Sunday, 21 December 2008

Nature requires wikipedia entry as well as peer-reviewed paper

I love the RNA Biology journal's new guidelines for submissions, which state that you must submit a Wikipedia article on your research on RNA families before the journal will publish your scholarly article on it:

This track will primarily publish articles describing either: (1) substantial updates and reviews of existing RNA families or (2) novel RNA families based on computational and/or experimental results for which little evolutionary analysis has been published. These articles must be accompanied by STOCKHOLM formatted alignments, including a consensus secondary structure or structures and a corresponding Wikipedia article. Publication in the track will require a short manuscript, a high quality Stockholm alignment and at least one Wikipedia article; Each centered around the RNA in question.

As my source for this points out, Nature (the publishing organisation behind the RNA Biology journal, and co-producer of Science Foo Camp with O'Reilly and Google) already synchronises a database with Wikipedia. Apparently there's a core of scientists who do most of the edits, but also a lot of other scientists who pop in sporadically to fix or add information.

Kudos to Nature for doing something imaginative to increase the commons. Journals wield a huge amount of power in the scientific world, and it's wonderful to see them using that power to incentivize good.


Friday, 12 December 2008

Free book usage data

Tony Hirst pointed me to this intriguing post.

I'm very proud to announce that Library Services at the University of Huddersfield has just done something that would have perhaps been unthinkable a few years ago: we've just released a major portion of our book circulation and recommendation data under an Open Data Commons/CC0 licence. In total, there's data for over 80,000 titles derived from a pool of just under 3 million circulation transactions spanning a 13 year period.

I would like to lay down a challenge to every other library in the world to consider doing the same.

This isn't about breaching borrower/patron privacy — the data we've released is thoroughly aggregated and anonymised. This is about sharing potentially useful data to a much wider community and attaching as few strings as possible.

I'm guessing some of you are thinking: "what use is the data to me?". Well, possibly of very little use — it's just a droplet in the ocean of library transactions and it's only data from one medium-sized new University, somewhere in the north of England. However, if just a small number of other libraries were to release their data as well, we'd be able to begin seeing the wider trends in borrowing.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Google to index popular magazines

From the Google Blog...

Today, we're announcing an initiative to help bring more magazine archives and current magazines online, partnering with publishers to begin digitizing millions of articles from titles as diverse as New York Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Ebony.


Friday, 5 December 2008

Browsing backwards in time

Huge quantities of information are never more than a few clicks away on the Web, but it's not always easy to see what things were like yesterday. News stories and blog posts might be archived, but other information often gets lost. For instance, while it's trivial to find a book's sales ranking on Amazon today, it's less simple to see what it was last week. And for anyone curious about how news evolves, it might not be obvious how a story's prominence has changed--did it get top billing on news sites the day it broke, or was it buried at the bottom of the page? A new tool called Zoetrope is designed to help track such information by letting users browse backward through time.

Other projects, such as the Internet Archive, already preserve historical versions of websites. But Mira Dontcheva, a research scientist in the Advanced Technologies Lab at Adobe Systems, where Zoetrope was developed, says the new tool makes it much easier to browse through this kind of data. "Having access to temporal information can help us come up with more compelling stories of what's going on around us," she says.

A user can peer back in time through Zoetrope in several ways. Simply pulling a scrollbar at the bottom of the browser winds a Web page back to show what it looked like hours, days, or months ago. Or, if the user is interested in one specific piece of information, like the price of a certain product, he or she can draw a "lens" over that area of the page to see how it changes.

An experienced user can perform even more-advanced analysis. For example, configured correctly, Zoetrope will recognize a price as it goes up or down and will show the results as a graph. It's also possible to draw lenses on different websites and sync them in order to carry out a historical comparison. For example, a user could use one lens to track weather information and another lens to track movie-attendance figures. Looking at how both lenses change over time might reveal a correlation between bad weather and high movie turnout. Zoetrope can also track some pieces of data as they move about a page over time.


PDF of research paper available from here.

LILAC conference

Librarians Information Literacy Annual conference:
2009 conference themes are as follows:

  • Inquiry based learning and IL
  • Emerging technologies
  • Information literacy for life
  • Supporting research
Might be interesting to see the full programme when it comes out.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Guardian Education Supplement - digital student

Using technology can be highly successful but embracing change isn't always easy

Web 2.0 tools facilitate interaction, sharing and collaboration
Technology is at the heart of a profound transformation in the attitudes and expectations of students
How is iTunes U reshaping university?

.. you get the idea.