Archive for: January, 2011

Library People at ScienceOnline 2011 (Updated)

Yes, ScienceOnline 2011 is coming up next week already! My how time flies.

Just as I did last year and in the tradition of Bora's introductions of the various attendees for the upcoming ScienceOnline 2011 conference, I thought I'd once again list all the library people that are attending.

I'm not going to try and introduce each of the library people in any detail, I'll leave that to Bora. I'll just get a list of all of us together in one place.

Over the years, there's been a solid tradition of librarians and library people attending Science Online and this year looks to be no exception. Of course, it's only the people whose names I recognize or who I was able to figure out had a library connection so I may be missing a couple. If I've missed you, let me know and I'll add you to my list.

Here goes, from Bora's introductions and the main registration list:

(BTW, there's loads of fun to be had downloading the complete registration the list into Excel...)

As usual, I can't wait to get to the conference -- this is always the highlight of the annual conference calendar for me. My son Sam and I will be arriving fairly early on Friday afternoon this year. Hopefully, I'll get around to posting summaries and impressions here.

Update 2010.01.06: Kristi Holmes added.

Update 2010.01.13: Tyler Dzuba added.

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Best Science Books 2010: Dan's Wild Wild Science Journal

Jan 12 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another list for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure.

  • The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
  • Present At The Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider by Amir Aczel
  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes
  • Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample
  • Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

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Reading Diary: Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What it's Becoming and Why it Matters by Scott Rosenberg

First of all, let me make this perfectly clear: Scott Rosenberg's Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters is a seriously terrific book. If you're a blogger, if you're interested in the phenomenon of blogging or even if you're just interested in where the media are headed, then you owe it to yourself to read this book.

I wanted to get that out of the way because, while I really enjoyed the book, there were some things that I would have liked to have seen done a bit differently and I be focusing on those quibbles more than on the things I liked about the book. I don't want to give the wrong impression about my final evaluation of the book.

First, the good stuff.

Parts One and Two give a very good history of "mainstream" blogging starting with pioneers like Justin Hall, Dave Winer and Jorn Barger through to Robert Scoble, Evan Williams Boing Boing and Heather Armstrong. While some of what he presents is pretty common knowledge, for most of it he really covered a lot of material here that I did not know. And this is really terrific, a really gripping story of people doing different things, working out a new medium on the fly.

What could be different here? Well, the story was a bit too male, a bit too American, a bit too techy, and certainly too much about political blogs and "newspaper" blogs. A bit too easy, in a sense, like he fell into the "business book" follow the money pattern. I would have really liked to get a sense of smaller blogging communities and how they arose, like the science blogging community or even knitting or food bloggers or even the liblogosphere. I really missed the small story. Blogging doesn't just disrupt mainstream journalism after all, it disrupted a lot of other information communities and that was worth exploring.

Part Three get into more conceptual territory with the title of Chapter 10, "When Everyone Has a Blog", giving a good flavour of what it's about.

Essentially he makes the case that blogging has a place in a broader media ecosystem, a normal communication activity. That everyone can play a role, that old-fashioned gatekeepers aren't the whole story for what has become a new publishing reality.

Bloggers are writers who sit down to type character after character, word upon word, day by day, steadily constructing, out of their fragments, little edifices of memory and public record. In this activity they resemble not the hordes outside the gates of a city, but rather the studious scribes within. Individually they are stewards of their own experience; together the are curators of our collective history. Their work may be less polished and professional than that of many of their predecessors. But they are more passionate, more numerous, and more inclusive -- and therefore more likely to succeed in saving what matters. (p. 351)

So, yes, a little blogging triumphalism. But that's ok, I certainly understand the impulse. Does he overstate the case on occasion? Sure, but we're only just getting beyond the early days of making that case.

Read the book, enjoy, learn. Most of all, take up the mantle, join the challenge. Communicate!

I would recommend this book to any academic library will collections in communications, journalism or science studies. It also fits nicely into any kind of general reading program that might exist. I'd also recommend it for any public library.

(And yes, Rosenberg is at ScienceOnline 2011 this coming weekend and I certainly look forward to hearing what he has to say about the tumultuous 2010 the science blogosphere had!)

Rosenberg, Scott. Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It's Becoming, and Why It Matters. New York: Broadway, 2010. 416pp. ISBN-13: 978-0307451378

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Best Science Books 2010: SkepticBlog / Michael Shermer

Jan 11 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another list for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure.

