Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Friday Fun: Scooby Doo Team Expose Climate Change Tricksters

Somehow this post from News Biscuit seems even more relevant now than when it was intially published back in August. Of course, we all shudder to think who will be under that ghostly costume, orange hair, Alaska plaid, Brietbart ball cap and all.

Scooby Doo Team Expose Climate Change Tricksters

A two-man, two-woman, one-Great Dane team of young Americans has exposed the belief that the Earth is heading towards widespread famine and ecological disaster, as the work of a scheming fraudster. Team leader Fred explained that they were passing through Central London in their VW camper van when a recent copy of the Daily Express alerted them to a mystery.

Despite increasing talk about global warming, recent winters have often been quite cold. ‘We suspected there might be something odd going on, so we split into two teams,’ Fred told reporters. ‘Me, Daphne and Velma looked in the basement at the Met Office, while Shaggy and Scooby were sent to explore the newsroom of a little-known newspaper called The Guardian which had been publishing some of these made-up stories.’

Read this whole thing and shudder.

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Documenting the Donald Trump War on Science: Pre-Inauguration Edition

Update 2017.01.31: First post-inauguration chronology post is done, covering the first week of the Trump administration.

From the point of view of someone sitting North of the Canadian/US border, the results of this week's US Federal election are somewhat terrifying. And honestly and truly as a Canadian and a Torontonian, I say this without a bit of smugness. Been there, done that, if not quite on the same scale.

And by done that, I mean that I've often seen my mission to document important stories in the world. In the past, mostly Canadian or mostly in the library world and all basically about science.

This time around, I'm going to start a project about science in the new Donald Trump administration. I believe Trump will be terrible for science, technology, the environment and public health. And I intend to document that here. Of course, Trump won't be terrible for science in exactly the same way that Harper was in Canada. For example, he may not target research funding in the same way. On the other hand, the environment may fare much worse and ultimately muzzling may also prove to be a problem. It's only over the course of the next couple of years that we'll really and truly get a sense of the implications.

But why wait until we see the share of how exactly Trump is bad for science to start keeping track?

I like what David Kipen said today in the LA Times.

If all these experiences have taught me anything, it’s that librarians may be the only first responders holding the line between America and a raging national pandemic of absolutism. More desperately than ever, we need our libraries now, and all three of their traditional pillars: 1) education, 2) good reading and 3) the convivial refuge of a place apart. In other words, libraries may be the last coal we have left to blow on.

First Responder -- Information Division is a role I can live with.

Like Anil Dash says, "Forget “Why?”, it’s time to get to work."

Don’t waste a single moment listening to the hand-wringing of the pundit class about Why This Happened, or people on TV talking about What This Means. The most important thing is that we focus on the work that needs to be done now. While so many have been doing what it takes to protect the marginalized and to make society more just, we must increase our urgency on those efforts, even while we grieve over this formidable defeat.

It is completely understandable, and completely human, to be depressed, demoralized or overwhelmed by the enormity of this broad embrace of hateful rhetoric and divisive policy. These are battles that have always taken decades to fight, and progress has never been smooth and steady — we’ve always faced devastating setbacks. If you need to take time to mourn, then do. But it’s imperative that we use our anger, our despair, our disbelief to fuel an intense, focused and effective campaign to protect and support the marginalized.

And it has to start now.

My small contribution is focusing on the effects the Trump administration will have on science, technology, the environment and public health. (As with my Canadian project, I consider healthcare funding models outside of my scope.)

So let's get started. I have a few sections to this post. The first will focus on documenting what happened before November 8, 2016. What he said about science and the environment. The second section will focus on commentary in the past few days since the election. The third section will be similar, but focusing on the implications for Canada. The final section will begin documenting actual anti-science actions and policies (yay, we already have a couple!)

Wish me luck. As usual, everyone should feel free to suggest things I've missed, either in the comments or privately at dupuisj@gmail.com. I'm not attempting to be comprehensive or complete in the commentary I'm picking up, but I do want to attempt to be fairly representative.

 

Pre-Election Commentary

 

Post-Election Commentary

 

Post-Election Commentary Added November 21, 2016

 

Post-Election Commentary Related to Implications for Canada

 


And finally, the beginning of the tally of cuts, etc.

