Unlocking knowledge means empowering people, and MIT is setting a powerful example

MIT OPenCourseWare

No need for an elaborate introduction here about what exactly MIT is doing by opening up their digital content online. Best to start by simply quoting Dick K.P. Yue, Professor at MIT School of Enginnering: “The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”

If you haven’t heard about MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW), here is the scoop. It’s intended not just to help educators at MIT improve curricula and make learning more effective for those enrolled at MIT, but to invite independent learners anywhere in the world to use the school’s course materials in their own educational pursuits and at their own pace. In other words, they are free to ‘take’ the course in the privacy of their own home by following full notes and having full access to materials every step of the way.

This is admirable. Truly admirable. And this is what the leaders among us who recognize the true value of digital content do: they open it up to the world. They eliminate all frictions and find ways to bypass man-made rules and institutions and simply make knowledge available to all. They have outgrown all unnecessary discussions of print and digital competing, and about complicated models that serve the select few, they recognize that unread/unused content has little to no value, and, most of all, they are pushing their own ‘institutional’ status quo by embracing the idea that learning never stops and that it is our collective responsibility to educate the world beyond the confines of university walls at a time when, despite all of the technological advances the world has seen, more than 90 percent of its population is not college-educated.

In a way, one can even argue that the same way the print book (the physical ‘paper’ object) is the container we buy, while consuming the content inside for free online (well, not really, but we hope to get there one day, don’t we?), the brick-and-mortar institution becomes the ‘experience’ we now buy (to directly engage with others, including professors and fellow students), while consuming the content (from course materials) online for free. So if we can’t afford to ‘be there’ in person, we can still afford to do it on our own terms.

Everything related to one’s ‘physical experience,’ then must come at a price, for obvious reasons: books must be printed (and before that, they must be written and produced); professors’ time must be paid, and the school’s expenses must be covered. In the same way, we are now able to listen to music for free online, while we must pay to attend a concert or by a CD or an LP (those of us who still collect them).

If we are able to recognize that digital content helps us open up knowledge to the world virtually while doing no harm to the ‘physical experience,’ we are able to create a circle in which everyone benefits. In fact, digital content and its widespread availability enhances the value of the ‘physical’ experience. All other creative mediums have caught on to this but books and textbooks. Initiatives like the one at MIT are a step in that direction.

Materials from 2340 courses are available, and the site is visited by millions. Each course includes lecture notes, slides, videos, instructor insights, Further Study listings, and much more. Here is a list of the most visited courses. MIT accepts donations to keep the operation running. For more info, go here.

Unlocking knowledge means empowering people not only beyond the university but beyond the borders of the United States of America. MIT is setting a powerful example.

Book of the Week: The Cannabis Revolution by Stephen Holt

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews of a wide variety of titles published on BIR’s site each week. Enjoy this week’s pick.

The Cannabis Revolution©

About Author

Stephen HoltStephen Holt, MD, has written over 25 books relating to medical issues such as aging, osteoporosis, weight loss, and sleep deprivation. He is the founder of Holt Institute of Medicine in New York and an emeritus professor.  Holt holds a medical degree from Liverpool University Medical School and is a board certified Internist and Sub Specialist in the US, UK, and Canada.

 


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

 

Who decides? [what, how, and when people should read]

This post, recently published on Facebook by NSR Managing Editor, was addressed to book readers (not book professionals). But publishers, librarians, authors, editors, distributors, and all others in the business of creating, selling, and managing books would benefit from asking the same questions. If for no other reason than for the simple fact that they, too, are book readers before they are book professionals.


locked up

Who decides?

In 2016, human creativity is exploding online. Right here, on Facebook. We admire paintings and sculptures from museums in far-away countries, we watch videos, share photographs, listen to music, read articles. Everything is within reach, and everything is free. At the same time, the world’s knowledge is locked up in books, which still carry a high price tag.

In 2016, every man should ask: Why can’t we read books freely online like we read everything else? Are publishers and librarians doing enough to maximize the potential of the ebook in ways we haven’t seen before? Is what we see in bookstores and libraries all there is out there to read? Should others decide what I will read, how, and when? Why are we talking about the love of paper and not about the love of learning and the ability to get to the right information at the right time? What if there wasn’t even competition between the two formats (print and electronic)? What if there was already a way to open up books online so that everyone benefits, including those who create them? How much do I even know about the technologies supporting the growth and development of ebooks as free mediums? Why isn’t anyone teaching me?

