Category: Internet

Rectify S4, Undisclosed S2 and Serial S1: Parallels

Ghosts in the Surf 1
I’ve been watching the beautiful TV series Rectify for four seasons now. In Australia it has been programmed late at night on our Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). SBS seems to have extraordinarily good taste in selecting foreign drama series, but they’re not promoted or scheduled that well so many people seem to have no idea about the late-night gems they are missing on this free-to-air service. Fortunately, many such series can also be viewed via SBS On Demand, their wonderful free streaming service.

I’ve really enjoyed Rectify. It progresses at a gentle pace that is very well supported by a strong cast, great acting and writing, brave direction and superb music. The pacing allows us to see the multiple dimensions of the impact of criminal convictions and to see how so many things can change with time. The lack of special effects makes it very very different from most US TV series. I’m not, however, trying to present a review of the series here. Instead I want to just list a series of observations that dawned on me during the wonderful finale to Series 4.

While watching this episode I kept thinking of the many parallels between Rectify and at least two of the crime podcasts I posted about here True Crime Podcasts: Serial S1 (about Adnan Syed and the murder of Hae Min Lee) and Undisclosed S2 (about Joey Watkins and the killing of Isaac Dawkins). Through its key character Daniel and his family, I think that Rectify effectively tells many of the stories about the convictions of both Adnan and Joey that have been covered in so much detail in these podcasts. So here are the parallels that I’ve observed:

  • The many people who become “victims” in these cases and how their own lives are changed (adversely).
  • The sheer incompetence and bias of so many legal authorities and office holders.
  • The fact that “beliefs” can actually change over time as truths are revealed. People can also forgive.
  • The conspiracies of the guilty and the lying of so-called “witnesses”.
  • The eventual acceptance of their fate (if not their guilt) by the convicted and sometimes by their families. In Rectify, Daniel portrays superbly what I’ve gleaned of both Adnan’s and Joey’s attitude from the two podcasts.
  • The patience and determination of the convicted, their families and their legal support teams. The pace of real justice and legal change (like retrials) is very slow.
  • The loyalty and belief in innocence of the families of the convicted and some of their friends.
  • The bitterness of those wedded to their lies or twisted by their own guilt. Is there actually some Karma in this world?
  • The cautious approach to hope by the convicted and their families.

Finally, I would like to add my hope that if Adnan and Joey are innocent, their convictions can be overturned as soon as possible.

“The Inevitable” by Kevin Kelly (and what it means for libraries)

I recently read The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly and was taken by his description of the technological forces busy shaping our future. I’ve given a couple of talks based on what I got out of this book and what some of these forces mean for libraries. Below are the slides I used in those talks (you’ll need to download from the pdf link below the image). I’ll progressively add some notes explaining my points.

The Inevitable.png

the-inevitable-pdf

1. Becoming

  • Get used to constant change
  • Get used to our users or clients creating and making their own things
  • Big pointer to personalisation and anticipating user needs – but what are we doing about that in libraries – discovery & services?
  • Stop waiting for perfect before releasing new services – people understand that now.
  • Do we even notice what has happened when the changes are incremental. Can we do some of that ourselves?

2. Cognifying

  • In an age of robots and self-driving cars, what work will matter for us? How do we add real value?
  • There are more pointers here to providing deeper, richer and more personalised services for our clients.

3. Flowing

  • We need to stop relying on static collection growth and start providing just-in-time services and understand subscriptions better.
  • I think UTS ePRESS has already started experimenting with the fluidity of the page, edition, container and format, but maybe we can go even further with things like open peer-review, constant improvement, broader collaboration?
  • Maybe understanding how the stages of flowing impact on all media (towards being more open) is a new form of digital literacy.

4. Screening

  • Can we look at our libraries as a platform for cultural life within our communities and how do we do that effectively – finding more audiences and giving them a deeper, improved understanding with context for knowledge?

