Thursday, May 26, 2011

Some videos of the e-G8 conference in France

What is the e-G8? This was a major conference looking at international policies concerning the control of the Internet and Intellectual Property.

Here are some good videos of some of my favorite speakers talking about the need to keep innovation on the Internet open to new advances and new types of publishers.

Keynote - e-G8 from lessig on Vimeo.

Video of John Perry Barlow—EFF co-founder. He starts around minute 29:30.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another great video of Heather Joseph - "Setting the Default to Open"

"Setting the Default to Open: Using Research to Advance the Public Good"
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

UCLA talk by John Wilbanks - "The Fragmentation and Re-Integration of Scholarly Communication"

I've had the pleasure of seeing John Wilbanks speak once before. Here he is at UCLA talking about changes in scholarly communication.  Recorded May 11th, 2011.

Thanks Bora for the notice.

Here is the blurb from UCLA:
The UCLA Library is proud to share this presentation by John Wilbanks, VP for Science at Creative Commons, entitled "The Fragmentation and Re-Integration of Scholarly Communication."  The scientific paper has been the primary container and distribution vessel for scientific knowledge for centuries. It's a creative work subject to the same sorts of legal and technical pressures as other creative works: it's part of an industrial-creative complex built on artificial scarcity, distribution, and top-down decisions about what is going to be high impact. And it is subject to the same disruption by the internet as other industries with that attitude, like music. But unlike music, there was a set of intermediaries creating a lot of inertia that kept the network from being disruptive, including funding agencies, tenure and review systems, and general lack of incentives. But the revolution that broke apart the music industry is well under way in scholarly communication. The journal is fragmenting already into the article, but it's not going to stop there - the advent of assertion-enhanced publishing, nano-publication, data publication, and more are going to drive a rapid disintegration of traditional "container cultures" and business models for scholarly communication.  This talk examines the progress made to date by the internet in etching away at the traditional means of scientific knowledge transfer, the importance of the digital commons in a world where content is fragmented, and some future avenues for "re-integrating" fragmented scientific communication that build on open systems. The talk was recorded at the Charles E. Young Research Library on May 11th, 2011.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Academic Libraries can have it both ways

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the future of academic libraries and libraries in general.  These posts do a good job responding to the well-known marketer's post, Seth Godin.

He doesn't really address academic or special libraries in the post. These libraries provide access to content that is scholarly or business information or things that are not mostly mass-market material (or kids books or $20 DVDs, etc.) This morning, I got a request for us to purchase a book on urban transport in the developing world by Edward Elgar [Regular Price $280.00 Web Price $252.00]. Good luck finding that for $10 on your kindle. (It is available online through different sources and for well over $200, but I don't see it for sale at Google Books like they say it is.) This is why we spend millions of dollars to get about 25,000 books a year. They average well over $40/book. They are not going down in price.

What do I mean by having it both ways?

The library can have print books and transition to electronic resources at the same time.  It shouldn't be an either/or discussion.  We have been doing that for years, and we have been doing a great job building a fantastic electronic collection of resources. (And, we have been providing great services with a small faculty and staff.)  There should be no reason to keep most of our print materials in off-site storage about 10 miles away.  My university administration wants to put most of the collection into storage to make more room for seating.  We were going to do that with the compact storage so we could open up most of the third level.  I feel this is defeating some of our core purposes. (Particularly "save the time of the user" when they have to wait 3-4 hours for a delivery and "every book its reader" and the need for open shelving for browsing.)

Without a good-sized collection on the campus, the library may not be as much of a draw, and the need for seating may become mute.  Seth notes that we are "defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario."  Just because we are arguing to keep print books on campus does not mean that we can't fight for the future--as the producer, connector and teacher of information.  Seth's logic is simply flawed.

We often use physical print books to help our students learn, in addition to teaching our students how to use and find all of the ebooks and databases and ejournals and websites and such.  We do know that more and more people are using electronic resources, and we also know that people still use traditional books and printed media.  This is a collection that I have been building for the last 13 years, and that librarians here have been building for the last 147 years.  Yes, much academic content is not popular, and the books are not checked out very often, but it is important and useful for scholarly research.  To send much of it off campus because some of the material has not been checked out more than X times is painful for me to watch.  (I can understand sending off material that has not been checked out at all since 1997.)

What am I going to do?  I am still going to do my best to provide the best service for our students and faculty, that is for sure, but it will be more challenging in the new environment.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Internet and higher ed.

A couple of days ago, I listed to this February "On the Media" Podcast concerning the Internet.  It was good.

On another note... Philo A. Hutcheson, associate professor of educational-policy studies at Georgia State University, said
“As the breadth and volume of search engines’ results increase, providing a source of certainty for those building an argument,” he writes, “… the validity of academics’ knowledge, the fundamental assumption of academic freedom, becomes problematic.”
I don't buy it.  Professors and faculty can help their students learn how to filter out and synthesize the good stuff from the Internet.  There is a lot of crap out there.  Some people may think that all of knowledge is on the Internet, but it isn't.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

More on the book, Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?

Here are some interesting passages...

Chris Anderson, "The Rediscovery of Fire."
"Before Gutenberg, we had a different technology for communicating ideas and information. It was called talking."  And then, "Read a Martin Luther King Jr. speech and you may nod in agreement.  But then track down a video of the man in action, delivering those same words in from of an energized crowd.  It's a wholly different experience."  I think this is part of the reason that YouTube is so popular.  Seeing a presentation or a demonstration is much more powerful than just trying to read about how to do something.

Eric Drexler, "The Web Helps Us See What Isn't There."
This deals with absence detection.  This "could help societies blunder toward somewhat better decisions about those questions."  Identifying what is absent by observation is much more difficult than identifying what is there.  Reference librarians get these kinds of questions every once in a while.  A student wants to see if anyone has done research on a niche topic.  One could search and search and search and search and not find anything.  This is what the person wants, because he or she wants to identify a unique area where the person can perform novel research.

Martin Rees, "A Level Playing Field."
He discusses the as the preferred mechanism for reading research in physics.  He notes that "far fewer people today read traditional journals.  These have so far survived as guarantors of quality."  He sees that other less formal methods of publication will survive, such as blogs, and that quality control will be controlled by mechanisms of restaurant-like grading or Amazon style reviews.

Seth Lloyd, "Move Aside, Sex."
Why trek over to the library, when Wikipedia is 99.44% correct?  The 0.56% can burn you.  In mathematics, "an approximate theorem is typically an untrue theorem."  What is the sex part?  He goes on to explain that sex is a good way to share DNA information with others, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

John Tooby, "RIvaling Gutenberg."
He talks about the huge impact that Gutenberg had on the transmission of information and knowledge.  Not really new news here.  But, I like his note about William Tyndale who dared to translate the Bible into English, because that is what, you know, everybody read in England. He wanted lowly farmers to be able to read the scriptures and the supposed word of God. He was executed for doing such a foolish thing.

More to come.