Link Smorgasbord, July 2015

Minecraft in Education
Looks like Microsoft is taking Minecraft in the same direction as Steam for Schools with Portal.  I'm pretty excited.

Cory Doctorow Talks About Fighting the DMCA (2 Videos)
I generally find Doctorow very good at explaining copyright.

8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids from Reading
This one hits pretty close to home as I experienced many of these from my dad & step-mom (plus a few that weren't on the list - such as getting in trouble for reading too much and having reading taken away from me as punishment).  Not that I really wanted them to read out loud to me after a certain age, but I was mind-numbingly bored by my collection of books at their place.  In 1st or 2nd grade he had me tested for a learning disability, an action that shocked my teacher and my mother... and it came out that the source issue was that I was bored, I had read all the stories in  Sunday School time and time again, and none of my books at his place were high enough reading level.

Dune, 50 years on: how a science fiction novel changed the world
Interesting read.

New Arabic Fiction | 15 Must-Read Books From the Middle-East
I find it often takes an effort to find non-US fiction, so I like findings like this.

Book Subscription Service Pulling Some Romance Titles Because People Read Too Many Of Them
I feel like this is the result of being embarrassingly unaware of quite how quickly romance novels are read and quite how voraciously romance fans read.  Which is honestly kind of ironic considering the role romance novels had in the success of ebooks as a format.

Caught In The Middle: Librarians On The Debate Over LGBT Children’s Books
On diverse collections and challenges.

Rereading Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince Trilogy: It’s a Wrap!
On not just the trilogy, but the women who've been writing fantasy and epic fantasy all along.

Library of Congress' Twitter archive is a huge #FAIL
On challenges and issues relating to archiving and the ephemeral nature of much internet interactions.

Laurie Penny on Sherlock: The Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase
Not a new article, but I just found it.  While it focuses largely on Sherlock, I think it raises some good points about fanfiction and myths.
What is significant about unofficial, extra-canonical fan fiction is that it often spins the kind of stories that showrunners wouldn’t think to tell, because fanficcers often come from a different demographic. The discomfort seems to be not that the shows are being reinterpreted by fans, but that they are being reinterpreted by the wrong sorts of fans - women, people of colour, queer kids, horny teenagers, people who are not professional writers, people who actually care about continuity (sorry). The proper way for cultural mythmaking to progress, it is implied, is for privileged men to recreate the works of privileged men from previous generations whilst everyone else listens quietly.
The Many Sides of Bundling
On the numbers game of bundling ebooks with print.

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Nude Photos Law
The goal of the law is to prevent the publication and sharing of nude photos that lack the model's explicit consent, however it leads to issues with risking felony charges for a large body of works that are classified as newsworthy, artistic, educational or historical.  Bit of a bind if say TIME magazine runs a story with images that under this law would result in felony charges.  Sort of like the whole classification of obscene or not obscene, it ends up not being a clear-cut issue at all.  More here: Antigone Books v Brnovich.

Library Privacy and the Freedom Not To Read
Big data, patron privacy, and libraries.

Amazon convinced the New York City Department of Education to give it $30 million to sell ebooks 
Yeah, I get it, text books are bloody expensive (and heavy).  But I'm also seeing some pretty regular studies that indicate better learning from a physical book based on the ways we interact with page versus screen.  There's also actually a huge accessibility issue with ebooks, that just being able to enlarge text doesn't fix - due to copyright and licensing issues a lot of the things we are allowed to do by law with physical textbooks to accommodate students with disabilities we cannot do with ebooks.

Yeah, you read that right.  It's easier for us to provide accessible content when we're stuck scanning in portions of a text book than it is with ebooks.

Other issues:
  • Financial barriers to the students and families relating to accessing the ebook.  I could be wrong but that article doesn't indicate any sort of inclusion of hardware to read on, so this again assumes that students have regular access to some sort of computer or tablet along with internet access.  The likelihood of a child having a smartphone is rising, but I'm calling bullshit on expecting someone to read a textbook on that thing.  During the school year public libraries get flooded with kids after school lets out who need to use the public computers and/or the library wi-fi in order to do their homework.
  • Limitation of texts available in Kindle format as ebook selection is still broader in EPUB than in what Amazon sells for Kindle.
  • Institutional/lending collection ebooks are significantly more expensive per copy than consumer ebooks, and Amazon isn't one for the simultaneous access ebook lending model.  "Undercutting OverDrive" just means 50 Shades of Grey won't cost $80 a copy.
  • Amazon loves tracking user data so it's not just teachers who can monitor the students.  Hey Big Data, how's it going?
This is pretty awesome.  I'd love to get my library more involved, but I'm not really in a position to make that happen at this time.


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