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Libraries buy - and publishers sell

I subscribe to a number of library forums, and I was interested to read an invitation to contribute in a recent post. This sounds like an interesting initiative, I thought, so I looked at the proposal in a bit more detail. I was surprised with what I discovered. The call was for contributions to the "E-Resource Round Up" column for the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship (JERL). To encourage library professionals to contribute, the editors state "This could be an ideal opportunity for you to report on programs that may benefit others in our profession". They helpfully provided some suggestions for what to write about, including "vendor activities and upcoming events". Plus, there was a gentle reminder that "contributions should not be published elsewhere". When I went to the website for this journal, it was available to subscribers only. I was invited to purchase the current issue, as an individual subscriber, at a cost of £122, or just the one article for £25. This is, after all, content about libraries created by library professionals as part of their working practice - being sold back to them, or in my case, as I declined the subscription offer, completely unavailable. 

 

 

Scribd: how to recreate the circulating library in digital form

Scribd puts me in mind of the circulating library. Early in the 20th century, many people consumed fiction from a circulating library - simply another name for a private library. Users were charged a fee for the privilege of borrowing books from the library. Instead of buying one book, the customer paid an annual subscription and could borrow books for a set time. Typically, the subscription enabled the user to borrow just one book at a time. For a higher subscription, the customer could borrow more books at once. 

 

Scribd home page

 

Faceted v hierarchical taxonomies - why all the fuss?

You might think that there need be no war over creating a taxonomy. When should you use a hierarchical classification, and when a set of facets? You might think it hardly worth bothering over. Yet some thesaurus experts fight to defend hierarchical taxonomies; you feel that if there were a pecking order of taxonomies (a nice idea, that), then hierarchical taxonomies would be ranked highest. If you don't believe me, try reading a recent post from Access Innovations, Down the Rabbit Hole.

Newspapers and magazines: beyond digital subscriptions

When newspapers started to become available on the Web, the first decision - and one that has never been completely resolved - was whether the content should be free to view or available only by paid access.

 

The paid model that emerged initially was a paywall, with regular annual or monthly payments, enabling the whole newspaper to be read. For some newspapers that method has worked well, but this method doesn’t take into account the many other opportunities provided by online access.

The Lean Startup, or how the best entrepreneurs don’t listen to customers

 

"We really did have customers in those early days— true visionary early adopters— and we often talked to them and asked for their feedback. But we emphatically did not do what they said." This startling admission appears in the first page of The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses, by Eric Ries (2011). Should we congratulate him on his fresh approach, or laugh at him for missing the only true guidance that product development can trust, that is, the customer? The truth is somewhere between the two. Ries has written a book that some have labelled a key management text of the 21st century, while to a more jaundiced eye it reads like so many business books that come from America, combining evangelical fervour with rather dubious and questionable statements that have not been tested.

Wiley's Big Bang

Big Bang is certainly the way to describe it:  At the Mark Logic London User Group, Freddie Quek of Wiley described how Wiley achieved their “big bang”, the project to redevelop what had been known as Wiley InterScience and created the Wiley Online Library. It was a thrilling tale, delivered with all the excitement of an explorer discovering the source of the Nile, or a pioneer crossing North America.

Classic computing titles: The Inmates are running the Asylum

Whatever they teach you on a computing degree, it doesn’t seem to be sufficient to create an effective web site. One of the paradoxes of the modern world is that we are surrounded by IT, and yet those who have studied IT formally seem often incapable of creating software that genuinely meets our needs – a glance at a few developer-led websites is often sufficient to demonstrate that. Alan Cooper’s book, The Inmates are Running the Asylum, although published some fifteen years ago, provides an idea why that might be. The author himself has a highly respectable track record as a developer – he was responsible for Visual Basic, so he can claim some understanding of the programming process, and of the programming mentality. So if he says that programming alone is not sufficient, then you are right to take notice. Everyone with an involvement in IT, whether as a user, or as an information professional as a sponsor and influencer could benefit from his assessment of how programmers think.

 

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