Students – earning less, owing more

Several bad news stories for students have emerged this month.

A report (‘Payback Time’) published by the Sutton Trust in the UK, sets out to analyse the impact of recent changes to student loans and fees.  Under the new regime, under which tuition fees rose to a maximum of £9,000 a year, students will leave university with almost £20,000 more debt on average than under the previous system.

The report concludes that most students will still be paying back their loans into their 40s and 50s.  Many will never clear their debts.  The study uses the example of an ‘average teacher’, who would still be paying back the student loan into their early 50s.

Meanwhile, as the cost of an education increases, the value of a degree is declining.

According to research by The Complete University Guide, over the last five years, the value of a degree has declined by up to a third.  Researches analysed data based on graduate employment and earnings six months after leaving university.   They found that the average starting salary for graduates in professional employment dropped by 11 per cent in real terms between 2007 and 2012.

However, some degree courses, including librarianship and information management, have bucked the trend.

Meanwhile in Sweden there are moves to amend existing student loan guidelines.  The proposed changes would mean that student loans will no longer be written off when graduates reach the age of 67 and that fees for ‘late payment reminder’ letters will double.

Corporate information services in 2014

“The game is changing”

Business Information Review’s annual Survey is now in its 24th year.  The author, Allan Foster, conducts in-depth and confidential interviews with senior information managers running corporate information services in a range of industry sectors to develop a detailed view of how these information services are resourced, managed and financed.

The survey covers budgets, staff levels, outsourcing, vendor relationships, deepening the partnership with the business, the impact of mobile technology, contribution to knowledge management and more.  The overwhelming impression is of experienced information managers who are ambitious for their organisations and who recognise the challenges they are facing.

Key findings

  • Content budgets are stable – only 15% of respondents are experiencing significant reductions (5% or more)
  • Great majority of respondents interested – or have an early involvement – in big data and data analytics initiatives.
  • Major potential new role in curating big data and analytics
  • Global operations for many services, with varying central control and a mix of organisational models
  • Pressures on staff headcount – 35% lose posts; other posts filled by temporary or fixed term contracts
  • A commitment to outsourcing by some 50% of respondents, some very mature arrangements, with a shifting balance of responsibilities between onshore and offshore staff
  • Whether to embed information staff in business units is still a big decision point for managers
  • Technical, analytics and personal skills development needs of IS staff is widely recognised
  • Many positive developments in knowledge sharing, social media, the use of stories and growing use of enterprise-wide collaborative systems
  • Relationships with information vendors and managing local access to data products still a high priority

For Foster, the key issue for information managers is to find a way to exploit existing competencies and develop new skillsets to help their organisations to make better decisions.  “If this territory is moving information management away from the conventional exploitation of external information and the piecemeal processing of internal data then that’s where we need to be”.

SAGE is offering free online access to its information science journals in April 2014.

The language of CVs

LinkedIn has used its membership data to analyse the words most frequently used on CVs.

The findings highlight global developments and regional differences.

In top spot the most popular word is ‘responsible’, which is used twice as frequently as any other word.  Other words appearing in the latest global top ten include: Analytical, Creative, Driven, Innovative, Patient and Strategic.

Some words have dropped out of the top ten in the last year.  These include ‘Experimental’, ‘Motivated’ and ‘Multinational’.

The national and regional differences are fascinating.  ‘Sustainable’ only features as a top ten term in the Netherlands.  Only in the UK does ‘Enthusiasm’ feature as a top ten trait.  Passionate is a top ten word in Australia and New Zealand and nowhere else.  ‘Patient’ features in the US top ten but nowhere else in the world.

Library and information recruitment experts at Sue Hill Recruitment have also blogged about overused words and phrases on CVs.  Their advice on avoiding clichés is to think carefully about evidence, proof and meaningless terms such as honest, reliable and enthusiastic.  After all, it’s unlikely an employer will be looking for anyone with the opposite of those qualities!

Acting on the information!

We know we should all find the time to regularly review our social media profiles, and keep our CVs as up to date as possible.

  • Review your profile for LinkedIn’s top ten terms – are you using the words effectively?
  • Provide concrete examples to demonstrate your skills
  • Share examples of your best work
  • Seek out recommendations and endorsements
  • Keep an eye on recruitment expert blogs, particularly those who specialise in your field – they will keep you up to date with recruitment trends.

Something completely different

For fans of the Lego Movie – or simply of Lego – take a look at this ‘Lego CV’ created by someone looking for an internship with an advertising agency. A perfect example of customising the CV to the employer, the role and standing out from the crowd!

How to succeed in the movie industry

“Be smart, committed, hardworking – and nice”

Pictures of Meryl Streep have been appearing in the London newspapers.  She was in the city filming her latest role as an influential British woman.  This time she is starring as Emmeline Pankhurst in the new movie ‘Suffragette’ about the struggle for women’s suffrage in Great Britain in the early 20th century.  Hopefully the movie will raise awareness amongst young people in particular of the struggle to bring the vote to everyone.

The film is being produced by Alison Owen who has just given the latest Olive Till Memorial lecture at the Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths College, University of London. As she shared her experiences in the film and TV industries, Alison also spoke about how much the industry has changed for women since she began producing music videos in the 1980s.

Just as there are many kinds of managers, so there are many types of film producer.  They can do ‘pretty much nothing’ or ‘pretty much everything’.  The role can include the financial aspects, the team building and/or the creative process itself.  Alison’s preferred way of working is collaborative, working with directors particularly at script stage.  She loves – and looks for – good writing.

Key lessons from a successful producer

  • Be courteous – Alison read every script submitted to her and responded – this is what got her noticed early on in her career
  • Understand what elements you enjoy about your job – taking a project from A-Z is what interests Alison, so these are the projects she looks for
  • She loves the creative, collaborative aspects of her role, especially at script stage
  • Be passionate, emotional AND practical.  She is looking for her own visceral, emotional response to a project.  She wants to see women’s lives reflected on screen.  But projects have to ‘work’ in other ways
  • She measures the success of her projects three ways:
    • Did the project succeed financially?
    • Was it an artistic success?
    • Did the project achieve what she set out to do?
  • You can recover from the worst of events.
    • In 2004, changes to UK tax regulations meant pulling the plug very late on a project called Tulip Fever.  200 people were made redundant.  Alison wrote about the project at the time in a national newspaper.   The film is ‘back on’.

Alison’s CV

Her works include The Other Boleyn Girl, the Oscar-nominated Elizabeth, Shaun of the Dead and Saving Mr Banks as well as television series including Case Histories and Dancing on the Edge.  For a full filmography, see IMDB.

Sharing, collaboration and getting it wrong

There’s nothing like a headline telling you you’ve got it wrong to make you read on. 

An article on Time.com written by a data analytics expert tells us ‘What [we] think [we] know about the Web is wrong’ – or at least when it comes to measuring ‘clicks’.  Actually most of us already know there is a massive difference between what people share and what they have actually read, or what people click and what they read.  For information professionals, who act as curators for many audiences, clicking and sharing appropriately (or “delving deep into multiple pots of data and information*” is a critical skill.

The article shares some interesting statistics:

  • 55% of those who click on a link spend 15 seconds or less reviewing the screen (lesson – grab your visitors quickly)
  • Content sharers are a small percentage of content visitors – one tweet per 100 visitors/readers

…and is worth reading for longer than 15 seconds.

On SocialMediaToday, another headline suggests we’ve got social media ‘all wrong’.  It’s a brief overview of how social media supports search engine optimisation and reminds us that customers don’t owe brands anything “They don’t have to share your content, they don’t have to interact with posts and they certainly don’t have to suggest your page to other people.”

Collaboration goes mainstream in the sharing economy

Regular readers of this blog may remember a New York Times Insight report about the ‘psychology of sharing’.  A new report has looked at ‘sharers’ in Canada, the UK and US and has organised those participating in the sharing economy into three types:

  • Neo-Sharers are those who have used sharing services such as Etsy**, Kickstarter or Airbnb at least once in the past year
  • Re-Sharers – are those who are already using well-established services (eBay etc) but are not yet ‘Neos’
  • Non-Sharers are those with intentions to use sharing services in the next year

Neo- and re-sharers constitute about 40% of the US and Canadian populations and about 50% of the UK population.

Sharers are more likely to be affluent, young and are much more likely to discover services via word of mouth, social networks or blogs than from ‘traditional’ marketing.

