Notes and Resources on Libraries and Librarians as Publishers and on Encyclopedias Past, Present and Future

In the first part of the eight LAPIS session, the class welcomed City University London Research Library Diane Bell who offered insight into the current roles of libraries and librarians as publishers. Continuing on this theme, Katharine Schopflin presented on “Encyclopaedias: publishers, librarians and end-users”. Due to an illness, my notes from the first part are somewhat brief, and I was unable to stay for the second presentation.

Brief Lecture Notes and Resources

  • Should Libraries be publishers? Not viable for all libraries; financial risks involved
  • Project Muse– Johns Hopkins University
  • Learning at City Journal: Is it a published journal? Not structured or formatted like a traditional journal
  • City repository not acting as journals
  • Open access may minimise the financial risks of publishing
  • Promotion paid for when you decide to publish with a major journal
  • Promotion difficult for libraries
  • Publishing libraries may also face discoverability issues
  • Publishers charge for gold open acces to balance losses from library charges
  • See library guides on Springshare
  • Haider, Jutta and Sundin, Olof (2010): “Beyond the Legacy of the Enlightenment?: Online Encyclopaedias as Digital Heterotopias”, First Monday, 15:1
  • Harboe-Ree, Cathrine (2007) Just advanced librarianship: The role of academic libraries as publishers, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 38:1, 15-25

Quotes from Personal Study Resources

  • “Librarian publishers have already begun to make a positive difference in the publishing landscape by rescuing small, print-only journals from historical oblivion and providing the technical support and platform services to get them online and more importantly, discoverable.” – Phill Jones article for The Scholarly Kitchen
  • “The seismic shifts affecting the academic publishing industry are not sector-specific. Indeed, the same challenges are faced by the range of players in this area, including university presses, trade publishers, library publishers, and commercial publishers. What differentiates the fields is their degree of experimentation and their willingness to transgress against long-held publishing conventions, something that the new arrivals (libraries and new commercial entities, including self-publishers) may have in their favor.” Skinner, K.L., 2014. Library-as-Publisher: Capacity Building for the Library Publishing Subfield. Journal of Electronic Publishing, [online] 17(2). Available at: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0017.207/–library-as-publisher-capacity-building-for-the-library?rgn=main;view=fulltext.
  • “When the term ‘encyclopaedia’ was coined in the early sixteenth century, it designated the philosophical ideal of the interconnection between the disciplines, and this sense persisted through the seventeenth century. Works referring to the ‘encyclopedia’ were often abstract treatises on the disciplines, but starting in the late sixteenth century ‘encyclopedia’ occasionally appeared as the subtitle or title in didactic works.” – Blair, A., 2010. Too much to know: managing scholarly information before the modern age. New Haven [Conn.] ; London: Yale University Press. I highly recommend this book to all LIS students and professionals.
  • “With Wikipedia and other innovative encyclopedias of the twenty-first century, we are probably returning to a time of creative restructuring of the encyclopedia, a process last experienced in the eighteenth century and that left as its largest monuments the Universal-Lexicon and the Encyclopédie méthodique.” – Loveland, J., 2012. Why Encyclopedias Got Bigger . . . and Smaller. Information & Culture: A Journal of History, 47(2), pp.233–254. doi: 10.1353/lac.2012.0012.
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Notes on Trade Publishing Today

The eighth session of LAPIS began with Dr. Ernesto Priego’s overview of trade publishing in today’s digital world. Continuing this theme, digital publisher Dan Franklin offered insight into Penguin Random House UK and its current digital projects. Both lectures led to one truth: the landscape of trade publishing has been drastically altered with the explosion of content in the digital age. Here I have listed a few of my notes, afterthoughts, and resources from the session and private study.