5. Accessing

  • Using without owning is a concept that actually comes from libraries, but maybe now it is being pushed even further through platform synergy. I guess with things like ILL and Bonus+ we are already there too, but perhaps these things can be massively improved and decentralised even further using new technologies and concepts – shared collections, single platform LMS, rethinking “membership”?

6. Sharing

  • I guess this relates heavily to #5 for libraries as it talks about more collaboration and then extreme decentralisation – maybe we need to get our act together and start thinking more imaginatively about how we do that.
  • Understanding how the “crowd” works and how we can participate in some of those crowd activities may well be increasingly important. Maybe we even become a bit of a hub for some crowd activities or movements?

7. Filtering

  • Again he talks about the importance of harnessing personalisation to anticipate and meet user needs. I don’t think we have done a great deal yet in libraries to match services offered like those of Netflix and Amazon. We could and we should.
  • It also relates to the real experiences we offer our users in library spaces – with real people. This is a layer that will be increasingly appreciated in an age where screening is convenient, but where people still want face-to-face services and physical experiences. I think that the programs we offer in our spaces (training, assistance and curations) need to go much further than what can be gained from page or screen.

8. Remixing

  • This relates to us in a couple of ways – firstly helping others to understand the complex legal issues and secondly in assisting people to safely use and remix different types of media for all kinds of reasons. I see this as part of the new need for libraries to provide  assistance and training in digital literacies (not just information literacies).

9. Interacting

  • Maybe there is something for us to learn from here in terms of maximising engagement with our programs (we’ve already started doing that at UTS Library with our orientation programs) and in terms of engaging more openly with games as they for part of contemporary culture and literacies.
  • The other interesting aspect is the research showing that immersion into VR worlds is helping some people to re-establish neural pathways and connections after injury, so perhaps we need to throw out those awful; static personas and understand that our audiences will increasingly have more fluid identities?

10. Tracking

  • This seems inevitable already, so again I think we need to be aware of what is happening so that we can help people understand some of the benefits and also how to protect their privacy.
  • We are the kings of metadata and as there is more data becoming available every day perhaps where we come in is giving that data context through reliable metadata.

11. Questioning

  • We must understand that questions are much more powerful than answers and maybe we start to harness them and learn how to use them in libraries? Sure we need to help people find and use data as well, but we also need to see that so many more things are possible now through constant questioning – like why not or how can we?

12. Beginning

  • There is even more here pointing to massive scale convergence, but we still need to help people negotiate some of the challenges and I think also become advocates for the changes needed to deliver the full potential pf this brave new world.

Why Open Access and What Is It?

More slides from a talk that I gave to UTS Information and Knowledge Management students before Open Access Week 2015. I was on a panel of people talking on a range of related subjects and answering student questions.

OA week for IKM (slides in pdf format)

I posted this in advance of Open Access Week 2015 (19-25 October) but together with my colleague Scott Abbott from UTS ePress, I will add some relevant information about Open Access each day over the course of the week.

Daily Update #1

So you want to find more Open Access content and you’re not sure where to look? Well, here are a few options:

Firstly Google Scholar which indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an many publishing formats and disciplines, but it will deliver results that are not all Open Access.

CORE aggregates all open access research outputs from repositories and journals worldwide. And to quote from CORE’s mission, it “supports the right of citizens and general public to access the results of research towards which they contributed by paying taxes”.

JURN is a search engine that primarily was aimed at indexing free and Open Access ejournals in the arts and humanities. In 2014 the scope of JURN was widened to include other open scholarly publications, such as theses and also ejournals in science, biomedical, business, law and ecology/nature related topics.

Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

Daily Update #2

In his pre-OA Week Google+ post, Peter Suber urges us to use OA week to talk to everyone we know about Open Access, making the case for it in face-to-face conversations. He is one of the wisest and strongest global advocates for Open Access and he urges us not to lead with “readings”. Nevertheless, he provides a really useful list of references so you can get the story correct and I think they are well worth listing here. Thanks Peter!

