Archive for January, 2011

Supporting Reading

January 21st, 2011

Yesterday I spoke at Beyond the PDF about use cases for reading. Slides are below; the presentation was also webcast, so I hope to share a video recording when it becomes available. The video is now on Youtube (part of the Beyond the PDF video playlist) and below.

Thanks to the DERI Social Software Unit for feedback on an earlier version of this presentation. I’m particularly grateful to Allen Renear and Carole Palmer from UIUC, whose call for ontology-aware reading tools pushed me down this path, and to Geoffrey Bilder who presented these ideas in a way I couldn’t help thinking about and remixing. Cathy Marshall’s clear exposition, in Reading and Writing the Electronic Book was fundamental to digging deeper.

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6 quotes from Beyond the PDF – Annotations sessions

January 19th, 2011

Moderator Ed Hovy picked out 6 quotes to summarize Beyond the PDF’s sessions on Annotation.

Papers are stories that persuade with data.

But as authors we are lazy and undisciplined.

Communicating between humans and humans and humans and machines.

I should be interested in ontologies, but I just can’t work up the enthusiasm.

Christmas tree of hyperlinks.

You will get sued.

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“How does this make you feel?”

January 10th, 2011

GetSatisfaction‘s “How does this make you feel?” intrigues me: why do people answer this? Conventional wisdom says that people don’t classify their posts.
GetSatisfaction asks How does this make you feel?
Presumably it’s polite to ask people how they’re doing — at least in some situations. And technically there’s no post classification going on here: it’s mood classification, which most of us are trained in from a young age.

Get Satisfaction aggregates the mood on each discussion thread:
Get Satisfaction's The Mood in Here

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Posted in argumentative discussions, PhD diary, social web | Comments (2)

Wanted: the ultimate mobile app for scholarly ereading

January 7th, 2011

Nicole Henning suggests that academic libraries and scholarly presses work together to create the ultimate mobile app for scholarly ereading. I think about the requirements a bit differently, in terms of the functional requirements.

The main functions are obtaining materials, reading them, organizing them, keeping them, and sharing them.

For obtaining materials, the key new requirement is to simplify authentication: handle campus authentication systems and personal subscriptions. Multiple credentialed identities should be supported. A secondary consideration is that RSS feeds (e.g. for journal tables of contents) should be supported.

For reading materials, the key requirement is to support multiple formats in the same application. I don’t know of a web app or mobile app that supports PDF, EPUB, and HTML. Reading interfaces matter: look to Stanza and Ibis Reader for best-in-class examples.

For organizing materials, the key is synergy between the user’s data and existing data. Allow tags, folders, and multiple collections. But also leverage existing publisher and library metadata. Keep it flexible, allowing the user to modify metadata for personal use (e.g. for consistency or personal terminology) and to optionally submit corrections.

For keeping materials, import, export, and sync content from the user’s chosen cloud-based storage and WebDAV servers. No other device (e.g. laptop or desktop) should be needed.

For sharing materials, support lightweight micropublishing on social networks and email; networks should be extensible and user-customizable. Sync to or integrate with citation managers and social cataloging/reading list management systems.

Regardless of the ultimate system, I’d stress that device independence is important, meaning that an HTML5 website would probably the place to start: look to Ibis Reader as a model.

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Posted in books and reading, future of publishing, information ecosystem, library and information science, scholarly communication | Comments (5)

Searching for LaTeX code (Springer only)

January 6th, 2011

Springer’s LaTeX search service (example results) allow searching for LaTeX strings or finding the LaTeX equations in an article. Since LaTeX is used to markup equations in many scientific publications this could be an interesting way to find related work or view an equation-centric summary of a paper.

You can provide a LaTeX string, and Springer says that besides exact matches they can return similar LaTeX strings:
exact matches to a LaTeX search

Or, you can search by DOI or title to get all the equations in a given publication:
results for a particular title

Under each equation in the search results you can click “show LaTeX code”:
show the LaTeX code for an equation
Right now it just searches Springer’s publications; Springer would like to add open access databases and preprint servers. Coverage even in Springer journals seems spotty: I couldn’t find two particular discrete math articles papers, so I’ve written Springer for clarification. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to get from SpringerLink to this LaTeX search yet: it’s a shame, because “show all equations in this article” would be useful, even with the proviso that only LaTeX equations were shown.

A nice touch is their sandbox where you can test LaTeX code, with a LaTeX dictionary conveniently below.

via Eric Hellman

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Happy Public Domain Day!

January 2nd, 2011

Today, in many countries around the world, new works become public property: January 1st every year is Public Domain Day. Material in the public domain can be used, remixed and shared freely — without violating copyright and without asking permission.

However, in the United States, not a single new work entered the public domain today. Americans must wait 8 more years: Under United States copyright law, nothing more will be added to the public domain until January 1, 2019.

Until the 1970’s the maximum copyright term was 56 years. Under that law, Americans would have been able to truly celebrate Public Domain Day:

  1. All works published in 1954 would be entering the public domain today.
  2. up to 85% of all copyrighted works from 1982 would be entering the public domain today. (Copyright Office and Duke).

Instead, only works published before 1923 are conclusively in the public domain in the U.S. today. What about post-1923 publications? It’s complicated: in the United States1.

For more information on Public Domain Day and the United States, Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain has a series of useful pages.

  1. 609 pages worth of complicated []

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