Archive for the 'Cites & Insights' Category

The steakhouse blog

Posted in Cites & Insights, open access on March 13th, 2014

When I finished editing “Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall,” the lead essay in the April 2014 Cites & Insights*, I didn’t worry about the fact that I failed to reach clear conclusions about Beall or his list or blog. As with most essays of this sort, I was trying to paint a picture, not come up with a Declaration of Belief.

But I did think about why I found the situation so troubling–especially since it was and is clear that many librarians continue to assume that Beall is a reliable and worthy source. Last night, it came to me.

The steakhouse blog

Let’s say someone with some credentials as a judge of good meat starts a blog called Steakhouses. (If there is such a blog, this has nothing to do with it: I didn’t check.**) It gets a fair amount of readership and acclaim, even though every post on it is about bad steakhouses. After a while, there’s even a Bad Steakhouse List as a page from the blog.

Some people raise questions about the criteria used for judging a steakhouse to be bad, but lots of people say “Hey, here’s a great list so we can avoid bad steakhouses.”

The big reveal

After a couple of years, the author of the blog–who continues to be judge and jury for bad steakhouses–writes an article in which he denounces all meat-eaters as people with dire motives who, I dunno, wish to force other people to eat steak.

I will assert that, to the extent that this article became well known and the blog author didn’t deny writing it, the Steakhouse blog would be shunned as pointless–after all, if the author’s against all meat-eaters, why would he be a reliable guide to bad steakhouses?

Bad analogy?

So how exactly are the Scholarly Open Access blog and Beall’s List different from the Steakhouse blog and Bad Steakhouse List? And if they’re not, why would anybody take Beall seriously at this point?

Note that dismissing the Steakhouse blog and the Bad Steakhouse List as pointless does not mean saying “there are no bad steakhouses.” It doesn’t even mean abandoning the search for ways to identify and publicize bad steakhouses. It just means recognizing that, to the Steakhouse blog author, all steakhouses are automatically bad, which makes that author useless as a judge.


Full disclosure: I haven’t been to a steakhouse in years, and I rarely–almost never, actually–order steak at restaurants. I am an omnivore; different issue.

*Just under 2,900 downloads as of right now. Amazing.

**I’ve now done some crude checking. There are a number of blogs that include “Steakhouse” in their titles, I don’t find a Steakhouse blog as such, I don’t find a “Bad Steakhouse List,” and the blogs about steakhouses that I did find don’t appear to be uniformly anti-steakhouse.

Appreciation

Posted in Cites & Insights on March 11th, 2014

A little follow-up to last Friday’s “Popularity?”–posted at the point where the April 2014 Cites & Insights had about 1,030 downloads, remarkably high for the first six days after publication. I guessed it was mostly because of the first essay, “Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall.”

I’m now fairly certain that’s the reason. A number of people had mentioned the essay before last Friday (I didn’t see most of the mentions; I don’t follow that many people on Twitter and only track about 500 blogs with Feedly). Since then, there’s been quite a bit of tweeting and retweeting, with John Dupuis and others calling it an important essay. I am, of course, grateful for this.

(If you’re interested: around 2,450 as of midafternoon today, Tuesday, March 11–I suspect it will hit 2,500 some time today or tomorrow.)

I want to note three things here, I hope briefly:

