The BOAI is eight

Happy birthday to the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which is eight years old today.

The BOAI "statement of principle,…statement of strategy, and…statement of commitment" was the first to offer a public definition of OA (combining gratis and libre access, though not in those terms), the first to use the term open access, the first to call for green and gold OA as complementary strategies (though not in those terms), the first to call for OA in all disciplines and countries, and the first to be accompanied by significant funding.  A good number of OA projects were already under way, but it helped catalyze the OA movement and give it energy and unity.

The BOAI was hammered out in a December 2001 meeting convened in Budapest by the Open Society Institute, which committed $3 million to carrying out the vision.  The BOAI public statement was released on February 14, 2002.

An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good. The old tradition is the willingness of scientists and scholars to publish the fruits of their research in scholarly journals without payment….The new technology is the internet. The public good they make possible is the world-wide electronic distribution of the peer-reviewed journal literature and completely free and unrestricted access to it….

Happy birthday, BOAI, and many happy returns.  And to all OA activists around the world, Happy Valentines Day.

(Disclosure:  I helped draft the BOAI and have received support from the Open Society Institute.  I’m probably not neutral on the subject, which is a reason to write your own birthday greeting!)

Are You Fun to Follow on Twitter?

Over at Harvard Business Review, Tammy Erickson observes most tweets are not very interesting:

Frankly, most people’s tweets are neither interesting nor fun to read — certainly not on a daily or hourly basis. Many, not at all. I say this with no condemnation, since I admit mine are pretty lousy, too. And I have a theory about why.

Recently I received one of those random chain emails; it’s probably circulated through your in-box, as well. This one described an experiment organized by the Washington Post in 2007. A man played six Bach pieces on a violin for 45 minutes in the Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning. During the time he played, approximately two thousand people passed through the station. Of those, only six people stopped and listened, and then only for a very short while. The greatest levels of enthusiasm were displayed by young children, several of whom tugged on their parents, asking to stop and listen, but without success.

This concert, enjoyed by virtually none of the two thousand in the station that day, was given by the renowned violinist Joshua Bell, playing some of the most intricate pieces ever written. Two days before his concert in a theater in Boston had sold out with ticket prices averaging $100.

The circulating email challenges us to ponder what we each are missing. In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

This leads to her theory about what makes someone good at Twittering:

These questions, I believe, are at the heart of the successful use of Twitter. Individuals who are most skilled at using this peculiar 140-character medium are those who do notice the small details of life, who capture the moments that others of us miss, who slow down to watch and listen while most race on, and who personalize the events they see.

Observing the beautiful in the mundane. Surely it’s one way to be happy.

via Are You Fun to Follow on Twitter? – Tammy Erickson – Harvard Business Review.

This blog has moved

It’s moving day for this blog, friends. Liberal Education Today is being integrated into the unified NITLE blog central this afternoon, as we noted earlier this week. (See also, this post.) At the same time, it’s stepping out into the Twitterverse, and we invite you to contribute to that conversation. So adjust your URLs accordingly: The new [...]

How Repositories Can Contribute Linked Data

I've been working a lot with our repository and Linked Data teams (thanks to Hugh Glaser, Nick Gibbins and Iain Millard) on the JISC dotAC project. One of the great things about that project has been the opportunity to really get our heads around the role of repositories in the Semantic Web and the Linked data world. Now that the project has finished, I've finally had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Gutteridge and braindump our understanding so far. The following is a description of how EPrints (v3.2 beta) exports its holdings as Linked Data. It all comes down to how it uses and resolves URIs. (Like it says at the bottom of this posting, please send us comments!)

We ASSIGN a URI to all the significant entities that the repository owns: specifically, eprint, document, file, user, and "subject taxonomy" objects.
  1. These URIs will generally be of the form where type is eprint, document etc and idis unique within the scope of the repository.
  2. The official URI of an eprint is of the form whereas the official URL of an eprint is of the form . The latter has historically been the URL of the eprint's abstract or splash page.
  3. Where possible, resolving a URI will result in a "303 See Also" redirection to the URL of the most appropriate format export, based on content negotiation of available exporters (disseminators).
  4. However, if text/html is deemed most appropriate for an eprint, it is redirected to the standard URL of the abstract page.
  5. For a sub-object (e.g. documents and files of an eprint) the URI is redirected to the ancestor object.
  6. Similarly, subjects redirect to the top-level subject.
  7. Eprint and document objects have special "relationships" fields which allow arbitrary predicates/objects to be attached to the document/eprint.
  8. Documents of format text/n3 and application/rdf+xml (which like all documents have their own URLs inside the repository) are linked to the parent eprint via an rdfs:seeAlso statement. This allows arbitrary triples to be associated with any eprint, irrespective of the repository schema.
We MINT (or COIN) a URI for entites whose existence we infer from metadata.
  1. Where there is a high degree of confidence from the metadata that two entities are the same (e.g. two conferences, journals or authors) then they will receive the same URI.
  2. These URIs will generally be of the form where type is e.g. event, organisation, person, place etc and id is unique within the scope of the repository.
  3. The unique id is generally a hash generated from the metadata, unless a better value is available e.g. an ISBN.
  4. In the case of a book or a serial we can confidently add an owl:sameAs to the URN
  5. In other cases, a repository administrator can add a mechanical process for creating the sameAs using specialised knowledge to construct (or map) the metadata to an external URI. An example of this would be looking up an author's URI in a staff database based on an email address in the author metadata. Another example would be a DOI being constructed from a query to the CrossRef database.
  6. (The reason for using an x-publication URI as well as the public URN is that it may be useful to provide a local resolution service for non-local entities.)
  7. All x-type URIs redirect to an RDF+XML document, describing everything known locally about that entity. Content negotiation for other formats is not currently supported for these non-core entities.
A set of standard triples containing rights information about the exported metadata appears in every single RDF export, to facilitate linked data reuse.

