Two New OA Books (+1)

This has been a busy week for books on Open Access. On Wednesday I blogged about the book Understanding Open Access in the Academic Environment: A Guide for Authors by Kylie Pappalardo. Today Open Access News wrote about two more new Open Access books:

E. Canessa and M. Zennaro at the Science Dissemination Unit of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste have put together an edited book Science Dissemination using Open Access.

From today’s announcement:

The book is a compendium of selected literature on Open Access, both on the technical and organizational levels, and was written in an effort to guide the scientific community on the requirements of Open Access, and the plethora of low-cost solutions available. The book also aims to encourage decision makers in academia and research centers to adopt institutional and regional Open Access Journals and Archives to make their own scientific results public and fully searchable on the Internet. Discussions on open publishing via Academic Webcasting are also included.

The other book is a 144 pp. collection of articles on OA by 38 authors, edited by Barbara Malina entitled Open Access Opportunities and Challenges: A Handbook, the German UNESCO Commission, July 2008. This is an English translation of Open Access: Chancen und Herausforderungen – ein Handbuch (2007).

Singer in Stockholm

The philosopher Peter Singer will be giving a lecture in Stockholm on the 29 May on the “Ethical Aspects of the Difference between Secular and Religious Approaches”, read more about his lecture here. Unfortunately it is Stockholm but I will see if I can go up to Stockholm to listen to him.

The lecture will be followed by an existential discussion between Ann Heberlein (blogged about her recent book)
Georg Klein & Peter Singer.

Place: Lärarhögskolan, Stockholms Universitet (Aulan, Konradsberg) at 7 pm (more details here)

Treat them like crap

Explaining the inner workings of the university to outsiders is complicated enough my family and friends don’t get what the university is, or how it works and often enough the comments that I have “stayed” in university are flung at me as if this is a simple, cosy sinecure. Ignore the fact that we have an incredible series of qualifications (both formal and informal), ignore the fact that we have internal politics, real budgets, tough evaluations and working conditions which do not match our salaries – no other group works for free as much as we do – ignore all that. Just remember that universities can, and do, treat many of their valued workers like shit.

Purse Lips and Square Jaw blogged an excerpt from Marc Bousquet’s new book How The University Works (the introduction in pdf)

Degree in hand, loans coming due…the degree holder asks a question to which the system has no answer: If I have been a splendid teacher and scholar while nondegreed for the past ten years, why am I suddenly unsuitable? Nearly all of the administrative responses to the degree holder can already be understood as responses to waste: flush it, ship it to the provinces, recycle it through another industry, keep it away from the fresh meat.

Several of my friends have written their PhDs and are still struggling to get fixed jobs in academia despite several years of teaching and research experience. Martin over at Aardvarcheology has written his experiences at getting hired within academia.

Read more over at Bousquet’s How The University Works Blog and Tiziana Terranova and Marc Bousquet, Recomposing the University, Mute Magazine, 2004

The future of street art

A Banksy murial on Portobello road was sold on ebay for £208,100 (approx. $400,000) the price did not include removal costs. The wall belonged to Luti Fagbenle who felt that he could not “really justify owning a piece of art worth as much as it is.”

The Banksy mural on Portobello road

(Photo by Cactusbones) (CC by-nc-sa)

Street art has been growing for a long time and Banksy must be seen as one of the most widely known artists in the genre. But he is not alone. As Art Threat reports the world’s first Urban Art auction at Bonhams Fine Art Auctioneers will be held on February 5th.

What does this mean for the future of Street Art? Art Threat has written an interesting comment on street arts ephemeral nature as an important feature and Banksy has added a comment on the his webpage:

“Aren’t street art auctions a bit lame?
I don’t agree with auction houses selling street art – its undemocratic, it glorifies greed and I never see any of the money.”

So the artists don’t get paid and the artwork is ripped, literally sometimes, out of their context – how will this effect the art? Previously the most exploitative use of graffiti has been street art photo books. These products raise exciting questions about copyright and graffiti (blogged about this issue earlier here and here) but selling the works raises other exciting questions.

The person buying the work will most probably remove it to display it elsewhere. This de-contextualizes of the art but it also adds a disincentive to the artist. Now it is not enough to know that your work will be painted over but it may also be removed and sold to enrich someone else. Your work may become a commodity to be regularly bought and sold without the artists control or permission. Should the artists be concerned?

(Story on BBC & Observer)

The Information Society for None

Free the Mind has blogged about the report Cultural industries in the context of the Lisbon strategy [PDF] being discussed in the European Parliaments Committee on Culture and Education.

Article 9 in the report attempts to address online piracy and should be seen as a step in the right direction. The authors have reached the understanding that …criminalising consumers so as to combat digital piracy is not the right solution.