  1. To be honest, I didn’t think this was all that strikingly important as an essay; I mostly just rounded up some articles in a fairly coherent article. Although I do admit, when I read it today, it reads reasonably well. However, I believe the May 2014 Cites & Insights will have a more important article–Ethics and Access 2, including some original pseudo-research–and I’d like to believe that quite a few essays and books over the past two or three years have been more important, especially for libraries. None of the (self-published) books reached even 10% as many people. That’s a shame… And for those interested in OA, I’ve done a lot of writing about it in the past (some of it collected in a free ebook).
  2. Any opinions regarding Jeffrey Beall stated in tweets or other commentary do not necessarily reflect my own opinions, except for those in non-quoted portions of the article. I’ve seen a couple of unfavorable opinions that I would probably disagree with.
  3. I love having more readers. I’d love having a little more support–either book purchases or direct support of C&I or, dreaming once again, finding an actual sponsor for the publication (and for related original research: I have an idea in mind that’s somewhat related to the April essay, but it would involve 50-100 hours of work, and at this point I can’t justify the time for $0 return, given that I don’t have a job that I’m doing all this in addition to). Full sponsorship (which I had for a few years) would be wonderful; if any of you are in a position to help, great. (It would cost $10K/year, and I’d be happy to work with any company or operation that’s not typically covered in C&I–e.g., a library distributor or services company like Ebsco, Gale, etc., a group like OCLC, a foundation like Gates (but I’m too small-scale for them), an automation vendor like Innovative. There are firms I would not work with, presumably including those I do discuss in C&I and one or two special cases, but not all that many.)

But mostly: I do appreciate the readership and the direct appreciation in tweets. The rest of this–other than maybe #2, where it really may be important to say that other people’s opinions are, obviously, their own–is secondary. Oh, and that I believe the May 2014 issue will be worthwhile.

Finally: one correction to the Beall essay, pointed out to me by a reader: Hindawi is headquartered in Egypt, not India. Sorry about that.

Popularity?

Posted in Cites & Insights on March 7th, 2014

Here’s something mildly interesting, or not.

  • In (roughly) the first month after it appeared, the January 2014 Cites & Insights (“Books, E and P” and “Gunslinger Classics”) had around 880 downloads. I was pleased.
  • In the first month after it appeared, the February 2014 Cites & Insights (“E and P: What I Ignored,” “Ebooks as Textbooks,” and “Ebooks and Libraries”) had around 550 downloads. I was OK with that, too.
  • In the first month after it appeared, the March 2014 Cites & Insights (“Toward 15 and 200,” “Thinking about Magazines” and “The Back”) had around 420 downloads. That’s not too bad either.
  • and, wait for it…
  • In the first week since it was published–well, actually, not quite a week yet, but up to roughly 3 p.m. this afternoon, so a little more than six days–the April 2014 Cites & Insights (“Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall” and “The Middle: Forecasts and Futurism”) has around 1,030 downloads.

I draw no conclusions. The May 2013 issue will definitely include Ethics and Access 2, and this one includes some original “research.”

As to the fundraising campaign…not a whole lot of progress to report. But y’all must love forecasts and futurism. Or something like that…

 

A deadline and an apology of sorts

Posted in C&I Books, Cites & Insights on March 4th, 2014

First, the deadline:

If you (or your library or consortium) haven’t yet purchased a copy of The Big Deal and the Damage Done–either the $16.50 paperback, the $9.99 PDF ebook or the $40 campus/site/consortium-”licensed” ebook (the $40 version includes explicit permission on the copyright page for simultaneous usage/downloading from a single server, campus or consortium), you should do so soon.

On or about May 14, 2014, all three versions will go out of print: they will become wholly unavailable. (Since neither PDF version has any DRM attached, this will not have any effect on any purchased versions.)

[Why? Because shortly after that a more up-to-date, but briefer, sequel will be published as a Library Technology Reports issue, distributed to subscribers and available for individual purchase from ALA.  While I believe the original book continues to have separate value, I'm choosing to shut it down at that point. Some time later, probably in June, there will be a complementary self-published book looking at other aspects of academic library book purchasing and circulation: note that's complementary, not complimentary--the self-published book won't be free.]

As an aside, the trio of public library books appear to be dead in the water. Only Your Library Is… has sold any copies since November 2012, and that hasn’t sold any copies since January 2013. I’m a little sad about that, but have pretty much given up. (So far: 11 copies of that wonderful little book, and fewer than half a dozen of either of the others. Such is life.)

Then there’s the apology. A Cites & Insights reader let me know that, in some cases where I’ve said [Emphasis added] at the end of quoted material, there doesn’t actually seem to be any emphasized material in the quote. This reader thought this was an artifact of the single-column version and the way I converted it from the two-column.

