26 December 2010

Cuban aid in Haiti

Here's a story you don't read much about - Cuban doctors and medical workers are doing more work to relieve the cholera and earthquake victims in Haiti and workers from any other country.  Read about it in today's Independent on Sunday I wonder why we hear so little about Cuba's aid work around the world? Could it be that the US government is unhappy to hear any good news about that little island?  I have heard nothing about this on BBC radio or TV, or any other UK TV channel - and yet it's a big story. One bit that the UK government will not like to hear (besotted as it is by anything American) is this:

Imti Choonara, a paediatrician from Derby, leads a delegation of international health professionals at annual workshops in Cuba's third city, Camaguey. "Healthcare in Cuba is phenomenal, and the key is the family doctor, who is much more proactive, and whose focus is on prevention ... The irony is that Cubans came to the UK after the revolution to see how the NHS worked. They took back what they saw, refined it and developed it further; meanwhile we are moving towards the US model,"
One thing is for sure: the longer the US maintains its stance of having nothing to do with Cuba, the better it will be for Cuba.  The moment US business interests are allowed into Cuba, the values that support this kind of aid will begin to disappear and Cuba would be on its way to becoming another Puerto Rico.

25 December 2010

The future of newspapers

There's a very thoughtful article by John Lanchester in the London Review of Books on the future of newspapers.  Basically, his point is that newspapers are going to get rid of their print editions - the big costs of printing and distribution simply are not being met by the current level of ad income and especially since classified ads moved to the Web.  I recall, in the late 90s being at a conference organized by a management consultant friend of mine.  Present was the owner of a local newspaper chain from the mid-West of the USA.  I asked him what he was doing about the threat of the Internet - he replied that he didn't see the main source of his income, classified ads, disappearing.  I wonder what he is doing now and what he might have been doing had he listened to what I was saying?  So, I agree with Lanchester - newspapers would find it cheaper to go totally digital and give away e-readers to those who subscribed.  Lanchester suggests some form of micro-payment and argues that people will be willing to pay to read selected material. Possibly. I think, however, they are going to have to be smarter at negotiating deals with all kinds of advertisers and Web services in addition to making it easy to pay for content you enjoy.

17 December 2010

The blog gets listed

I received an e-mail today telling me that this blog has been ranked number 7 in a list of interesting information science blogs.

I recommend taking a look at the list, there's some interesting stuff there that I hadn't known about previously.

08 December 2010

Giving open access a bad name

I am continually being pestered to review papers for journals that are quite outside the scope of my interests from editorial assistants working for the open access publisher Academic Journals.  I imagine that I am not the only one suffering in this way and the publisher ought to understand that this practice is damaging the open access movement.  Clearly, the people involved have no idea of how to select referees for papers and are presumably relying on a mailing list developed by the publisher without reference to the range of interests of the people involved.  The latest was a request to review for the International Journal of Peace and Development Studies a paper on "Creating space for community-based conservation initiatives (CBCIs) in conventional academics" - I assume that "academies" is intended here.  The paper would need an enormous amount of language editing to make it suitable for any Western journal and my impression is (judging from papers in other journals from this publisher) that they do not receive that kind of attention. This serves only to feed the notion that open access = low quality.  One can't imagine how these journals (and the publisher's home page lists more than 100 titles) are going to survive.