Some profs here at DSU have suggested moving all our textbooks to Kindle. But when Amazon.com can reach into my library and erase my books (and notes!) after I’ve bought them, I say forget it. Last Friday, Amazon.com reached out and touched Kindle users by deleting improperly licensed editions of 1984 and Animal Farm.

…“It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. “As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow.”

Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading “1984” on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. “They didn’t just take a book back, they stole my work,” he said [Brad Stone, “Amazon Erases Orwell Books from Kindle,” New York Times, 2009.07.17].

Amazon.com did refund users’ money, and a contrite spokesman says they will revamp their policies to avoid such deletions from user devices in similar circumstances in the future. But this incident demonstrates that the Kindle gives too much control over content to the seller, control I as a student and teacher don’t care to surrender. If I can’t find a book I bought or the notes I’ve scribbled in the margins, I want it to be because I misplaced it, not because the company snuck into my house and took it away.

Keep your Kindle; I’ll stick with books and the Web.

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We just can’t trust that medical-industrial complex, can we? Last month I posted about big-pharma Merck planting paid corporate propaganda in faux-journals. Now the New York Times reports a medical researcher forged coauthor signatures and may have gotten bogus research paid for by Medtronic into a real journal. (more…)

My MWDSI 2009 paper was a day late and a euro short, thanks to Freiburg im Breisgau, but the U.K.’s Headstar.com still thought my discussion of electronic participatory budgeting was worth reading… and publishing! Editor Dan Jellinek boiled it down to an essay (stripping out all those boring old APA citations) and posted it in Headstar’s E-Government Bulletin Live online newsletter. Cool!

…or is it? For much of the academic world, publication in anything other than a scholarly journal is irrelevant to status. I’ve heard that occasionally profs look down on colleagues who get articles published in practitioner journals.

But again, to whom are we telling our stories? To whom do they matter? I know there’s some big timber we can fell in our forest that will build some spectacular houses, even if the rest of the world that lives in them can’t comprehend how they were built. But when we can express our ideas in ways that a broader audience can grasp, I see no reason that we shouldn’t. The fact that an idea can be expressed in a broadly comprehensible manner does not render that idea inherently inferior or less important. Spread the word!

Ilse Zigurs, Matt Germonprez, Yi Maggie Guo, and Stacie Petter lead a discussion of academic publishing. (more…)

I presented in INFS 838 on open access publishing and peer review. A logical reason for opposition to open access publication is that it’s not as trustworthy as the formal peer-reviewed journals put out by the big publishing houses.

Or is it? Evidently pharmaceutical giant Merck paid Elsevier to publish a bogus journal that talked up Merck products like Fosamax and Vioxx. Between 2000 and 2005, unnamed pharmaceutical companies paid Elsevier to publish six “sponsored publications” that were dressed up to look like peer-reviewed content.

So sure, open access publishing makes it possible for crackpots to slip their nonsense into the system. But at least we’re all on an even footing, crackpots and scholars alike. Only really rich outfits like Big Pharma can co-opt an academic publisher to disseminate its junk science.

And note that it was the blogosphere that helped shine the light on Elsevier’s unacceptable publication. Tech journalist Glyn Moody argues that open access, with more eyes online, would have exposed Elsevier’s trickery sooner.

…plus a quick gripe about IEEE style!

Here’s something to kick around: move all scholarly IS research, review, and publication online. We’re IS geeks; we ought to be able to use IS to optimize our own processes. (more…)

Here’s a new venue for publishing e-gov research… and maybe even offshoots of the SPN-SKM project:

The International Journal of E-Politics (IJEP) establishes the foundations of e-politics as an emerging interdisciplinary area of research and practice, as well as offers a venue for publications that focus on theories and empirical research on the manifestations of e-politics in various contexts and environments. This journal encompasses diverse aspects of e-politics, including: strategy, e-commerce, decision sciences, marketing, economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, media studies, communication studies, women studies, black studies, political science, philosophy, law, criminology, and ethics.

Editor-in-chief: Celia Romm Livermore of Wayne State University