 

Some Meta-Commentary Related More to Activism than Directly to Science

 

To repeat. This initial list is quick and very preliminary. Please let me know if there's anything you think I should include, either in the comments or at dupuisj@gmail.com. I'm not attempting to be comprehensive or complete in the commentary I'm picking up, but I do want to attempt to be fairly representative.

If I've missed anything or if anything I've included probably shouldn't be included, let me know and I'll take a look and evaluate.

I will be updating this master list as time goes by.

 

Update 2016.11.21. Quite a bit of commentary added, as well as some general info related to activism and resistance. One incident added, related to Steve Bannon. I'm treading a fine line between "what might happen and it would be bad" and "this is a thing that we know is actually happening." Probably the announcement of the actual cabinet will bring more information on the what the Trump presidency will mean for science, the environment and public health.
Update 2016.12.06. Quite a bit added again, lots of commentary and "meta" items. In particular, as the cabinet and other appointments are fleshed out, there's more to identify as issues.

14 responses so far

Cool linky stuff for science undergrads (15): What it's like to understand advanced mathematics, How to write your first math paper and more

Aug 24 2016 Published by under around the web, ugrad links, Uncategorized

I have a son who will be finishing up his undergrad in physics this coming school year with an eye towards possible graduate work in math. As you can imagine, I occasionally see a link or two on the web that I think he might particularly interesting or useful. Thinking on that fact, I surmised that perhaps a) this kind of post might be more efficient and b) other undergrad students might find those links interesting or useful as well. Hence, this series of posts here on the blog.

I have a bit of a backlog of these so might post a few between now and the beginning of the fall academic term.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

The previous posts in this series are: 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

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Am I the only one who wants to see a review of Canadian Federal Science Library infrastructure?

Aug 02 2016 Published by under Canada, Politics, Science in Canada, Uncategorized

I'm afraid the answer to that might be "Yes." Perhaps I'm the only one who's still interested and perhaps not, but there seems to be little movement towards launching a review of Canadian Science Library infrastructure.

Why do I think such a review is a good idea?

First of all, I've documented the devastation wrought on that infrastructure under the Conservatives. Not only do I chronicle the destruction, but at the same time you can clearly see from the assembled articles I link to in that post how much the various opposition parties -- including the now-in-government Liberals -- used those cuts to attack the science record of the Conservatives.

Clearly, damage was done those critical of the situation demanded something be done to fix it. At least some of people are in government now.

Second of all, the current Liberal government is certainly in a reviewing mood. They've currently launched a review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science as well as concurrent and related reviews of their Innovation Agenda and Environmental Assessment Review processes. Both are areas savaged by the Conservatives. And clearly the government sees and understands when that so much long term damage is done to government program capacity and capability, you have to be thoughtful and deliberate about how you go about repairing that damage. Band aids aren't the solution.

I would argue that the same is true with Federal Science Library infrastructure. That a transparent and independent review process needs to be established. But that doesn't seem to be happening.

Rather we are getting an internally developed Federal Science Library project.

Which in and of itself isn't a bad idea. The aim of the FSL project is to build a shared capacity across all the science-related departments that would effectively replace all that was cut and destroyed. Of course, this project was initiated by the Conservatives and seems to be proceeding apace without any external oversight or meaningful input. Unlike what is happening with the various reviews, where the government is clearly seeking external input. Is a review of science library capacity included in those other reviews? We just don't know.

Some more info on the FSL project from these links: Rethinking Federal Library Services - A Collaborative Model CLA 2015 presentation and mentions in the Royal Society Expert Panel on Canada's Libraries, Archives and Public Memory and the Canada's Action Plan on Open Government 2014-16 document.

Which brings me to what prompted this post in the first place. The Feds have posted a job ad for the head of the FSL. I've reproduced most of it below; it has some relevant descriptions of what the FSL project is all about.

In a sense, I'm happy to see that the government is proceeding with the project and that they're taking seriously the need to support research and policy making in their science-based departments and beyond.

But as I say, we really do need to step back and evaluate what happened under the Conservatives and plan a way forward, with the Federal Science Library project openly and transparently working with the broader science, library and science library communities in Canada to make sure that new infrastructure meets the needs of government and, by extension, all the citizens of Canada. I hope that this will be the first task of the new chief of the Federal Science Library project.

When the issues at the DFO and other libraries became apparent, everyone made a big deal of it. It was a crisis, it was a disaster, it was the destruction of our heritage and an attack on knowledge and science and evidence. It was an embarrassment. It was a travesty that all those collections were dispersed and destroyed so cavalierly and that staff with so much expertise were let go. All of those statements were true at the time and resonated greatly beyond the usual echo chambers. The anger around the destruction of Canada's science libraries contributed in some small way to the downfall of the Conservatives. But now it's time to follow through and make sure that what gets built on the ashes of that infrastructure is what's needed. We're not relying on purely internal government processes to make sure that fundamental science is rebuilt properly. No, we're having a public review process. Same with the innovation agenda and environmental review processes.

Let's do the same for science libraries.

To finish, I'll include a couple of snippets from some previous posts where I cover some of the same territory.

 

Your Feedback Needed: Government of Canada Launches Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science

Library infrastructure is another Platform technology that needs to be properly funded. Science and other libraries were devastated under the Conservatives, as was Library and Archives Canada. Yes, I know we have the Federal Science Library project in progress and yes, we have a new head of LAC. I know that we already have three (!) reviews on going (see below). But given the devastation of the Conservative years, I think a review of Federal government library infrastructure is sorely needed.

 

Science in Canada: Some advice for a new Chief Science Officer

What hasn’t really appeared on any of the lists I’ve seen is fixing the damage that the previous Conservative government did to the science library infrastructure in Canada, most prominently to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans library system but also to the systems at Environment Canada and others.

While those libraries were being closed and consolidated, we were assured that the collections were properly merged and weeded, that new scanning and document delivery procedures were being implemented that would effectively replace the local staff and collections and that researchers would see no difference in the level of service. The Federal government did announce an extensive re-visioning of it’s science library infrastructure. Which looks good on paper.

But it’s safe to say that basically no one believed the Conservatives were up to the challenge of doing a good job of this. All the evidence that we were able to see indicated that the merging and consolidation of collections was rushed, haphazard and devoid of planning at best and willfully destructive at worst. As far as I can tell, we have nothing but the previous government’s word that the scanning and document delivery services that were rushed into the breach are anywhere near sufficient. Nor did we see real evidence that they were truly committed to the revisioning.

One of the things that the Liberals promised in their platform was to appoint a Chief Science Officer.

We will value science and treat scientists with respect.

We will appoint a Chief Science Officer who will ensure that government science
is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their
work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes
decisions

The CSO hasn’t been appointed yet, but I see no reason why we should all start thinking about what that new person should set their sights on when they start.

I propose that the new Chief Science Officer, in collaboration with the Minister of Science, the Minister of Heritage and all the rest of the science-related Ministers convene a special advisory panel to take a look at what’s left of Canada’s science library infrastructure and make any recommendations that are necessary to restore the collections and service levels to what Canada’s Federal government scientists (and all Canadians) need and deserve while the proposed revisioning takes place. At least fifty percent of the membership of this panel should probably consist of librarians and other stakeholders that currently employed by the Federal Government in any capacity. I also believe that this advisory panel should remain in place as a steering committee for the revisioning of the new Federal Science Library.

At the end of the day, the collections have been dispersed, the staff laid off and the physical spaces repurposed. So much of the damage that was done cannot be repaired.

I should be clear that I don’t think the function of this group should be to point fingers or assign blame or rehash past mistakes. It should be forward-looking and patron-focused, with a mission to make sure patrons have the services and collections they need in the short, medium and long term.

 

Comment and Response in Comments Section of above post

ScienceLibrariantoo
Ottawa
November 7, 2015

I like and applaud your efforts here to bring attention to the challenges in federal science and departmental libraries. In this case you are misrepresenting facts. The Federal Science Library (FSL) is nothing to do with past government and everything to do with library directors and their enlightened directors general working to preserve and create a more sustainable model for the future…together. FSL is being built entirely from current library operating budgets…creating scale and economy and sharing investment in new technology that none of us could realize separately – through what is a unique partnership built on years of collaboration. We need support for what we have built largely through our determination NOT to have our libraries thrown under the bus in efforts to reduce costs in departments. We invite shining a light on our efforts of the last three years designing and finding a way to gain endorsement in our departments and as an Open Government Open Information core commitment.

 

John Dupuis
November 7, 2015

Hi ScienceLibrarianToo, I’m glad to here I’m wrong here and that the FSL project represents a sincere effort to design and build a better federal science library infrastructure. But you have to admit, for people on the outside looking in, it’s really hard to tell if that is the case. Especially given that the old infrastructure seems to have been dismantled before the new one is put into place.

So maybe an interesting way to shine that light and build that support and endorsement is by engaging a steering committee or advisory committee or something that includes external stakeholders. (If there’s already such a thing and I just don’t know about it, that’s great too and I’m happy that’s in place.)

I really do wish you well. I want to reiterate that my post wasn’t at all meant as criticism or finger-pointing at the librarians and library staff at the various federal science-related ministries (and LAC as well, to be honest) who have no doubt laboured under difficult circumstances over the past few years.

===

 

Chief, Federal Science Library
Knowledge Management
Ottawa - Ontario

LS-5

This is a 2 year term position from the date of reporting.
Assignments and secondments may be considered according to NRC's policies. Interested applicants seeking an assignment or secondment opportunity must seek approval from their supervisor before submitting their application.

Your challenge

Help shape and build the Federal Science Library (FSL). FSL is a collaborative initiative between seven science-based departments, including the NRC. FSL is an integrated library model which provides expanded library services to members of participating departments. NRC is the technical lead for the FSL initiative and is the named employer of the FSL support team.

We are looking for a vibrant and dynamic Chief to support FSL. The Chief would be someone who shares our core values of impact, accountability, leadership, integrity and collaboration.

Working closely with library teams across seven departments and agencies, you will be responsible for the innovation, direction and management of FSL. This includes management of the FSL operations support team, the scientific knowledge base/systems, and the provision of expert strategic advice to senior management and external authorities.

Screening criteria

Applicants must demonstrate within the content of their application that they meet the following screening criteria in order to be given further consideration as candidates:

Education

Graduation from a recognized post-secondary institution with a master's degree in library science or in library and information science.

Experience

Significant experience in the creation and/or implementation of strategic or operational plans.

Significant experience in the management, design and delivery of library and information services in a federal government setting.

Significant experience managing a team.

Significant experience managing a budget.

Experience leading collaborative projects involving multiple stakeholders.

Experience providing strategic advice to senior management.

Condition of employment
Reliability Status

Language requirements

Bilingual imperative CBC/CBC
Information on language requirements and self-assessment tests

Assessment criteria

Candidates will be assessed on the basis of the following criteria:

Technical competencies:

Expert knowledge of issues, trends, best practices and solutions supporting the delivery of library services.

Knowledge of the legislative and policy framework related to the management of information and library services in the Government of Canada.

Knowledge of library/information science theories and principles, practices and processes including integrated on-line systems and electronic database management.

Knowledge of program management and framework planning and development.

Behavioural competencies:

Conceptual and analytic ability (Level 3)
Initiative (Level 3)
Partnering (Level 3)
Teamwork (Level 3)
Communication (Level 3)

For this position, NRC will evaluate candidates using the following competency profile(s): | Management Services

View all competency profiles.

 


Update 2016.08.08.
A couple of grammar issues fixed. Thanks Ziad!

3 responses so far

Canadian Library Association National Forum: Readings for Digital Strategy and the Government of Canada

May 30 2016 Published by under Canada, librarianship, Politics, Uncategorized

I'll be attending upcoming Canadian Library Association National Forum, a kind of sunset conference as CLA reimagines and recreates itself. The idea is to take the pulse of Canadian librarians on the important issues in the library-related landscape. I'll be curating the session on Canada's National Digital Strategy, including presentations by me and two others, Emily Landriault and Bobby Glushko.

The details are below.

 

Digital Strategy and the Government of Canada

Presentation speakers

Date: Wednesday June 1st
Time: 3:30PM to 5:00 PM
Room: Joliet

Description:

An Introduction to Canada’s National Digital Strategy

Government digital strategy encompasses a wide range of topics, from fostering digital innovation, to open government data, to privacy and security legislation, to telecommunications policy, to cyberbullying prevention, and Canadian content regulations. Over the last few years of their mandate, the previous Conservative government put policies in place in many of those areas, with their high level strategy outlined in the Digital Canada 150 document.

  • Where will the new Liberal government take us?
  • Are there any hints as to what their digital strategy might be?
  • What previous initiatives will be discontinued and what new initiatives will be created?

