April 3, 2010
The Kindlistas' Effect on Amazon's Book Rating System
"Kindlistas are vehement Kindle owners," writes Tom Peters on ALA TechSource blog. Apparently if no Kindle edition is available, or the Kindle edition of a book is too high-priced, Kindlistas will give the print edition low marks to pull down the publication's overall rating on Amazon.com. Peters writes
What fascinates me is that a sizable portion of Kindle users feel so strongly about the idea that all newly released books should be available in Kindle editions for approximately $10 that they are willing to engage in this form of social disobedience. Of course, giving a book a low reader rating because no Kindle edition is available, or because the Kindle edition is too expensive, does not reflect directly on the quality of the text itself. The author is an innocent bystander in this battle between publishers, Amazon, and readers.
April 2, 2010
Amazon Bullies Back but the Target is WrongEarlier this week, Scotland on Sunday reported a story about how Scottish bookshops are being strong armed by Amazon not to undercut prices set on the Amazon Marketplace for their books. The Amazon Marketplace allows sellers to offer their goods alongside Amazon's offerings on the Amazon web site. The concept is similar to e-bay. If they do not agree to this new term in their contract, they no longer get to play in the marketplace (this term is used generically but due to the monopolistic nature of Amazon.com's 90% market share for the e-book industry, the generic and brand name are virtually identical in this context). This story should sound familiar, but different. Just a couple of months ago, Amazon removed the purchase buttons from the Macmillian publishing group books in response to a different sort of contest about e-book pricing. Here is the difference:
In the Scottish version of this contest, the book sellers want to offer lower prices for their wares than that being set on the Amazon site. In their Scottish eyes, the books they peddle should be lower on their web sites because they do not charge nearly as many fees as does Amazon. The Scots are David to Amazon's Goliath. Incidentally, the book sellers have the support of their authors.
In the American version, Amazon is more of a hero than a dog. (This is just a phrase, I actually love dogs and have a beautiful, mixed Katrina rescue dog who is the center of our household. So please, no emails!) Macmillian, along with the handful of other major publishers in the U.S., wanted, and will be able to, charge more for the titles sold on Amazon than Amazon thought was "fair." Prior to the settlement (nicely reported by the NYT here), Amazon charged $9.99 per e-book. E-books will now go for between $12.99 and $14.99, generally.
Another twist on the story involved the imminent release of the iPAD and downloading books from the Apple iBookstore. The settlement between Amazon and the US publishers still leaves the publishers free to negotiate pricing for the iBookstore. Nathan Eddy reports in Eweek that a news leak on that pricing structure shows most best-sellers will go for $9.99 a download.
It seems that Amazon got snookered by the publishers and is now going to bully some smaller kids in the playground. The Scots had an agreement with Amazon. If Amazon lawyers did not think this far ahead, well, Amazon should get new lawyers. There are plenty available at the moment.
Forcing the Scots to sign an addendum to their pre-existing contract now is contrary to established principles of negotiation, especially when one of the parties is in a superior bargaining position. The real problem is that Amazon has a virtual monopoly at the moment and players in their Marketplace need to be there or they will be nowhere. The "government" should never have allowed them to become so dominant. In law library land, we all know what happens when companies get too big for their britches. (VS)
Best April Fool's Day Post in the Law Librarian Blogosphere
After an extensive survey of the entire law librarian blogosphere, LLB is delighted to announce the winner of its first annual Best April Fool's Day Blog Post. May I have the envelope please ...
And the winner is Greg Lambert's US Supreme Court Phases Out PDF - Embraces Apple’s iPad Format on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. Congratulations Greg. Your slightly used LLB-branded 8-track player for your car is in the mail. [JH]
Friday Fun: Reaction to News About the Forthcoming New Bluebook Edition
By way of following up on last week's admittedly in poor taste Friday Fun video feature of Hitler as a law prof, here another one! Poor taste be damn. Hat tip to Mark Wojcik, Legal Writing Prof Blog. [JH]
Elon University/Pew Internet Project's Imagining the Internet Website
The Elon University/Pew Internet Project site Imagining the Internet: A History and Forecast is a content-rich website that documents future possibilities for the Internet while simultaneously providing a peek back at the past. The site includes
- Special explanatory sections on the future and past development of communications networks (Forward 150/Back 150).
