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     October 26, 2001

More follow-up on the _Machine Learning_ resignations

* Andrea Foster has a good article about the resignations in the October 18 _Chronicle of Higher Education_.

* Robin Peek tells the story for _InfoToday_, October 22.

* Tom Kirk, Head Librarian at Earlham College, wrote with another specimen for the collection of editorial resignations.  In 1998 most of the editorial board of the _Journal of Academic Librarianship_ resigned to protest the large hike in the subscription price imposed by Pergamon-Elsevier after it bought the journal from JAI Press.  Several of the editors who resigned then created _Portal:  Libraries and the Academy_ at Johns Hopkins University Press.  In the first issue of _Portal_ Gloriana St. Clair published a statement explaining why she and her co-founders thought it necessary to create an affordable competitor to JAL.  Unfortunately, like other Portal articles, her statement is part of Project MUSE and not available online for free. 

I've written to _Portal_ for more details and may have them to report in the next issue.

Gloriana St. Clair, statement in _Portal_ 1.1 on the need for _Portal_
(Accessible only to paid MUSE subscribers.)

[old journal] Journal of Academic Librarianship
(This link is dead.  Does anyone know a more current one?)

[new journal] Portal:  Libraries and the Academy

Johns Hopkins press release about launch of _Portal_

Steve McKinzie and Jocelyn Godolphin, two opinions on the _Journal of Academic Librarianship_ case

* If you're keeping track, we now have five specimens in our collection.  To review them all, see the new page of FOS lists. 
(Generating this list would have been nearly impossible without an informed readership.  It's a perfect example of collaborative knowledge building through networked communication.)



A wiki is a web site integrated with software that allows every visitor to edit the site.  Wikipedia is a wiki encyclopedia.  This is the ultimate development in dynamic, interactive, collaborative scholarship, if you can call anything scholarship that dispenses with editorial filters in the name of user freedom.  Yes, entries are written and revised by users, as they see fit.  Launched last January, it already has over 14,000 articles.  The original Wikipedia is in English, although 17 non-English Wikipedias are now evolving alongside it.

When it works the way it should, as it generally does, then short articles are lengthened, mistakes are corrected, vagueness is clarified, and omissions are filled by the continuous and parallel labors of the reading/writing/visiting community.  Of course revisions are not always improvements; they can add falsehood, delete truth, or muddy clear language.  This is well-known, but the experience of the founders is that the Wikipedia is overwhelmingly self-correcting. 

Because all contributions can be revised or thoroughly rewritten by others, they are anonymous.  This means you can't use the author's reputation and credentials as a surrogate for peer review.

So why should you trust unsigned articles that might have been written by idiots and revised by morons?  The creators have introduced many features whose tendency is to insure that ignorant, incorrect, illiterate, and mischievous contributions --and deletions-- are caught early and either corrected or undone.  For example, only Wikipedia administrators can totally or permanently delete pages.  Other deletions are kept for two weeks in a "kept pages" archive where any other user can find and restore them.  After mischievous contributors are identified they can be blocked by administrators.  Recent changes are collected on a special page for special scrutiny.  Soon administrators will have the power to undo all changes from a particular user or particular IP address.  The entire Wikipedia is frequently backed up, allowing administrators to restore any entry mangled by users.  Administrators are considering several proposals for retroactive peer review.

Because visitors may add or revise articles with no approval from anyone, there is no formal peer review in the traditional sense at all.  But Wikipedia is not so much an experiment in scholarship without peer review as it is an experiment in communal peer review.  Every volunteer is an editor. 

If you find it hard to believe that such a system could produce reliable scholarship, even after some time for the forces of self-correction to have their effect against the forces of ideology, dogmatism, and slovenly thinking, then the founders reply that the experience of the system to date may surprise you.  Or as Lars Aronsson wrote in a recent posting to DigLib, "Those who want to study how unpaid volunteers can self-organize and work together to create a collection of [14,000+] interlinked articles in less than a year, should take a look at Wikipedia right now.  Next year will be too late --it might be a useful product by then."

Wikipedia articles are released under the GNU Free Documentation License, which essentially invites the public to copy and use them freely, and even to modify them with the proviso that all modified versions carry the same license.

Wikipedia began life as a supplement to Nupedia, a more traditional online encyclopedia with rigorous peer review.  But it has now spun off from Nupedia and stands alone.  It is committed to remaining free for readers.  After it gets off the ground, it may generate revenue through ads and pay its administrators from the revenue.

