  The second was a 2011 article in the American Journalism Review about "Hyperlocal Heroes" that provided good in-depth description and analysis of some of the most successful hyperlocal news sites.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Why are libraries paying so much for digital content?

For the librarianship group, I focused on Joanne Budler, Kansas State Librarian. She is an amazing woman and is the Librarian of the Year for 2013 as awarded by the publication Library Journal (Link to article here). Many people to not understand how the relationship between content providers and libraries works. There are huge inequities in pricing models and legal precedents when it comes to libraries lending materials. SI chose the article is "E-book versus print: a per-title cost and usage comparison of a public library's population" by David Gray and Andrea Copeland to share with the class. It is really interesting to look at the price differences in print and digital books, how often they circulate, how publishers differ in their business models in terms of owning, leasing, or PDA-ing (patron driven acquisitions, ex. the tenth time a patron looks at this item, you buy it) digital content. Libraries facing increasingly tight budgets, need to justify their purchases and make the most of the money they receive. This article articulately those concerns and possible solutions. 

Gray, D. , & Copeland, A. (2012). E-book versus print. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(4), 334-339.

Life Without the U.S. Mail?

A topic that piqued some interest early in the semester but which we ultimately did not have time to explore more closely is that of the postal system, and its integral role as a distributor of print. There has been quite a bit of press in recent months about the decline and possible death of the United States Postal Service (USPS). The causes of this distress are multiple, including the proliferation of digital communication technologies over the past decade-plus. Email, online bill paying, cloud computing, and the like have replaced the need to send physical printed documents through the mail. Nevertheless, the postal service still handles plenty of paper and packages. Compounding the losses caused by this shift, though, has been a poor economy, competition from private couriers like UPS and FedEx, and deepening budget deficits, in large part due to Congressional mandates that require prepayment for employee benefits. The result is a severe financial situation that must be remedied soon.

It's an interesting case for a whole range of reasons that cannot be adequately explored here and now. I must say, though, that I personally find it hard to believe that we'll find ourselves living in a country without a public postal service anytime soon. However, the USPS will almost certainly need to undergo some drastic changes, and the USPS of the future will not necessarily resemble the one we've all grown up with. The postal service crisis, though, has prompted a number of writers to ruminate on the social function of the U.S. mail, and with it the social life of print. One of the more interesting of these pieces is an article titled "Do We Really Want to Live Without the Post Office?" by Jesse Lichtenstein in the February issue of Esquire magazine. It's particularly interesting how Lichtenstein digs into the inner-workings of the day-to-day operations of the postal service, and also gives readers an intimate portrait of the postal workers.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Slow Death of the American Author?

Hey guys, I'm doing a "wild card" piece for the non-traditional publishing chapter on the rise of the self-publishing book industry and I thought I'd pass along this New York Times article from earlier this month in case you missed it by Scott Turow on "The Slow Death of the American Author." 

It's a short but interesting read. Turow, president of the Author's Guild, has a number of targets in the article: (1) the publishing houses which have colluded to limit royalties on e-books to 25 percent, (2) the courts which have now decided to allow cheaper foreign editions of books to be sold domestically, (3) search engines like Google which he argues have helped book piracy to proliferate, and even (4) public libraries, which he says are further undermining authors' ability to make a living by proposing to "lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection." 

He concludes by asking what sort of society it would be if authors were left to write "purely for the love of the game?"

Anyway, I found his perspective thought-provoking, although I'm not entirely convinced either. It's not as if being a published author has ever been a particularly lucrative profession. In any event, I thought you all might find the piece worth reading.

Ever try to burn a book?

One thing related to the future of print that I’m interested in that we kind of haven’t mentioned a lot is the afterlife of print.  Because print (in all its manifestations) has a material future regardless of whether or not it has a marketable future. 

I’ve been thinking about this issue for a few years—ever since I helped to coordinate a workshop to teach African refugees about properly disposing of electronic waste like computers and television, only to discover that among the places the US illegally dumps their electronic waste is, in fact, Africa.  We also dump quite a lot of it in China. 

I’ve also been thinking about this in terms of cell phones, since I get really pissed off about how I have to re-negotiate my contract every two years, which entails getting a new phone because my old phone has broken.  My last phone’s hinge broke—yes it was a flip phone—which meant it wasn’t even salvageable for charitable purposes.  (Not to mention that every time I have to re-negotiate my contract, my cell phone provider also tries to mysteriously tack on a data plan that I have to then call them about.) 

Finally, last semester, I was in a book history class where we read Matthew Kirschenbaum’s book Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (2008), in which he talks about the complex ways in which digital media are and are not ephemeral, etc.  Two significant points that resonated with me from all the things Kirschenbaum says are that 1) information stored on computers isn’t actually ephemeral.  Even computers that have been destroyed in fires or sunken in rivers can occasionally have their data recovered—they’re pretty durable.  And 2) even though computers have this kind of permanence, there is a sense in which what materially exists becomes inaccessible.  In other words, you can’t always run your old software, especially in 2013 when computers are constantly being updated without your consent, scooting your device slowly into obsolescence.   By the way, did I mention that all that information stored in “the cloud” is probably stored at a 24-7 diesel-engine powered warehouse in some low-income area?

