"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Friday, May 30, 2014

Online Reviewers Beware: Do you see what I see?

Writing a comment, review, about a product, service or any thing is today common. But the outcome of such a common practice is scarey. The online sites with anonymous reviewers (esp., writing negative reviews) is the most challenging one.

  • Online Reviewers Beware: You Can Get Sued -- Time Everyone's a critic these days, but defamation laws still exist in the Internet age -- "The Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling is an important defense of people’s right to go online and express their views. But it is also a reminder that anyone who crosses the line may have to pay up — big time." ++ 9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Trust Online Reviews
  • Be careful what you write: that online review could get you sued, By James Armstrong and Mark McAllister Global News
  • TORONTO – You might want to re-evaluate your plan to write a negative review about a local business – if they don’t like it, you could get sued.
    There is a bevy of websites asking for you to review every company from the local convenience store to WalMart.
    But be careful what you write in the supposed anonymity of the internet, as it could land you in legal trouble.
  • A Point of View: How to get your own back on your critics, BBC -- Most authors dread unfavourable reviews from the critics - but there is an effective way to deal with detractors, explains Adam Gopnik. 
  • Online ratings dangers: Critical review of doc results in lawsuit, Associated Press -- A Minnesota doctor took offense when a patient’s son posted critical remarks about him on some rate-your-doctor websites, including a comment by a nurse who purportedly called the physician “a real tool.” 
  • Critical Review, Tips for WritingThis is a featured page -- cleary.edu Writing a Critical Review - Article or Movie
  • Critical Reviews - OWL - Online Writing Lab - LibGuides at Louisville Seminary
  • My New Amazon Petition, by JOE KONRATH
  • You may have read that bestselling author Anne Rice has joined an online petition, started by Todd Barselow, requesting that Amazon:

    "revise their policies regarding anonymity when it comes to writing product/book reviews and for participation in the forums. Reviewers and forum participants should not be anonymous. By removing their anonymity and forcing them to display their real, verified identities, I believe that much of the harassment and bullying will cease."

    As of today's date, this petition has been signed by more than 6000 people, seeking to put an end to Mean Anonymous People on the Internet (MAPI.)
PS.Image courtesy: http://liberalarts.udmercy.edu/

On  a different shelf  (what's not that big about reviews):
  • Frustrated Scholar Creates New Way to Fund and Publish Academic Work
  • High Stakes Criticism: The Case for Academic Gossip
  • The absent of comment is shameful. There’s a popular misconception that gossip is harmful. It often is, but gossip is a complex thing: whatever harm it inflicts is a direct function of its main virtue. Gossip is a socializer, a community-builder, a way of establishing ethical, social and intellectual baselines. Its perniciousness-
    –which is real, and which I don’t mean to minimize—is a result of what gets excluded from that community-building: a fence will always have an outside. There are reasons to treat gossip with care: too often it reinforces extant power dynamics (the good old boys’ network is the gossipiest institution in history). And it often gets derailed by trivialities, mistaking the personal for the professional. We aren’t and shouldn’t be in the business of gossiping about how academics dress, or who’s sleeping with whom. (At least, not anymore than we already are.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Librarians' Response to Web Scale Search (aka Resource Discovery): Assumptions and Challenges

The term information industry includes publishers, distributors, librarians, search engine optimizers, etc. This industry, as a whole, is in a desperate race to find the best means of finding information.

Discovery Tools (Library catalogs, content publisher's databases, etc.) as a term refers to multifaceted databases that are evolving as a single point interface (to search less and find more using 'all' library resources, in one click). For a background and state-of-the-art reading, click here: Paths of Discovery.

In short, Google, Librarians and Discovery Tools are in the competition. In the following are the challenges faced by librarians' context in relation to planing and implementation of resource discovery--it is all about the evolving nature of effective ways of finding information, easily and user friendly.