Thanks to Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia and editor in chief of Nupedia, for some of these details.


Replies to those who worry about quality

Proposals for retroactive peer review

Non-English Wikipedias

GNU Free Documentation License



What are learned societies saying?

In FOSN for 8/16/01, I offered to make a web page collecting the policy statements on FOS issues made by learned societies and professional associations --if only you would send me the URLs of the statements in your field or known to you.  So far nobody has taken me up on the offer.  I have these two statements so far.  Do you know of others?  I'll include statements by learned societies in any discipline and any country.

American Psychological Association

American Physical Society

* Postscript.  I've add this list to the new page of FOS lists.  If the list grows, you can watch it grow there.



* On October 25 Congress passed the huge USA Act to fight terrorism, and President Bush will sign it today.  The new law gives police and intelligence agencies vastly increased surveillance powers.  Civil libertarians are supposed to be mollified by a four-year sunset clause on some of the provisions.  However, here are some of the FOS-endangering provisions *not* covered by the sunset clause.  Section 216:  A state or federal prosecutor can order the FBI's Carnivore eavesdropping system to record what web sites you visit and to whom you send email, without getting a court order.  Section 505:  The FBI can compel an ISP to turn over customer information if it asserts that the information is relevant to a counter-terrorism investigation, and again no court order is required.  Section 808:  The crimes that count as acts of terrorism include forms of harmful "communication" and "assistance" that are difficult to separate from the publication of true and useful information (see FOSN for 9/28/01).

Declan McCullagh, Terror Act Has Lasting Effects

Previously defined computer crimes now classified as acts of terrorism

* The Library of Congress closed on October 18 for anthrax testing.  It reopened today, after all tests came back negative.  The web site, of course, was unaffected.

* A programmer who goes by the name "Beale Screamer" (think _Network_ starring Peter Finch) has broken version 2 of Microsoft's digital rights management software.  Microsoft confirms Screamer's claim, but insists that the damage to its clients will be slight.  Screamer is distributing a zipped file containing an executable utility for bypassing copy protection.  The file also contains an articulate statement defending the software as a necessary tool to preserve buyers' fair-use rights and the right to copy their content to more than one machine.  The file also contains the source code, so that many hands can revise it in response to Microsoft's foreseeable fix.  The author can be reached through postings to "Beale Screamer" on sci.crypt.

Thomas Green, MS digital rights management scheme cracked

John Borland, Hacker cracks Microsoft anti-piracy software

Steven Bonisteel, DMCA Protester Cracks Microsoft's Copyright Protection Code

Amy Harmon, Programmer Exposes Microsoft Flaws

Anon., Microsoft Explores Legal Options Against Hacker

Beale Screamer's zipped file

* First Microsoft urged New Zealand to revise its copyright laws to crack down on pirates.  In response, the Electronic Frontier Foundation urged New Zealand not to repeat the mistake made by the United States in adopting the DMCA.

Story on Microsoft

Story on EFF

* During November and December, Sage will provide free online access to over 250 of its electronic journals, including the back issues to 1999.  (PS:  But then they become unfree again.  Is this about opening access to help research or giving free samples to build sales?)

* The University Press of Virginia has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create a peer-reviewed electronic publishing program in the humanities.  The press release says nothing about free online access to the results, but it makes this welcome promise:  "Staff will experiment with and document a variety of cost-recovery business models for electronic publishing in consultation with faculty experts in the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration."  The program will be directed by Mick Gusinde-Duffy, past director of publishing at netLibrary.
(This URL will soon point to different news.)

* The NSF has awarded Cornell University a $1.56 million grant to develop software to collect scientific information from hundreds of sites across the internet, organize it, and make it accessible to users through a unified front end.  The software will mine OAI archives and "deep web" sites inaccessible to most other search engines.  The NSF calls this the Core System for the National Science Digital Library.  (PS:  The heavy reliance on government funding suggests that the final product will be free for users, but I haven't seen this stated explicitly anywhere.  Does anyone know how this stands?)

* The FBI has plans to restructure the internet to force all traffic through certain nodes in order to facilitate email eavesdropping.  FBI spokesman Paul Bresson says he never heard of the plan.  But the source of the story is no paranoid:  Stewart Baker, deputy general counsel to the National Security Agency under George Bush I and Bill Clinton.  (PS:  The packet-switching architecture of the internet allows traffic to flow around any node that might be down for some reason, which makes the internet robust in the face of node failures caused e.g. by rolling blackouts or bombed cities.  This FBI plan would negate this ingenious technology and make the internet much more vulnerable to attack than it is now.  Is this really what "national security" requires?)

* The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA) have agreed on four principles on copyright in electronic environments, and issued a joint press release to describe them.

* Incredibly, MedLine is 30 years old this month.  In internet years that's more like 210.  It was created in 1971, before the internet and before the personal computer.  At first it was disseminated by teletype.  It became free for users in 1997.


New on the net

* On October 24, the Internet Archive launched the Wayback Machine, perhaps the largest free archive online.  It contains 10 billion web pages from 1996 to the present, totalling over 100 terabytes of information.  Enter a URL and you'll be given a table of the archive's versions of that page.  Click on a version and look into the past.  (PS:  Another reason why it's short-sighted to remove valid science from web sites in order to keep it from terrorists --see FOSN for 10/5 and 10/12/01.)

* _Nature_ is devoting an issue to anthrax and is giving the public free online access to each article. 

* For more free online information on anthrax and other bio-warfare agents, see the list of sources compiled by St. Louis University's Center for the Study of Bioterrorism and Emerging Infections.
Or the list complied by Anick Jesdanun for the Washington Post.

* Bernie Sloan has put online a bibliography of e-resource pricing models and consortial issues.  If this is of interest, then also see the LibLicense annotated bibliography on similar topics, from Ann Okerson and the Yale University Library.

* Version 39 of Charles W. Bailey's Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography is now online.  It contains citations to 1,450+ print and online sources.

* The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is maintaining a list of web sites shut down by national governments or ISPs, asked to remove content, or removing their own content, in the name of counter-terrorism and patriotism.  The result is not quite an archive of censored information, since the information itself is missing.  It's a cenotaph of censored information.


In other publications

* In the October 29 _Newsweek_, Jay Mathews profiles Questia and its founder, Troy Williams.  By contrasting Questia with failed dot-coms, Mathews makes Williams look like a genius.  (PS:  The question shouldn't be whether he effectively markets texts to college students but why students should pay $20/month for texts they can find for free either on the net or in their university libraries.  Is it really for online highlighting and bibliographic citation generators?)

Jay Mathews, Doing Good, Doing Well

Questia home page

* In the October 26 _Chronicle of Higher Education_ Elizabeth Farrell and Florence Olsen report on a movement challenging universities to provide decent wages and working conditions, and the right to organize, to the third-world workers who do the bulk of their large digitization projects. 

* In an October 18 posting to the _Nature_ FOS debate, Carol Tenopir and Donald King summarize their research on the use and costs of scientific journals from 1960 to 2000.  They point out but do not fully explain the "paradox" that print journal prices have risen faster than inflation while publishing costs per page, costs per author, and costs per reading have all declined.  One conclusion:  "Much of the current ill will stems from ignorance —-librarians and scientists do not understand the causes of rising journal prices, and publishers...are afraid of becoming obsolete if readers have access to articles without paying for them."

* In another October 18 posting to the _Nature_ debate, David Worlock argues that the nature of scholarship is changing faster than publishers, scholars, and libraries can finish fighting their old battles.  Technologies like DOIs and CrossRef show unprecedented collaboration between publishers and researchers, and the OAI will transform article storage and searching.  At the same time, the Semantic Web is changing the unit of scholarship from the text article to the knowledge-structure.

* In the October 15 _Library Journal_, Roy Tennant surveys a variety of cross-database search technologies and describes the concept for newcomers. 
(Free registration required.)

* In the October issue of _Haematologica_, Moreno Curti and three co-authors report on their longitudinal study of biomedical journals from 1995 to 2000.  During this period, 85% of the journals studied added some kind of free online content.  During the same period, the median impact factor for the set of journals studied showed a statistically significant rise.  The association between higher impact factors and free online content was also statistically significant.

* The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) has just put online the second edition of its handbook on licensing digital resources.  This is the first revision of the handbook since 1998.

* In the August/September issue of the _Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology_, Petros Demilew argues that electronic document delivery systems are necessary for research and education in Ethiopia, and offers 14 recommendations to bring them about.  The recommendations address people issues like incentive and coordination much more than technical issues like infrastructure.

