Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Amy Fry on library collections

Everyone interested in academic communication should read Amy Fry's magisterial Conventional Wisdom or Faulty Logic? The Recent Literature on Monograph Use and E-book Acquisition. She shows how, by endlessly repeating the conclusion of a single study of a single library now more than 35 years out of date, publishers and their consultants have convinced librarians that traditional collection development has failed and needs to be replaced by patron-driven acquisition. And how, building on this propaganda victory, they moved on to convince librarians that, despite studies showing the opposite, readers across all disciplines preferred e-books to print. Below the fold, some details.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Annotation progress from

I've blogged before on the importance of annotation for scholarly communication and the effort to implement it. At the beginning of December Hypothesis made a major announcement:
On Tuesday, we announced a major new initiative to bring this vision to reality, supported by a coalition of over 40 of the world’s essential scholarly organizations, such as JSTOR, PLOS, arXiv, HathiTrust, Wiley and HighWire Press, who are linking arms to establish a new paradigm of open collaborative annotation across the world’s knowledge.
Below the fold, more details on this encouraging development.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Signposting the Scholarly Web

At the Fall CNI meeting, Herbert Van de Sompel and Michael Nelson discussed an important paper they had just published in D-Lib, Reminiscing About 15 Years of Interoperability Efforts. The abstract is:
Over the past fifteen years, our perspective on tackling information interoperability problems for web-based scholarship has evolved significantly. In this opinion piece, we look back at three efforts that we have been involved in that aptly illustrate this evolution: OAI-PMH, OAI-ORE, and Memento. Understanding that no interoperability specification is neutral, we attempt to characterize the perspectives and technical toolkits that provided the basis for these endeavors. With that regard, we consider repository-centric and web-centric interoperability perspectives, and the use of a Linked Data or a REST/HATEAOS technology stack, respectively. We also lament the lack of interoperability across nodes that play a role in web-based scholarship, but end on a constructive note with some ideas regarding a possible path forward.
They describe their evolution from OAI-PMH, a custom protocol that used the Web simply as a transport for remote procedue calls, to Memento, which uses only the native capabilities of the Web. They end with a profoundly important proposal they call Signposting the Scholarly Web which, if deployed, would be a really big deal in many areas. Some further details are on GitHub, including this somewhat cryptic use case:
Use case like LOCKSS is the need to answer the question: What are all the components of this work that should be preserved? Follow all rel="describedby" and rel="item" links (potentially multiple levels perhaps through describedby and item).
Below the fold I explain what this means, and why it would be a really big deal for preservation.

Monday, December 21, 2015

DRM in the IoT

This week, Phillips pushed out a firmware upgrade to their "smart" lighting system that prevented third-party lights that used to interoperate with it continuing to do so. An insightful Anonymous Coward at Techdirt wrote:
And yet people still wonder why many people are hesitant to allow any sort of software update to install. Philips isn't just turning their product into a wall garden. They're teaching more people that "software update"="things stop working like they did".
Below the fold, some commentary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Talk on Emulation at CNI

When Cliff Lynch found out that I was writing a report for the Mellon Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and IMLS entitled Emulation & Virtualization as Preservation Strategies he asked me to give a talk about it at the Fall CNI meeting, and to debug the talk beforehand by giving it at UC Berkeley iSchool's "Information Access Seminars". The abstract was:
20 years ago, Jeff Rothenberg's seminal Ensuring the Longevity of Digital Documents compared migration and emulation as strategies for digital preservation, strongly favoring emulation. Emulation was already a long-established technology; as Rothenberg wrote Apple was using it as the basis for their transition from the Motorola 68K to the PowerPC. Despite this, the strategy of almost all digital preservation systems since has been migration. Why was this?

Preservation systems using emulation have recently been deployed for public use by the Internet Archive and the Rhizome Project, and for restricted use by the Olive Archive at Carnegie-Mellon and others. What are the advantages and limitations of current emulation technology, and what are the barriers to more general adoption?
Below the fold, the text of the talk with links to the sources. The demos in the talk were crippled by the saturated hotel network; please click on the linked images below for Smarty, and VisiCalc to experience them for yourself. The Olive demo of TurboTax is not publicly available, but it is greatly to Olive's credit that it worked well even on a heavily-loaded network.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

SSDs: Cheap as Chips?

Four and a half years ago Ian Adams, Ethan Miller and I proposed DAWN, a Durable Array of Wimpy Nodes, pointing out that a suitable system design could exploit the characteristics of solid-state storage to make system costs for archival storage competitive with hard disk despite greater media costs. Since then, the cost differential between flash and hard disks has decreased substantially. Below the fold, an update.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

National Hosting with LOCKSS Technology

For some years now the LOCKSS team has been working with countries to implement National Hosting of electronic resources, including subscription e-journals and e-books. JISC's SafeNet project in the UK is an example. Below the fold I look at the why, what and how of these systems.