In 2016, every man should ask: Why don’t we have free access to knowledge and the written word online? When will we have it? And who decides?


Opinions my own.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and book reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to creativity, writing, and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

News Roundup [September 2, 2016]

News Roundup

Every Friday, NSR releases a compilation of news stories related to ebooks, epublishing, elibraries, and digital literacy from around the world. The goal is to help information professionals (of all walks of life) keep up with what is happening in the world of ebooks and econtent beyond the confines of their organizations, institutions, countries, and continents.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the most important news that occurred this (or any other) week. But it is a curated list, and a way for NSR to not lose sight of the big picture. Here’s the thinking behind what we choose to highlight. Enjoy this week’s compilation.
Belgians are Hunting Books, Instead of Pokémon (The Digital Reader)

Subway Reads Brings Free eBook Excerpts to NYC (The Digital Reader)

I’m blind. Kindle text to speech has been a nightmare to master—here’s how to fix this (Teleread)

France Passes Copyright Law Demanding Royalties For Every Image Search Engines Index Online (Techdirt)

Amazon Launches Telugu Language Online Bookstore (The Digital Reader)

Podcast: 10 Trends Driving the Future of Publishing with Mark Coker (Self Publishing Advice)

South Carolina State Library Adds Over 19,000 Documents to South Carolina Digital Library (Infodocket)

Independent authors are starting to outsell the Big Five (The Writer)

In-depth review of Kobo’s Aura One: It’s Pre-order Day #1 (Teleread)

Announcing 2016 Digital Book Printing Conference (Book Business)

Harvard Is Digitizing Nearly 40 Million Pages Of Case Law So You Can Access It Online And For Free (Library Stuff)

Diaries of General George S. Patton (1910-1945) Digitized and Now Available Online (Infodocket)

Kobo Aura One as a PDF eReader: No, Just No (video) (The Digital Reader)

Rx for the Kindle text-to-speech mess—to help blind and sighted alike (Teleread)

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum: Mass Digitization Effort Complete, More than 200,000 Objects Now Accessible Online (Infodocket)

Timberland libraries now offer access to self-published books (Publetariat)

Review Round-Up: Kobo Aura One (The Digital Reader)

Axiell and ODILO Offer Better Digital Content Access (Information Today)

ProQuest Introduces Enhancements and New Options for Books and Ebooks (Information Today)

Cambridge Core is the new academic platform from Cambridge University Press, launching on the 4th September. (Ebooks@Cambridge)

This Fall, we will partner with the French Comics Association to promote the #comicsframed festival. #NYC stay tuned for exclusive news! (French Culture)

Writer is Self, Author is Ego [and an Editor would like to apologize] (No Shelf Required)


Paul Biba is former Editor-in-Chief of TeleRead. For his curated ebook/elibrary/epublishing news, follow him on Twitter @paulkbiba.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to books and all things creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

Writer is Self, Author is Ego [and an Editor would like to apologize]

Writer vs. Author

What is a writer? What does it mean to write? I searched high and low for answers, looked left and write, and came to this conclusion:

Writer is — any man or woman willing, learning, or already able to express him or herself through writing in order to grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually and to contribute to a larger community by sharing one’s own experience with others for the sake of augmenting collective consciousness.

What is an author? What does it mean to author? I searched high and low for answers, looked left and right, and came to this conclusion:

Author is —  a man or woman selected by an institution or organization to express him or herself through writing in order for that institution or organization to grow financially and through branding and to contribute to a larger community by sharing his or her experience with others for the sake of augmenting budgets of institutions and organizations and salaries (and titles) of those who run them and who deemed that man or woman ‘worthy.’ Collective consciousness also grows this way, but it is controlled by the institution which exercises tremendous power over that consciousness. This institution can be a private entity which first identifies the author (e.g., established publisher) or a public entity which, often in cooperation with an established publisher, chooses to nurture the author and the spreading of his or her message (e.g., library).