Come to this interactive session where expert panelists will touch on a few of the most important areas of Canada’s digital strategy as well as engaging participants in a conversation about how the library community could both move forward on some initiatives of our own as well as influence the government’s direction.

The format of the session with be three 15 minute presentations by the speakers, a short Q&A (10 minutes), followed by individual group discussions at the tables (20 minutes) and finally, the groups reporting back to the room (15 minutes).

Some questions to spark the group discussions:

  • What are the most important digital strategy issues and priorities affecting libraries?
  • Where are our priorities diverging from the government's?
  • How should libraries, librarians and library associations advocate for change?
  • What opportunities can we seize or create?
  • What should we advocate for?
  • What outcomes are we looking for?

I'll also note what is out of scope in my session: topics that will be covered by other sessions at the National Forum: Copyright, Digitization and other issues related to Library and Archives Canada.

I've written a bit about the Digital Canada 150 policy document here and here. Also relevant and useful are the Ministerial Mandate Letters for the ministers of Heritage, Innovation and Science, all of which are available here.

Digital Canada 150 from 2014 is the closest we have to an active National Digital Strategy, so I'm using the structure of that document to frame my own thoughts and research. Below I have some of the readings I've done to prepare for the session.

I hope to see you there! The hashtag is #CLAOtt16. I'll post my slides once the conference is over.

 

The Five Pillars of Digital Canada 150

 

1. Connecting Canadians (CRTC/Cable TV/Broadband/Wireless Policy)

 

2. Protecting Canadians (Cyberbullying/Security/Privacy/Anti-Spam) (Mostly Bobby speaking to this)

 

3. Economic Opportunities (Innovation/Productivity/Big Data/Intellectual Property Laws, Canada Research Excellence Fund/NRC Transformation/CFI/CANARIE Digital Accelerator/MITACS)

 

4. Digital Government (Open Government/Open Data/Open Access/Access to Information) (Emily speaking to this and provide some of the readings)

 

5. Canadian Content (Digitization/LAC & Historica & Canadiana.org/NFB Digitization/CRTC/Canadian Content Rules)

 

As usual, if I've missed anything important, please let me know in the comments.

One response so far

Who's to blame for Sci-Hub? Librarians, of course!

Apr 29 2016 Published by under Uncategorized

And by blame, I mean "blame."

Yesterday the flagship journal of the AAAS, Science, published a series of feature and editorial articles on Sci-Hub, the unauthorized article sharing site.

Overall, the articles are pretty good descriptions of the Sci-Hub phenomenon and relatively even-handed, especially coming from one of the big society publishers like AAAS.

There was one bit in the main article, Who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone, that really stuck in my craw. Basically, Sci-Hub -- and all that article piracy -- is librarians' fault.

And for all the researchers at Western universities who use Sci-Hub instead, the anonymous publisher lays the blame on librarians for not making their online systems easier to use and educating their researchers. “I don’t think the issue is access—it’s the perception that access is difficult,” he says.

Fortunately it was countered, in the true "give both sides of the story" style of mainstream journalism, by another quote, this time from a librarian.

“I don’t agree,” says Ivy Anderson, the director of collections for the California Digital Library in Oakland, which provides journal access to the 240,000 researchers of the University of California system. The authentication systems that university researchers must use to read subscription journals from off campus, and even sometimes on campus with personal computers, “are there to enforce publisher restrictions,” she says.

But of course, I couldn't let it go. Anderson's response is perfectly fine but somehow there just wasn't enough rage and exasperation in it. So I stewed about it over night and tweeted up a tweetstorm of rage this morning, with the idea that if the rant was well-received I would capture the text as part of a blog post.

For what it's worth, the tweets did go viral, or at least "viral" in the sense that anything in the library/scholarly communications world can go viral. At last check, there were several hundred Twitter notifications generated by the tweets and Twitter Analytics tells me that my day's tweeting has generated well over 100,000 impressions.

So, here it is, cleaned up a bit for readability.

Twitter rant on Sci-Hub article “Who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone” in recent @sciencemagazine initiating in 3...2...1...

Do you want to know who’s my Worst Person in the World right now? (OK, not really worst person in the world, that would be Donald Trump, but schol comm/libraries microcosm worst person)?

It’s the Anonymous Publisher quoted in this Science article by John Bohannon: Who's downloading pirated papers? Everyone.

