I had a question at the NISO event about how to track developments in microformats, so this set of links is perhaps timely:
via business|bytes|genes|molecules - Around the web - March 29, 2008
I had a question at the NISO event about how to track developments in microformats, so this set of links is perhaps timely:
via business|bytes|genes|molecules - Around the web - March 29, 2008
In my NISO presentation I proposed a couple new library laws.
For some background, here's some info from Wikipedia
Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science (1931)
- Books are for use.
- Every reader his [or her] book.
- Every book its reader.
- Save the time of the reader.
- The library is a growing organism.
In 2004, librarian Alireza Noruzi recommended applying Ranganathan's laws to the web in his paper, "Application of Ranganathan's Laws to the Web":
I propose Two Laws of Library Science... for Machines
By this I mean, our web resources need to be not just readable by humans (the presentation layer), they need to be readable by the machines, who have a hard time understanding presentation and natural language. This may mean that the machine does some screen-scraping tricks, but that's fragile and time-consuming for the machine. While you may not think saving the machine's time is an issue, there are two points: firstly, as the content on the web grows, we want it to be parsed by machines as quickly as possible, so that we get immediate discovery of new information; secondly, code running locally on a laptop or in particular a mobile phone/PDA may have limited compute and memory resources, and you may want that code to be able to alter web pages with additional discovery information fast enough so that there is no delay noticed by a user.
Now I have no Semantic Web illusions that people are going to nobly go back and markup all their content with semantic information, that vision is a fantasy that lingers with us from the SGML days and it's never going to happen.
Ralph LeVan took me to task, saying developers are not going to do extra work, the work is only done if there is a business case, and that developers are tasked with presentation GUIs for users, not with enriching web pages in invisible ways.
Well, yes and no. People will do new things and extra work when they have a compelling motivation. There may be many different motivations. The system to register posts and get markup from ResearchBlogging is rather elaborate, but people do it because they want to be discovered. Even a slight advantage in discovery can be a huge motivator to people. That's why I think the Yahoo Open semantic initiative will bring a huge push for microformats. And of course, it will never be people manually adding microformats in a big way anyway. It will be our creation applications and tools that automatically insert microformats as appropriate. Programmatically grabbing a DOI and inserting a visible citation is not a huge amount of effort... extending this to embed the citation as COINS is a miniscule additional step.
And of course there will be people running very sophisticated algorithms on big networks of computers with loads of storage, to data mine out useful semantics, in particular about "science objects" like formulas, genes, chemicals etc. and then insert the proper microformats and identifiers for much simpler applications and machines to read.
Paul Miller: ... Another area that will require a huge amount of effort moving forward is around data for the Semantic Web. We're going to need an awful lot of it. Where are we going to get it from?
Tim Berners-Lee: There's an awful lot of data out there. And I think, one of the huge misunderstandings about the Semantic Web is, "oh, the Semantic Web is going to involve us all going to out HTML pages and marking them up to put semantics in them." Now, there's an important thread there, but to my mind, it's actually a very minor part of it. Because I'm not going to hold my breath while other people put semantics in by hand.
I'm not going to wait for other people to do it, and I don't want to do it either, to sort of add the semantics to HTML pages. So, where is the data going to come from? It's already there. It's in databases. So, most of this data is in databases. Often the data is already available through some kind of a Web interface.
In my NISO presentation I made a rather imperfect metaphorical point, which is that there is too much darkness (in the sense of "too little access to information") on this map. 1 billion of us have incredible (and some would claim overwhelming, or "too much") information access, and 5 billion of us do not.
Very raw notes. Basically OCLC continues to build out services based on their data holdings, are adding services where organisations can provide additional information, and are aiming to systematize the services with documentation on OCLC DevNet.
VP Global Engineering, OCLC
identities, xISBN, xISSN
other identifier services are coming...
"invitation only release"
essentially programmatic access to WorldCat
- access WorldCat records and holdings
- mashups with WorldCat
Request: OpenSearch & SRU
Response Formats: RSS, Atom (OSS), Marc XML, DC (SRU)
Return holdings based on geographic context
WorldCat Search Web Service builder
(a demonstration application)
unique id for each institution
Worldcat OpenURL Resolver Gateway
Allows you to register your IPs and associated resolver.
Roy Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Hamparian email@example.com *
The Economist has a piece on social networking, the main points are that technology tends to move back and forth between closed and open periods, and that it's not clear how to make any money off of social network sites - in fact the harder you try to "monetize", the more likely you may be to drive people to other sites.
