Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

New Plato translations, under CC license

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Cathal Woods, philosophy professor at Virginia Wesleyan University, writes:

together with a student, i have prepared new translations of plato’s euthyphro, apology (which we’re calling “socrates’ defense”), crito, and the death scene from phaedo. they’re free to all under a creative commons license.
they’re available via
http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/thinking.htm
or directly,

http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/docs/euth.pdf

http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/docs/socd.pdf

http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/docs/crit.pdf

http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/docs/phaed.pdf

and

http://facultystaff.vwc.edu/~rwoods/docs/socathens.pdf

the last being an omnibus containing all 4, together with front matter.
can you make a posting about them on the stoa blog?

Nice! It’s great to see OA taking hold in the humanities.

Fitzpatrick on CommentPress

Monday, October 15th, 2007

from Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “CommentPress: New (Social) Structures for New (Networked) Texts,” Journal of Electronic Publishing, Fall 2007:

… CommentPress demonstrates the fruitfulness of reimagining the technologies of electronic publishing in service to the social interconnections of authors and readers. The success of the electronic publishing ventures of the future will likely hinge on the liveliness of the conversations and interactions that they can produce, and the further new writing that those interactions can inspire. CommentPress grows out of an understanding that the chief problem involved in creating the future of the book is not simply placing the words on the screen, but structuring their delivery in an engaging manner; the issue of engagement, moreover, is not simply about locating the text within the technological network, but also, and primarily, about locating it within the social network. These are the problems that developers must focus on in seeking the electronic form that can not just rival but outdo the codex, as a form that invites the reader in, that acknowledges that the reader wants to respond, and that understands all publication as part of an ongoing series of public conversations, conducted in multiple time registers, across multiple texts. Making those conversations as accessible and inviting as possible should be the goal in imagining the textual communications circuit of the future.

More like this, please

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

From A. A. Adams, Copyright and research: an archivangelist’s perspective, SCRIPT-ed, September 2007:

To be an academic carries with it a great deal of freedom, or at least it should. At a time when pressures on academic freedom are rife, everywhere from Australia to Zimbabwe, academics should be confronting the responsibilities that go with their cherished and fought-for freedoms. That responsibility is to disseminate one’s work as widely as possible, to hold it up for criticism and to allow others to build on it. To do so demands that we hold Open Access to our articles as a categorical imperative and not allow the tail of academic publishing to wag the dog of academic communication.

(Hat tip, Peter Suber.) 

Open Access publication, anyone?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

The second footnote to a review of Wolfgang Bernard and Christiane Reitz (edd.), Werner Krenkel: Naturalia non turpia. Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome / Schriften zur antiken Kultur- und Sexualwissenschaft. Spudasmata 113. Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Olms, 2006 by Bernard Kytzler caught my attention:

Werner Krenkel, born 1926, has recently published, for financial reasons (!) in an electronic version (!), his monumental work on Varro, a disc not on the market but available ‘for friends and colleagues’ from Heinrich- Schliemann Institut, University of Rostock: Marcus Terentius Varro, Saturae Menippeae, lateinisch/deutsch, mit Anmerkungen (Rostock 2001). It offers, after a long and detailed introduction, the full text and translation of the 591 fragments surviving from Varro’s 150 satires, plus a profound commentary on each of them. The work is rounded out by an extensive index and a rich bibliography. Krenkel’s collection ‘Naturalia’ discussed here contains a specimen of this electronic publication: Nr. 23, pp. 495-537.

Academic publishers prepare for dirty war against Open Access

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

According to an article published in this week’s New Scientist (full article requires sub):

An unexpected package arrived on my desk earlier this year. The sender did not give a name, and the return address was false. Inside were copies of emails between senior staff at major scientific publishing houses. They were discussing a surprising topic: plans to hire Eric Dezenhall, a public relations guru who has organised attacks on environmental groups, represented an Enron chief, and authored the book Nail ‘Em! [...]

Leaked emails and controversial characters like Dezenhall are not normally associated with the staid world of academic journals, but the big publishers are getting a little spooked. Over the past decade, researchers have started to demand that scientific results be set free. [...] This is not a message that all publishers want to hear.