Daily Update #3 (thanks Scott!) When You Work in the Open, Everyone Can Be a Collaborator

Open Science, Open Government, Open Data, Open Software are a part of the broader Open Movement of which Open Access is a central part. As this article by Elliot Harmon, of Electronic Frontier Foundation sets out, open access to the research enables collaboration across an incredibly broad range of areas.

Example 1. By using open software and open data/open science practices (such as open lab books), scientists can pool their research online and collaborate more effectively – as has been done by Sydney University’s Matthew Todd and colleagues. Todd, and his fellow researchers speed up the process of sharing their results and finding a cure for Malaria.

Example 2. The free Open Journal Systems software provided by the Public Knowledge Project allows scholars across the globe to publish any kind of scholarly peer reviewed journal. Indeed, UTS ePRESS uses a customised version of OJS to publish its 14 open access journals and Open Conference Systems to publish its conference series.

Example 3. To finish with, a wonderfully direct and incredibly inspiring example of open collaboration between a citizen scientist and more established researchers is the case of then 16 year old Jack Andraka (mentioned in the EFF piece above). Andraka, while a sophomore in high school was devastated by the loss of an uncle to pancreatic cancer. As a result, he researched open access articles from Pub Med Central and over time developed a possible, cheap and effective early test for that cancer. His inspiring TED talk is here. And here is a blog post Jack wrote for PLOS about Open Access way back in 2013: http://blogs.plos.org/thestudentblog/2013/09/27/7665/ 

These are just three brief but concrete examples of what collaboration can achieve across the open movements. What other “open” success stories can you discover?

Daily Update #4 : Featuring the latest MediaObject from UTS ePRESS: Lace Narratives

Later today we have a talk for Open Access Week by our new Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor for Education, Professor Peter Scott. He comes to us fresh from the The Open University (UK) and will discuss his experince in developing Open Educational Resources. Right after that and following that theme and also the OA Week theme of “Open for Collaboration” we will launch our latest MediaObject and monograph Lace Narratives on the work of Cecilia Heffer. The publication is composed of an Open Access digital edition of the book along with a seven-minute video documenting Cecilia creating the lace-work Drawn Threads. A print-on-demand edition of the book will be available to purchase shortly. Additionally, a limited edition artist’s book with lace samples bound into the pages will be publicly available through selected libraries and museums, including the UTS Library. This is an experimental publication model conceived by Zoë Sadokierski for the MediaObject book series and produced with support from the UTS Library. See more at: http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/books/lace-narratives

Daily Update #5 (Yes, I’m afraid this is a Monday-Friday thing. Besides I cannot brain anymore for OA this week.)

Open Access, Human Rights and the Future

In a blog post critiquing the ongoing use of the  #icanhazpdf – or “secret codeword” for sharing paywall-restricted scholarly content online via twitter – EFF author Elliot Harmon, makes an important point. He argues that use of this sharing technique is only effective for some and, in fact, does little to change the status quo of traditional academic publisher practice: limiting access to only the wealthy/lucky few. This point feeds in to the post’s main theme that “Open Access is a human rights issue”.

Harmon goes on to cite two cases where a researcher and OA activist ran afoul of the law for downloading/sharing pay-walled scholarly content. The first case cited is the ongoing saga being endured by researcher Diego Gomez who ignored the “rigidity of copyright law” and shared pay-walled scholarly content with other researchers. His legal trial continues.

The second case cited is the tragic death of OA and human rights activist Aaron Swartz who was threatened by the US Justice Department with 30 years of jail time and a million dollar fine for “accessing millions of articles via MIT’s computer network without “authorization.”” As a result of this immense pressure, Aaron, at age 26, hung himself in his apartment. A really moving and insightful documentary about Aaron’s short but incredible life – “The Internet’s Own Boy” – was released in 2014 and is well worth a look.

