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The seven classic books about computing

Library Image by Dmitrij Paskevic (CC0)

 

The books I’m thinking about might not be quite as old as the ones in the photo, but at least some of them will have I hope the patina of age. One of the slightly poignant aspects of working in computing is that the skills of many gifted individuals working in IT is lost within a few years – even if they commit their thoughts to a book. Unlike a novel or a work of art, the solutions and tools created by (say) Kernighan and Ritchie in The C Programming Language will one day be completely forgotten, as new languages and new processes replace them. That seems a shame.

A day in the Life of a (Serious) Researcher

 

How do researchers really look for and find content for their research? That’s a pretty fundamental question! So I turned to the research project “A Day in the Life of a (Serious) Researcher” with great anticipation to identify that part of the researcher activity relating to seeking and finding information. I found the survey exciting but at the same time questionable in some of its conclusions.

One way of dealing with the rising price of textbooks

Textbooks (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

 

Textbook prices are increasing steadily - so what should we do about it?

An interesting article in the Financial Times (Monday 16 May 2016) “Rising Price of Textbooks reaches a tipping point”, reveals the problem and one tutor’s response. US Census Bureau statistics show that textbook prices increased more than 800 per cent between 1978 and 2014, more than triple the cost of inflation. 

Can you charge for adding metadata to free content?

Clearly you can. A recent post in Book Business Magazine describes how McGraw-Hill Education will include free teaching resources within its paid education platform, Engrade, alongside its own paid resources, on the basis that these free resources are better curated and hence easier to find and to make use of. However, users will be charged for access to the free resources within the platform, since McGraw-Hill state they have had to pay to have them tagged. McGraw-Hill is open about what they are doing: they say they pay to have the material selected for quality and then tagged, so it is only reasonable to charge end users for the selection and better navigation.

Engrade

 

Access to Research – the ALPSP answer

 

There is an article in the latest issue of Learned Publishing, the journal of the ALPSP, a trade association representing academic publishers, entitled “Access to Research: an innovative and successful initiative by the UK publishing industry”. That’s all you will learn about this article, because if you go to ALPSP’s host website (Wiley Online Library) you will find the article locked. 

Europeana creates a business strategy

 

Europeana, the EU-funded digital “library” (although it is more a discovery service than a library), has released its business plan for the next five years. The document is excellently designed and produced, but contains little in the way of a business plan. The section “why this is good for you” is placed before the section “how we are going to finance this”. Unfortunately, the section on how we are going to finance it states little. So where will the revenue come from?

Is Digital Disruption the cause of quality decline?

David Crotty, in a Scholarly Kitchen post, talked about declining editorial standards, and suggested that “digital disruption” was at least partly to blame. “Digital disruption” is the phrase used by Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma.  Christensen’s idea, as you probably know, is that companies fail because they continue to provide the same services that satisfied their customers in earlier years.

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