  • The expansion of the Internet and subsequently the widespread use of tablets and smartphones launched publishers into the digital realm.
  • The publishing value chain requires further research. Publishers questioning the marketability of books. Can it become a film? Should an interactive website be devoted to it? Is it worth it? This can be thought of as the creative loop books experience in the digital age; books may be re-created and built upon through a number of mediums.
  • Users desire easy access on their mobile devices and additional content to enhance their experience. Publishers must add value to their content in a number of ways and become a host for the community. However, problems may arise when content only work on specific devices, excluding some readers.
    Through the creation of mobile apps, Penguin Random House attaches interactive layers to written works.
  • Development of the Author Portal by Penguin signals call for data from publishers and more transparency.
    Publishing is also about taking old material and reinventing it (Penguin Little Black Classics).
  • Michael Cairns, the CEO of Publishing Technology, commented on the current state of trade publishing: “…readers and publishers have stopped worrying about the digital revolution and are now looking for how best to maximize the medium through social sharing, subscription services for discovery and friction-less consumption, and new content and sales opportunities.” See article for 2015 predictions for publishing.
  • ALA post on e-books and copyright issues. The post also examines the relationship between publishers and libraries, pulling quotes from Jeanette Woodward’s book The Transformed Library: E-Books, Expertise, and Evolution. The book warrants further study.
  • Webinar from the publisher O’Reilly on HTML5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAlpxQ7uHLU
  • Further reading: The Content Machine: Towards a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network by Michael Bhaskar

The Right to Learn: Open Access, Libraries, Publishing and Academia

The sixth LAPIS session continued the theme of scholarly publishing and communications with a special focus on open access. Dr. Ernesto Priego laid the groundwork for the history and basics of open access while visiting lecturer Dr. Martin Eve examined economic issues and the future of open access.

There are two primary forms of open access: green and gold. Green is most often used in institutional repositories. While authors can deposit both pre-print and post-print articles, lengthy embargoes may apply delaying the availability and possibly the effectiveness of the research in areas such as the sciences. On the other hand, gold open access implies immediate availability of the final published article versions to all. Depending on the business model used, authors or their institutions may have to pay a fee for the article to have gold open access. While challenges arise from both routes, the benefits of gold open access outweigh the problems which arise with green.

The Serials Crisis and Libraries

Backtracking a bit, let’s look at one of the major occurrences which has led to the discussion of open access: the serials crisis. The Association of Research Libraries best illustrates the problem: “Commercialization of publishing in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors has led to egregious price increases and unacceptable terms and conditions of use for some key research resources needed by the scholarly community.” Essentially, the increase in prices is hindering scholarly communication between academics when their institutions are unable to purchase subscriptions to expensive journals.

In my professional experience, I faced issues stemming from the serials crisis. At a former job, the retirement of the librarian resulted in me performing all print journal orders for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the library budget had been reduced from the previous year, and the new academic dean called for some print publications to be removed from the order due to price increases. Pro forma in hand, I was forced to make some difficult decisions regarding what should be held within our library. Walking the tightrope between ensuring student and faculty needs were met and reworking our subscriptions to fit the new budget proved challenging. Beyond being blocked by numerous paywalls after completing my undergraduate degree, this was my first experience with the relationship between libraries and publishers, and it sparked my interest in open access.

Open Access and Academia

So why are there still issues with the implementation of open access? The complicated relationship between publishing and academia may shed some light on some issues. To gain notoriety for one’s work, publishing in major journal is sometimes necessary. Many academics aspire to publish in whatever journals dominate their field, and often these publications are distributed by major publishers who will keep the published work behind paywalls. However, new research shows that openly accessible articles gain more traffic and citations than those behind paywalls.

Academia seems to be at a turning point with open access. Hopefully, more academics will publish in open access journals, and paywalls will cease to exist as a form of quality control. A world in which academics can openly exchange data and ideas is one in which new research will lead to more discoveries and an overall better existence.

References and Further Resources

Eve, M., 2015. Open Access and the Humanities. [Lecture]. Available from: https://prezi.com/2fdshqlafild/open-access-and-the-humanities/ [Accessed 13 Mar. 2015].
Eve, M., 2014. Open Access and the Humanities. [Online]. University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Available from: Cambridge Books Online. <http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316161012.003> [Accessed 16 March 2015].

Learned Societies and Publishing: Past, Present, and Future

The fifth session of LAPIS centred around scholarly publishing and scholarly communications. An examination of academic journal history began with Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the first scientific scholarly journal published. The journal established in 1665 is still in print today. Nearly two hundred years later, the introduction of the Uniform Penny Post opened the world of scholarly publishing to the masses, mirroring the Internet’s impact on public access to scholarly outputs and communications (Rolnik, Binfield, and Graves 2008). With a strong understanding of past developments, we focused on the current state of academic publishing.

