Things I have learnt: from becoming a Design and Production Assistant

This is the first post in a series of ‘Things I have learnt’ – I have no idea where this series will go but this is the first post and therefore it is worth celebrating – cue Kool & the Gang.

It’s my workiversary! For the last year (wow, that went by quickly!), I have been working at Jessica Kingsley Publishers (and Singing Dragon) as a Design and Production Assistant. This is my first real job and my first official, really real paid job in publishing, and since I have now been there long enough to have had a little publishing baby (that didn’t sound quite as weird in my head), I feel I am ‘qualified’ to tell you things I have learnt from the experience so far.

1. Paper is possibly one of the best things ever invented

I realise how incredibly nerdy this is. But I stand by my guns. While I was doing my Masters, I may have casually scoffed at all of the lectures on paper, not because I didn’t find them interesting (I did!) but because to me paper was just that: paper.

In March, I was able to visit a printing press with my manager for a day’s workshop on paper and printing and ink and the effect light has on said ink – this, I think, was where it started. Even though I have been using (and unintentionally collecting) stationary for years, and reading books for the entirety of the remembered part of my life, I’d never really thought about the paper. Sure, I’d notice if something was thicker or felt different but that’s as far as it went.

While at the printers, we were shown various different samples and asked to guess what they were and what they might be used for. I got a few but mostly failed horrifically. After the subsequent tour of the press, and the return to work, I started to pay a lot more attention. (As well as bugging my co-workers with a lot of possibly stupid questions, sorry guys!)

I got a box of paaaaper

I got a box of paaaaper

Fast forward to now: I have been asked to gather paper samples from all of our printers and it’s stupidly exciting. I received my first sample pack a few weeks ago. There was squealing. Before now, I didn’t know how many possibilities there were, how many different looks and feels you could get, how what a book was printed on could drastically change the way people react to it. It feels powerful. Paper feels powerful.

2. There is a certain sense of pride in wandering around a book shop and knowing what the books you are looking at are made of

I am pretty sure I drive my friends mad when we visit book shops together. Or elicit the ‘nod and smile, nod and smile’ response. Where I used to just pick up a book because it looked pretty or interesting, read the blurb, put it back (or hold on to it because I really had to buy it and it was necessary to my continued existence), I now pick up books which look like they have been produced in an interesting way (or have hand-drawn waves on the cover but that is an entirely different blog entry) and react accordingly.

I pore over the paper, look on the copyright page at the type face if it’s listed (and try to guess what it is if it’s not), work out which finish is on the cover and which fun things have been done to it to make it look more pleasing (my current obsession is uncoated covers with foil details, yummy!), and then, naturally, shove the book in the face of whoever I’m with and tell them all about it, adamant that they should be just as excited as I am. (My best friend tends to pat me on the head, smile and move on to the next interesting book she finds – unless the one I’m shoving at her looks really interesting or has a super matt cover.)

Book shop experiences, for me, are so much better now. I connect with the books in a more material way and I think that is amazing.

3. Nothing is better than seeing a book you have designed in print

This point does not require much commentary – I remember how I felt when my first bit of typesetting arrived in the office, my first cover. Heck, every cover and every bit of typesetting. The reason I wanted to work in Design and/or Production in the first place was so that I could truly be involved in how a book was made. I’d thought about Editorial, or Marketing, but nothing quite appealed as much as being able to work on the book as a physical thing. (By this, I mean creating the physical thing.)

4. Production is the best department

I am horrendously biased. I should say that right now. Absurdly biased. However, there are several reasons that Production is the best and a few of these are as follows:

  1. As I said above, you get to work on the book as an actual, physical thing.
  2. Presents! We get sent things from our printers every so often (the most recent was a box of post it note books, I was perhaps a little too happy about it).
  3. Adobe CC. Beautiful.
  4. Occasionally getting to work on things outside of Production – we have been known to work on things for marketing, I have been known to work on videos. I have no idea if other departments get to do this but we do, so it’s a valid reason.
  5. Gloriously nerdy ‘field trips’.

5. You probably won’t get mentioned in the book

BUT, if you designed the cover, your name will probably be on the back. Woohoo!

