"open access" entries

Mining the astronomical literature

A clever data project shows the promise of open and freely accessible academic literature.

There is a huge debate right now about making academic literature freely accessible and moving toward open access. But what would be possible if people stopped talking about it and just dug in and got on with it?

NASA’s Astrophysics Data System (ADS), hosted by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), has quietly been working away since the mid-’90s. Without much, if any, fanfare amongst the other disciplines, it has moved astronomers into a world where access to the literature is just a given. It’s something they don’t have to think about all that much.

The ADS service provides access to abstracts for virtually all of the astronomical literature. But it also provides access to the full text of more than half a million papers, going right back to the start of peer-reviewed journals in the 1800s. The service has links to online data archives, along with reference and citation information for each of the papers, and it’s all searchable and downloadable.

Number of papers published in the three main astronomy journals each year
Number of papers published in the three main astronomy journals each year. CREDIT: Robert Simpson

The existence of the ADS, along with the arXiv pre-print server, has meant that most astronomers haven’t seen the inside of a brick-built library since the late 1990s.

It also makes astronomy almost uniquely well placed for interesting data mining experiments, experiments that hint at what the rest of academia could do if they followed astronomy’s lead. The fact that the discipline’s literature has been scanned, archived, indexed and catalogued, and placed behind a RESTful API makes it a treasure trove, both for hypothesis generation and sociological research.

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Four short links: 30 May 2012

Four short links: 30 May 2012

CC-Licensed Museum, Bye Bye API, Socket Server, and Free Taxpayer-Funded Research NOW!

  1. Wide Open Future of the Art Museum (TED) — text of an interview with curator at the Walters Art Museum about CC-licensing content: reasons for it, value to society, value to the institution. What I say in a very abbreviated form in my talk is that people go to the Louvre because they’ve seen the Mona Lisa; the reason people might not be going to an institution is because they don’t know what’s in your institution. (via Carl Malamud)
  2. Twitter Resiles From API-Driven Site (Twitter) — performance was the reason to return to server-assembled pages, vs their previous “client makes API calls and assembles the page itself”.
  3. Stripe Einhornlanguage-independent shared socket manager. Einhorn makes it easy to have multiple instances of an application server listen on the same port. You can also seamlessly restart your workers without dropping any requests. Einhorn requires minimal application-level support, making it easy to use with an existing project.
  4. Petition the Whitehouse For Access to Taxpayer-Funded Research (Whitehouse) — We believe in the power of the Internet to foster innovation, research, and education. Requiring the published results of taxpayer-funded research to be posted on the Internet in human and machine readable form would provide access to patients and caregivers, students and their teachers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and other taxpayers who paid for the research. Expanding access would speed the research process and increase the return on our investment in scientific research. Sign this and spread the word: it’s time to end the insanity of hiding away research to protect a handful of publishers’ eighteenth century business models.
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Publishing News: Tor sets content free

Publishing News: Tor sets content free

A major publisher drops DRM, Harvard opens up, and a Reuters blogger sparks a news-for-sale debate.

Macmillan's imprints under publisher Tom Doherty Associates will be DRM-free come July, Harvard opens access to its data and research, and Felix Salmon suggests the NYT sell its scoops to hedge funds.

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Strata Week: Unfortunately for some, Uber's dynamic pricing worked

Strata Week: Unfortunately for some, Uber's dynamic pricing worked

Dynamic pricing angers some Uber users, Hadoop hits 1.0, a possible set back for open-access research.

Uber's dynamic pricing worked as intended on New Year's Eve, but not everyone is happy about that. Elsewhere, Hadoop reaches the 1.0 milestone and proposed legislation seeks to repeal an open-access research policy.

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Four short links: 27 October 2011

Four short links: 27 October 2011

Javascript Coverage, Cheap Tablets, Open Archive, ACTA vs TPP

  1. ScriptCover — open source Javascript coverage tool.
  2. Using the $35 Tablet from India (VentureBeat) — nice description of the tablet and what it’s like to use. What makes the Aakash tablet different is that its creators didn’t strive for perfection. Instead, the emphasis was on getting the product into the market quickly so it could be adopted, tinkered with, and improved over time. As Wadhwa said, “to get the cost down, you have to make some compromises.”
  3. Royal Society Journal Archive Free to Access — the Royal Society, the world’s oldest scientific publisher, has made its journal archive permanently free to access. They also announced an open access journal.
  4. Intellectual Property in ACTA and the TPP: Lessons Not LearnedACTA, therefore, as the closest thing we have to a “high protection consensus”, ought to be seen as a kind of ceiling to what is possible or desirable for the present. As I will further show, however, this is far from the approach being adopted by the US in the TPP negotiations. The US’ apparent determination to treat its existing FTAs, and ACTA, as a floor, rather than a ceiling, may well undermine the whole purpose of the TPP negotiations. (via Michael Geist)
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Four short links: 29 September 2011

Four short links: 29 September 2011

Princeton Open Access, Wikipedia Culture, Food for Thought, and Trolled by Sussman

