Alternative, not less.

Since the 1970’s the concept of different learning styles began percolating and since then, it has shaped the classroom. With most of us possessing a general understanding of our own learning styles and the fact that people have different learning styles, the development of different reading formats is well overdue.  Digital reading and audiobooks, in particular, the relatively new reading formats that allow readers to engage in new, not different ways.

Digital reading through e-readers and using the internet are much like text reading still requires visual perception, but offer those with visual impairments ways to modify their reading experience than traditional books. These include the ability to invert colours and enlarge text among many other features. The physicality of an object is not really present in e-reading as it utilizes an electronic device and the “collection” of books can only be seen through a virtual library. While e-reading can be beneficial, it does have some limitations; mainly as a result of how we were interacting with these types of readers. Digital reading in both e-readers and the internet do open readers to hyperlinking.  Which can be beneficial, but also it does pose “limitless input and decisions, including images, video and multiple hyperlinks that lead to even more information.” As a result, digital readers will often skim text which not necessarily the same reading habit they would have for physical books.

Audiobooks, on the other hand, would greatly appeal to more auditory learning styles and open the opportunity to read for those who may have an impairment that prohibits them from “traditional” forms of reading.  In classrooms, audiobooks offer a number of benefits that include: Increases comprehension,  Removes printed word decoding anxiety, and Increases word exposure and improves vocabulary. The same benefits could also apply to adult readers. In only offering the “traditional” reading forms as we have done, we’re excluding the means of reading from those who may have dyslexia or illiterate. Audiobooks, in this case, open up the reading experience to a broader audience that we have been doing thus far.

 

Closing the chapter on PUB 802

Technology for me had been this big encompassing word to describe not only the internet but also the devices we use. While I interact and engage with technology in both a professional and social capacity, I never really questioned the growing role it plays in our lives. Taking Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing in conjunction with the History of Publishing puts into context how relatively young technology is as an industry. This course has given me the opportunity to think about technology a little more critically through the various learning objectives.

Objective 1: To whet your appetite for thinking about the role and effects of digital technologies, especially as it relates to the content we consume;

Having written a few of my papers for PUB 801 on AI and publishing technologies, I came into the technology course with an interest in learning more concretely the ways which technology is shaping the publishing industry. I had a particular interest in how scholarly publishing is changing as a result of these new technologies. Although these topics were not covered in this course, the mini-lessons were a bit helpful in this regard. I do feel that they would have been more effective had they been a more hands-on exercise rather than a mini-lecture.

Objective 2: To help you develop a framework to analyze and interpret technology-related events and trends;

Having developed a more critical framework of how I interact with technology, I feel more confident engaging with developing technology-related events and trends. Throughout the course, I have been able to see varying perspectives when it comes to technology. When discussing data privacy, I felt like I was able to see the value of data mining through the lens of the company who are choosing to sell their consumer data as well as the consumers. Going forward I am interested in being more learning more about the more “technical” side of publishing. Being able to think more critically about the extent and the ways we use technology would help in being a more responsible member of our society.

Objective 3: To better understand (but not necessarily fully comprehend) how different technologies work; Give you practical experience with three digital publishing tools and formats: blogging (WordPress), wikis (Wikipedia) and annotations (Hypothes.is);

As most of the digital publishing tools we used in this course were things I never really engaged with normally it was a great way to learn about these things worked. While I thought the Wikipedia assignment was interesting, I did come into this course with my own set of biases. The last time I really even looked at wiki pages were in high school and was discouraged from using it as a source as it was not the most credible at the time. It was interesting to know that it does engage in peer review which helped reframe the way I thought about this. I personally enjoyed doing annotations in reading as I would often find it hard to focus on digital readings. Having to annotate did force me to slow down and engage in the readings. Blogging is not something I would normally do so it was a great learning experience. The lack of clear expectations was a little frustrating at first. I also found it to be time-consuming and having to do it for every week meant that I did not really have time to devote on each one nor was I really engaged in all the topics which made having to write a blog post for them even harder. Perhaps having students complete a certain number of blog posts by the end of the semester instead of every week would be more effective.

Objective 4: Allow you to develop and express your own thoughts about various aspects of technology.

