Tag Archives: technology

Literacy in a Digital Age | Beanstalk Event

Beanstalk are a nationwide charity dedicated to helping child literacy in the UK by sending trained volunteers into schools to read with them. We think this is really special which is why Beanstalk are Atwood Tate’s chosen charity. When they hosted a panel discussion on the topic of Literacy in a Digital Age, Anna went along to find out more.

In the news, recent headlines have decried a decline in the vocabulary of primary school children that has taken place in the last decade. Perhaps there is a correlation in the rise of portable technology. By using the best affordable technology to support provision to schoolchildren Beanstalk are hoping to improve national literacy levels. A new trial scheme has Amazon staff members Skyping school settings to bring voluntary reading support to remote locations it would be difficult to reach in person.

From the left: Ginny Lunn (CEO of Beanstalk), Andrew Franklin (Panel Chair; Publisher, Profile Books), Dame Julia Cleverdon (Chair of the National Literacy Trust), Francesca Simon (Author of Horrid Henry series), Prof Teresa Cremin (Head of Education at Open University), Dr Nicola Yuill (Director of Children and Technology Lab, Sussex University)

Smartphones and tablets can be a distraction, potentially leading to a lack of long-term concentration. The panel were asked whether technology could help teachers support reading or indeed help reading levels in general. The outlook was generally positive.

Comments ranged from 0-3 year olds being encouraged by tablets; the interactivity and personalisation a story with the aid of technology engaged otherwise reluctant readers; Prof Teresa drew attention to audio supplements and the digital book apps by Nosy Crow; text-based computer games can also expand a player’s vocabulary. Learning to read can be hard – and technology by its very nature is non-judgemental.

Francesca pointed out that her market is 5-8 year olds and ebooks account for less than 1% of her royalties. A parent downloading a portable copy of a book their child already has. Children still like physical books the panel agreed. How much of that is cultural habit future generations will discover.

Studies show that children are more likely to share an open book than a tablet or phone screen Dr Nicola explained, although phones for us are private and personal. Any discussion therefore needs to include frank conversations about how we interact with technology in society. The panel concluded that literacy is about more than just reading. It is about sharing ideas, stories, interests and enjoyment. Part of what Beanstalk does so well is connecting children with adults who will encourage them to read what interests them.

The ideal is to interact through the technology, not with the technology. We just haven’t got there yet. Nursery rhymes have incredible potential and replicating the anticipation with a picture book, with gaps for words and interaction may well be possible with the mediated experience delivered by technology. This could help in home environments where adults cannot sit and read with a child for ten minutes a day.

Other things discussed included the dearth of reading aloud as it is not included in school targets. The audience contributed to the conversation too and acknowledged the scale afforded by technology as it can reach more people, bringing together a community of shared readers; social media can suggest books suitable for a certain age group to busy parents.

When 1 in 4 children do not own a book of their own in the UK and public libraries are closing it is easy to think that access to books is the only problem but technology can give access. The other major issues are generating the desire to read and knowledge of what is available. Technology is the tool, not an answer in itself.

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How technology can make reading Fun – Bookmachine Event

If kids are glued to their devices, where do books fit in? How can we make sure they keep reading for pleasure? Our expert speakers will look at different ways to engage young people online to make reading fun.

BookMachine is an informal event series. You are guaranteed to meet someone interesting and learn something new.

Are you attending this event? Let us know!

Buy your tickets here! 

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REC Technology Sector Meeting

Our consultant David Martin will be attending this event on the 26th April 2017!

The REC’s first sector technology sector groups meeting of the year will explore the latest trends within the sector, including all relevant policy developments and legal changes effecting your business.

REC, 1st Floor Dorset House, Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NT

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Byte the Book: How is Technology Revolutionising Distribution in Publishing?

Byte the Book are hosting a new event about technology and how it is revolutionising distribution in publishing! Take a look here for more details!

Speakers: Byte the Book’s Justine Solomons is going to chair and her speakers will be: Andrew Bromley (Ingram), Orna Ross (Alliance of Independent Authors) and Tereze Brickmane (Tales on Moon Lane).

