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Google launched its search service for public data in late April. It didn't get much attention before it was overshadowed by the publicity surrounding the mid-May launch of Wolfram|Alpha. But it's definitely worth a look. Here's a quick comparison of the two.
Like Alpha, Google's public data search returns graphs displaying data in response to a search query. Like Alpha, it cites the sources for its data. Like Alpha, it only knows what it knows. While Alpha will return a polite error message when you ask about data it doesn't have ("Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input"), Google defaults to the results of an ordinary Google search on your searchstring.
Unlike Alpha, when Google returns a graph, the graph is interactive, giving you the option to add or subtract lines of relevant data. For example, if you search for "unemployment rate USA", you'll get a chart as the first hit on the return list, and an ordinary hit list below it. If you click on the chart, you'll have options to superimpose on the US curve the unemployment curves for any state or combination of states. If you expand the outline under a state's name in the left sidebar, you'll have the same options to view the unemployment curves for any county or combination of counties.
Like Alpha, when Google public data has answers, it's very useful. When it doesn't, we can only hope that it doesn't stop adding new datasets.
Don't confuse the public data search service with other recent data-related Google innovations such as Google Squared, Rich Snippets, Wonder Wheel, and Timeline (which shouldn't be confused with Google's News Timeline). For a good review of the latter cluster of innovations, see Laura Gordon-Murnane's article in the the new Information Today.
Comment. Wolfram|Alpha and Google are both proving that making datasets OA enables third parties to amplify their utility. Wolfram and Google are certainly not the first to do so, but they're among the most conspicuous and influential. The lesson: If you have a dataset you're willing to make OA, then make it OA. If you don't know of free online tools to make the data queryable, interactive, or visual, don't wait for someone to develop them. Just make the file OA and let other people work on that side of things. For years now we've had this situation with texts: if you make a text freely available online, others will find it, use it, crawl it, and at the very least improve its discoverability. One reason to be excited: We're entering that age for data files. Another reason: the enhancements possible for data files are much richer than those possible for text files.
Cameron Neylon is one of the first to see the implications of Google Wave for open science. From his reflections (today):
The June/July issue of Research Information is now online. Here are the OA-related articles.
Excerpt from Murphy's article on Co-Action:
Kaitlin Thaney, $120m - will it help, and a look at the greater issues, Sniffing the beaker, May 29, 2009. Thaney is the project manager at Science Commons. Excerpt:
PS: Note that Francis Collins may soon be the next Director of the NIH.
Impact: Journal of Applied Research in Workplace E-learning is a forthcoming journal published by the E-learning Network of Australasia with a 6-month delayed OA policy. (Thanks to Mark Lee.)
The Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts is a new peer-reviewed OA journal from the Karlsruhe University Press. Though the journal has been publishing articles since February 2009, in German and English, it will not officially launch until June 9. It's Karlsruhe's first online journal.
Robert Kiley, Open Access Mandates: View from the Wellcome Trust, a slide presentation from today's RIN/RSP meeting, Research in the open: How mandates work in practice (London, May 29, 2009).
The other presentations are not yet online.
Online Computer Library Center, OCLC releases software suite to help museums exchange data, press release, May 22, 2009. (Thanks to Information Today.)
National Research Council Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, NRC-CISTI launches gateway to scientific data, press release, May 14, 2009. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)
The presentations from Il peso della ricerca. Valutare una materia umanistica: architettura per esempio (Bologna, May 22, 2009) are now online. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.) See especially:
Tom Sinclair, ‘Open source’ technology is his passion, The Nelson Institute Blog, May 27, 2009.
Melissa Gregg, Damn the publishers, The Australian Higher Education, May 27, 2009. (Thanks to Colin Steele.) Excerpt:
Comment. Note that the January 2009 draft guidelines for the ERA research assessment program expect that most research articles will be deposited in OA repositories. (I don't know whether this expectation made it into the final version of the guidelines.) Apparently that deliberate, direct support for green OA has been supplemented in practice by inadvertent, indirect support for gold OA, as scholars like Gregg discover that the delays at conventional TA journals hinder their career advancement under the new rules.
Barbara Fister, Notes from a Catastrophe: Easing the Pain of Budget Cuts, Library Journal, May 28, 2009.
Nine suggestions for librarians on how to cancel journal subscriptions when rising prices and shrinking budgets make it necessary. Here's the ninth:
Don't be deterred by the German introduction. The survey itself is in English. (Here's the introduction in Google's English.)
PS: In my first draft of this post, I mistakenly said that the whole survey was in German. Thanks to Klaus Graf for the correction.
This morning at the Google I/O Developer Conference (San Francisco, May 27-28, 2009), Google launched a developer preview of a new communications platform called Wave
Wave will be open source, rest on open standards (particularly HTML 5), and offer open APIs. It's an ambitious, versatile tool that will implicate OA primarily in the ways in which it supports document sharing and collaborative document writing.
Update (5/29/09). The 120 minute video demo of Wave wasn't available yesterday but it's available today. Recommended.
Library and Archives Canada, Launch of Book History Databases, press release, April 24, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
Peter Binfield, Article-Level Metrics at PLoS (presentation to NISO), everyONE, May 27, 2009.
Peter Murray, Online Editions of Out-of-Print Books Results from Library/Press Partnership at Univ of Pittsburgh, Disruptive Library Technology Jester, May 26, 2009.
See also our past post on the recent announcement.
Bora Zivkovic has linked to podcasts of his interviews with Radio Belgrade on OA in Serbian.
Michael Hart, New Goal Set for Project Gutenberg: One Billion Readers, Project Gutenberg News, May 24, 2009. (Thanks to ResourceShelf.)
I forgot to mention that yesterday was the 7th birthday of OAN. Yesterday we had 17,391 posts, which comes to about 7 a day for 7 years.
Francis Collins said to be contender to run NIH, Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2009. Excerpt:
Comments. This matters for two reasons:
Also see our past posts on Collins.
City of Vancouver embraces open data, standards and source, CBC News, May 22, 2009. (Thanks to Michael Geist.) See also our past post.
Toronto Announces Open Data Plan at Mesh09, Visible Government, April 13, 2009. (Thanks to datalibre.ca.)
William New, Broad Plan On IP, Innovation In Developing Countries Approved At WHO, Intellectual Property Watch, May 22, 2009.
The code arose from last year's Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health (Bamako, Mali, November 17-19, 2008), where participants formulated the Bamako Call to Action on Research for Health, which included a call for "open and equitable access to research data, tools, and information...." For more background, see Pisani's slide presentation at the November 2008 meeting on the need for a data sharing code of conduct, and a report on the the discussion following Pisani's presentation.
From the May draft code:
Rick Mullin, Merck Seeds An Open Database With Computers And Data, Chemical & Engineering News, May 25, 2009.
See also another story in the same issue on the use of cloud computing for research, including its use at Sage and comments by John Wilbanks.
See also our past posts on Sage.
Update. Schadt has announced he'll be taking a new day job rather than working at Sage full-time.
Update. See also this interview with Friend.
Nicky Cashman, CADAIR's 2000, posted to JISC-REPOSITORIES, May 22, 2009.
Jo Walsh, INSPIRE Directive heading towards UK law, Open Knowledge Foundation Blog, May 24, 2009.
Elizabeth Pennisi, Group Calls for Rapid Release of More Genomics Data, Science, May 22, 2009. (Thanks to Garrett Eastman.) Accessible only to subscribers. Excerpt:
PS: I can't find a web site for last week's data-release workshop in Toronto where the new guidelines were taking shape. If anyone can help, please drop me a line and I'll update this post.
The U.S. Commitment to Global Health: Recommendations for the Public and Private Sectors, National Academies Press, May 20, 2009. Prepublication edition of a major report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the US National Academy of Sciences.
