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Education and employment – “two crises – one paradox”

Why is there such wide-scale youth unemployment while vacancies remain unfilled? 

Consultancy firm McKinsey has published the results of a research project* into two related global crises – high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of people with critical job skills.

  • Worldwide young people (16-24) are three times more likely to be out of work than their parents.
  • Global research suggest there are 75 million unemployed young people
  • Youth unemployment rates in South Africa, Greece and Spain exceed 50%
  • Only 43% of employers reported there was an adequate supply of qualified entry-level candidates
  • Half of the young people interviewed were unclear that their further/higher education had improved their chances of finding work
  • 36% of employers report a lack of skills is causing significant problems in terms of cost, quality and time

Are graduates ready for the job market?

There are striking differences between the stakeholder groups when it comes to assessing the job-readiness of graduates.  Only 42% of employers and 45% of young people believe they are ready for the job market; 72% of educators believe they are.

A way forward

The research gathers some success stories but acknowledges there needs to be a massive scaling up. Its recommendations include:

  • Collect and disseminate data – high quality data allows countries and approaches to be benchmarked
  • Increase the number of sector-wide collaborations – the most transformative interventions have involved multi-partner, sector level initiatives
  • Create a system that bridges the gap between educators and employers – current examples include Australia’s new Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency which has been established to drive greater collaboration between government, industry and educators.

*The research focuses on Brazil, Germany, India, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UK, US.  Young people, employers and educators were involved in the project.

Download the full report.

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Growing Europe’s economy: the role of ICT

The European Commission has published a scenario-based report on how the innovative rollout of ICT can bring about economic growth.

The report, written by The Conference Board, considers two driving forces:

  • The pace of economic growth – fast or slow
  • The European digital market – fragmented or integrated

By placing these forces on a simple ‘two-by-two’ axis, the report explores four possible 2017 scenarios.

Scenario one – The Digital Rainforest

In this scenario, an integrated Europe-wide market for ICT is able to take advantage of global improvements in the economy to compete worldwide.  In this market, rapid growth and change requires flexibility and agility and the market is likely to be characterised by constant change and disruption

Scenario two – The Digital Glasshouse

In this scenario, the integrated EU marketplace is hampered by slow economic growth.  However, Europe will benefit from an internal market that functions more smoothly.

Scenario three – The Digital Desert

Here, slow global economic growth and a fragmented marketplace hampers the growth of the European ICT market

Scenario four – The Digital Savannah

In which the EU market remains fractured but worldwide growth means many firms simply ignore the European market seeking to grow beyond Europe’s borders

Recommendations

The report calls for rapid action to ensure that the European market can maximise tis potential as the world’s largest economic bloc.  A high quality and affordable infrastructure of high speed fixed and mobile broadband is vital.  At the same time, efforts to upskill the population must be improved and a regulatory environment, which supports sector growth, must be established.

“National governments and the European Commission must commit to a long-term coherent and strategic vision for the role of ICT, reforming and investing where necessary…. To further innovation and [lead] by example”

More information.

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‘Convergence is King’ in the new information industry

In the new information industry, neither content nor technology is king.  It is the unique combination of both which is driving the sector.

With the start of a new year comes a flurry of reports and posts predicting emerging trends for the year ahead.

One of the most interesting to emerge so far is Outsell’s Information Industry Outlook 2014 report.  Last year, Outsell explored the theme ‘the new normal’ (which was the key theme for Internet Librarian International in 2011).  This year’s report, ‘Convergence Now!’ explores new partnerships and the creation of new information products that bring together community and commerce.

The report explores an information industry that includes both the ‘traditional’ (e.g. news and yellow pages, both of which are declining) and new players.  Growth information sectors include educational technology, health IT and marketing services.

Convergence – key trends

  • New partners, new competition – industry leaders such as Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier are partnering and competing with for example IBM, Deloitte, Oracle
  • No more ‘mobile’ or ‘digital’ - a new focus on cross-media approaches mean these words will gradually disappear and we will be offering simply ‘services’ or ‘strategy’
  • New solutions – combining content, software, community and commerce to create platforms that support workflow
  • Face-to-face – at the same time in-person events which offer ‘extended engagement’ are a strong market
  • EdTech – the move to digital will not be rapid but will continue.  A hybrid model market will continue for years
  •  STM – Open Science is ‘here to stay’ – bringing threats and opportunities to the industry

As usual, the report concludes with a list of companies to watch over the next year.  These include big established players, such as Amazon and Elsevier, but a number of new players working in the content market.  Examples include Hypothes.is, a non-profit offering ‘open annotation’.