*Andy Tattersall writing about overload filters.

** We featured ‘the Etsy economy’ here.

 

 

Book publishing – some recent innovations

Book publishers experimenting with new models; books fighting binge drinking in Italy

Netflix models

An article on Wired.com looks at a new online fiction service called Rooster in which a book publisher adopts a magazine model to make itself more like Netflix!  The service uses a subscription based model that sends content to iPhones and iPads.  The daily chunks of content should take about 15 minutes to read and will deliver two books’ worth of content over a month.  Similarly, Waterstones in the UK has announced Read Petite – a ‘rich reading experience for time-poor readers’.

Another innovation learning from the Netflix model is Epic!  This app aims to encourage children to read by offering rewards for completing chapters or starting ‘reading marathons’.  For a monthly subscription, children have access to a library of over 2000 titles and can rate the books they have read.  The app also allows parents to monitor their children’s reading habits.

Book buying and book borrowing and struggling readers

The latest Pew report shows the link between highly engaged library users and book buying.  The report shows that ‘Library Lovers’ – the heaviest users of libraries and about 10% of the US population – are also frequent buyers of books, despite many of them experiencing a drop in income.

The UK Charity Quick Reads found that reading e-books can be particularly helpful for adults who may be struggling with their reading while 48% say e-readers  have encouraged them to read more.

Binge drinking – books to the rescue!

Sadly Neknominate, the social media drinking game, has spread around the world. In Italy a literary alternative to the game has been developed.  ‘Booknomination’ follows similar rules but instead of drinking, the nominated person must read a passage from a book over a webcam.  The initiative is on Facebook on the hashtag #booknomination.

Sources: Springwise; DigitalBookWorld; TheLocal; Pew Research Center; Publishing Perspectives; Wired.

Youth TV – ‘the need for speed’

The BBC’s youth TV channel to close; but a different story emerges in Belgium

In the UK the BBC has announced that it is to close its ‘youth-oriented’ TV channel and move the content onto its online platform the iPlayer.

Previous proposals to close down radio channels have been revised following public outcry.  In 2010 the BBC announced it wanted to close down two radio stations – 6 Music and the Asian Network.  Neither station was closed.

However, it seems unlikely that BBC Three will be saved.  The Corporation needs to make savings and this move alone could save it £50million a year. Some commentators have suggested the move is short-sighted.  The BBC is funded by licence payers and young people are the licence payers of the future.

In Belgium, VRT, the public service broadcaster has been developing digital projects to engage with its younger audience.  Rachel Bartlett, writing on Journalism.co.uk, describes how the broadcaster developed an internal ‘start-up’ to experiment with new platforms to re-engage with younger viewers.  The broadcaster has been consulting the target audience and is now developing three projects that reflect the way young people use and engage with social media:

  • a mobile video project on Instagram and Snapchat – Ninjanieuws
  • Sambal a Facebook-supported news platform
  • OpenVRT which encourages young people to collaborate with the channel via video, photography and blogging.

Key lessons – ‘the need for speed’

  • Keep videos very short
  • Embed animated gifs into articles – link out to YouTube
  • 15-second long videos helped launch Ninjaniews
  • Tell a news story on a 10-second Snapchat video
  • For the target audience (16-24) – focus on Facebook not Twitter
  • There’s no need for a homepage – Facebook drives traffic
  • Facebook also provides a home for ‘pop-up digital news products’ that respond quickly to certain trends

You can read Rachel’s full article on Journalism.co.uk.

Reputation – the major academic currency

Times Higher Education has released World Reputation Rankings 2014.

Institutional ranking is a major consideration for academics when moving jobs, for students deciding where to study and for potential partners and collaborators. The published rankings are based on over 10,000 responses from 133 countries.

US universities reign supreme

American universities take the top three slots – and take 46 of the top 100.  Harvard remains in first place, with MIT second.  Stanford University has moved into third, jumping ahead of Oxford and Cambridge Universities.  However, US State universities are slipping slightly after suffering budget cuts.

UK – cause for concern?

The UK holds ten of the top 100 places – up from nine last year but the survey suggests there is a growing gap between what it calls the London-Oxford-Cambridge triangle and the rest of the country.

