by Leigh Bunton
An ‘Academic Spring’ for access to online academic journals? Are publishers moving away from Digital Rights Management? And just how green is your Twitter account?
Here are some of the recent news articles on different aspects of evolving technologies that caught my attention.
Online Institutional Repositories are becoming increasingly important in the academic world, particularly as funding is often linked to the ability to demonstrate the breadth, depth and quality of research produced by a given institution. However, the goal of providing open access to research material within these repositories is often thwarted by the restrictions imposed by journal publishers, ultimately placing research articles behind expensive pay walls despite the fact that research is often publicly funded.
With journal costs rising and university budgets diminishing, academic libraries have a vested interest in whether the ‘academic spring’ discussed here, which aims to boycott publishers who impose restrictions to open access, may result in freely accessible peer-reviewed online journals, such as PLoS ONE, and thus library budgets that are not increasingly encumbered by journal subscription costs.
Publishers starting to reject e-book DRM by Joe Brockmeier
In the same way that academic writers are starting to fight for their work to be distributed without publisher-imposed restrictions, so too are authors and consumers fighting against the drawbacks of Digital Rights Management (DRM) applied to e-books. This article considers whether the move by sci-fi publisher Tor UK, an imprint of MacMillan, will set a precedent to reject DRM for e-books, much in the same way that Apple did several years ago in motivating the music industry to drop DRM protection for digital audio tracks.
Although the anti-piracy principle behind DRM may be legitimate, it is certainly failing in practice and punishing the honest consumer as a consequence. The removal of DRM from ebooks, however, may finally help to fuel the development of new business models for e-book lending across library sectors if publishers can learn from the success of the music industry in embracing DRM free products, enabling libraries to provide the breadth of access to books in the electronic world as they always have in print.
How clean is your cloud? by Gary Cook
Is Twitter dependant on fossil fuels? This thought-provoking report produced by Greenpeace highlights the fact that the shiny online world of social networking, mobile applications and instantly accessible information nevertheless relies on a huge amount of electricity to fuel the data centres at the heart of ‘the cloud’.
It’s good to know that several of the bigger companies, such as Facebook and Google, are committed to seeking renewable energy sources as they expand, but as information consumers, brokers and creators, we should be aware that this isn’t always the case.
I’m relatively new to the practical aspects of social networking technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc. even though the concept of Library 2.0 has been around since 2005 and continues to evolve at a fast pace. If like me, however, you’ve found it difficult to find professional development courses that offer a good introduction to these technologies within a supportive framework, it’s well worth taking a look at these two websites designed to do just that.
Working at your own pace, both offer the chance to focus on a particular aspect of technology and/or professional development each week by using a blog to chart your progress and giving you the opportunity to network with others on each course. I couldn’t choose between them, so I’m planning to follow both. Although there’s no requirement to register in order to learn the skills that are covered, both courses are just starting up again for those who want to join in with the registered community, so don’t lose any time getting involved.
More MmITS news round ups