Bernard Barrett opened the 4th conference of IHLG, saying, in introducing the first session on open access that it was up to us to change things.
Mary Burke of UCD chaired the session and referred to the words of the Budapest declaration on open access on combining old traditions and new technology. She introduced Arne Jakobson, President of EAHIL. Arne spoke on open access and institutional repositories (IRs). EAHIL supports both, he said, but he was going to concentrate on IRs
He referred to the Budapest and Berlin statements, and to RCUK's, though also to the controversial Royal Society statement. He gave some figures on numbers of IRs based on ePrints' Registry of Open Access Archives, , OAIster and OpenDOAR.
He introduced the audience to the distinction between pre- and post-prints. He listed a number of benefits of IRs:
increased visibility of an institution's research
secure and sustainable storage
Libraries are the natural hosts for IRs; storage and software costs are low. The challenges are cultural.
Arne then illustrated his point by describing the development of the Oslo repository, DUO. They will require all postgraduate theses to be submitted electronically from 2007. For electronic journal articles they have a sister project, FRIDA, and deposit is mandatory for scientific staff. Nationally they have NORA, the Norwegian Open Research Archive.
He concluded that a strategic plan was important, and that it was difficult to change scientists' and postgraduates' behaviour.
Questions: who adds metadata? Arne said that researchers do so on submission, using a simplified set of subject headings
What abut peer review? Items in FRIDA are peer-reviewed by definition, because they all post-prints.
What's the biggest block to compliance? Researchers' time is short and workload heavy. Arne is considering offering financial incentives for submission. Funding bodies are not yet insisting on deposit in IRs.
Citation counts? The database will contain citation to journals. It's clear open access increases visibility.
Which is better, a top down or bottom up approach? "Everywhere", replied Arne.
Being an organised sort of a chap, and since I shall be unemployed soon, I though I would contact the Jobcentre in advance. It was not encouraging. I went to the Job Centre Plus web site. They say "Contact your local Jobcentre Plus office or Jobcentre as soon as you know you will be unemployed. Claim as soon as you can. If you delay you may lose money".
So I looked up the number of the local Jobcentre. It's in Newhaven. I rang them, and was told not to ring them but to ring a central number. So I did, they said they could not deal with me until I was unemployed, "because of the computer". I know precisely when I shall be unemployed, the web site advises people to get in touch as soon as they know...I fear this is going to be a long struggle.
I was last unemployed in 1991, signing on at the Tottenham unemployment office in Scotland Green, once the worst street in North London. Plus ça change.
The MLA (the English one, not the US Medical Library Association) has just announced an "offer" to public libraries of a bundle of major electronic resources. Public libraries will have to find the money to buy these, so it will be interesting to see how many take advantage of it. But it's a splendid collection and includes Grove Music Online , the Oxford English Dictionary and the Dictionary of National Biography
The Financial Times magazine, which appears on a Saturday when its readers have time to spare from tearing crusts from the bleeding lips of the starving poor, runs a feature by one Trevor Butterworth, with a thin etiolated blog to match.
He concentrates on blogging and journalism, to the exclusion of any other uses of the medium. Butterworth knows his readers well, for he points out several times that blogs generally don't make money, just as in the mid-90s capitalists dismissed the web as the plaything of academics and hobbyists. When the penny dropped they all desperately rushed to try to find ways to make money out of it.
He starts with Gawker though gives a somewhat selective account of Nick Denton's empire, failing to mention Fleshbot, for example, and a very truncated account of what blogs are and how fast they're growing.
His central thesis seems to be that blogs will not replace conventional print media. He's right, to the extent that print media are going to be with us for some time. I subscribe to RSS feeds from several newspapers I read regularly (Guardian, FT, Independent, Irish Times) and more that I rarely or never see in print (Le Monde, Washington Post, New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald), but I'm afraid I rarely look at any of these: they sit in a folder in NetNewsWire until I delete them, mostly unread, a few days later. But why,if Butterworth is right, are the newspapers offering RSS? I use blogs to provide me with something much more than any newspaper can provide.
He also charges blogs with "instant obolesence"; this may well be the case, but is a little rich if they are being compared to a medium which the very next day is used to wrap a large huss. The idea of the newspaper of record died a long time ago. Butterworth discusses several blogs and interviews some of their authors, but doesn't bother to give a list of their addresses or feeds which will frustrate both his readers new to blogs who might want to go and see what it's all about and those who would expect such information to be an integral part of any serious journalism on the subject.
Towards the end it could become more interesting as Butterworth asks his subjects whether they think Marx or Orwell would have blogged. This is in one sense a silly question, akin to asking if they would have used laptops if they had been around in their day. The consensus seems to be that Orwell, the Trotskyite police-spy, would have done and Butterworth contrasts this with Cyril Connolly, Orwell/Blair's fellow Old Etonian and editor at Horizon. But surely the Unquiet Grave has so many of the characteristics of the genre: the short entries, each a meditation on something different, the wide-ranging references to literature, art, mythology here and there? Connolly describes it as a word cycle. I had half a mind to put together palinurus.blogspot.com to demonstrate the point, but someone got there first.... though they cannot be said to have used it wisely or well.
Finally, I wonder if hell has fires hot enough for the sub-editor who picked the Blog Off headline?
Vicky Roupa draws my attention to the new Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought.
The introduction may be downloaded free of charge.
Vicky has an inspection copy and draws attention to the chapter on Herodotus, Thucydides and the sophists, in particularProtagoras, who is quoted this: "It is just for the poor and the demos there to have more than the well-born and wealthy because it is the common people who man the ships and confer power on the city -helmsmen, signalmen, captains, look-out men, and shipwrights - these are the ones who confer power on the city [...]. Since this is so, it seems just to allow everyone access to political office [...]".