  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway
  • The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely
  • Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
  • How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like by Paul Bloom
  • The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
  • What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
  • The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values by Sam Harris
  • The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

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Best Science Books 2010: The Charlotte Observer

Jan 10 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another list for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure

  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth by Irving Kirsch
  • How Music Works: The Science and Psychology of Beautiful Sounds, From Beethoven to the Beatles and Beyond by John Powell
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

No responses yet

Around the Web: Reboot scholarly communications, (uh oh) Transliteracy, PLoS One envy and more

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From the Archives: Reviews of Cory Doctorow and Mafiaboy

I have a whole pile of science-y book reviews on two of my older blogs, here and here. Both of those blogs have now been largely superseded by or merged into this one. So I'm going to be slowly moving the relevant reviews over here. I'll mostly be doing the posts one or two per weekend and I'll occasionally be merging two or more shorter reviews into one post here.

This post, from April 4, 2009, covered two books:

=======

I'm reviewing these two books together for two reasons. First of all, I don't feel the need to go on at great length about either of them. Secondly, I think that they're related -- they both touch on the free, open and ungoverned (ungovernable?) nature of the Internet. One is a white hat treatment and the other, black hat. Or perhaps, many will think of both of these books representing a black hat perspective, that perhaps both these books represent the worst that the Internet has brought to modern society. The Web promotes openness and freedom. Generally, we consider both of those qualities to be positive. Certainly, Cory Doctorow would be a prime advocate of openness on the Web. On the other hand, the freedom that the Internet provides can also be cover for those that would exploit weakness and take advantage of others. Certainly, the story of Mafiaboy epitomizes the dark side of hacker culture.

Cory Doctorow's Content is a colletction of Doctorow's various essays on copyright and open content. collected from a bunch of different places, this is a stimulating and thought-provoking collection. Of course, every single essay is available for free on the net. An interesting conundrum, of course, is that if it's all available for free on the Web then why did I buy it? Most of all, I really like the idea of sending a little cash to the artists and thinkers whose work moves and inspires me. So, yes, I still buy books and CDs and pay to see movies in the theatre.

Never mind what you should pay for this book, who should read it? Well, if you're a copyright minimalist it's preaching to the choir. You'll agree that information wants to be free and that you the best business model for artists is to give stuff away that's easily copied and sell stuff that isn't. In other words, in a world where bits can be easily copied for virtually no cost, you have to be able to actually sell something other than pure content to make a living -- like experience. If you're a copyright maximalist, well, Doctorow is the anti-christ and you probably won't really appreciate the book. If, like most, you're in the middle, then this book is for you. Doctorow really makes a very strong and very persuasive case for his point of view, that . It's compelling and hard to ignore. You might not end up agreeing with everything (I certainly don't), but he will definitely win you over on a lot of points.

If there's one thing that detracts from Doctorow's ability to make his case, it's his attitude. Sometimes he's just too cocky, too arrogant, too sure that he's right and you're dead wrong. There's no agree-to-disagree is his world, it's my-way-or-the-highway. Take his opinion of opera:

The idea of a 60-minute album is as weird in the Internet era as the idea of sitting through 15 hours of Der Ring des Nibelungen was 20 years ago. There are some anachronisms who love their long-form opera, but the real action is in the more fluid stuff that can slither around on hot wax -- and now the superfluid droplets of MP3s and samples. Opera survives, but it is a tiny sliver of a much bigger, looser music market. The future composts the past: old operas get mounted for living anachronisms; Andrew Lloyd Webber picks up the rest of the business.

My only reaction is that Doctorow is completely wrong in this. In fact, he really contradicts the main point of the long tail that Internet gurus are so adamant about. The new media landscape doesn't make 60 minute operas less interesting and relevant. It makes them more so -- finally able to find their niche in the long tail of human artistic expression. People that like opera can enjoy and obsess over it. People that don't, well, can listen to whatever they like. The point isn't Doctorow's rather juvenile assertion that some particular type of artistic expression is somehow not worthy, the point is that the Internet enables every kind of artistic expression is a way that was not possible before.

In any case, that was one of the few false notes (all the same kind of thing) in an otherwise excellent book. Read it and disagree, engage and enrage. But it's too important to ignore. I would recommend this book to any academic or public library as well as to anyone interested in the future of content in a fragmented and radically shifting online landscape.

And let's take a look at Michael Calce and Craig Silverman's account of Calce's life as Internet hacker Mafiaboy. Its a fascinating story of a Montreal-area teen and how he got involved in the world of hacking and ended up launching a couple of big denial of service attacks on some prominent web sites like Yahoo! and CNN. Calce tells the story of how he got involved in the hacking underworld as well as how he was caught, the jail time he served as well as how he's reformed and is using his obvious computing gifts for good instead of evil.