The online discussions through Hypothes.is and in class had been a valuable experience in learning more about technology. I thoroughly enjoyed reading my peers comments and insights into the readings. They also provide some valuable resources and we often collaboratively helped to understand larger concepts. The discussions we had in both platforms were helpful in both solidifying some of the thoughts I had regarding technology and at other times put into question my own thinking. This was especially true in our discussions on data privacy, while I came into the discussions being comfortable with being open (to a certain extent) on the web. It was helpful to see my peers stance on this and their logic behind it.

This course has introduced several new concepts and ways about thinking about technology. I feel that I’m better equipped to engage with the technological world more responsibly. As mentioned, going forward I am interested in engaging more with technology. One of the key things I’ve taken away from this course is how technology shouldn’t be seen as being the opposition by replacing the place of humans. It would be more helpful to see them as helpful tools that could improve many processes.

The 2012 Publishers Perspective article on How to Sell More Books with Metadata had made an argument that “Enhanced metadata can increase discoverability of books and provide marketing information to the entire publishing supply chain.” It is clear that while other sectors of the publishing industry have been making more use of metadata; the book publishing industry (and e-book) have not fully maximized the potential of metadata. One of the key issues is in the lack of a standardized set of metadata. In an ideal world where big publishers, small publishers, and even Amazon could come up what this standard would be, it would greatly improve the industry and perhaps actually sell more books. Better quality metadata is certainly important in a world where more of our buying habits are moving online.

As Jamie had mentioned in his presentation, most publishers don’t have the resources to devote to producing this high-quality metadata. The Scholarly Kitchen frames the use of enhanced metadata as “marketing investment of the digital age”. Framing it in this manner could help publishers allocate money/resources into producing better quality metadata. This is where the integration of an automated program may be beneficial. Perhaps if an algorithm could be trained to scan books and gather this information and have publishers review this information to ensure accuracy in what is being produced. The publishing industry would probably need to rely on a third-party company to execute the use of algorithm into their process.

One of the key precautions that the industry would need to have is over-reliance on a single company. In an ideal world, once the metadata fields have been standardized across, the work should go to numerous small tech companies rather than the whole industry relying on one. This would most likely address the issue that we’re facing of companies becoming too large. Some of the potential dangers of using a single company for this type of service would be enabling them to become a monopoly and could potentially drive prices at a rate that is unattainable for smaller publishers to afford.

If the potential for data privacy breach is the enemy, awareness is your weapon

Undeniably the issue of data privacy has become an increasingly important issues after numerous data breaches throughout the 21st century,  the scandal around Trumps election, and the growing concern surrounding Facebook and its collection/use of personal information. Data being everywhere yet many of us don’t really know its hidden value! We as a society value personal privacy, but we often fail to think twice about our privacy in an every growing digital world. For me growing up, the idea that whatever you put online will can never really be delete has stuck. Whether this was true or not, it framed the way I interacted with the internet and determining what information I put out there myself. The starkly twitter thread by Dylan Curran scarily shows us that boy, oh boy, that it’s true.

With almost all of North America actively engaging with the internet and children starting at a very young age, the question becomes why isn’t there greater awareness of data privacy? For me personally, internet safety was not an issue that was fully addressed within my own education experience.  While reviewing the BC educational curriculum, it is unclear whether data privacy is something being taught (or to what extent) in the classrooms. Under digital literacy the following content is the intended teaching outcome:

Internet safety

  • digital self-image, citizenship, relationships, and communication
  • legal and ethical considerations, including creative credit and copyright, and cyberbullying
  • methods for personal media management
  • search techniques, how search results are selected and ranked, and criteria for evaluating search results
  • strategies to identify personal learning networks

As children are engaging with technology at a much earlier age, schools should be doing more to educate students as they are probably one of the most vulnerable and soon enough the target market. While the current curriculum does address some of the topics, it might be helpful to have a better understanding of privacy policies and settings that can protect you and your network of friends. As for the rest of us, it would be helpful to become self-aware of data privacy issues. We could probably start by reading the terms and conditions of the sites we are engaging with. It is refreshing to know that it is something that is starting to be discussed on a political scale with Elizabeth Warren proposing to break up large companies such as Facebook in her presidential campaign. While other candidates sharing the same/similar sentiments.