- Videos recorded at global conferences that reveal future hopes and challenges as expressed by hundreds of Internet leaders, including Vint Cerf, Douglas Engelbart and Robert Kahn (Visionaries Multimedia).
- A look back at what people were saying in the 1990s during the "awe" stage of the development of the Internet (Early '90s Predictions Database).
Former Google CIO Douglas Merrill on Getting Organized in the Google Era
Snips from the blurb for Douglas Merrill's Getting Organized in the Google Era: How to Get Stuff out of Your Head, Find It When You Need It, and Get It Done Right (Broadway Business, March 16, 2010):
Whether it's a faulty memory, a tendency to multitask, or difficulty managing our time, every one of us has limitations conspiring to keep us from being organized. But, as organizational guru and former Google CIO Douglas C. Merrill points out, it isn't our fault. Our brains simply aren't designed to deal with the pressures and competing demands on our attention in today's fast-paced, information-saturated, digital world. What's more, he says, many of the ways in which our society is structured are outdated, imposing additional chaos that makes us feel stressed, scattered, and disorganized.
From how to harness the amazing power of search, to how to get the most out of cloud computing, to techniques for filtering through the enormous avalanche of information that assaults us at every turn, to tips for minimizing distractions and better integrating work and life, Getting Organized in the Google Era is chock-full of practical, invaluable, and often counterintuitive advice for anyone who wants to be more organized and productive–and less stressed--in our 21st-century world.
April 1, 2010
The iPad and HTML 5
With the iPad launching this Saturday, a few thoughts are in order for what it all means. Some analysts predict that Apple could sell between 2.5 million to 10 million iPads in 2010. Steve Jobs and the stockholders will be pleased with those numbers. Seton Hill University (not to be confused with Seton Hall) has jumped on the bandwagon by announcing that students will receive an iPad and a 13 inch MacBook which they can use in class and for personal use. The students will keep the devices, with the laptop replaced every two years, when they graduate. Why two devices? Here is the positive spin from the University's announcement page:
With this technology at your fingertips, you can create a just-in-time learning environment, stay in touch with professors, advisers, and classmates, research any topic at any time, engage in hybrid and fully on-line courses, and access a whole host of Seton Hill technology services. In doing so, you will be learning the technological skills you'll need in the twenty-first century workforce.
Nothing wrong with teaching technological skills for the twenty-first century workforce. But I ask again, why two devices? Possibly because the iPad simply cannot replace the traditional general purpose computer despite its portability and features. The iPad is a cloud device that runs controlled applications approved by Apple. There are few local storage options available. USB support or other card storage requires an add-on at an additional expense. Some will disagree that the iPad can't replace a desktop or notebook computer (see here and here, for example), but I think it comes down to matching work habits with features. Whatever Seton Hill has in mind, it will model its program to incorporate the features of the devices it's giving its students.
I've written before about how the iPad won't run flash video or programming. This is a choice by Apple for whatever reason. The one Steve Jobs uses is that Flash is buggy and is the main cause of crashed to the Mac OS. There is more going on here, and it involves the HTML 5 video tag. The next version of HTML will add a video tag that will allow video to play natively in the browser. In theory, no more plug-ins will be necessary.
The problem is that of the major tech players have agreed on which audio/video file format is the one to support. Google and Apple want h.264 because they use it heavily or own part of the patent portfolio. Mozilla wants Ogg because it is allegedly unencumbered by patents, though there are questions as to Ogg's quality compared to h.264 and other formats. That argument is unsettled as proponents offer their own evidence. Ogg's presence on the web is minimal at this point. Even pirates (that is those who trade in illegal content) don't use it. Mozilla would also like Flash to go away but will continue to support it via a plug-in because it has such a dominant presence on the web. Google was in for criticism by the dump Flash crowd because it just announced that it would bake Flash into the Chrome browser, pretty much extending the life of Flash in that environment. The implication is that the forthcoming Chrome OS will do the same.