A couple of interesting points, though. Especially in his telling of the early part of the story, Calce comes off as a bit arrogant and clueless about the seriousness of his actions, not really showing much empathy. I find this interesting because while the later chapters make it pretty clear that he's grown up and left those feelings mostly behind, there are still glimpses and insights into the teenager that caused the havoc. We see the macho reputation building, the bragging and the power trips but not really from the point an introspective point of view. I guess it's hard to expect anyone to write that kind of book.

A great story, well told, well worth reading and thinking about. I would recommend it to any academic or public library interested in the way the Internet is shaping our society.

Calce, Michael with Craig Silverman. Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken. Toronto: Viking Canada, 2008. 277pp.

Doctorow, Cory. Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future San Francisco: Tachyon, 2008. 213pp.

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eBooks and the Science Community: My ScienceOnline 2011 reading list

Jan 07 2011 Published by under acad lib future, ebooks, education, librarianship, so'11

I'll be doing a session at the upcoming ScienceOnline 2011 conference on ebooks with David Dobbs, Tom Levenson and Carl Zimmer:

Here's the description:

Sunday, 11.30-12.30

eBooks and the science community - Carl Zimmer, Tom Levenson, David Dobbs and John Dupuis

Ebooks are by far the fastest growing sector of the publishing industry. The New York Times is about to launch a best-seller list exclusively for ebooks. New systems, such as Amazon CreateSpace, allow writers to directly place their ebooks in the marketplace. In theory, they could do away with the need for a conventional publisher. Thus, ebooks could potentially disrupt traditional publishing in the same way blogging disrupted newspapers and magazines over the past decade. In this session we'll survey the ebook industry, look some examples of science ebooks, and discuss some of the implications of this development. We'll try to identify ways in which the science online community can take advantage of this opportunity.

My concerns are basically about access and business models. How do we get ebooks into people's hands and onto their devices and who pays for it? The core issue seems to be that the publishers (and authors?) want to monetize every single act of reading. Libraries (and readers?) would prefer not to head in that direction.

Is this possibly emerging ebook ecosystem of business models just a last gasp attempt by content creators to grab all the cash they can before the Web completely blows up their ability to get anyone to pay anything for digital content? Or is it economically viable and sustainable in the long term for those content creators?

In other words, typical librarian's point of view? Maybe, maybe not.

Some very rough notes on what I plan to talk about:

  • The librarian's perspective is the perspective of buying stuff and providing short- and long-term access to a wide range of audiences.
    • authors write and "publish" ebooks but libraries have to get them into people's hands, er, on their screens and in their devices
  • what are the business models for the range of "publishers" out there, from self-published to big mainstream trade publisher?
  • is the trade book industry headed for the same fate as the music industry? Why or why not?
  • ultimately, what's the difference between an ebook and the Internet?
  • Scholarly vs popular & everything in between
  • Key concerns:
    • DRM
    • Open formats & standards vs closed, ie epub vs other formats
    • device dependence vs. device independance
    • long term preservation

Anyways, here's some recent and not-so-recent posts on ebooks and online business models that I'll be (re)reading to prepare for the session.

Needless to say, this only scatches the surface of the available material on ebooks and, more broadly, business models for digital content.

I might do another of these reading list posts next week. As well, Scott Rosenberg also does fairly frequent link dumps on ebooks.

Suggestions for more are, of course, welcome.

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Friday Fun: How to Operate the New Paper Book You Received for Christmas

Jan 07 2011 Published by under ebooks, friday fun

A nice tutorial for all those Born Digital Natives out there who only know how to use the dagnabbit newfangled flibbergibbet iPadnicks and Kindlemawhoosits and Kobots.

HOW TO OPERATE THE NEW PAPER BOOK YOU RECEIVED FOR CHRISTMAS:

1) Pick up book. Place in lap.

2) Open book.

3) Read the words.

Voila! Just three easy steps for you to enjoy that brand new paper book you received from Santa.

Put that in your manual typewriter and smoke it, you whippersnappers!

And get off my lawn!

6 responses so far

Best Science Books 2010: Inc

Jan 06 2011 Published by under best science books 2010, science books

Another list for your reading, gift giving and collection development pleasure.

  • The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick
  • MacroWikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
  • You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
  • Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson
  • The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home by Dan Ariely

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up a lot of lists from Largehearted Boy.

Earlier entries in this year's list of lists can be found here and the 2009 summary post here.

No responses yet

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