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Weekly News Digest

February 22, 2010 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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New Pew Research Center Survey on the Future of the Internet

A survey of nearly 900 internet stakeholders reveals fascinating new perspectives on the way the internet is affecting human intelligence and the ways that information is being shared and rendered. The web-based survey gathered opinions from prominent scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers, and technology developers. It is the fourth in a series of internet expert studies conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University and the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/Future-of-the-Internet-IV.aspx).

The survey finds that most experts and stakeholders say the internet will enhance-not degrade-our intelligence. It will also change the functions of reading and writing and will be rebuilt around still-unanticipated gadgetry and applications. Some of the most compelling responses were answers that extend the debate over criticisms leveled by tech scholar and analyst Nicholas Carr in a 2008 Atlantic Monthly magazine cover story (www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/google) titled "Is Google Making Us Stupid?"

In all, 895 people responded to the online survey, and 371 of them were experts who have participated in past surveys about the future of the internet. In this survey, experts were asked to react to two opposing statements about the direction and impact of the internet 10 years from now-that is, the year 2020. The report covers the answers to these issues:

  • Will Google make us stupid?
  • Will the internet enhance or detract from reading, writing, and rendering of knowledge?
  • Is the next wave of innovation in technology, gadgets, and applications pretty clear now, or will the most interesting developments between now and 2020 come "out of the blue"?
  • Will the end-to-end principle of the internet still prevail in 10 years or will there be more control of access to information?
  • Will it be possible to be anonymous online or not by the end of the decade?

Source: Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project

Over Drive Announces New Ebook Services for 2010

OverDrive, Inc. (www.overdrive.com), a distributor of ebooks and audiobooks for libraries and retailers, announced new services that will significantly expand its digital distribution network for copyrighted digital media. New digital book formats, streaming content services, and title discovery and fulfillment enhancements will be available in 2010, which will help OverDrive's publishing partners, retailers, and libraries capitalize on accelerating market demand.

During 2009, OverDrive achieved its fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth and profitability by adding hundreds of retail, library, corporate, and school outlets for more than 1,000 publishers' copyrighted ebooks, audiobooks, music, and video in more than a dozen countries. Building on this momentum, OverDrive will introduce new services for 2010, including the following:

  • Content Reserve Plus: OverDrive's global distribution platform will integrate third-party digital catalogs to add their ebooks, databases, music, video, and enhanced multimedia content to OverDrive's network of retail and institutional accounts. In March, OverDrive will demonstrate interactive educational ebook products including "read aloud" features and DRM-free ebooks in Open EPUB and Open PDF formats at the Public Library Association National Conference in Portland, Ore. OverDrive is now in negotiation with rightsholders of databases, periodicals, newspapers, music by the track, HD and mobile streaming video, and reader apps to add their content to OverDrive's current catalog of more than 450,000 copyrighted digital titles.
  • OverDrive Catalog Apps: OverDrive catalog apps, REST APIs, web services, RSS, and other tools utilizing XML and open standards will enable mobile app developers and wireless devices to directly manage ebookselling, catalog access, discovery, and ecommerce support for customers of digital books directly from OverDrive-powered retail ebookstores, library catalogs, and other digital collections.
  • OverDrive MIDAS 2.0 and eBook Category & Customer Management (ECCM): OverDrive's ecommerce bookstore platform, MIDAS, is enhancing its subscription and continuity sales services to include ebook clubs, metered content sales, and new customer retention and loyalty programs, for its multinational, multilanguage, and multicurrency platform.
  • OverDrive Reciprocal: OverDrive's consolidated bookshelf service will provide readers a single location for access, preferences, permission-based contact from publishers and authors across numerous ebook formats, audiobooks, interactive titles, subscriptions, and suppliers of premium media. Reciprocal will provide single sign-on (SSO) ecommerce and membership card support to dozens of ebookstores, libraries, and user accounts.
  • OverDrive First Gear: Enhanced DRM-free ebook and audiobook excerpts for streaming or offline reading with direct "buy-it-now" options and coupons dynamically customized into each title. First Gear will also be able to connect readers with retailers, publisher and author websites, and fan communities.
  • OverDrive Dashboard: A series of desktop and mobile apps that provide publishers, booksellers, librarians, and readers with valuable information, including real-time statistics and charts for their catalogs and collections.
  • OverDrive Digital Kiosk & Library eBook Devices: OverDrive will release the next version of its OverDrive Download Station software, which provides direct access to ebooks and other popular media inside hundreds of schools and libraries. OverDrive is also working with several PC, tablet, netbook, and e-reader device manufacturers who will introduce products specifically designed for use in schools, libraries, and institutions to access OverDrive catalogs of ebooks, audiobooks, music, video, and enhanced content.

Source: OverDrive, Inc.

Gale Announces Enhancements to Grzimekís Animal Life

Gale (www.gale.cengage.com), a part of Cengage Learning, announced a major set of enhancements for Grzimek's Animal Life, the online resource covering more than 4,000 species of animals, including the addition of new content, navigational tools, and social networking capabilities.

"Grzimek's Animal Life is an interactive, media-rich knowledge portal," said Jason Bass, Gale's associate publisher, general reference. "Transforming the 17-volume print version of Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, into an online resource, was the first step in bringing this mainstay to life. The new enhancements provide students with additional tools to find authoritative content and support teachers with further alignments to the national science curriculum."

