Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lunch with Michael Jensen

I had the honor of having lunch with Michael Jensen today along with several other colleagues from around campus. He is the Director of Strategic Web Communications for the Office of Communications of the National Academies and National Academies Press.

I blogged about his Chronicle Article last year which describes what he feels will be the new metrics of scholarly authority. I revisited the article and wanted to pull out some other parts.
In a world of unlimited computer processing, Authority 3.0 will probably include (the list is long, which itself is a sign of how sophisticated our new authority makers will have to be):
  • Prestige of the publisher (if any).
  • Prestige of peer prereviewers (if any).
  • Prestige of commenters and other participants.
  • Percentage of a document quoted in other documents.
  • Raw links to the document.
  • Valued links, in which the values of the linker and all his or her other links are also considered
  • Obvious attention: discussions in blogspace, comments in posts, reclarification, and continued discussion.
  • Nature of the language in comments: positive, negative, interconnective, expanded, clarified, reinterpreted.
  • Quality of the context: What else is on the site that holds the document, and what's its authority status?
  • Percentage of phrases that are valued by a disciplinary community.
  • Quality of author's institutional affiliation(s).
  • Significance of author's other work.
  • Amount of author's participation in other valued projects, as commenter, editor, etc.
  • Reference network: the significance rating of all the texts the author has touched, viewed, read.
  • Length of time a document has existed.
  • Inclusion of a document in lists of "best of," in syllabi, indexes, and other human-selected distillations.
  • Types of tags assigned to it, the terms used, the authority of the taggers, the authority of the tagging system.
None of those measures could be computed reasonably by human beings. They differ from current models mostly by their feasible computability in a digital environment where all elements can be weighted and measured, and where digital interconnections provide computable context.

What are the implications for the future of scholarly communications and scholarly authority? First, consider the preconditions for scholarly success in Authority 3.0. They include the digital availability of a text for indexing (but not necessarily individual access — see Google for examples of journals that are indexed, but not otherwise available); the digital availability of the full text for referencing, quoting, linking, tagging; and the existence of metadata of some kind that identifies the document, categorizes it, contextualizes it, summarizes it, and perhaps provides key phrases from it, while also allowing others to enrich it with their own comments, tags, and contextualizing elements.
Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

CAPTCHA Captured?

If you ever purchased tickets online or even posted blog comments then odds are that you have used CAPTCHA (tm Carnegie Mellon University) but did not know that the technology had a name or that a large NSA funded project is behind it. CAPTCHA stands for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart" and is a challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.

The most common type of CAPTCHA displays an image containing distorted letters of a word or some sequence of letters and numbers. The user then needs to type the letters of a distorted image.

An alleged Russian security researcher announced the other week that his team has developed a system that correctly identifies the images from Yahoo's CAPTCHA system 35% of the time. Yahoo apparently confirmed that this was the case:

" We are aware of attempts being made toward automated solutions for CAPTCHA images and continue to work on improvements as well as other defenses. " [InformationWeek]

It does raise the question if solutions that require human processing, such as 3D CAPTCHA, would be a better solution.

Lastly, some have wondered if 'researcher' could be is in violation of the DMCA because they are circumventing security. As long as they continue frame their discovery as 'research' they appear to be safe. The DMCA states:

"An exception for encryption research permits circumvention of access control measures, and the development of the technological means to do so, in order to identify flaws and vulnerabilities of encryption technologies."
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why Someone May Hate Your Ideas

I stumbled upon a post entitled 7 Reasons No One Likes Your Ideas over at Casual Fridays (which BTW is posted to only on Friday)

Here are a few reasons why ideas may not be accepted:

1. You took a leap, but didn’t build a bridge. Our minds wander down paths and make leaps from one idea to the next very quickly. Your idea makes perfect sense to you because of the path you followed internally. If you don’t take everyone else down that path, it probably won’t make sense to them.

2. Your idea had no tether. Your idea may be exciting, but if it isn’t tied to the purpose, budget and/or deadline… it’s floating away like a helium balloon without a string.

3. You told a song. Some ideas just can’t be spoken. They have to be experienced differently. You might need music or an illustration. Concepts for TV often need storyboards. Print ideas may need a layout sketch. Don’t expect people to see or hear what is in your head. Make it real to them.

4. You have no relational equity. Maybe you’re new and need to “earn your stripes.” Perhaps they don’t like you. Do you have a track record for presenting poor ideas? This is a big and difficult hurdle to cross. Find someone with relational equity and get them to champion your idea.

5. You tossed an egg instead of a bird. You tossed it out there too early. Given time, it would have flown. Instead, it simply splattered on the floor. Unless you have a VERY forgiving environment, a premature idea won’t survive. Be more patient.

6. Too many thorns around the rose. Maybe it was a good idea, but when criticism arose, you got defensive. Maybe you didn’t show any flexibility when suggestions were offered. Be willing to give in to peripheral changes like colors or fonts (unless it really does kill the idea).

7. You assumed you knew it all. This is a huge mistake that happens way too often. Don’t be presumptuous. Maybe your idea has been tried before. Maybethere’s more information that would help you come up with better ideas. Perhaps your idea won’t work, but be willing to let it bring new ideas out of others. You don’t have to CREATE all the ideas, just RECOGNIZE the good ones.

I now see my problem.

I toss a lot of eggs and tell a lot of songs. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blog Comments and Peer Review Go Head-to-Head

The Chronicle reports on an experiment that attempts to answer the question "What if scholarly books were peer reviewed by anonymous blog comments rather than by traditional, selected peer reviewers."