  1. Princeton Open Access Report (PDF) — academics will need written permission to assign copyright of a paper to a journal. Of course, the faculty already had exclusive rights in the scholarly articles they write; the main effect of this new policy is to prevent them from giving away all their rights when they publish in a journal. (via CC Huang)
  2. Good Faith Collaboration — a book on Wikipedia’s culture, from MIT Press. Distributed, appropriately, under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.
  3. The Local-Global Flip — an EDGE conversation (or monologue) by Jaron Lanier that contains more thought-provocation per column-inch than anything else you’ll read this week. [I]ncreasing efficiency by itself doesn’t employ people. There is a difference between saving and making money when you’re unemployed. Once you’re already rich, saving money and making money is the same thing, but for people who are on the bottom or even in the middle classes, saving money doesn’t help you if you don’t have the money to save in the first place. and The beauty of money is it creates a system of people leaving each other alone by mutual agreement. It’s the only invention that does that that I’m aware of. In a world of finite limits where you don’t have an infinite West you can expand into, money is the thing that gives you a little bit of peace and quiet, where you can say, “It’s my money, I’m spending it”. and I’m astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. There are just a lot of people who feel that being able to get their video or their tweet seen by somebody once in a while gets them enough ego gratification that it’s okay with them to still be living with their parents in their 30s, and that’s such a strange tradeoff. And if you project that forward, obviously it does become a problem. are things I’m still chewing on, many days after first reading.
  4. Trolled by Gerry Sussman (Bryan O’Sullivan) — Bryan gave a tutorial on Haskell to a conference on leading-edge programming languages and distributed systems. At one point, Gerry had a pretty amusing epigram to offer. “Haskell is the best of the obsolete programming languages!” he pronounced, with a mischievous look. Now, I know when I’m being trolled, so I said nothing and waited a moment, whereupon he continued, “but don’t take it the wrong way—I think they’re all obsolete!”
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Four short links: 4 February 2011

Four short links: 4 February 2011

Intellectual Property, Javascript Charting, Open Source Advice, and Java-based Machine Learning

  1. Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property (MIT Press) — with essays by knowledgeable folks such as Yochai Benkler, Larry Lessig, and Jo Walsh. Available as open access (free) ebook as well as paper. I love it that we can download these proper intellectuals’ intellectual property. (via BoingBoing)
  2. AwesomeChartJS — Apache-licensed Javascript library for charting. (via Hacker News)
  3. Be Open from Day One — advice from Karl Fogel (author of the excellent Producing Open Source Software, which O’Reilly publishes) for projects that think they may some day be open source: f you’re running a government software project and you plan to make it open source eventually, then just make it open source from the beginning. Waiting will only create more work. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
  4. MALLET — open source (CPL-licensed) Java-based package for statistical natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modeling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text.
Comments: 6
Four short links: 29 December 2009

Four short links: 29 December 2009

Historic Science, Troll Psych, Open Access, Programming Python Games

  1. Turning The Page Online — historic science books in high-resolution online. Hookes Micrografia was the first view of the microscopic world, and his astonishingly detailed and beautiful illustrations are there to view and print.
  2. Detailed Psychology of TrollsYou might be surprised to learn that Trolls readily engage in long debates with fellow Trolls – people, that is, whom they know to be perverse and cunning conversation hackers. Apparently, this does not detract them from wasting hours on fruitless debates that are blatantly rigged and full of sophistry. Few Trolls would be happy with debating only fellow Trolls (semi-literate teenagers and hard-boiled fundamentalists are so much tastier – even though they, too, might be trolling you). Yet most of them, every once in a while, enjoy having an absurd argument with another pig-head. Good on the “know your enemy” basis. (via MindHacks)
  3. Theme Issue — a Royal Society publication ran a special open access issue focusing on “personal perspectives of the life sciences”, where top scientists write about what they think is important. It’s good to see more toes dipped into open access, but I’d love to see more journals (particularly those of professions and associations) move to an entirely open access model. (via SciBlogs)
  4. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python (2ed) — free ebook that teaches how to program in Python, using games as the motivating examples. Nominally for 10-12 year old children, but (naturally) accessible to adults too. I have not read it, but approve of the attempt.
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Four short links: 27 Apr 2009

Four short links: 27 Apr 2009

Data centers, open research, Jeopardy!, and tombstones

  1. Google Server and Data Center Details — Greg Linden reports on a Efficient Data Center Summit. Google uses single volt power and on-board uninterruptible power supply to raise efficiency at the motherboard from the norm of 65-85% to 99.99%. There is a picture of the board on slide 17. (and this is a 2005 board). Greg has left Microsoft as Live Labs is dissolved.
  2. The Economics of Open Access Publishing — set of papers on the free distribution of research. Pointed to by the RePEc blog. RePEc is Research Papers in Economics, a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in 67 countries to enhance the dissemination of research in economics. The heart of the project is a decentralized database of working papers, journal articles and software components. All RePEc material is freely available. (via Paul Reynolds)
  3. Computer Program to Take On Jeopardy! (NY Times) — move over Turing Test, IBM’s working on the Trebek Test: a computer program to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants. If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward. Really? The system must be able to deal with analogies, puns, double entendres and relationships like size and location, all at lightning speed. Oh, ok. So it’s more complex than inverting the hash table of questions and answers. (via ericries on Twitter)
  4. The Value of Minimal Data (Powerhouse Museum) — if you have the ability for passionate users to contribute their knowledge, they can turn “minimal” data into a delicious four course data feast with a vintage port to sip during the dessert course. (via sebchan on Twitter)
Comments: 5

Free The Facts: Critical Issue, Killer Presentation

Dave Gray's Free The Facts presentation is a must-read, must-share for anyone who cares about either science or open access. It's also a masterpiece of presentation economy, and a fantastic demonstration of how to make a text-heavy presentation into something magical. Reminiscent of the work of Michael Wesch. (It's also a fascinating demonstration of the convergence of YouTube, Flickr, and…

Comments: 19