But should users really have to visit a specific website to do this sort of thing? “We will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to be social,” says Charlene Li at Forrester Research, a consultancy. Future social networks, she thinks, “will be like air. They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be.” No more logging on to Facebook just to see the “news feed” of updates from your friends; instead it will come straight to your e-mail inbox, RSS reader or instant messenger. No need to upload photos to Facebook to show them to friends, since those with privacy permissions in your electronic address book can automatically get them.
The problem with today's social networks is that they are often closed to the outside web. The big networks have decided to be “open” toward independent programmers, to encourage them to write fun new software for them. But they are reluctant to become equally open towards their users, because the networks' lofty valuations depend on maximising their page views—so they maintain a tight grip on their users' information, to ensure that they keep coming back. As a result, avid internet users often maintain separate accounts on several social networks, instant-messaging services, photo-sharing and blogging sites, and usually cannot even send simple messages from one to the other. They must invite the same friends to each service separately. It is a drag.
Historically, online media tend to start this way. The early services, such as CompuServe, Prodigy or AOL, began as “walled gardens” before they opened up to become websites.
Economist - Everywhere and nowhere - March 19, 2008
One of my friends is a middle school teacher who tries to find ways to usefully integrate technology with his teaching. This is an animation his students made, "Rock meets Lichen"
You can find all of their studycasts on his wiki at
I've been wanting for a long time to be able to share information in Facebook in a very granular way. They have finally enabled it, but the settings are not as centralized as one might wish.
Some settings are under the master Privacy control panel
whereas others are more easily found on the individual pages for particular capabilities. For example, photo privacy, to set who can view which albums, is at
And very confusingly, which there are some application settings on the main privacy page
The very granular "let some friends/friends lists see an application in my profile, but not others" is in the Applications edit screen, under Edit Settings for each application. Also, unfortunately, when you add a new application I didn't see any way to set the privacy before it is added to your profile, only after it is added. So there is a brief window when it is outside of privacy control, using the default settings.
You can set access for friends either per individual, or per friend list, and you can add multiple friends lists to the allowed group ("allow only - default deny"). You can also exclude, or as I prefer to think of it, outcast specific friends lists ("allow all but - default allow"). It's like firewall rules for friends.
You can also if you want, allow friends of friends, and control access by network (networks are things like the Ottawa network, the Your Company Name Here network etc.)
This means that I can finally start adding some apps like Dopplr, which provides detailed travel info I might not necessarily want to share with the world.
In case you're wondering, yes this is a real rule in my account, it says "allow all friends to see my Dopplr travel status, except those in friends list 'random people'". [UPDATE: err to clarify, 'random people' is a friends list that contains people that I don't know very well.]
See Facebook Blog - More Privacy Options for more info.
UPDATE: As with setting complex firewall rules, getting the rules set up for all applications is quite time consuming. Things that would help:
Through an unexpected series of events I find myself going to Open Repositories 2008
The lineup looks great including a keynote from Peter Murray-Rust, and two (!) sessions on Scientific Repositories.
There is also a Repository Challenge for developers with a £2,500 prize, which is like a million US dollars now (finally, Canadians get to make US dollar jokes). Kudos to David Flanders for leading this "let's just build stuff and see what works" approach.
I will be blogging under tag/category or08, and twittering under hashtag #or08
I made an Upcoming event, mainly because then if you add the machine tag
to your Flickr photos, it will automatically put in a nice "Taken at Open Repositories 2008" logo.
The [National Library of Australia] has recently opened this "Library Labs" wiki space:
The aim of this space is to let our colleagues know what we are doing, to invite comments, questions and feedback and to provide a space for discussion and collaboration.
We have started to redevelop our digital library services using a service-oriented architecture and open source software solutions where these are functional and robust. We are also aiming to take a common ("single business") approach to collection management, discovery and delivery.
We are interested in forming a community of Australian business analysts and developers who are working on similar problems and who are interested in interoperable, standards-based solutions. We are also interested in working with colleagues at an international level to provide prototypes and testbeds for new and emerging standards.
via Warwick Cathro
Assistant Director-General, Innovation
National Library of Australia
The Google Book Search Book Viewability API enables developers to:
- Link to Books in Google Book Search using ISBNs, LCCNs, and OCLC numbers
- Know whether Google Book Search has a specific title and what the viewability of that title is
- Generate links to a thumbnail of the cover of a book
- Generate links to an informational page about a book
- Generate links to a preview of a book
via LibraryThing blog - Google Books in LibraryThing - March 13, 2008
We need APIs everywhere for everything.
In an upcoming talk I will be continuing a theme I started at Allen Press, calling for more semantic enrichment of scientific information online (I am of course, only one of many making such calls).
It is therefore timely to see Yahoo offering an open platform for harvesting and returning semantically-enhanced search.
