Archive for the 'News & Comment' Category

Bill of rights for learning in digital age: have you met the remix yet?

As HASTAC heralds a forum (the HASTAC way) on “A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age,” which calls for access, contribution from all over the world, and “pedagogical transparency” (students should know the background and outcomes of educational objects in advance), the open spirit represented therein calls to mind Lawrence Lessig’s advocacy of more reasonable copyright laws to support rapidly produced multimedia conglomerations. At this time, we are still waiting to hear if the two streams are finding each other.

The expanding Twitterverse

People are starting to consider Twitter less novel and constrained (the 140-character limit) and more navigable (helped by things like Tweetdeck), as reported in econtentmag (“Twitter comes of age“). Gerry McKiernan, engineering librarian at Iowa State University, is a prolific commentator and announced years ago [citation being sought] that he was moving from list posts to blogs, and then using Twitter as his medium of choice. It still isn’t as organizable as e-mail, but certainly it’s getting too popular not to check regularly, even for scholarly information as academics announce their latest publications or ideas.

Outsourcing social networking losing its luster

Econtentmag reports that “some organizations are beginning to question the wisdom of giving up ownership of their data through these sites and are considering hosting networks via their own on-domain sites (“Wrestling social network control away from the big guys,” Econtentmag 7 January 2013). YouTube is not mentioned, but use of it to host video libraries of individuals (faculty members as well as consumers) and small organizations (labs), sometimes in the form of “channels“.

NIH pushing for compliance: no OA submissions, no continuation grant

There has been a fair amount of grantees publishing in Open Access venues (actually, the requirement is to submit copies of all published papers to PubMed Central), but there are still holdbacks–investigators who publish in journals that are not OA.  Insofar as OA journals are not always considered to be at the top of their fields (although some are quite prestigious), that would be understandable to career-minded academic; there also has been pushback from Congress to benefit large for-profit publishers (see Research Works Act down for now).  This notice (given by NIH, as mentioned in Research USA) shows that NIH is not backing down.

Google Analytics less useful

According to a 16 November 2012 story in econtentmag, Google started encrypting transactions from signed-in users in SSL, so “organic search” queries can’t be captured.

The problem may be greater for commercial entities concerned with “search engine optimization (SEO),” i.e., manipulating characteristics of different search services so that a page’s meta tags, header, and other such ranking features to get higher placement on results pages or otherwise drive searchers to a “conversion” (viewer decides to buy something on the page and thus transmutes into a customer).  As the article says, “The change to SSL has also made it impossible to deliver to targeted landing pages based on organic keyword searches. But Google still allows advertisers to see data related to paid search terms ‘to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you.’ In other words, Google wants you to fork over some cash.”

This is more of a lesson possibly to be inferred from the commercial world to academic authors who don’t usually try to increase readership by such devious means–and whose pages are less likely to have some of the more sophisticated features that a commercial page uses to shape the “user experience.”  But it is worth noting, just to keep up with what’s going on, and possibly available, in the field of persuasive Web page design.