Yet again Rave Technologies assembled an impressive cast of speakers for their annual publishing event (London, October 2017). Despite the event being managed by a vendor, Rave resists any attempt to turn it into a corporate showcase.
This year the theme was broadly based around innovation, specifically digital innovation – you could ask if there is any innovation that is not digital, these days, but of that more below.
Just as you thought that everything was known about the academic user journey, a workshop comes along (the WDSM Workshop on Scholarly Web Mining, SWM 2017, held in Cambridge, February 10 2017) that presents a whole new set of tools and investigations to consider.
It was a rather frantic event, squeezing no fewer than 11 presentations into a half-day session, even if the event took place in the sumptuous and rather grand surroundings of the Council Chamber in the Cambridge Guildhall. Trying to summarise all 11 presentations would be a challenge; were there any common areas of inquiry?
What makes a great infographic? Edward Tufte, in his book Beautiful Evidence (2006), proposes the six basic principles of “analytical design” (he means infographics). Are these the principles that everyone should follow when designing information graphics?
According to publishers’ own figures (reported in The Guardian in February 2016), there was a decline in ebook sales in 2015 compared to the preceding year. Although this decline was small compared to the previous year (a drop of only 2.4%), the figure was noted with alarm by publishers and by many commentators who had predicted the end of the physical book when ebooks were first introduced – after all, 2015 was the first year that ebook sales had not increased. Why are ebook sales declining?
Do you understand this graphic? It is an example of a sparkline, by Edward Tufte. Tufte was, if not the originator of sparklines, one of its earliest advocates. He wrote about them in his book Beautiful Evidence (2006); he defines sparklines as “small, intense, wordlike graphics, embedded in the context of words and numbers”. Tufte’s ideas were very influential and were taken up by Microsoft in their 2010 release of Excel. But I don't agree with him about sparklines.
The truth about search seems to be more astonishing than anything you could imagine. Lin Lin, EBSCO Senior User Experience Researcher, talking at the UKeiG Annual Meeting last week, provided some startling revelations, drawing on EBSCO’s wide experience of observing search behaviour with students ranging from age seven to postgraduate - they should know, since they claim to have the largest user research team in the industry, So what is the reality of student search?
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.
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, 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?