Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

(BYZANTINA) SYMMEIKTA goes open-access

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

By way of Open Access News, we learn of this announcement, recently posted at

Taking into consideration the latest developments in scientific publishing, the Institute for Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation has reevaluated the aims of ΣΥΜΜΕΙΚΤΑ, a journal it has published since 1966. Under the new name BYZANTINA SYMMEIKTA, it has become a peer-reviewed open access journal with well-defined processes and scope and it is freely accessible at: Its printed version will be published at the end of each year.

Signs that social scholarship is catching on in the humanities

Friday, March 14th, 2008

By way of Peter Suber’s Open Access News:

Spiro, Lisa. “Signs that social scholarship is catching on in the humanities.” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, March 11, 2008.

Spiro asks: “To what extent are humanities researchers practicing ‘social scholarship’ … embracing openness, accessibility and collaboration in producing their work?” By way of a provisional answer, she makes observations about “several [recent] trends that suggest increasing experimentation with collaborative tools and approaches in the humanities:”

  1. Individual commitment by scholars to open access
  2. Development of open access publishing outlets
  3. Availability of tools to support collaboration
  4. Experiments with social peer review
  5. Development of social networks to support open exchanges of knowledge
  6. Support for collaboration by funding agencies
  7. Increased emphasis on “community” as key part of graduate education

She also points to the “growth in blogging” and the proliferation of collaborative bibliographic tools.

Rieger, Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

CLIR (the Council on Library and Information Resources in DC) have published in PDF the text of a white paper by Oya Rieger titled ‘Preservation in the Age of Large-Scale Digitization‘. She discusses large-scale digitization initiatives such as Google Books, Microsoft Live, and the Open Content Alliance. This is more of a diplomatic/administrative than a technical discussion, with questions of funding, strategy, and policy rearing higher than issues of technology, standards, or protocols, the tension between depth and scale (all of which were questions raised during our Open Source Critical Editions conversations).

The paper ends with thirteen major recommendations, all of which are important and deserve close reading, and the most important of which is the need for collaboration, sharing of resources, and generally working closely with other institutions and projects involved in digitization, archiving, and preservation.

One comment hit especially close to home:

The recent announcement that the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) will cease funding the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) gives cause for concern about the long-term viability of even government-funded archiving services. Such uncertainties strengthen the case for libraries taking responsibility for preservation—both from archival and access perspectives.

It is actually a difficult question to decide who should be responsible for long-term archiving of digital resources, but I would argue that this is one place where duplication of labour is not a bad thing. The more copies of our cultural artefacts that exist, in different formats, contexts, and versions, the more likely we are to retain some of our civilisation after the next cataclysm. This is not to say that coordination and collaboration are not desiderata, but that we should expect, plan for, and even strive for redundancy on all fronts.

(Thanks to Dan O’Donnell for the link.)

Search Pigeon

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Spotted by way of Peter Suber’s Open Access News:

Search Pigeon is a collection of Google Co-opTM Custom Search Engines (CSEs) designed to make researching on the web a richer, more rewarding, and more efficient process.

Designed for researchers in the Arts and Humanities, with a decidedly interdisciplinary bent, the objective of Search Pigeon is to provide a tool enabling the productive and trustworthy garnering of scholarly articles through customized searching.

Right now provides CSEs that search hundreds of peer-reviewed and open access online journals, provided they are either English-language journals, or provide a translation of their site into English.

Cultural Heritage and Open Access Licenses

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The Eduserv Foundation has released a report on the use of Creative Commons, Creative Archive, and other open access licenses in the area of British heritage, ‘Snapshot study on the use of open content licences in the UK cultural heritage sector‘. This report (itself made available under a CC-BY license), which collected data from over 100 institutions, seem to indicate that most institutions make data available online, usually for free, but that many have not considered the implications of using an explicit license for this material.

My own experience backs this up: several times in the last year people have approached me either at the Digital Classicist or the Current Epigraphy weblog asking if we could host a ‘free’ publication for them (some even used the words “public domain” to describe their work). I can’t remember a single case of someone who even knew what I meant when I asked if they had considered using a Creative Commons license, or some other way to make explicit what people could or couldn’t do with their material.

I think it is important to make clear to people why this sort of licensing matters. To select only one argument, making it clear that all users are free to recirculate an online text increases the chance that this text will be picked up and archived, not only by individuals and projects, but by large institutions such as Google, the Internet Archive, and the national and international repositories and libraries that are going to be the custodians of all our publications that do not have print manifestations to help them survive the next server meltdown.

The Eduserv report both rings a note of optimism, as a significant number of good licenses are in use, and reminds us that there is still work to be done raising awareness of the licensing issue. This survey and the ongoing work that will arise from it have their part to play in helping to raise the profile of these issues.

(Seen in Creative Commons blog.)

Perseus code goes Open Source!

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

From Greg Crane comes the much-anticipated word that all of the hopper code and much of the content in Perseus is now officially open sourced:

November 9, 2007: o *Install Perseus 4.0 on your computer*:

All of the source code for the Perseus Java Hopper and much of the content in Perseus is now available under an open source license. You can download the code, compile it, and run it on your own system. This requires more labor and a certain level of expertise for which we can only provide minimal support. However, since it will be running on your own machine, it can be much faster than our website, especially during peak usage times. You also have the option to install only certain collections or texts on your version, making it as specialized as you wish. Also, if you want to use a different system to make the content available, you can do so within the terms of the Creative Commons license. This is the first step in open sourcing the code: you can modify the code as much as you want, but at this time, we cannot integrate your changes back into our system. That is our ultimate goal, so keep a look out for that!

Download source code here

Download text data here

Open Library

Saturday, October 27th, 2007

Adding this grandiose Open Library system to the Internet Archive strikes me as simply brilliant. In this case “fully open” is defined as “a product of the people: letting them create and curate its catalog, contribute to its content, participate in its governance, and have full, free access to its data. In an era where library data and Internet databases are being run by money-seeking companies behind closed doors, it’s more important than ever to be open.”

But simply building a new database wasn’t enough. We needed to build a new wiki to take advantage of it. So we built Infogami. Infogami is a cleaner, simpler wiki. But unlike other wikis, it has the flexibility to handle different classes of data. Most wikis only let you store unstructured pages — big blocks of text. Infogami lets you store semistructured data…

Each infogami page (i.e. something with a URL) has an associated type. Each type contains a schema that states what fields can be used with it and what format those fields are in. Those are used to generate view and edit templates which can then be further customized as a particular type requires.

The result, as you can see on the Open Library site, is that one wiki contains pages that represent books, pages that represent authors, and pages that are simply wiki pages, each with their own distinct look and edit templates and set of data.

SSRN does Classics: old wine in new wineskins?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

I always find myself wanting humanists to think about using the net for more than “let’s just do what we’ve always done, only on line now” (the BMCR syndrome, if you will). But still this expansion of SSRN into Classics seems to be a step forward.

Good to keep Peter Suber’s reaction in mind though:

On the one hand, I’m glad that my field, philosophy, will finally have a discipline-wide repository. On the other, SSRN imposes restrictions unheard of at other OA repositories. For example, it adds an SSRN watermark to the pages of some deposited articles and only allows links to SSRN papers in abstracts. As Vincent Müller pointed out to me, it doesn’t support data harvesting by ROAR. And I don’t like the PDF-only limitation. I plan to monitor the site to see whether SSRN lifts these restrictions.

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
or directly,
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.


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).