This is, I suppose, not terribly surprising to hear when there is money to be made and lost; those benefiting from the status quo will always fight against any revolution or paradigm shift, but this doesn’t mean that change should or can be stopped. Some academic publishing houses have apparently already protested at the dirty arguments that the AAP are circulating in the name of their membership. In the end, as this article argues, I don’t see how this campaign can actually stop Open Access publishing from becoming huge–but it can, of course, affect US executive decisions.

If you don’t have access to the full New Scientist article, see the following NS blog post, which has links to some of the leaked material as well as other references.

Sounds familiar!

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

from Scott Jaschik, Publishing and Values, Inside Higher Ed, August 22, 2007:

A number of outside observers believe that the tensions visible in anthropology this week are challenging other disciplines, too. “At the most fundamental level, we’ve got a lot of these scholarly societies facing a set of frankly difficult decisions,” said Clifford A. Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, a collection of scholarly, computing and library groups. “They’ve got missions that often speak very broadly to disseminating and advancing knowledge in their discipline. They’ve got a membership that in some disciplines is increasingly convinced that the way to do that is more openness in publication and more innovation in publication, but these societies have got sort of addicted to these revenue streams from their publication programs over the last few decades, and are trying to figure out if they want to make the transition to a new model and — if so — how do they navigate the transition.”

(hat tip – Peter Suber)

Who edits Wikipedia?

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

A very interesting site has been doing the rounds of news and blogs lately, which allows users to trace anonymous edits of Wikipedia articles by comparing to the public record of registered IP addresses. The WikiScanner is itself neutral as to the kind of searches one may carry out–it merely accesses and mashes-up information from two publicly available sources–but many of the most public implementations (such as those collected by Wired magazine) have been political, moral, or salacious. So, for example, users with an IP address registered to the office of a given religious organisation might be shown to have “anonymously” edited the Wikipedia entry on that religion, whitewashed crimes or scandals, or slandered rival groups or individuals of their own organisation. (All this by way of example only–actual instances you can look up for yourself.)

This is not only an interesting and imaginative example of a mashup, but also a potentially very useful control on one of the biggest threats to Wikipedia’s much-vaunted “neutral point of view”–namely the ability of wealthy corporations or individuals to hire lobbyists and PR agencies to clean up their profile on the web. More transparency means more accountability means more reliable information. Potentially. Effectively this tool removes the ability to edit completely anonymously, without raising the bar to entry in the Wiki community by requiring registration and identification.

I’ve yet to find any interesting academic examples of biased “anonymous” edits–and I guess they’d be hard to pin down because the range of IPs registered to a university would typically include lab workstations and other machines accessible by a large number of people. I’m sure something interesting will turn up, however. Keep looking.

More on openness and Google Books

Friday, August 17th, 2007

As a follow-up to Dan Cohen/s post yesterday in which he lamented the lack of an API to Google’s book digitization efforts, there’s further discussion today, in the form of an interview of Brewster Kahle by Andrew Richard Albanese, Scan this book!  Library Journal, August 17, 2007:

The Library of Congress also announced it is going to work with the Open Content Alliance. That’s what it takes. It takes guts on the part of our leadership to keep librarians first-class members of this information world, not just in a service role of feeding the machine and then checking out at the end of the day because everything’s going to be handled by some great search engine in the sky. No. It should be handled by us. We have the tools to build this open world right now. We can invest in ourselves, in the traditions that we come from. This is a choice.

Not to be missed: 2

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

In “Google Books: Champagne or Sour Grapes?,” Dan Cohen provides some of his usual thoughtful and well-stated correctives to the latest anti-Google jeremiad making the rounds, Paul Duguid’s “Inheritance and loss? A brief survey of Google Books.”

Complaining about the quality, thoroughness, and fidelity of Google’s (public) scans distracts us from the larger problem of Google Books. As I have argued repeatedly in this space, the real problem—especially for those in the digital humanities but also for many others—is that Google Books is not open.

rtwt.

