The English department and student library are undergoing some trying times when it comes to reading classic literature. A very high majority of young scholars find it a chore to have to read or being forced to do it. The libraries are seeing record number of seminal classics such as The Odyssey, Catcher in the Rye or the Great Gatsby not even being checked out once in a school year. This is resulting in some libraries removing classic novels from the shelves and sold off, or offered as donations.
Wisconsin parents and librarians are concerned that classic novels are being removed from schools. This is prompting a ton of complaints against the Department of Education. District workers over the summer are removing thousands of books and school workers at a loss why.
District workers who lack library training and collection management are entering libraries and removing of books that had been rarely checked out or were older than 2000, including classics, often without the knowledge or input of the librarian on staff, because they are on summer holidays.
One of the hardest-hit schools was Mitchell Middle School, according to Gabrielle Sharrock, she lamented “I was not consulted about books being removed and two days after the school was "weeded" I found dozens of boxes full of books slated to be destroyed, numerous shelves bare and most of the non-fiction section nearly cleared out.”
Middle school and high schools often employ a single librarian or a squad of two to maintain the entire collection. In order to keep the library updated district workers are dispatched during the summer months to weed out the books not loaned out at all during a school year, are in reprehensible shape or simply not relevant. Apparently classic novels such as Brave New World is not hip anymore, but Grumpy Catis permanently loaned out.
Do Students Hate the Classics?
District workers removing thousands of books and either donating or destroying them is sobering news. This does raise the interesting point of how current students view remedial reading or spending time in the library.
One student said “the point of English class is not to make you love books but trying to get you to deconstruct the author’s work. However, all throughout high school, I did no deconstructing of my own and instead just regurgitated what sparknotes said. This was partly due to laziness but more so because I didn’t actually understand the subtle points the book was trying to make.”
A recently graduated high school student countered “This is something the modern education curriculum needs to grapple with – information is now insanely pervasive, accessible, and instantaneous. It doesn’t require a dedicated night of research to figure out how to do your taxes by going to a library and digging through books.”
He continued “In terms of social benefit, through, this entire mess calls into question the systemic function of school in the first place – is deconstruction and analytical interpretation of literature a necessary skill in life? Hell no. So here is a question – why are you forcing it on all the nations youths, especially when it actively detracts from a long term healthy engagement with mentally stimulating writings? My own experiences pay privy to that notion since a good 90% of my peers haven’t read a book for leisure ever. Mainly because they were scarred by compulsory curriculum with arcane language and no modern cultural relatability.”
Finally, a current student at a Wisconsin High School said “I was utterly bored with Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby just because I didn’t have a choice in reading them”
Students over the years really have not changed. I remember with compulsory reading, 99% of the students hated it and used Sparknotes or Cliff Notes. At the middle or high school age students don’t like to be forced to read books and do essays on them. This is partly because of the books being unrelatable by modern conventions. It is no small wonder the books that go unread are the ones being tossed in the rubbish bin. I just hope that the future of humanity is not culturally devoid and speak exclusively in Emoji.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
NASA is the US government agency responsible for space exploration and designing new technologies to achieve it. They have seen better days, since they have abandoned space shuttle launches and instead rely on the ISS in Russia to provide access to the International Space Station. Due to the complicated political landscape with Russia, Space X is hoping to leverage their reusable rockets and take over manned missions. The one thing NASA is not known for is digital publishing, and the agency is quietly building an eBook empire.
NASA eBooks has been an ongoing project that started in the last decade. They have two different repositories, one that is mainly available in PDF and has hundreds of titles and a more optimized library that is more heavily promoted.
NASA eBooks is a new initiative that only has 16 titles, but most of them are fairly accessible and deal with broad subject matter. They are all 100% free and are available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats. This basically allows them to be read on any e-reader, tablet or smartphone.
The new eBook system NASA employs deals with titles printed from 2009-2014, which half of the list being very current. You can learn about the new F-18 research or the evolution of the Russian Space Agency. My favorite, which was released recently is Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication and edited by SETI Director of Interstellar Message Composition Douglas Vakoch, the document draws on “issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology” to prepare us “for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come.”
NASA does not sell or distribute their eBooks on any other platform, such as Amazon or Kobo. Instead, you have to download it directly from their website in the format of your choice. This is a great resource for people looking to pursue an aeronautics career or solid resources for teachers. For everyone else, there are few really cool titles on how the Hubble Telescope got built or how NASA is testing drones.
|This past week Oyster, an ebook subscription service that grants subscribers unlimited access to a library of over 500,000 ebooks, announced the release of the Oyster Web Reader. The Web Reader makes it possible to read Oyster’s ebooks from any computer or mobile device using a web browser. This adds to Oyster’s iOS and newly-released […]|
Ludicrous accusations have come out from various corners of the publishing industry, some of which are rabidly anti-Amazon and anti-self-publishing, claiming that the information in the notorious Author Earnings reports is flawed at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. The reports, which claim to only be interested in helping all authors make sound decisions based on a clear look at ebook sales data, are updated quarterly with different facets of bookselling.
Some of these allegations state that the “data is beyond bad,” and even well-known figures in the industry have called into question the very existence of the so-called Data Guy who assembles the numbers. Phillip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, was quoted in an article for The Guardian as saying, “The fact that we don’t know who this ‘Data Guy’ is or where he’s come from suggest that we should take the Author Earnings report with a large pinch of salt.”
