Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) Newsletter
     November 2, 2001

Huge free online astronomy database funded

The NSF has given $10 million to 17 institutions to create a web-based National Virtual Observatory.  This will be a unified front end to 17 huge databases of astronomical observations and related data.  It will function like an observatory, allowing researchers and students to call up observations of any part of the sky, free of charge, no waiting, whether it is day or night at the user's spot of Earth.  It will also draw together quantitative data about celestial objects, permitting unprecedented comparisons and integration with observations.  The entire NVO archive will contain about 100 terabytes of data to start, and grow to more than 10 petabytes by 2008.

Brian Krebs, National Virtual Observatory To Put Universe Online

National Virtual Observatory

* Postscript.  For comparison, the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which archives nearly the entire internet (see FOSN for 10/26/01), also contains 100 terabytes of data.  How big is 100 terabytes?

While the NVO is a very big archive, it's not the biggest on the drawing boards.  As far as I can tell, this title belongs to the Particle Physics Data Grid, a project to build the infrastructure for multi-petabyte data sets in particle physics.


More on journal resignations

* Alison Buckholtz from SPARC has pointed me toward two new specimens for our growing collection of journal editors who resign from expensive print journals in order to launch free or affordable online journals.  One is a case from this year in which a handful of editors resigned from _Topology and Its Applications_ in order to launch _Algebraic and Geometric Topology_.  The other case is the oldest in the collection so far.  In 1989, Eddy van der Maarel and most of his editorial board resigned from _Vegetatio_ in order to launch the _Journal of Vegetation Science_.  For details on both cases, see my separate page of FOS lists.
(Thanks to Alison Buckholtz and Eddy van der Maarel for helping me gather the background facts on these cases.)

* In the last issue I told the story of the editor resignations from the _Journal of Academic Librarianship_ and provided a link to comments on the resignations by Steve McKinzie.  In the September issue of LIBRES, Tony Seward has a reply to McKinzie's comments.  Seward presents data showing that the subscription price hike that allegedly triggered the resignations could not have been imposed by Elsevier, the journal's buyer.

McKinzie's comments

Seward's reply and correction

* In the last issue I published a dead link for the _Journal of Academic Librarianship_ because I didn't have a live one.  Here's are two live, current links.
(Thanks to Paul Pival.)
(Thanks to Tom Kirk.)



* Yesterday (November 1) a California Court of Appeals vindicated 2600 Magazine for publishing the source code for DeCSS, a program for bypassing copy protection on DVDs.  2600 was also vindicated for linking to other sites that published the code.  (See FOSN for 6/1/01.)  The magazine faced charges under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, not the DMCA anti-circumvention clause.  But the California court laid down a fundamental principle that would justify overturning parts of the DMCA:  source code is protected speech.  Any statute prohibiting the publication of source code is a "prior restraint" on speech that violates the First Amendment.  This is not the end; the verdict will certainly be appealed and the case will move to federal court.

John Borland, Court: DVD-Cracking code is free speech

Michael Bartlett, Court Rules DeCSS Posting on Web is Protected Speech

Farhad Manjoo, Victory for DVD Code Cracking

The Court of Appeal's decision (November 1, 2001)

2600:  The Hacker Quarterly

HS Law Group site on the case

OpenLaw site on the case

David Touretzky, Gallery of CSS Descramblers

* Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, has created a Media Ownership Working Group to advise the FCC on how to promote "diversity, localism, and competition" in the media.  For better or worse, the working group will focus on mass media, not scholarly media.  (PS:  On the one hand, competition has greatly decreased among academic publishers in the last decade and needs to be reinvigorated.  On the other, it's just as well that the FCC does not regulate academic publishing the way it regulates TV news.)

* Google may start to charge for specialized searches in vertical markets.  Medicine, technology, perhaps other academic disciplines may count as vertical markets for this purpose.

* In the plus column, Google has started to index Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Rich Text Format, and PostScript files.  It already indexes PDF files, and is one of the few search engines to do so.  This new format-literacy greatly increases its coverage of academic content.  As with PDF files, Google will display a non-HTML file in makeshift HTML at the user's choice.

* In every issue, I summarize copyrighted articles, whether or not all of you subscribe to the journals that published them.  Fair use, right?  Comet Hunter is a Japanese email news service that does essentially the same thing for business news.  The copyright holders of the stories summarized in Comet Hunter claim that its summaries infringe their copyrights.  Should it matter that Comet Hunter charges for its summaries (which I do not), and that it usually summarize pieces from priced publications (which I do only rarely)?

* November 4 is the deadline for libraries receiving federal funds to comply with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and install web filters on their web-connected computers.  Last month San Francisco decided to reject web filters and give up federal funds for its libraries (see FOSN for 10/5/01).  I won't keep track of all libraries that may follow suit, but this week the Berkeley library and the Pend Oreille County (Washington) library also choose freedom of access over federal money.