Learned Society Publishing

Learned societies hold an important position in modern scholarly publishing. During our exploration of their roles, discussion of the relationship between learned societies and publishers arose. While memberships account for a portion of the revenue drawn by societies, most profits comes from subscriptions by academic and research libraries. Additionally, a small amount of public libraries and individuals may purchase subscriptions.

While some learned societies choose to self-publisher, others found it beneficial to seek a publisher. Benefits include a steady and increasing income, backup digitisation, and added features and tools for both the society and its members. The process of choosing a publisher usually begins with the issue of a request-for-proposal to various publishers and involves entering into a 5-year contract (Rolnik, Binfield, and Graves 2008).

ALPSP and the Future of Scholarly Publishing

For the second portion of the class, Suzanne Kavanagh, Director of Marketing and Membership Services at ALPSP, expanded even more on scholarly publishing. Kavanagh outlined a number of important things learned societies currently do:

  • Latest news and research
  • Networking opportunities
  • Professional development and recognition
  • Support services
  • Member discounts
  • Facilities

She also shared a video from the 2014 ALPSP conference in which many of the members presented optimistic outlooks on the future of publishing: 

These positive attitudes are vital due to some of the challenges faced by the publishing industry today. Associations and organisations such as ALPSP exist to assist publishers members both large and small with understanding and approaching all issues they may face when serving their customers in the digital age. One of the most pressing problems has to do VAT legislation when selling direct within the EU. In response to the complicated VAT system, the Publishers Association issued a manifesto providing guidelines for what the UK government should do:

  • Urge the European Commission to allow Member States to
    investigate applying lower rates of VAT on e-publications (books and
    academic journals).
  • Remove the VAT liability on article publishing charges, as paid by
    academic researchers publishing in “gold” open access journals.
  • Initiate an inquiry, which acknowledges that the market definition of
    ebooks is separate to that of books in general, into the online-physical
    and ebook sectors in the UK. This would need to pay close attention to
    the impact on authors, small publishers and independent retailers of the
    prevailing market conditions.

The need for a government inquiry into the effect on smaller publishers is an important point.The responsibility to calculate VAT charges puts a burden on smaller publishers and could potentially harm their productivity and present serious legal implications if done incorrectly.

Another hurdle which exists for academic publishers is the need to make publications available on mobile devices. Increasingly, we are becoming attached to our mobile phones and tablets. The expectation to access every possible bit of information while on the go must be addressed. The development of apps and mobile-friendly websites should be a priority for scholarly publishers.

Following from the need for access, the importance of open access appears. Working with the major publisher Taylor & Francis, ALPSP published a report discussing the results from a learned societies survey centring on open access. The report found that 47% of the societies were considering open access for their publication, while 36% were not considering this and 17% already had an open access policy in place. Despite these figures, an overwhelming majority found no benefits to having open access or considered it to be a minor or direct threat to their operations. Based on the numbers, learned societies recognise that while open access may not be ideal for their business models, the shift may be inevitable. Overall, the significance of bodies such as ALPSP in assisted their members with the issues outlined here cannot be overstated; joining such organisations should be a priority for all academic publishers.

References

Binfield, Peter, Rolnik, Zachary, Brown, Cindy and Cole, Kerry (2008) “Academic Journal Publishing”, The Serials Librarian: From the Printed Page to the Digital Age, 54:1-2, 141-153, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03615260801973992 [retrieved 04 March 2015]
Rolnik, Zachary, Binfield, Peter and Graves, Tonia (2008) “Publishing 101: The Basics of Academic Publishing”, The Serials Librarian: From the Printed Page to the Digital Age, 54:1-2, 37-42, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03615260801973414 [retrieved 04 March 2015]

Publishing, Creativity, and Law: Intellectual Property and Fanworks

Development of the Publishing Industry

The fourth LAPIS session found the class in the murky waters of intellectual property. Prior to this discussion, a historical introduction to the development of publishing and intellectual property law was given by Dr. Ernesto Priego, from the formation of the notion of authorship among Medieval scribes to the current state of copyright law in relation to fanworks.