The report is free to download from Outsell.

Christmas food in the library

The Guildhall Library, in the City of London, holds the UK’s largest collection of food and wine related materials, including many early recipes.  This massive collection formed the basis of a lecture by Peter Ross, the Librarian, on the history of Christmas food in the UK.

The traditional image of Christmas fare, including large turkeys and Christmas puddings, is associated with the Victorian era – particularly the Christmas feasts described by Dickens in Pickwick Papers and of course A Christmas Carol.  Turkeys were first imported into the UK in 1526 – and they became popular very quickly.  Before this time, medieval Christmas feasts (for the wealthy at least) featured peacock, swan and decorative pies baked with inedible pastry crusts.  For the very wealthy, servants were employed to carve food into bite-size morsels and dress it in sauce.  Forks had not yet been invented.

Medieval life was very much dictated by the church – and this included the concept of ‘fast days’ when no meat could be consumed.  Not only was Christmas a ‘feast’ holiday, but it made sense to slaughter animals to save on the expense of feeding them through the lean winter months.

Diaries are a wonderful resource for those interested in the history of Christmas food.  Samuel Pepys’ 17th century diaries describe several Christmas meals, featuring beef, mince pies and ‘plum pottage’ – perhaps an early form of plum – or Christmas – pudding.  Parson James Woodforde kept diaries for many years in the 18th century, describing Christmas dinners as a student at Cambridge University and later the dinners he provided for parishioners (boiled rabbit, onion sauce, beef, plum pudding and mince pies).

The traditional twelfth night cake featured tokens which encouraged those who found them to ‘reverse roles’ – acting as for example the king or queen for the party.  Role reversal is of course featured in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  As this tradition began to die out, the tokens or charms were transferred into Christmas puddings.

Visit Guildhall Library’s website for more information on its collection of food-related material.

cat with figgy puddingMerry Christmas – and no eating in the library please!

Cat with figgy pudding – courtesy of PeonInChief via Flickr.

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Grumpy Cat and twerking – popular search terms of 2013

Winners this year include Prince George (the new royal baby), the iPhone 5  and twerking.

US searches

The US top ten of Yahoo search terms is the usual reassuring mix of celebrities (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber), technology (iPhone 5) and gaming (Minecraft).  For expert editorial analysis you can do no better than Ron Burgundy’s explanatory video available on the Yahoo website.

Bing has also released its analysis of the top US search terms, showing the top tens in a range of categories including most searched for musicians, sports teams and people.  Prince George was Bing’s most searched news story in 2013.

Bing figures also include searches for social media, apps and streaming websites.

US: Pinterest , Harlem Shake and Candy Crush

  • Bing’s figures show that Pinterest has entered its top ten of social media searches for the first time this year and has taken second place, with only Facebook ahead of it.
  • Harlem  Shake was the most popular meme in 2013, followed by Grumpy Cat
  • Candy Crush was the most searched for app, beating Angry Birds into second place

UK Bing searches

  • Twitter has replaced YouTube as the UK’s most searched for social media site
  • Facebook takes fourth place, behind LinkedIn and Skype

Meanwhile, YouTube has released its top trending videos for 2013.  Norway’s The Fox takes top spot, followed by the original Harlem Shake.

Twitter has also released its 2013 review, including this wonderful month-by-month breakdown of top news hashtags and photographs from people on the spot.

The Google top search terms are expected to be released later this year.

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From Selfish Giant to Slumdog Millionaire – lessons from Channel 4 film and drama

Sometimes it is good to step outside of the information echo chamber. 

What can we learn from leaders in another profession – one which seeks to balance creative vision with tight budgets; is challenged by new formats, technology and delivery channels; has to balance multiple stakeholders; is threatened by pirated content, and is working to meet the anytime, anywhere demands of end users?

Tessa Ross is the Controller of Film and Drama for Channel 4 and recipient of the 2013 Bafta award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema’.  Her projects included Slumdog Millionaire, A Field in England, In Bruges and The Selfish Giant.  She came to film via theatre and – speaking at the Olive Till Memorial Lecture* – described a ‘drift’ into her current role rather than a firm plan.  She commissions films for the Channel with a ‘tiny’ budget of £15 million a year.

Her responsibility is to spend that budget wisely and to help people fulfil their creative vision.  Her role requires her to combine creative mentoring, experimentation and risk taking, in depth knowledge of the industry and the people within it, team development and creative matchmaking – and financial and business acumen.

