Building Bridges

Jun. 23rd, 2017 06:34 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Picture books build bridges in many ways – between children and the adults who share children’s books with them, between children and the life-long pleasures of literature, and (my favorite of all) between children and art appreciation. Two new children’s books on shelves—Lizi Boyd’s I Wrote You a Note and Jacqueline Ayer’s The Paper-Flower Tree—are all about characters who build bridges themselves – and in more ways than one.

Mackenzi Lee

Jun. 23rd, 2017 04:05 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
In Mackenzi Lee’s first month working at the Harvard Coop while earning her M.F.A in Children’s Literature from Simmons College, the store sold 40 copies of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Until then, they had sold five copies. Total. Customers would say, “ ‘I’m looking for a board book for a baby shower,’ and I would be like, ‘That’s great, but have you read Code Name Verity?’ ” Lee remembers.

Science Gets Graphic

Jun. 22nd, 2017 08:56 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
It’s a good time, many say a golden age, for graphic novels and comics. The proliferation of such high-quality graphic novels also means that there are publishers out there creating such books specifically for younger readers. (Take TOON Books, for instance. Here is my 2014 Kirkus chat with the Editorial Director, Françoise Mouly, about bringing comics to the easy-reader format.)

Sarvinder Naberhaus & Kadir Nelson

Jun. 20th, 2017 04:22 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
To really earn her stripes as a picture book author, Sarvinder Naberhaus submitted several manuscripts, including Blue Sky White Stars, a book inspired by the American flag. She never imagined a superstar would agree to illustrate it.

Major Milestones for Publishing@W3C

Jun. 19th, 2017 01:06 pm
[syndicated profile] dpub_w3c_feed

Posted by Bill McCoy

publishing groups workflow diagramThe new Publishing@W3C activity was formed in February 2017 when W3C finalized our combination with IDPF (the International Digital Publishing Forum). Over the last four months there’s been a ton of progress. The new Publishing Business Group, the focal point for discussing overall requirements and issues, is up and running, with a kick-off meeting in March in London and bi-weekly calls. The new EPUB 3 Community Group is also up and running, with a full plate of work items to extend the success of the EPUB standard under the auspices of W3C. Over 50 former IDPF member organizations are now participating in Publishing@W3C activities which makes this the fastest and largest expansion of W3C ever in an industry area.

Today, W3C announced two more very significant milestones: the formation of a new Publishing Working Group and the first-ever W3C Publishing Summit, set for November 9-10 in San Francisco.

The mission of the new Publishing Working Group is to “enable all publications — with all their specificities and traditions — to become first-class entities on the Web. The WG will provide the necessary technologies on the Open Web Platform to make the combination of traditional publishing and the Web complete in terms of accessibility, usability, portability, distribution, archiving, offline access, and reliable cross referencing”. That’s an exciting and ambitious goal, and overwhelming support across the W3C membership for the creation of this Working Group is a key proof point for the convergence vision that was the key strategic motivator for the combination of IDPF with W3C.

And in some ways the Publishing Summit is an even more welcome development. As a standards development organization (SDO), W3C’s work product is Web Standards, which are a means to an end: interoperability. These days, the ecosystem around any enabling technology, including especially the Open Web Platform, isn’t just specifications. It’s also open source, testbeds, education and training, and much more; i.e., the holistic ecosystem and the community around it. IDPF was a trade organization for the digital publishing community as well as an SDO, and IDPF’s events including its annual conference were a key part of building the community around the EPUB standard and broader issues in the digital transformation of publishing. I joined W3C as the Publishing Champion not only to help develop standards but also to foster a broader community that will successfully lead the Web to its full potential for the particular needs of publishing and documents. The Publishing Summit will help us build that community, so I hope you’ll join the conversation on November 9-10 in San Francisco.

Overall I’m excited by the progress to date on Publishing@W3C. The opportunities to help enable the future of publishing and the Web are tremendous. And there’s just one thing that we need to make it happen: participation. Thanks are due the many folks who have already pitched in to get the ball rolling, and I hope you’ll join in supporting the Publishing@W3C initiative.

