Saturday, June 28, 2008

KMDI Pioneer Award in Electronic Publishing

While Leslie Chan and the gang bus their way down to Niagara Falls this morning as part of a post-conference tour (they'll be going on the Maid of the Mist and taking in a few winery tours, I understand) I am hanging around here to catch up on posting some of the events of the past few days (plus I have to do some roofing, my former/current trade while I transition to librarianship). . .


As part of the ELPUb extracurricular events there was a Boat Cruise and Dinner arranged by the organizers ~ I blogged about it earlier in terms of drink tickets and "vanilla access," which the following morning Leslie Chan greeted me with that knowledge, "You didn't like the beer,eh?!" . . . I replied, "So someone IS reading this stuff . . . " [;-)

I should mention too, conveying the light wit that has been undergirding the conference here, Lynn Copeland's comment prefacing her presentation on the context behind the development of OJS at SFU, "I hope our boat trip last night, going around and around in circles behind a bigger boat while it got darker and darker, is not a metaphor of what we are trying to do here."

One highlight of the Dinner & Cruise was the presentation of the KMDI Pioneer Award for outstanding contribution to the field of electronic publishing. Gale Moore, just days before stepping down as Director of KMDI and starting a super-sabbatical, introduced the context behind the award. She also suggested this could pose a model for subsequent ElPub host organizers to find someone in their host country who has contributed significantly to the field of electronic publishing. This year's recipient was John W Senders, Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto. This brief description in the evening's Program situates Mr. Sender's accomplishment,

John Sender's 1975 Report to the U.S. National Science Foundation-Scientific Publication Systems: An Analysis of Past, Present and Future Methods of Scientific Communication (with UT colleagues Anderson, C & Hecht, C) provided a systematic account of the concern at that time that "the current methods of scientific publication are becoming inadequate to meet the needs of the scientific community" (p.ii). The future he saw was electronic. In 1976 he started what may be the first electronic publication.

John, in accepting the award, recounted some of the career history that led his recommendations and explained the reason he was not a billionaire like Bill Gates today was that when he introduced his e-journal idea to a funder and named the substantial dollar figure for launching the project, the funder readily agreed with the potential of the new venture and replied by substantially increasing the amount of seed money that should be allocated (exponentially increasing!), It was at that point that Mr. Sender's saw "the money would own him and that he would not be in control of it" . . . so he quietly stepped away after the initial journal. Still full of energy, wit and charm at the age of 80, John Sender's seems to have made the right decision. And the profound foresight of his article is evidence that he was indeed, a significant pioneer in this now full-blown field of electronic publishing. An article, "The Scientific Journal of the Future" (The American Sociologist, 1976 vl 11 (August): 160-164), is proof that Mr. Sender's saw quite accurately into that future.

Read it here (please make allowances, I haven't taken a Digital Scanning course yet!)

Senders%2C%20Scientific%20Journals.pdf

Friday, June 27, 2008

So you are one of the few people in the world who are unacquainted with Stevan Harnad's opinion whether OA should go Gold or Green . . . you must be tuned with anticipation for any disclosure he might make here as the ELPUB closing keynote. Before I disclose I'd like to extend our best to his Mom who is ill in Montreal, which prevented him from making a live appearance here in Toronto. We hope she is feeling comfortable Stevan. And I'd like to remark that Stevan is probably one of the few in research out there who would make a comment like, "Could you possibly remove my face from my slide?" The rest are seeking to strengthen their imprimatur on their work and he is trying to erase it !?! (There was a video feed that kept messing up so Les Carr positioned the slides on the full screen where Stevan could see . . . but his Skype (?) feed was super-imposed over a section).

And now they big disclosure . . . Harnad suggests/recommends/is solely convinced!! that Green should in all ways and in all cases precede Gold with respect to OA'd research. The rationale: the research is 100% in the hands of researchers ("in their fingers") and can be self-archived (Green) straight away . . . while Gold requires the persuading of publishers, persuading of authors and the need to pay $$ for submission to these environments (Stevan would rather see that money stay directed toward the research itself). what struck me was the amount of research undertaken to prove this point (convincingly, I might suggest): There's Peter Hirst (2006 and graph) and Harnad (2007 ~ How come I can't find this one Stevan? 'Request a copy' Sci Editor 50(10): 500-510 ) , Carr and Harnad (2005) and of course Elma Swan (2005) . . . how's that for upping the bibliometrics . . .!!
The point there is whether Eve Gray and colleagues could have benefited from those R-dollars that just confirm #-crunching and done something viable with edu or health care in the South? But perhaps the whole "positive feedback" loop that launched Stevan's PP about metrics and mandates (mandates increase metrics which reward mandates) is an important step (?) to convince researchers to publish their findings so they can benefit communities . . . not simply to promote and sustain their own interests . . .
Maybe its just the 3 days of intensive study (rehearsing the efforts of what local communities have been doing to try to push for OA in Js and Rs, with all the streamlining of protocols, advocacy efforts, mandate successes, etc. etc.) that make me wonder what all this intensive effort needs to be made around
Repositories
+ Incentives
+ Mandates
to get the high depository rates that we all long to see in the end. That's not to say the Stanford announcement, as well as the NIH mandate and Stevan's reference to a Finnish mandate, all which bring the totals to 46, are not important details. I'm just trying to wrap my librarian-in-training head around why people wouldn't want to get their stuff out there and accessible. Has the individualism so intruded our best intentions that we can't even sense this sublime/and obvious error of our ways.

That publishers are making huge profits on research that should be directed toward the public good (has anyone done a study of how much Big Publishing Co's have invested in research as a "payment in thanks" for all these fees they charge libraries for access to the research that was often conducted in their very institutions . . .?) and somehow we need to soft-peddle our way around policies and strategies to get some of this in IRs . . . its no wonder Stevan says Green before Gold. Its your stuff, researchers! drop it in the box and lets see how it works toward tending the world's woes. I'm going to bed, maybe I'll feel a little softer tomorrow.

OA and the real world . . . the South!

This is one of those days I wish I could be in 2 places at the same time . . .Peter Pennefather's session on "assignments of relevance" and Eve Grays' talk on African U's and the knowledge economy. Since Peter and I are both here at U of T (and I dropped in to tell him I'd buy him a beer one day if he'd give me a personal presentation) I chose Eve's session and the India, Mexico and Brazil talks that were also part of the "OA in Less Developed Countries" umbrella (less developed than what? and developed how?).

With such such witty lines as "Let them Read cake!" and that "Free the Book" has downloads in every country in the world except Greenland . . . is anyone in the room from Greenland who can tell me why?" I knew I was in the right room. Eve (already meriting a strong reputation in the halls here for her penetrating questions in other session) offered some amazing statistical maps that disclosed the myopic focus of world research and the embarrassing graphic stats of world poverty (check out world mapper for an adventure that just may change your philosophy of life!). Eve tosses out names (Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture and Jean Claude Passeron) like bread crumbs, but an attentive audience might realize that following them might actually lead one out of the forest of despair our global economy has constructed. Passeron's phrase "knowledge economy and knowledge society" (the 1st about greed, the 2nd public good and public growth) fairly captures the gap that exists behind Publishing North and Publishing South (even within OA! since without a tech infrastructure to access them all the available documents of research are just a watery mirage in a desert journey) . . . this is a gap that Eve seems wisely and shrewdly capable of closing, if only by degrees (she states that there is "360 degrees of openness and it needs to be taken a degree at a time!" in S. Africa).

Here colleague Mark Burke made this observation at the beginning of his piece,
"spending these few days at the conference I am both overwhelmed and really really depressed . . . the wealth and resources I have seen and heard about at ELPUB make all the developments of OA in S Africa pale in comparison!" Not only are there increasing needs of OA awareness and development in SA Universities but also major infusions of infrastructure development and bandwidth increase . . . and something that Eve notes well, "a complimentary metrics and incentives model" that fits the culture and not the bibliometric system that so defines the West.

One promising signal I saw leaving the room afterward was the "computer in plastic" prototype Peter Pennefather and his partners had set up in the hall that sits in a tupperware container, boots and runs from a usb key (the Ubuntu system runs the whole thing on the web and removes the need for a hard-drive . . . pic to follow asap) and is made entirely of generic parts that are available anywhere from Mozambique to Moscow.
. . . and it makes the Macs Thin "so 90s"!! Very Cool!

video feeds - fixed

Sorry for the false post yesterday but I had a chance to speak with Leslie this am and got some links from Peter Thiessen who is involved in this tech-end of ELPUB (thanks Peter!). I add his e-mail post here for your viewing pleasure,

as requested here are the archived recordings, though please know that I haven't had a chance to test these links - I'm afraid Adobe Connect may throw an error if I do. So if you have a chance please try them. Also, here is the link to the current live recordings: http://connect.scholarsportal.net/elpub
sorry these should work:

DAY 1 - PKP Workshops
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p44194770/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p52785629/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p89339284/

DAY 2 - Sessions 1
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p75467897/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p33803731/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p65696920/

DAY 2 - Sessions 2
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p11511502/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p13251676/

DAY 3 - Sessions 1
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p80348385/
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/p28633214/

Regards,
-peter

publishing business models

I sat in on three uniquely distinct presentations yesterday, "Should UPresses adopt an OA Business model?, "No Budget, No Worries," and "Sydney's eScholarship framework," and came away with a sense of tremendous commonalities in OA and equally significant distinctions. Albert Greco's fast paced number crunching comparison of Big Publishing vs OA alternatives was a brilliant display of the tremendous profits still available in an industry with "low betas" and "high alphas." Greco stressed the reason Wall Street was still investing heavily into an industry "where 7 of 10 loose money, 2 break even and 1 is a financial hit!" was that "while the economics of publishing are harsh and unforgiving, they are still understandable and predictable . . . you can model with confidence for 5 years!" I can't begin to presume to cover the details of his confidently projected industry review (see the PP here
GRECO%20%26%20WHARTON%20ELPUB%202008%20TORONTO%20POWER%20POINTS.ppt) but the end-game of the talk is that OA can offer as reliable and sustainable a business model for publishers . . .

What followed was a PP presentation by Tarek Loubani (in "low resolution" he intro'd!) was a realized example of full-blown OA Journal founded and maintained on zero business (though perhaps Greco would want to see some profit margins?). The description of Open Medicine's founding and development was in turn a sales pitch for the value of OJS
and a walk through of some amazing open source tools that frame the backend of the journal (and which Tarek encourages everyone to explore and use which is why I list them here . . .). Openwengo is the communication protocol they use (think Skype in os), mediawiki which undergirds Wikipedia can be used to underlie all wiki traffic, gnu mailman is their mailing list mgmt system; they also use Open Office (" . . . nothing beats them in the backend!" Tarek stressed), Firefox, Konqueror and epiphany are browsers (and Canada is 2nd in world using os browsers, which these 3 are) and Lemon8 is what flips their Word doc into XML and then PDF or whatever format they require (including "generating HTML on the fly"). We are about to launch an OA journal for Faculty of Information here at U of T (F/IQ) so I will be sure we try out many of these tools for our own project . . .

The third of this publishing models trio was Ross Coleman's comprehensive overview of the very successful eScholarship program being run at USydney. Like Greco's PP, the content was so dense I can't hope to re-present it here (but I didn't snag the slides so poke around the Sydney site for egs. of their successful project) . . . but I would comment that the one person who approached Ross after the session was Greco himself because he was intrigued in this example of a UPress that consisently runs in the black. It would be interesting to follow their on-going correspondence (if any) after this conference. We are in a rich time of publishing re-tooling and these interchanges of ideas, models and cut & paste mash-ups that happening here in the ELPUB lecture hall and hallways is surely one of the engines behind the horizon of things that will come into our view as we travel forward (think Gutenberg on the net!)

the biology in OA

Tried my hand at the Metadata and Query Format sessions during the morning got to realize very soon that this conversation was very much for those in the field. Even my coursework in Bibliographic Control at the Faculty of Information Studies didn't help me negotiate the technical jargon and complex systems (each presenter was exhibiting "streamed-down" versions) . . . yet the Q&A after each proved their were engaged listeners who were trying to hammer out their own solutions in their own environments and came, perhaps to gain a few clues from their peers. Strong human interests shared in the body collect of OA.

Lunch offered an opportunity to see a few "breaks in the skin" of the OA community, when Leslie Chan mentioned his reproof to John Willinsky in times past that Hindawi Publishing was not OA. John referenced in his morning talk the casual nature in which the librarian employing Hindawi disinterestedly announced "19,500 titles on-line" when asked how many journals they maintained. Remarkable, and allowing for unparalleled access in the region (though issues of technical infrastructure still need addressing, comments John) but for Leslie, the facts behind Hindawi are that they began as profitable business model that required no subscriber support to launch (something I had learned just the day before in the PKP workshop on OJS (Willinsky's very project!?!). But hey, I'm just a newbie to this whole ELPUB community and its hard to know how to sift issues of authority and truth. I admire the efforts of both Leslie and John.

So I was a little more peeked to hear Gunther Eysenbach question/comment in the early afternoon session during the Stranack session on OJS (my source for the Hindawi insights) when he came to the piece on Lemon8. This is a great little convertor that turns a Word doc into XML in minutes. In fact, in a later session Tarek Loubani of Open Medicine stated this one software "has changed everything for me" . . . in 5 minutes it turns anything into XML, and then O minutes (measurements in nanoseconds he boasts!) into a PDF other other formats . . . and generates HTML on the fly. "This should be at the top of the tool list for anyone and everyone in publishing." Back to Gunther's question, what does it mean to take something that was originally developed somewhere else and then to rebrand it as Lemon8 . . . and in of all places, at PKP. "Does this not undermine the expectations and intentions of OA?" Turns out the code was written by the developer while at the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) who is now over at PKP . . . launching this new sweetheart. The only reply Kevin could muster, being put on the spot in this way, was "you'll have to ask - - - who knows more about it." [Kevin is a great guy, I need to add, and his workshop walking us through OJS was excellent yesterday . . . and the quick presentation and highlights today were informative for the room, etc. etc.] How does OA handle issues of "attribution" which is really all that Gunther's question was pointing to (and JIMR is his brainchild, as PKP is Willinsky's). So "cracks in the skin."

I got a chance to speak with Tarek after his presentation and ask a bit about this Lemon8 situation (I've promoted this tool enough to flag some metrics crawler so I'll mention that Journal of Internet Medical Research is the leading OPEN ACCESS peer-reviewed transdisciplinary journal on health and health care in the Internet age and Gunther Eysenbach launched it as an intentional high level competitive OA journal to show the world this can be done ~it ranks 2nd in the field!! ~ just to level the bibliometrics if anyone counting). Tarek suggested there may simply be an instance of "forking," where OA software seems to be going in one direction and a developer sees other promises for it . . . thereby releasing an alternative expression. In fact, in some instances the forked paths might re-converge at some point down the line suggested Tarek at which point Rea Devakos of TSpace, overhearing my whole exploration of this theme, "the issue still is a simple expectation of attribution . . . and in fact if you do scroll to the bottom of the webpage of --8 you'll see something resembling this credit." But is it enough? and when I did try to look for the credit I couldn't find it! So no matter how much "public knowledge" is out there, no matter how much code is available OA and environments are accessible regardless the ability to pay (I use to get my health care at Cook County Hospital when I couldn't afford Insurance while a student-pastor . . .) we are still faced with the question of what it means to be human, to have feelings, to have attachments, and to presume standards of rightness. How do we negotiate toward those regions? I think there is room for a conference that explores these themes . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

video updates and day-end wrap up

I just checked the link for the videos and regrettably it was only set for a live feed. I will try to get Leslie's help in am to make that available 24/7 . . . right now he's making his way back from the dinner boat cruise. Great Toronto evening on the harbour . . . lots of conversation, swapping stories, sharing knowledge, eating good food. A little metaphor surfaced early in the night, though, that captured seems to capture some of the issues flow around OA and fee based access . . .
we were each given a drink ticket when boarding the vessel, and cashing mine in for a brew I was offered a choice between a few domestics and a Bud . . . returning to the bar a little later in the evening for a 2nd round I found that "cash" allowed me access to a number of European and other premium brews ?!
Talking with a few colleagues about the upgrade options through the pay model, it seemed to remind us of the various journal business models described over the course of the day's session!). I was tempted to ask Leslie why the evening wasn't full OA, not to say the article ~ I mean, beer ~ wasn't enjoyable (Steam Whistle is a fine Toronto brew) . . . but then I recalled his earlier comment from the day that he wasn't against OA with a little pay here and there. Maybe he was prepping us for the night ahead?! [;-)

video links to sessions

So to keep you in the loop for live footage of the ELPUB proceedings, Leslie Chan has provided a link for some sessions (including John Willinsky's talk this am!!) at the following address
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/elpub2
The sessions for Friday, June 27, 2008 will be broadcasted live at
http://connect.scholarsportal.info/elpub

You can also catch any latest News by clicking News from the left sidebar (3 from bottom).

John's talk was rife with wit, inside jokes and OA commentary, and a sincere enthusiasm for the whole access to education project . . . though you may need to slow down the viewing speed from his lightening delivery. No wonder he doesn't use Power Point . . . the technology could never keep up.

More tonight after the boat cruise, a Leslie Chan specialty I hear

UK Repositories and the criteria that make or break them

I walked into a packed room of participants hearing Les Carr describing his UK experience with Repository systems and their fame or flop in UK institutions. After offering a Repository Checklist of 14 operating criteria (I'll post when scanned), Les encouraged us to discuss in break away groups the merits of these and to recommend or delete in order to compose a revised version. A host of discussion surfaced (both in the group I was a part of) and in the feedback sessions that followed. Our group got stuck on number 1, author identification, and brainstormed on the need for an international author identification number (like a Driver's License or ISSN perhaps we shoud develop an International Researcher Number). One participant, Joan Dalton of UWindsor's Leddy Library, asked about "the elephant in the room" ~the question of whether this depository tracking would eventually lead to institutional surveillance. Les remarked that its the game one had to play in the UK because the government mandates full research disclosure. So too does Australia, and a participant from Brandeis U also suggested that faculty there are encouraged to annually update their on-line CV with publications, conference attendance and other professional activities in order to qualify for a salary review. Another participants offered this great observation, that there are "2 people carrying sticks" ~ institutions and research funders~ and it is their presence and power that forces the high traffic in download counts and citation-metrics. If you don't like the game played, agreed Les, there is only one simply answer . . . look elsewhere for a career (i.e. from move from publishing to just "the Pub"). In fact, faculty in the UK are trying every avenue in their range to prove the impact of their work in the scholarly community, even scanning for anyone who might be blogging about their work, simply to raise their digital profile.
Someone else commented that institutions can actually gain respect by referring to and promoting the repository work happening at their school (something I heard confirmed later in the hallways in reference to "ads" placed on their Repository site saying "if you like the research you find here, why not consider applying for a Masters or PhD here"). My own reflections went to China, where there is a full-tilt engagement in the bibliometrics game, where their University Ranking System is based on simple criteria: number of Field Medal and Nobel Prizes by faculty and alumni and the number of faculty publications in high profile journals (that's a far cry from Maclean's Magazine's pop rankings model of campus space, gym facilities and Starbuck's per square mile)

One value about the stream-lined practice now developed for faculty in the UK, according to Les Carr in his summation, is researchers can now simply give their papers to a secretary to "top and tail it" (what a great phrase to refer to all the metadata additions that are required for depositing into the Repository) and then easy peasy! its in the IR. But now I'm on my way to hear Willinsky . . .

Opening Scholarship: OA and OE strategies for promoting "Public" education

For the genuine neophyte seeking orientation in the world of Open Access, one could not ask for a more helpful overview than that provided by Melissa Hagemann of the Open Society Institute in their session yesterday. A quick review of the BBB agreements on "open access" vision, Budapest OAI, Bethesda Statement and the Berlin Declaration, lead to a concise recap of the rich resources that have since flowed from these initial fountainheads
~ OAJs like PLoS Bioline International, BioMed Central, Springer Open Choice, Hindawi Publishing Corp and the well that contains these DOAJ
~ OARs like Cornell U's arXiv.org and MIT's DSpace, PubMed Central, ePrints Soton and that deep well called OpenDOAR.

So "open access" is developed around 3 operating beliefs, 1) that research funded by governments should be available to the public, 2) we should maximize the dissemination of research, 3) research is cumulative and that science advances only through the sharing of results. From here its also an easy step to "open education" vision that was developed through the 2002 UNESCO's "Forum on the impact of Open Courseware for higher education in developing countries" which has since lead to a further reservoir of OERs ~ such as Wikipedia, conneXions MIT Open Courseware and Free HS Science Texts. Last year in South Africa, a number of committed individuals came together to forge a Cape Town Declaration a vision "that we are on the cusp of a global revolution in teaching and learning," the workshop panelists Melissa, Mark Surman and Eve Gray were now taking to the streets to promote (Heather Joseph was unable to attend due to an illness in the family). I'd love to hang around to describe the details of the various networks, initiatives and efforts that undergird, inform and flow from the Cape Town D but Willinsky starts in about an hour and I have one more post before that talk. Suffice it to say that there are some brilliant and thoughtful tools out there in development and that Mark Shuttleworth (the man behind Ubuntu) has funded a fabulous Foundation in South Africa to help promote active.effective.and open education on the continent and for the world. I'll come back after the conference to post the links from the innumerable resources cited . . . but look also for Danny Fekete's post here on the same workshop since he is keenly interested in these new forms of education as he begins his Master's program here at U of T. Danny stayed for the balance of the session while and I moved on to Les Carr's conversation on Repositories after the Break (see next post).