Topic:  How is Technology Revolutionising Distribution in Publishing? How can you get your books into as many places as possible and how can technology help authors, booksellers and publishers reach a wider audience?

Sponsors: Our March event is sponsored by Ingram and ipage. Ingram’s easy-to-use online search, order, and account management platform ipage acts as your comprehensive source for complete title information, product images, stock status updates, ordering, publicity, the latest industry news, and much more.

Tickets: Entrance is free to members of Byte of the Book and members of The Groucho Club. It’s £20 plus booking fee for everyone else. Tickets can be booked here.

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Information Security and the world of publishing

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Information Security and the world of publishing

Before I started out in recruitment, my publishing roots were in rights and licensing and my role was to ensure companies that re-used our content for commercial use was copyright compliant i.e. they paid for it.

Fast forward some years and I find myself speaking to candidates that work in information security (in fact, my first placement in recruitment was a senior information security role) and, although the two things are completely separate, there are some similarities.

The first being that in both verticals you’re protecting something, whether that be content or data and systems and the second is that you’re retaining the commercial value so that you (the owner) are the only one that capitalises on it.

That aside, and moving more on to the point, we’ve all seen what’s happened in recent years; corporations of all different sizes being hacked of commercial and private content, even recently a well-known search engine having had up to a billion of its users’ details accessed and even as far as the Russians tampering with the US presidential vote.

The financial services industry is all over information / cyber security and has been for some time now but then they have to be as they have to look after our money after all or, if failure to do so, face severe penalties.

But are publishers doing enough?

Yes they don’t have our personal money, but they do put substantial time and effort into creating and curating content (not alone the monetary value) that enrich our lives on so many levels and not to mention the data they have from us as consumers and all the systems and technology that support this content digitally.

The bigger players out there are scaling up their information security departments to protect what they own but is the industry as a whole keeping up? As many publishers move into a more ‘direct to consumer’ relationship with customers this will be even more crucial.

Additionally, on the 25th May 2018, the UK government will be applying the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will introduce a new legal framework surrounding the use of personal data with the consequences of misuse resulting in huge fines.

But rest assured, Atwood Tate can provide the most appropriate resource and help with the compliance burden, whether that be in a permanent or interim capacity.

So should you be looking to get ready for the upcoming GDPR or want to ensure your technology and content is secure, we can assist in areas such as:

  • Data protection
  • Audit and regulatory compliance (ISO27001, PCI-DSS etc.)
  • Infrastructure security design
  • 3rd party supplier assurance
  • Programme and project assurance
  • Controls and access management
  • Threat management
  • Vulnerability assessment

On that note, have a happy Christmas and look forward to speaking to you in the New Year.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Instagram.

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PPA Business Media Class: Tech and Data One

PPA Business Media Class: The Tech & Data One

Two of our consultants, David Martin our IT/Technology Consultant and Kellie Millar our Temps/Freelance Recruitment Manager, will be attending the PPA Business Media Class: the Tech and Data One!

Having previously attended the Marketing one we’re looking forward to seeing what the speakers at the Tech & Data one have to say.

See our upcoming blog post for more details on the speakers, panels and topics of the afternoon and let us know, via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram  if you are going!

We would love for you to come over and say hello!

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PPA Business Class: The Tech and Data One

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You may remember that on the 21st October we attended the PPA Marketing Conference; well on the 18th November we will be attending the Tech and Data One!

For more information about the event click here!

Here’s a brief summary of the sessions you can attend on the day:

Sessions:

The Panel: Systems, Big Data And Making the Money
As a senior tech executive, how do you drive strategy and help business grow? What are the partnerships you can seek to create, and are there particular skill sets you can hire to help meet your objectives?

  • Creative Advertiser partnerships
  • Strategies for data-focused technologies
  • Investing in specialised staff and skills

Other sessions at the event include topics on:

  • Data
  • Compliance and Legality
  • Transformational Publishing
  • Suppliers: The Inside Track

Speakers Include:

Chris Fosberry, CTO, Argus Media
Mark Brincat, CTO, The Economist Group
Mike Fraser, CTO, Wilmington plc
Jonny Kaldor, CO-Found, Kaldor Group
Sean Hayes, Group Head of Data, Incisive Media
Duncan Smith, Director, iCompli
Lee Atkinson, AWS Enterprise Solutions Architect

We’re happy to be an official sponsor for this event, as we were for the last which you can read about here!

