Monday, March 23, 2009

S&M and M&S Award Winners

Congratulations to all of the Shovers and Makers (S&M) and to the Movers and Shakers (M&S) award winners out there.

Somehow, I was awarded an S&M award this year.

Go ahead and nominate yourself -- you deserve it. You know you wanna.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visited an EPA Library, Region 8 in Denver

Went to a presentation at the EPA Office in Denver today (Region 8). The presenter, David Selden, posted his slides from the talk on "Libraries and Environmental Sustainability" right here. David is a librarian at the Native American Rights Fund Library in Boulder, CO.

Here are the basics from his slides:

Global Warming or None like it hot video from Futurama
• The Hockey stick chart.
• Per capita carbon emission chart showing the US is horrible compared to the rest of the world's countries.
• By 2050, we should try to be 80% below our 1990 levels in CO2 emission.
• 80% of glaciers will be gone by 2035.
• The oceans will rise 1 meter over the next century. Shows what it will do to Florida.
• The Pika is threatened.

He provided some data showing how much CO2 emissions come from various activities like driving and flying. Some data can be found at, but these numbers do not match David's numbers precisely.The Building is a LEED Gold Standard building, and we saw some of it with a tour. Particularly interesting was the Green Roof at the top of the building. I also really liked the sails used at the top of the building to redirect light from the skylights to the lower levels.

We also went into the Library on the 2nd floor which is available to the public from 8am-4pm. I wish I could have taken pictures, but they don't allow that in the EPA building. It was pretty cool. I did get an EPA tatoo. Here is some documentation I grabbed. Overall, I really enjoyed visiting the EPA Region 8 library.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What is the future of academic publishing?

I have been reading A LOT lately about the demise of the newspaper business. Particularly interesting is Clay Shirky's take on the whole system -- Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. Thanks to 2009 M&S winner, Dorothea Salo, I found found history. This post has a good analysis that compares/contrasts the demise of the newspaper market with the academic publishing market. Tom Scheinfeldt said: "In our world, parallels to newspaper publishers can be made, for instance, with journal publishers or the purveyors of subscription research databases (indeed the three are often one and the same). I’m sure you can point to lots of others, and I’d be very happy to hear them in comments. But what interests me most in Shirky’s piece are his ideas about how the advent of the unthinkable divides a community of practitioners."Just what I have been thinking. The academic journal market is sinking like the Titanic. The established publishers do not want that cash cow ship to sink. The problem is that the cost of publishing truly has decreased, even though the big publishers say it costs $2,850 or $3,000 or somesuch figure to publish an article. The $3k is the cost with the existing broken journal system! They cannot image a future that does not have the "the brand of the journal which gives the imprimatur to the research article." To generalize a tad, older established researchers do indeed care about the name of the container of their articles, since that carries much of the weight for tenure purposes. They may ask -- "What is going to replace the newspaper industry/academic journal market? It can't go away because it is such a venerable institution." Therefore, it can't go away. But, as we have learned from Clay Shirky, newspapers are going away, and it may take some time for journalists to find another way to document the news and culture of the day. Journals and publishers (and societies) will start disappearing, and authors will find other channels to publish their thoughts, experimental results and ideas. Indeed, many physicists already have since 1991.

Many students (and some researchers) do not care about the name of the journal that houses the article. They care about the article itself. This viewpoint will continue to grow as they get older. More and more patrons will find articles through Google Scholar and other databases instead of browsing the current issues of Science, Nature, JACS or whatever.

Believe or not, my library is going through a cancellation discussion for the first time in 18 years. Our faculty and students have not had to worry about cancellations in quite some time. Thus, they have been shielded from the growing STM serials crisis. The faculty and the students are not the ones who pay the bill for the information. The library pays (well, the University actually) and the patrons are the ones who enjoy the benefits of the access to all of the subscriptions. This strange economic model has been well researched by Mark J. McCabe.

I wish I had time to read all of the 87+ books - and - reports that John Dupuis posted to his blog. I've already read a bunch, but there is so much great insight to be gleaned from all of these. (I wish I had more time to read...)

I imagine a future world where scholars post their work on websites/blogs -- it gets critiqued by a variety of scholars, and the articles get rated. The scholarly articles that get the highest ratings, citations and links get brought to the top of search results. As it stands now, articles do not HAVE to live within the imprimatur of a journal brand to have an impact. They can live on a website, in an IR, at a preprint server, etc. In the future, more and more and more scholarly articles will simply live on the net as stand-alone items without being housed in a journal. This is where the scholarly article market is headed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gravitational Theory of FriendFeed

I propose the gravitational theory of FriendFeed. If a post has a small number of comments from some "big names", and the object is wandering in the right part of the universe at the right time of day, it will gather up some other interesting comments, which makes the post bigger, which gathers up a huge number of other comments.

When do the comments stop piling on? It is when the object wanders off into near empty space-time. The comments will also stop gathering on that object when another larger object comes into view, and people start commenting on more interesting "matters".

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How the Library Camp of the West was put together

Steve, Laura and I just finished the preprint for a paper (submitted to Collaborative Librarianship) and we posted it to the RCLIS eprint server at

Abstract -- From July to October, 2008, Laura Crossett, Joseph Kraus and Steve Lawson organized the Library Camp of the West ( This was an unconference that took place on October 10, 2008 at the University of Denver. The authors used many technology tools to organize the event, such as email, wikis, blogs, two tools from Google, the Doodle scheduling Website, Flickr and more. This article will explain how they used those tools to prepare for the unconference.