Willinsky's Back to the Future vision

People are just leaving the room after an amazing and empowering talk John gave to the packed lecture hall at Bahen, U of T. An unexpected and much applauded announcement that he has just yesterday "doubled" the number of major institutions that now require all faculty to deposit their research for public access. Standford passed unanimously this decision, matching Harvard's early pledge by the Arts and Science (February) and Law (May) faculties of the same commitment. John urges us, therefore, to "keep testing the waters and realizing the rising awareness of this 'right to know'" that is happening out in the Public Square.

Willinsky's talk was packed with instances and initiatives of public sharing and public access that is now pushing the OA project forward and offered 4 key areas that need further attention: open data for more extensive research opportunities, the return monograph as quality vehicle (historically "all major philosophic statements have taken more than 20 pages to present!), the promises of Web 2.0 for the social sharing and of knowledge and the increased interrelationship of public access and the public shaping of knowledge (John cites Stanford's Encyclopedia of Philosophy now getting direct links from Wikipedia and the Galaxy Zoo which allows the public to help do the research in naming the universe "out there" as two instances of what can "flow from the simple human curiosity about what is out there to know!").

My own impression half way through the session, where it often looked like John's breath couldn't keep up with the exciting things he wanted to share, was that this was one amazing teacher . . . and that if I had him in class years ago I would never have dropped out of HS, and out of graduate school years later! because he was bringing to us today, his classroom of students an amazing mash-up of excitement, rich humour, and a clear pointing to the expansive world of knowledge that is out there to discover . . . in full public access.

I'll offer more reflection and citation (gotta love the bibliometrics!) of John's talk later, but for now I think the Standford announcement needs to get out into the global traffic and help I push many other institutions in this same OA direction. Open Scholarship ~ the theme of ELPUB and the theme for the future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Opening Scholarship Workshop

The first event I attended was the Opening Scholarship: Core Concepts of Open Access and Open Education workshop, which, as the name implies, served me tidily as an overview of the field and has provided material for study that will probably motivate my next few months. It was hosted by Melissa Hagemann (Open Society Institute), Mark Surman (Shuttleworth Foundation), and Eve Gray (University of Cape Town).

Melissa opened with a brief history of the Open Access movement, tracing its origins from the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2001 and its subsequent ideological convergence with similar movements in Berlin and Bethesda (comprising “the Three Bs of Open Access”), through the Cape Town Declaration, and onward to its future prospects. (Frequently, here and in the other presentations, a clear distinction was drawn between Open Access and Open Education, the first being a philosophy of free availability and liberal usage licenses of scholarly information and the second being the collaborative enterprise of professional educators to develop and distribute course materials and pedagogy.) She also revealed a number of ways in which the successes of the Open Access movement may be quantified: the Directory of Open Access Journals has chronicled explosive growth in the number of resources available, and its 3400 entries are a result both of new journals being built from the bottom up with the Open Access philosophy in mind, and of established subscription-based publications migrating to this new infrastructure; increasingly companies and organisations (including the Wellcome Trust and CERN), universities (following in the wake of the University of Southampton), and governments, are now mandating that the publications made possible by their funding be made freely available; websites devoted to raising awareness and tracking Open Access developments, such as Peter Suber’s Open Access News, are consolidating the movement.

I was particularly interested to learn about some of the economics underpinning Open Access publishing, since projects of such idealism and obvious advantage to the furtherance of human knowledge and agency have rarely aligned with the soulless corporate interests that apparently hold the universe in a vague but clearly inexorable vice-grip. Imagine, then, my pleasure at learning that some iterations of Open Access publishing have actually proven more financially viable than traditional, subscription-based services. According to Melissa’s information, 92% of academic journals allow contributors to deposit their work in Open Access repositories (such as arXiv.org, e-Prints Soton, and DSpace), many for a fee to presumably offset the expense peer-review, editing, and printing for subscribers. Where the revenue from this fee competes with or eclipses revenues from traditional subscriptions, Open Access business models start to look awfully promising (this becomes even more feasible where institutions consider channelling the funding normally earmarked for those subscriptions into paying the fees for their own researchers). Awfully exciting! As Mark mentioned later (he was talking about all academic resource publishers at the time, though it’s neat to consider it here), we may see a shift away from the perception of publishing companies as purveyors of knowledge to publishing companies as purveyors of packaging.