Embracing the Message

Jun. 19th, 2017 04:03 am
[syndicated profile] vicky_smith_kirkus_feed
These days, getting a letter of complaint—on paper!—is such a rarity that it can legitimately be considered an event, even if it’s not from James Patterson, one of the most successful authors of the modern era. But what makes his recent letter of complaint so special is that he’s not carping about a negative review (and he’s had opportunities) but rather taking issue with what we concentrated on in it.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Jun. 16th, 2017 05:23 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Well, maybe not exactly planes, trains, and automobiles. But you know those children who get really fired up reading books about things that go vroom? There’s a reason you can throw a rock and hit a children’s book about transportation: they are loved by many a child. Today, I’ve got three new ones worth your time, one an arrival from overseas.

Aviatrixes

Jun. 15th, 2017 05:13 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Her birthday, the day she died, the day she first realized she wanted to fly—if we tried, I’m sure that we could make any day into Bessie Coleman day. But today is an especially good pick, because ninety-six years ago, on June 15, 1921, Bessie Coleman earned her pilot’s license—the first African American woman, as well as the first woman of Native descent, to do so.
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

Keeping the customer’s needs front and center is important when developing new digital tools. We recently developed a set of user personas as part of our work to establish a more robust—and data informed—understanding of the individuals that engage digitally with the National Archives (NARA).

User personas are fictional, but realistic representations of key audience segments that are grounded in research and data. We recently applied customer data from a variety of sources including website analytics and online surveys to inform the creation of eight personas that represent our digital customers: Researchers, Veterans, Genealogists, Educators, History Enthusiasts, Curious Nerds, Museum Visitors, and Government Stakeholders. These personas not only help us capture knowledge about our customers and their needs and preferences, but also help NARA staff empathize with the individuals who use our services. User personas are often used by designers and developers to place the customer’s perspectives and needs at the center of the digital design and development process.

When conducting research to develop the individual personas, we took an analytical approach using data from our web and social media analytics, our online customer satisfaction survey, and incoming emails from customers. Additionally, we interviewed NARA staff that often interact with the user types we were trying to understand, in order to get their insight and feedback.

While fictional, these personas represent our major user groups and help us keep their needs and expectations at the forefront of our decision making. Each persona consists of two pages: the first page provides a snapshot of the user’s demographics and a quote to help bring the persona to life, while the second page provides user stories that help us to better understand how this audience interacts with NARA and why.

For example, as shown on the first page of our Genealogist persona, Mildred Mapleton, we can understand what digital platforms she uses and features she likes, how tech savvy she is, and what websites and search words she uses to find what she’s looking for:

Mildred, like all of our user personas, is not an actual person, but a realistic representation of one of NARA’s key audience segments. Her character is based on research and backed by evidence. Although the data gives us a good outline of who she is, the specifics you see here that make Mildred feel like a real, well-rounded person are semi-fictional and shaped by educated assumptions.

The second page of each persona provides user stories that describe who the user is, what they want, and why. They are written in the format: “As a <type of person>, I want <some goal> so that <some reason>.”

As shown on the second page of our Veteran persona, Victor Williams, we know that as a veteran who has submitted a request for records, Victor wants to easily determine the status so he knows how long he will have to wait to receive the paperwork. Each persona has multiple user stories associated with it to help NARA think about the various ways in which key audience segments interact with us digitally:

These representations of our customers are based on quantitative data (e.g., metrics about web pages viewed, social media use) and qualitative user research (e.g., online surveys). It is very important to remember that a persona is a composite representation of the prevalent qualities of an audience segment and will not exactly match a specific person or comprehensively describe the full diversity of a group.

These personas will be used to improve NARA’s customers’ digital experience. The ultimate goal is that every time a project with a digital component is discussed at NARA, these personas will be used to inform decision making. By identifying the personas that we work with most often and referring to them when thinking about new and better ways to serve them, we can work to better inform and prioritize our work and better understand customer interactions across all of our digital properties.

Learn more and meet the complete list of digital personas on archives.gov.