Open access and convenience

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

This CHE piece caught my eye, esp. one of the suggestions made as to why people may not be using library-adminstered electronic resources so much:

The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ list of Top 100 Tools for Learning — culled from top-10 charts created by e-learning experts — names a wide array of tech tools that professors have come to love. Among the items that made the cut are Web browsers, e-mail clients, RSS feeders, blogging programs, and, of course, Microsoft’s evergreen PowerPoint presentation software. But online library resources, which would seem like a good fit for e-learners, are notably absent from the master list. What gives? “It’s not as if the responding experts ignored information-retrieval tools,” writes Steven Bell at ACRLog. “Both Google and Google Scholar are on the top-100 list. And it’s not as if these experts wouldn’t know something about library databases.” Mr. Bell, the associate university librarian for research and instructional services at Temple University, argues that librarians just haven’t done a good job of advertising their online databases and e-journal collections as instructional tools. But Stephen Downes, the author of OLDaily, says the lack of library services on the list could be evidence of bad tools, not a lack of publicity. Mr. Downes, a senior researcher for Canada’s National Research Council, says he has access to a major online library portal, but that he has used the services only twice in six years. “The reason,” he writes, “is that it is not convenient, not even remotely, especially with the layers of security involved in protecting publisher’s intellectual property.” If digital library resources should, in fact, be thought of as instructional technologies, are they actually meeting the needs of e-learners and other scholars?  –Brock Read

(Emphasis added.)

The Common Information Environment and Creative Commons

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

Seen on the Creative Commons blog:

A study titled “The Common Information Environment and Creative Commons” was funded by Becta, the British Library, DfES, JISC and the MLA on behalf of the Common Information Environment. The work was carried out by Intrallect and the AHRC Research Centre for studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law and a report was produced in the Autumn of 2005. During the Common Information Environment study it was noted that there was considerable enthusiasm for the use of Creative Commons licences from both cultural heritage organisations and the educational and research community. In this study we aim to investigate if this enthusiasm is still strong and whether a significant number of cultural heritage organisations are publishing digital resources under open content licences.

(Full report.)

This is an interesting study worth watching, and hopefully the conclusions and recommendations will include advice on coherent legal positions with regards to Open Content licensing. (See the controversy surrounding yesterday’s post.)

“Two thousand years of mankind and medicine” (in open access images)

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

(Seen at BoingBoing.) The Wellcome Trust have released thousands of images relating to the history of medicine online for free under a Creative Commons (non-commercial) license. This is a very nice collection, and the classical material includes everything from a papyrus fragment of the Hippocratic Oath, to a vase painting showing ancient Greek surgery (not to mention a huge amount of modern stuff, of course).

This is likely to be a great resource for teaching materials and slideshows. I wonder if any of our papyrologist or history of medicine colleagues could tell us whether there’s genuine research potential in here?

AWMC/Pleiades bibliographic records

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

Staff and affiliates of the Ancient World Mapping Center and its Pleiades Project have released draft set of bibliographic records. The information in it was compiled initially from citation handlists and other unpublished working papers of the Classical Atlas Project (1988-2000). It was subsequently verified, updated and expanded with reference to an actual copy of the work cited, or (failing that and where possible) to at least 3 different online library catalog systems or other bibliographic reference sources. Moreover, some available information from publishers’ and authors’ websites has also been consulted.
Detail pages include embedded COinS bibliographic data, so it should be possible to capture the bibliographic data presented using Zotero, and also automatically generated links to Google Scholar.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

ccLearn: Creative Commons education division

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

An interesting development for teaching materials and collaboration protocols:

Creative Commons is pleased to announce the launch of a new division focused on education: ccLearn.

ccLearn is dedicated to realizing the full potential of the Internet to support open learning and open educational resources (OER). Our mission is to minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials — legal barriers, technical barriers, and social barriers.

  • With legal barriers, we advocate for licensing of educational materials under interoperable terms, such as those provided by Creative Commons licenses, that allow unhampered modification, remixing, and redistribution. We also educate teachers, learners, and policy makers about copyright and fair-use issues pertaining to education.
  • With technical barriers, we promote interoperability standards and tools to facilitate remixing and reuse.
  • With social barriers, we encourage teachers and learners to re-use educational materials available on the Web, and to build on each other’s contributions.

ccLearn will be in transition over the remainder of the summer, 2007, reaching full operation this Fall. ccLearn is generously supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and is working closely with members of the Foundation’s Open Educational Resources Program. This is an international project, and we will be working with open educational sites and resources from around the world.

Chiron pool at Flickr

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Alun Salt notes

Recently the 5000th photo was uploaded to the Chiron pool at Flickr. That’s over 5000 photos connected to antiquity which you can pick up and use in presentations or blogs for free. It’s due in no small part to the submissions by Ovando and MHarrsch, but there’s 130 other members. It’s a simple interface and an excellent example of what you can do with Flickr.