Libraries and educational institutions have a stake in all of this because cheap technology gives them the ability to create audio-visual teaching materials. The question is whether these will be supported by HTML 5 or whether these materials will be blocked on a device's operating system due to non-support by the manufacturer (see again, Apple and Flash). My own feeling is that irrespective of what standard is ultimately finalized is that the other formats (wmv, mpg, h.264, mov, flv, the execrable RM format, and others) are not going away. There is simply too much content already encoded and available out there to be either discarded or converted just to meet an arbitrary standard. As of now, the standards organization handling HTML 5 has not identified the codec that browsers would support. The nascent support is for Ogg, even from Chrome, and Firefox. However, Chrome is not dropping support for h.264. The Internet Explorer 9 is more standards aware than early versions. Microsoft is hedging its bets until something definite comes out of the spec. Anyone creating educational video should be aware of the HTML 5 video tag and whether a browser is going to support it. [MG]
140 Characters Simply Isn't Enough for Some People: The 1st International Longest Tweet ContestThe 1st International Longest Tweet Contest is open for submissions until April 12. The goal is fit the most bits of information into a tweet. So far the record is 4.2 kilobits encoded per tweet, based on exploiting the fact that Twitter actually passes the full 31 bits of ISO 10646, not the roughly 20.08 bits/character of Unicode itself." There will be glorious fame and a T-shirt for the winner. No, this is not an April Fool's prank. Details here. [JH]
WestlawNext's Temporary Access Agreement: Johnny Westlaw Gets the Word from Academic Law Library Directors (Or How to Contract Syphilis from TR Legal)
Did you know that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln maintains an online collection of government comics? Me neither so a big hat tip to Free Government Information. My favorite, so far, is Johnny Gets the Word. It's supposed to be about STDs but I'm in a Johnny Westlaw frame of mind at the moment.
WestlawNext's Temporary Access Agreement. Why? Because loyal followers of LLB -- who can't rely on AALL doing a damn thing -- have been emailing me about another bonehead move by TR Legal in its promotion of WestlawNext. Apparently TR Legal is trying to require law school library directors to sign a contract for temporary, I repeat, temporary WestlawNext passwords that shoves liability on their law schools for any misuse of the provided passwords. Here's one of the more offensive provisions:
Responsibility for Certain Matters. Licensee shall be responsible for all access to and use of Westlaw, Data, Software and Internet Based Services by Licensee’s personnel or by means of Licensee’s equipment or the Westlaw temporary access password, whether or not Licensee has knowledge of or authorizes such access and use.
One-Night Stand with WestlawNext. The pinheads at TR Legal are serious, very serious. Hell, some doofus was assigned the task of drafting the language for this temporary access agreement and someone higher up the doofus chain decided it was a "damn good idea" for the legal academy's one-night stand with WestlawNext. Hello, who in his or her right mind is going to assume liability for some unknown third party when no penalties are spelled out in the temporary access agreement for WestlawNext.
If TR Legal was in its collective "right mind," it would have some sort of understanding of the academic market. Law library directors in their right mind are not authorized to sign any document that can put a university at risk for unspecified liability. Many have just said "no" to Johnny Westlaw. University General Counsel has to sign off on contracts like this one and they tend not to like boilerplate terms and conditions that leave them exposed to contracting an STD transmitted by an unknown third party.
What gives with this paranoia that's coming with TR Legal about its roll-out of WestlawNext:
- the cost to customers is unknown;
- the apparent indecision as to whether law schools will get access and in what form;
- whether students will get access to it in what form;
- when is WestlawNext actually going live; and
- all the other questions that are lurking in the background.
Is TR Legal Afraid that Lexis Will Sneak a Peak at WestlawNext? Reporting from the Buckeye State to the Land of 10,000 Invoices, Lexis has seen WestlawNext. And Lexis is also chronicling every mis-step the Company has taken in WestlawNext marketing, pricing and sales tactics thanks in no small part to the many contributions legal information professionals have made in the blogosphere in this great land of ours.
TR Legal doesn't think only West monitors the law librarian blogosphere, do they? Every major legal publisher is watching and having a good chuckle over the WestlawNext roll-out at TR Legal's expense. At this point, Lexis is probably thinking it was a very good idea to not rush to market "New Lexis." It's bad enough when KeyCite can't get it right about the status of a Supreme Court decision or federal regulation (e.g., here and here) to the delight of Shepard's editors and Lexis reps but this is several orders of magnitude greater in the boner metric.