I didn’t sign up for the publishing life with the want or expectation that I would be thanked in the books I work on – I get paid to do what I love, it’s awesome. But if your dream is to have your name printed on the acknowledgements page of a book, the designing side of Production is probably not for you.


So, there you have it. Five things I’ve learnt in my first year as a Design and Production Assistant. All images are from my Instagram.

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On Interactive and Enhanced Fiction

I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about interactive and enhanced fiction, how hard it is, how it’s reaching critical mass, how to rewire fiction and I am finding the commentary really interesting to follow. Despite my ongoing lack of iPad and my major project being a direct print response to digital in publishing, I am incredibly interested in these products and the struggles faced by the publishers who create them, as well as the opportunities they present.

I recently watched Neil Gaiman’s keynote speech (video below) from the Digital Minds Conference at the London Book Fair (which has provided me with a wonderful quotation for my major project report). It detailed the possibilities created by combining social media and digital publishing with the brilliant example of the A Calendar of Tales project, which culminated in an absolutely beautiful website with the author line ‘by Neil Gaiman & You’. It epitomises something which I think is really important in this new and very digital age: reader involvement, collaboration, community.

The project started on Twitter with Gaiman posting prompts and his followers responding. The responses led to stories which led to art. The Calendar created a community of artists and readers all driven by the concept of creating something. While this is not interactive in the same way as the products referenced in the articles I have been reading it was still an interactive experience – not an interactive reading experience but rather an interactive writing experience.

Another interactive writing experience, which I have mentioned briefly before, is Hot Key Books’ Story Adventure in which children were able to help write a book, with prompts and challenges. The idea proved really popular with schools across the country taking part. Both projects show the importance of reader involvement and not only that but show that the reading community whether children, adults, young adults or otherwise, love getting their teeth into the publishing process in whatever form it may take. Digital media makes this possible and even though I am still addicted to the printed book this can only be a good thing.

Perhaps the future of interactive fiction is not down the ‘choose your own adventure’ vein (though I have been thoroughly enjoying the Black Crown project) but rather in collaboration and community experience.

In this discussion of interactive fiction, I have not factored in enhanced fiction (which is also sometimes termed as interactive) with videos and audio and images. This, to me, is whole different world of digital media; its aims are different. The interactive fiction I have addressed above is all about the creative experience whereas enhanced fiction aims at creating an innovative and interesting reading experience. Black Crown is very game-like in its interactivity (there is a game developed by some of the Black Crown collaborators, Story Nexus, which works in exactly the same way) and in some ways it defies definition. Interestingly, these, like A Calendar of Tales, employ Twitter with the ability to tweet what you find as you move through the experience.

The cross-purposing of the term ‘interactive fiction’ is undeniably confusing so for the purposes of this and future entries, I am going to define my terms (as I, perhaps, should have done earlier):

  • Interactive Fiction: Fiction which is created by interacting with its audience or fiction where the outcome is dictated by choices made by its audience; in which the audience has the power to change the fiction with their interaction.
  • Enhanced Fiction: Fiction with added extras such as videos and audio (these can either be used to tell the story like The Numinous Place or simply add to the experience of the writing).

Enhanced fiction is not about the community, enhanced fiction is a singular experience and while it can be shared it can also be awkward to share (not unlike having someone read over your shoulder). Enhanced fiction is only just beginning.

As I have said, I am addicted to print but that does not mean I am against ebooks (in fact, I really enjoy creating them and having a career in ebooks would be brilliant). If I had to choose between a normal ebook (with nothing other than the text) and a print book I would buy the print but if I had an iPad (when I have an iPad) and was presented with the option to buy an enhanced version I would definitely buy both.

I adore Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon is a brilliant book and one which I could read over and over. It is a book which, when I finally acquire my iPad, will be one of the first things I purchase in enhanced, multi-touch form (along with Hot Key’s other digital innovations). There is a lot of selling power in enhanced fiction.

Towards the beginning of this entry I wrote that reader involvement is incredibly important in this new digital age, especially true of interactive fiction but also true of enhanced. Enhanced fiction is a great way of getting readers involved without asking anything of them; they do not have to participate but they are able to become immersed in the story in a greater way than if they were just reading it. Videos, audio and images help to cement the story in the mind of the reader. You can hear it, you can see it. That is reader involvement.

