I’ve just sent this letter to Routledge (Taylor and Francis) about their new policy of giving evaluation copies of teaching material as e-books. These come with the obligatory software Bookshelf by VitalSource. This company dreams of ‘removing barriers to digital campus and learning’. Once your account is activated, it can of course provide you with a profile and book suggestions for your students. These ‘suggestions’ will be instantly added to your Bookshelf (familiar?). Your complimentary copies for evaluation, unsurprisingly, come with a lot of Digital Rights Management too.
I have recently had the opportunity to receive 4 books for evaluation in preparation of my MA classes for next year. I had these in e-book format, which is already uncomfortable for a reader like me. In fact, when I work I like to annotate books, carry them around, pick them up when needed…
In addition, the books were made accessible only via a licensed software, VitalSource Bookshelf. This obviously comes with a wealth of DRM (Digital Rights Management), including:
– 6 month deadline (!);
– impossibility to download software on more than 2 machines (office, work, tablets, phone, etc?);
– impossibility to use it on Linux, which is my current settings;
– unpleasant interface compared to other similar programs, especially in its web version.
The combination of the two – digital resource and its rights management (after complimentary sale) – gave me the overall impression of a tight control on readers. The experience you are now proposing is more alike a sort of punishment: readers’ work is timed and estimated to be of a temporary nature (basically, read this book as fast as you can, give feedback, and move on).
I believe it would be valuable to help overworked academics to choose a good book with serenity. This should be something to which one can return whenever they want (e.g. if you adopt the book or use it for your lectures, you are going to reference from it, and you will need it later on).
It is great that you want to save the planet by not using too much paper. However, I would suggest that you will allow users to move their e-books towards their favourite book reader. I said ‘their’ because there is some valuable work involved in critical reading plus, of course, the digital labour involved in downloading, clicking, providing feedback, etc. In my opinion, the copy should be available to reader’s perusal and you should consider removing that silly expiring date, which is more punishing than rewarding.
This is my take on the concept of ‘Hacking Multitude’ in relation to Internet censorship. DOI: 10.1177/2053951715580599, Apr 2015 [...]
This is my take on the concept of a ‘Hacking Multitude’ in relation to Internet censorship. It investigates, with a mix of digital ethnography and observation of Twitter trends, the ‘digital coup’ in Turkey in March 2014.
MP Erdogan notoriously tried to stop people to access the popular microblogging platform, escalating a series of unpredictable events which I try to bring alive in this paper. View it or… [...]
Something I feel very strong about is the possibility of Satire to be free, that is, to be able to offend. This is what Satire is about, it cannot be different. Satire digs into personal feelings, blatant stereotypes, hidden racisms of us all. It cannot be politically correct, it would not work. [...]
My open-access paper on Love Graffiti ‘I Finally Found my Prince Charming: Oh, I Love You’ is under review.
Free viewing, free feedback: Download it here. CopyLeft!… [...]
It is at least ironic that my first peer-reviewed article ‘Sniffing the City: Issues of Sousveillance in Innercity London’ is released to the public during Open Access Week. One of the promoters, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), writes: Academic research would be free to access and available under an open license that would legally enable the kind of sharing that is so crucial for enabling scientific progress
After being locked up for 22 months in the anonymous peer-review process of a global multinational of knowledge (Routledge), my article on the experimental practice of CCTV hacking in the streets of Deptford has finally been released! [...]
Walking past the Ha’ Penny Bridge on the lovely Deptford Creek, I stopped chatting with Alberto (I made this name up). He was erasing a giant graffiti tag on behalf of Lewisham Council.
Alberto shows me the mobile camera provided by the council. He takes a snapshot of the graffiti and somehow tags it on the LoveLewisham
Been published on-line today by Routledge, Visual Studies 29.3.
Since the labour (mine) is absolutely free, actually I had to thank them many times for the opportunity, let me convert this into some kind of capital, self-promotion and marketing ad personam…
Conference papers and journal articles can be made available for a large public with a simple and elegant solution, such as this on-line cloud service or this one.
The first service is my favourite one since it converts your pdf in HTLM5, a format free from the Adobe Flash copyright restrictions.
An example of this is my 2009 conference paper at Goldsmiths: