Freer|Sackler [have] become the first Smithsonian museums to digitize their collections. […] 40,000+ works as high-resolution images […] available for non-commercial use by anyone.”
Semantic Scholar is a very elegantly designed new academic search tool in computer science, a designer re-skinning of the ACL Anthology Reference Corpus article records (yes, the ACL’s ARC articles are already included in JURN). So far as I can tell, there are no other computer science article records or PDFs being ripped from other sources into Semantic Scholar, though I guess Semantic Scholar may widen its scope in future.
Beall’s List 2015, now available. 693 “Potential, possible, or probable predatory” publishers listed.
An A-Z of Egyptology Books and Articles in PDF, with the URLs freshly collected and checked by the University of Memphis. In progress since December 2013 it seems, and now becoming more substantial. It’s only linking to free PDFs…
Sites which require institutional access or a password are not included — thus journals on JSTOR have not been indexed. Nor have papers available on http://www.academia.edu or http://www.ifao.egnet.net/bifao/ (BIFAO) been included here.”
Since their A-Z is a handy single page, I can make an on-the-fly Google CSE from the list, allowing a measure of full-text searching within the 3,600 selected PDFs. Not ideal, though, as an on-the-fly CSE picks up other PDFs stored on the same auto-truncated URLs, thus including paywalled items at big sites like Springer etc. A full hand-made Google CSE would be needed for a precise focus.
Where “150,000 European and American intellectuals were born and died over the span of the last two millennia”, mapped onto the USA. New England and New York light up as if struck by blazing comets from the Old World. Then there’s a great vaulting across the American heartlands and over to the West Coast, where they are impacted by comets of brilliance coming in from Asia. See the map animated over time, here.
The new book-length Humanities World Report 2015 is now available for download in Kindle or PDF…
“The first of its kind, this ‘Report’ gives an overview of the humanities worldwide. Published as an Open Access title and based on an extensive literature review and enlightening interviews conducted with 90 humanities scholars across 40 countries, the book offers a first step in attempting to assess the state of the humanities globally.”
Some nicely pithy comments from interviewees throughout, drawn from interviews undertaken since 2011. But, rather oddly, a quick search of the body of the book for the phrase “open access” reveals not a single mention.
I had some fun boiling the report’s recommendations down to:
* Truth | [attempt to] reinstate confidence in the humanities as truth finding disciplines [and convey that] we do generate answers, as well as questions.
* Experience | position the humanities as the guardian of human diversity, [a] unique repository of knowledge and insight into the rich diversity of the human experience, past and present.
* Impact | [encourage] support systems for effective[ly and meaningfully conveying one’s work to wider audiences than just peers and students. Add] incentives to encourage more academics to engage in [this].
* Digital bridges | digital humanities experts [should] start the process of bridge-building [with those who either fear or don’t see the potential of digital humanities]. [We should also gently push supervisors for better] training [of] the next generation of humanists [enabling them to] exploit the potential of digital technologies and methods.
* Interdisciplinary (when it works) | not all research requires [a strong] quest for interdisciplinarity [and so it] should not be treated as an end in itself [by funders]. [We should be more aware of the contexts where] interdisciplinary [research] does have considerable [demonstrable] value [and learn how to break down] significant institutional barriers [to unlock that value]. [University] promotion criteria should be reformed so as to give due weight to interdisciplinary research [thus making it less] risky in terms of publication and career advancement.
* Integrity | increased scrutiny of [large funding programmes] to see how well they maintain academic freedom alongside [their role in government] decision-making [and validation of completed government schemes].
* Exploration | humanists should not typically be expected to answer the [“what use is this apparently useless research?”] question.
* Nomadics | there is a crying need for experiment over and above the traditional university and its disciplinary divides.
* Expeditions | [we need major new long-term] integrative platforms as spaces for networking, capacity building and preparation of research on questions [which aid the] understanding [of] the human condition. [These would go far beyond the existing traditional advanced] centres and institutes, visiting fellowships and stakeholder interaction [initiatives]. They might identify [what we don’t know] and what we might know [if the funding and will and focus were enough to] lower the barriers between the human, the social and the natural sciences, [and if researchers were allowed to pay no] regard to national priorities.
On that last point, the 10,000-year perspective and vigourous autonomy of The Long Now Foundation springs immediately to mind. They are, effectively, an expedition to the future.
On both the Impact and “what use is this apparently useless research?” points, I would have suggested a role for a new type of naturally inquisitive ‘curator and explicator’. Someone able to naturally pick up and draw out such tenuous or obscured connections, and from across a wide range of disparate research. Such a unique matchmaking/publicist role would rise far above the low orbit of a university’s PR department, or the middle manager who routinely bundles researchers into funding-worthy projects. Such a role would need a rare combination of curious journalist, art curator, brilliant academic, political operator and publicist.
A Pirate Bay for news, it seems: Daily Paywall. An admirably spartan design, at least. Admirable motives, not so much.
Aeon magazine has a very nice new Save to Instapaper drop-down on its articles, which might usefully be copied by ejournals offering articles in HTML.
Compare the blissful ease of doing this with the impossibility of saving Digital Arts magazine’s new 2015 creative trends survey article to Instapaper. Impossible because of the database-driven URL structure, which loathsomely uses ? in the URL to spawn a new page hanging off of a static URL. I ended up having to copy-paste to a .txt file and then used Amazon’s Send to Kindle desktop software. I guess Digital Arts are assuming their younger clear-eyed readers are going straight to the page on an iPad, rather than needing the ‘old-eyes friendly’ font-scaling on a Kindle.
No mention of this Aeon button on the Instapaper official blog in 2014, so I’m guessing it’s custom to the editors, probably wrapped up in a WordPress widget or similar. But their little button looks like it can be fairly easily implemented in a DIV in your HTML code…
The Google News team has re-enabled the lost archives feature, for searching newspaper archives as far back as 2003…
Great news — we’ve re-enabled archives search! Our team listened to all your feedback you left here in the forum, and was hard at work to bring you an even better archive experience. From all the posts we received, we heard loud and clear how important these archives are to our users. You can now go digging back in time to 2003. Search on :)”
A new embedded search tool for non-fiction writers, Bing Insights for MS Office. It only seems to work in MS Office Live, rather than as a plugin for older desktop installations of Office. Sadly I just couldn’t find the Insights feature at all in Office Live, when I went to test it. So perhaps it’s not yet been rolled out the UK.
But it seems a neat idea, meaning that checking a basic fact no longer entails bouncing out of Word and into a Web browser. The search process also apparently inherits semantic nudges, drawn from the other words and phrases detected in the document. One wonders if the semantic data that Microsoft gain from this will, in time, improve the Bing Search service itself.
I’d expect the Open Source Office software suites to add this sort of fact-checking feature to their Word Processor soon, if they haven’t already (I couldn’t immediately find something similar for Open Office, LibreOffice, etc). Although their natural choice of partner, Wikipedia, might not be the most trustworthy source of facts.
A key element of online search literacy appears to be going backward, rather than forward. Results from 1,200 U.S. librarians surveyed in May 2014 appear to show a …
… 29.3 percent increase, over the past two years, in the perception that students have a rudimentary understanding of web evaluation. “[…] librarians feel students are now using the open web for research less than they did in 2012,” the report says, “[and] when students are on the open web, their evaluation skills are more lackluster.” […] 36.1 percent of the students surveyed felt that they had an advanced understanding of website evaluation, whereas only two percent of librarians considered their students to have a high degree of skill in the same area.”
The respondents were librarians from across the core educational spectrum, from elementary through to four-year academic institutions. 31 percent were based in high schools.
However it doesn’t seem to be a book to go to for an in-depth discussion of public discoverability and search. There is some slight discussion of discoverability on page 53, briefly suggesting that if the academy wishes to make a believable claim to act as an agent of social change, then it must pass its public-funded knowledge to all rather than allow it to be hoarded by a tiny elite. Page 101 discusses the adoption (or not) of text mining, briefly mentioning the discoverability experiments that text mining might enable.
Page 118 suggests that a curated monograph range at a publisher inherently contains a discoverability aspect (so long as the publisher’s publicist is doing their job assiduously, I’d add). If such a publisher also offers a ‘digital-first’ work-flow for monographs then an easy conversion to a mainstream .ePub or .mobi ebook is enabled, again adding discoverability potential (when the book pops on the Amazon Kindle store and suchlike, and/or in Open Access aggregators). In the Kindle Store discoverability shades over into readability, via the convenience of reading on dedicated ereaders rather than struggling with reading a PDF on a small tablet.
Kevin Kelly at the Edge…
In a curious way, Google is all about answers [and] answers are becoming cheap; they’re almost free, and I think what becomes scarce in this kind of place that we’re headed to [in the future] is questions, a really good question, because a really good question can unleash new questions. In a certain sense what becomes really valuable in a world running under Google’s reign, are great questions…”
OpenCon London 2014, an afternoon conference at Imperial College, London, with video links to a bigger event in the USA. On the topics of open access, open education and open data. Specifically aimed at “student and early career researchers”. Free on 26th November 2014, and tickets are still available.
Google Scholar developer Anurag Acharya talks to Nature about the search engine’s future…
the next big thing we would like to do is to get you the articles that you need, but that you don’t know to search for. Can we make serendipity easier? [but] I don’t know how we will make this happen. […] I don’t think getting our users to ‘train’ a recommendations model will work”
Disney Patents an Authenticity Search Engine… “based on authenticity metric values for web elements”. With 10,000 paid hard-nosed curators and five years, it might be possible to build something that was worth using. I doubt that it’s possible with bots anymore, or Google would have done it.
A good article on the dubious or outdated (Deseret News etc) journal titles that leak into libraries via the ‘open’ journal mega-bundles from commercial aggregators. “Overwhelmed by Open Access: A Plea to Art and Architecture Librarians and Architecture Faculty”…
You may have encountered th[e] sheer volume of periodicals, including some unfamiliar or questionable titles, as you have navigated the online resources of your academic library (or even mine). Even though we have the best of intentions, librarians are partly to blame for this. In order to provide access to as many periodicals as possible, some of us have added packages of hundreds or even thousands of freely accessible online journals to our holdings so that they will show up in our indexes, our library catalogs, and even our databases via a link resolver…
The BBC’s Radio Times magazine now has its historical listings sections online. Worth having, but it’s all been iPad-ized — so not as good as page scans with the articles, interviews and spot art by illustrators. Not added to JURN, but noted here as it may be useful for some historians and media researchers.