I am incredibly excited about the future of fiction as the digital experience develops, I am excited for readers, publishers and authors alike. I want to be involved. It may be hard and there may be naysayers but it’s an experience too important to miss. Digital is important. Digital is incredible.

The Motion Book

This is not a mirage, you are truly seeing this blog entry. I would use this paragraph to apologise for my absence but instead of blogging I have been working incredibly hard on university work and job applications with intervals of The Walking Dead with the other half and Game of Thrones on my lonesome. So I shan’t.

However, my blog will be heating up very soon; with The London Book Fair next week and  two events the week after I will have a lot to write about. (The events, for those who are wondering, are: Samantha Shannon talking at Waterstones Oxford on World Book Night and a talk on Fairy Tales at the Oxford Story Museum. Excellent stuff.)

Now, on to the actual entry which I shall introduce with this appropriately atmospheric video:

Recently, while looking on DeviantART for texture stocks, I noticed the new Motion Book section and was suitably intrigued. What is a Motion Book, you ask? (It is at this point that I wonder whether you watched the video.) A Motion Book is a moving comic/graphic novel, made by new company Madefire.

I enjoy comics and graphic novels alike, particularly the work of Dave McKean whose style is delicious, so I find the idea of moving comics very appealing. The comics are available for free on DeviantART and via the Madefire APP. (Just another of many reasons for me to get an iPad, oh, to have money to burn.) I’ve not read as many as I’d like and as many as I perhaps should have to write this entry but the ones I’ve read I’ve loved. The art is phenomenal and the storytelling is just as good, I had thought that the motion could have been distracting but it blends perfectly and only serves to enhance the atmosphere. Fab.

There are those who worry about publishing now that technologies such as the iPad exist but it is technological advances such as the motion book that perhaps proves those worries unfounded; publishing is changing, yes, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Well, perhaps it’s a bad thing for the bank balance, especially mine as my urge to buy an iPad grows, but what’s bad for the consumer bank balance is good for publishers, should the consumer be inclined to consume ebooks/motion books/book apps.

The way we read is changing too, it’s been changing for a long time and journalism especially has taken this change in its stride with online versions of all of the major tabloids among other things. Book publishing has been slower on the mark but recently there has been an explosion of intriguing digital book products. I am eager to see how the motion book develops and whether illustrated novels follow suit.

Grove Street Media: New Media Production

Today we say farewell to the #DLL13 series at OICPS; Digital Lunchtime Lectures 2013, I bid you adieu.  In our final expert-led romp into the land of digital we were visited by Tom Scholes of Grove Street Media, a new media production company which  specialises in eLearning products.

From the start, the talk was informal; the opening line being ‘Well, I have a beard’ – excellent. As I have written before (in my entry about Osprey), I enjoy informal and personable presentations, they’re easy to listen to and often enjoyable. This was no exception.

Grove Street Media originated 10 years ago. This year it is about to earn its millionth pound and it is not difficult to see why. Their remit is to design for and communicate through screens, a task they appear to meet well if what we were shown today was anything to go by (take a look at e-Bug, a prime example). When talking us through how the company works with its clients he stressed the importance of simply talking to people, showing them what you can do and how you can help them. Communication is key in any business, not least when they’re paying you a considerable amount of money.

The changes in technology also effect the way that they work with clients, a lot of their work has been on CD-ROMs for publishers like OUP but as technology advances new problems arise when it comes to meeting the clients needs. He used the example of the icons they use in a lot of their work: on a computer you can hover over an icon and it will tell you what it does, this makes users more comfortable with clicking on something that looks unfamiliar but with the rise of the tablet the ability to show button functions by hovering is diminishing.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, Grove Street Media caters for most if not all platforms, as Tom said ‘if it has a screen we can develop for it’ (paraphrased but the meaning is the same). Their focus is on interactivity, their products are rarely flat designs and can be for anything from the web to kiosks in stores like Ikea. When asked, he describes them as a UI/UX company, user interface/user experience; they want to make user experience barrier-less.

Not only do they want the best for the user but they want the best for the client as well; if a client wants to make an app which would work just as well as a website, be much simpler to make/commission and cost a fraction of the price the urge to make money does not override the urge to create the best product they can. I find it incredibly warming that some companies are willing to do this despite the current financial climate – kudos, Grove Street Media.

After explaining the anatomy of a digital media offering (great content, attractive graphics, good layout) and the components involved in making them, we were given a live demo! Tom set to work creating a simple web-based chasing game. After some suggestions from the audience and a little bit of an argument with the coding we were met with a spaghetti western in which Kim Kardashian and a giraffe had a race. Kim won. The demonstration illustrated that something which looks complicated may not be that complicated at all.

The talk ended with a few lessons:

  1. Plagiarism happens. You have two things content and brand. Content can be copied, especially from the web and there’s nothing you can do about it, it is the brand that matters. 
  2. Copying isn’t always bad, there is nothing wrong with looking at the competition and using their ‘best bits’ to influence the betterment of your own design.
  3. Innovation or Usability? It is possible to do both! But when it isn’t always go for usability.
  4. Testing costs a similar amount to development in both money and time – always budget for testing.
  5. When requesting a quote precision is key, precision will enable you to get the best deal and save you from the wrath of the developer should they find out you forgot to tell them something. What takes a few moments to say can take weeks and large amounts of money to create.

So that was the last of the Digital Lunchtime Lectures, and perhaps the one I enjoyed most. I will miss my Wednesday leaps into the well of digital but this will not be the end of my digital blogging adventure – never fear. Keep an eye out on my twitter for a link to my official blogging treatment for the OICPS website!

Without Exception: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Books

The thing I love about OICPS is the variety of speakers that we have the pleasure of listening to, I may have said this before (probably on Twitter) but it holds true and today was no exception. Today’s session was on diversity and difficult topics in children’s publishing. Beth Cox, of Without Exception and Inclusive Minds, talked us through how publishers can be more inclusive, what is being done and how she, and we, can help.

The session started with a word association exercise, which really got us into the inclusive brainspace. We were given four words: traveller, girl, gay and disabled. I have to admit that the exercise did make me feel like a bad person, every word that popped up in my head affirmed a stereotype – I class myself as a pretty open person, I don’t like to rely on stereotypes and prefer to get to know a person before I make a judgement but this exercise didn’t show that. I think everyone felt the same. This led into Beth’s talk really well. Her first point: Authors and Illustrators have unconscious bias just like everyone else and this may be reflected in their work.

Children are open, children do not carry the biases that we gather as (young) adults via the media. As such, these stereotypes and unconscious biases should not feature in children’s literature and it is (or should be) the job of the publisher to ensure their books are bias-free. Having bias does not make you a bad person (we are not bad people because we engender stereotypes in a word association game, but if we try to spread that bias, well, that’s an entirely different board game). It is important to ensure that the work produced by authors and illustrators (illustrators especially in regards to younger children) does not promote stereotype. Visuals are incredibly important to young children, it is essential for a child to be able to see a character that they can relate to.

Beth commented that a lot of the publishers she talks to tell her that they do not publish issue books but diversity in publishing is not about issue books, it is about inclusion. It does not have to be a main feature it just has to be there. We were shown some brilliant examples from picture books, in one image there were at least two same-sex couples (one of which had a child), various different races, a wheelchair user and more. None of these characters were mentioned in the text but just by being there for a child to find, the book is showing children that they are normal.

The problem with inclusion comes when the ‘not average’ character is made too special, in Wonder, which is a book I love, Auggie is given an award not because he is exceptional but because he has a disability. There is a risk of going too far. Every main character is made special in some way (it is the nature of being a main character) but even in fantasy settings authors must be realistic. It is in writing that sentence that I have realised a sad fact: it might be realistic. A child in a ‘normal’ school when they, themselves, are not the average student may well be given such an award in real life. Not because they did anything worthy of recognition but because they are different, often all these children want is to be seen as normal (to themselves they are  normal). There are exceptions of course but the point is: characters, people, children should be the treated the same way regardless of whether they are disabled, ill or of a different race.

Another problem that arises is the tendency to ally disability with evil wherein all good characters are perfectly healthy; bad characters with deformities, unlike-able characters described as ‘crazy’, ‘mental’, ‘lunatics’.

She then went on to talk about young adult literature, wherein some issues are resolved too quickly and publishers/authors are sometimes unaware of restrictive judgements about gender. An example of a series which does not restrict gender is The Hunger Games with strong, female Katniss and sensitive, cake-decorating Peeta; it is not assumed that, because Peeta is interested in cake decoration, Peeta is gay. Quite the opposite, he is in love with Katniss. 

I hope that I can enter the industry and bring with me some of the messages we were given in today’s talk, I hope to be part of a future in which there are children’s books which deal with difficult subjects effectively and without bias (there are some that do this fantastically but, arguably, not enough), which present non-average characters as normal human beings, not something that should be tip-toed around and coated with bubblewrap.

It is with that thought that I leave you and offer you this link to a TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie, which we watched during the talk, it’s brilliant and I highly recommend watching it. Later, I will be blogging more on difficult subjects and how they are explored, watch this space.

Electronic Enlightenment

Old marketing material but I liked the design

This week the Digital Lunchtime Lectures resumed (though there is only one left now, boo!) and today’s lecture was delightfully technical; we were visited by Mark Rogerson, the technical editor of Electronic Enlightenment, the ‘most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century’ (in their own words). It is distributed by Oxford University Press and sounds fascinating.

The project not only has keyed versions of the letters but some of the manuscripts as well; I am a sucker for letters and handwriting so the idea, to me, sounds perfect. The project is available on subscription (due to the copyright on some of the letters) and Universities from around the globe are already utilising it.

Mark is the only technical staff at EE, it is a small operation with only the project management, himself and freelancers.

The project takes the form of a website which takes collections of letters from about 1610 to 1840 and brings them into a web system for access online. Along with the copyright, the subscription has another purpose, EE have an aim to make a sustainable model for this type of content as most distributors put it online for free and then fade into obscurity as they lack the funds to continue the work. However, the letters are not the only content this project provides, the whole project is made up of:

  • correspondence and related documents
  • images of manuscripts where possible
  • biographies of authors and recipients
  • critical apparatus
  • source information
  • annotations

The sources of the letters is often critical editions (printed books from over 30 publishers which are normally copyrighted), Mark explained the digitisation of these often hardback books and I have to admit, the first step made me wince. Books are taken apart, spine first to enable scanning, each letter/page is scanned to PDF and then sent to India for keying. He emphasised the importance of keying when it comes to old texts, OCR would not work in this context due to the difference in language between that period and this. All of this results in XML, which is the backbone of the process. The process being going from print to digital to the web for subscribers.

Along with those sourced from critical editions, there is also born digital content which is created for them in Word with their style guide, converted into XML. They are currently working on web-based tools, like zoomable images of the manuscripts so that subscribers can really inspect the texts (and perhaps so they can cut down on the amount of annotations on the typed versions).

We were given a behind-the-scenes look at the database used in the editorial process and, to be honest, it was a little terrifying; it’s all because of the dates. Due to the age of the correspondence they are dealing with some function on different calendars, not only this but some of the dates are un- or partially-known, as such there are over 70 fields involved just to input the date. Another issue meaning that they need such a complicated database is the names – the long names.

Another behind-the-scenes type insight we were given was an explanation of the make up of the website itself, which I found particularly interesting and particularly helpful for NPD. (Miracles do exist and they exist in the form of guest speakers.) Something they are looking into at the moment is responsive design and I will be interested to see where they go with it.

The Phoenix Comic: Marketing in Children’s Publishing

The Phoenix is a new weekly comic for children, it was launched in January 2012 and finds its home in Oxford. Its origins lie with The DFC, a comic from David Fickling which is no longer being published, but the creative team still exist (at the heart of The Phoenix).