I hear the offensive terms and conditions of TR Legal's Temporary Access Agreement has been reported to AALL's CRIV but I wouldn't hold my breath on AALL doing a damn thing about it. By that I mean, CRIV committee members may want to take some sort of action but can't until someone wakes up the HQ staff liaison.
BTW TR Legal, please define "misuse?" Is it looking up dirty words on WestlawNext?
Endnote on Safe Sex with Your Land of 10,000 Invoices "Partner." I was trying very hard to go one week without a critical post about TR Legal generally or WestlawNext specifically. Really, I was but I guess that's impossible.At this point, I strongly recommend you make damn sure Johnny Westlaw is wearing a condom when he walks into your office to pitch WestlawNext. [JH]
Jones McClure Publishing Launches Experiment in Crowdsourcing a Print Title
Jones McClure Publishing has reached near final draft stage of "O’Connor’s California Civil Pretrial Handbook." Jason Wilson is opening the print title to crowdsourcing as an experiment in print publishing. If you are a California practitioner or law librarian and would be interested in participating, let Jason know by commenting to this blog post.
Most of the Jones McClure sales catalog focus on Texas and California state law. (I wish the Company offered some Ohio titles.) If these jurisdictions aren't your library's "cup of time," you still might want to check out the Company's federal law titles. They are, in my humble opinion, at least as good if not better in terms of editorial quality (read this Company pays attention to detail) and most definitely are less expensive than similar titles West offers. Plus you don't have to deal with West's "brand of customer service" and annual price inflation.
I'm not suggesting law libraries should buy from small legal publishers to help keep them alive; buy from them because they are more likely to do a better job at offering excellent publications that are reasonably priced. [JH]
Reminder: Tomorrow's Collection Development in Law Libraries in the Face of Shrinking Budgets
Friday's episode of Law Librarian Conversations, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM CDT, will focus on collection development in academic law libraries. Co-hosts Richard Leiter and Marcia Dority Baker will be joined by Michael Chiorazzi (U of Arizona), Greg Lambert (King & Spalding), Mark Estes (Alameda County Law Library) and Margie Maes (LIPA).
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/489182082 [JH]
Opening: Reference Librarian, OSU Moritz Law LibraryThe Moritz Law Library at The Ohio State University is currently seeking a Reference Librarian. For a position description and application information, please go to The Ohio State University Career Site at https://www.jobsatosu.com/, choose the "Search Postings" link on the left, then browse open positions by Working Title (rather than University Title) for the Reference Librarian position.
March 31, 2010
Tax Foundation's Analysis of $938 Billion Health Care Reform Legislation
The $938 billion health care reform legislation signed by President Obama on March 23 is financed primarily through net cuts to Medicare and an increased Medicare tax on high-income taxpayers, according to the Tax Foundation. "The Medicare spending cuts would save $416.5 billion, or about 39 percent of the bill's 10-year cost. The increased Medicare taxes on high-income people -- including an additional 0.9% Medicare Hospital Insurance Tax on earned income exceeding $200,000 for single taxpayers ($250,000 for married couples) and an "Unearned Income Medicare Contribution" of 3.8% on investment income for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGI) in excess of $200,000 for single filers ($250,000 for married filers) -- would raise $210 billion, or about 19 percent of the legislation's cost," according to the Tax Foundation's press release. Details on what is contained in some of the larger categories in the Tax Foundation's pie chart (left, click to enlarge) are itemized here.
Will the Student-to-Faculty Ratio in Law Schools Be 7.6:1 in 2038?
Why is tuition up? Look at all the profs in the March issue of National Jurist reports that the average law school faculty size has increased by 40 percent between 1998 and 2008. The average full professor's salary has increased almost 45 percent during the same time period. No data on typical teaching loads for the same time period but clearly it has been trending downward to three courses per academic year (nice job if you can get one).
If profs are teaching less, more profs need to be hired and someone has to pay for that. The article reports that between 1998 and 2008, private law school tuition has increased 74 percent and public law school tuition has increased 102 percent. Some 48 percent of the tuition increase can be attributed to staffing increases according to the National Jurist's study. See also GAO's Oct. 2009 report entitled Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access.
