Archive for the ‘Open Source’ Category

Open Access Pantheon

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

From Neel Smith comes word of The Pantheon Project – The Pilot Project of the Karman Center. Definitely worth a look, with very nice OA policies covering the core project data:

… many questions remain concerning the design, construction, statics, building logistics and the original purpose of this unique monument. The Karman Center’s Pantheon Project aims to resolve these questions with up-to-date technical means, new digital measurings of the entire building and new forms of web-based scientific collaboration … One of the new means of the Pantheon Project for scientific work is a 3D digital data model based on 540,000,000 points (= >9 gigabytes of numerical data) from a laser scanning operation executed in Rome during December 2005. The model not only contains the coordinates of all the points but also the colour value of the surface … The Pantheon Project, as all other future Karman Center projects, focuses on Open Access Scholarship, that is, not only the research results from the Pantheon Project and the Karman Center, but also all the basic data and discussion concerning them will be made freely accessible to all interested scholars for their own use. We also hope to convince archives and other institutions owning historical sources, such as drawings, photographs, prints, rare books, maps, etc., to help us make them available online for research. This would not only help to intensify scholarly work but would at the same time help to preserve the often very delicate or easily damaged originals.

UK is on board — how about your institution?

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

from Open Access News:

Another provost for FRPAA

Kumble Subbaswamy, Provost of the University of Kentucky, has added his signature to the SPARC list of U.S. university presidents and provosts endorsing open access to publicly-funded research and the Federal Research Public Access Act of 2006 ( FRPAA). The tally is now up to 131.

Pot, meet kettle

Monday, November 20th, 2006

This one is pretty rich fare! How many times have we all read ludicrously over-reaching claims of copyright protection for books and electronic resources? And these people want to point fingers at the faculty for not understanding the law?
For more on this general topic see Jason Mazzone, “Copyfraud,” Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 40, August 21, 2005.

Firefox extension for humanities scholars

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. It lives right where you do your work — in the web browser itself.

Has anyone tried using this? Is it actually useful?


Monday, October 23rd, 2006 comments on the newly announced Canadian digitization effort called AlouetteCanada. Some of the juicy bits:

Billed as an “open digitization initiative,” Alouette shares some common features with the Open Content Alliance (OCA) — not altogether surprising, since founding members of the Canadian project (including the Universities of Toronto and Alberta) are also contributing content to the OCA’s open library… What really sets Alouette apart from other large-scale efforts in the mass digitization arena, I think, is its commitment to enabling smaller, specialized research collections (like historical societies and museums) to participate in the virtual land-rush and secure a little habitat of their own… Will Alouette Canada generate the same kind of excitement and national pride as its space-age namesake? Will it achieve its vision of “harness[ing] the will and energy of every library, archive, gallery, museum, historical society or institute of record to create a comprehensive collection of digital resources for the benefit of its citizens�” Only time will tell…

On the power of CC licensing @ Flickr

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Mark Glaser of MediaShift:

Creative Commons + Flickr = 22 Million Sharable Photos

Excellent suggestion: self-help

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

if:book discusses the progress Microsoft is making towards its book search portal, and sees a big risk:

But more important, we should get to work with OCR scanners and start extracting the texts to build our own databases. Even when they make the files available, as Google is starting to do, they’re giving them to us not as fully functioning digital texts (searchable, remixable), but as strings of snapshots of the scanned pages. That’s because they’re trying to keep control of the cultural DNA scanned from these books — that’s the value added to their search service.

But the public domain ought to be a public trust, a cultural infrastructure that is free to all. In the absence of some competing not-for-profit effort, we should at least start thinking about how we as stakeholders can demand better access to these public domain works. Microsoft and Google are free to scan them, and it’s good that someone has finally kickstarted a serious digitization campaign. It’s our job to hold them accountable, and to make sure that the public domain doesn’t get redefined as the semi-public domain.

Zotero goes live

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Release notes.

Pleiades Achieves First Major Development Milestone

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

The staff of the Ancient World Mapping Center’s Pleiades Project is pleased to report that it has met its “Geo Prime” milestone, effective 2 October 2006.

The “Geo Prime” milestone was structured to demonstrate, in a modified version of the Plone Content Management System, basic geographic capabilities needed by the Project. A demonstration version is running on a server supplied by the Stoa Consortium: The custom software we have developed in order to add these capabilities is being released to the public simultaneously under the rubric “Pleiades Software Release 0.6”

Pleiades is an international research network and associated web portal and content management system devoted to the study of ancient geography. Funding for the creation of this software was provided by a grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities.