Writer creates. Writer is an artist. Writer is self. Writing is liberty. Writing is personal growth. That which is written only asks to be read.

Author controls.  Author is a brand. Author is ego. Authoring is power.  Authoring is institutional growth. That which is authored only asks to be sold.

Writer =  Creation. Art. Self. Liberty. Personal growth. Reading.

Author =  Control. Brand. Ego. Power. Institutional growth. Selling.

Author =Authority

[As concluded by a professional book editor and book reviewer who spent 20 years of her career telling everyone she believed that a) writing was hard work, b) not everyone can or should write, c) we needed publishers and libraries to tell us what is worthy, and d) being rejected by publishers and libraries means that you are less worthy and you should not write (and therefore not participate in creating). She would now like to apologize.]


Opinions my own.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and book reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to creativity, writing, and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

 

Audiobook of the Week: The Short Reign of Pippin IV by John Steinbeck

Audiobooks are ebooks. Listening is learning. In an effort to raise awareness among readers and all who work with books about the versatility of digital literacy, NSR occasionally publishes audiobook reviews of titles of exceptional quality to draw attention to the subtle (but consistent) ways in which formats are blurring in digital environments.
This week’s pick is John Steinbeck’s The Short Reign of Pippin IV. In the words of NSR reviewer, “with current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.”

Z04217_image_148x230[1]Title: The Short Reign of Pippin IV
Author: John Steinbeck
Narrator: Jefferson Mays
Publisher: Recorded Books
Release Date: 2016

Duration: 4 hours

Reviewed for NSR by Michael Rogers (Babylon, New York)

 

John Steinbeck often tackles the affairs of the common man and the political climate that impacts him, but usually in a serious tone (The Grapes of Wrath isn’t exactly a barrel of laughs). This 1957 novel also incorporates those themes, but Steinbeck shows a different side of himself by presenting them in a wicked satire so biting that Jonathan Swift would be envious.

Protagonist Pippin Héristal is an amateur astronomer who spends most of his mundane existence listening to jazz and photographing the heavens through his telescope (he discovered the comet of ’51, you know!) in his Paris eighth-arrondissement home with little concern for the machinations of his fellow men. Allowing her husband his lackadaisical manner, wife Marie is a practical woman who maintains an orderly house, abhors waste, and keeps a firm grip on the family income provided by their property on which grapes producing a fine, much-desired wine are grown. Their daughter Clotilde is an anomaly—at 15 she wrote a novel that became a sensation and was morphed into a film. Instant fame paved the way for her to take to the stage and tour America. Clotilde does everything to the extreme. She is pretty but fat, a communist, clumsy and an American by osmosis. They live simply, quietly, and anonymously…or at least did.

It’s the year “19-blank” and France is in a funk; it’s greatness as a world leader has waned as its government increasingly is bogged down in never-ending bickering between the sundry ridiculous political parties—the Radical Conservatives and Conservative Radicals, the Right Centralists and the Left Centralists, the Christian Atheists, etc.—that disagree on everything to the point where leadership and progress are strangled.

The politicos decide that to reclaim France’s former glory the country must reinstate the monarchy, but who will wear the crown? Alas, poor Pippin is several generation descended from Charlemagne long rotting in the ground, and as he is a reasonable fellow, he retired to bed a commoner and awakens a king! While a king’s job is to rule, those who appointed him in reality only want the pomp and circumstance of a monarch (it makes good newspaper copy and brings in money from across the world) without actually having him in charge. Dragged off to live in Versailles (hot, dirty, full of freeloaders endlessly eating and drinking, bad plumbing, and snooty servants that bow and curtsy graciously and then completely ignore their orders) that life for Pippin becomes an astronomical pain in the ass. Marie endures with grace while Clotilde’s outrageous personality makes her a natural princess.

Pippin and Marie turn to their closest friends for council—for Pippin it’s his uncle Charlie, a shady art dealer who sells unsigned paintings that “might” be the work of a master (and might be cheap fakes) while Marie seeks solace from Sister Hyacinth, a former topless chorus girl who joined a religious order founded by the patron saint of feet!

Poor Pippin is so miserable and out of his depth that he begins taking kingly advice from Clotilde’s teenage boyfriend Tod Johnson, son of the American “Egg King of Petaluma,” whose dad built a multimillion dollar empire in chickens. Tod asserts that monarchs essentially are CEOs and that Pippin must run France like a corporation, including selling nobleman titles to rich Americans to generate bribe money. Everyone is making a quick buck of the new monarchy while the king himself has to sneak out in disguise and putt around the countryside on his scooter just to get a meal!

Steinbeck piles on the irony, sarcasm, and laughs—all the political parties claim to want what’s best for France when they really want what’s best for themselves and screw the other guy. Narrator Jefferson Mays delivers a perfect reading, breathing life into the characters and emphasizing the biting humor with just the right amount of a French accent when needed.

With current headlines, this political screwball comedy will be much appreciated.


Special thank you to Michael Rogers, former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal, for contributing this and other audio reviews to NSR. Publishers/producers interested in getting their (newly released) audiobooks reviewed on NSR should contact Michael directly at mermsr@optimum.net.

News Roundup [August 26, 2016]

News Roundup

Every Friday, NSR releases a compilation of news stories related to ebooks, epublishing, elibraries, and digital literacy from around the world. The goal is to help information professionals (of all walks of life) keep up with what is happening in the world of ebooks and econtent beyond the confines of their organizations, institutions, countries, and continents.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list of the most important news that occurred this (or any other) week. But it is a curated list, and a way for NSR to not lose sight of the big picture. Here’s the thinking behind what we choose to highlight. Enjoy this week’s compilation.

Three Reading Revolutions (No Shelf Required)

U. of Michigan’s Art, Architecture and Engineering Library Providing Access to Some E-Textbooks via Library Subs (Infodocket)

Romancing the E-book: A conversation with Book Riot’s Jessica Tripler (Teleread)

Incredible new resource! New York Public Library Invites You to Tap the Collection (NY Times)

How the New York Public Library made ebooks open, and thus one trillion times better (Boingboing)

Clemson and National Park Service Launch Open Digital #Repository w/ Over 100,000 Hi-Res Public Domain Images Avail (Infodocket)

e-Book Cover Design Awards, July 2016 (The Book Designer)

Looking Back at iOS Accessibility’s Biggest Milestones (512 Pixels)

Guest Post: You’re Wrong About Digital Comics – Here’s What You’re Missing (The Digital Reader)

Switzerland’s ETH-Bibliothek is uploading 134,000 images to Wikimedia Commons (Wikimeda)

Explore the Harvard Art Museums’ Massive Bauhaus Collection Online (Hyperallergic)

Bibliotheca Announces Partnership with PRH’s Living Language (Digital Book World)

Report Highlights: “Textbook Trends: How U.S. College Students Source Course Materials” (Infodocket)

OverDrive to present on expanded global distribution of digital content at Beijing International Book Fair (Overdrive)

Sno-Isle, OverDrive Test Demand-Driven Ebook Acquisition (Library Journal)

What Agents Should Know About Ebooks Made from PDFs (Digital Book World)

Axiell partners with Odlio to expand digital content offering to libraries (Library Stuff)

Ebook Anatomy: Inside the Black Box (The Book Designer)

Singapore Government launches public consultation on major copyright reform (IP Kitten)


Paul Biba is former Editor-in-Chief of TeleRead. For his curated ebook/elibrary/epublishing news, follow him on Twitter @paulkbiba.

Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to books and all things creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

Book of the Week: Return of the Convict by William Alan Thomas

In an effort to draw attention to quality independent literature (fiction and nonfiction published by independent authors and indie publishers), and in agreement with BlueInk Review, NSR highlights reviews published on BIR’s site each week.

Return of the Convict

About Author

William Alan ThomasWilliam Alan ThomasWilliam Alan Thomas took a BA in English at the University of Chicago in the 1960’s, and his first novel, Daddy’s Darling Daughter, was published in 1974. Life was to sweep him far from the world of books, as he fell in love with the seafood business, acquired an old fishing boat, and then became a Vancouver longshoreman. Presently a full time writer living in Chilliwack, B.C., he remains involved with Return of the Convict; there’s to be a prequel and two sequels.  He’s just finishing a rewrite of Dangerous Vision, a corporate espionage thriller published in 2005, when he was still working at the docks.


