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UCL Press and Academic Book of the Future BOOC presentation

JaimeeBiggins31 January 2017

Last week Lara Speicher (Publishing Manager, UCL Press) and I presented a session at the British Library on UCL Press and its new online BOOC platform as part of the second Academic Book Week (23-28 January 2017). Our presentation consisted of an overview of UCL Press followed by an introduction to our new online publication platform, BOOC (to be launched in February 2017).  BOOC stands for Books as Open Online Content, and the format consists of a living book that is hosted on a browser-based platform. Material includes traditional content such as reports and presentations alongside non-traditional genres such as videos, presentations, blogs and Storifys. The first project to be published on BOOC is content from the Academic Book of the Future research project, (a project funded by the AHRC and British Library and run by academics at UCL and King’s College London to investigate the future of the academic book) and the pieces included are peer reviewed contributions from industry professionals and academics involved in the project. Content can be added to the platform over time rather than in one go allowing for an ongoing, dynamic evolution.

The audience at our talk was made up of librarians, academics, booksellers and other people invested in the academic book. There was genuine interest in the UCL Press model and we received some questions about funding and how academics had reacted to us within the institution.  It was great to show the impact UCL Press has achieved in terms of download figures and number of countries reached since launching in June 2015.  There was also real engagement from the audience about BOOC. Questions that came up included: how does copyright deposit work with something like BOOC? How are BOOC articles cited? What license does BOOC use? Does BOOC have an ISBN?  Is BOOC actually a book or is it just a collection of articles? The latter question feeds directly into the debates that were core to the Academic Book of the Future project – these questions still need to be answered. How do we define an academic book? Is a book a stable thing? What about new editions? Editors of BOOC, Dr Samantha Rayner and Rebecca Lyons were on hand to talk about this. They also discussed the process of curating the material for BOOC and their role as a quality checkpoint along the way. We also gave a demo of BOOC and got very useful feedback from the audience. Most people seemed to admire the clean, simple layout of the site. We had some questions about the searchability functions of BOOC and whether content tagging could be used so that users could click on a keyword and be taken to content on that subject. Others said a bookmarking tool would be useful. We will feedback on this to our digital developer. The beauty of BOOC is that improvements can be made over time. We were pleased with the interesting discussion our talk sparked and look forward to following the continued debates about the future of the academic book!

From Facebook to ‘fakebook’ – who controls the information on social media?

AlisonFox20 January 2017

Today’s guest blog is by Xinyuan Wang of UCL’s Department of Anthropology. She is author of Social Media in Industrial China

屏幕快照-2014-08-27-下午1.55.34-3-496x290Mark Zuckerberg finally said that Facebook plans to have a more effective control of misinformation, which is a sharp reversal in tone from the comment he made immediately after the US election that the “the idea that fake news on Facebook…influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.” The fake news that circulated widely on Facebook is believed to have influenced the US election. It is reported that some fake news was created by teenagers in Macedonia who cashed in by catering fake news to demand, and many more were posted by ‘alt-right’ people who cooked up stories on platforms such as 8chan, 4chan, and social media.

The story of how fake news circulated on Facebook reminds me of what I have witnessed about the information consumption on social media among Chinese factory workers during my 15 months of field work in a small factory town in southeast China. Certainly, in many ways the two cases are incomparable, whereas the pattern of information dissemination seems to bear certain similarities.

For Chinese factory workers whose average education level is below middle school (most of them dropped out of school before the age of 17), social media has become the most important, if not the only, information resource. Therefore, social media actually plays an extremely important role in those less-educated people’s communication and (informal) education. What are the consequences of people being dependent on social media as their major information resource? Well, first of all, there will be a higher chance that the information people get will become unbalanced. For people who simultaneously consume news from other traditional media with ‘gatekeepers’, such as TV, newspapers, and magazines, social media is only one of the tools to get news. Therefore, even if there are fake news stories on social media, the reliability of that news will be constantly tested in a more rounded information environment and any possible hazard of fake news will be diluted in a more balanced ‘informational ecology’ – just like natural purification. However, if social media has become the only or the major information resource, the risk of fake news can be amplified. Generally speaking, the higher education people receive, the lower the chance that social media will become their only or major information resource.