Does this look sensible? Have we got it right? Please let us have any comments and feedback!

Integrating liberal education and engineering

A Symposium on Engineering & Liberal Education is being held at Union College this summer. In recognition of the need to expand our understanding of what it means to be a liberally educated citizen, this symposium will bring together select academic leaders and scholars to explore different models for integrating engineering, technology and the traditional liberal [...]

Report Back: ANDS Data Deluge Worlshop (Melbourne, 12 February 2010)

The new Australian National Data Service (ANDS) holds a number of workshops to promote the use of their numerous  services. Members of VeRSI attended a workshop titled ‘Gumboots for the Data Deluge: defining and describing collections for the Australian Research Data Commons‘ on Friday.

The overarching aim of the workshop was to introduce those involved in data management, such as librarians, to the ‘Seeding the Commons‘ project. Through this ambitious national project, the ANDS plans to make all the research data produced by Australian researchers locatable and available for other researchers to use and cite.  The ANDS works closely with various institutions around the country to harvest MetaData from their institutional repositories.

During the workshop we were given an overview of ANDS and its ambitions and also hands-on experience of entering a project into the Research Data Australia registry (or Metadata repository as ANDS doesn’t collect Data it collects Metadata!).  The workshop covered the XML schema used to describe resources the RIF-CS which is based on an international draft  standard, the ISO 2146 (Registry Services for Librarians and Related Organisations). See: The Research Data Australia collections registry supports a number of dynamic exchange and harvesting protocols so that researches in any part of the world can find data, compare and combine it, and perhaps even re-use it in their own work.

You can register your own data with the ANDS through their Register My Data service.

Sharing Latin American works from the University of Texas

Since we launched our partnership with the University of Texas at Austin in 2007, we have been working hard to make their unique Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection accessible to readers online. The collection is one of the largest Latin American collections in the world, and is renowned for the scope and breadth of its materials covering Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean island nations, South America, and the Latino presence in the United States.

Today, we are proud to announce the completion of our digitization project with the University of Texas Libraries and the inclusion of over 500,000 unique volumes into the Google Books index.

Books from this collection range from the 18th century to newly-published materials, and represent over 50 languages. While the highest concentration of these texts are in Spanish and Portuguese, there are also books written in many indigenous languages of Central and South America. Whether you're interested in the political journal mentioned in Jorge Luis Borges's Funes el memorioso (Funes the Memorious), a memoir from an American veteran of the Mexican-American war, or even details on the archaeological remains from Lake Chapala, Mexico, you and other readers around the world now have access to a wealth of information from this exceptional collection.

"We’ve long wanted to share these treasures of Latin America with the world, and Google has helped us to do just that." -- Dennis Dillon, University of Texas

We invite you to explore this collection along with millions of other books on

Open content resource from California

A new Web resource for academic open content has been launched by a group of west coast campuses. The Open Educational Resources Center for California is a portal or aggregator, bundling together searches for open textbooks, general educational resources, open courseware, Web 2.0 open media, and open quizzes.  There are other features, too, including [...]

Buzz: Google ramps up social networking

Google upped its social networking ante on Tuesday, with the launch of a new service.  Google Buzz is a microblogging engine, related to Facebook status update and Twitter.  But the differences are important, and possibly of moment to academia. Buzz lets Google users compose short messages, a la Twitter or instant messages’ “away” status.  Buzz users [...]

Living Stories: new journalism experiment

An experimental Web site offers an interesting approach to journalism. Living Stories, a collaboration between the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Google, consists of a series of major topics. Living Stories aggregates several news streams and information sources under each such header, including a slideshow, an introduction, curated articles, recent coverage, [...]