Topic 5: Summary

Open access to online materials for all- utopian dream or unstoppable force?

The topic of open access to information has sparked much interest with my peers and I, and there was much debate about what content should be freely available online and what shouldn’t.

open-access-lock

In this digital age, consumers have plenty of free resources to choose from but I don’t believe publishers should be pressured into providing content at no cost. We need to realise that if we want quality content, whether on the Internet, in our cinemas or on our TVs, we have to support the people who produce the content we enjoy. Some business models suit open access, some support limited and others should be pay-walled. Fundamentally we discovered that whether or not content should be open access depends on its nature and its provider.

We all agreed, however, that open access to education should be freely available. The chancellor of Cambridge University described the current academic publishing process as a broken system and, after researching this topic, I must say I agree.  If our taxes are funding research, we should have the right to access it freely. A report published by the UK Wellcome Trust (2004) argued that “the benefits of research are derived principally from access to research results”, and therefore that “society as a whole is made worse off if access to scientific research is restricted”.  Open access will encourage data sharing and collaboration, which could save both time and money.

I do not know what the answer is, but ultimately I think that a Reddit style system that is peer reviewed would work. The rating system could take into account the credibility of the reviewer, based on their academic profile (highly rated academics would have more influence).

None of this, however, can reach its maximum potential until the Internet becomes accessible at affordable prices worldwide.  Open access to education and information could most benefit those in underdeveloped countries. Farmers in rural china could learn how to get a better yield from their crops, school children in Nigeria could gain access to a first class education and medical diagnosis.  Thus, it is vital that governments focus on making this a reality and not just an ideal.

  1. Costs and business models in scientific research publishing, Wellcome Trust (2004)http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/en/images/costs_business_7955.pdf
  2. Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University speaks out on Elsevier and Open Access, Sal Robinson (2014) http://www.mhpbooks.com/vice-chancellor-of-cambridge-university-speaks-out-on-elsevier-and-open-access/

Topic 5: #UOSM2008 Open access to online materials for all – utopian dream or unstoppable force?

Explain the advantages and disadvantages to a content producer of making their materials freely available online: 

Open access to information is a tricky subject to tackle; primarily as the advantages and disadvantages of making content free differ significantly  between industries. The music and film industry have lost vast amounts of money due to illegal downloading, and are fighting hard to stop sites that freely distribute their content.

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The Financial Times  is a pay-to-view news service that prides itself on producing content that is objective and unbiased. This quality reporting could not survive if it relied on advertising and gave content away for free. I feel that as a society we need realise that if we want quality content, whether on the Internet, in our cinemas or on our TVs, we have to support the people who produce the content we enjoy. We are willing to pay for the medium: our internet broadband, TV licence or TV streaming, so why are we so against paying for subscription only content. According to a new study by the GFK Group, Internet users do not want to pay for online content, ever, no matter the content. We need to stop taking free content online for granted. A recent study by Simon-Kutcher & Partners, a global pricing community, found that 90% of online content is likely to be held behind a pay wall in the next three years. Get ready to see your access reduced.

Alternatively, with the subject of open access to educational material I have to take a very different stance. Over the last few years, a number of open educational resources have been developed with the aim of giving the opportunity of education to the masses: Udacity, Coursera, MIT’s Opencourseware etc. This has great potential to help young people across the globe and especially in undeveloped countries. Although Internet access is not widely available, (only 3 in 5 people worldwide have access) there are a number of on going projects to make this happen. According to Claudio Pinhanez, access to educational material can help underdeveloped countries to evolve economically. The advantages of free access to education worldwide are endless.

I, while studying at university, have found these websites invaluable. As a mature student, coming back to the classroom was quite an overwhelming experience, particularly when I found myself faced with A-level statistics. Unfortunately, in my early teens I had not grasped the value of a good education, and my frivolity resulted in a less than poor attendance in maths classes. I soon realised I had no grasp of the basic principles of mathematics, which made understanding the more advanced almost impossible.  With a Udacity course (College Algebra) I was able, within a couple of days of dedicated viewing, to understand the material fully. In school, I had always been intimidated by maths,  up until recently I would have proclaimed I was awful, but as it turns out I’m not too bad.  The one-on-one experience of an online course allows learners to go at their own pace in a comfortable environment. With the help of the course I was able to quickly catch up to the level of understanding necessary to excel in my exams.

Furthermore, with the costs of tuition fees rising, students are expecting more from their university experience. Open access university resources can add significant value to the educational process, allowing students to get more from lessons and lectures and also allow them to learn topics which are of interest to them.

Open Access

Within the academic community, the real topic of conversation regarding open access to information regards research papers.  Here, the content creators are funded by the taxpayers and so surely their research should be free for us to read, it’s not. If I were to produce a research paper and submit it to a journal, the journal editors would send it to other academics to be reviewed without remuneration. The editor will, based on the review, either publish or reject the paper. If I agree for it to be published it will cost the taxpayer further money in the form of a publishing fee. More than that, any tax payer that wishes to read my paper will have to pay to do so. Surely with the advent of the Internet there is a better way for this to be done. According to Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eise prices have outgrown inflation. This is a huge hindrance to scientific progress and the spread of knowledge. Students’ and academics’ research depend on access to literature.

The only disadvantage of the open access of research papers is that certain Journals are regarded more highly than others. This way of judging the quality of research could be easily amended through, a Reddit style rating system for academic research perhaps.

For further reading on the issue of open access to research this is a great paper, ironically it is closed access. Open Access: An Evolving Alternative-by Lorraine J. Haricombe, L. Ada Emmett, and Perry Alexander

References:

  1. Lepitak, S. (2013). 90% of online content to be held behind paywalls in three years media company survey suggests. Available:://www.thedrum.com/news/2013/04/12/90-online-content-be-held-behind-paywalls-three-years-media-company-survey-suggest
  2. Yoskowitz, A. (2009).People don’t want to pay for content online, ever. Available://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2009/12/15/people_don_t_want_to_pay_for_anything_online_ever
  3. Pihanez, C. (2013) http://research.ibm.com/people/p/pinhanez/publications/netbrasil.htm
  4. Shockey, N. & Eise, J. (2012). Open Access explained. Available:https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=L5rVH1KGBCY
  5. Haricombe, L.J, Emmett, L.A, and Alexander, P. (2012) Open Access: An Evolving Alternative. Availablehttp://incoming-proxy.ist.edu.gr/stfs_public/cs/msc/7FEN0101-PI/Assignment/refdocs/Open%20Access%20-%20An%20Evolving%20Alternative.pdf

A few outfits for this Autumn

Autumn 2013

1. In the winter, most of your wardrobe will be covered by your coat, so why not make it a statement?  Oversized outwear is in, and I love it. So, embrace the cocoon and 80s boyfriend-coats and stay warm this season.

I’ve paired this oversized coat with leather skinnies, a statement T and my favourite boots this season (As worn by Lucy Liu in Elementary).

  • Dust Bowl Coat, Rag & Bone
  • Decadence T, AllSaints
  • Leather Skinnies,  Saint Laurent
  • Harrow Boots, Rage and Bone

2. Punk is in but, to wear it without looking like an 80′s street crawler, wear it classy.

  • Blazer, Mango
  • Black Cami, French Connection
  • Patent Skirt, Asos
  • Ash Titan Biker Boots, ASOS
  • Neckless, Pull & Bear

3. This autumn, work-wear has gone casual. Team big jumpers with above-the-knee skirts and an oversized tote.

  • Floppy Shaker Hat, River Island
  • Liberty Leather Tote, Victoria Beckham
  • Ribbed-knit and angora-blend top,Giambattista valli

  • Reptile Jacquard Jersey Mini Skirt, Kenzo
  • Anouk patent-leather pumps, Jimmy Choo

 

Pigs in Mud Cake

fondantpigs

So, it was my little sister’s 18th, and having seen a few of these cakes doing the rounds on the internet I saw it as the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. I had no prior fondant experience and found the decorating a piece of cake.  So don’t let the appearance fool you into thinking you need any skills to create your own version.

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 400 grams self raising flour
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 80 grams best-quality cocoa powder
  • 350 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 300 ml sour cream

Butter Cream

  • 110 grams soft butter
  • 160 grams icing/powder sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 160 grams milk chocolate

Ganache

  • Good quality dark chocolate (I used green and blacks)
  • Double Cream

Decorating:

  • A load of kitkats 
  • Pink Fondant
  • Ribbon (for holding on the kitkats)

Method:

  1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 180°C and line and butter two 20cm / 8 inch sandwich tins with removable bases.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then beat in the eggs and the rest of the ingredients – baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, vanilla and sour cream – until you have a smooth, thick batter.
  4. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time or cook them separately.
  5. Remove the cakes from the oven and, in their tins, let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing.
  6. Now for the butter cream:
    • Place the butter and icing sugar into a large bowl and cream together until light and fluffy.
    • Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, over a bain-marie (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Once melted, stir with a wooden spoon and place to one side.
    • Add the milk to the butter and sugar mixture, and mix thoroughly.
    • Add the melted chocolate and beat furiously until light, smooth and shiny.
  7. Once your cake has cooled, level it off using a bread knife so that the two layers sit comfortably together. Next, secure the bottom layer to the board or plate you will be using to display the cake using a spoonful of the butter cream; smother a generous amount onto the top and put on the second layer. Hold a little back to smother the sides of the cake. This will help the KitKats stay in place.
  8. Now for the ganache: 
    • In a bain-marie, melt the chocolate. At the same time heat your cream in a pan over the hob. Once the chocolate has melted, take the cream off the heat and pour in the chocolate. Mix thoroughly until thick and combined.
    • Leave to cool.
  9. Next, mix the ganache and pour over the cake allow a little to go over the sides as it will help the KitKats stick. I used a spoon to make swirls in the mud. Now you can get out your KitKats and stick them around the cake, making sure not to leave any gaps.
  10. Pigs in Mud Cake
  11. Once this is done, secure the KitKats with a ribbon.

For the Little Pigs

Try and make these in a cool room, and don’t play with the fondant to much or it will start to dry out. I started by making the little pigs bums. I did this by making little balls, adding a little indentation to represent their bottom cheeks and putting a little hole to later support a little tail.
Fondant Pigs
You can then make little bellies with a hole for a belly button.  Faces consist of a large of fondant with a smaller ball for a snout and little teardrops for ears. Make sure you also make little holes in the head to put the ears into otherwise they can slide off.  For the trotters I also used a tear drop shape and put indentation on one end.
I also made two pigs that sat up against the edge of the cake. These I made by putting together a big ball and a little ball like you would a snow man. I then stuck on the snout and ears, made an impression for the eyes and belly button and made some little sausages for arms.
Fondant Pigs
Last, place your pigs into the mud.
pigs in mud

Balenciaga, From Catwalk to High Street

balenciaga-frill-detail

I absolutely loved these Balenciaga ruffle dresses and skirts. These pieces are so elegant and figure flattering.  To my delight Miss Selfridge has created their own version at a fraction of the cost. Just £59.

The Miss Selfridge dress has the same simple black bodice, huge frilled peplum and oversized ruffle trimmed skirt. Although you sacrifice in the detailing, you’ll save possibly in hundreds or thousands. But if your handy with a sewing machine or superglue, you can add some of the detailing they missed yourself.

Miss Selfridge Ruffle Dress

http://www.missselfridge.com/en/msuk/product/dress-shop-299048/view-all-299126/ultimate-ruffle-dress-1865737?refinements=Colour%7b1%7d~%5bblack%5d&bi=41&ps=40

Festival Glam

The festival season is well and truly underway, as the clouds of Glastonbury begin to gather together, it’s time to start preparing those show-stopping, sun-worshipping outfits! Or, looking out of my window, perhaps rain proof would be more suitable. The most fashionable event in the music calendar kicked of the festival season in April. Coachella, the A-list festival, saw some of the red carpets best dressed flocking to California to break out their bo hoo and some of the outfits were fantastic.

kerr-ambrosio-swanepoel-2013-coachella-valley-music-and-arts-festival-01

Above; the Victoria’s Secret girls looking awfully good in their festival chique. Hot pants, ankle boots, big hats and even the classic Siena Miller look waist coat. It shows you can always rely on crochet, fringing and denim to create the ultimate festival fashion look, no matter what’s on trend.

And here are a few of the other outfits I’ve drawn inspiration from.

coachellafashion

For the unpredictable weather and slightly less glamorous UK festivals there are a few essentials that are a must. First and foremost, wellies are essential to ensure you can survive the entire weekend warm and dry. Hunter have so much selection that there’s a welly for everyone. The truth of festivals is that at some point we’re going to want to cover up our unwashed locks, for this a stylish hat will do the trick. So pick a Panama or a big floppy to stick don on sunday.  A plain black dress or one with a nice print can hide a multitude of sins, from beer stains to mud spears. Accessories can make all the difference when you are up against the elements for a long weekend, adding layers of bangles, necklaces and bracelets can add personality to your plain black dress and be chopped and changed for reuse. Lastly, in case you see any sunshine, a nice pair of Raybans will finish off any festival look perfectly.

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1:

  • Glasses-Ray Ban Wayfarer
  • Pattie textured leather jacket-Whistles
  • Ruche dress -Baukjen 
  • Fringed suede bag- Zara
  • Leather thong sandals- Aldo

2:

  • Rabbit felt wide brimmed hat- Maison Michel 
  • Print T- Topshop 
  • Aged denim shorts- Allsaints
  • Biker boots- Jimmy Choo

3.

  • Glasses- Carrera 
  • Dip dyed dungarees- River Island
  • Tie dye crop top- Asos
  • Water proof studded traines- Hunter 

Strawberry Cupcakes

DSC_2458

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 340g Plain flour
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 170g Unsalted butter
  • 230g Caster sugar
  • 100ml Milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 5 large strawberries 

For the Butter Cream:

  • 5 Large strawberries mushed or blended
  • 170g Butter
  • 240g Caster sugar
  • 3 Egg Whites

Recipe makes about 16 Cupcakes

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180c and line your cupcake pan with paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. Next, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add in the vanilla extract. Next, mix in the flour mixture in tree parts, alternating with the milk, and beat until just combined; set aside.

4. In a clean bowl whisk the eggs whites until stiff, glossy peaks form. Then, gently incorporate the egg whites into the mixture.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cases, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 25minutes or until the cupcakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

DSC_2437

6. Now for the butter cream. Combine the egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

7. Remove from heat  and continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

8. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all the butter has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat until all air bubbles are eliminated. Add the strawberry puree and beat until combined. Continue to stir  with a rubber spatula until  smooth. Keep the buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

9. Now to decorate. Spread or pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake. I added some little sugar craft daisies that I found buying my cupcake cases. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.