Here are a few important contributions by librarians to understand the myths, presumptions, etc.:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

India's Sociological Trends of the Week - Media Monitoring

  • Indian Arranged Marriages: A Social Psychological Perspective Tulika Jaiswal  Routledge (Publication date: April 28, 2014)
  • The Right Spouse: Preferential Marriages in Tamil Nadu Isabelle Clark-Dec├Ęs (Publication date: April 30, 2014)
  • Globalization and Transnational Surrogacy in India: Outsourcing Life Sayantani DasGupta 
  • Mapping Social Exclusion in India: Caste, Religion and Borderlands Paramjit S. Judge -- This book assesses the problem of defining exclusion, highlights the need for its contextualisation and establishes a relationship between social exclusion, deprivation and discrimination. It studies the complex mosaic of Indian systems and society, marked with exclusionary practices and structures on the basis of caste. (Cambridge U Press, March 2014)
  • Indian Sociological Thought: Second Edition B.K. Nagla
  • Sex ratio, low registration reflect in voting figures Times of India --"The skewed sex ratio in Gujarat not only has an impact on the state's social fabric but also affects the overall voting percentage in elections.""A recent survey of the voting pattern in Gujarat conducted by the Election Commission (EC) has noted that there is considerable gap between men and women not only in voter registration but also in turnout. The State Gender Ratio according to the Census of 2011 is 918 while the State Gender Ratio in Draft Rolls, 2014, is 909."
  • Political Accountability for Outbreaks of Communicable Diseases by Debabar Banerji  
  • Impact of social media making politicians go online   ABP News-Mar 20, 2014
  • India election: four more intriguing uses of social media Financial Times by Robert Minto-Mar 18, 2014 -- 1. Mobile crowdsourcing, to harvest voter information; 2. WhatsApp, for campaign organisation; 3. Missed calls, for political organising; 4. Plain old SMS, for voter mobilisation.
  • Seminar: Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion in India: Lessons from Social Policy  Seminar by Dr. Stefan Kuehner, senior lecturer in University of York, UK --Seminar due on 26 March 2014
  • Human Rights and Dalits in India: A Sociological Analysis,  Senapati Tushar Kanti; Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, KIIT University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India ( International Research Journal of Social Sciences 3(3), 36-40, March, 2014)
  • India lagging in social development: report Deccan Chronicle 
  • Stop Comparing Yourself to Social Media and Be Happier
    LifeHacker India-Mar 16, 2014
  • High income inequality, low social spending in India: OECD report  Livemint-Mar 19, 2014  -- Society at a Glance 2014: OECD Social Indicators. Excerpts from the biennial OECD overview of social indicators.
  • 'Sex selfie' enters bedroom, explodes on social media 
    Times of India-Mar 19, 2014
  • At a time when "selfie" has become a new buzzword on various social media platforms, a surprising number of men and women are increasingly posting "sex selfies" while engaging in the real act.
    "Sex selfies" — filming or photographing yourself having sex — are now a widespread practice with Britain leading the chart, said a survey done by AshleyMadison.com, the world's largest extra-marital dating site.
  • A Grim Statistical Picture of Married Indian Women. By Preetika Rana Wall St Journal
    Mar 20, 2014 --  "The National Council for Applied Economic Research, a New Delhi-based think tank, based their findings on interviews with more than 30,000 married Indian women in 2011 and 2012. Women surveyed were between ages 16 and 49, living in over 1,500 Indian villages and 971 urban neighborhoods."
  • “Many women have no say in marriage” by Rukmini S The Hindu  March 19, 2014  -- "
    Four out of ten women in India still have no say in their marriage, eight out of ten need permission to visit a doctor, six out of ten practise some form of head covering, and the average Indian household gives over Rs. 30,000 in dowry. These are among the findings of a major new large-scale sample survey shared exclusively with The Hindu.
    The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) conducts the India Human Development Survey (IHDS), the largest household survey in India after the government's Nation Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) surveys, and the NCAER is the only independent body that conducts such large-sample panel surveys. The survey covers economic data on income and expenditure, development data on education and health, and sociological data on caste, gender and religion. For the next two weeks, The Hindu will report exclusively on the key findings of NCAER's latest round that covers 2011-12 data. This survey covered 42,000 households across the country, weighted nationally, and 83% of them were also interviewed for the 2004-5 round of the IHDS.
    image courtesy: The Hindu

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Infomedia Revolution: We are yet to see this dream fulfilled...

In 1995 Frank Koelsch, a Canadian author, wrote a book and its description says: "This text provides a guide for companies and individuals to Infomedia. It explains what it is, why companies should not ignore it, how (and when) it will affect various industries and what changes it will bring. The book is global in scope and provides numerous case studies."   Read more here : The Infomedia Revolution: How It Is Changing Our World and Your Life by Frank Koelsch

In 2014, after nearly 20 years, we are yet to see the revolution. Info-mdedia is by far very slow in its growth of the expected synchronization (of all types of media,  read ALL).  Eexcuse my inability to see any source, if you know of any recent Canadian developments, please send me a link.