Great Minds vs. FedEx Office Print Services

On October 2, 2017 a legal dispute between Great Minds and FedEx Office & Print Services was submitted to the United States Second Circuit. Great Minds was suing Fedex for copyright infringement as it was found that FedEx had reproduced educational material copies of Great Minds on the request of the school district. The educational material had also been made available to the public through the Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license. In March 2018, the courts had dismissed the case brought forth by Great Minds indicating that public license does not explicitly address whether commercial services could be used for the licensees non-commercial uses.

Based on both the four factors of Fair use and the Creative Common (CC) License, I would agree with the courts ruling regarding this case. Under the CC the licensee is free to share and adapt the material with the stipulation that it should be properly credited and for non-commercial use. In which case, FedEx had followed these as they were simply acting as the agent of the school board who is using the copies for educational purpose. Under the Fair Use, FedEx did not breach the license by producing the copies. Again, given its educational non-commercial nature, it does not have any real impact on the market. Additionally, given that the school board is licensed;  there was no distinction of who (staff or otherwise) could reproduce the material. After reviewing the case, I do wonder why Great Minds would have chosen to take legal action against FedEx over the school board.

Subscriptions and Ads… not such a bad thing

I’ve never really felt compelled to subscribe to any sort of magazine, newspaper or online community. Partly because of there hasn’t been anything I’ve been interested in enough to do so and I guess the idea of having to pay for content that I could probably find a way to get for free seemed silly. This weeks class and reading made me reflect on how is this different from my subscription to Netflix, Spotify, or Adobe. A subscription to something like Medium is far less expensive than one of these other things I currently subscribe to. I would say perceived value has a lot to do with the subscription choices I’ve made. With all 3 of my current subscriptions, it allows for multiple users which I split with a friend or family member, thus my perceived value of these things increases.

With that said, I do think that a subscription model is preferable as the end user. Although I do understand that not all types of business cannot survive with just one type of revenue model. Having taken up a production/management position for my job in conjunction with this program has certainly given me an understanding and appreciation of how business function. I would say that I used to be indifferent to ads (especially on website). I have become more aware recently how advertisements would keep popping up for sites and products that I’ve visited. While, it’s a little creepy, I do understand that these are the way businesses ensure that products are visible making increasing the likelihood of a sell-through. On a personal note, I would be very interested how they are able to do this!

As consumers, I think it’s important to understand the purpose and role that advertising or subscriptions has for the publisher and reader. I think it’s very easy to say that ads or subscription shouldn’t exist on site or on any type of medium. At the end of the day it is the means that that select producer has chosen to be able to deliver their content. Hopefully, it’s not overkill! I also think that ads and platforms should be better aligned with each other. To me, there is nothing more off-putting than noticing a mis-aligned add.  Although as we continue to learn, small publishers and business aren’t equipped to compete with large companies, so perhaps they’re not really in a position to be selective with their ads.

What in the web?

Madrigal was certainly nostalgic about the idea of an open web, which is a concept I realized this week doesn’t really exist anymore. I would definitely agree that hyperlinking is generally an after thought for most of us. As a reader, I tend to gloss over it. I personally get distracted when I see a hyperlinked text and are often tempted to see what it is. Although an interesting place where hyperlinking seems to be very much a live is in scholarly journals. While writing this I recalled how a layout editor had pointed out to me that a number of links did not work, which at that time I didn’t realize that it was an issue, but I proceeded to find an updated one anyway. Ironically enough as someone who had read numerous journal articles in my undergrad, I did not realize that these hyperlinks work. Had I known that, I probably would have come to appreciate how helpful it is at linking ideas together.

It is really interesting to learn their views on how the internet was and their outlook on it now. I guess growing up with technology I do have an expectation of the internet being there. I would probably say I’ve engaged with most parts of the web as we know it now being a member of a number of online platform and owner things Kottke attributes to being the reason the open web didn’t stand a better chance. I don’t know that I’ve been deeply entrenched it in. I feel like I’m still at a point where I could disengage with it, if we collectively didn’t  rely on it so much. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I’ve never really found a place in the web that had served as a “good room” no single platform has really held my interest long enough to continue being an active participant in it. Take Instagram for example, since I got it in 2013 I’ve maybe posted less than 75-100 times (I have deleted a couple of post since then). I have found that my usage on it and other social media platform have decreased in the last couple of years. I do see the point Chimero was making about “technology has transformed from a tool that we use to a place where we live.” As  the web has allowed for the creation and curation of different types of website to exist and what to engage in.