Thinking about Digital Publishing

Some implications of "digital" for academic publishing

How we used to find things: The Oxford Guide to Library Research

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

The Oxford Guide to Library Research, first published in 1987, is now in its fourth edition (2015), and was described by Aaron Tay in his Musings on Librarianship as “classic”. It sounded like just what I wanted – at …

Why short books are better than long books

My English teacher at school used to tell us, when asked how long an essay should be, “begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end”. In other words, there is no perfect length for a piece of text. That advice, …

An academic economist on recommender systems

Ronald Coase

Following my recent post on recommender systems such as Spotify charging money for inclusion on a playlist, I re-read Ronald Coase, the Chicago academic who wrote such as long article describing the background to payola – his article is over 20,000 words long. …

What’s wrong with a payola model for Spotify?

A fascinating Financial Times article looks at Spotify’s new practice of charging record companies to include specific songs in Spotify’s algorithm (“Spotify must wait to find out if digital ‘payola’ hits the right notes”, 27 November 2020). Alex Barker, author of the article, notes that …

How not to create a website user survey

I can’t resist surveys. I always sign up for website user experience surveys, because I feel that since I am in the business of digital information, I ought to be prepared to participate to help UX people design better sites. After all, we are told …

How to make research more successful

OCLC have published an interesting-sounding report. The full title of this report is: Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-Campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise, a bit of a mouthful. The term “social interoperability” is defined as “the creation and maintenance of working relationships …

Blending humanities and data science

Any report with 25 authors must be taken seriously. Or perhaps promises to be fairly dull, since 25 people are unlikely to agree on much that is really innovative. So it wasn’t with huge expectations that I started reading this paper, The challenges and prospects

Discovering content in academic libraries

When you use an academic library catalogue, what are you actually searching?

The graphic shows the main search screen of Cambridge University Library, called iDiscover (actually powered by Primo). The user is presented with, as you might expect, a simple search box, and three options …

Why algorithms need a critical audience

Dan Kolkmann made an interesting point in his recent post about algorithms, entitled, charmingly, ““F**k the algorithm”?: What the world can learn from the UK’s A-level grading fiasco”. The article looks at an example of algorithmic bias, and how best to deal with …

Evaluating recommender systems for academics

Amazon’s “frequently bought together” tool doesn’t inspire confidence: here Amazon recommends The Handmaid’s Tale and A Streetcar named Desire for anyone buying Hamlet.

Recommender systems are the El Dorado of the 21st century. Retailers, manufacturers, content aggregators such as Netflix and Spotify see recommendations as …

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