I have to confess that I'm really uncomfortable with the whole idea of PixelMags. The company, which styles itself as the "the Netflix of magazines", released an Android version of its Readr app today. For publishers, the product is "distribution as a service" and publishers have to pay to be included. The Readr app gives you 20 minutes worth of reading per month; after that you pay. So it's a controlled sandbox, you have to pay to play, and play is measured by the minute. Is this the internet we want?
What does innovation look like in complex environments? This article looks at a "grassroots" effort involving the leaders of Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Michigan, and others (grassroots? really?) that became a network called Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners (HAIL). The article misses (I think) the importance of complexity for innovation and management. It's as though it wants to embrace the idea but not change any existing beliefs or practices. For example, while captures the idea that autonomous agents are able to self-organize, it still seeks to impose order on the outcome. "We can describe successful future states, but we cannot predict the path forward," writes Kristen Eshleman. "Adapting a variation on the build-measure-learn model of innovation, colleges and universities can generate and explore ideas faster and can develop a portfolio of options." I don't think so. In a complex system, what worked in the past doesn't work in the future, because the work in the past has changed the state of the complex environment, and new rules now apply.
This is a report from a survey asking respondents "to rate the importance of particular channels for gaining information about new attacks and novel approaches, and we asked how willing they would be to share information across these channels." Even looking at the research it's hard to get a sense of who the participants were, save that (I assume) they were higher education information security experts (see this paper (61 page PDF) starting at page 5). Not surprisingly (I think) given the population, "the most important channels were relationships within organizations and interpersonal trust relationships formed with peers in other organizations." Which creates a dilemma. How do you meet the increased demand for security using only "tightly bounded and controlled information sharing environments within organizations and between trusted individuals?" If the institutions aren't trusted, how can we create trustworthy institutions?
This is a really interesting story, not simply because it shows the weakness of established publishers today, but because the prospectus (426 page PDF) paints a clear picture of the market today. I was most interested in the list of risks (pp. S16-S18 and expanded in much greater detail after p. S54). Among them: declines in subscription renewals, open access publishing, and even the potential failure to attract editorial board members and editors. In an email Joseph Greene points to the statement that "Accordingly, revenues stemming from Article Publication Charges (APC) are in the short- to medium-term supplementary to the subscription business," and do not, therefore "simply reflect the cost of publishing." It also depicts (p.88) a $7 billion academic publishing market, with open access accounting for $344 million of that (pictured).
The core message here is that it's not difficult to create video lessons, especially if you follow a few simple guidelines. The first is to have a plan - your video should have a point and you should have some idea why you're creating it. Next is to keep it simple - "Start simple with a screencast of you explaining a problem or introducing an idea and go from there. Also, don’t make any videos longer than 2-3 minutes." Don't worry about making mistakes. " Your students aren't going to care if you make a mistake and correct yourself on a video. Just keep going!" And use the proper device - "doing math with a computer touch mouse is punishment... use a tablet and a stylus." Need more? There are many videos to help you out.
The headlines today are being made by Google through a series of announcements at its IO conference. More interesting items include a new human-sounding Google Duplex AI interface, a new camera-based scavenger hunt (try it here), and a new interface design with Material Theming. Or you could just go for the obligatory cool stuff overview.
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Copyright 2018 Stephen Downes Contact: firstname.lastname@example.orgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.