What I’m getting at is that while I don’t know where all of our old media is going, I’m pretty sure it isn’t going away.  If I may raise a very artificial, unhelpfully binary distinction, books are compostable and e-readers are not.  Electronic devices (not just e-readers) are made of silicon chips, flame-retardant plastics, circuitry, and a bunch of stuff I’m not even aware of.  Not to mention all those old televisions and monitors that had between 4 and 8 pounds of lead in them that don’t get use anymore but exist somewhere in the world. 

Anyway, I’m hanging out on my soap box too long.  I’m not trying to raise some kind of opposition between e-books and paper books in which paper books are victorious.  What I’m really mad about is that concept of planned obsolescence. 

I knew people growing up who kept all their old stuff in their yards.  Washing machines, mattresses, old cars, refrigerators.  I thought it was, well, trashy I guess.  Now I think they may have a point. 

Here’s an article I found that talks about this issue: Vivien-Elizabeth Zazzau, “Becoming Information Literate about Information Technology and the Ethics of Toxic Waste,” Libraries and the Academy 6.1 (2006): 99-107.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to link to this content, but I found it in Project Muse.

[One last thing so this isn’t all doom and gloom—there are places that help to address this problem; one in our area that recycles computers is Remachines.  They’re on capital square, and in my experience, they’ve been really helpful with recycling laptops.]

An interesting report from ACRL about the future for academic libraries

I found an interesting report “Futures Thinking for Academic Librarians:Scenarios for the Future of the Book”, written by Dr. David J. Staley, and released by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) in May, 2012. The major goal of this report is to help librarians, especially academic ones, expand their thinking when making decisions about the future of libraries. Staley pointed out that many librarians planned for the future based on one assumption: e-books would replace print books; however, relying on only one assumption might, he further stated that, have potential risks when the future is not what they expect before. Therefore, Staley listed four scenarios for the future of books, including consensus, nostalgic, privatization of the book, and printed books thrive. By expanding the understanding of the future landscapes for library services, librarians can “develop situation awareness”, which might be helpful for their strategic planning in the end.   

Suggested Reading: "Two Years In: Reflections on the New York Times Paywall"

Greg asked us to pass along an interesting article from our final project research. I chose "Two Years In: Reflections on the New York Times Paywall" by Rachel McAthy. One of the really interesting things about this piece, which appeared on the British website, is that McAthy offers a ton of quotes from Paul Smurl, who was the vice president for paid products at at the time of the paper's decision to reintroduce a paywall in 2011. As such, it provides a ton of insider insight into what the Times was thinking at the time of the transition.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An interesting article

I've been watching this topic ever since I first saw the blog post. I think the issues surrounding the cost of scholarly journals are really interesting. Is some of the things I've read it seems that the profit margins for publishers are really, really big. I know they are in a business to make money, but there is making money and there is price gouging. It seems that no one can really know just how much publishers charge because they have different pricing models for the same products.

In addition to the cost of journals, this blog post brings up another interesting point. The librarian decides to cancel their subscription to ACS journals. But here is the catch, the ACS puts their seal of approval on their chemistry program. Without the ACS journals it is nearly impossible to have all the things the ACS says you need to be a good program. So ACS is in a position to both put their seal of approval on your program, and in order to get their seal you have to buy their journals. For which there is essentially no competition. And they can charge whatever they want for it. In the case of SUNY Potsdam, the cost of ACS journals ALONE is 10% of the entire university's library budget.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Jordan's Suggestions

UW-Madison e-text report from fall 2012

I've just posted a PDF of a UW-Madison report on the e-text pilot project that took place last year.  Phase two is taking place this year.  The file is in the usual place.  Consider it an optional reading for next week, as I try to schedule a guest to talk about it.

When Dickens Met Dostoevsky

Here is the link to the Times Literary Supplement article I mentioned in class about the fictional meeting between Dickens and Dostoevsky.  And here are two relevant quotes based on our discussion today:

"Tomalin regarded publication of the article in the Dickensian as an authentication of the encounter; moreover, the meeting had subsequently been mentioned in monographs by two leading Dickens scholars, Malcolm Andrews and Michael Slater. 'We were all caught out', Tomalin wrote. 'The hoax was a clever one precisely because it convinced so many Dickens scholars.'"

"In other cases Harvey seems to have been operating as something of a vigilante, punishing scholars who casually appropriate the labour of others. A scholar who lives in the archives sets a trap for lazy but more generously remunerated colleagues."


Fitzpatrick begins her article “Texts” by describing how she will be talking less about the form that hypertexts take and instead focusing on what McKenzie called “the sociology of texts,” which is analyzing the interaction among the texts and with their readers. She mentions how the affordances that lie in network-based communications systems facilitate the vast degree on interaction which is available on the web and the possible power that it could be in the future of scholarship. She starts her arguments by talking about one the current highest degrees of scholarship, the book, but she takes Stallybrass' view that we must escape what he called “the tyranny of the book,” and we need to remember that authors write sentences and printers print pages, and neither one produces books. Only the binder actually makes books. The Fitzpatrick focuses on this idea and says that the idea of a book is derived from it's organization, not it's ink-on-paper-ness, so we should not be worrying what a book looks like, but instead be focusing on how it works, how it communicates.