Turns out it’s true of the two-column version as well, and is apparently an artifact of how Word 2010 creates a PDF using “Save/Send to PDF.” It’s maintaining italics and, I think, boldface in some circumstances, but seems to be losing it in some.

I can fix this in one of two ways, and currently plan to do it in the second–but if there’s significant reader desire, I can do it in the first and maybe retroactively for this year’s issues:

1. I can Print using Adobe PDF as a printer, rather than using Word’s function. That may also result in a smaller PDF. Unfortunately, because I haven’t spent the $$$ to upgrade to the most recent Acrobat, that works as a printer, not an Acrobat-in-Word function, with the result that you don’t get bookmarks for essays and headings within essays.

2. I’ll probably replace my 5-year-old computer some time this year, maybe, perhaps, depending partly on support for C&I…and if/when I do, I’ll probably also upgrade to Office360/Office 2013. I’m guessing it has much better built-in PDF support and will probably handle the boldface properly.

Of course, it’s possible that nobody actually uses the PDF bookmarks, in which case solution #1 is an easy fix…

I’ll open comments on this post. If you have an opinion on this matter, please do comment or send me email at the usual (waltcrawford at gmail dot com).

Another sidenote: Either it’s Charles W. Bailey, Jr.’s mention–thanks, Charles–or word gets around when I’m dealing with certain topics. The March C&I, with an essay that means a lot to me but possibly not to you, had only about 450-500 downloads in its first month. The April issue, with the Beall lead essay, has more than 740…in its first four days!

Cites & Insights 14:4 (April 2014) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on March 1st, 2014

The April 2014 issue of Cites & Insights (volume 14, issue 4, whole # 172) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i4.pdf

The print-oriented two-column edition is 22 pages. Those reading online or on a tablet may prefer the 6×9″ single-column version, which is 41 pages long, at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i4on.pdf

This issue includes two essays:

Intersections: Ethics and Access 1: The Sad Case of Jeffrey Beall  (pp. 1-14)

The saga of Jeffrey Beall going from self-appointed investigator into “predatory” open access publishers and journals (and, notably, only OA journals) to ludicrous analyst of serials pricing and the reasons for OA–and beyond that to denouncing OA and its advocates? It’s an odd story, and my version includes some really good ideas on avoiding sketchy journals (mostly from a notoriously worthwhile pseudonymous feathered library type) without buying into vigilantism.

The Middle: Forecasts and Futurism (pp. 14-22)

After skipping a year, it’s time for another set of forecasts (short-term predictions) and futurism (long-term “predictions”), including some thoughts on the whole trendspotting game.

Does that number in the title of the first essay suggest something? Why, yes, it does–probably two things, one of them almost certain to appear in the May 2014 issue, and involving another “B.”

To go or not to go…

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 24th, 2014

One of these days, I’ll start blogging again about a range of topics. To some extent, I’m still recovering from the compressed project of early February–and a followup to that project that occupied most of last week. Now, I’m polishing the next Cites & Insights…but also trying to make a decision, preferably by March 3.

Namely, to go or not to go? To ALA Annual in Las Vegas, that is.

The question is linked to “Toward 15 and 200: Your help wanted,” my attempt to establish a pool of sponsors and supporters for Cites & Insights–with perks for those who sponsor or support the direct and indirect costs of C&I, based on their sense that it’s worthwhile to them.

I believe it’s worthwhile to go to at least one library conference at least every couple of years, as part of an effort to stay involved in the library community. (The LSW FriendFeeders are obviously my primary involvement, but there’s worth in more general awareness, face-to-face conversations, seeing what vendors are up to, etc. as well.) The cost of attending is probably the major indirect cost of C&I–especially since it’s one I can certainly avoid (unlike domain registration, hosting, printer supplies and once in a while software/hardware: for example, this may be the year I give my five-year-old budget notebook its own retirement party).