CIPA deadline November 4

Berkeley library story

Pend Oreille County library story


New on the net

* PubMed now supports searches on a growing library of full-text books.  Users can search any book individually or the whole collection at once.  Or you can take advantage of PubMed's sophisticated method of integrating them with journal abstracts.  When you search PubMed's journal literature, find something relevant, and pull up its abstract, at first it is static text, just as before.  But with one click, its key terms are converted to links to explanatory parts of the searchable books, making PubMed abstracts instantly more useful to non-specialists.  When you click on a term and jump to a section of a book, you can scroll from where you find yourself within limits set by the publisher --i.e. all the books are full-text searchable but not all are full-text browsable.  The book collection currently contains six biomedical textbooks and is growing.

* The Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of the ALA has announced the 32 Best Free Reference Web Sites of 2001.  (PS:  If you already know all 32, you deserve an award yourself, and some time outdoors.)

* Discussion drafts of the framing papers for the upcoming (November 9-11) conference on the public domain, at Duke University Law School, are now on the web.

* Matthew Eberle, librarian at The Forsyth Institute and the voice behind Library Techlog, has put online his method for logging usage statistics for eJournals.  It requires Microsoft ASP and Access.

* The Electronic Book Evaluation Project and the Librarian's eBook Newsletter have merged their two web sites into one, Electronic Books in Libraries.

* The Technology Resource Foundation has put online the Technical Beta Preview Release of OpenBook Version 0.9 for downloading.  OpenBook is an open source automation system for libraries.

* The Finnish Newspaper Library 1771-1860, and Tiden, the Nordic newspaper project, are now open and ready for use.


Share your thoughts

* Dave Fowler of Iowa State University is editing a collection of essays for Haworth Press entitled, _E-Serials Collection Management:  Transitions, Trends, and Technicalities_.  If you would like to contribute an essay to the volume, get in touch with Dave.  He wants all essays in hand by end of February 2002.

* The Pirelli company is soliciting nominations for its 6th annual International Multimedia Award "for the diffusion of scientific and technological culture".  The winner receives 80,000 euros (approximately $72,000 U.S.).  Last year's winners were all scientific sites.  Use of multimedia is a central criterion.  As far as I can tell, the web site gives no nomination deadline.  (Yes, this is Pirelli the tire company.)

* If you represent a library system vendor, Z39.50 product developer, or library with a Z39.50 implementation, then consider having your organization take part in the Z39.50 Interoperability Testbed (Zinterop).  The Zinterop web site doesn't explain how to join the study, but a posting to the DNER forum suggests writing to William E. Moen, the principal investigator, at <wemoen [at] unt.edu>.

* The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) welcomes your proposals for sessions at its 2002 National Forum, to be held October 11-13, 2002, in Houston.  LITA will accept proposals until January 7.

* The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) solicits your comments on the proposed national standard for the Digital Talking Book.  NISO will welcome comments until December 17.


In other publications

* In the November/December _CLIR Issues_, Jerry George describes three takes on the problem of long-term digital preservation, as presented in three sessions of the Society of American Archivists in Washington last August.

* In the November _FirstMonday_, Kei Ishii and Bernd Lutterbeck argue that open courseware, like MIT's, will "strengthen the democratic foundation of a knowledge-based society".  Their argument applies to scholarly literature as much as to course material:  "More open access to source code or course material will generally lead to an increase of knowledge, which in turn will lead to increased innovation in all fields, and stimulate the economy, which ultimately will benefit MIT" or the provider of the free resource.

* In the November _Technology Review_, Mark Frauenfelder explains Tim Berners-Lee's concept of the Semantic Web (see FOSN for 5/7/01).  It's one of the clearest accounts I've seen so far.

* In the October 29 _Scientist_, Eugene Russo reports on the impact of the Public Library of Science initiative (PLoS).  While he believes that its successes "have fallen well short" of hopes, he does allow that there have been successes.  He cites Michael Eisen, one of the original PLoS signatories, who argues that PLoS has raised consciousness about FOS and proved that a large number of scientists are dissatisfied with existing prices and access rules for science journals.  He also cites Nicholas Cozzarelli, a journal editor and member of the PubMed Central advisory committee, who enumerates many specific changes in access rules adopted by journals in response to PLoS, even if not all these changes comply with the PLoS requirements.  Finally, Russo reports on the PLoS plan to launch new journals with online content free for readers, supported by author charges.
(Thanks to David Osterbur for pointing this out.  Free registration required.)

* In the October 29 issue, _Newsweek_ asks 11 interesting people what schools will be like 25 years from now.  Scroll down to read Danny Hillis speculate on the ideal [software] librarian that will not only know what you need to answer your questions, but know what you'd love to read.

* In the October 19 _Denver Business Journal_, Laura Merisalo predicts that the launch of ebrary (see FOSN for 7/31/01) will benefit university presses and other academic book publishers.  It costs academic publishers nothing to participate in ebrary, and they profit if ebrary profits.  If this low-risk offer brings in many academic publishers, then the odds increase that ebrary and all participating publishers will profit.

* If you agree that search engines are not the right tools to tame information overload, then read Paolo DiMaio's survey of taxonomy (or categorization) software in the October 12 _Online Journalism Review_.  This kind of software reads text files that have not been pre-digested or stuctured with metatags, and categorizes them to help users "go beyond searching to finding" and to extract knowledge from them more efficiently.  (PS:  Taxonomy software evolved for corporate use.  Is anyone using it for academic research?)