Two of our consultants, David Martin and Kellie Miller,  will be attending the event! David handles all of our IT and Data roles whilst Kellie is the Temps team manager. Please feel free to contact them via their emails, which can be found here, or via LinkedIn to request a meeting or to get in touch on the day.

Let us know if you’re attending the event on Twitter, Facebook and don’t forget to share any photos on Instagram!

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Emma Barnes: embrace the code

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This is a guest from Emma Barnes.
Emma is m.d. of Snowbooks, the independent publishing house she co-founded in 2003, and c.e.o. of the FutureBook-award-winning Bibliocloud system for publishing. As both a publisher and a coder, Emma has a unique vantage point on the intersection between digital technologies and innovative content.

When I graduated with an archaeology degree in 1996, and got a job as a management trainee for a global retail group, I had no idea that 8 years later I’d co-found an independent publishing company. And when I co-founded that independent publishing company, I had no idea that,13 years further on, I’d find myself a professional Ruby on Rails developer.

Life is weird. And you can’t plan it out. All you can do is try to be happy, and learn as much as you can on the off-chance that it’ll come in handy. I’ve got lucky: not only do I run Snowbooks — a lovely little publisher of amazing books — but nowadays I’m the lead programmer of Bibliocloud, our title management software which we’re formally launching out of beta at the London Book Fair this year.

A decade of steadily automating away the administrative drudge of publishing has left me a proficient programmer: first in XML and XSLT and now in the tools of the web development trade: Ruby on Rails, jQuery, SQL, HTML5 and CSS3 and database management on PostgreSQL. Using these tools, with my team, I’ve built Bibliocloud to be an enterprise management application which takes care of almost every aspect of our business. Snowbooks has relied on Bibliocloud throughout the app’s development: at the end of 2012 we started to license its use to other publishers and organisations.

Starting to code was not a frightening step into the dark, because I took baby steps. In 2003, I opened up an ONIX file. ONIX is XML, written more or less with English words. Figuring I could use it to populate AI templates, I tinkered with manipulating the XML until that was second nature. Coding is very moreish — start down the road, take small, incremental steps. Let the years pass and before you know it, you’ve got your 10,000 hours under your belt.

You shouldn’t think that you could never learn to code. My mental arithmetic skills are worse than my 6 year old’s. I would have been laughed out of a computer science degree interview. But I love patterns, and stories, and brevity and elegance: all the things that publishers are good at. You don’t know whether you can do it unless you try.

I learned to program because I needed something like Bibliocloud to exist so I could run Snowbooks properly. No-one else was going to write it, so I tooled up and did it myself. I had to go from a standing start, skills-wise, so it did end up taking quite a few years to progressively learn the right skills. But now I’m at the other end of the journey, it’s interesting to be able to compare life without coding skills, and life with.

And life without coding skills is awful! It’s chock-a-block full of admin. No-one goes into publishing to spend their days filling in repetitive, endless spreadsheets, surely? But unless you can manipulate data throughout your working day with little programs, you’re tied to the manual way of doing things.
If you can’t code, you don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know what’s possible. You can’t be a digital creator because you’ve got no tools at your disposal, and no understanding for collaborating with others on such projects.

Only a select few publishers employ programmers at the moment. This will change, and the change will be overnight — but it takes time to learn how to code, so start now, or the new jobs will go to outsiders. Nowadays there are some amazing, cheap ways to learn programming — because people who can code are passionate about sharing their skills with everyone else. Look at Codeschool. Come to our own course, Try Programming for Publishers. Read The Rails Tutorial by Michael Hartl — by the end of it, you’ll have written your very own version of Twitter. Imagine!

In seven years, the kids who are currently learning to code in school, as part of the national curriculum, will be graduating. People with all sorts of degrees will have coding literacy, a skill as basic to them as English and maths. You’ve got a seven-year head start on them. Start to learn code now and you won’t be skilled out of the market before you’re 40.

Emma is on Twitter as @bibliocloud

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