Friday, November 30, 2007

Windows to the future

Adobe and Yahoo have just announced the ability to embed advertising into PDF files.

All Publishers have to do is to upload the PDF files to an Adobe/Yahoo portal where it is "ad-enabled" allowing dynamically generated contextual ads to be displayed whenever the PDF is viewed. The service is currently in beta and it's free! It is limited now to text, pay-per-click ads, but I am sure it will be expanded to include graphics and rich media.

This is a huge breakthrough for publishers. The advertising opportunities are clear and important. We are all searching for viable alternatives to the subscription model.

It could be so much more than that. I think of this more as a window to the future. Whenever a PDF is opened in the future any content can be piped in at that moment. Content that is relevant to that moment in time and space when the document is being read. It could be an advert, but it could also be a note to say that the article has been updated or it could contain an erratum. It could alert the reader to recent publications that are relevant. The possibilities are endless.

The other huge benefit is the possibility to track usage. Today we measure PDF downloads and correlate this to the act of reading an article. In future we can track every time a file is opened, at least in theory. It will be truly fascinating to see what the lifetime of a downloaded article is.

Of course, there will be those that see the DRM demon all over this. The truth is that the technology to embed DRM into a PDF and have it "call home" has been around for a while. It has remained largely unused by scientific publshers. I suspect the reason is the delicate balance between revenue and visibility. It would seem to make sense to protect copyright with DRM, yet the huge barrier to use that this causes is detrimental to visibility. And all Publishers know that zero visibility leads to zero revenues. The other reason is that Librarians are dedicated and effective protectors of misuse; they respect licenses and respond quickly to abuse. There is no need for DRM when there is a trusted relationship between Publisher and Librarian.

So what would you use your window to the future for?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

5th Elsevier Scandinavian Librarian Forum

My company arranges occasional workshops and forums across the world. These Library Connect events "bring together Elsevier colleagues and customers to discuss issues of concern for information professionals."

I was invited to speak at an event today on Web 2.0 and what it means for Publishers. I was hoping that the audience of Library Directors would also be inspired to think about and discuss what it means for Libraries.

It seemed to go well at least from my perspective. It was good to step back and review Web 2.0 and think about what it means for a Publisher and what it could mean for a Library. In both cases I believe the key is that Web 2.0 helps us all connect with our users and customers. Hopefully some of the participants will give me feedback by commenting on this post.

Here are some of the resources I called upon for the presentation
Library 2.0: An Academic Perspective
What I Learned Today
Library Toolbar
Stephen's Lighthouse
Michael Wesch's Videos

If you are interested, you can find the powerpoint slides here

Finally, big thanks to colleagues Rafael Sidi and Chris Shillum, I borrowed heavily from their presentations on similar topics.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Must have gadget

USB digital microscope enlarges up to 200 times with 1.3 megapixels. Supports pictures and videos.

The best bit is that it also does time lapse movies so you can record a video with only one or two images per minute. Place a sprouting bean under the microscope and film it as it grows. School projects will never be the same.

As the website says "Ever wondered what lint looks like or the mold growing on your week-old bagels? Now you can find out."


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Google copying Microsoft copying Google

I have been trying out Live Search and it's associated services. During the installation of Virtual Earth (Microsoft's copy of Google Earth), I was asked whether I wanted to make Live Search my default search. I chose yes and up popped this screen.

We're all used to Microsoft pulling this trick, it's the first time I've seen Google copying them. Note the use of the word "disable" for the "wrong" option.

Then I thought I'd have fun and went searching for our house. Here's the fantastic image from Microsoft Virtual Earth - our house is the one at the end of the row with the white conservatory out back. The detail is spectacular I think; the angle of view really gives depth and perspective.

And here's Google Earth's image which is way inferior (I promise there's no tricks here - just cropped screen shots)

Both images are relatively recent, we only built the conservatory 4 years ago

Link Blog November 2nd

Here are some posts that caught my eye in the last couple of days: