Archive for: November, 2010

The idea of open

Nov 24 2010 Published by under Open Access

This last day of Scientopian gratitude is to be focused on an idea we're grateful for. No surprises. You all know what my obvious, slam-dunk, off-the-cuff, top-of-my-head answer is, right?

Right. The idea of open. All the ideas of open. How mindblowingly amazing are these notions? That we can cut through the barrier of briars, legal and social and organizational, that bar knowledge-seekers from the castle of information. That we can give each other knowledge like hundred-year kisses. That knowledge work doesn't have to disappear into lonely glass towers.

Now, obviously, I owe my career to date to a couple-three open ideas. Open access, of course. But also open source; I've been running DSpace and Open Journal Systems as long as I've been in this game. And open data, which is where I think all this NSF fuss will eventually wind up. And free culture, to which I owe a tremendous amount of the impact I've been able to make with my speaking. There's a selfish aspect to my gratitude, for eyes that want to see selfishness.

But hell's bells, if I didn't love the idea of open with all my wizened little heart I'd have jumped ship quite some time ago. The idea of open is brilliant and wonderful, but the work of open is exhausting, slow, and often thankless.

Still I am grateful to live in a world where the idea of open is taking root.

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A person I'm grateful for: Heather Joseph

Nov 23 2010 Published by under Miscellanea, Open Access

It's day two of Scientopia's gratitude-fest; today is all about people we're grateful for.

I'm grateful for Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC.

See, it's well-known that I am not a politic person. Despite being a good presenter, despite knowing my stuff and communicating it well, I am not a good show horse for a cause or an idea; I say the blunt (though often correct) thing at the wrong time and make everybody unhappy. I have a certain enfant terrible reputation in open-access circles, and I straight-up earned it.

Heather Joseph never, ever, ever makes that mistake. She tells the straight story, don't get me wrong, but she's got the chops to tell it without leaving any holes in her professional armor for skeevy publishers or lazy libraries to evade her message. She never falters or admits defeat. (I do. Regularly.) She is smart, prepared, opportunistic, persistent, and unwavering.

She's the best friend open access has in libraryland. If she didn't exist, we'd have to invent her—and we'd never get it right.

So thank you, Heather Joseph. I'm grateful you fight the good fight.

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A thing I'm thankful for

Nov 22 2010 Published by under Uncategorized

So it's gratitude week on Scientopia, and terrible misanthrope that I am, I thought I'd take the edge off a bit and participate.

First up, a thing I'm thankful for. Believe it or not, there are lots of these, but if I have to pick one that's work-related, I'll call out my nice office iMac. It's an elegant machine with a big screen that makes it just as easy to ssh over to a server as it is to read my email.

Don't laugh. When I started in my current position, I had a Winbox, and getting to a proper Unix command-line prompt was one hell of a hassle. (Don't talk to me about Cygwin. Just don't.)

The machine is over three years old, yet doesn't feel sluggish (unlike, sadly, my similar-age MacBook, which is cruising for a replacement soon) and still runs the latest-greatest in everything I need.

To each user her computer; if Winboxen are your thing, good for you. For me, my iMac gets out of my way for the most part and lets me get things done. I appreciate that. A lot.

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Friday foolery: The Plight of Metadata

Nov 19 2010 Published by under Miscellanea

Molly Kleinman says that we librarians spend too much angst and teen on metadata, and she's completely right. (It's not always our fault; sometimes our systems force us to be martinets. But she's still right.)

Even so—who will worry about the poor neglected metadata? Who, I ask you?

Pat Lockley, that's who. He took a lengthy tour of the seamy underside of the metadata industry, and chronicled the results.

(Trigger/offense warnings: one totally egregious and unnecessary slam at fat women, a lot of broad stereotypes. The bit about repository managers, though? Completely true. We've all been reduced to that. Take my word for it.)

The Plight of Metadata from Pat Lockley on Vimeo.

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Little Nuggets

Nov 18 2010 Published by under Miscellanea, Open Access, Praxis, Uncategorized

Little nuggets of information are swirling around in my head. I'm just back from two meetings, in two different cities, and each one had some interesting ideas about the future of library services, collections, and technology.

Meeting #1 was the 2010 SPARC Digital Repositories Meeting in Baltimore. The last time this meeting was held, 2008, the landscape for institutional repositories (and digital repositories) was focussed on how libraries could create and/or host them and convince others of their value. I would say that with a few exceptions, not much has changed.

Just like everyone wants to get married in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, everyone in libraryland seems convinced if the right marketing approach/language is used, the perfect match will be made with respect to people contributing and using IR/DR content. Unfortunately the current IR/DR infrastructure isn't conducive to this. You need to establish relationships before (or while) you build the network, and there're few easy tie-ins to the existing infrastructure.  The keynote speaker, Michael Nielsen, made this point with respect to use and adoption of science online networks and the same is true for libraries. The current reward system isn't set up so scientists can show the value of contributing to social networks outside of the peer review process. I would agree this is true for IRs/SRs/DRS also, although of the three subject repositories have been the most successful.

As you can tell from the program, there was emphasis on collecting and curating open data, which I think showed there is a desire for libraries to find a better match. While this may create a niche for libraries, it's going to take some work between the "data nerds" and the collectors, as this friendfeed discussion shows.  

While several presenters mentioned the need for preservation, there was suprisingly little talk about the importance of having policies, infrastructure, technology in place to do this. In fact these two communities are almost completely disconnected. There's also been very little attention to assessment issues such as identifying if the money and staff time devoted to projects is worthwhile given the continuing recession and shrinking library collections budgets. I see both of these ideas impacting work on IRs/DRs/SRs, although since neither topic is "sexy" it may take some before we see much attention devoted to these issues.

The plan is to have this conference again in two years, and if this happens I predict we will see further shifts in focus or perhaps this program co-sponsored or linked with another organization.

Meeting #2 was a joint ARL/SSP workshop, Partnering to Publish: Innovative Roles for Societies, Institutions, Presses, and Libraries. This should have been a session or part of the schedule for Meeting #1, because it became clear as the meeting progressed that working in the publishing infrastructure is a natural way for libraries to make their repositories and/or preservation efforts tie into the existing promotion and tenure environment. In most cases the speakers at the event were able to show this in easily quanitfiable ways, like sales figures, enhanced content and features in books and journals, as well as stronger relationships with administrative units and campus faculty.

I also attended yet another conference in the last month: the 2010 Library Assessment Conference. Not much of this conference addresses issues in BOT but I will say this - there were twice as many attendees at this meeting than the SPARC meeting with many more presentations and ideas generated. This is currently a hot topic in librarianship and I predict we will see more programming devoted to all areas of this topic in the future.

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Help with NSF data plans

Nov 16 2010 Published by under Research Data

Heather Piwowar is keeping up with NSF news at Research Remix, so while I'm still hors-de-whatever, that's a blog you should be watching.

In the meantime, institutions are starting to marshal responses. The commonest shape appears to be a one-on-one consulting service with associated website. If you're looking for help on your campus, start with a search of your library's website, then try IT, then try the research office.

Here are a few I've run across (or participated in). Feel free to add more in the comments.

2 responses so far

Followup on Attributor

Nov 08 2010 Published by under Tactics

So the same faculty member who forwarded me the email about a journal publisher's use of the Attributor DMCA-takedown service sent them an email asking them what the deal was. To be clear, the faculty member put the unredacted email on her own weblog; the paragraph below related to that isn't about Book of Trogool.

Again redacted, here is the publisher's response:

Many thanks for your email to my colleague {name redacted}. I am writing to explain further {Publisher}'s work with Attributor.As I am sure you are aware,publishers are finding increased online piracy. Trying to tackle this on an individual basis is very time consuming. Attributor's service helps to eliminate this aspect. When {Publisher} first signed up to, their searches were limited to the top 25 cyberlocker sites such as Rapidshare, Megaupload etc. As {Publisher}'s policy does not allow for its branded content to be hosted on these sites, working with Attributor has this made the "take-down" process much more efficient.

Attributor, are now expanding their services to include an Internet wide search functionality. This raised concerns that take down notices may be sent out to {Publisher} authors who have followed {Publisher}'s policies (and being a RoMEO Green Publisher) of allowing authors to upload their article either pre or post print (i.e. it can have all of the Editorial changes, but must not have the {Publisher} branding or logos etc). By requesting authors to provide {Publisher} with the locations of their own versions, we can ensure that when Attributor's search engines pick up the articles (Attributor's service works on a word association basis currently), a take down notice is not sent.

The Attributor service is currently being used by a number of publishers including Wiley, Macmillan and Pearson to name a few.

One of the other reasons we decided to use the Attributor service is because it could help us detect if an {Publisher} article/chapter has been copied but does not have the full attribution it should have. If this does happen then {Publisher} is in a position to be able to make contact and ensure that the full corrections are made. While {Publisher} does request that copyright is signed over, we still want to protect and support our authors as much as possible, both in terms of disseminating it (lawfully) to as wide an audience as possible and to ensure that authors' works are used correctly.

Subscribers to {Publisher}'s journals include more than 3,000 university libraries worldwide. We have a liberal author charter ({URL redacted}), as well as being RoMeo Green. We have various awards and grants that we offer to authors to help them fund their research and support and further their careers. In addition we encourage global scholarship through partnerships and research awards with CLADEA (Latin America), IAABD (Africa), CEEMAN (Central and Eastern Europe), BMDA (Baltic region), AACSB (Americas) and the Global Foundation for Management Education (GFME).

I was disappointed to learn that you had placed a copy of the original email and made comment on this before receiving a reply from {Publisher} clarifying the matter. On this point I would request that you remove {name}'s contact details from your post so that she is not unduly targeted.

I hope that this has explained our position and intentions behind working with Attributor, if I can be of any further assistance in clarifying further, please do let me know.

Kind regards,
{name redacted}
Rights Manager

So there you have it. Feel any better? ’Cos I don't. Reads just like the RIAA to me.

3 responses so far

Protecting whose copyright?

Nov 02 2010 Published by under Tactics

A faculty friend of mine forwarded me the email following. I have redacted it to remove publisher-identifying information. You can read about the service if you like, though. (I'm not connected with the said service in any way. I think its use in this context borders on the obscene.)

As a [publisher] author, you will know that [publisher] is dedicated to protecting the copyright of your work. For this reason, we use the Attributor service. Attributor automatically searches cyberlockers for unauthorized copies of works or illegal hosting and then issues legally-binding takedown notices. We are increasing Attributor's searches to the full breadth of the internet, to ensure maximum copyright protection.

For this to run as smoothly and efficiently, we are asking that you provide us with (if applicable):

  1. your personal website address
  2. your institutional website address
  3. the website address of your company

This is so we can exclude these sites from the Attributor searches, whilst protecting your copyright. Upon provision of this information, we will of course ensure full data protection.

We look forwards to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

(name redacted)
Rights Assistant

How very carefully this is phrased. The copyright of your work. Why, if one didn't know better, one might think that one actually owned the copyright in one's work, instead of the publisher owning it. And one might think that protecting the publisher's copyright by reinforcing access barriers benefited one, instead of reducing one's readership and reuse.

And how very carefully this little DMCA-hunt (which is what "legally-binding takedown notices" suggests to me this is) is being managed. They don't want to issue takedown notices to authors, because that risks major backlash. This publisher doesn't want authors to realize that they don't own their own work, you see. The above missive suggests that they'll even let rogue Internet-available copies with an author as the bootleg source slide, rather than annoy an author.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out. (If anybody sees anything about response rate on such an email campaign, I'd love to know about it.) I can't imagine they're going to be wholly successful in avoiding authors if they really try RIAA-style blanket takedown tactics. I also can't imagine that they won't cause consternation in a good many college and university legal offices, which will trickle down to faculty with a quickness.

I don't imagine they're that stupid or that desperate, so I'm guessing this is either a fishing expedition to see what kind of response rate they get (and perhaps estimate how many rogue copies of their articles are out there because of authors?) or cover for a campaign targeted mostly at academic samizdat on non-academic-owned websites such as web BBSes and perhaps Mendeley-like sites.

If it's samizdat they're after, I hope they don't think they'll avoid faculty backlash...

17 responses so far