I enjoyed reading (April)


Sudden site shutdowns and the perils of living our lives online (John Paul Titlow): When Google decided to shut down Reader and made the announcement a few weeks ago, this really made me think carefully about what I do online, and where I decide to do it. Obviously there’s incredible convenience in having someone else host all your stuff, whether it’s on Facebook, Google+ or any other service. They have beautiful user interfaces (sometimes), great sharing features and they are responsible for maintaining the site. But when they decide to close up shop, for whatever reason, there goes all your data. The more I think about it, the more I want to move my online profiles into my own online space.
Guns want to be free: what happens when 3D printing and crypto-anarchy collide? (Joshua Kopstein):

I approve of any development that makes it more difficult for governments and criminals to monopolise the use of force.

I’m not sure yet if this is a good thing or a bad thing. However, right now, it is a thing that we need to think about. The idea of printing weapons is definitely something that needs discussion, but we should also remember that we’ll be able to print other things too, like furniture, utensils, spare parts for devices, etc. The creative force that this will unleash is going to change society, especially when this technology is widely available. One day, 3D printers will be built into your home and will just be a normal part of your consumer experience (see Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age).


The Mendeley – Elsevier frenzy: I’m not going to summarise the discussion, just wanted to point out a few posts I found thought-provoking. It is interesting to note that a few weeks after the initial announcement, everything died down and the internet has moved on. I wonder how many of those indignant academics actually deleted their accounts? The links below are the posts that I thought were more considered and less irrational and emotional.


Network-enabled research (Cameron Neylon):

Suddenly there is the possibility of coordination, of distribution of tasks that was simply not possible before. The internet simply does this better than any other network we have ever had. It is better for a range of reasons but they key ones are: its immense scale – connecting more people, and now machines than any previous network; its connectivity – the internet is incredibly densely connected, essentially enabling any computer to speak to any other computer globally; its lack of friction – transfer of information is very low cost, essentially zero compared to previous technologies, and is very very easy.


Teaching as a subversive activity (Rick Snell): This is not a link to the book itself but a summary of the main concepts. I’ve been wanting to read Teaching as a subversive activity for ages, but still haven’t gotten around to it.

…once you have learned how to ask questions – relevant and appropriate and substantial questions – you have leaned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.

Why I’ll keep using Mendeley…for now

mendeley logoWell, it finally happened…Mendeley has been acquired by Elsevier. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Mendeley has never been open source (“free” does not equal “open source”), they’ve always been a commercial company and have never suggested that they were anything else. This day was always coming.

I’ll be honest, my immediate reaction was to wonder if I could simply import my data into Zotero and delete my Mendeley account. However, after a few moments I reconsidered that knee jerk reaction and decided to stick it out and see what happens. You see, I don’t use Mendeley because I have some kind of deep seated principles regarding openness in academic publication (I do, but that’s not why I use Mendeley). I use it because it does a great job of helping make my life easier.

I use open source software whenever I can but I also use MS Office when I’m at work, especially for documents with complex formatting. I don’t avoid using Office because it’s owned by Microsoft. I use what works for me and in most cases, open source software Is. Just. Better. In cases where it isn’t, I also use proprietary programmes. Regardless, I always use the tools that help me do my job. For me, Mendeley is just another tool that helps me do my job…only now it has a new owner.

Let me be clear, I’m not a fan of Elsevier and dislike some of the choices they’ve made in the past. However, there’s no reason to think (yet) that anything at Mendeley will change. If anything, the announcement on their blog makes it seem like this investment in the company will spur innovation and allow them to continue growing their offerings. I’m not mesmerised by the extra 1GB of storage space, which comes off as a cheap trick to try and draw attention away from the elephant in the room. I’m more interested in their continued development of their open API, and changes to the software. In particular, if this move allows them to create a usable iPad app, then for that reason alone I’d support it.

Also, according to this blog post from the company, there will always be a free version of Mendeley, there will be no discernible difference in how Mendeley works for the end user, my data is still mine, and it seems as if there will be no attempt to favour Elsevier publications when using Mendeley. Whether you believe this or not is irrelevant because as soon as any of this is no longer true, export your data, stop using the service and move to Zotero.

And even if they do make changes that affect how you use the service, consider the following:


Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-03-26

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-02-20

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-03

  • RT @cshirky: NY Daily News on hospital cover-ups of medical errors: http://bit.ly/KTdHV. Scary… #
  • First Look: Firefox 3.7’s New Design http://bit.ly/mrDKD #
  • Posterous – Do we really need another blogging platform? Maybe… http://bit.ly/Fwdag #
  • First impressions of Google Wave | Enterprise Web 2.0 | ZDNet.com http://bit.ly/33j4d0 #
  • Does anyone know anything about Silentale? It looks interesting, although I’m not sure if it’s worth keeping an eye on http://bit.ly/15HacT #
  • Would the real social network please stand up? Post by danah boyd on different types of social networks http://bit.ly/Uib9c #
  • Elsevier Journal Scandal Provokes Significant Librarian Response – 5/14/2009 – Library Journal http://bit.ly/4CCIL #
  • Course by Peter Tittenberger on Open Educational Resources http://bit.ly/PVgVi #
  • YouTube – A Fair(y) Use Tale http://bit.ly/13I5v3 #
  • Article of the Future prototypes – Information World Review…interesting take on publication…bit like a wiki http://bit.ly/m2O8A #
  • Project “Article of the future”, very exciting for authors, needs a mind shift though, will change academic publication http://bit.ly/oNKtm #

Powered by Twitter Tools.