* In July, Steve Hitchcock and Wendy Hall argue that two steps are needed to connect journal articles stored in open archives:  (1) "decoupling journal content from [the] publishing process" and (2) "defragmentation of the control of access to works at the article level".  They describe _Perspectives in Electronic Publishing_, which Hitchcock conceived and edits, as satisfying these conditions.  Their paper was originally presented at the ICCC/IFIP 5th Conference on Electronic Publishing at the University of Kent.

Hitchcock and Hall, How Dynamic E-Journals can Interconnect Open Access Archives

Perspectives in Electronic Publishing


Share your thoughts

* The ACM is seeking nominations for the biennial Eugene Lawler Award for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics.  Among the contributions that might earn someone this award are "creative research concerning intellectual property issues" and "application of computers or computing techniques to problems of developing countries".  The ACM will accept nominations until November 30.


Following up

* In the last issue I mentioned Amazon's new "Look Inside" feature which lets users read sample pages of selected books before deciding whether to buy, and compared this to the National Academy Press policy to make all the pages of all its print books freely accessible online.  Compare both to RealRead, a web-based page-sampling service that publishers or self-publishing authors may offer from their own sites.  If a publisher has made all or part of one of its books RealRead-able, then users may click on a link to launch an applet to display those pages and let the user flip through them.  The pages are in full color, with text and images well-rendered.  Turning a page is a fairly realistic animation of a turning page.  Publishers still decide how much of the book to make accessible in this way, but needn't write, buy, or maintain their own software to create the interface with web users.

(Thanks to Sam Vaknin for bringing this to my attention.)

RealRead demo, Jacquelyn Black's _Microbiology_, 5th edition

* In the last issue I described the netLibrary agreement with OCLC, designed to reassure netLibrary customers that the ebooks they have licensed will not evaporate if netLibrary goes out of business.  On October 19, Jay Jordan, President and CEO of OCLC, issued a public statement intended to have the same reassuring effect.  The statement makes clear, however, that OCLC will provide permanent CD copies of licensed ebooks only to those libraries that "signed up for perpetual access" in their contracts with netLibrary.

* In the "no comment" section of the last issue I reported on the RIAA's attempt to amend the anti-terrorist act to free copyright holders from liability for hacking into private computers and deleting files that infringe their copyrights.  Now the RIAA says that its amendment was misunderstood and had no such legal effect.  At least one lawyer (R. Polk Wagner of U. Penn. law school) rejects RIAA's new, innocent interpretation of the language.  The dispute is contained in several postings to Declan McCullagh's Politich announcement list.

* I first wrote about the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) in FOSN for 9/14/01.  This is DMCA's evil younger brother.  It would prohibit the sale of any computer equipment not equipped with federally approved security devices, as well removing security devices from any piece of hardware or from any piece of digital content.  The ACM has already registered its opposition to the SSSCA (see FOSN for 10/5/01).  After much internal discussion, an impressive group of major technology players publicly stood up on October 22 and joined the ACM in condemning the SSSCA.  The new opponents of the bill include Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Compaq, Dell, and Motorola.  On every other issue, when this gang can agree on what it wants, then it gets what it wants.  This time it's opposed by the copyright holders' lobby led by Walt Disney Corp.

John Borland, Techs Broadside Anti-Piracy Plan

Many of the critical companies have banded together to form the Computer Systems Policy Project
(The site not up to date.)

Postscript.  Disney cartoons have never exactly been politically neutral (princes should become kings, and kings should rule), but would Disney risk its position as the trusted purveyor of sentimental blandness by putting a hard political edge into its entertainment?  Decide for yourself.  In the October 19 episode of _The Proud Family_, Penny Proud downloads a music file from a P2P network and soon finds her house surrounded by police.

* In FOSN for 8/23/01, I announced the launch of the Chemistry Preprint Server (CPS) and its plans to become OAI compliant.  On October 24 it announced that it has become OAI compliant.

* In FOSN for 7/31/01, I described the launch of the History E-Book Project and its plan to digitize hundreds of historical monographs.  The project has now put online its list of 752 books for which it will seek the electronic rights.  The project is also interested in receiving book nominations from readers.