What's driving this tuition-increasing hiring binge? Rankings, of course. The average student-to-faculty ratio has declined from 18.5-to-1 in 1998 to 14.9-to-1 in 2008 and student-to-faculty ratio is a metric used by US News to rank law schools each year. Of course, to improve it's overall US News ranking, a law school's student-to-faculty ratio must be lower than this average ratio and each law school must continually strive to reduce it. ABA accreditation standards be damned, meaning, if memory serves, the current ABA accreditation standard calls for a 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio
At this latest 10-year rate of change, the average student-to-faculty ratio in the legal academy in 2018 will be something like 11.9:1, 9.5:1 in 2028, 7.6:1 in 2038. You get the idea. For a little historical perspective, the article estimates that the average student-to-faculty ratio was 25.5:1 in 1988 and 29:1 in 1978. In other words, the current student-to-faculty ratio in the legal academy is about half what it was three decades ago.
Law schools also believe their faculty reputation scores, another important metric used by US News, is driven by scholarship. Do note, there is absolutely no hard evidence to believe this is the case but it provides fodder for a rationalization to teach less courses so that time can be freed up to write more articles few read and fewer cite. If profs are teaching less (3 course per year instead of 4 or 5 as in the past), more profs have to be hired and "good ones," meaning ones with a proven scholarly reputation don't come cheap because they are so rare. Hiring more law profs conveniently reduces the student-to-faculty ratio which also helps improve a school's chances for moving up in the rankings so law schools get a 2-fer under this rationalization.
While the US News does measure reputation by peers and members of the bench and bar, the scholarship-push started a couple of decades ago by the ABA's accreditation standards. So let's not place the entire blame on US News for creating the following situation:
"There is a real disconnect in law schools since Langdell, between what the faculty is interested in and what the students are interested in. Faculty care about research while students are focused on how to practice law. There is a gigantic disconnect and the academics have the accreditations rules to promote their views -- at a very high salaries." Lawrence Velvel, dean of Massachusetts School of Law.
How does the legal academy bridge this "gigantic disconnect?" Just comply with the ABA's 20:1 student-to-faculty ratio while making law profs work harder; require them to teach more classes while also producing scholarship. Burn the midnight oil like they did while attending law school and like their students do once they enter the practice of law, assuming there will be jobs for them upon graduation to pay off their law school debt. That's going to go over well in the next faculty meeting; good luck to any conscientious law school dean who is striving to get law profs back into the classroom. Unless the dean has a 10-year appointment, the odds of success are slim to none under the current circumstances.
The reality is that law schools do set their academic and institutional objectives with an eye toward improving their U.S. News rankings (and the ABA's accreditation standards are a contributing factor to escalating law school costs; one complaint being heard about the ABA's draft "outcome measures" is that it will increase the legal academy's compliance costs) but the National Jurist's analysis is overly simplistic. Student-to-faculty ratios, faculty scholarly reputation, and faculty salaries are part of a larger picture. How much cash-per-student being spent is what really drives the U.S. News Law School Ranking results. See Brian Leiter's Per Capita Expenditures is the Tail that Wags the US News Ranking Dog. [JH]
Updated Research Guides from GlobaLex
UPDATE: A Guide to Fee-Based U. S. Legal Research Databases by Mary Rumsey
UPDATE: Basic Guide to Researching Foreign Law by Mary RumseyUPDATE: Researching Icelandic Law by Rán Tryggvadóttir and Thordis Ingadóttir; Update by Erna Mathiesen
UPDATE: Performing Legal Research: the Moldovan Experience by Mariana Harjevschi and Svetlana Andritchi; Update by Mariana HarjevschiUPDATE: Researching South African Law by Amanda Barratt and Pamela Snyman; Update by Redson Edward Kapind
Openings: Associate Director for Public Services and Reference/Student Services Librarian, Georgia State Univ. Law Library
First, the Reference/Student Services Librarian, a position newly reorganized to serve the evolving needs of the modern law student. Details on the job duties and required qualifications can be found at
Second, the Associate Director for Public Services, a dynamic middle management position responsible for planning and supervision of all public services functions of the law library. Details on the job duties and required qualifications can be found at http://careers.aallnet.org/jobdetail.cfm?job=3331017
March 30, 2010
My First Hands On With WestlawNext
We had our WestlawNext roadshow part two yesterday. This would be the academic version. It varied only slightly from the presentation we saw on March 10th here in Chicago in that the promotional videos were not part of the program. Though we received box lunches, the iPod Shuffles were sadly absent. I learned a few things about WestlawNext that I didn't pick up the last time. One is that while Boolean searching will still work, a user needs to tell the system that simple searches are, in fact, Boolean. The algorithm won't interpret [WORD and WORD] anymore. It's not a very efficient search but I've used it occasionally when the more complex searches don't bring up results. WestlawNext requires [Strict: WORD and WORD] to make that search. It extends to other things as well, such as KeyCite. Use [KC: citation] to bring up citation results directly. The brackets and case are mine in these examples. WestlawNext is more forgiving on the mechanical aspects of entering a command or search.
