Author Archives: woldsha

UK government renewed committment to use of open source software

Tom Espiner, via ZDNet, via Tectonic, highlighted the recent announcement by the UK government to renew its commitment to promote use of open source software. Snippets:

The government has published its policy on open-source software, promising to use open source rather than proprietary alternatives if there is no significant cost difference in products and services.

The stated rationale behind the move is that open-source software and technology based on open standards are more flexible and can offer better value for money.

“Open-source products are more competitive and have become easier to include in business, and major players in the IT industry now support the use of open standards,” said minister for digital engagement, Tom Watson, in a statement. “Several government departments already use open-source components and I hope this new policy will encourage others to follow suit.”

Watson said open source was not a “cure-all remedy”, but said “levelling the playing field” would give better value for taxpayers’ money, which was “more important than ever during the worldwide financial climate”.

The government action plan on open source was published in a document entitled Open Source, Open Standards, and Re-Use. The government pledged that, where possible, its departments would avoid becoming “locked in” to proprietary software, and that it would take into account exit, re-bid and rebuild costs. The government said it would also “require those proposing proprietary software to specify how exit would be achieved”, and would support the re-use of products and services where possible.

Symposium on Common Use Licensing for Scientific Literature and Data

Michelle Thorne, via Creative Commons, draws attention to the upcoming symposium on Common Use Licensing for Scientific Literature and Data:

This one-day symposium, initiated by Creative Commons China Mainland, will review the rationale, practice, and issues associated with the application of Creative Commons/Science Commons “common use” licenses to scientific literature and data in government and academia.

The event will also explore the possible implementation of these licenses for publicly funded scientific literature and data in China. The symposium, designed to provide a basic introduction to the subject, aims to address the interests of both the science policy and the science research communities.

There will be a wide array of speakers from the PRC and abroad, bringing together a large group of participants from various universities, research institutes, governmental agencies, libraries, and the Internet industry.

Hosts: National Science Library of Chinese Academy of Science, the U.S. National Committee for CODATA of the National Academy of Sciences, and Creative Commons China Mainland

Date and Time: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., March 25, 2009

Location: Lecture Hall, 1st Floor, National Science Library of CAS, Beijing

Language: Chinese and English, Simultaneous Interpretation provided

Admission: Free

Role of universities in promoting OER

Lev Gonik, via Chronicle: Wired Campus, deliberated on the link betwen education, technology, and open content; and emphasized the challenge ahead for universities to promote the cause of openness.

Technology, open educational resources, and the education community are the key drivers and enablers of an arc of human activity that can lead us to learn and appreciate more about one another and about ourselves at the very moment when the forces of economic nationalism are pulling us in a very different direction. I think the stakes are that high. I hope universities will issue a clarion call urging us to take action to avoid repeating the lessons of history.

…We can and we should leverage our universities’ ability to create powerful networks of technology and learners to create binding partnerships that matter.

The oceans that once separated us are now made smaller by the technology that we have helped invent and deploy. Deepening the linkages within and between our communities and across our cities is a 21st challenge worthy of great universities.

The Fate of Expertise after Wikipedia

Larry Sanger, founder of Citizendium, deliberated in a paper published on Episteme Journal (2009) about the role of experts in Wikipedia. (Thanks to Open Access News) Abstract: 

Wikipedia has challenged traditional notions about the roles of experts in the Internet Age. Section 1 sets up a paradox. Wikipedia is a striking popular success, and yet its success can be attributed to the fact that it is wide open and bottom-up. How can such a successful knowledge project disdain expertise? Section 2 discusses the thesis that if Wikipedia could be shown by an excellent survey of experts to be fantastically reliable, then experts would not need to be granted positions of special authority. But, among other problems, this thesis is self-stultifying. Section 3 explores a couple ways in which egalitarian online communities might challenge the occupational roles or the epistemic leadership roles of experts. There is little support for the notion that the distinctive occupations that require expertise are being undermined. It is also implausible that Wikipedia and its like might take over the epistemic leadership roles of experts. Section 4 argues that a main reason that Wikipedia’s articles are as good as they are is that they are edited by knowledgeable people to whom deference is paid, although voluntarily. But some Wikipedia articles suffer because so many aggressive people drive off people more knowledgeable than they are; so there is no reason to think that Wikipedia’s articles will continually improve. Moreover, Wikipedia’s commitment to anonymity further drives off good contributors. Generally, some decisionmaking role for experts is not just consistent with online knowledge communities being open and bottom-up, it is recommended as well.

CC Licensing Your Dissertations

Ian Elwood, via The Daily California, noted the commendable precedent set by two UC Berkeley students who CC licensed their PhD dissertation (Thanks to Creative Commons) Excerpt:

This license opens up many possibilities in the academic world such as free online course readers, zero cost educational multimedia, gratis online tutorials-even the price of paper textbooks could be drastically reduced. Perhaps more important than cost, however, by using Creative Commons you are essentially “paying it forward” by sharing your intellectual output with the academic community because future generations of scholars will have greater access to your work.

Two recent Berkeley students to file their dissertations using a Creative Commons license are Joseph Lorenzo Hall and danah boyd. Hall navigated through much bureaucratic red tape, but found that most of his difficulty came from simple formatting issues, not any ideological disagreement by the university. Another School of Information graduate, danah boyd, also filed her dissertation under Creative Commons shortly thereafter.

On Jan. 28, the Dean of the Graduate Division committed to make Creative Commons licensing available to future students. All students interested in contributing to the effort to make education more affordable and accessible should consider using Creative Commons instead of traditional copyright.

Participating in this movement is as simple as making two modifications to a dissertation or thesis. First, the author writes, “Some Rights Reserved” instead of “All Rights Reserved” on the copyright page. Second, they include the full legal text of a Creative Commons license in an appendix.

A survey on how scholars use Wikipedia

Wikimedia Foundation is undertaking a survey of Wikipedia use among the scholarly community.  (Thanks to Open Access News). Here is the survey cite:

Welcome to the first survey about professional usage and opinions of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, within the scholarly community. The goal of this survey is to increase understanding of the use and opinions about Wikipedia among this group. Completing this survey will only take 3 minutes of your valuable time. The results will be used to inform possible future decisions about new ways to enhance Wikipedia to make it more valuable to scholarship.

This survey will be open until February 26 midnight PST.

Stimulus Package Funds Libraries as Economy Boosters

The American Library Association emphasized that the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Obama comprises several economic-stimulus provisions that promote libraries (Thanks to ResourceShelf). Excerpt:

  • $7.2 billion to increase broadband access and usage in unserved and underserved areas of the nation, including $200 million in competitive grants for expanding public-computer capacity at public libraries and community colleges. This includes $650 million for DTV, $90 million of which may be used by organizations, including libraries, for education and outreach to vulnerable populations;
  • $53.6 billion for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, including $39.5 billion to local school districts using existing funding formulas; among the permissible uses is school modernization, which could benefit school libraries; $5 billion to states as bonus grants for meeting key performance measures in education; and $8.8 billion to states for high-priority needs such as public safety and other critical services, which may include public libraries and the modernization, renovation, and repairs of the facilities of public schools and institutions of higher education;
  • An additional $120 million for the Senior Community Service Program to provide community service jobs at nonprofit and public facilities, including libraries, to 24,000 older Americans;
  • An additional $130 million for the Rural Community Facilities Program to provide loans and grants for rural community facilities, including libraries.