During class, an interesting connection was drawn from the mid-16th century development of the printing press and services such as Amazon. With the advent of printing, the publishing houses also acted as booksellers. Evidence is found in library and archival collections throughout the world. The British Library itself has a collection of publisher catalogues. This trend continued until the separation of publishers and booksellers in the 18th century. However, today we see a return to this model. The most notable example is that of Amazon. With a new website promoting the company as a publisher and marketing various imprints, a major bookseller is once again becoming a prominent publisher as well.

Creativity vs. Law?

Issues surrounding fanworks and copyright law were also dicussed in class. I should preface this portion of the post with a note on my involvement in the fan community. I have been an avid reader of fanfiction and have been known to cosplay in the past. The fandoms I participate in and the works produced within them are quite special to me and have motivated my own exploration of creative writing.

The first steps toward creative expression (especially for young artists and writers) usually arises with the exploration of intriguing worlds and characters. For many budding fanwork producers, inspiration is sparked through the books, comics, and films they experience. So, is it wrong for fans to manufacture works based on copyrighted source materials? My answer would be no. However, the world is not so simple and laws must be acknowledged.

Confusion over legality is further driven by the commercialisation of certain fanworks. The belief that fan productions are meant as a creative outlet and not for financial gain is not shared by all. With the publishing of the trilogies City of Bones (previously a Harry Potter fanfiction) and Fifty Shades of Grey (originally a Twilight fanfiction), the question of whether changing the names of the characters and placing them in an alternative universe allows a writer to seek sell his or her work. The possibility of legal action essentially depends on the wishes of the copyright holder. For instance, J.K. Rowling has been both supportive of some fanfiction while taking prosecuting others (T., 2013). Despite the potential legal liability of fanworks, there has been a major sea-change in the way they are approached. Publishers have started to embrace fanfiction. Even retailer Amazon is becoming involved in publishing fanfictions.

So, what about fanwork creators who do not wish to gain financially from their productions and would like to avoid any legal ramifications of producing? The Organization for Transformative Works has come forth as a shining beacon for all those fanfiction writers searching for legal guidance and protection. With an archive of past legal cases, the non-profit organisation projects itself as a powerful information resource for all fans. Additionally, they provide crucial advice regarding how fans can ensure their works will fall under fair use (at least in the U.S.).

Debating copyright on the whole aroused some diverse opinions within the class. Should we position the little guy against the big bad corporate entity? What does a large company gain for pulling down a YouTube video which did not intend to commit copyright infringement? What is the role of the LIS professional in advocacy for or against intellectual property laws? At the end, I felt further discussion and examination of the laws and issues is required. However, I doubt consensus will ever be reached on such a controversial topic.

For reader interested in learning more about copyright laws within the U.S. and the U.K. in relation to fanworks, please see the resources below.

References and Further Reading

Admin, 2014. Fanfiction: Creators, communities and copyright. CREATe. Available at: http://www.create.ac.uk/blog/2014/08/04/fanfiction-creators-communities-and-copyright/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015].
Fan Art Law at Comic-Con. 2012. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKBsTUjd910 [Accessed 25 Feb. 2015].
James, V., 2015. Amazon goes head to head with Wattpad in battle for fanfic writers. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/dec/08/amazon-wattpad-fanfic-retail [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015].
Price, L., 2015. Fanfiction and Self-publishing. Ludi Price: Musings on produsage and participatory culture by a #CityLIS research student. Available at: <https://blogs.city.ac.uk/ludiprice/2015/02/20/fanfiction-and-self-publishing/&gt; [Accessed 24 Feb. 2015].
T., S., 2013. Fan Fiction and Copyright Law. [University of San Francisco, School of Law] Internet and Intellectual Property Justice Clinic. Available at: http://lawblog.usfca.edu/internetjustice/2013/fan-fiction-and-copyright-law/ [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015].

What Is an Author?: Meanings, Publications, and Interactions

Importance of the Author?

