The DuckDuckGo search-engine has given $225k to a range of worthy open-source projects working on privacy, free speech and snoop-free communications.
I’ve just heard about the museum fire in Delhi, the capital of India…
“A huge blaze gutted India’s Museum of Natural History Tuesday, destroying six floors of the building and possibly countless collections of the country’s flora and fauna […] The museum is the first and only natural history museum in India [and was] also home to a reference library for scholars [with] more than 15,000 books.”
One hopes that there were no un-scanned unique archival runs of vintage paper journals, or unique notebooks, in the Library.
While the Museum’s traditional ‘stuffed animals’ style of presentation may have appeared antiquated to many Western and (it appears) a few Indian curators, its steady educational work seems to have encouraged real interest in the natural world among receptive young people in the city. One Indian wrote of the fire online…
“We have all been here, and knowing that this beautiful place — with its host of priceless artefacts — doesn’t exist any more is heart wrenching.”
The newly-discovered book-length text by Walt Whitman, Manly Health and Training, has very kindly been published in full today in open access at the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.
A new Medium article, from the head of Ingenta Connect, “Is the Open Access discoverability problem solvable? And whose problem is it?”. It’s a cursory look at the problem, but even then it’s interesting for what it doesn’t say…
* For “institutional librarians” the author seems to imply that their future role is only to be in one-to-one “mentoring and facilitation” of researchers. No mention of anything else, like the big publishers working with librarians to craft and adopt universal OA-status tagging code for discoverability.
* For “scholarly authors” he only suggests academics might become marketeers for their own papers. Frankly, this seems like a waste of their valuable time. Given the salaries that full-time research academics get, they can afford to hire a virtual assistant. To promote four or five papers a year outside of one’s own disciplinary niche, simply go to UpWork (or similar) and hire your personal marketeer at $180 a paper (to get someone of quality, for a day and-a-half of work). One could probably find a way to write the $900 bill off against tax each year. Of course that assumes one is publishing something worth reading, rather than academic shovel-ware intended to tick boxes inside one’s own institution.
* For the big “publishers” the article vaguely suggests they need to embrace openness. Though perhaps only in order to capture it for their own purposes, via a… “drawing-together of all the dispersed OA content silos into one place”. Well, for their own limited set of OA content, the big publishers can solve that on Monday morning if they really want it. They just have to allow the seemingly-stalled Paperity to import the OA-only article feeds of Elsevier, Brill, Degruyter, Wiley and others, so that Paperity has full coverage of all OA articles from the big publishers.
The latest Developer version of the Opera browser offers a built-in free VPN with 256-bit encryption. This is very easy to set up and use and enables users to pretend to be in the U.S., Canada or Germany, and thus to get around region-blocking of Web content. The Developer version is 38.0, compared to the mainstream 36.0. Seems to work fine on a quick test — getting me to a version of Bing with German language news insets, via a German IP address.
1.2Mb, just to load Bing’s front page? Ooof.
Update, 12th May:
The new VPN now only works when you open a “Private Window” in Opera…
“Google wins long US court battle” over Google Books…
Google’s massive book-scanning project has cleared what may be its final legal hurdle, with the US Supreme Court denying an appeal that contended it violates copyright law. The top US court on Monday denied without comment a petition from the Authors Guild to hear the appeal of a 2013 federal court ruling seen as a landmark copyright decision for the digital era. […] Google said in a statement after Monday’s decision, “We are grateful that the court has agreed to uphold the decision of the Second Circuit [appeals court] which concluded that Google Books is transformative and consistent with copyright law.”
Alexander Street Press’s new Open Music Library has launched in beta. I gave it a 30 minute test. The OML uses a very odd definition of “Open”, once one gets to the actual fulltext link on a purportedly OA item. To the OML “Open” seems to mean either “erm, actually it’s behind a paywall” or “hey, it might be on Google Scholar, go look there…”. I’m guessing that this may be due to the curators building the OML from within an academic campus office. So perhaps they see items as open, whereas the outside world only sees a paywall?
The OML icons also contribute immediately to the sense that something is awry with the OML. People going to a public site called Open Music Library will expect to see friendly orange Open Access symbols, not forbidding black padlock-key signs (which are on the majority of the journals listed) indicating paywalls…
Of the 94 journals listed on OML, 28 lack the padlock-key symbol. JURN indexes all of the latter, and a few hundred more on aspects of music and musicology.
More vaccine-conspiracy nuttiness has been published by the OMICS Publishing Group, aka OMICS International. Galalae, K. (2016) “Turning Nature against Man: The Role of Pandemics, Vaccines and Genetics in the UN’s Plan to Halt Population Growth. Epidemiology, 2016 6:232. The article claims a total global eugenics conspiracy by the U.N….