I also discovered that Westlaw.com would be around for "the foreseeable future." The foreign law databases as well as a few other categories of documents have't migrated as of yet. This leads to some interesting but unanswered questions on the commercial side. It's well known that there will be a pricing premium for WestlawNext over Westlaw.com. TR alludes that some of this will be offset by the efficiency built into the system, but I don't know. I'm academic and efficiency in using Lexis or Westlaw (or most any database) is not exactly our middle name in this environment. Questions about final pricing are still out there. Read through the slight diversion below to see where this is going.
I tried out my temporary three day password starting today with a very cursory search, "Do Illinois courts have jurisdiction in divorce case where the parties are illegal aliens." Sorry, my English not so good sometimes researching potential legal research problems. I selected Illinois as a jurisdiction but neglected to remove ALL FEDS, the apparent default, so the search brought up results in both. I re-ran the search in Illinois alone and brought up results in the basic research food groups. The Illinois case law that was most relevant (according to WestlawNext) was from the 1950s. The current Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act went into effect in the late 1970s, not that older case law isn't valid in interpreting a current revised statute. I did find a relevant statute that described jurisdictional elements, though mostly in terms of statutory construction and subject matter rather than personal jurisdiction. The results showed me that analysis and extrapolation don't go away with WestlawNext. This may be obvious to a lot of us who teach research, but think about the students who will say, "cool, just like Google." My immediate impression is that relevant results will be on point for common legal problems but for less researched or more novel questions, not so much. I'm going to try this same problem on Westlaw.com and report later on what my results show.
We return now to our earlier point. When I was finished and signed off, I saw a screen which I reproduce in the accompanying picture. Note that WestlawNext describes some of history I generated as individual searches. That's not necessarily the way I thought I used the system. I suppose my question is, if I were a paying customer, what did I just pay for? Would these be considered separate searches under the various pricing schemes TR has in mind? Again, this is a test/free password so I have no idea if this is how the final product will reflect different ways of identifying my history or the way it will charge for my use. Students, take note, while the system is more efficient, you may have to watch how you use it to keep the bills down. Google is free. WestlawNext is not.
I suspect TR will have to keep Westlaw.com going for a long time no matter what. Forcing customers to WestlawNext and higher costs may have the effect of driving them to Lexis. I'm sure TR would not shrink it's billables to only those willing to pay for WestlawNext. I'd like a car with heated seats, but I wouldn't want to pay the premium for them when all I want is a vehicle that will reliably get me from point A to point B. Pricing is going to be the key. I'm liking the WestlawNext product from the demonstrations and my initial hands on. I'm not so sure about the marketing at this point. [MG]
Legal Spend Just Another Corporate Cost: The Evolution of the Practice of Law from Profession to Business
Ari Kaplan, who was the keynote speaker last week at the ABA Techshow, recently reported on the results of his survey about client expectations and shifting business models in the legal profession. The Evolution of the Legal Profession is based on his interviews of 30 practicing lawyers, academics, in-house counsel and CEOs. The legal profession is experiencing a sweeping evolution that will be marked by permanent changes to billing structures, firm organization and value and efficiency expectations from clients according to Kaplan. Some stats from the report:
- 70% agreed that while the economy has always had an impact on the practice of law, the current shift is different. 74% believe the shift will be permanent.
- 62% agreed that the accelerated growth in law firms and the rise in legal fees led in whole or in part to the current state of the market.