Is proper criticism of a work achieved through the inclusion or exclusion of the identity and authority of the author? This is a question which Barthes addressed in “The Death of the Author”. Barthes called for the liberation of the reader from both authors and critics. Barthes recognised that multiple meanings could be derived from the complex texts produced and the ability of readers to pick apart the text for themselves:

Thus literature (it would be better, henceforth, to say writing), by refusing to assign to the text (and to the world as text) a “secret:’ that is, an ultimate meaning, liberates an activity which we might call counter-theological, properly revolutionary, for to refuse to arrest meaning is finally to refuse God and his hypostases, reason, science, the law.

Foucault responded to Barthes’ essay in “What Is an Author?” and expanded further on the ideas presented. However instead of mounting a brutal attack on the idea of the author, Foucault dissected the relationship between the author and text at length while introducing the notion of the “author-function” and proposing, towards the end of his essay, that the “death of the author” is inevitable. Drawing similar conclusions as Barthes, Foucault remarked that the author has become “…the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning.” Both Barthes and Foucault find the author to be a restrictive figure on their works, limiting the discourse concerning meaning to the background and bias of the author.

Works, Notes, and Social Media

Continuing from this idea of the “death of the author”, examination of Barthes and Foucault’s ideas today present an interesting discussion. Interactions between readers, critics, and writers are increasing due to the emergence of social media. Fans at conferences can now quickly “tweet” remarks and Q&A sessions by authors at conferences, leading to a proliferation of additional material which may expand upon the author’s works and conflict with major critical theories. This leads to the following questions: What do we consider to be canon? Can one truly know an author without having read every social media by or about an author?

The first question was recently addressed in relation to Harry Potter canon on the fansite Mugglenet. A two-part debate was published by Kat Miller and Keith Hawk. One writer claimed that every interview, note, or written work by J.K. Rowling should be considered canon while the other argued canon should be limited to the seven written books. Hawk supported this statement with an fact spoken by J.K. Rowling in an interview which conflicted with the canon of the books. The authority of the author comes into question when the author does not hold true to the facts presented in the original written work. In my opinion, I hold Miller’s point of view that everything spoken and written by Rowling should be considered canon; however, when contradictions occurs, the original seven books must be considered the primary source of canon knowledge.

Regarding the difficulty of tracking all author observations on their works, we come to the question of author authority once again. With the creation of wikis such as the Lord of the Rings Wiki and the Harry Potter Wiki, fans have begun a grassroots movement to attempt to compile and disseminate all knowledge authors present within the worlds they have created. With the separation of fan theories in some wikis, these communities have even tried to gather the knowledge of the whole fandom in order to expand upon the works. With living authors such as J.K. Rowling who continuously expand upon their worlds through platforms such as Twitter and Pottermore, it may be impossible to gather all knowledge, but there are efforts to do so. Whether or not an individual can examine and present a cohesive critique of a work with the introduction of so many new resources has yet to be determined; it will definitely be quite the challenge.

Journalists and Public Interactions

As a continuation of thoughts on an author’s role today, I’d like to draw a connection from the previous material to Eliza Anyangwe‘s presentation “Digital Journalism: Golden Age or Stone Age?”. One of the most interesting points surrounded the interactions of the between readers and journalists. With the move of print newspapers to online platforms, the walls between the public and the newsrooms collapsed. The ability to comment and provide feedback on written pieces immediately contrasts greatly with the past world of notes to the editor. Journalists can respond quickly to any notes or criticisms of their work which can even shape the completion of the piece if the article is edited as a result of user comments. Sometimes even the focus of a journalistic piece is shaped by their readers as is the case with crowd-funded journalism. The collaborations between journalists and readers offer a whole new way of producing journalism as digital technology progresses. Has the existence of the journalist forever changed as an author when he or she interacts with the public or alters their writing slightly based on information given by readers? I believe so.

References

Barthes, R. (1967) “The Death of the Author”. Translated by Richard Howard. http://www.tbook.constantvzw.org/wp-content/death_authorbarthes.pdf
Foucault, M. (1969/2000) “What is an author”. In J. Faubion (Ed.) Michel Foucault: aesthetics,
method and epistemology. Essential works of Foucault 1954-1984 Volume 2. London: Penguin.
pp. 205-222.
Hawk, K. (2014) ‘What Is Canon?’ – Part 2: The books or not the books – that is the question. MuggleNet. Available at: [Accessed 17 Feb. 2015].

