Tag Archives: access

Big Data Meets the Bards and the Profs

There is an interesting discussion going on right now on big data and how it is used in academia. I found Dave Feinleib’s of Forbers magazine visualization of landscape of Big Data an interesting point of reference from the technological side of the spectrum. Big data

In the other hand, John Sunyer’s lengthy review, “Big data meets the Bard”, in the Financial Times for 15 June, http://tinyurl.com/mzrjwll presents the  point of view of acadmics who are proponents of using digital data in humanities.  It is based on Sunyer’s interviews with Franco Moretti, Matt Jockers and Melissa Terras.  Franco Moretti is perhaps the most known for his push to digitize and use digital texts in humanities.  I hope some of it may be useful as an argument for Open Access at your universities.

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Open Access

open accessThe French newspaper Le Monde has just published a public statement, signed by sixty members of the academic community (presidents of universities, librarians, journals publishers and researchers) under the title “Who is afraid of open access ?” (see the original paper here :
http://www.lemonde.fr/sciences/article/2013/03/15/qui-a-peur-de-l-open-acces_1848930_1650684.html). It is now available in English : http://iloveopenaccess.org/arguments-for-open-access/

More than 1600 people already signed this statement, calling for open
access as fast as possible and asking for HSS taking leadership in this
direction.  You can sign it : http://iloveopenaccess.org/?page_id=329

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The digital divide argument

      I was going to meet  my daughter  for a cup of coffee  at Tim Horton’s on on my  lunch break.  I was late because, unexpectedly,  at the last minute, I had to assist a frustrated patron trying to check the Internet with his laptop at our library.
        The academic  library where I work does  not offer wifi access to anyone but the university students  and it takes anywhere between 5-10 minutes for a person walking into our library to play with the wires attached to the registration computer before they can scan their ID and get a daily pass that allows them to access the Internet on one of two computer stations that are open to the public.  Trying to get the computer pass is always a frustrating experience.  After several years of assisting people with using this machine, I still have no clue what is the best way to scan the personal ID, so it would cooperate and issue the pass.
       When I was paying for my coffee at the counter at Tim’s,  I spotted the sign advertising free Internet access.   They partnered with Bell to do it in order to bring in more customers and level with competitors, such as Second Cup, that already offer wifi.   I should have sent my patron to Tim Hortons …  Yes, they would get the Internet access quickly there and it is a 5 minute walk  from my library… They could get a cup of coffee too…. They could search the Internet and drink coffee in a public space…  My patron would do better at Tim’s… and they should, and justly so, be called Tim Horton’s patrons, not mine….
      Most libraries would not allow people bring Tim Horton’s coffee into the library,  nor would they allow a coffee shop inside the library….  At the same time, libraries claim to be the institutions that help to close the digital divide by providing the Internet access to those who cannot afford it.   Coffee shops are closing it while we use this argument and develop our collections….

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Wikipedia is….

Someone just made me aware of the following infographic on wikipedia and I thought I would share it here. I found it quite interesting. Especially the part that compares wikipediawith college textbooks and other learning materials. In the past librarians have really been against wikipedia. However, it seems that maybe it’s not so bad after all?

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Access principle on Google’s terms

The British Library has reached a deal with search engine Google to have thousands of pages from one of the world’s biggest collections of historic books, pamphlets and periodicals scanned and made available on the internet.  The project involves about 250,000 rare texts dating back to the 18th Century.

It will take a few years to complete the project and Google will cover the cost of digitization. After the project is completed, it will allow readers to view, search and copy the out-of-copyright works at no charge on both the library and Google books websites.

I find it interesting that the library chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, justifies the project on the basis of the core library principles saying that the scheme is an extension of the ambition of the library’s predecessors in the 19th Century to provide access to knowledge to everyone: “The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world and to make them available in reading rooms […] We believe that we are building on this proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time. […] Our aim is to provide perpetual access to this historical material, and we hope that our collections coupled with Google’s know-how will enable us to achieve this aim.”  Google’s Director of external relations, Peter Barron, agrees: “What’s powerful about the technology available to us today isn’t just its ability to preserve history and culture for posterity, but also its ability to bring it to life in new ways.” (quoted from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13836332#story_continues_1)

I am thinking what benefit it is for the British Library to have its out of print collection scanned and available from their website if it’s going to be available through Google anyway. Then I am thinking for how long access from Google will be free… Will it be free only as long as people remember that certain out of print texts are also available from the British Library website while other texts are available from other libraries’ websites? And for how long will people actually bother accessing individual libraries’ websites if everything will be available from Google, and for how long will it be economically feasible to even maintain these websites. What will be the use of the British Library and other libraries in time when out of print texts will be accessed online through Google and electronic versions of new books will be downloaded to individual readers?

And I think about the access principle that is apparently the guiding principle behind this digitization project… In the end, it will be the few in Google and such that will hold the key to human knowledge and culture and they will provide access on their terms. There is already an unfortunate precedent for this project at the British Library. They have had already digitised a large part of their newspaper collection in partnership with JISC, and few years later made it available behind a paywall: http://newspapers11.bl.uk/blcs/. If they have closed access to their digitised newspapers, what assurance there is that they will not do the same with this new project?

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