You can see the latest additions to Chiron in the photobar at the top of the page and you can visit the website of the people who had such a good idea at Chironweb.

OA in Classics…

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Josiah Ober, Walter Scheidel, Brent D. Shaw and Donna Sanclemente, “Toward Open Access in Ancient Studies: The Princeton-Stanford Working Papers in Classics” in Hesperia, Volume: 76, Issue: 1. Cover date: Jan-Mar 2007

Collaborative article against perpetual copyright

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Back in the middle of May, Lawrence Lessig posted a note on his blog pointing to a particularly idiotic op-ed in the NY Times that argued for perpetual copyright. He invited readers to write a response, on his Wiki. 25000 visits and nearly 300 edits later, the resulting article ‘Against Perpetual Copyright‘ is an impressive piece of work, summarising the arguments that include the essential difference between physical property and intellectual property, the stifling effect of strict, long-term copyright on creativity, among others. The piece is a testament to the power of collaborative authorship as well as a strong refutation of the op-ed in question.

See now Lessig’s observations on this article in a recent post, pointing out how he wouuld have focussed the arguments differently (principally by comparing the ability of different copyright models to promote and reward creativity).

Creative Commons and research

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

A post on the Creative Commons blog draws together four articles on the value of Creative Commons licensing for newspapers, scientists, film students, and Wikipedia “SEOers” respectively. All are worth reading, but it is the article on scientists that is of most interest here. This article, posted at ScienceBlogs on 1st May by Rob Knop makes the case that:

Scientists do not need, and indeed should not have, exclusive (or any) control over who can copy their papers, and who can make derivative works of their papers.

The very progress of science is based on derivative works! It is absolutely essential that somebody else who attempts to reproduce your experiment be able to publish results that you don’t like if those are the results they have. Standard copyright, however, gives the copyright holders of a paper at least a plausible legal basis on which to challenge the publication of a paper that attempts to reproduce the results— clearly a derivative work!

I would extend this argument (and indeed have done so repeatedly and vocally) to assert that this applies to equally to all academic research, including the Humanties. This is a key part of the philosophy behind the Open Source Critical Editions network that I helped convene last year. All published research includes the requirement to publish the “source code” (by way of citations, arguments, primary and secondary references, retraceable argumentation), and the expectation that others will use this “source” to verify, reproduce, modify, or refute your work. Copyright, and especially digital copyright and crippleware, should not be allowed to get in the way of this process because without this freedom a publication can not be considered research.

Junicode update released

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Keeping with the Unicode/font theme, here is the announcement of the latest release of the useful Junicode font package. Although it focuses on Medieval characters (Correction: and *does* now cover polytonic Greek) is has very good coverage of Latin, symbols, ligatures, as well as Runic, etc.

Junicode 0.6.13 is now available at http://junicode.sf.net. Here are the release notes:

This release continues to add characters from the MUFI recommendation to benefit medievalists. Many messy outlines have been cleaned up, improving efficiency and reducing the likelihood of bugs. Most of the goodies in this release are for users of OpenType-aware programs such as InDesign and XeTeX: the OpenType features list has been thoroughly worked over and rationalized, and consistency imposed across all four faces (though it is still true that there are more OpenType features in Regular than in the other three). Use of ccmp, mark and mkmk has been greatly expanded, making use of combining diacritics more practical than before. Many MUFI glyphs have been made accessible via OpenType features, especially ccmp (for glyph+diacritic combination) and hlig (Historical Ligatures). Fractions, Roman numbers, subscripts and the various “Enclosed Alphanumerics” have been made accessible as ligatures (either liga, Standard Ligatures, or dlig, Discretionary Ligatures).

Open Source OCR

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Seen in Slashdot and Google Code updates:

Google has just announced work on OCRopus, which it says it hopes will ‘advance the state of the art in optical character recognition and related technologies.’ OCRopus will be available under the Apache 2.0 License. Obviously, there may be search and image search implications from OCRopus. ‘The goal of the project is to advance the state of the art in optical character recognition and related technologies, and to deliver a high quality OCR system suitable for document conversions, electronic libraries, vision impaired users, historical document analysis, and general desktop use. In addition, we are structuring the system in such a way that it will be easy to reuse by other researchers in the field.’

Interestingly:

The project is expected to run for three years and support three Ph.D. students or postdocs. We are announcing a technology preview release of the software under the Apache license (English-only, combining the Tesseract character recognizer with IUPR layout analysis and language modeling tools), with additional recognizers and functionality in future releases.