We are however happy reading headlines about new interfaces that facilitate whenever meetings (that tend to be, overall, not really real developments), as in news: 
  • State of the Modern Meeting: Infographic: Commutes and Conference Rooms No Longer Required
    Inaugural Report Shows Today’s Meetings are Mobile, Flexible and International

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Casting Light on Neglected Books --

Upper Valley Authors Recommend Works That Deserve AttentionBy Nicola Smith
Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, January 2, 2014

Every year, we in the media, with laxative regularity, trot out our Best Of lists. Best movies, books, music, restaurants, television, hotels, art shows, apps, spas, farmers markets: there is almost no artistic or commercial enterprise for which a Best Of list doesn’t exist. 
A Best Of list is one way to take the temperature of a culture, and readers like lists that sum up what critics think we should pay attention to. But there can be something reductive about the exercise. The national arbiters of taste work within a fairly narrow frame of reference, one dominated by the urban marketplaces of the coasts, and fed by the churning publicity machines of the corporations releasing the music, movies and books we consume. continue reading

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Information literacy books -- Is there a saturation in this genre?

Reading now: Information Literacy Instruction that Works: A Guide to Teaching by Discipline and Student Population, Second Edition by Patrick Ragains (Editor)
Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2d ed. ISBN: 9781555708603. 2013, 342 pages. $85.00 paperback.

Any reader of this Information literacy (IL) book may ask “Do we need yet another book on the best practices in IL?” The answer is not given in the book. Compared to two pages about its content organization, there is no clearly stated objective of this anthology, or a justification for the need of this book, given the fact that there are many competitors today that ‘help the students.’Many librarians struggle to  deliver benefits with a focus on: a) users/readers and b) cost effective. On both these fronts, the book in hand is not a good fit. Considering a ROI is necessary for every one, a fact that must be remembered by every author and publisher is that there are already so many titles in this genre, and an increasing number of competitors today that ‘help the students.’ According to a list by informationliteracy.org.uk there are over thirty books (2008 to 2012), and tends to show the near saturation of the genre.More such lists are: INFORMATION LITERACY BOOKS  / ALA'sTeaching & Learning Information Literacy Skills: Textbooks  /  Popular Information Literacy Books - Goodreads

Assessment of the actual task, the most wanted item by IL librarians, will find it only in the case relating to the disciplines of Psychology (Chapter 12), Engineering (Chapter 16). Whereas, other selected disciplines will have inferences and indirect reference to what works.

Futher, comparative librarianship would expect all the selected studies/caes to be from similar settings (or from one level of institutions within an academic sample). Where as the 17 contributors of this anthology tell a different story--4 are in Colleges and 13 in Universities). More details about the contributors herein indicates another story about the levels of specialization.  The job title, Instruction (per se), is only in the case of one college and two university level librarians. Others are either aadministrators or faculty status holders.  

The strength of the book is in its twenty chapters, with selections-specific discussions  from humanities and social sciences. It is divided into four sections, viz., Planning to Teach; Teaching Specific Student Groups; Literacy in Specific Disciplines; and Teaching Special Topics. A weakness of the book is in its random selection of subjects that are tempered by the availability of contributors.

One single instance, may make this book different from the others. The following quote illustrates this highly desired momentum in all our IL theory, practices and the genre. "There is also an increasing recognition that students must move beyond scientific and technical expertise in these fields and develop an understanding of the cultural, social, aesthetic, and political aspects of scientific issues... This shift reflects the necessity of interdisciplinarity that integrates the social sciences and humanities with the sciences, creataing a holistic approach to scientific research" (Elizabeth Berman, Scientific Literacy, p. 217). Does the entire book reflect this intent or motif, anyways??? Nope. All other discussions sail in the same old boat of disciplinary approaches.

There is no explanation of why included are, stray areas, such as, Patent Research (and why not include standards' search, or how to search primary sources, as well) or subject domains, such as, Engineering (presented as a single monolithic domain, a fashion in 19th century), and why there is a namesake ‘discussion’ of science literacy (again as if science is still a single subject of study). Subjects then missing (even from humanities and social sciences) are sociology, social work, political science, public admin, religion, and philosophy. Hence, it is not a book that can be recommended for every type of library. Nevertheless, this book may be of value in the library of major library schools in  the US, that have a course on information literacy.