About Paolo Cardullo

I am @kiddingthecity # I am That Kind of Doctor #

Publishers, e-books, and Digital Rights Management.

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.

Dear Publisher
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.

Kind Regards.

‘Hacking Multitude’ and Big Data

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… [...]

Getting published during Open Access Week really sucks!

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