The author then begins talking about how a lot of information on the web is not even using the affordances of the most recent textual structure, the codex, and instead relegating us even farther back to imitating the scroll. And even when we do use the way that a codex is set up, which in the form of print is sequenced, bound, and cut leaves of information, it's still just reproducing the printed page on the screen. She says that we are still thinking of the web in codex-based language, that we are thinking of the web like we did about the horseless-carriage at the invention of the automobile. Instead, we must focus on the new textual structures that the web makes available.

One of the main powers of the web is hypertext, with its ability to delinearize and interlink the text within its own boundaries and with other texts. She says that when we began thinking about hypertext instead of as a new form of table on contents, it “promised a radical restructuring of worldview,” like the way we think about nature not as a hierarchy but “as a network of interconnected species and systems.” She says a true hypertextual structure has the power to “[elevate] the reader to full participation in the production of the text's meaning.” But, with her students describing the frustration and disorientation they had with hypertext books, using hypertext in this way might actually reinstate the author-reader hierarchy because clicking through hypertext is not the same as writing and it still follows the author's ascribed path, one of many paths, but still one that the author created. Fitzpatrick then talks about database-driven scholarship through things like the Walt Whitman Archive or the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship. She describes them and then says that while focusing on the interaction between texts is good, these systems still don't get away from author-driven work. While scholars have focused on individual reading, what she calls the library model of texts circulating among individual reading, they also need to look at the coffee-house model of public reading and debate.

An example of this public reading that she sees is Facebook. And while her students felt disorientated with the hypertext books, they love and use Facebook constantly. She says that hypertext only works if the interactive and non-authoritative structure is “fully mobilized.” She finishes her article by talking about blogs and they could facilitate a new powerful stage in scholarship where authors and readers can interact with each other at each stage of the writing process, highlighting this idea of network-based writing. She talks about one platform called CommentPress, built upon WordPress, where comments are side-by-side with the text an author is writing, and the text itself is split into paragraphs that are arranged with the comments next to them to paragraphs that are arranged with their comments next to them to help structure the reader responses. She ends her article by imagining a platform that would combine the power of database-driven scholarship, creating connections between texts, with the power of the blog, creating connections between readers and authors.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jennifer Crewe and Scholarly Publishing

From: Literary Emergency
In her article, "We're definitely not in Kansas Anymore - but Are We in Oz?," Jennifer Crewe, of Columbia University Press, discusses the current state of scholarly publishing and analyzes the roles that academic presses and their editors will continue to play despite the "revolutionary changes" affecting the publishing world (page 116).

First and foremost, she argues that "one thing that hasn't changed much in the world of scholarly publishing is the way that manuscripts are selected for publication" (page 117). She explains the crucial role that editors play and will continue to play in finding and choosing new books for their presses. She acknowledges that most presses receive many more "worthy manuscripts" than they are able to publish, and she emphasizes the importance of the "fit" between a book and its press. Editors have to strike a balance between books that mesh well with their existing catalogs and books that will not hurt the bottom line in selecting manuscripts to publish. She also observes that editors shepherd the book through the writing and re-writing process, and she anticipates that academic presses will continue to play this vital gatekeeping function.

She also argues that, in an increasingly digital world, editors and presses perform the vital service of managing and disseminating metadata about their titles so that readers are able to find the books once they are published.  "People increasingly learn about books via search engines and databases," she writes, "which reinforces the need to use metadata effectively to increase discoverability and optimize search results so that a book can be found by anyone searching on the topic" (pages 119-120).

Lastly, she writes that, despite, the increasing digitization of the printing process, e-books, like their print counterparts, require a great deal of labor intensive work such as formatting, coding, marking up, proofreading, and editing that most authors cannot do themselves.  Due to all of these time-consuming activities, she notes, e-books are not appreciably less expensive for academic presses than print books.

In the end, she observes, that for the foreseeable future, most academic presses will continue to publish both print books and e-books, but I wish she had talked more about the economics of academic publishing. She observes that keeps e-book titles artificially low in order to to sell Kindles, but she never really says whether or not she thinks there is a viable and exploitable future in digital publishing for academic presses.

Similarly, she seems not to consider the possibility that the three important functions she lists (selecting manuscripts, creating metadata, and editing/marking up books for publication) could be performed by people not affiliated with academic presses. Is there a viable avenue for authors to self-publish their work? In an open-source environment, could scholarly organizations or other institutions perform the gatekeeping role? Could libraries or library consortiums create metadata for new books instead of relying on academic presses? Are crowdsourced projects like Goodreads a viable alterative for applying metadata to books? Could authors/publishers outsource mark-up and coding?

Crewe makes some interesting points about the continued role for academic publishers in the digital world, but, in this article at least, she seems to consider the future for academic publishing very narrowly.

Jennifer Crewe

Profile of Jennifer Crewe

Jennifer Crewe is a poet, and graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.  She holds a masters degree from Columbia University in Fine Arts and English and Comparative Literature. Crewe has been a real force in the academic publishing world for more than twenty years. She worked as a an editor at Charles Scribner’s Sons, was a college textbook editor at Macmillan, and she served on the Board of Directors of the Association of American University Presses. 

Crewe is currently the Associate Director and Editorial Director, at Columbia University Press. Additionally, she is an active member on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association. In her twofold role at Columbia University Press, Crewe focuses on acquiring materials in the Asian humanities, as well as film and literary studies.