* In the October issue of _Technology Review_, Claire Tristram reviews the methods of digital preservation proposed by Ray Lorie (see FOSN for 7/3/01) and Jeff Rothenberg, and describes a plan by the Library of Congress to test them.  The test is funded by $100 million grant from Congress.  (PS:  This may be the most money yet spent on experiments in digital preservation.  I'll publish progress reports as they become available.)

* In the October issue of the _INASP Newsletter_, Sally Morris briefly enumerates the major advantages and disadvantages of electronic journals for readers, publishers, and libraries.

* Also in the October _INASP Newsletter_, Rosemary Grimes reviews some of the non-technical, and therefore less expected, requirements of editing and publishing an electronic journal.

* Also in the October _INASP Newsletter_, Dee Wood describes ESPERE, an early (1996) and ongoing project to conduct peer review entirely online.

* Also in the October _INASP Newsletter_, Jamie Cameron briefly describes the major business models for electronic journals.

* There are several other FOS-related pieces in the October _INASP Newsletter_, which is devoted to online journal publishing.  Check it out.

* Michael Shapiro's article, "Copyright as Cultural Policy", has been put online by the Center for Arts and Culture.  Shapiro is the former general counsel to the National Endowment for the Humanities.  "Creative artists and scholars in the humanities worry that creative production may be seriously constrained if copyright laws in effect place creative works under technological lock and key."


Following up

* If you remember, Microsoft claimed that Beale Screamer's software to bypass microsoft DRM would do very little damage.  The software is now being used in Hong Kong to crack libraries' worth of games, films, and music videos.

* For another informed voice on internet security in an age of terror, read Paul Festa's interview with Peter Neumann in C|Net's News.com for October 18.


Catching up (older news I should have discovered earlier)

* Qvadis is the largest free online archive of Palm ebooks.  I had no idea that there were over 5,000 Palm ebooks.  On closer inspection, some of the ebooks turn out to be e-essays.  But no matter:  this is FOS to go, and its growing.

* Elisabeth Werby's 1999 article, "The Cyber-Library:  Legal and Policy Issues Facing Public Libraries in the High-Tech Era", has been put online by the National Coalition Against Censorship.  "Libraries will be the laboratories in which some of the possibilities created by the Internet --for expanded freedom, enhanced education and knowledge, and more inclusive democracy—- can be tested and explored."

* The California Digital Library's Searchlight lets users search for books, journals, documents, and directories, all from a single search box.  Users can narrow the search by discipline or by the length of time the engine is allowed to consult different sources.

* XMCL is the eXtensible Media Commerce Language.  It will allow online publishers to embed access rules into their online content and dispense with codecs, digital rights management systems, and e-commerce systems.  The effort is led by RealNetworks and supported by such major players as Accenture, Adobe, Bertelsmann, EMI Recorded Music, IBM, InterTrust, MGM, Sony Pictures, and Sun.  When development is further along, the consortium will submit the XCML proposal to international standards organizations.

* Does enriching and accelerating communication through the internet harm research by decreasing the signal/noise ratio and creating a supportive environment for intellectual fads?  Even if it assists research from other directions, must we live with this trade-off?  This June 19 article in the _New York Times_ by James Glantz raises a good question.
Another copy in case the NYT copy becomes inaccessible.


No comment

Neil Godfrey was not allowed to board an airplane in Philadelphia because he was carrying a copy of Edward Abbey's novel, _Hayduke Lives!_.  The cover illustration showed a man holding sticks of dynamite.  A week later, Tariq Ali was not only barred from a plane in Munich, but arrested, for carrying _On Suicide_ by Karl Marx.  Police were alarmed by the reference to suicide, by the Marx, and by Ali's ethnicity.  A police officer told Ali, "After 11 September, you can't travel with books like this."

Neil Godfrey story

Tariq Ali story



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

* 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

* Conference on the Public Domain
Duke Law School, November 9-11

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

* The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age
Washington, D.C., November 14

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

* British Library and BioMed Central Open Access Forum
London, November 19

* NINCH 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

* Electronic Journals within Art & Design:  Flash in the Pan or Here to Stay?
Northampton, November 21

* A Day in the Life of a Journal Publisher
Bradford, England, November 22

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

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

* Canadian Digital Library Symposium
November 28-29

* 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

* Academic Institutions Transforming Scholarly Communications (SPARC/ARL Forum at the ALA Midwinter Meeting)
New Orleans, January 18-23


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).

Please feel free to forward any issue of the newsletter to interested colleagues.  If you are reading a forwarded copy of this issue, you may subscribe by signing up at the FOS home page or the FOS Newsletter page.

FOS home page, general information, subscriptions, editorial position, feedback form

FOS Newsletter, subscriptions, back issues

FOS Discussion Forum, subscriptions, postings

Guide to the FOS Movement

Peter Suber

Copyright (c) 2001, Peter Suber

Return to the Newsletter archive