The second article, which we will finish the OA Week blog with, is a look to the future:

In her LSE blog Opening Up Open Access: Moving beyond business models and towards cooperative, scholar-organized, open networks Kathleen Fitzpatrick asks “What will be required in order to motivate scholars to take the lead in forming collective, cooperative, scholar-organized and -governed publications on open networks?”

While acknowledging the continued exciting and innovative development in “OA land”, Fitzpatrick suggests that the OA movement may have recently focused too much on the business models of making research free and open at the expense of ensuring that researchers themselves take charge of their own futures in regard to publishing. She questions whether two problems are the cause of the slow movement in this area:

  1. The problem of whether scholars having to get involved with the publishing process is too much for most of them – who were not trained for that work – and the resulting lack of credit they get at the institutional/funding level even if they do happen to launch/run/edit a scholarly journal.
  2. Second problem: “Scholars continue to publish in venues that have established imprimaturs, and in venues that they have no editorial hand in, because those two factors continue to be privileged by the various review mechanisms up the chain.” Fitzpatrick answers herself stating that scholar-led publishing collectives can be just as, and even more rigorous in peer review. They can give the imprimatur needed to be well rated further “up the chain”.

Fitzpatrick’s insightful conclusions (also recently and eloquently advocated by Lars Bjørnshauge here) are best presented in her own words:

But I think, in the coming years, we need to pay as much attention to shifting the requirements of those review mechanisms up the chain, whether institution- or funder-based, in order to persuade them that impact and prestige might not necessarily correlate, that rigor need not necessarily require distance, and that all publications — from the individual scholarly blog to the most carefully edited monograph — demand to be evaluated on their own terms, with an understanding of the possibilities each presents for the increase in knowledge we all seek.

On that note, we’d like to wish you a happy and successful conclusion to OA Week 2015 and all the best for your future endeavours!

 

The awful case of Diego Gomez and barriers to #OpenAccess

This week I was quite upset by reading about the case of Diego Gomez, a Colombian graduate student who is standing trial, and possibly facing years in prison, for sharing an academic paper on Scribd, with his graduate school peers, some years ago. You can read more about his case and support him via EFF: Diego Gomez trial – EFF support.

This really got me quite angry thinking about how low on the totem pole the sharing of knowledge actually is in academia. The reality is that, because of the system we have, it falls well below the pursuit of individual careers and institutional reputations in a pretty bizarre, competitive and largely unfair game of rankings, ratings and impact factors that all works to reinforce an unsustainable market for academic publishing. (Remember here, that these are just my personal views, not those of my institution and also that I am actually part of that system, so I’m at least partially at fault.)

Governments and funding institutions need some metrics for research performance and output but the current measures for impact seem quite inadequate from a number of perspectives. Currently, they do not, and maybe they cannot, measure effectively and fairly “societal benefit”. As a vendor said to me earlier this week, sometimes the benefit from published research comes to fruition years down the track, so how can we account for that? The economic benefit of research to industry and the commercial sector can take ages to be realised and the links back to the original research may not be clear or comprehensive, so how much of this kind of impact should be directly attributable? The real impact of research is even harder to measure with less tangible outcomes like policy improvements or advances in areas such as public health.

Academics too need some agreed measures for career progression, but many are now openly questioning the value of the current publish or perish driver. It is especially debatable when it encourages and leads to situations in which the published research is locked away from those who might desperately need it by licenses that are unaffordable to all but elite and wealthy Western institutions that can afford the ridiculous fees charged by academic publishers; publishers who rely on academia for their content and then sell it back to them at prices that, as someone once noted, make Rupert Murdoch look like a socialist. Of course, this is news to nobody, but it does make Diego Gomez’ plight seem grossly unfair and unjust. It is an opportunity for us all, researchers, librarians, policy makers, to consider the limitations and inequities of the current system, and how we as individuals and institutions will address them.