Mark talked about the Shuttleworth Foundation and its objective of building the Open Access philosophy into the foundation of countries like South Africa which are moving toward knowledge-based economies. The Foundation concerns itself at present with the technology of Open Education, the content generated and transmitted, and how openness drives and transforms learning and pedagogy. He mentioned the One Laptop Per Child foundation (a welcome if bittersweet taste of familiarity for me in a sea of otherwise novel information) and noted that despite the controversy, its fundamental idea of connecting kids to each other and giving them the tools to teach themselves is spot on, in contrast, perhaps, to MIT’s OpenCourseware, which does not support collaboration or content generation (he spent a bit of time looking at the OER Commons and Richard Baraniuk’s Connexions as alternatives that have more promise with regard to Open Education, rather than merely Open Access (sub-parenthetically, Richard Baraniuk’s TED Talk was my introduction to Open Education and one of the key influences in my choice to pursue this area academically. In case I’m not, as I suspect, the last person in the world to have seen it, you too may find it worth your while)).

An issue raised by the participants was that the seemingly advantageous capacity for modification, collaboration, and content generation proposed by Open Education is not especially compatible with static, government- or school board-devised curricula, in response to which Mark brought up the more fundamental disconnect between the pace at which knowledge itself advances as compared with the rate at which curricula are updated to deal with it. The perverse ramification is that, in the present system, government accreditation of a resource effectively locks it in its current iteration and actively condemns it to obsolescence in short order.

Eve’s presentation, “The Other End of the Telescope,” talked about the perception and importance of Open Access and Open Education resources from the perspective of South Africans, making the case that for the “developing world” (a strange choice for sub-division, she observed, given that by her calculations, this connoted human marginalia comprises 80% of the world’s population), a non-open system is economically almost unthinkable.

She opened her discussion with a series of world maps (what I will try to acquire and post here, like), distorted to represent relative population, publishing power, library usage, and other national statistics, making obvious South Africa’s underrepresentation, and segueing into an insight that I’ve been thinking about all night: much of the research that South Africa has produced has been targeted to European subscribers and has therefore privileged European interests (if I recall correctly, she mentioned that, in 2001, there had been more research done on the effect of Alzheimer’s in dogs than in malaria and sleeping sickness). Five years ago, the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa moved to an open model and found that with its wider exposure (articles hosted by the HSRC have been downloaded by nearly every country on the planet), their donation revenues jumped from R60 to R160 in a single year---suggesting that Open Access can lead to the financial freedom to pursue research relevant to the citizens who ultimately fund it, and free research institutions from foreign interests.

More tomorrow. Sleep now.

Workshop recap

Wanted to document my impression of the workshops while still fresh in my mind . . . though the content disclosure was so dense today that I'd fail at trying to record all I saw and learned in the 3 workshops I attended (kind of like my Bibliographic Control course I just barely squeaked through last term!)
Kevin Stranack of Simon Frazier University, Canada, gave an easy access over view and hands-on intro to Open Access Journals, which to my estimation is flexible enough to accommodate most business models that orgs and insts would want to utilize . . . "delayed open access," Kevin suggested, "seems the popular way that many seem to go." Excuse any missed examples but here's a quick shopping list of business model types,
International Journal of Communication is a fully open journal
Paideusis requires a log in, a trade-off in convenience but allows for tracking of reader activity~a stat that is helpful to bring back to funders
Archivaria ~ which employs a "delayed access" to preserve member benefits (only back issues are available . . . has a one year "rolling wall")
Jazz Research Journal (which reminds me, I'm going to see Dave Brubeck in a few days!!) is a subscription journal (utilizing an OA framework, yet published by Equinox) which shows the flexibility of the OJS environment to allow these blended formats
. . . it should be noted here there are an increasing number of languages supported by OJS that allows for toggling between languages and simply requires a few clicks in the set-up process . . .
International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning allows for multiple formats (HTML, PDF, MP3) . . . slide share can be embedded into OJS, as can Youtube and other video links. Speaking of which, if you ever need a video break but want it to be productive, check out the latest content at TED (I'm still in awe of Hans Rosling's innovative work and the brilliant technology of Photosynth)
Open Medicine allows for blogging within the journal environment with a Drupal plug . . . the styles are mimicked in the interface so it appears as an integrated and seamless system, while in fact they are in fact operating on different servers!
Postcolonial Text includes "reader tools" (see right side bar ~ something Kevin walked us through in the 2nd half tutorial) that provide a richer interaction with the text
. . . and finally,
jacmp which allows for banner ads and the ability to track user clicks (yes! its a medical journal and yes! the ads are pharmaceuticals . . . but I'm not making any cynical judgments here!!)