About BlueInk Review

BlueInk Review was founded by Patti Thorn, former books editor of the Rocky Mountain News, and Patricia Moosbrugger, literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist. It offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. Reviews are penned largely by writers drawn from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine.

Three Reading Revolutions

3 Reading Revolution

I have been thinking ‘long and mad’ (in the words of my favorite poet Pablo Neruda) about the history of the book. I’ve been thinking about it most of all in the context of how readers consume it. Truth be told, thinking about it as a ‘book professional’ leaves me gasping for air sometimes.

I am not even sure that I can convince most of my colleagues (publishers, librarians, and authors alike) that my thinking about the “three revolutions of reading” (as I see them) makes perfect sense and that it is, indeed, the way it is. But I can say this: these thoughts are persistent and consistent with my experience as editor, writer, content developer, and publishing/library professional. Yet they are NOT the thoughts of an editor, writer, content developer or publishing/library professional. They are the thoughts of a reader living and experiencing the world in 2016 (and beyond). Perhaps also the thoughts of a parent raising a reader living and experiencing the world in 2016.

And I could write many paragraphs and ‘throw’ them between the lines written on this board (to explain each revolution in detail), but perhaps it helps to say as much as possible with as few words as possible.

Perhaps.


Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor at No Shelf Required. For all NSR-related news and book reviews, follow her on Twitter @noshelfrequired. For her writings related to creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.

Info on who is speaking on Indie Author Day (and reminder there is still time for libraries to sign up)

SELF-e_IndieAuthorDay_Logo_v2

Since the announcement of the Indie Author Day (set for October 8th), 260 (and counting) libraries have signed up to participate. The event is designed to bring local writing communities together in their libraries to participate in panels, book readings and signings, workshops, and presentations. Then, at 2 p.m. EST everyone is invited to join a virtual panel featuring the following experts:

Moderator

Jon Fine, a First Amendment attorney, is best known in the publishing industry as the longtime Director of Author and Publisher Relations for Amazon. He left that position at the beginning of 2015 after almost a decade with the company, and now is consulting in professional online and traditional media and e-commerce, both in legal and business affairs.]

Panelists

Robin Cutler began her career in publishing over 30 years ago and is currently the Director of IngramSpark. She has also served as Assistant Director at USC Press and Executive Director of University Relations at the University of Wisconsin, she started a trade imprint, SummerHouse Press, and served as its CEO. Robin most recently worked as Vendor Manager for Amazon/CreateSpace. Robin has broad knowledge of indie, academic and trade publishing and is an expert in content creation and distribution, on-demand models, marketing and author strategies. Robin is a leader in the independent publishing space, and when not developing new programs and services for IngramSpark, she can often be found sharing her expertise at industry events around the world.

Kiera Parrott is the Reviews Director for School Library Journal and Library Journal. Through SELF-e, Library Journal is helping indie authors to get discovered in the library. Prior to working at Library Journal, Kiera was children’s librarian in various roles including head of children’s services at Darien Library in Connecticut, Darien’s children’s librarian / collection development coordinator and a children’s librarian at New York Public Library. Kiera’s favorite books are the ones that make her cry — or snort — on public transportation.

Jim Blanton was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Upon graduating from U.K. in 2000 with his M.L.S., Jim went to work for the Chesapeake Public Library in Chesapeake, Virginia where he served in a variety of roles including Assistant Director. He was a two-time recipient of the Virginia Public Library Director’s award for Outstanding Adult Program of the Year, received the VPLD award for Outstanding Young Adult program and was also named by Library Journal as a 2012 Mover and Shaker for his work on a financial literacy game called Save Steve.

L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is the author of new adult, fantasy and paranormal romance with characters who match the real world. Her debut novel, Song of Blood & Stone, won the 2016 Self-Publishing eBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Learn more about L. Penelope and her books on her website.

Portal on all things ebooks and econtent and for all reading, writing, publishing, curating, and distributing books and other content in digital format, including publishers, librarians, content developers, distributors, retailers, and educators. Managed and edited by Mirela Roncevic, with contributions from professionals and thought leaders in the United States and around the world.