First Swedish CC-licensed PhD

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

From the Creative Commons blog:

The first Creative Commons licensed PhD to be defended on 2nd October in Göteborg, Sweden.

The PhD thesis entitled Disruptive Technology: Effects of Technology Regulation on Democracy deals with the negative democratic effects which often arise when attempts are made to regulate the Internet technology.

By studying the attempts to regulate the disruptive effects of Internet technology and the consequences of these regulatory attempts on the IT-based participatory democracy this work shows that the regulation of technology is the regulation of democracy.

The work has been written by Mathias Klang who is Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden.

The PhD thesis is the first of its kind to be released under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5) in Sweden.

British Academy: “copyright is hindering scholarship”

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

British Academy says that copyright is hindering scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

Baroness Onora O’Neill, the President of the British Academy, chaired the launch event and welcomed the report. “From the national point of view,” she said, “it is timely and provides a helpful contribution to the current debate about whether the UK’s intellectual property framework is fit for purpose. The report shows that the copyright system may in important respects be impeding, rather than stimulating, the production of new ideas and new scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.”

On-line versions of the report and guidelines are available from:

Open Source Critical Editions workshop

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

A workshop on Open Source Critical Editions will be held on Friday 22nd September in King’s College London. The workshop is co-organised by the AHRC ICT Methods Network, the Perseus Project, and the Digital Classicist. The workshop programme is available online, and we have also made the text of positioning papers available in full. Responses may also be posted in the Wiki, and discussion will continue beyond the workshop itself either here or on the Digital Classicist mailing list.

Oral Tradition

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Via rogueclassicism comes the news that The Center for Studies in Oral Tradition now offers universal, free access to its academic journal.

Whose side are they on, anyway?

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Timidity and obsequiousness watch; or, Peter Suber nails it:

Universities take industry word for copyright law

By Peter Suber

Cory Doctorow, USC Copyright rules are flawed, Daily Trojan, September 11, 2006. Excerpt:

As students were returning to the USC campus for the 2006-2007 year, they were sent an ominous memo on “Copyright Compliance,” signed by Michael Pearce, USC deputy chief information officer and Michael L. Jackson, vice president for Student Affairs. This extraordinary document set out a bizarre, nonlegal view of copyright’s intent and the university’s purpose, and made it clear that in its authors’ views, scholarship takes a backseat to copyright….

The memo’s purpose was to warn the student body from using peer-to-peer programs and other file-sharing tools. They did so not to warn them against using these tools to infringe copyright, but rather to warn them against using them at all on pain of losing their Internet access. The memo equates file sharing with infringement.

But this is a narrow and inaccurate view of P2P. P2P systems are the largest libraries of human creativity ever assembled. Even Grokster, the system shut down by the Supreme Court in a highly publicized case last year, was found by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to have more noninfringing documents than were held in the world’s largest library collections – millions, tens of millions of works that were lawful to search and download.

P2P is a collection of material that might have reduced an earlier generation of scholars to tears. As a science-fiction writer, I’ve grown up with grandiose predictions about the future, but no jet-pack futurist was so audacious as to imagine a repository of knowledge as rich and potent as P2P….

Why would USC trumpet this one-sided, extremist view of copyright? Isn’t the university’s purpose to promote scholarship? Shouldn’t a university be aggressively defending scholarship against organizations like the Recording Industry Association of America, whose indiscriminate enforcers send sloppy takedown notices to university profs named “Usher” whose lecture audio files called “usher.mp3” are mistaken for songs by the artist Usher?

The answer is that, according to the memo, “USC’s purpose is to promote and foster the creation and lawful use of intellectual property.”

It’s hard to imagine a more shocking statement in an official university communique. If this statement were true, then the measure of USC’s success would be the number of patents filed and the number of copyrights registered rather than the amount of original research undertaken, the number of diplomas granted, the volume of citations in scholarly journals…

Comment. Cory is right and the problem extends far beyond USC. Universities routinely accept propaganda from the copyright industry as an accurate statement of copyright law. This causes two kinds of harm. First, universities needlessly shrink the scope of fair use and retreat from permissible (i.e. licensed) copying and redistribution, both for entertainment and for scholarship. Second, they abdicate their responsibility to understand the actual rules and teach them to students.

Google Book Search grants some PDF downloads

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

from ars technica:

Google went ahead and did it. Books no longer in copyright are now available for download from the Google Book Search site. If you’re looking for something tasty, might we recommend an early English translation of Montaigne’s provocative essay “On Some Verses of Virgil”? (Hint: the naughtiest bits are in the Latin epigrams, the worst of which aren’t even translated).