“All epidemics and pandemics of the past 30 years are fabrications of the UN system and its partners in crime at the national level for the purpose of lowering births below the magic line of replacement level fertility and, more recently, also for limiting life to an economically acceptable and environmentally sustainable age.”
The last such article got pulled by OMICS after a while (I hear the whining about such things, regrettably, because I take a daily glance at the raw feed for “open access” via Twitter Live) so I guess this article may also be pulled soon. Although it seems to have been up for a month now, judging by the dates on the PDF.
There are no OMICS journals indexed in either the DOAJ or JURN, though it appears that their journals are indexed in JournalTOCs and Google Scholar in substantial numbers, and “Turning Nature against Man” is currently discoverable via Google Scholar.
Thanks to The Register for pointing out a search-engine that’s new to me, the Russian Lukol.com. Lukol claims to be a wholly anonymous search engine. So how is Lukol different from the non-tracking and privacy measures offered by DuckDuckGo? Lukol claims that…
“When we obtain enhanced results from Google, we tunnel your search query through our proxy servers, without exposing your search data.”
I’ve given it a quick test, and it seems to work fine and supports filetype:pdf. Basically it seems to be Google Search + URL-matched pictures + news down the side. I’m thinking Lukol might be useful for academics who want to search the Google Search index, in-depth and in very complex ways, without triggering anti-robot countermeasures from Google’s bots?
Some new figures today on open access growth from the Imaginary Journal of Poetic Economics blog. Imaginary Journal reports that Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE) is now at… “just under 89 million documents”. However a quick filter of BASE, for journal articles in English in OA, shows a figure of only 3.1m. And the vast majority of those are in medicine and science…
It’s interesting to hear that PubMed has recently made… “a transition in indexing practice (from manual to automatic)”. Hopefully that won’t affect the quality of the intake.
The DOAJ reportedly added “540 journals” this last quarter.
JURN isn’t counted by Imaginary Journal’s tally, but I’ve done a quick count via the ‘Added to JURN’ blog posts. JURN added 133 new journal titles (published in English) to the index in the first quarter of 2016. That would probably be more like 200, if the newly added non-English journals were also being counted on the blog.
I’ve found a rather good ‘intelligent speech’ podcast search-engine called Audiosear.ch. The public beta seems to have appeared last May, and it had some light publicity over the summer of 2015. At early 2016 Audiosear.ch is certainly better than any podcast search engine that I’ve ever seen, although it’s still very far from complete.
Audiosear.ch’s index is hand selected, with a strong focus on the top-ranking regular podcasts. So no swivel-eyed loons raving about vaccines and eugenics, or none that I could find. But the focus on mainstream popularity pushes Audiosear.ch strongly toward the shiny n’ slick American podcast format, and somewhat away from the in-depth academic (unless it has EconTalk-like levels of popularity – even then, only 14 episodes of EconTalk appear to be in the index). For instance, Audiosear.ch doesn’t index the excellent Astronomy Cast (now part NASA-funded) or The Long Now’s Seminars about Long-Term Thinking talks, though I’ve suggested both to the curators.
The user can filter Audiosear.ch search results by #LongListen (longer recordings), but can’t combine #LongListen with “by date”. So it’s not useful if you just want to drop by each month, to see what’s new-and-long on a small handful of your favourite topics. You can set up alerts, but you have to sign-up to get them and they sound very broad-brush…
“Get email alerts whenever a specific word or phrase is mentioned in a podcast that’s up on Audiosear.ch.”
They mean in the full transcripts. That’s likely to be useful for PR people, marketeers, and advertisers looking for suitable podcasts. Audiosear.ch no doubt now has a large and easily-monetised e-mail mailing-list of such people. But a regular listener might prefer to have an alert only if the keyword is in the title or the show-blurb. And to get the alert via RSS or Facebook.
Another problem is that the #LongListen tag doesn’t distinguish between magazine-style segmented shows that just happen to be long, and proper long talks / interviews / documentaries. So I’d suggest Audiosear.ch needs a “#LongListen BUT NOT #MagazineShow” search filter.
There’s no option for UK users to include the BBC Listen Again radio streams and then to make them searchable along with everything else. Which is understandable, given that the BBC sets arbitrary access time-limits, curtails region access, and doesn’t take adverts. Audiosear.ch can find one of BBC Radio 4’s most popular academic shows though, In Our Time — since the show’s household-name presenter has the clout to insist on always-accessible and globally-available .MP3 recordings.