Greg Pizzoli

Jun. 14th, 2017 07:20 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
As a young reader, Greg Pizzoli found illustrated history books too sanitized and sententious.
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Sumana Harihareswara next to public hearing noticeIn February, I learned that the New York State Assembly was planning a public hearing on government oversight of forensic science laboratories, and then was invited to offer ten minutes of testimony and then answer legislators' questions. This was a hearing held jointly by the Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, on Judiciary, and on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation and it was my first time speaking in this sort of capacity. I spoke on the importance of auditability and transparency in software used in devices the government uses in laboratories and field tests, and open source as an approach to improve these. And I testified to the efficiency, cost savings, security, and quality gains available by using open source software and by reusing and sharing open source software with other state governments. Here's a PDF of my testimony as written, and video and audio recordings are available as is a transcript that includes answers to the legislators' questions. It is a thrilling feeling to see my own words in a government hearing transcript, in that typeface and with those line numbers!

As I was researching my testimony, I got a lot of help from friends who introduced me to people who work in forensics or in this corner of the law. And I found an article by lawyer Rebecca Wexler on the danger of closed-source, unauditable code used in forensic science in the criminal justice system, and got the committee to also invite her to testify. Her testimony's also available in the recordings and transcript I link to above. And today she has a New York Times piece, "How Computers Are Harming Criminal Justice", which includes specific prescriptions:

Defense advocacy is a keystone of due process, not a business competition. And defense attorneys are officers of the court, not would-be thieves. In civil cases, trade secrets are often disclosed to opposing parties subject to a protective order. The same solution should work for those defending life or liberty.

The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case, Wisconsin v. Loomis, that raises similar issues. If it hears the case, the court will have the opportunity to rule on whether it violates due process to sentence someone based on a risk-assessment instrument whose workings are protected as a trade secret. If the court declines the case or rules that this is constitutional, legislatures should step in and pass laws limiting trade-secret safeguards in criminal proceedings to a protective order and nothing more.

I'll add here something I said during the questions-and-answers with the legislators:

And talking about the need for source code review here, I'm going to speak here as a programmer and a manager. Every piece of software that's ever been written that's longer than just a couple of lines long, that actually does anything substantive, has bugs. It has defects. And if you want to write code that doesn't have defects or if you want to at least have an understanding of what the defects are so that you can manage them, so that you can oversight them (the same way that we have a system of democracy, right, of course there's going to be problems, but we have mechanisms of oversight) -- If in a system that's going to have defects, if we don't have any oversight, if we have no transparency into what those instructions are doing and to what the recipe is, not only are we guaranteed to have bugs; we're guaranteed to have bugs that are harder to track down. And given what we've heard earlier about the fact that it's very likely that in some of these cases there will be discriminatory impacts, I think it's even more important; this isn't just going to be random.

I'll give you an example. HP, the computer manufacturer, they made a web camera, a camera built into a computer or a laptop that was supposed to automatically detect when there was a face. It didn't see black people's faces because they hadn't been tested on people with darker skin tones. Now at least that was somewhat easy to detect once it actually got out into the marketplace and HP had to absorb some laughter. But nobody's life was at stake, right?

When you're doing forensic work, of course in a state the size of New York State, edge cases, things that'll only happen under this combination of combination of conditions are going to happen every Tuesday, aren't they? And the way that the new generation of probabilistic DNA genotyping and other more complex bits of software work, it's not just: Okay, now much of fluid X is in sample Y? It's running a zillion different simulations based on different ideas of how the world could be. Maybe you've heard like the butterfly effect? If one little thing is off, you know, we might get a hurricane.

[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Sumana Harihareswara next to public hearing noticeIn February, I learned that the New York State Assembly was planning a public hearing on government oversight of forensic science laboratories, and then was invited to offer ten minutes of testimony and then answer legislators' questions. This was a hearing held jointly by the Assembly Standing Committees on Codes, on Judiciary, and on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation and it was my first time speaking in this sort of capacity. I spoke on the importance of auditability and transparency in software used in devices the government uses in laboratories and field tests, and open source as an approach to improve these. And I testified to the efficiency, cost savings, security, and quality gains available by using open source software and by reusing and sharing open source software with other state governments. Here's a PDF of my testimony as written, and video and audio recordings are available as is a transcript that includes answers to the legislators' questions. It is a thrilling feeling to see my own words in a government hearing transcript, in that typeface and with those line numbers!