To add another layer to the problem. Unlike traditional media where information is distributed in a relatively neutral way, information on social media is not only filtered by customised algorithms based on users’ personal information, but is also filtered by people’s personal social network online – that is to say, each social media contact is a potential news agent who feeds you news on a daily basis. To give an example, as written in the book Social Media in Industrial China based on my research, a comparison of the shared postings on 145 social media profiles of factory workers and 55 profiles of middle-class Chinese in Shanghai shows that there is almost no information flow between two different social groups. Over a period of four months only one out of 6,000 articles (0.03 per cent) was found to have been shared in both groups, though 5.1 per cent of articles were shared within the factory workers group and 1.6 per cent within the Shanghai group. In the case of factory workers, the possibility of the same information being shared within the social group with similar social-economic status is 170 times higher than the possibility of it being shared across groups with different socio-economic statuses.

Also, the amount of fake news I encountered on factory workers’ social media profiles was much more than that on the profiles of middle-class Chinese. Most of the fake news were sensational and dramatic stories about conspiracy, romance, or crime. Even though a few factory workers commented that they could imagine that there were certain ‘untruth’ elements in those news items, most people who shared the news believed the news was based on true stories and those who were not 100% sure certainly enjoyed the reading – as a kind of entertainment. “I would say there must be some truth in it (fake news) otherwise there won’t be so many people sharing it, right? Well, at least I feel for the story, that matters,” a 25-year-old male factory worker told me.

So while there is now the debate about how a social media company can take responsibility to control fake news on social media, for all intents and purposes one also has to acknowledge that in many cases, the most powerful information control comes from people’s sociality – on social media there is a certain truism: ‘who you know may decide what you know’. Among like-minded friends, on social media one receives news that is in most cases only confirming the beliefs shared by the social group one belongs to.

About the author

Xinyuan Wang has recently been awarded a PhD by the Dept. of Anthropology at UCL. She obtained her MSc from the UCL’s Digital Anthropology Programme. She is an artist in Chinese traditional painting and calligraphy. She translated (Horst and Miller Eds.) Digital Anthropology into Chinese and contributed a piece on Digital Anthropology in China. Her book,  Social Media in Industrial China, focuses on the extensive fieldwork she did with Chinese factory workers as part of the Why We Post project. To find out more about the Why We Post series at  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/why-we-post.

This post originally appeared on the Global Social Media Impact Study blog. It has been re-posted with permission.

UCL Press And Academic Book Of The Future Announce Interactive Workshop To Celebrate Academic Book Week

AlisonFox17 January 2017

UCL Press and Academic Book of the Future are delighted to invite you to an event at the British Library to celebrate the publication of the Academic Book of the Future BOOC during Academic Book week. To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/2jFfLvm

UCL Press launched in June 2015, and it makes all its scholarly books and journals available freely online in open access form, as well as in print. Since it launched, it has published 30 books and 5 journals and its books and journals have reached more than 180,000 readers in over 190 countries around the world. As well as traditional monographs, UCL Press publishes innovative digital research on a browser-based platform, featuring articles and chapters of different lengths, different formats (blog, video, audio), and which are added over time – and so the BOOC was born (Books as Open Online Content). The first book in this format features the research outputs from the Academic Book of the Future project, an AHRC/British Library funded project led by researchers at UCL and Kings College London.

The UCL Press team will be available to:

• Demonstrate BOOC live:

• Answer questions about its open access model – or anything else about its publishing activity

• Show its books

• Present its new publishing services model for other institutions who wish to set up their own

• Presentation

A presentation about UCL Press will take place at 11 – 11.15, followed by a Q&A session.

To register, please visit: http://bit.ly/2jFfLvm