The following features are now available:

  • Complementary content from UXL Encyclopedia of Biomes, second edition, has been integrated to provide coverage on 12 of the earth's major biomes. Each biome is explained through comprehensive essays including detailed information on climate, elevation, soil, water bodies, vegetation, animal life, food web, plant and animal adaptations, and endangered species. Biomes are accessible through the main site navigation or a new interactive range map, powered by Google.
  • Academic journals have been made available to all pages through a tab on the news portlet.
  • Eighteen new essays are offered, including "Animalia," which explains the breath and diversity of animal life, written by Grzimek's Animal Life editorial board's editor-in-chief Nancy Simmons, chair of the division of vertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. The other new essays cover additional groups including marsupials, bony fish, worms, and starfish.
  • Updated navigation aids browsing through animal groups and species.
  • Options to share articles through popular social networking and bookmarking sites are offered.
  • An OPAC connection allows libraries to expand search results to include their other holdings.

Free lesson plans, trials, webinars, interactive product previews, reviews, training videos, and more information are available at www.gale.com/animallife.

Source: Gale, a part of Cengage Learning

Wikimedia Foundation Announces $2 Million Grant From Google

The Wikimedia Foundation (http://wikimediafoundation.org), the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia, announced that it has received a $2 million grant from the Google, Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. This is the Wikimedia Foundation's first grant from Google. The funds will support core operational costs of the Wikimedia Foundation, including investments in technical infrastructure to support rapidly increasing global traffic and capacity demands. The funds will also be used to support the organization's efforts to make Wikipedia easier to use and more accessible.

Wikipedia founder and Wikimedia Foundation board member, Jimmy Wales, commented on the Google gift. "We are very pleased and grateful. This is a wonderful gift, and we celebrate it as recognition of the long-term alignment and friendship between Google and Wikimedia. Both organizations are committed to bringing high quality information to hundreds of millions of individuals every day, and to making the Internet better for everyone."

The two organizations have a long-standing working relationship. Most recently, Google and the Wikimedia Foundation have partnered to support translation of Wikipedia content into key languages with relatively small Wikipedia editions. Google's Translation Toolkit supports direct online translation of Wikipedia articles, and has been used by Google in Wikipedia translation pilot projects with speakers of Arabic, Hindi, and Swahili.

Wikimedia's support comes primarily from individual donations made by regular users of Wikipedia. The Wikimedia Foundation completed its 2009-2010 fundraiser in January. During the drive, 240,000 individuals donated more than $8 million, representing three-quarters of its planned revenue for the fiscal year.

Source: Wikimedia Foundation

McGraw-Hill Professional Releases Select: eChapters in an Instant

McGraw-Hill Professional (www.mhprofessional.com) announced that it is releasing Select: eChapters in an Instant. Select's collection contains more than 750 chapters of "market-leading information" pulled from a diverse book collection of authors and experts representing the best of McGraw-Hill Professional's library-comprising finance, business process, management, and professional books.

Select: eChapters in an Instant allows consumers to easily access relevant material from stand-alone chapters of assorted works, offering professionals a variety of perspectives and approaches to a specific topic. Readers will still be able to purchase the full ebook and print book.

The Select: eChapters collections will be widely available through popular devices including Kindle, nook, and iPhone, as well as other vehicles serving libraries and institutional markets. They can also be purchased at McGraw-Hill Professional's site: www.mhprofessional.com/echapters. Prices for individual e-chapters range from $6.95 to $9.95.

McGraw-Hill Professional is a unit of McGraw-Hill Education, a division of The McGraw-Hill Co. (www.mcgraw-hill.com).

Source: McGraw-Hill Professional

Open Text to Acquire Nstein Technologies

Open Text Corp. (www.opentext.com), provider of enterprise content management (ECM) capabilities, and Nstein Technologies, Inc. (www.nstein.com), provider of digital content management solutions for information-rich organizations, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement by which Open Text will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Nstein through an Nstein shareholder-approved amalgamation with a subsidiary of Open Text under the Companies Act (Quebec). The transaction is valued at approximately CDN $35 million.

According to Open Text president and CEO John Shackleton, Nstein will extend the breadth of Open Text's ECM offerings. Based in Montreal, Nstein's solutions are sold across major market segments, such as media and information services, life sciences, and government.

"This is a good fit for two strong Canadian companies," said Shackleton. "With Nstein, we have an opportunity to continue to grow as Canada's largest software company, expanding Open Text's presence in Quebec. Nstein will also add complementary technology and expertise that enhances our ECM solutions portfolio."

"This agreement helps Nstein take its next major step into the future," said Luc Filiatreault, president and CEO of Nstein. "We've always been committed to delivering innovative solutions to our customers and partners. Our agreement with Open Text is in keeping with this commitment. Customers will benefit from an expanded ECM solutions portfolio, and a shared vision for innovative solutions going forward."

The transaction is expected to close in 2Q 2010 and is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval of two-thirds of the votes cast by Nstein's shareholders and applicable regulatory and stock exchange approvals. A special meeting of Nstein's shareholders is expected to be held to consider the amalgamation in early April 2010.

Source: Open Text Corp.



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