Vegas would be a relatively inexpensive ALA Annual–the hotel prices are bargains, and it’s possible to get there for a reasonable price (on an unreasonable airline, but that’s a different issue). I’m a valley boy, so the heat of Vegas in June/July isn’t an issue. And it’s been a couple of years…

Anyway: I’m trying to make that decision. The level of support for C&I will help make it. If you find C&I to be moderately worthwhile, I invite you to chip in–with suggested levels of $30/year for supporters, $50/year (or more, of course) for sponsors, and perks at both levels. (The first such perk will go out this week to early donors–early notification of the next C&I.)

 

C&I sponsorship: Reminder and progress report

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 18th, 2014

On January 6, 2014, I posted “Toward 15 and 200: Your help wanted,” a request for donations to support Cites & Insights at two levels and with mild perks for support.

That request also appears in the current Cites & Insights (March 2014).

Briefly: If you regard C&I as worthwhile–both for the last 13 years and in the future–I could really use some evidence of that. Publicity (posts, etc. linking to issues that you’ve found worthwhile and think other people should read) is always helpful. Direct support–I’m asking for $30 or $50 in this case–is, of course, also helpful, to cover the direct expenses and encourage me to keep up the major expenses (which are indirect).

I’m targeting enough revenue to justify going to one professional conference a year–either ALA or something else–at least partly to stay in touch with people in the field and “the buzz.” But the perks would also provide an advisory panel, which could be mutually beneficial (I think).

The minimum target for this fundraising drive is 50 supporters & sponsors.

As of now, after roughly six weeks, the results are greater than 0% but less than 10%.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

If, of course, you believe I’m another useless old white man who should shut up and go away, you could let me know that directly or simply ignore C&I and these requests. I’m getting some evidence that this blog itself is being ignored, at least as a source of worthwhile (linkable) comment*, and it’s certainly true that I’ve spent most energy recently on C&I and on research/writing that actually pays a little.

Right now, I’m looking at what I’ve tagged for future discussion in C&I and considering two sets of possible topics:

1. Those that are either fun or topics I feel really strongly about and feel I can add something worthwhile on.

2. Those I feel I can add something worthwhile on, but are perhaps more work than fun–and are perhaps more important for the field.

The growing temptation is to go through and strike #2 altogether. Some level of support may change that.


*For example, I thought “Favoring the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct” was an at least mildly useful addition to the commentary on that issue. As far as I can tell, nobody ever linked to it, certainly including one long list ‘o’ links on the issue. The other indications of this are the total lack of comments hereabouts–not atypical for blogs these days–and the fact that the most-”viewed” pages when I look at site stats are almost never either recent or anything other than random. E.g., for February so far, the top actual post is “What’s on your Firefox search dropdown?” from October 2006, and of the top five none are from 2014 and the only one from 2013 is about 2.5-buck-Chuck.

Cites & Insights March 2014 (14:3) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 1st, 2014

Breaking the silence of project preparation to announce:

Cites & Insights 14:3 (March 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i3.pdf

That’s a 32-page two-column PDF optimized for printing. If you’re planning to read it online or on an e-device, I suggest the 61-page single-column 6″ x 9″ PDF optimized for viewing (and much smaller as a download) at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i3on.pdf

The issue includes:

The Front: Toward 15 and 200: Your Help Wanted  pp. 1-3

Cites & Insights is in its 14th year and has passed Issue 170. I’m asking for help to encourage keeping it up to at least 15 and 200–and offering perks for donors.

Media: Thinking about Magazines  pp. 3-24

Think print magazines are disappearing–or, worse, are just miscellaneous collections of articles? Think again. If you want a sense of the continuing importance of print magazines, maybe four words will suffice: World Wildlife and STAND–the new glossy print magazines from, respectively, World Wildlife Fund and the ACLU, both of which recognize the special power of a good magazine. This roundup includes some numbers and some perspectives. (No, Cites & Insights isn’t a magazine; it’s closer to a newsletter. And while a few journals are also magazines–Science, for example–most journals aren’t magazines and most magazines aren’t journals.)