From the press release:
From Chapter 3:
From Appendix F (by Anthony So and Evan Stewart):
Update (5/26/09). Also see Stevan Harnad's comment:
Comment (5/26/09). I can't agree that OA journal funds are squandering money. They support OA journals, which need support in parallel with (not just after) our support for OA repositories. But I do agree, and have often argued (see also 1, 2, 3, 4), that "any university which understands the need for OA should also adopt a strong policy to ensure green OA for its research output....Unlike a gold OA policy, a green OA policy covers all the peer-reviewed articles published by faculty, regardless of the journals in which they choose to publish."
Les Carr has posted a brief slide presentation on the features of EPrints 3.2 (currently in alpha release, with a public beta expected later this year).
Dorothea Salo, Digital preservation and institutional repositories, presented at the Summer Institute for Data Curation (Urbana, Illinois, May 21, 2009). A slide presentation.
Herbert Van de Sompel, An Overview of the OAI Object Reuse and Exchange Interoperability Framework, presented at Inforum 2009 (Prague, May 26, 2009). (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) A slide presentation on OAI-ORE.
See also our past posts on OAI-ORE.
Keith Fahlgren, Collaborative Publishing Based on Community Feedback, O'Reilly Labs, May 21, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.)
Gary Gale, Announcing GeoPlanet Data, The Yahoo! Geo Technologies Blog, May 20, 2009.
Peter Murray-Rust, Should the Foology Society sell its journals to commercial publishers, A Scientist and the Web, May 17, 2009.
Julie Allinson, SAFIR (Sound, Film, Archives Image Repository) Project: Final Report, report to JISC, January 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Executive summary:
Nancy L. Maron and K. Kirby Smith, Digital Scholarly Communication: A Snapshot of Current Trends, Research Library Issues no. 263, May 2009. Excerpt:
Jackie Knowles and Stuart Lewis, Final Report of the Welsh Repository Network Start-up Project, JISC, April 21, 2009. (Thanks to Charles Bailey.) Excerpt:
From the body of the report:
Comment. This is a sad casualty of the recession, which is affecting OA and TA resources alike. In my predictions for 2009, I thought this might happen ("It will be harder than ever...to launch or replenish funds to pay publication fees at fee-based OA journals..."), even though, as access declines, the recession will simultaneously strengthen the case for OA.
Also see our post on the launch of the Amsterdam fund in January 2007.
Comment. This policy breaks important new ground. It's the first OA mandate for South Africa, and the first for Africa at large, either from a university or a funder. And it's another unanimous vote! I applaud the mandatory language, the requirements for both deposit and permission, and the timing (deposit immediately upon acceptance). Kudos to all involved.
Update (5/25/09). Also see Eve Gray's comments.
The PARSE.insight project has released a review on its first year of work. (Thanks to Fabrizio Tinti.)
See also our past posts on PARSE.insight.
According to the KEI staff, "Under US FOIA laws, if an agency receives three requests for the same documents, they are required to put the data on their own web page."
Comment. It's a very enlightened rule. I've long urged an equivalent rule for scholars, and this is a good opportunity to urge it again. If you receive even one request for an email copy of one of your articles, then self-archive the article. It takes about as much time as sending the article as an attachment to your requesting colleague. It will save you time responding to future requests, and spare other readers the need to request their own copies. Of course routine self-archiving is even better. But if you forget, regard every query as a reminder.
James Love, The World Health Assembly takes step back, but leaves door open, for medical R&D Treaty, Knowledge Ecology Notes, May 22, 2009. Excerpt:
PS: Also see our past posts on the Medical R&D Treaty and especially our post from last Friday on recent US efforts to kill it. Note that the draft treaty includes a provision, §13.1, which would mandate OA to publicly-funded research.
Mark Weisbrot, Green technology should be shared, The Guardian, May 20, 2009. Excerpt:
Update (6/11/09). Unfortunately it's beyond my scope to track this topic in detail. But on June 10, the House of Representatives adopted HR 2410, which --in Section 329-- unmistakably puts patents first and the environment second.