“I think you’re brilliant.  What can I do to help you?”

For Ross, talent rather than the medium is her objective.  The vast majority of projects brought to her will not be made and Channel 4 may not be the right home for everyone’s idea.  But for those that she does work with, her focus is on helping them fulfil their creative vision.  This requires tenacity and sometimes a long-term commitment (One of her recent films, Under the Skin, took 13 years to make it from script to screen).

Channel 4’s remit encourages eclectic storytelling and experimentation.  The recent ‘magic mushroom/civil war’ film A Field in England was the result of an experimental masterclass in making a low budget feature film.  It was released simultaneously on multiple platforms.

Ross works with – and helps to develop – creative talent and her role requires a wide-ranging skill set.  Many members of the audience, the majority of them film students, expressed their interest in working with Channel 4 – and her.  And who wouldn’t want a mentor like that?!

*The Olive Till Memorial Debate and Bursary are presented by Stewart Till CBE, CEO Icon Entertainment and Deputy Chair Skillset, in memory of his mother at Goldsmiths, University of London’.  Previous speakers have included Danny Boyle and Tim Bevan.

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Selfie is the word of the year

“Is this a selfie which I see before me,
The angle toward my hand? Come, let me tweet thee*”

Oxford Dictionaries have announced that their word of the year for 2013 is ‘selfie’.

Over the course of the year, the frequency of the usage of the word selfie (the act of taking a self-portrait) has increased by 17,000%. Several spin-off terms have also emerged, including ‘drelfe’ (a drunken selfie) and ‘welfie’ (a workout selfie).

Once again the word of the year showcases technological and social trends that impact the general consciousness.  (Last year’s words of the year included ‘omnishambles’ and ‘hashtag’.)

Other words shortlisted in 2013 include bitcoin, showrooming and <shudder> twerk.

In the Netherlands Participatiesamenleving – ‘participation society’ – has been named as the word of the year.  One of the runner-up words was socialbesitas – ‘addiction to social media’ – a word which some of us would find useful – and apt!

The German slang word of the year is ‘babo’. It derives from a Turkish word meaning boss or chief.

Selfies – selfish or ‘another way to connect’?

According to mobileYouth, 48% of the photographs posted by UK teenagers to Instragram are selfies.  Graham Brown’s slideshare presentation challenges us to look beyond the surface ‘narcissism’ of the selfie and encourages us to think of it – like Blipfoto – as ‘ordinary people doing ordinary things’.

The Oxford University Press blog explores the history of the self portrait – from early daguerrotypes onwards and *Alice Northover has rewritten Shakespeare for the selfie generation.

Finally, here’s a wonderful selfie image, taken by Anastasia, the youngest daughter of the last Czar of Russia.  One hundred years ago.

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Teenagers, Facebook and message apps

If teenagers are losing interest in Facebook, where are going – and why?

Facebook’s Q3 earnings statement revealed that it had exceeded its revenue targets.   However, in the company’s accompanying comments it also revealed that it was seeing “a decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”.

As Facebook becomes increasingly popular – even with parents – it is at risk of losing any element of ‘coolness’.  Teenage interest is splintering into a number of other tools and apps, including Instagram, Tumblr, Pheed, Kik and WhatsApp.

There are 2.1 billion mobile device owning young people in the world and 36% of their money is spent on mobile services and products.  They are a big potential market for any social network and a decline in popularity with such an influential group is important.

Piper Jaffray surveyed 5,200 teens of whom 33% said that Facebook was their most important social network.  Although still a high figure, it is down a full 9% in a year.  Twitter is catching up with Facebook (30% reported it as their most important tool).  Tumblr took 17% of the votes.

A preference for mobile message apps

Writing in the Observer newspaper, Parmy Olson discusses teenagers preferences for messaging apps.  Mobile message apps (such as WeChat and WhatsApp) offer private, real time chatting with real friends – without advertising and without broadcasting to an entire network of friends and acquaintances. Message apps are incredibly popular – about 90% of the population of Brazil uses them; three-quarters of Russians, and half of Britons. WhatsApp has over 350 million monthly active users around the world.  The early adopters and power users of these apps are under 25 years old.

The messaging services also offer private sharing of photographs (which teenagers love for a variety of reasons!).  But they are also developing into social media networks in their own right, in Asia in particular.  WeChat, KakaoTalk and LINE have millions of users and provide messaging services, games, music sharing and stickers.