I found a 40-minute November 2015 interview with the Audiosear.ch founder, on The Wolf Den (a trade podcast for the emerging podcasting industry), if you want to learn more about the background to the service and also its counterpart which archives radio transcripts. It seems that Audiosear.ch is seen as business-to-business by its curators, which explains its initial focus on very popular shows. The curators are also very Twitter-centric — which I’d suggest may be a stumbling block when pushing the podcast-listening habit out to older and wider audiences. Given that Audiosear.ch currently only has 136 Likes on Facebook, I’d suggest that Facebook could also use some love if and when they try to refine Audiosear.ch for consumers.
Finally, if you want an advert-skipable offline .MP3 from an Audiosear.ch result, rather than an audio stream, then note that Audiosear.ch URLs are supported for audio file conversion/download by the ever-reliable 9xBuddy.
Sagnagrunnur is a mapped online database of Icelandic folk legends and fairy tales. ‘Ancient men’, Wizards, Elves, Sea-beings, Trolls and more, mapped and given citations on the dramatic terrain of Iceland. Possibly there’s also a secret wormhole to Gravity Falls in there somewhere.
The website also has a bibliography of the key scholarship on such topics, and a bunch of search and grouping tools sophisticated enough to require their own user manual.
A major new consultancy report, “How Readers Discover Content in Scholarly Publications” (March 2016)….
* “… people working in the Government, Corporate and Charity sectors think Google is the most important discovery resource for books.”
This sentiment would have been rather more pronounced, if the Google respondees had been bundled with those who favoured Google Books.
* “… people working in Humanities and Religion & Theology prefer to use Google [rather than Google Scholar, to find articles]”
* “… people in Humanities are much less likely to use ToC alerts [to find their ‘last article accessed’] and have “other sources” they may use.”
Wide-spectrum serendipitous ‘topic search’, of the sort enabled by JURN, is also strongly favoured in the Humanities….
And the researchers found that…
* “Librarians behave quite differently to everyone else in search, preferring professional search databases and library-acquired resources.”
A UK Parliamentary committee is undertaking a science communication inquiry. The deadline for written submissions is Friday 29th April 2016. There are also Parliamentary inquiries ongoing into A.I., Big Data, regulation of the Life Sciences, the UK science budget, and ‘science in emergencies’.
UNITE, a unified search engine for fungi species.
The long lead story in the latest edition of The Atlantic seems to vindicate my choice of topic for the first JURN donationware magazine template. My magazine template provides a ready-made vehicle for a large American town intent on reviving itself and hauling itself up by its own bootstraps, a print vehicle potentially able to reach residents who live far outside the orbit of things like social media and fast broadband.
The Atlantic article is certainly not PrairyErth in either depth or lyricism, but “How America Is Putting Itself Back Together” makes for an interesting long read and is full of fresh facts…
“Most people in the U.S. believe their country is going to hell. But they’re wrong. What a three-year journey by single-engine plane reveals about reinvention and renewal.”
JANE. Paste in the abstract from your unpublished biomedical paper, and JANE will suggest which Medline-indexed journal your paper should be submitted to.
Facebook continues to slowly roll out various parts of Facebook for Business. Instant Articles is to be launched next, and is being pitched as…
“A new way for publishers to create fast, interactive articles on Facebook … articles load instantly, as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile Web … Instantly zoom into high-resolution photos and tilt to explore in detail. Watch autoplay video … as you scroll through the article. See where it all happened with interactive maps. Hear the author’s voice with embedded audio captions.”
Also “sign-up to the newsletter” or “book now” buttons.
“On April 12th at Facebook’s F8 conference, we will open up the Instant Articles program to all publishers — of any size, anywhere in the world.”
There’s already a Simple Facebook Instant Articles — WordPress Plugin…
“Add support for Facebook Instant Articles to your WordPress site. This plugin creates a new articles endpoint, and a feed to give to Facebook with links to those articles.”
I’m not sure if this also has FB-tailored widgets for zoom-able photos, video and audio, maps, buttons that interface with MailChimp and Eventbrite. But anyone with a standalone WordPress install can get such widgets. Might be interesting to also create a sister plugin that helps to format bits of an academic article into a one-page Instant Article (abstract + the gist of the conclusion + a picture + plain English suggestions + auto Wikipedia-linking of recognised phrases).
The Wall Street Journal reported…
“Publishers are entitled to 100% of revenue generated from ads in Instant Articles, provided they sell and serve the ads themselves. Publishers keep a 70% cut if they’d rather have Facebook sell ads on their behalf through its mobile ad network, the Facebook Audience Network.”
I suspect we’ll see a Pinterest-isation of the articles ‘post cards’ for desktop and tablet users, outside of the users’s Facebook streams, once they’re established…
Personally I’ll continue to fling longer articles to Instapaper and read them on the Amazon Kindle eReader. I presume that Instapaper will work with the new Facebook Instant Articles, as it does with other articles.
“An up-to-date open access repository of science methods … Save time and increase the reproducibility of your research…”