It would be interesting to learn how this application compares in accuracy and power with commercial OCR systems (which have apparently gotten much better since the days when I used to get very frustrated with Omnipage and the like).

ImaNote – Image and Map Annotation Notebook

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

This looks a useful tool. Anyone tried it? Claims to allow annotation and links to be added to images with RSS to keep track of everything.

Following text copied from Humanist:

We are really happy to announce the release of ImaNote 1.0 version.

ImaNote – (Image and Map Annotation Notebook) is a web-based multi-user tool that allows you, and your friends, to display a high-resolution image or a collection of images online and add annotations and links to them. You simply mark an area on an image (e.g. a map) and write an annotation related to the point.

You can keep track of the annotations using RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or link to them from your own blog/web site/email. The links lead right to the points in the image.

The user management features include resetting lost passwords and account email verification. Through the group management features you can create communities that share images and publish annotations.

ImaNote is Open Source and Free Software released under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).

ImaNote is a Zope product, written in Python, with a javascript-enhanced interface. Zope and ImaNote run on almost all Operating Systems (GNU/Linux, MacOS X, *BSD, etc.) and Microsoft Windows. It currently works with most modern browsers including Mozilla Firefox, IE7 and Opera.

Imanote was developed as a collaboration between the Systems of Representation and the Learning Environments research groups of the Media Lab at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, Finland.

For more information go to http://imanote.uiah.fi

Why Blogs should use Creative Commons

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

An interesting discussion on the iCommons blog. Excerpt:

If your intention, as a blogger, is to have your content and your thoughts distributed as widely as possible, then reserving all your rights to your content is counterproductive. A more effective way of distributing your content and still retaining some control over how your content is distributed is using Creative Commons licenses.

This does, as the author argues, remove the need to walk the fine “Fair Use” line when another blogger wants to reproduce, quote from, and engage with your text. It’s an argument worth reading. I suppose that if your blog consists in large part of quotations from other sources there is less of an obvious advantage in this, as your quotations are obviously exempt from the (cc) licence. I should speak to my co-editors both here and over at CE about doing this.

Your data is the next big battle

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

The trendspotters are saying (rhetorically) “Open Source is dead” and “Open data matters more than Open Source.” What’s clearly meant is: “open data formats matter more …”

Open access — over which critical battles important to readers of this blog continue to rage — is completely overlooked.

Join the Wikipedia Debate

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Seen at Academic Commons:

This coming Thursday (29 March 2007), the first Language Lab Unleashed! of the spring will feature Don Wyatt (chair of the Department of History at Middlebury College), Elizabeth Colantoni (Professor of Classics at Oberlin College), Laura Blankenship (Senior Instructional Technologist at Bryn Mawr), and Bryan Alexander (Director of Research at NITLE) for a discussion on the potential uses and abuses of Wikipedia in the educational arena.

The show will begin promptly at 8pm … for details on how to join the  live conversation, please visit:
http://www.languagelabunleashed.com

That time’s 20:00 EST = 01:00 UTC. I’m not sure I’ll be able to make it…

Citizendium debuts

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

from the CHE:

Citizendium Starts With a Little Knowledge

Citizendium, the peer-reviewed “progressive fork” of Wikipedia (The Chronicle, October 18, 2006), has opened for business. The site unveiled its public face on Sunday and as of this afternoon boasts more than 1,100 articles — a far cry from the more than 1.6 million entries in Wikipedia’s English version, but a decent start.

So far the new encyclopedia has a fairly random smattering of material: articles on topics relevant to scholars, like Jacques Derrida and the First Punic War, mingle with puzzling entries on the Bruneian dollar and Don MacLean (the basketball player, not the songwriter responsible for “Vincent.”) And while some pieces — like an essay on autism — seem to be well fleshed out, others — like a write-up on dachshunds — are mere placeholders for more-thorough articles.

None of this is meant as criticism. In fact, it’s fascinating to watch an encyclopedia start from the ground up. It will be worth watching to see whether the encyclopedia’s embrace of soft hierarchy — unlike Wikipedia, Citizendium requires contributors to identify themselves, and it lets a panel of scholars make final decisions on edits — slows its growth. –Brock Read

The entry on the Greek alphabet looks substantial as well.