The Back  pp. 25-32

A baker’s dozen of minisnarks (or, if you prefer, a dozen with lagniappe) on sound, prices, TED, silliness and casual (or ignorant) tech-sexism at “the newspaper of record.”

Toward 15 and 200: Your help wanted

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 6th, 2014

The current (February 2014) Cites & Insights is whole issue 170, and 2014 is the 14th volume of C&I.

I’m asking your help to encourage me to get to Volume 15 and Issue 200 (which would presumably be in Volume 16, if you want to be picky about it).

More specifically, I’m asking for donations, as I have been for some time. (If you’re wondering: last year, I received a number of donations, totaling in the low three digits.)

There’s always a Paypal Donate link on the C&I home page, but to make it even easier I’m replicating that link here (if this works!):

But this time, instead of just The Ask, there’s more to it.

No sticks, only carrots

I am not going to threaten to shut down C&I if I don’t reach a certain goal. Nor am I planning to hold my breath until I turn blue.

Instead, I’ll offer carrots–perquisites to encourage you to donate. Here’s the deal–and the campaign runs now to June 30, 2014:

Supporters: $30 or more

If you think C&I has been and continues to be worth at least $2 a year, but you’re not ready to go for more, this is your level: At least $30 ($2 times 15).

For this, you get the following:

  1. Recognition in a future C&I (probably the August 2014 issue), using the name you prefer when I send you an email “thanks!”–unless you say you’d prefer to be anonymous.
  2. If I reach the base goal of 50 substantial contributions, you’ll be part of the C&I advisory panel for July 2014-June 2015, asked to weigh in on some future decisions including, probably, a poll on coverage emphasis in 2015 and beyond. I don’t promise that I’ll do whatever the majority says; I do promise I’ll pay close attention–and the poll will only be open to the advisory panel.
  3. C&I advisory panel members will, at least four times a year and as often as monthly, receive advance notice of new issues of Cites & Insights, typically email a day before public notice appears.

Sponsors: $50 or more

If you figure C&I is worth $0.25 an issue in the long run, this is your level: $50 or more ($0.25 times 200).

For this, you get all the parks of supporters, plus the following:

  1. If there are fewer than 50 contributors at either level by July 1, 2014, you’ll get a free PDF ebook–and probably a choice of more than one, at least one of them no longer generally available.
  2. If there are 50 to 99 contributors at either level by July 1, 2014, you’ll get a free PDF ebook, your choice of either a new one or an existing one (a limited list of choices).
  3. If there are 100 contributors or more, you’ll get a free PDF ebook–and one option will be a new book that’s exclusively available to sponsors.
  4. You may be offered the chance to advise on what new book gets prepared.

In all cases, I’d expect that the ebooks would be ready before the end of the year.

 

Cites & Insights February 2014 (14:2) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 1st, 2014

The February 2014 issue of Cites & Insights (volume 14, number 2) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i2.pdf.

The two-column print-oriented (and optimized for printing) PDF is 42 pages long.

If you’re planning to read it on a tablet or online, you may prefer the 80-page 6″ x 9″ single-column version (not optimized for printing) at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i2on.pdf

This issue completes the book-length discussion of ebook issues. It contains:

Perspective: E and P: What I Ignored   pp. 1-2

Possible motivations behind some comments and stances on pbooks and ebooks

Intersections: It Seems Like the Obvious Case: Ebooks as Textbooks pp. 2-15

For more than a decade I’ve assumed that textbooks represented the obvious billion-dollar (well, multi-billion-dollar) market for ebooks. It turns out not to be that easy.

Libraries: Ebooks and Libraries pp. 15-42

This discussion leaves out way too much and probably grossly oversimplifies the situation, but I do discuss some items having to do with the philosophical and general issues, problems, publishers and vendors, Kindles and libraries, and Douglas County and friends.


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