As I was researching my testimony, I got a lot of help from friends who introduced me to people who work in forensics or in this corner of the law. And I found an article by lawyer Rebecca Wexler on the danger of closed-source, unauditable code used in forensic science in the criminal justice system, and got the committee to also invite her to testify. Her testimony's also available in the recordings and transcript I link to above. And today she has a New York Times piece, "How Computers Are Harming Criminal Justice", which includes specific prescriptions:

Defense advocacy is a keystone of due process, not a business competition. And defense attorneys are officers of the court, not would-be thieves. In civil cases, trade secrets are often disclosed to opposing parties subject to a protective order. The same solution should work for those defending life or liberty.

The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case, Wisconsin v. Loomis, that raises similar issues. If it hears the case, the court will have the opportunity to rule on whether it violates due process to sentence someone based on a risk-assessment instrument whose workings are protected as a trade secret. If the court declines the case or rules that this is constitutional, legislatures should step in and pass laws limiting trade-secret safeguards in criminal proceedings to a protective order and nothing more.

I'll add here something I said during the questions-and-answers with the legislators:

And talking about the need for source code review here, I'm going to speak here as a programmer and a manager. Every piece of software that's ever been written that's longer than just a couple of lines long, that actually does anything substantive, has bugs. It has defects. And if you want to write code that doesn't have defects or if you want to at least have an understanding of what the defects are so that you can manage them, so that you can oversight them (the same way that we have a system of democracy, right, of course there's going to be problems, but we have mechanisms of oversight) -- If in a system that's going to have defects, if we don't have any oversight, if we have no transparency into what those instructions are doing and to what the recipe is, not only are we guaranteed to have bugs; we're guaranteed to have bugs that are harder to track down. And given what we've heard earlier about the fact that it's very likely that in some of these cases there will be discriminatory impacts, I think it's even more important; this isn't just going to be random.

I'll give you an example. HP, the computer manufacturer, they made a web camera, a camera built into a computer or a laptop that was supposed to automatically detect when there was a face. It didn't see black people's faces because they hadn't been tested on people with darker skin tones. Now at least that was somewhat easy to detect once it actually got out into the marketplace and HP had to absorb some laughter. But nobody's life was at stake, right?

When you're doing forensic work, of course in a state the size of New York State, edge cases, things that'll only happen under this combination of combination of conditions are going to happen every Tuesday, aren't they? And the way that the new generation of probabilistic DNA genotyping and other more complex bits of software work, it's not just: Okay, now much of fluid X is in sample Y? It's running a zillion different simulations based on different ideas of how the world could be. Maybe you've heard like the butterfly effect? If one little thing is off, you know, we might get a hurricane.

In Memoriam – Pierre Danet

Jun. 12th, 2017 07:53 pm
[syndicated profile] dpub_w3c_feed

Posted by Bill McCoy

A visionary leader in the advancement of publishing technology and the Web has passed away. Pierre Danet, Chief Digital Officer of Hachette-Livre Group, was a long-time Board member of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). In that capacity he played an instrumental leadership role in the recently completed combination of IDPF with the W3C.

Pierre also led Hachette-Livre to join W3C and was active in other W3C work prior to the combination. He was a founding Board member of Readium Foundation which develops open source software for EPUB and Web publishing. Pierre also drove the creation, and served as founding President, of the European Digital Reading Lab (EDRLab).

Pierre was a tireless leader, and a warm and generous soul whose wise counsel was always well-seasoned with humor.  W3C and the entire publishing industry owe a great debt to Pierre’s vision, energy and accomplishments, as do I. His passing is a great loss but I know he was happy to see his vision for digital convergence and open standards for publishing technology and the Web moving forward, and I’m certain that his memory will inspire all of us to continue to work to make it happen.

On behalf of the W3C and its Publishing Business Group,

Bill McCoy

W3C Publishing Champion /  President, Readium Foundation / Executive Director, IDPF (emeritus)

A League of Her Own

Jun. 12th, 2017 04:02 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
High school senior Jill Cafferty had been well aware that she was likely to be the first female baseball player drafted into the majors this year—but she didn’t expect to be scooped up by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round. If she’d been picked past the tenth round, she’d have declined the offer and headed off to Stanford—but the third round it is, so she defers college and enters the world of professional sports.
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