There was a pre-announcement on TechCrunch, followed by the official word on the Yahoo Search Blog
In the coming weeks, we'll be releasing more detailed specifications that will describe our support of semantic web standards. Initially, we plan to support a number of microformats, including hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN. Yahoo! Search will work with the web community to evolve the vocabulary framework for embedding structured data. For starters, we plan to support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS, and others based on feedback. And, we will support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. Finally, we are announcing support for the OpenSearch specification, with extensions for structured queries to deep web data sources.
Yahoo Search Blog - The Yahoo! Search Open Ecosystem - March 13, 2008
You can sign up for more information at
So what would an appropriate set of semantic information be for a scientific article, what would your ideal search display include? # of citations? Impact Factor? Chemical and gene sequences? Price? (Sometimes information wants to be expensive...) How much can we fit into a couple of lines that will help to select one article over another in results?
UPDATE: And Yahoo is just one player in this space, as Paul Miller indicates in his posting Looking for a dominant Semantic Web search engine.
via Twitter mostly
Happened to be checking the conference website and I see that, although it's one year off from its previous 2-year cycle, the International Bielefeld Conference is pre-announced to be back February 3-5, 2009.
Bielefeld University Library will continue its successful series of conferences in early 2009.
Like the previous ones, this conference will provide an international platform for trendsetting and stimulating discussions among customers and providers of information services, especially among scholars, information specialists, publishers, library managers, and patrons.
Well, I know what I'll be adding to this year's list of proposed events (my planning cycle is March-March).
I think it's invitation only though...
I don't know what's best for a tag, I'm going to go with 9ibc for now.
April 28, 2006 conference proceedings: ICSTI eScience, Bielefeld + Taiga + LtF on academic library future
February 15, 2006 roles and challenges for the academic library in e-Science
A lot of buzz about the next generation of technology providing better information and services by being aware of the context in which the device is being used and the location.
Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, president and CEO of Nokia, came to the Mobile World Congress... to declare that Nokia will "reshape the Internet."
Nokia believes it, not Google, can deliver operator-independent, cross-platform phones through new software and services. How does Nokia presume that it can reshape an Internet so firmly established already? Nokia's answer lies in Maps 2.0, which the company claimed enables a "context-aware Internet" that combines multimedia features, Internet and Assisted- GPS, "We can bring more relevant and powerful context" to users browsing on the Internet, claimed Kallasvuo.
Niklas Savander, Nokia's executive vice president of services and software, added: "By adding context--such as time, place and people--to the Internet, the Web will become something very different from the one you have today."
EETimes - Nokia, not Google, sees itself reshaping the Internet - February 11, 2008
Some of those in the thick of battle are resigned to having a lot of company. “If there weren’t competitors, there wouldn’t be a market,” said Dan Harple, founder and chief executive of GyPSii, a mobile social network based in Amsterdam that is a contender. “Maybe there are 30 or more now — in three years, there will be 5 that matter.”
The prize, as these start-ups see it, is the 3.3 billion cellphone subscribers, a number that far surpasses the total of Internet users. The advantage over computer-based communities, they believe, is the ability to know where a cellphone is, thanks to global positioning satellites and related technologies.
Most mobile social networks seek to capitalize on location information. The SpaceMe service from GyPSii, for instance, will show users where friends and other members are in real time.
New York Times - Social Networking Moves to the Cellphone - March 6, 2008
Well established as the business mobile device of choice, the BlackBerry may soon become a much more social smartphone, says the co-CEO of creator Research In Motion Ltd.
Jim Balsillie says RIM wants the BlackBerry positioned to tap into the growing trend of Internet social networking sites such as FaceBook.com that allow consumers to share information about their lives, and access multimedia content, particularly music, on their mobile devices.
"Architecturally, music and the social networking are going to merge," Balsillie said ahead of a Thursday speech to the Canadian Music Week festival in Toronto.
CP - RIM looks to make social networking part of BlackBerry's strategy - March 6, 2008
Although the above is about mobile, Google is already "location aware", to the extent that each country version of Google ranks results in a different order, presumably based on language and click tracking, amongst other things. So e.g. Google Canada will list hits in a different order (for the same search) than Google France.
It gets pretty complex to try to make meaningful context decisions though. If it knows you're in a coffeeshop, should it return higher ranking results for "java" as it relates to coffee? What if you do all your computer programming in coffeeshops?
This applies beyond mobile devices, to context awareness for any app being used on any platform anywhere, whether at work, at home, or on the go.