We were joined by Ross Fraser, a fairly recent OICPS alumni, who is now Head Marketing Manager at The Phoenix Comic – a fact which, in itself, is comforting; he was in our figurative shoes about two years ago. Ross talked us through The Phoenix, what it is, the magazine and how they market the comic itself. Each issue contains serialised stories (like the popular The Pirates of Pangaea storyline); recurring stories, which do not necessarily follow a set storyline (like Bunny vs. Monkey); Phoenix features, stand-alone story specials (Ghost Ant, The Princess and the Peanut Butter Sandwich); puzzles; and non-fiction (like Corpse Talk, which Ross described as ‘in a nutshell Horrible Histories crossed with Parkinson’ much to the amusement of the class).

He split the current children’s magazine market into negatives, which included

  • cultural belief that comics are inherently worthless and carry with them stigma of geekery
  • lots of competition
  • effects of global recession still being felt
  • phenomenon of children getting older younger
  • high churn rates

and positives

  • the current trend for comic book related movies internationally
  • increase in the perception of literary value in comics
  • increase in sales via subscription models
  • 8-12 year-olds are on the whole too young to move to other forms of entertainment
  • increased recognition for ‘visual literacy’ in both schools and libraries nationally

Going on to talk about the challenge faced by The Phoenix to create a culture of comics in the UK, while countries like the US and France already have considerable weight placed on comic books the same cannot be said about the UK. To enable them to do this, he explained, they had to look at their existing platforms and how they could improve them – what else could they do. Brand loyalty is important for such an endeavour, especially when it comes to comics. We were led through the various things The Phoenix does to encourage brand loyalty in both its readers and their parents (including the successful Phoenix competitions which always receive many entries).

The comic is distributed through various channels; he mentioned an event at the Oxford branch of Waterstone’s back in November, I remember seeing the vibrant window displays and wishing I had time to go and have a look – I was either going to or coming from my internship at Berghahn. I was interested to learn that the digital version of the comic is created in Tokyo by a company that has not before dealt with fiction.  A lot of emphasis was placed on the nurturing of independent bookshops, their integration with the community is paramount to the success of The Phoenix.

Finally, before taking questions, he explained why The Phoenix do what they do: passion and a love of stories; he said something very poetic about story culture and how stories are inherent in everything, which I wish I had written down.

We have a lot of speakers at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and they are all incredibly interesting, I was much impressed by the design of the slides in today’s talk, most speakers come with standard slides from their company (which is brilliant for the purpose) but the slides from The Phoenix were all uniquely designed and laid out much like their website (with little hints to what awaits in the comics). A thoroughly enjoyed and engaging talk.

Tomorrow in #DLL13 we are being joined by Mark Rogerson from Electronic Enlightenment. Keep an eye on the blog for a write-up.

Transmedia: Harry Potter and Wonderbook

Children’s, how I love thee.

Oxford Brookes University was involved in the creation of the Wonderbook technology, specifically the skin recognition software or coding, I’m not quite sure, used in J.K. Rowling’s Book of Spells.

Today, we of Children’s Publishing hopped on a shiny, blue U1 bus and land-rocketed off through the winding countryside to Wheatley campus to view a demonstration and have a go on the game ourselves. (I say ourselves, I didn’t play but instead sat in the audience quietly squirming and working up the courage to inform the room that it was, in fact, the move button that has to be held down when casting a spell.) Hilarity ensued as the game was experienced for the first time and ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ was yelled enthusiastically at the screen.

This may not sound like much of an academic experience. Can it be that you can have fun while learning? Surely not, I hear you mutter. Welcome to the world of Children’s, where the lessons are fun and sometimes involve all-new technology! Once we were done with the demonstration we discussed Harry Potter and its vast storyscape. Before we began the discussion, I’m not sure any of us realised quite how big the franchise was and how much it relied on transmedia.

For those who may not be quite so publishing-savvy transmedia storytelling is a way of telling a story across multiple medias or platforms. A book may be coupled with video content, or expanded with a video game. Each different media is not retelling any part of the story but instead adding more depth and continuing the story. Book of Spells, for example, does not follow Harry and his companions but instead places the player in that world and expands on the overall mythology of the series.

I found this idea fascinating, the whole concept of transmedia demands to be explored and is something I would much like to look into (or even work with) further. I would like to know the limitations of this approach to storytelling, in theory there aren’t any but without researching this I can’t say for certain. That said, I am not sure how much I engage with transmedia on the user end of the spectrum. When I read, I do just that: read. If I am taken with the story, once I am finished, I will bound over to tumblr and search the tags for interesting tidbits like fan-made graphics but this isn’t transmedia. This is ‘fanmedia’ – a term which I may have made up.