Noah Wardrip-Fruin, an assistant professor of communication at the University of California at San Diego, came up with the idea while talking with his editor at MIT press about peer reviewers for the book he was finishing entitled Expressive Processing: Digital Fictions, Computer Games, and Software Studies. He is also getting assistance from the Committee on Research of UC San Diego's Academic Senate and UCSD's Software Studies initiative.

The experiment will provide a side-by-side comparison of reviewing old school peer review with versus new school blogging, being referred to as "blog-based peer review." The experiment is making use of the academic blog Grand Text Auto, which attracts readers from the video-game industry and hard-core video-game players. The manuscript will also run through the traditional peer-review process.

Each day a new chunk of his draft will be added to the blog over a 10 week period, and readers are invited and encouraged to comment. Wardrip-Fruin expects the blog-based review to be more helpful than the traditional peer review because of the variety of voices contributing. He states:
Blogging has already changed how I work as a scholar and creator of digital media. Reading blogs started out as a way to keep up with the field between conferences — and I soon realized that blogs also contain raw research, early results, and other useful information that never gets presented at conferences....I'm excited to take the blog/manuscript relationship to the next level, through an open peer review of the manuscript on the blog.

MIT Press' Doug Sery doesn't know how this general peer review is going to help, except maybe to catch small errors that have slipped through the cracks. He bets that the blog reviews might merely spark flame wars or other unhelpful arguments about minor points. One has to chuckle Cliff Lynch's quote in the Chronicle article: "If, God help you, you're writing about current religious or political issues, you're going to get a lot of people with agendas who aren't interested in having a rational discussion. Some of them are just psychos." Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Evidence of the Value of Blogs as Scholarship

One of my soapbox topics over the last two years has been the value of blogging as scholarship.I did not attend the American Library Association midwinter conference, but now wish I did.

A post over the the Chronicle of Higher Education highlighted Andre Brown, a doctoral student in physics and astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, who presented a case at midwinter to support the argument that blogs are increasingly being used by scientific researchers for sharing of ideas and developing new ones. Mr. Brown authors his own blog.

The case which was presented was that of Reed A. Cartwright, a postdoc geneticist at the University of Georgia. In March 2005, Mr. Cartwright posted his random thoughts on a mutant plant gene on his blog.

Fast forward a half year.

Luca Comai, a plant geneticist, contacts Mr. Cartwright after reading his post. The researcher said that he had coincidentally arrived at the same hypothesis offered by Mr. Cartwright, and that he was about to publish his research in Plant Cell. Comai said he felt obligated to acknowledge Mr. Cartwright’s blog post and offered to make him a co-author of his article. Mr. Cartwright, who is not a plant geneticist, accepted the offer.

One question that tenure trackers will likely ask is how one will capture this quality indicator metric? Bloggers citing peer-review research is being captured, but how about peer-review scholarly research that cites a blog? Will ISI Web of Science begin to capture blog citations? Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who's Interested in an Open Source ILS?

As others have been reporting, Marshall Breeding's Perceptions 2007: an International Survey of Library Automation is now available. (An interactive version of the statistics is available here) The responses were sorted by current ILS vendor.

The question that interested me was:

"How likely is it that this library would consider implementing an open source ILS?"

The responses to this question were predictable, in my opinion. Those indicating lower interest in open source were those that indicated higher satisfaction with their current ILS system.

The two systems that were out of place were Circulation Plus and Winnebago. Circulation Plus responders indicted a pretty high satisfaction with their ILS but also a high interest in open source. On the flip side, Winnebago responders indicated a lower satisfaction with their ILS and lower interest in open source. I also wonder if there is a correlation between the type of libraries that license each of these products and their interest in open source.

An interesting question would have been "If your ILS were discontinued would you consider an open source ILS solution?" Sphere: Related Content

Friday, January 04, 2008

Syndication Oriented Architecture (SynOA)

Jon Udell recently interviewed Rohit Khare of CommerceNet Labs for an IT Conversations podcast. The discussion focused on the concept of Syndication Oriented Architecture, or SynOA.

From Khare: (you must register to download the white paper. PPT is available here.)
"Syndication standards are no longer just formats for relaying headline news. Now they can enable 'information agility' for all of the knowledge flowing inside and outside the enterprise....It is not farfetched to consider Facebook as an example of the future of enterprise knowledge management. Its personalization and collaborative filtering features may be at an early stage, but its platform strategy makes clear that its members view the world as a continuous stream of written information and social interactions. This infrastructure for scalable information routing is one of the most broadly used publish/subscribe applications in the world. SynOA outlines the implications of this model, and provides a roadmap for deploying these capabilities -- while complementing Service-Oriented Architectures -- to push relevant information to employees, customers, and partners."
SynOA is broken into five parts:

  1. Publication. RSSifing all data feeds.
  2. Subscription. Make it easy to remix feeds.
  3. Distribution. Wide range of delivery options, smartphones, etc.
  4. Personalization. What each recipient needs to know, now
  5. Collaboration. Tapping into the wisdom of crowds to learn from groups.
Strip away all the technology and the web is essentially a publishing tool. Libraries publish content in the form of static HTML pages, wikis, or blogs for others to read and who are often concerned with discovering the most recent content. Similar to traditional news distribution networks, syndication becomes a logical method of exposing library content so it can be discovered.

Syndication can also be used to push information between library information systems. If only our systems could talk to one another. That would require vendors to open up their systems. The alternative is for libraries to create new development consortia to build new systems and thereby breaking away from the library systems paradigm. Sphere: Related Content