Of course, there is an extent to which the computer either implicitly or explicitly knowing more about the context and location of your activities is very privacy intrusive (e.g. hypothetical location-aware shopping application "I see you're passing a drug store on the way to your girlfriend's apartment, perhaps you should purchase some prophylactics?")
To rephrase something I wrote in my Twitter, I find my online and mobile walled gardens either have too many walls, or no walls whatsoever. I would like to have a lot more control over the barriers and translucency of those barriers. If my friends want to know my exact location down to the metre, that's fine, but as my circle of acquaintances expands outward, I want the the precision of my location to decrease, so that maybe people I know less well are shown what city I'm in, and people I don't know at all only get to see that I am currently somewhere in the vicinity of planet earth.
In a way, this is old news anyway. The next thing that was supposed to follow on from the e-commerce bubble in 2000 was "m-commerce". The cellphone companies conceived this as the m-commerce "value chain", by which they meant, extracting value FROM you, FOR them, all the way along the chain. So they wanted not only to charge Amazon for placement on their wireless portal, they thought they should get a cut of everything you bought from Amazon.
I thought this was ridiculous when they were talking about it in 2000...
"E-Commerce value chain has many more steps and players than standard"
Notes on Wireless Internet for E-Commerce seminar - April 28, 2000
Accordingly, given people's widely varying expectations of privacy and "value", we are going to need much more granular and much more interoperable tools in order to achieve workable context awareness (including location).
Yahoo`s Fire Eagle is an infrastructure piece, an architecture for sharing location information between applications.
Plus which, this is all very nice in theory, but given that in Canada our mobile providers near-total control over their nextworks, and have data plans that are expensive and/or limited, mostly incomprehensible, and don't cover roaming outside Canada anyway, I think it will be a while before most Canadians are willing to use any sort of advanced mobile applications.
I actually think the carriers are setting themselves up for a fall, because Canada is concentrated in a few cities with lots of WiFi, so as soon as more phones have WiFi, people will use that to the exclusion of wireless data, and may even try to do a lot more VoIP over WiFi as well.
Elsevier has launched a beta pilot that supports patients and their family members looking for medical information; providing access to individual full text journal articles from selected Elsevier publications. The articles are delivered via email for a minimal handling fee of $4.95.
You may access in a given twenty-four hour period a reasonable number of Content items, and you may download and print such Content after it has been delivered to your e-mail address. Such access and use is for your own personal use, although you may also share and discuss such Content with family members and medical professionals involved in your medical care or the care of a family member. You can make further copies for such family members and medical professionals.
Personal use does not include the use by researchers, instructors or students for research purposes or educational use.
You can see the list of journals covered at http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/authorsview.authors/patientresearch
There is a Facebook App, that provides a search box and also lists "popular articles".
It's not clear to me how you search without using the Facebook App. There are some hits on various articles visible in Google. The terms of service says
After ordering the article and confirmation of payment, we will e-mail the document to you typically within 2 hours, but no longer than 24 hours.
Facebook App seen via Carol Serroul.
Chapters-Indigo is the major bookstore chain in Canada. What do they provide for booklovers online?
Chapters Indigo Community, "Acceptable Use Policy"
Err thanks, but my idea of community doesn't involve transferring my ideas to a private corporation for reproduction in formats yet to be invented, until the end of time.
Way to miss the point of social networking, Chapter-Sin-digo.
They say they have 80,000 members, I don't see how that is even possible, considering that even the older, well-established, and wildly popular LibraryThing only has 368,000 members.
Some of the largest book publishers in the world are stripping away the anticopying software on digital downloads of audio books.
Random House was the first to announce it was backing away from D.R.M., or digital rights management software, the protective wrapping placed around digital files to make them difficult to copy. In a letter sent to its industry partners last month, Random House, the world’s largest publisher, announced it would offer all of its audio books as unprotected MP3 files beginning this month, unless retail partners or authors specified otherwise.
Penguin Group, the second-largest publisher in the United States behind Random House, now appears set to follow suit. Dick Heffernan, publisher of Penguin Audio, said the company would make all of its audio book titles available for download in the MP3 format on eMusic, the Web’s second-largest digital music service after iTunes.
Mr. Heffernan said the company changed its mind partly after watching the major music labels, like Warner Brothers and Sony BMG, abandon D.R.M. on the digital music they sell on Amazon.com. “I’m looking at this as a test,” he said. “But I do believe the audio book market without D.R.M. is going to be the future.”
New York Times - Publishers Phase Out [AntiCopying] - March 3, 2008
(The actual NYT headline "publishers phase out piracy protection", while alliterative, is stupid. Copying is not piracy.)
I think it's a shame that more libraries didn't push back harder on publishers about DRM, but it appears that it is dying a well-deserved death anyway.