Sources: MobileYouth;  Parmy Olson The Observer;  Forbes; Tyntec.

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Digital romance and relationships

“Living like a 1950s housewife has saved me money, helped me lose weight and kept my marriage strong”.

Leafing despondently through a copy of WI Life, I came across this feature.  The interviewee and her new husband had agreed to spend the first year of their marriage without television, computers or mobile devices.  This radical decision had meant that they now “actually have to talk to each other to communicate”.

A small (and unrepresentative*) survey published in the Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy looked at how young adults in serious relationships used digital technology in their relationships. The researchers found that young people in a relationship were more likely to use text (rather than social media) to communicate with each other.   They also found that sending a loving text made both sender and recipient feel good about the relationship and those who attempted to resolve arguments via text message were associated with unhappier relationships. 

The Pew Research Center has just published its updated Online Dating and Relationship report (it first began researching this area in 2005).  The latest report explores how social networks and mobile devices are impacting the world of dating.

Key findings

Social networking profiles can contain a wealth of information on potential (or past) partners (relationship status, photographs, hobbies and interests…) and many respondents report doing so:

  • 31% of social network users have ‘checked up’ on someone they used to be in a relationship with
  • This rises to 48% of those aged 18-29

Breaking up can be complicated enough but the sensitive politics of breaking up now have to take social media presence into account.  Many respondents report blocking, unfriending, deleting and untagging their exes.  Women users of social media are much more likely to be doing this, either because a relationship has broken down, or because the other person’s behaviour is making them uncomfortable.   

  • 37% of smartphone users have asked someone out on a date by sending a text message on their cell phone
  • 17% have posted details or photos of a date
  • 30% with ‘recent dating experience’ have researched prospective partners on social media
  • This rises to 41% of 18-29 year olds 

Breaking up is hard to do

  • 17% of those who have a smartphone and/or use the internet have broken up with someone via text, email or an online message!
  • 17% have been broken up with digitally! 

* A small study with a much higher than average proportion of engaged couples – and Mormons.

 

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Developing professional networks – what social network analysis teaches us

Social network analysis has been used to measure the impact of the DREaM project which set out to nurture a network of researchers.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) explores social relationships and their implications.  As a research methodology, it is employed by a range of subject specialists, and is much favoured by knowledge management practitioners seeking to explore the ‘human’ aspects of knowledge mobilisation.

A new article by Louise Cooke and Hazel Hall* explores the applicability and value of Social Network Analysis (SNA) as a means of investigating the development of researcher networks. The authors believe that their study provides transferable lessons about SNA as a tool as well as the interventions that can encourage speedy development of social infrastructure in new networks, which are applicable across professional groups.

After a discussion about the development of SNA as a research tool and its previous use in the context of library and information science (LIS), the article reports on a case study based on the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project.

DREaM was established in 2011 to create, and support the development of, a network of LIS researchers, connecting them in new ways and improving the quality and impact of LIS research. It is this case study that will be of most interest to LIS practitioners.

What does the ‘before’ and ‘after’ data from the case study tell us about how strong professional networks can be nurtured?

Key findings

  • ‘before’ data shows that members of this participant network were not highly connected or aware of each other’s expertise: existing networks were highly centralised around a small number of academic librarians and researchers
  • ‘after’ data shows a demonstrable increase in expertise awareness and interaction; participants had increased their number of network ties; the network became more ‘even’ with less dependence on a small number of densely networked actors; academic librarians in particular moved towards the centre of the network

What was it about the way the DREaM project was designed that helped develop the network?

The authors suggest that the combination of workshops, social events, networking opportunities, the development of an online community and the effective use of social media tools:

  • Reduced the isolation of participants
  • Helped participants exchange ideas and broaden their knowledge base
  • Provided opportunities for participants to exchange sources of information and references

A range of event amplification techniques (live-blogging/tweeting; delegate reviews; session recordings and many more) also helped those unable to attend events in person, to participate in the network remotely.

This inclusive, boundary-spanning approach helped the participants double their awareness of each other’s expertise and almost double their levels of social interaction.

———————

*Cooke, L. & Hall, H. (2013). Facets of DREaM: a Social Network Analysis exploring network development in the UK LIS research community. Journal of Documentation, 69(6), 786-806.

Further information about the article (Hazel Hall’s blog).  You can download the full text of the article from Emerald (subscription-based service).  You can download the full-text of the article manuscript at no charge here.   Further information on the DREaM project can be found here.

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