Miller, K. (2014) ‘What Is Canon?’ – Part 1: It’s all in J.K. Rowling’s head. MuggleNet. Available at: [Accessed 17 Feb. 2015].

Interactive Fictions Today: Publishing in the Digital Age

McLuhan and Interactive Fictions

As digital technologies have progressed, so too have the abilities of interactive fictions. According to Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.” With the development of interactive content to support, expand, and bring to life texts online, the phrase still rings true today. Today, users can alter the storylines, explore additional content, and even change the construction and the message of an interactive fiction’s output. Due to the high amount of engagement required from users, McLuhan would consider it a form of cool media.

Pottermore

One of the most telling examples of the medium effecting the understanding of its content came with the introduction of Pottermore. While the intention of the experience is meant to offer fans a more in-depth look into the world formed by J.K. Rowling and the books, Pottermore managed to change the publishing industry’s use of digital content in many more ways. For instance, Harry Potter e-books can only be purchased on the Pottermore website. Limiting the availability to this one location allows the publisher to encourage readers to engage in the use of Pottermore. Additionally, new Harry Potter material exclusively from Rowling—including extensive character backgrounds and new information on aspects of the the world of Harry Potter—is only open to users who have joined Pottermore.

While it is important to note the addition of exclusive digital content, understanding the collaborative environment of Pottermore is also vital. As a member of the Harry Potter fandom since the first U.S. printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S.) in 1998, I was one of the lucky (obsessive) ones who stayed up till all hours of the night in order to become a beta on the Pottermore website, and I still engage within the community there today. The evolution of the experience happened before my eyes, and I am glad to have been a part of it.

The participatory nature of Pottermore for both the betas and later users bestowed upon them the ability to shape what the online experience would become. Feedback gathered through the comments influenced sights and sounds that flowed through the screen to the users. Also, the inclusion of even more interactive searches, potion-making sessions, and foolish wand-waving (aw…Severus) occurred. The interactive fiction website as it is available today is a direct result of the publisher, developers, and author’s belief in their users capacity to realise issues within the online experience and offer solutions. In this instance, it is obvious that the medium alters the message of the work highly through the interactions of users and those controlling the content.

The Novelist

Looking beyond interactive content meant to enhance the experience of already published texts, Dear Esther and The Novelist seek to alter the way in which people interact with original written works. The Novelist places the player in control of the lives of a family of three. The father and mother are in the midst of a difficult time as their marriage appears to be failing due to the father’s focus on the writing of his new novel. The parents and their son all have different desires and needs. The choices one makes from day to day influence the relationships between all three. Thus, there are many different outcomes to the story. Just as in life, the game is a balancing act.

The medium effects reception of The Novelist highly. Moving from person to person and room to room, you can experience both memories and thoughts. Thus, you can also choose to ignore certain characters and their wishes all-together. The ending is completely altered each time you make a decision. The message of the game changes with your choices resulting in an interactive fiction which must be explored again and again to fully understand the complexity of human interactions and relationships.

Libraries and Interactive Fictions

Since the LAPIS module places equal importance on publishing and libraries in information societies, we must ask: How does the discussion of interactive fictions tie in with libraries? Through funding from CreativeWorks London, Rob Sherman is now The British Library’s first Interactive Fiction Writer-in-Residence. With similar collaborations, libraries can support further developments in the field.

A possible hurdle for libraries in the promotion of interactive fictions is budget concerns. While Pottermore any many other interactive fictions are available freely online, some more advanced games such as Dear Esther The Novelist must be purchased on platforms such as Steam. Should libraries purchase these games for their patrons? Personally, I believe interactive fictions should be treated as subscriptions to databases would be in that they should be purchased for usage by patrons. Due to funding issues, this may not be possible for all libraries. However, up-to-date and relevant resources are what make libraries great, and libraries should keep a close eye on these trends and decide if they would be beneficial for their users.