Major Asian institutions make progress

Japan is the region’s best performer, with five in the top 100.  Korea’s Seoul National University has jumped from 41st to 26th.

The story in Europe

  • Two of Sweden’s institutions fell out of the top 100 leaving it with only one (Karolinska)
  • France also lost two universities from the top 100, leaving it with two (Université Paris-Sorbonne and Université Pierre et Marie Curie)
  • Germany is faring much better – it comes third after the US and UK with six universities in the top 100
  • Other European countries featuring in the top 100 are:
    • The Netherlands (Delft University of Technology ranks 42nd).  University of Amsterdam; Leiden University and Utrecht also appear in the top 100
    • Switzerland (ETH Zurich ranks 16th; Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne ranks 49th)
    • Belgium – Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

New survey open

Thomson Reuters has launched its fifth annual Academic Reputation Survey. The survey informs two key indicators of the 13 used to create the annual Times Higher Education World University Rankings, which will be released later this year.

Pizzas, selfies and swearing – new data-led research

Some interesting data-crunching research projects

A new report considers the demographics of selfies in five cities around the world: Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Sao Paolo.

20-30,000 images from each city were analysed both automatically and then using ‘human judgement’ to consider the artistic merits of the images.  Mechanical Turk workers were asked to guess the age and gender of the people.  After that automatic face analysis created algorithmic estimates of facial positions and emotional expressions.  These tags were checked by humans.

Key findings of the report:

  • Gender differences – more women than men take selfies (but Moscow has by far the highest female/male gender gap with four and a half times as many selfies being taken by women)
  • Selfies are a young person’s pastime – the median age of a selfie taker around the world is 23.7 years.
  • Women tilt their heads more than men!
  • More people smile in Bangkok; fewer smile in Moscow

Foul language on Twitter

Researchers at Wright State University in the US analysed a random collection of 51 million tweets from 14 million users to measure the ubiquity and context of swearing on Twitter.  They identified – amongst other things – different contexts for swearing and which day of the week sees the most swearing.  The full PDF of the article can be downloaded by a link on this page – but beware.  The article uses swear words throughout and is probably not suitable for work!

Pizza and value for money

Analysis of almost 75,000 pizza prices in the US sets out to answer once and for all the tricky question of pizza size versus value for money.

Using data to predict the Oscars

BuzzFeed’s Data Scientist seems to have successfully predicted many of the winners and losers in this piece (published before the ceremony).  He correctly predicted a Best Picture win for 12 Years a Slave, a win for Matthew McConaughey and best original screenplay for Her.)

Pizzas and selfies at the Oscars

Of course pizzas and selfies were combined at this year’s Oscar ceremony when the host and several Hollywood A-listers posed for what was to become one of the most retweeted images ever – the ‘selfie to beat all selfies’.  They then ordered in pizza.

Bitcoins and gold coins

Is hiding your hoard in a rusty tin can safer?!

News stories have emerged about an American couple who have found buried treasure on their land. Initially they thought they might have found a marker for a grave, perhaps for a pet.  However, what they discovered were several tin cans full of rare 19th century American coins.  The haul is expected to fetch $10million.

This good news coin story throws into relief last year’s news of a man who threw away his ‘Bitcoin fortune’ when he disposed of an old hard drive.

The ‘cryptocurrency’ has been in the news again.  MtGox, one of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges, went offline after technical issues and ‘unusual activity’.  It had been suggested that security loopholes had led to millions of Bitcoins being stolen.  MtGox has now filed for bankruptcy.

It seems that many investors whose Bitcoins had been lodged with MtGox may have lost their investment and industry analysts are warning that Bitcoin will be subject to ‘more fraud’.  Fraudsters have already been busy according to Dell SecureWorks.  They have identified 150 different forms of malware designed to steal Bitcoins.

An article in American Banker, draws the lessons learned from the history of PayPal to predict that Bitcoin is likely to be subject to transaction and phishing fraud, identify theft and organised crime.  The authors recommend that Bitcoin learns from PayPal’s hard work in driving fraud elsewhere by focusing on security.

Of course, Bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency as this article in ITProPortal outlines.  What makes these currencies so attractive – they work across borders and are untraceable – is what makes them risky too.  Perhaps hiding your hoard in a rusty tin can is a safer bet!