Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, August 01, 2008

Interview with Tony Hey

Jon Udel has interviewed Tony Hey, the VP of Microsoft's External Research Division, July 31, 2008.  (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)  Excerpt from the transcript:

TH: ...Another area of focus is education and scholarly communication. We'll be unveiling plugins for our tools that make them more useful for scientists to do what they want to do.

JU: The NLM add-in for Word is an obvious example. Are there others?

TH: Yes, we'll announce a Creative Commons plug-in. Many people use Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, and are happy to share their documents. We'd like to give them a plug-in that will help them attach Creative Commons licenses to those documents.

We'll also have a research repository. At the university, I was supposed to monitor the output of my faculty -- 200 academics and 500 post-docs and grad students. What we did was insist on keeping a digital copy of not only publications, but also presentations at conferences, research reports, videos, data...

JU: ...especially data. That's a huge new area.

TH: It is in my view, yes....[W]hat is the role of the library? My view is very much the MIT DSPACE view that's been promoted. The role of a research library in a university is to be the guardian of the intellectual output of the university. And that needn't just be research, it can be teaching materials.

So we've used SQL Server, and the Entity Framework -- a bit like the RDF model of Tim Berners-Lee and friends -- to capture some semantic knowledge. So it tells you this is a presentation, Tony Hey gave it, the local organizers were so and so, it was done on this date, and so on.

JU: There's also the general notion of wrapping services around raw data sets. I've talked with Timo Hannay at Nature about how often, nowadays, somebody winds up publishing a paper as a "fig leaf of analysis" to cover what's really the publication of some data set.

TH: Timo and I absolutely agree on this. Research repositories which contain text and also data are going to be increasingly important....

PS:  For background, see this week's announcement from Tony Hey's division of a set of free software tools to support scholarly communication and OA.  Also see Richard Poynder's December 2006 interview with Tony Hey, which focused on Tony's commitment to OA and how Microsoft could support and advance it.