* In FOSN for 4/24/01, I covered Eric Eldred's lawsuit to overturn the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.  The Bono act retroactively adds 20 years to the life of existing copyrights, harming FOS and reader access by delaying the transition of copyrighted works into the public domain.  Under the Bono act, copyrights now last 95 years.  Eldred's challenge to copyright extension was rejected by both the district and circuit courts in Washington DC.  The last I heard he was considering an appeal to the Supreme Court (see FOSN for 7/31/01).  Now a new group of plaintiffs is challenging the Bono Act in federal district court in Colorado.  Among the lawyers representing these plaintiffs are Lawrence Lessig, Jonathan Zittrain, and Charles Nesson.  Lessig was also one of Eldred's lawyers.  The hope must be that the District of Colorado will differ from the DC District that decided against Eldred --and then that the 10th Circuit, which includes Colorado, will differ from the DC Circuit.

Complaint filed by the new plaintiffs

Berkman Center page on the Eldred case (good background but not up to date)

Opposing Copyright Extension (good background but not up to date)


Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)

* I just discovered the Inventory of Canadian Digital Initiatives, maintained by the National Library of Canada.  The collection can be searched or browsed by name, hosting organization, organization, subject, province, genre, material type, or project status.

* The proceedings of a conference on digital libraries held at the Library of Congress in October of *1994* are now online.  I can't tell you how long they've been online. 

* Somehow I missed the September announcement that the Vatican was commissioning scholars to rewrite the Bible, incorporating details about the life and times of Jesus Christ gleaned from the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Quoting Martyn Percy, canon doctor at Sheffield university:  "There has never been a settled, definitive version of the Bible, it has been an evolving book which has gone through many translations.  Only fundamentalists think it came in a fax from heaven."  (PS:  The Vatican is courageous for not letting the prospect of fundamentalist rage deter dynamic scholarship.  I suggest putting the new Bible on the web with version numbers.)



* In FOSN for 10/12/01, I wrote about the new partnership of the California Digital Library (CDL) and Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress).  I gave the impression that some CDL archives created with bepress tools were OAI compliant because the bepress tools were supplemented by eprints.org software.  In fact, some early CDL archives were OAI compliant thanks to eprints.org software, but the significance of CDL's new partnership with bepress is that CDL is now migrating from eprints.org to bepress tools, which will create OAI compliant archives and meet other CDL needs as well.  Thanks to John Ober, CDL's Director of Education and Strategic Innovation, for pointing this out.



* As you can tell from some of items above, I've created a page of FOS lists to keep track of certain sites and interesting patterns in the evolution of FOS.  If you can help enlarge or correct any of the lists I've started, or if you'd like to suggest a new one, please let me know.

* With this issue our subscription list has passed the 700 mark.  My deepest thanks to all of you who have forwarded copies of the newsletter to friends or recommended it in your own publications.



If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum.

* Copyright Issues in the Electronic Age
Waltham, Massachusetts, October 29

* Paperless Publishing:  Peer Review, Production, and Publication
Washington, D.C., October 30

* The XML Revolution:  What Scholarly Publishers Need to know
Waltham, Massachusetts, November 1

* Information in a Networked World:  Harnessing the Flow
Washington D.C., November 2-8

* Long Term Archiving of Digital Documents in Physics
Lyon, November 5-6

* Electronic Book 2001:  Authors, Applications, and Accessibility
Washington D.C., November 5-7

* Internet Librarian 2001
Pasadena, November 6-8

* Content Summit 01:  Funding opportunities for European digital content on global networks
Zurich, November 7-9

* Setting Standards and Making it Real (on Digital Reference Services)
Orlando, November 12-13

* First Annual Meeting of the Text Encoding Initiative Consortium
Pisa, November 16-17

* NINCY Town Meeting:  Copyright and Fair use:  Creating Policy
Eugene, November 19

* ARL Workshop for Publishers:  Licensing Electronic Resources to Libraries:  Understanding Your Market
Philadelphia, November 19

* Eighth Call for Proposals of the European IST Programme
London, November 27

* European Forum on Harmful and Illegal Cyber Content
Strasbourg, November 28

* eGovernment [in Europe]:  From Policy to Practice
Brussels, November 29-30

* Digital Media Revolution in the Americas
Pasadena, November 29 - December 1

* Fourth SCHEMAS Workshop:  Sharing [metadata] schemas
The Hague, November 30

* 2001 IST Exhibition and Awards
Düsseldorf, December 3

* School for Scanning:  Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets
Delray Beach, Florida, December 3-5

* Online Information 2001
London, December 4-6

* The Electronic Library:  Strategic, Policy and Management Issues
Loughborough, December 9-14

* 4th International Conference of Asian Digital Libraries
Bangalore, December 10-12


The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.


This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).

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Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber

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