As I was busy writing this post I noted with some interest that in an effort to make all publications by Dutch scientists available through Open Access by 2024, Dutch universities plan to boycott one of the big four academic publishers, Elsevier (from 2 July 2015). Apparently they were not able to even come close to an agreement with Elsevier.

Are libraries Blockbuster in a Netflix world?

I read this earlier today via Zite, over breakfast at a cafe near our library:

http://www.digitaltonto.com/2014/a-look-back-at-why-blockbuster-really-failed-and-why-it-didnt-have-to/

It talks about the demise of Blockbuster and the rise of Netflix. Blockbuster made some dumb business decisions and ignored some possible ways to stay afloat, but the author Greg Satell talks about the importance of networks in Netflix’s rise. Blockbuster’s failure to understand the importance of networks also determined their fate. He says that those networks are very difficult to quantify or define, but that we’ve not really tried to understand their importance.

Even though we may work in a much smaller ecosystem (e.g. our library serves a University community), I really believe that our own future strongly depends on what we do within, and how we encourage and contribute to, our own networks. That is why I keep stressing the critical nature of engagement and the fact that everything we do is somehow connected to something else we do. Virtually nothing we do in libraries can actually be sustainably successful if we do it in isolation. I think the chase for efficiency in libraries has actually encouraged silos to develop and this works against those connections we must have within libraries. So far I think we* actually understand this and we actively seek to connect within and to those outside the library pretty well, but it is something we cannot ignore and that we must continue to invest in. The networks we participate in, encourage and contribute to have a positive effect on the development and relevance of our library and we should make them major considerations in all we do. To quote from Greg Satell @digitaltonto :

… we really haven’t scratched the surface on the networks we encounter in real life: The networks of consumers that make up our brands and industries as well as the organizational networks that determine how things get done—or don’t get done—in our enterprises.

And it’s imperative that we start thinking about them more seriously.  We need to stop acting as if there is a recipe for business—like a cake or a casserole—and start thinking in terms of how factors are connected.

I am now going to take this analogy a little further… I think the focus of libraries should already be moving from being all about the collections we develop and provide access to, measured mostly in size of collections and numbers of visitors, to the unique collections (of both knowledge and culture) that we help to create and then share with our networks. That, as Greg said, is something that is harder to define and measure. Of course the other key advantage that all libraries have, even in universities, is that they are cultural institutions. Culture provides context for all knowledge, but flourishes within libraries only when it is kept alive.

* UTS Library

Leaked NYT Report on Innovation

Twitter and other social media yesterday was crazy about a leaked 91 page report from the New York Times on innovation in the mobile and digital age (use the Google or contact me if you cannot find it). It primarily addresses their environment of rapidly changing media platforms, but there is a lot in it that also applies to us in library-land. In particular, our own web strategy at UTS Library, which is very informal, and where we are going with our Open Access press UTSePress.

Initially I thought I’d just send it to the managers responsible for those areas, but after quickly reading the lot I found more and more general ideas that I liked, so I sent it to all of our managers and we will all meet to discuss it at a later date. If you can still find it, you’ll see that it isn’t a marvellous copy, but it is mostly readable and I think very valuable, even if it seems mostly to affirm some of our existing directions. 