Summary of Stratford’s article

In this article, Stratford examines some potential problems of “predatory” online journals, by focusing on the example of OMICS Publishing Group. Stratford uses the concept of “predatory open-access publishers” from Jeffrey Beall, which refers to the OA publishers “whose main goal is to generate profits rather than promote academic scholarship” (p.4). Beall also provides a list of such predatory publishers on his website, and OMICS is on the list.

Stratford first discusses the author-pay model for OA journals, where journals charge their authors rather than their individual readers or institutional subscribers for obtaining financial support. He contends that either legitimate, peer-reviewed journals or some vanity, or predatory journals could adopt the author-pay model, and the line between the two types of journals are blurring. For those legitimate publishers that use the author-pay model, they may encounter a similar dilemma: how publishers balance between the profits gained from accepting more articles, and the responsibility to publish high-quality academic articles.

For those predatory journals, since their goal is to generate profits from publishing, the major challenge for them to achieve their goal is to attract more authors. Stratford then discusses some ways for those journals to attract authors, including promising to facilitate discussions on papers through social media, and translations of articles in multiple languages; more importantly, fast publishing process makes those journals attractive to their potential authors, mainly the graduate students and junior faculty members, especially when they encounter publication pressures.

In addition to those ways mentioned above, the names of some researchers or faculty members appeared on the editorial board are also helpful to attract submissions from potential authors. Stratford uses the example of the OMICS to explain why scholars would agree to be on the editorial board. One of the major reasons for explaining their consent is that serving on an editorial board could be an evidence for their “professional advancement”, although many of them only know a little about the journals’ reviewing procedures.     

Stratford then examines the ways in which OMICS recruits its editorial board members. Some scholars report that OMICS sends invitations to them through emails, and some say that their names are listed as the editorial board even without their permissions. However, according to the email interview with Srinu Babu Gedela, the owner of OMICS, the publisher also finds its editorial board members through “the conference it organized and suggestions from other editorial board members”, and the publisher has obtained written agreement from all the members before put their name on the editorial board.

Another issue of OMICS is the inconsistency of the paper quality among its different journals. Some journals, like the Journal of Earth Science & Climate Change, seem to lack of the quality control on the papers they publish, and some journals might even do not adopt the peer-review process, although they claim to do so. Meanwhile, some OMICS journals, such as the Journal of Bioterrorism and Biodefense, are considered by the academia to have published high quality papers.

After reading this article, I also visited Jeffrey Beall’s website, where he provides a list of detailed criteria to determine whether a publisher is predatory or not. However, I’m wondering whether those criteria are easy enough for potential authors or editorial board members to tell whether a publisher is predatory. Moreover, I’m uncertain whether they will bother to spend time in investigating in order to distinguish the predatory ones from legitimate ones, when they face the publication pressures, or think about adding a line to their C.V.s. 

Benkler bio

Yochai Benkler is the Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies At Harvard Law School. He is also the Faculty Co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Before his current appointments at Harvard, he held an endowed professorship of law at Yale.

His research interest are divers, but seem to center on issues of information, access, and sharing/cooperation. His 2008 book titled The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom won numerous awards. In response to the book, Lawrence Lessig (Stanford Law professor) wrote, "Benkler establishes himself as the leading intellectual of the information age." A version of this book is available online under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Sharealike license ( His most recent book, The Penguin and the Leviathan: The Science and Practice of Human Cooperation, deals with issues of commons-based information production and exchange.

For a complete list of his publications, see

To watch his TED Talk on "The New Open Source Economics," see

Scholarly Publishing Discussion Questions

I was extremely fortunate to have taken Dorothea’s LIS 855: Publishing, Knowledge Institutions, and Society: E-Revolutions? course this past summer and have a lot of resources in regards to scholarly-journal publishing and scholarly monograph and eBook publishing. The following are some questions or other consideration which should be taken into account when discussing scholarly publishing.

1) Van Noorden and Willinsky discuss in-depth the positive and negative aspects of open access publishing. One major aspect is the peer-reviewed and pay-per-publishing model of open access. However, these articles seem to neglect the different levels of open access. Peter Suber, of the Harvard Open Access Project discusses four different types of open access on his website here:

Gold: provides open access to its peer-reviewed manuscripts in OA repositories
Green: permits authors to deposit their peer-reviewed manuscripts in OA repositories
Pale Green: Permits preprint archiving by authors
Gray: None of the above

Does this tiered model of open access create more opportunities for authors from various disciplines to publish through various methods, or does the creation of confusing system in which academic authors are more likely to be duped as illustrated in the Stratford article?

2) Both the Crewe and Fitzpatrick article discuss how open access scholarly publishing makes academic publishing more accessible to the “general” or “average” reader, an important group within the scholarly publishing community to supplement the economic costs. However, does creating access via the Internet intrinsically create higher access to the “average” reader? What variables on the online, scholarly publishing side and the “average” reader’s side create or limit access? How do libraries fit in as Fitzpatrick states, “The library is such a model would become not simply a repository, but instead fully part of a communications circuit that facilitates discourse rather than enforcing silence” (p. 108)?

3) Willinsky describes the triple-sided economy of the transition to digital journal editions. They include:
1. Publisher continues to employ the traditional industrial apparatus of print, even as manuscripts are prepared and managed electronically
2. Publishers are developing sophisticated Web-based systems for publishing, distributing, and indexing electronic editions
3. Libraries have developed no less sophisticated technical infrastructures for providing their patrons with access to these and other digital resources (p. 10)

What changes to this economic structure could be made to promote the use of digital journals? How much of an affect do you think open access journals have in the public education sphere?

Van Noorden Article Summary

The (short) Van Noorden article provides a useful overview of the state of academic publishing from the business side of the operation and how increasing calls among many in the hard sciences for open access journals are being met by the academic publishing community. On the one hand, there is a strong theoretical bent among many in academia for open access to literature in the sciences—it is in some ways antithetical to scientific progress to limit access to information. On the other hand, there are realities of publishing: costs, for one, and the other being the traditional gate-keeper role academic journals and their rigorous peer review processes provide and the prestige they impart as a by-product.

The first of these is no less complicated than the latter. Unfortunately, Van Noorden notes, it’s difficult to entirely gauge the economics of moving toward more widespread adoption of open access online only journals in that few operations are entirely forthcoming about the costs associated with all aspects of publishing—from accepting submissions, conducting peer review, to printing and distribution. Most of the costs tend to paid for out of library budgets, which pay for subscriptions, and/or other academic organizations, which publish the journals as one aspect of their larger mission. (I was at the Midwest Political Science Association conference this weekend, which affiliates itself with the American Journal of Political Science, one of the top journals in my discipline.)

The prestige and gatekeeper issue is no less difficult to entangle. Van Noorden mentions the possibility of post-publication efforts to sort quality research from the rest—a sort of crowdsourcing of quality. This is obviously problematic though, and often important works will slip through the cracks, even when published in top journals, simply because they are ahead of their time. These articles are arguably more likely to be discovered later if they have the imprimatur of a prestigious journal attached.

It’s not clear to me where the future lies. Certainly the higher production costs associated with printed journals no longer makes sense when large percentages (majorities?) consume journal articles in digital format now anyway. But at several hundred dollars per article in costs regardless, it’s not evident that there is an economic model to sustain the traditional peer review and formal journal publishing process.

Benkler Article

The University in the Networked Economy and Society: Challenges and Opportunities by Yochai Benkler.

This article opens with the statement “The networked information economy and society present a new
social, technical, and economic environment within which the university functions.” Benkler makes the argument that the University is uniquely positioned to contribute to the growth of knowledge without commercial constraints.

Benkler then goes on to describe several areas that have been impacted by being digitally networked.  The first topic addressed in the “networked information economy” where Benkler says “The critical characteristic of the networked economy is a radical decentralization of physical capital necessary for the production, storage, distribution, and processing of information, knowledge, and culture.” What he means by this is that geography is not as much of a factor as it used to be. Different researchers in different places can be working on the same problem, and digitally share their data. Which Benkler also points out “decentralizes” the ownership as well. It’s much harder to determine who owns information when it is created by different people in different places and then combined or hosted on line.

He discusses the ability of hobbyists to contribute to a larger knowledge base, and to compete in it. He mentions open source software, Wikipedia and citizen journalists as examples. With all of these things it is possible for anyone, from professional to novice, to contribute as much or as little as they want, whenever they want.

This can lead to a conflict between the progression of technology and people trying to cling to the older models of how things were done. Copyright is one example of this. Traditional copyright laws and rules don’t directly apply to digital information.

He discusses how the boundaries between the university and the outside world become permeable when “professionals” such as people who work at a university contribute to things like open source software or Wikipedia. He advocates for Universities to make the technology available for professionals to contribute in this way, as well as making the rules clear so that professionals know when they can and can’t do in the new networked environment.

While all the things he says do make sense in an ideal world, his argument that universities can provide knowledge without commercial constraints I find a little hard to believe. Researchers need to find funding, often in the form of competitive grants. There has to be a reason for doing the research, and while it is not always financially motivated, sometimes it is.

In addition, think of all the patents that the UW holds. Warfarin and Vitamin D come to mind. These things have brought in a lot of money for the university. I find it hard to believe that there is absolutely no pressure on researchers to bring in money for the University with their research.  In a utopian ideal, yes, all university work would be done for the good of all. But in reality it doesn’t quite work that way.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Willinsky: Digital Print and "Open Access" Chapter Summary