However the committee members did not agree with this and several of them have submitted proposals for changes [PDF]. The most serious is the proposal from Christopher Hilton-Hearris. His proposal will force Internet providers into action and to close the accounts of those caught violating others copyright:

This cooperation of Internet service providers should include the use of filtering technologies to prevent their networks being used to infringe intellectual property, the removal from the networks or the blocking of content that infringes intellectual property, and the enforcement of their contractual terms and conditions, which permit them to suspend or terminate their contracts with those subscribers who repeatedly or on a wide scale infringe intellectual property

He even proposes that the EU-Commission launch pro intellectual property campaigns to the general public and as a subject in schools. He is not alone in his suggestion to cut off Internet supply to those involved in copyright violations. The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy has recommended the Committee for Culture and Education to:

Calls on the internet service providers to cooperate in the fight against internet piracy and enforce their contractual terms and conditions or terminate contracts with subscribers who infringe intellectual property rights. Internet service providers should apply filtering measures to prevent copyright and stop existing infringements

Photo hear hear by massdistraction

This is an extremely simplistic and naive approach to the problem of copyright violation in digital environments.

Now that politicians are actively attempting to shut down connections the dream of creating an inclusive society based upon a technological infrastructure (for example Information Society for All) seems to be on its way out.

Why is banning people from the Internet a bad idea?

The Internet has been promoted and become our most basic communications infrastructure (obviously my focus here is Europe since this is where the proposal is being discussed).

1. The punishment does not fit the crime: We have changed the way Banks, Post Offices, ticket sales, hotel booking, insurance (etc, etc) work and banning someone from the Internet will be tantamount to branding a symbol of guilt onto the person. Not to mention the increased costs involved in time and money. Indeed why should copyright violation prevent me from online banking?

2. Group punishment: If an Internet connection is involved in copyright violation this does not mean that all those dependent upon that connection should be punished. The actual violator may be underage or the network may be open to others.

3. Privatizing the law: The ability to punish copyright violators should not be delegated to private bodies. Internet providers are not equipped to mete out legal punishments.

The proposals seen above are simplistic, naive and dangerous they show a fundamental lack of understanding not only of technology or its role in society but also a lack of understanding of the role of communication in a democratic society. The actions of the politicians proposing such measures show that they are not acting in the interests of the individuals they are there to serve.


 Apparently two core developers working on the Thunderbird email client have quit. Following the continued development of Thunderbird should be interesting.

The two core developers of Thunderbird have left Mozilla. Scott McGregor made a brief statement: ‘I wanted to let the Thunderbird community know that Friday October 12th will be my last day as an employee of the Mozilla Corporation.’ Meanwhile, David Bienvenu blogged: ‘Just wanted to let everyone know that my last day at The Mozilla Corporation will be Oct. 12. I intend to stay involved with Thunderbird… I’ve enjoyed working at Mozilla a lot, and I wish Mozilla Co and the new Mail Co all the best.’ A few month ago Mozilla management considered abandoning their second product and setting up a special corporation just for the mail client. (Slashdot)

Naturally there are lots of alternative email clients to chose from Eudora, Claws Mail or Mulberry but I really like using Thunderbird so I hope that it continues to develop.

(via Guardian)

iCommons Summit

The third annual iCommons summit will be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia (15-17 June) and this year I have the good fortune to be able to attend.

The event includes people like Creative Commons CEO, Larry Lessig, CC Chairman and Digital Entrepreneur, Joi Ito, Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales and CTO of Linden Labs, Cory Ondrejka. We have also add some new voices to the debate this year including Indiaâ??s Lawrence Liang who has become renowned for his considered commentary on the positive impact of piracy in developing countries, Jonathan Zittrain discussing themes from his new book â??The Future of the Internet and How to Stop Itâ??, Benjamin Mako Hill from MIT who will talk about competing visions of â??free cultureâ?? from the free software perspective, and Becky Hogge from the Open Rights Group, who will talk about successful campaigns to rid the world of restrictive IP laws.

I am really looking forward to it and to meeting all the other commoners. Naturally the event will be blogged 🙂

The past was technically sophisticated

The belief in our own technological superiority is amazing. The past was primitive an we are great. Such thoughts are necessary to support the illusion of our belief in a relatively linear technological development. Thatâ??s why I like it when artifacts from the past blow huge holes in our theories of superiority. One such example is the device known as the Antikythera Mechanism (I blogged about this in October last year).

The interpretation and re-interpretation of the meaning and purpose of the Mechanism have been ongoing since its discovery. Recent developments show:

The Antikythera Mechanism is a unique Greek geared device, constructed around the end of the second century bc. It is known that it calculated and displayed celestial information, particularly cycles such as the phases of the moon and a luni-solar calendarâ?¦We find a mechanical realization of this theory in the gearing of the mechanism, revealing an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period. (Nature)

For a longer piece on the new interpretations of the Mechanism read this article, and this one, and finally this one all from the New York Times online.

Grey Saturday

Yupp another rainy Saturday has rolled around. While taking a walk around town I managed to pick up Vilém Flusser‘s book Towards a Philosophy of Photography which seems very exiting. Also discovered that the cool exhibition by Mattias Adolfsson (blogged about him earlier and he also has a blog with images) was still available and so was my favourite picture. So I bought the Beatnik Dragon.

Not a bad bit of procrastination – but now it’s back to the the real writing. Or rather as LP would say – the stuff that I really get paid for…