There’s plenty of precendent for this sort of thing. Project Gutenberg provides access to 19,000 classic books, but in a text-only format. The Christian Classics Ethereal Library offers both text and PDF versions of a massive collection of source material, but only one one particular topic. There’s also the Perseus Project, which offers ancient and Renaissance texts. Google could top all of these projects by providing fully-searchable versions of a much wider selection of books, many of which can also be downloaded as PDFs that are ready to print.

While this only applies to older books, it’s still a great way of democratizing access to the world’s knowledge (in English, at any rate), and it can’t raise any objections from publishers. Books which were before available only on the shelves of large academic libraries are now available to anyone with a Web connection and some curiosity. Scienta vincit omnia!

But not everyone is thrilled with the results so far. From Planet PDF:

There’s no doubt Google needs to be applauded for the idea, but the execution (i.e. the books they’ve produced) could definitely do with some work. The PDF books are difficult to download, large in size, of such low resolution they’re difficult to read, unsearchable, and do not allow the user to copy text from them. It’s left me wondering what Google expects people to do with the books.

And more critique here.

DAI Archaeological Bibliography goes OA

Thursday, August 3rd, 2006

Sayonara, Dyabola:

We would like to inform you that the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) compiles the four most important Bibliographies on archaeology:

  • Archaeological Bibliography (Realkatalog)
  • Bibliography of the Archaeology of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Subject catalogue of the Roman-German Commission
  • Bibliography of the Archaeology of Eurasia (completed bibliography)

You are now able to search through the Archaeological Bibliography, which will be permanently updated, free of charge at the website of the DAI (previously accessible via Dyabola). Please take a look at our central online catalogue ZENON: .

We are also very pleased to inform you that the English version of the revised “Guidelines for Contributors to Publications of the German Archaeological Institute” is now available at the website of the DAI under RESEARCH Guidelines for Contributors to Publications. Please, take note of the general remarks of the editors and the several lists for detailed information (checklist, keyword list, list of abbreviations). The guidelines may be viewed online or can be downloaded as PDF-files, they are valid immediately.

Surprising History of Copyright

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

This Thursday, 27 July 2006, Karl Fogel (of Google) is scheduled to chair a session at OSCON entitled: The (Surprising) History of Copyright, and What It Means for Open Source. You can view the abstract online, whence the following:

Much of today’s copyright debate is predicated on the notion that copyright was invented to subsidize authors, when it was actually invented to subsidize distributors … viewing copyright in this new light transforms the question from “Does copying hurt artists?” (no, and anyway copyright wasn’t about the artists) to “What kind of support mechanisms should distribution have today?”

Open Access on the ANE-2 List

Monday, July 17th, 2006

A subscriber to the ANE-2 List has reposted there, with permission, an e-circular attributed to the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation [MSSRF] (Chennai, India) which calls for the:

[proactive promotion] of ‘open access’ to scientific and scholarly literature so even those working in institutions whose libraries cannot afford to subscribe to many journals can have free and unfettered access to all research papers

This post has touched off a familiar sort of discussion on the subject, with a recent post from E. Bruce Brooks (of the Warring States Project) asking pointed questions about:

  • Discipline
  • Money
  • Printability
  • Prestige
  • Double-publishing
  • Typography

Can History Be Open Source?

Thursday, July 13th, 2006

The Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has recently posted to the web a long and thoughtful article by Roy Rosenzweig entitled “Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past.” It was originally published in The Journal of American History Volume 93, Number 1 (June, 2006): 117-46. [Spotted on the Maps History discussion list in a post by Joel Kovarsky].

Rosenzweig does a good job explaining the origins, development and practices of Wikipedia for a professional, academic audience unfamiliar with the details. R. goes on to examine “Wikipedia as History,” comparing the breadth, depth, accuracy and style of its treatment of historical topics to that found in other popular and professional encyclopedic works.

R. concludes with a section entitled “Why Should We Care? Implications for Historians” in which he opines:

Still, Wikipedia and Linux show that there are alternative models to producing encyclopedias and software than the hierarchical, commercial model …. And whether or not historians consider alternative models for producing their own work, they should pay closer attention to their erstwhile competitors at Wikipedia than Microsoft devoted to worrying about an obscure free and open-source operating system called Linux.

Fair Use Day

Wednesday, July 12th, 2006

So, only 364 days left until the next Fair Use Day!
(Thanks for the tip, Tom.)

Microsoft bends on OpenDocument

Thursday, July 6th, 2006

(hat tip Peter Suber)

Microsoft said it plans to sponsor an open-source project to create software that will convert Office documents to OpenDocument, a rival format gaining ground, particularly among governments.