Hugh Howey, bestselling author and much of the driving force behind the Author Earnings report, spoke with Good e-Reader about some of the accusations that have been hurled at the reports and their creators.
“Amazon might be surprised at how much writers love having access to information,” Howey explained in the interview. “They have to be good businesspeople. We’re curious about what works, so the more we can provide information, the better.”
One key point Howey made in reference to Amazon’s new pricing tool, KDP Pricing Support, is this: “While Amazon’s been fighting with publishers to get ebook prices down, I also think that a lot of self-published authors aren’t pricing their books high enough. What Amazon wants is to sell as many books as possible, and that means finding the most efficient price between where traditionally published authors and self-published authors price their books.”
But how does this wealth of information translate into arming authors with data?
“In all the punditry, there’s a lot of analysis of the book industry and it’s all focused on gross dollars: how much are bookstores making, how much are publishers making? But if authors are making a very small cut of a lot of those numbers, how is it helping authors to know the percentage of those dollars that are in print? That’s why we chose [Author Earnings] for the name of our website, because we wanted to focus on, ‘How much are the artists getting paid?’”
The site itself has had more than 100,000 unique visitors just in the six months the site has been in operation, which is fairly astounding considering the parties involved haven’t incorporated any promotional tactics other than basic social media sharing of the reports. It demonstrates a clear desire on the part of involved individuals to know more and to see clear data.
That data has been called into question, though, often by sources who see it as faulty but haven’t really explained why other than the argument that Author Earnings’ reports are free to the public and some companies charge for their data, causing some critics to wonder how thorough and accurate this information can be. Howey’s explanation of the information almost seems too simple, even to him, but it involves a tremendous amount of number crunching of the available data.
“If you believe that Amazon ranks books according to how well they’re selling, then there’s no flaw you could find with what we’re doing. We’re doing what you could do with a pencil and a web browser. Anybody could go through all these web pages for all the books and write down on a spreadsheet what the list price is, who published the book, and what its overall Amazon ranking is. With that information, you could figure out, okay, if a third of these books are self-published and only forty percent are traditionally published, and you do that for 120,000 books, that’s incredible. And we know that self-published authors are making seventy percent and traditionally published authors are making seventeen and a half percent, so even though the price for self-published books is lower it’s more than made up for by the royalty. The reason you haven’t seen anyone tear the methodology apart is because there’s nothing to it. It’s as simple as counting books on the bestsellers’ lists.”
Howey mentioned that the launch of Kindle Unlimited could have an impact on future reports, since there may be a need to correct for the fact that KU borrows are counted in the bestseller rankings. Given the fact that the book has to reach ten percent consumption on the part of the reader to even count as a “sale” or “borrow” for royalty purposes, it would be logical to think that a KU borrow would serve much the same purpose as a typical book sale for ranking purposes.
While Howey was not willing to “out” Data Guy or state the person or persons’ identity, he did assure outright the veracity of Data Guy’s status as a human being, and not some generic algorithm that spits out questionable information.
“What’s been funny is that we use the singular masculine pronoun because that’s what one blogger called my partner. It’s funny because it could be three other people working on this, it could be a company that I’m hiring, it could be a woman. My mom was a math teacher. The bias about who’s good at spreadsheets is funny.
“I’ve provided the data to download. Everyone wants to know what’s going on with Amazon, and our last data report was 120,000 titles. Every ranked book on Amazon has all the information right there if you want to go through and do some additional crunching on it. You can’t crunch it and come up with any other result than self-published authors are taking this huge chunk of income from writers’ market share. You can play with the variables all you want and it does not change the outcome.”
Despite rumors that circulated–and even a few sarcastic remarks–Howey would not name Data Guy specifically due to the fact that authors are prohibited by terms of service from openly sharing their sales figures. He and the other parties involved in creating Author Earnings stood a very real chance of violating those terms, and as Howey himself stated, he worried about pressing publish on the website and finding all of his books removed from Amazon the very next day.
“I’m not going to out the person unless they want to be outed.”
With so many updates to Google Maps these days, users of the app are likely to feel a little spoiled. Everybody knows they should rely on Google Maps when they need directions, but what if you aren’t actually sure where you want to go? We all think of exploration while on holiday, but consider that with the tap on the new Explore button, you could be well on your way to finding a new favourite place to eat in your own neighbourhood.
Exploring with Google Maps is about more than just restaurants; you could also find things to do or points of interest depending on the weather, how far you are willing to go, or the time of day.
Once you arrive at your destination, tapping on My Location will fill you in on the details (include things like restaurant reviews or transit schedules). Do you agree with Google’s recommendation (or you know you just can’t live without that poutine with the BBQ pulled pork shredded on top)? Save locations in the app that you’d like to return to later. As an added bonus, the more you visit and save locations, the better Google Maps will get at predicting what you’re going to love!
If you haven’t yet embraced Google Maps for Android, download it now for free.
While Facebook provides their stock and Messenger apps for free (at least to the end-user, in reality there are ads paying the way). According to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, that may change.
Facebook recently had their latest earnings call, during which Zuckerberg indicated that payments and Messenger are headed for overlap –though no details were really provided as to what that really means. It is assumed that this has something to do with why he recently hired the former president of PayPal, David Marcus (to date, most have speculated it has something to do with Facebook’s recent acquisition of WhatsApp).
Regardless of how it plays out, Facebook is clearly looking for new ways to make money; whether it be a new way to make purchases through their existing apps, or pay-for-features in updated versions of their apps.