by Ambar Meneses

In his opening chapter titled “Opening” to his book The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (2005) John Willinsky discusses “the open access movement” in scientific publishing during the early 2000s and the present. “Open Access” here refers mostly to “digital” open access which Willinsky situates as the latest attempt in human history to make knowledge more publicly accessible by making it free. (By the way, Willinsky's book is available for free online via the MIT Press, here is the link to the book PDF:
The open access movement coincides with the painful transition of the scholarly publishing industry from print journals to mostly digital distribution and the attendant change from a print profit model to a digital profit model. Willinsky gives us some examples of online open access experiments conducted by various scholarly publishers, such as PLoS Biology, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Elsevier, Springer Vetlag, and the New England Journal of Medicine. In this chapter Willinsky also discusses the conflict between the democratic ideal of open access to scholarly knowledge “free for all” and the scholarly publishing industry’s “profit” model, as well as the relationship between open access, public education, and the public good.
Willinsky sees the open access movement as the latest chapter in a history of similar knowledge sharing movements inspired by technological innovation. Willinsky likens the concept of open access, which includes the idea that knowledge should be easily available and free of charge, to the possibilities for knowledge sharing created by the great libraries of the past, such as the famous libraries at Alexandria in the third century B.C., and the great sixteenth century mosque libraries, such as al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt. Far more similar to the current open access movement was the public sharing of scientific knowledge enabled by the printing press in the seventeenth century. According to Willinsky the printing press fueled the scientific revolution when printers such as “Henry Oldenburg decided to print segments of the scientific correspondence that he was handling for the Royal Society of London” (5). According to Willinsky the principle underlying open access entails “A commitment to the value and quality of research [that] carries with it a responsibility to extend the circulation of this work as far as possible, and ideally to all who are interested in it and all who might profit by it” (Willinsky 5).
Part of the argument that Willinsky goes on to make in this book is that the very infrastructure of information sharing created by the Internet has led to different possibilities imperatives and expectations among scholars, students had the public of greater and less restricted access to scholarly and scientific knowledge. More recently scholarly publishers, such as PLoS Biology, Elsevier journals and Springer Verlag, have joined in on efforts to create free and public open access to scholarly and scientific knowledge by making some of their digital journals or articles free of charge to the public on the condition that either the authors pay a fee of between $1,500 and $3,000, by allowing authors to freely publish their own versions, or by making the journal articles freely available after a 6 or 12 month period intended to safeguard the profits they might make from initial, subscription-only publication. Meanwhile in the public sector, in 2005 the NIH “requested” that authors of taxpayer-funded research should make this research available to the public no later than 12 months after initial publication.
This created debate among scholars, political scientists, open access supporters and publishing industry supporters who disagreed about whether the government should mandate open access or whether the scholarly publishing industry should decide if, how and when to make their articles free to the public. Opponents of open access included Michael Keller, a Stanford University librarian and publisher of High Wire Press, and Rudy M. Baum, The editor of Chemical and Engineering News. Keller opposed government interference while Baum considered open access a threat the minute profits of the scholarly publishing industry and argued that “excellence rarely comes without a price.” Willinsky opposes Baum’s reasoning, arguing that authors are not paid royalties by journals for their articles and that they profit from publication in indirect ways that could only be enhanced though open access to other scientists and the public. Willinsky argues that scholarly authors derive indirect profits from the circulation that comes along with publication, such as increased scholarly prestige and the resulting prospect of a tenure-track position and increased salary.
Willinsky’s observations lead readers to conclude that this profit model or profit cycle for the author would be enhanced by more free and open access, which would allow more scientists to know of an author’s work more quickly so that the author’s reputation and prestige would increase more rapidly and his prospects for career advancement would arrive sooner (6-7). Willinsky notes that it is the circulation of scientific discoveries that enable them to become established as “knowledge.” For Willinsky the open access publishing model is ultimately not just about knowledge sharing among scholars and monetary profits, but about “turning this knowledge into a greater vehicle for public education, in the broadest sense” (9) which leads to the public good. In this sense public education means that anyone with an interest in the knowledge, from a patient trying to find out information about an ailment that affects them, to “historians and philosophers, editors, consultants, students and educators, journalists, consumer advocacy groups, government regulators and policy makers, and members of the legal community, as well as . . . 'the general reader'” would continue to benefit from the knowledge “without diminishing returns” to the authors or readers according to Willinsky’s “circulation and prestige” digital profit model for “the knowledge industry.”

Kathleen Fitzpatrick Bio

Kathleen Fitzpatrick is probably one of the easiest people to look up on the internet out of all the scholars we’ve been reading this semester.  This has to do with how she is positioning herself within higher education—as someone who thinks about being an academic through new media.  Thus, my initial Google search of just Fitzpatrick’s name turned up multiple hits.  In addition to two academic pages (one for New York University where she is visiting research professor of English, and one from Pomona College, CA, where she usually works as professor of media studies), Google put up her webpage for PlannedObsolescence, her up-to-date Wikipedia page, her Twitter feed, two articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and her MediaCommons profile—from a site which she helped to co-found (more in a moment). 

So, Fitzpatrick is a really well-connected scholar.  Did I mention that she’s also the Director of Scholarly Communication for the Modern Language Association (the organization for language and literature scholars, for those of you who may be unfamiliar).  I’m not even entirely sure where to begin describing all of the things I was able to find about her.  The story as I have pieced it together goes like this (a lot of this comes from “An Academic Hopes to Take the MLA into theSocial Web” from the Chronicle of Higher Ed Feb 28, 2012—did I mention that the CHE named Fitzpatrick one of 12 innovators who are transforming campuses?).  Back in 2006, Fitzpatrick was frustrated trying to get her book published, since the process was so slow, and she commented on this in a blog post where she envisioned a publishing world in which scholars would present their work in online forums so that they could get feedback prior to publishing.  Many scholars thought this was a great idea.  I think the book must have been The Anxiety of Obsolescence (Vanderbilt 2006), since it was published that year, but more importantly, Fitzpatrick went on to co-found MediaCommons (which she discusses in the chapter--check out the URL) as a way of allowing scholars to present and comment on each other’s work before it’s published.  And that’s exactly what she did with her book Planned Obsolescence (NYU 2011) from which we read “Texts”: she released it on MediaCommons in 2009, received comments, revised more, and eventually published it in 2011. 

So now, Fitzpatrick is seen as being at the head of what some would call a revolution in scholarly publishing.  That’s also partly why the MLA asked her to be in charge of helping to set up MLA Commons (which I’ve been receiving emails about for a while now but didn’t know what it was), which will be a social platform for scholars to present their work/professional selves.  By the way, yes, her book does also appear in print (image from NYU Press website).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Richard van Noorden

Richard van Noorden, from his page

Richard van Noorden is a London, U.K.-based science journalist. He is an assistant news editor with Nature Publishing Group at its flagship title, Nature, a position he has held since 2009 when he left Chemistry World, the trade publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He earned an MSci degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 2006. 

He's written over 100 articles for Nature since 2006, the first of which was an article on climate change. His work has also appeared in Scientific American. Though he's written on a diverse array of subjects, many of his recent pieces focus on  the scientific publishing industry and open access publishing efforts: here, here and here (this one is about a reviewer-for-hire system).

He Tweets from @Richvn and every profile of him wants to make sure the reader knows he enjoys philosophy of science, chemistry, crosswords and comedy.

Author Profile: Michael Stratford

(Image from the Cornell website,

Michael Stratford is an Associate Press reporter currently covering Arkansas state government.

Previously, he served as a reporter and blogger intern for the Chronicle of Higher Education, where his assignments included covering the 2012 elections. The Chronicle awarded him the 2012 David W. Miller Award for Young Journalists for three of his articles: one on suicide prevention efforts at Cornell, a profile of a professor who created a way for adjunct faculty members to track pay and working conditions online, and this week's reading on predatory online journals.

Stratford has also written for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

Originally from Belmont, Mass., Stratford graduated from Cornell in May 2011, where he served as managing editor of the Cornell Daily Sun and was named the paper's reporter of the year for 2007.

Here are some Stratford-related links:

- His archive page on the Chronicle site.

- His Twitter page.

- His LinkedIn page.

- A list of his clips.

- His resume.

Note: There is a life coach (sorry, "the provocateur of transformation") also named Michael Stratford, so don't confuse the two!

Author Profile: John Willinsky

John Willinsky is Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University, as well as the Director of the Public Knowledge Project, which is jointly based at Stanford, the University of British Columbia, and Simon Fraser University. A native Canadian, Willinsky taught public school in Ontario for a decade (1973-1984) prior to joining academia. He received a M.Ed from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Sociology of Education from Dalhousie University, and then taught at the University of Calgary (1984-1990) and the University of British Columbia (1990-2007). Elected in 2000, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a national body of over 2,000 distinguished Canadian scholars, artists, and scientists who are chosen by their peers for being the best in their field.

Prior to publishing The Access Principle (MIT Press, 2006), Willinsky published the books Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED (Princeton University Press, 1994), Learning to Divide the World: Education at Empire's End (University of Minnesota Press, 1998), Technologies of Knowing: A Proposal for the Human Sciences (Beacon Press, 2000), and If Only We Knew: Increasing the Public Value of Social Science Research (Routledge, 2000). Learning to Divide the World won Outstanding Book awards from both the American Educational Research Association (1999) and the History of Education Society (1998-99). He has also published in journals as wide-ranging as International Journal of Communication, Canadian Journal of Communication, American Journal of Sociology, Educational Theory, and Harvard Educational Review, plus various open access online journals: First Monday, PLOS Biology, Journal of Medical Internet Research, and the Journal of Electronic Publishing.

Willinsky is a prominent figure in the open access (OA) movement, which seeks to make scholarly research available digitally over the Internet, free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Here is a brief overview of open access principles and concepts. Willinsky founded the Public Knowledge Project in 1998, an organization that conducts research and develops open source software that aims to measure and extend both the accessibility and quality of academic publishing. He is a frequent speaker at OA symposia and is often called upon to comment in the press. Since about 2000, a majority of his research and publishing has been on the topic of digital scholarship and open access. And he practices what he preaches: in addition to publishing in many OA journals, his last ten years of work is freely available at the Public Knowledge Project website.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Readings for April 15

Here are the readings for our final theme on "scholarly knowledge production and publication for research and teaching in both print and online venues."  Unlike the topic last week, here there were a superabundance of readings to choose from, so I tried to find an eclectic mix (and I tried to find short, synthetic pieces making clear arguments rather than data-heavy research articles).  So here you go, in chronological order:

  • John Willinsky, "Opening," in The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (2006).
  • Yochai Benkler, "The university in the networked economy and society: Challenges and opportunities," in Richard N. Katz, ed., The Tower and the Cloud: Higher Education in the Age of Cloud Computing (2008).
  • Kathleen Fitzpatrick, "Texts," in Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy (2011).
  • Michael Stratford, "'Predatory' online journals lure scholars who are eager to publish," The Chronicle of Higher Education (04 March 2012).
  • Jennifer Crewe, "We're definitely not in Kansas anymore — but are we in Oz?" Cinema Journal (Winter 2013).
  • Richard Van Noorden, "The true cost of science publishing," Nature (28 March 2013).
Here are the assignments for these six readings:
  • Meneses-Hall and Bottomley: Willinsky article summary and author info, respectively
  • Roeder and Pratesi: Benkler article summary and author info, respectively
  • Ineichen and Marshall: Fitzpatrick article summary and author info, respectively
  • Zhang and Bard: Stratford article summary and author info, respectively
  • Bond and Pegues: Crewe article summary and author info, respectively
  • Toff and Stalker: Van Noorden article summary and author info, respectively
  • Boehm: Discussion questions!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Author Profiles for Orellana & Hernández

Marjorie Faulstich Orellana and Arcelia Hernández published their article "Talking the walk: Children reading urban environmental print" in 1999. At the time, Orellana was a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University and Hernández was a doctoral student in the School of Education at Claremont Graduate University.  They conducted this study as part of a grant funded by the MacArthur Foundation to study "Successful Pathways through Middle Childhood." Orellana and Hernández had both previously worked as bilingual classroom teachers at Hoover Street Elementary School in Los Angeles that was the school featured in this article.