When I read The Hunger Games and then watched the film, I flocked over to the website to find out which district I would belong to (I got my Panem ID) and I read all of the fictitious news bulletins – I did this because I knew they were there. I had seen it, again, on tumblr and decided to give it a go but I wouldn’t’ve gone looking for it otherwise.

I’m going to make an effort to seek out transmedia more, I might write more about my findings here. A project, perhaps.

Educake and JISC, Digital Lunchtime Lectures

I’m playing catch-up this week as I didn’t have time to write one last week. Today you get not one but two Digital Lunchtime Lectures in one blog post, a rogue blog post as it was dubbed by Helena Markou on Twitter (@helena_markou). I should probably explain, these lectures receive the official blog treatment from other MA students over at the Brookes Publishing website (though the posts themselves are proving to be elusive…), I, then, am a sneaky blogger. A rogue. A vigilante blogger, if you will.

I am getting carried away. I should get on with the blog entry now.

Educake

Educake is a new start-up aiding teachers with the teaching of GCSE Science, with the hopes of expanding across other courses. Last week we were joined by Charley Darbishire, the founder of the company, who took us through the process of creating the product (both the what and the why). We were given an inside look at how it worked as well as some of the costs involved.

Not only did he detail the start-up but his career before Educake and the transition between being employed and working for himself, he also gave us some juicy tidbits about getting into publishing. (Always a plus!)

See the official blog about this talk here.

JISC

Today we were visited by Paul Harwood from JISC and were brought up to speed on the ever-growing world of Open Access. As far as journals go, I know a little but not a lot, my knowledge of Open Access before this talk was essentially that it exists, as well as a few highlights I’d read from the Finch Report. (I am a terrible Publishing Enthusiast for this, I know, but I am learning!)

I was, however, familiar with JISC before this lecture (very much because Ruth is currently an intern with them) so I do not fail on all accounts.

The lecture detailed the problems facing publishers with the growth of OA, particularly with focus to the Finch Report and the move by the Government to ensure that all research which is publicly funded is available to be read by anyone without needing a subscription. This is creating all sorts of publishing models to ensure the best result for both the publisher and the author (and in part the institution the author belongs to).

He spoke at length about the Gold model (points which I will summarise in an edit of this post as I idiotically left my notes at home – I am not at home) but less about the Green model, which I gather is more of a move away from publishers. (Do not quote me on this.) I can only assume that this is because the Gold model is perhaps newer than the Green.

Harwood’s lecture focused mainly on the UK implications of OA with a small mention of Europe. It summarised the UK’s position in terms of research (how much of the global research pool was/is provided by Britons) and I was surprised to see how great it was (compared to our share of the world’s population).

Anyway, as I lack my notes I can’t say much more on this but I was much impressed by this lunchtime’s Digital Lunchtime Lecture. Look out on Twitter next Wednesday for the next in the series (follow #DLL13).

Open Book, when OICPS Children’s does Radio

Between giving my Dad a topical, appropriate and somewhat hilarious (if I do say so myself) birthday card and a very short story, and formulating an argument for my Children’s research article (which is harder than it might seem), I thought I would come here and update my blog, since I haven’t for a little while. This, however, will not be a long entry due to the aforementioned argument formulation.

Today was the day we ‘performed’ our first Children’s assignment; a radio show. While I am emphatically not a fan of public speaking and the thought of doing the assignment terrified me more than I would like to admit (but admit it, I shall), I did greatly enjoy listening to the radio shows of the other groups in the class. Topics included: the taboo of poo in children’s literature, homosexuality in children’s literature, the censorship of racism in re-releases of classic children’s books, the affect of library cutbacks on children’s publishing, the importance of reading at home, and the attempt to break away from stereotypes in children’s publishing.

The scripts were engaging and often brought out a giggle or two throughout the rest of the class, especially when amusing accents were involved. It was an interesting alternative to the usual presentation style of assignment (though no less nerve-racking).