- 85% now use alternative billing, including fixed fee arrangements and 85% had heard of instances where a corporate client will not pay for first year associate work performed on their cases.
Wait a minute. Corporate clients won't pay for first year associate work!
BigLaw: A Business Masquerading as a Profession.The survey also reports that 92% feel that client expectations have changed. Legal spend is being viewed like any other corporate cost by general counsels. Does that mean legal work has been commoditized? At a minimum, it means corporate clients expect efficiency, something that conflicts with the traditional billable hour model and current capital structure of most large law firms. Perhaps one of the most telling remarks that captures the changes taking place in the law firm-corporate client relationship comes from Jeffrey Carr, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for FMC Technologies: “In some ways, we have a business that is masquerading as a profession.” If so, there is a real opportunity here for law schools to produce a new breed of attorney if the legal academy is willing to radically transform itself. Legal doctrine plus legal skills plus legal tech-driven efficiencies might be the order of the day. In a way, this reminds me of the transformation that took place in library science education in the 1980s. [JH]
Benefits of Crowdsourcing Projects for Libraries
Crowdsourcing can harness digital volunteers to transcribe, create, enhance and correct text, images and archives writes the National Library of Australia's Rose Holley in Crowdsourcing: How and Why Should Libraries Do It? D-Lib Magazine, March/April 2010. "Examples of crowdsourcing goals for libraries could be: getting users to mark the errors in our catalogues; rating the reliability of information/records; adding information to records; verifying name authority files; adding user created content to collections; creating e-books; correcting full text; transcribing handwritten records; and most especially describing items that we have not made accessible because they are not catalogued/described yet."
Holley identifies the following benefits of implementing crowdsourcing projects in libraries:
- Achieving goals the library would never have the time, financial or staff resource to achieve on its own.
- Achieving goals in a much faster timeframe than the library may be able to achieve if it worked on its own.
- Building new virtual communities and user groups.
- Actively involving and engaging the community with the library and its other users and collections.
- Utilising the knowledge, expertise and interest of the community.
- Improving the quality of data/resource (e.g. by text, or catalogue corrections), resulting in more accurate searching.
- Adding value to data (e.g. by addition of comments, tags, ratings, reviews).
- Making data discoverable in different ways for a more diverse audience (e.g. by tagging).
- Gaining first-hand insight on user desires and the answers to difficult questions by asking and then listening to the crowd.
- Demonstrating the value and relevance of the library in the community by the high level of public involvement.
- Strengthening and building trust and loyalty of the users to the library. Users do not feel taken advantage of because libraries are non-profit making.
- Encouraging a sense of public ownership and responsibility towards cultural heritage collections, through user's contributions and collaborations.
March 29, 2010
To Scroll or Not to Scroll
This weekend Wired Blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a study from Arizona State University that compared student retention of what they read online vs. what they read in print. The report, titled "To Scroll or not to Scroll: Scrolling, Working Memory, and Comprehending Complex Texts," found that "a scrolling format reduced understanding of complex topics from web pages, especially for readers who were lower in working memory capacity." The authors, Christopher A. Sanchez and Jennifer Wiley, concluded that the way information is presented can interact with learners abilities to affect learning outcomes.
I venture to say that most of us know this to be true without a study to confirm it, but it is nice to know it has nothing to due with generational preferences. :)
It is something I think about nearly every day, especially during budget season when library directors and collection librarians are asked to look into an increasingly murky crystal ball in order to predict the seemingly whimsical rate increases from legal publishers and arrive at a figure that might be close to reality. Print collections are increasingly giving way to digital collections. Our patrons even demand it. But at what cost?
In addition to the ease of access with a digital collection, there are also cost savings involved for libraries which makes the switch even more attractive. When faced with the task of reducing budgets, it is much easier to cut a print subscription that is available in a digital format, than one that is not accessible at all. That is just common sense. But again, at what cost?
Of course, users can download the online material and print it out at their printers. In this case, we pass on the cost of acquisition to that of the paper budget line, or just pass the cost on to the user. And it isn't very green either. If the Arizona report is an indication of how a digital collection can change the effectiveness of an education, what is our responsibility toward our institutions and students? Do we even have a choice? (VS)