Here is a start on some of the ideas it touches on that I think are of relevance to library-land:
  • web publication trends (we’ve been closely following these of late)
  • audience reach and why it is important (agreed)
  • reader experience (acknowledging it and doing something about it and we must do more in this area)
  • having a web strategy – do we want one that is more obvious, a little more formal and that evolves?
  • disruption and what it means for us (too)
  • content aggregators – what are they, how they impact on us and how we make best use of them
  • the importance of discovery – new tools & getting the basics right, like tagging and structure (we’ve been focussing a lot on this for the last couple of years)
  • experimentation – how it works, why it is needed (agreed and we do try to encourage this)
  • personalisation (see above re discovery as we’re trying to do something like a recommendation engine that our users can opt into)
  • using data layers or adding them in (I’m not exactly sure how this applies to us and need to think more about it, but I’m pretty sure we should be doing more in this area)
  • user generated content – is that relevant to us? (we are essentially doing that in the physical space now with curations of student works and could extend that to our online presence, perhaps using social media more – we’ve experimented with this a little already)
  • events (this is a big area for us and they always have a planned and strong online dimension)
  • going “digital first” or digital equally? (I think the latter is more relevant for us – we should not concentrate simply on either digital or physical programs)
  • boosting analytics (this is why I desperately want to get some professional UX people into the library)
  • employee movement between departments – to boost collaboration & understanding (I think we could really do more here)
  • failing, learning, & sharing results (I think we’ve already started on this path)
  • making more creative roles not just (passive or responsive) service roles: makers, entrepreneurs, advocates, observers (agreed)

Collection Visualisation

UTS Library Spectogram

This post is just a collection of examples that relate to the visualisation of collections. It saves me sending a number of tweets back to two colleagues in the US who started a conversation about this over the weekend: @sjwilder100 (from UNC Charlotte Library) & @lorcanD (from OCLC)

Several researchers are doing some interesting work in this space and I think it is pretty important. Adding some kind of visual layer to catalogues, search or discovery tools provides us with a capabilty that is largely missing in the cultural sector at present. Most searches focus solely on text-based initiators or they provide text-based lists of search results. Open data, the encouragement to collaborate in coding and the need to either search visually or to visualise search results is leading towards much improved collection discovery. This makes the collections we provide more easily found, used, explored, enjoyed, linked and shared. So here are a few examples that I’m aware of, in no particular order, mind the step:

Marian Dörk is a postdoc researcher at Newcastle University. You can see several examples of his visualisations here http://mariandoerk.de/  I like the PivotPaths and you can even demonstrate them for yourself on his site http://mariandoerk.de/pivotpaths/

Mitchell Whitelaw does some fascinating research relating to collection visualisation and has worked with archival, photographic and art collections. You can see an example relating the the exploration of Australian Prints here (a research project with Ben Ennis Butlerhttp://mtchl.net/explore-australian-prints-printmaking/ What I like about Mitchell’s work is that he crafts in some great design that entices the user to explore because the interfaces are both generous and beautiful.

Tim Wray is still undertaking his PhD at Wollongong, but he has already done some interesting work with art collections that provides navigable pathways for collection exploration: http://timwray.net/2012/12/create-pathways-at-your-fingertips/

Mr Chris Gaul was UTS Library’s first Artist-in-Residence in 2012 and you can see some of his conceptual ideas for collection discovery here: http://www.chrisgaul.net/utslibrary/ His Library Spectogram is shown in the image above and was the inspiration for our colourful collection ribbon that allows you to browse our monograph collection or see your search results presented visually http://find.lib.uts.edu.au/

Paul Hagon is a friend and former colleague who is the Web Developer at the National Library of Australia. He has done some interesting experiments relating to colour and search results in visual collections. Here is a search by colour experiment: http://ll04.nla.gov.au/ and here is a concept that visualises the colours of tags used in Flickr http://www.paulhagon.com/2010/05/14/colours-of-a-tag/

Over the last few days Serendip-o-matic was released. It is a collaborative project by a team of twelve people from academia, libraries and museums and I know of researchers here aut UTS who have already found it very intriguing. What is really great about this is the serendipity it provides. So go on, give it a whirl!

I know that I’ll have left out some other great examples from people working in this space including Georgina Hibberd, a researcher at UTS who has some really wonderful ideas about visualisation and the discovery of  library collections. So, if you know of someone worthwhile, just let me know and I’ll add them to this little collection.

Postscript additions:

Since I first posted this Marian Dork has reminded me of the very beautiful and playful interfaces created at the University of Calgary in their Bohemian Bookshelf http://www.alicethudt.de/BohemianBookshelf/ My apologies for forgetting to add them to the list above earlier.