Margaret Atwood–First Up in Future Library

June 29th, 2015

In this world of “nothing is ever fast enough”, the seeds of an idea for delaying gratification is certainly a novel one.  This is exactly what the Future Library in Norway is all about.  Katie Patterson, the creator of Future Library, wants the participant to think far into the future instead of the instant gratification model we have come to accept as the wave of the future if not the present.

Quite simply, an author will be selected every year for the next hundred years.  First up is author Margaret Atwood whose Scribbler Moon has been contributed and will be “unveiled” in 2114 printed on paper from trees which have just been planted (a printing press and instructions even for making paper have been included in case this will have become a fallen art).  The concept is one of optimism; the belief that there will still be people and that those people will be interested in art and works from 100 years prior is one of a sustaining culture.  A new author will be selected for each of the next 99 years.

Imagine: to write and not have anyone alive having read your work.  It’s the ultimate of will power.

Listen to Margaret Atwood elaborate on the project .   Read the project in a nutshell.

Amazon Figures Out a Different Path–Again

June 26th, 2015

We can all concede that Amazon has made our lives easier by our one-click penchant but decisions they make to their own business plan puts us dead center of their brainstorming sessions.  Amazon has decided to circumvent the how-to-pay-authors-for-self-publishing-e-books controversy by creating a pay for pages read rather than downloads concept.  It’s certainly novel (no pun intended) and may not be embraced as sane initially but this has been pretty well thought out.  At least at the moment, this is strictly for a small group of authors but who knows what might be wrought if this ends up being favorable to them (the authors).

Authors were originally complaining about getting the same amount for each download whether the book was a short how-to versus someone’s end-product of years of research.  Of course this immediately brings to mind–“well, we’ll just change the font and put fewer words to a page!”  Well, as always, Amazon is a step ahead of us–they have worked out a standardized “formula” to work across devices and to head off at the pass any “creative” page turning vehicles.

Whether this will become a permanent method remains to be seen but we can count on Amazon to always be looking ahead–for themselves and, hopefully, for the customer, be it author or reader, too. ReadAlso here.

The Music Streaming Wars in Full Bloom

June 23rd, 2015

It’s all about the competition to them.  We’re all going to have to pick a camp and be either “with us or against us” for eternity, it seems.  The wars between Apple and Google have now extended to the music world and buoyed by Taylor Swift’s hand slapping to Apple, Google has launched a free tier to Google Music.  It sounds like a music lover’s dream but a music lover who isn’t going to try to replicate every song she’s ever loved.  Pick a sound and Google will send you others in that vein a la Pandora.  It is, however, supported by ads and you know how we all hate ads and that is what Google is hoping for:  that we spring for the fee to be without those ads.  Maybe.  They’re not alone in the quest for your attention but in this article by Raymond Wong, we’re able to get a nice comparison between Google, Apple, Spotify and the rest.

How Do So Few Control So Much?

June 19th, 2015

There is no science without research. Well, actually, there is always science but our knowledge of it is frozen in time with the last “discovery” made known to us by the last scientist able to publish his research and disseminate the findings.  The process, the data, the results are everything to scientists and that’s a great enough weight without worrying about the caliber of journal in which these tested theories will debut.  It is paramount that stature be attained for the research to be embraced and not much has changed in that view in light of the hope that the web would make access and easy of publishing more equitable and egalitarian; no longer the province of the few.  Ironically, almost the opposite has happened.

Librarians visibly stiffen when certain historically-scientific publishers are mentioned because of the general assumption that because of the lock a very few of these publishers have on the industry, prices are so high as to make it impossible for most libraries to invest in these journals.  According to an article in Wired, The Web Will Either Kill Science Journals or Save Themthis is more than assumption.  A very recent study confirmed that only five publishers account for over 50% of the papers published.  Yes, anyone can put their paper online and online journals are not a new thing but the respect that is still so integral to scientific recognition is still in the province of the journals–online and otherwise–that the big publishers have taken control of.

Is there hope of breaking down the barriers to credibility of new journals and those without a pedigree?  Well, this article hopes so but places some doubt.

Could You Be Librarian of Congress?

June 12th, 2015

Innovate.  Adapt.  Improve.  So are the hopes of the outgoing Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, for the future of the oldest federal cultural institution upon his imminent retirement.  This will leave a prime job opening except for the tiny fact that you’d have to be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.  Also, only two of the 13 Librarians of Congress have had prior library experience before they were appointed.

Dr. Billington has apparently led the the library to great heights in the digitization arena and established the American Memory Project and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the institution but the next head is going to have to address some of the criticisms by the Government Accountability Office that there are weaknesses in the library’s IT infrastructure among other concerns. To keep this venerable institution continually changing and moving forward will be the challenge for the next Librarian.  The President has six months to figure out who is best for the job upon Dr. Billington’s end of the year retirement.  Read.