14 years later, Orellana is a professor in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She has continued to study young children and their interactions with language, literacy, writing and culture. The research that began in the "Talking the walk" article culminated with the publication of her book Translating Childhoods that was published by Rutgers University Press in 2009.

Her research has particularly focused on the ways in which bilingual children in immigrant families frequently function as "culture brokers" to help negotiate the divide between their parents' culture and the dominant American culture. In this recent interview, she explains that "these child translators are ubiquitous in immigrant communities, although they are largely invisible to the research world." Orellana elaborates that frequently:

"children read and interpret written texts for their families, such as information that comes in the mail, or that is sent home from school. They may help families fill out forms, including complex ones like credit applications. They speak for their families to teachers, doctors, lawyers, service personnel and more. They answer the phone, make appointments, and help out in everyday encounters in stores, restaurants, and other places."

She has been an outspoken opponent of Arizona's strict new immigrations laws, arguing that such policies unnecessarily "stigmatize children," and she has frequently written opinion pieces on subjects related to immigrants and the immigrant experience in the United States. She also maintains a blog called "Language Brokering" about her research and other interests.

Arcelia Hernández is the daughter of Mexican migrant farm workers from California. She learned from an early age to value education, saying in a 1994 interview that "so long as I got good grades and went to college, I didn't have to pick grapes, I didn't have to pick tomatoes, I didn't have to get up at 4 a.m. and be cold and nauseous. I could go to school and have a different job and never ever have to pick another piece of produce for as long as lived. And that's what I wanted."

After collaborating on the literacy walks article, Hernández transfered from Claremont to the University of Southern California Rottier School of Education where she completed her dissertation "Latina Bilingual Novice Teachers' First Year: Negotiating Relationships, Roles and Responsibilities Within and Beyond the Classroom." She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education in the School of Education at St. Edward's University in Texas.

Geodemographic Systems

Goss, Jon. 1995. "'We know who you are and we know where you live': The instrumental rationality of geodemographic systems."

            As I was reading this article I could not stop coming up with examples of geodemographics and the problems Goss discusses; so rather than a summary, I’m going to give some definitions, digestible examples, and make a few connections based on our reading this semester.
            Geodemographics is a form of statistical analysis of a person and his/her behaviors based on that person’s identity/demographic and location/geography. Marketers can use this information to identify new markets or develop better marketing strategies for existing markets.
            This article reminds me of the methodology section of Christine Pawley’s article "Seeking 'Significance:' Actual Readers, Specific Reading Communities," where she explains that with the invention of statistics people began self-identifying using statistical terms: married, white, female, graduate education, democrat. This article explains how geodemographics takes those expected and perhaps obvious statistical categories and creates models by comparing and cross-referencing many databases of information to create highly customizable marketing strategies.
            Some of the information these massive data gatherers collect is information we as individuals freely give, but gets aggregated into a database without our knowledge or consent; for example, we might sign up for a frequent-shopper card to get discounts, but then our entire shopping history can be tracked, which provides the retailer information about us and the potential preferences of our demographic. This data gathering is a form of surveillance; therefore privacy is at the center of the geodemographic ethical debate.
            Another problem is with the methods or parameters set by geographers and statisticians to create geographical information system (GIS) models. Goss explains that, “The related ecological fallacy is perhaps the most serious technical problem affecting spatial analysis in GIS. This refers to the erroneous assumption that patterns or relationships between data observed at an aggregate level of analysis also apply to data at the level of the individual (or to any lower level of aggregation” (p. 181). Patterns that seem obvious using GIS might be incorrect because of the “arbitrary nature of statistical boundaries.” 

Bachelor's degree distribution in the United States

In this map you can see the concentration of people with bachelor's degrees by county. The counties that include Washington, DC; Bloomington, IN; San Francisco, CA; Boulder, CO; Aspen, CO; and Nashville, TN all have high concentrations of degreed individuals. That's pretty unsurprising. However, it is worth noting that those counties are small. What is more interesting is the western states with very large counties. For example, you can see in Arizona that Maricopa and Coconino counties have a slightly above average concentration of individuals with bachelor's degrees. But the space on the map does not represent individuals. And according to the US Census Bureau, Coconino County only has a population of 134,500. These is important information we are missing because of the way the geographer chose to apportion the map and the information not captured or communicated.
            In much the same way that people began identifying themselves using statistical terminology, the problem with geodemographics is that the same thing will likely happen because of how products are marketed and information is distributed. Part of the danger of this form of data gathering and marketing is that individuals will begin to view their needs and desires based on the geodemographic system information available to them (e.g. family planning decisions).
            This system is a technology that would not be possible without the computational power available today and the digital sharing of information. It is a digital technology that is used to market digital and analog formats. And it can clearly impact larger social structures as well.