The software giant on Thursday launched the Open XML Translator project on, a popular site for hosting code-sharing projects. The software will be available under the BSD open-source license.

The software, developed by a France-based Microsoft partner, will allow people to use Microsoft Office to open and save documents in the OpenDocument, or ODF, format.

… The goal is to have a Word plug-in for Office 2007 by the end of this year and translators for Excel and PowerPoint next year, said Jean Paoli, the general manager of interoperability and XML architecture at Microsoft. The conversions will be based on Microsoft’s Open Office XML, the XML-based file formats that will be the default setting in Office 2007, due next year.

Open Context: Sharing Archaeological Data Digitally

Friday, June 30th, 2006

from About Archaeology:

A new tool in the open source arsenal announced its beta launch last week. Called Open Context, the project involves scientists from Cambridge University (UK), Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institution, U.C. Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, and is supported by grants from the William and Flora Hewett Foundation, “inkind” services from Deloitte and Touche and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and help from individual donors.

Open Context is a project out of the Alexandria Archive Institute (AAI), a nonprofit institute named after the famous Ptolemaic Library of Alexandria in Egypt. The AAI is intent on building a place to share data on world history and archaeology. Developed by Eric Kansa, Sarah Whicher Kansa and Jeanne Loipiparo, the AAI’s demonstration system, Open Context, combines “reports, observations, maps, plans, analyses, digital files and images of excavations and surveys” generated by archaeological research, and makes them available to students and researchers around the globe.

Jill Coffin: Analysis of open source principles in diverse collaborative communities

Friday, June 30th, 2006

From Infobits:

The June 2006 issue of FIRST MONDAY features selected papers from “FM10 Openness: Code, Science, and Content,” a conference held in May and sponsored by First Monday journal, the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library, and the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT). The theme of the conference was open access (in journals, communities, and science) and open source. Links to the online papers, along with citations to those not available online, are available at

The paper by Jill Coffin caught my eye for its useful list of characteristics.

This paper applies traits common to successful free software and open source hacker communities as a framework to analyze three non–hacker collaborative communities. These traits were distilled from my analysis of various open source communities including the Linux, Debian and Mozilla communities. While this framework may not tell the complete story of these communities, the analysis yields observations relevant to the design of collaborative systems. The framework consists of the following characteristics of successful free software/open source communities:

  • open and widespread membership based upon participation
  • geographically distributed, asynchronous, networked collaboration
  • project transparency, particularly open, recorded dialog and peer review of project materials,
  • discussion and decisions
  • a compelling foundational artifact to organize participation and build upon
  • collaborative, iteratively clarified, living documents and project artifacts
  • a mechanism for institutional history
  • a community–wide sense of project ownership
  • a hybrid political system based upon meritocracy
  • a trusted benevolent dictator, typically the project founder
  • foundational developers and early adopters who, along with the benevolent dictator, set project ethos
  • consensus as a decision–making tool
  • upholding the right to fork.

New book on OA

Friday, June 30th, 2006

from the mailbox:

A new book, documenting the major strands and issues of open access, will be published 17th July.

Jacobs, N., Eds. (2006) Open Access: Key Strategic, Technical and Economic Aspects. Chandos

It covers the rationale, history, economics, technology and culture of open access, views from major stakeholders, updates from around the world, and visions of the future. The following authors have contributed:

Alma Swan, Charles W. Bailey, Jr., Jean-Claude Guédon, Andrew Odlyzko, Michael Kurtz, Tim Brody, Chris Awre, Stevan Harnad, Arthur Sale, Robert Terry, Robert Kiley, Matthew Cockerill, Mary Waltham, Colin Steele, Leo Waaijers, Peter Suber, Frederick J. Friend, John Shipp, D. K. Sahu, Ramesh C. Parmar, Clifford Lynch, Nigel Shadbolt and Les Carr.

Many of the chapters are, of course, available open access on the web.Further details of the book available at:

To pre-order a copy, please contact:

Turpin Distribution Services Limited
Pegasus Drive
Stratton Business Park
Bedfordshire SG18 8TQ
Tel: +44 (0)1767 604951
Fax: +44 (0)1767 601640
General e-mail:

A new Blog: Digging Digitally

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Eric Kansa of The Alexandria Archive Initiative, has initiated a new blog Digging Digitally: Archaeology, data sharing, digitally enabled research and education on behelf of the Digital Data Interest Group of the SAA.

“DDIG members can use this blog to share news and announcements about their programs and activities. Hopefully, DDIG members will post suggestions on developing data sharing standards, intellectual property frameworks, policies, and other issues. DDIG members are also invited to use this weblog as a way to share links to individuals, projects, programs and organizations…”