Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, August 10, 2002

Three mathematicians from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kapur --Professor Manindra Agarwal and his two students, Nitin Saxena and Neeraj Kayal-- have developed a polynomial-time algorithm to determine whether an arbitrary natural number is prime, a major mathematical breakthrough. In her story for the New York Times, Sara Robinson reports that the discoverers sent out their preprint by email last Suday. On Monday morning, Carl Pomerance of Bell Labs received, read it, was excited by it, and held an informal seminar on it for Bell colleagues on Monday afternoon. He credits the algorithm's beauty and simplicity for his ability to give a seminar on it so soon after its release. Clearly that was part of it. But part of the credit must also go to free online dissemination. (PS: I hope I don't sound too parochial and FOS-centric. I actually like the fact that the free online dissemination was taken for granted here.)

Friday, August 09, 2002

The Amedeo Group is a really nice series of sites that tracks free access to medical journals, medical books and provides links to free sources of specific medical information organized by disease/disorder. If you read through the guest book, you can get a feel for what a tremendous problem access to up-to-date medical information is for practitioners in the developing world.

The EU's CORDIS (Community Research and Development Information Service) has launched the CORDIS Library, offering free online access to (1) official EU documents on research policy and (2) publications and reports from EU-funded research projects. (Thanks to Weekly.)

Thursday, August 08, 2002

More on OAI archiving momentum....David Solomon's excellent article in the new First Monday recommends OAI-compliant archiving as part of the solution to the serials pricing crisis. "The costs of setting up and maintaining such archives would not be large, particularly in comparison to what research libraries are paying for published journals. More over, the true cost of not doing something to stem the tide of transferring public knowledge to private ownership cannot even be calculated."

It's already started. In the second story in today's issue of the FOS Newsletter, I tried to collect all the evidence I could find from the past six months that eprint archiving and the Open Archives Initiative have achieved a kind of chain-reaction momentum. But I've already started to discover items that I overlooked. The August 8 issue of Shelflife cites a paper by JoAnne Rocker and three co-authors explaining how NASA's Scientific and Technical Information program will create OAI-compliant repositories for two different initiatives. Unfortunately the paper is undated. (I'll post other omitted items here as I run into them. I welcome leads.)

The blog will be offline tonight for about four hours starting at 8:00 pm central standard time. Our ISP will be down for maintenance. Apologies for the interrupted service.

More on the Edelman case....Andrea foster interviews Benjamin Edelman in the August 2 Chronicle of Higher Education.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

More on the Eldred case....The forthcoming fall issue of the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review will collect important essays for and against the constitutionality of copyright extension. Drafts of the papers are online at the journal web site. (Thanks to Chuck Hamaker in the Digital Copyright list.)

More on the Eldred case....The government's brief to the Supreme Court is now online. These are its arguments for the retroactive extension of copyright, or equivalently, for letting Congress shrink the public domain and privatize the commons.

A homeless British man surfing the internet in the public library of Punta Gorda, Florida, was arrested for viewing sites on mineral supplements and the world's first chemical generator of electricity, the Baghdad Battery. An off-duty Sheriff's deputy who happened to be lurking nearby thought that Nigel Gates might be looking for information on how to make a bomb. Because Gates was carrying bottles of paint thinner and jewelry cleaner in his pack (for cleaning cars), the bomb squad closed the library for a four hour search. During that time the police learned that Gates was traveling on an expired visa and had lied about his name. He'll be deported for the expired visa, and faces jail time for obstruction for giving a false name. (Thanks to LIS News.)

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

More on the approved UCITA amendments....In today's Washington Post, Ted Bridis does a good job of explaining why the amendments don't go far enough. (I didn't realize that some Microsoft "updates" spy on your hard drive, make guesses about what's illegally present, and use the results to disable some users from making future downloads. The amended UCITA prohibits other kinds of corporate "self-help" but not this practice.)

Monday, August 05, 2002

The Counting Online Usage of Networked Electronic Resources (COUNTER) project has launched a survey for librarians. Responses are needed by August 15.

There's an interesting thread on the DigLib list appraising the significance and impact of Project Gutenberg.

The current Information Today Snap Poll asks, "Is your library moving into the role of publisher by hosting unique digital content for global access by users? Please comment on some of the issues and challenges." So far there are two comments, both short.

The Open eBook Forum has designated August 5-11 as Open an eBook Week.

PS: Can you do that? OK, then I declare 2002 the Year of Open Access. This is the year to achieve and celebrate open access to peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly journal literature. Wait until you see what's coming in 2003.

I just learned that Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5+ disregards metatags instructing it not to cache the blog. Hence, when you visit the blog you might be seeing a cached version and will have to hit refresh to see the newest postings. Please blame Microsoft, not me. (Thanks to Mark Pilgrim.)

The June-July issue of Ariadne is now online. Here are some of the FOS-related articles.

More on UCITA....The generally progressive amendments to this atrocious bill have been approved by the National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). Alorie Gilbert reports that the ALA still believes that the amendments are full of loopholes and don't go far enough. (PS: The ALA UCITA page contains a link to its objections to the amendments, but the link is currently dead.)

The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport is inviting grant applications for Culture Online projects. Applications are due August 30.

In the Summer issue of the Boston Review David Bollier summarizes the issues and his own recent work on reclaiming the commons, including the information commons. Excerpt: "Gift economies are the animating force behind scientific research communities, blood donation systems, New York City's community gardens, and Alcoholics Anonymous....The invaluable role of public science is reflected as well in medical patents. According to a study commissioned by the National Science Foundation, 'more than 70 percent of the scientific papers cited on the front pages of U.S. industry patents [were products of] public science' —government or academia— while only 17 percent were industry sponsored."

Britain's New Opportunities Fund has created the NOF-Digitise program, to digitize large parts of Britain's cultural heritage and scientific collections from the National Museum of Science and Industry. (Thanks to Daithí Ó hAnluain in Wired.)