Since I've already hyper-linked the life out of this brief recap, I'll simply conclude with a few group interchanges during the session. Someone asked if OJS has a contingency plan if funding failed in the future and Kevin replied that they would "take it back to the community for help . . . they want all $$ coming into the PKP (Public Knowledge Project, the brain child of John Willinsky who gives the keynote tomorrow am and has a great intro to the 9 Flavors of OA publishing) to go directly into development." They could go the route of DSpace, which has a "Foundation" that shepherds the development, but that requires an Administrative budget . . . in the end, Kevin suggests, "most funders seem enthusiastic about PKP efforts and show no sign causing a funding gap in the future."
Another comment that surfaced was regarding PDFs as a reader format. "PDF is for print," quipped one participant, "and it is not a user-friendly environment . . . if you think someone is actually going to read the thing! then you have to think about the format and whether it is going to be helpful to the reader . . .!" (I always love UK wit). Kevin was quick to note (in the Canadian tradition of finding solutions?!) that OJS has just launched Lemon8 which allows "non-technical editors and authors to convert scholarly papers from typical word-processor editing formats such as MS-Word .DOC and OpenOffice .ODT, into XML-based publishing layout formats" (not Kevin's words . . . a cut and paste from their site!).

So there you have session one of the preconference workshops. Unlike the gifted multiplicity offered through sheep cloning I had to resign myself to just 1 morning session and therefore missed the DSpace workshop and CDL's eXtensible Text Framework. And since the Robarts Library is closing in 10 minutes (which is where I'm blogging from . . . top floor, upper left side) I guess I only get to talk about the one session. Will right more in am before Willinsky.

ELPUB workshops a catalyst for engaged idea/issue sharing

So I should intro myself as the other blogger of the ELPUB conference here in Toronto . . . Bill Mann, a returning grad student to the Faculty of Information (the faculty just axed the adjective "Studies" only days ago). At 48 I'm on my way to a third career change (pastor-roofer-librarian!) and the exciting developments on OA environments makes this a stimulating job choice for the next few decades. I just finished a class in Serials Management for the May Term and almost half the course focus was on OAJ/OAR (kudos to Prof. Juris Dilevko for his course design!) so I come in to the conference fresh from these learnings and with deep pockets full of questions, curiosities and a genuine interest that I'm sure will be more than adequately met by the content of this conference.

There were a few workshops offered over the course the day . . . I sat in on 3, for which I'll comment more at length tonight after the Welcome Reception. A few preliminary comments,
. . . this is quite a change from other mainstream conferences where publishers, agents and other vendors fill the conference halls trying to hawk their wears and entice client sign-ups through "libation centers" and other swag offerings. Here at ELPUB there is only engaged conversation and resource (and idea) sharing around the Coffee Breaks and in the workshop break away sessions.
. . . its also great to see an international community gathered in one place with one common purpose, of making scholarly communication and other knowledge resources available for common public access.
. . . and it is a further treat to watch organizer Leslie Chan in action, making people feel welcome and comfortable, getting us from here to there and back again, and all the while taking the pics that help capture the engaged dialog going on in this "common good" community.

The details of the workshops will follow later tonight . . . its time now to get back to the conversation. Bill

Introduction

Ahoy! My name is Danny Fekete, and I will be your dewy-eyed, neophytic portal into the events of ELPUB 2008. Long have you waited, I’m sure, for the opportunity to experience the conference bereft of your years of experience in the growing field of open scholarship, liberated from your jading competence and imagination-dulling knowledge of key players and projects. Ladies and gentlemen, I am for you.

I will be attending the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto for my M.A. in Higher Education Studies, focusing on the viability of internet technology and open source developments to provide a full tertiary education experience while obviating the full tertiary education expense. This conference, accordingly, is a smorgasbord of research avenues, of which most I am, at present, spectacularly ignorant. I anticipate a candy-store experience; if you would brave the cooties, you may share it with me.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Welcome to ELPUB 2008

The conference will start in a couple of days, beginning with a number of technical workshops and then with two days of intensive paper presentations, discussions and debates on many aspects of scholarly publishing in the Age of Web 2.0 and in particular the implications of Open Access. Feel free to read the full text of the presentations from the ELPUB digital library. Our conference bloggers will be reporting and commenting on this space, so come visit again!