The problem? They basically blame the Sci-Hub debacle (or at least debacle from the publishers’ perspective) on librarians. Yes, librarians are causing massive piracy of paywalled articles.

Let me quote:

And for all the researchers at Western universities who use Sci-Hub instead, the anonymous publisher lays the blame on librarians for not making their online systems easier to use and educating their researchers "I don’t think the issue is access—it’s the perception that access is difficult," he says.

What an Anonymous Coward. If you’re going to piss all over the people who sign the checks that keep your business running, you should at least have the guts to sign your name and take some responsibility.

Are our systems difficult? Aren’t you publishers the ones that “break” the hyperlink ethos of the web by creating the paywalls in the first place? And aren’t you the ones who have a different interface created by each company that people have to learn?

Google and Google Scholars are the tools most scholars use to find papers and they bypass searching systems. What those researchers are finding hard to deal with is YOUR set of barriers and Tower of Babel systems across publishers. We’re trying to make it better, you're trying to make it worse because that’s how you make your money.

As for educating our researchers -- we do, or at least we try to. You try explaining to a young researcher how the one thing that doesn’t work like the rest of the web is finding journals. Proxy servers, VPNs, Interlibrary Loans systems, content aggregators, library discovery systems, one hack or barrier after another imposed by YOU.

No wonder they use Sci-Hub, which does work like the rest of the web.

And let’s talk about, "it’s the perception that access is difficult." No, the perception isn’t that access is difficult, it’s the reality that the friction your exploitative business model imposes on the scientific enterprise is what makes access more difficult than it should be.

Do librarians share some of the blame for the mess that is scholarly communications? Of course we do. All the stakeholder groups share some of the blame. But targeting librarians, easily the least powerful stakeholder group, as the main cause of piracy is the pinnacle of hubris and a classic blame-deflection strategy.

"Look, it’s the fault of the people least able to defend themselves or actually effect change!"

Bullshit.

Dear Anonymous Coward, please reveal yourself so we can discuss when academia put librarians in charge.

By the way, my more complete thoughts on Sci-Hub and a list of links here: The Sci-Hub story so far: Main event or sideshow?

Unhinged rant ended.

I would like to re-iterate that my beef here isn't so much with the set of articles in Science as a whole, but rather with the Anonymous Publisher themselves. While the Anonymous Publisher is perhaps not representative of anything or anyone other than themselves, the spirit of their remarks has certainly struck a chord with librarians and scholars and seems to be at least somewhat indicative of how librarians see their relationships with publishers.

3 responses so far

Around the Web: The math the planet relies on isn’t adding up right now and more on the science and politics of climate change

One response so far

Friday Fun: To Life, Death and Beyond: The Music of Magma -- Crowdfunding the Strangest Band of All Time

Apr 15 2016 Published by under friday fun, music mondays, Uncategorized

Magma, the strangest rock band of all time, needs you to help finance a documentary film about their life and work.

So here goes. Up until a year or so ago I'd never heard of the French prog rock band Magma, or at least their music had never penetrated my consciousness. But last year while spending the month of May in Paris, I visited a bunch or record stores (and book stores and comic stores...) and noticed records and CDs by this band Magma prominently displayed, like I should know who they are or something. It took me a while to notice enough that I forced myself to dig a bit deeper and read up about them online and maybe listen to a bit of their music. I liked it, for sure, but didn't really get all that excited. Prog rock isn't really my thing. But earlier this year I discovered their off-shoot band One Shot -- who have a much more jazz rock/fusion sound -- gave Magma another listen. But again, not too much of an impact yet.

And then I attended Magma's concert here in Toronto as part of their Endless Tour....the only other musical experience I can recall that was even stranger and more compelling was a Sun Ra concert I attended way back in the late 1980's in Montreal. I was blown away, which was not bad for -- at the very last minute -- deciding to attend a concert by a band I really didn't know all that much about.

Sinuous and pulsating, their music is a kind of hybrid of the intense, ecstatic jazz of John Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders and the over-the-top operatic bombast of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. You know, the music that always plays in horror movies as the gates of hell open and a monster emerges to devour all mankind.

Of course, Magma's lyrics are sung/chanted in the the language created by founder Christian Vander: Kobaïan. With a cosmic storyline about refugees fleeing a environmentally devastated Earth to settle on the planet Kobaïa. Created by Vander in the late 1960s, Magma is truly as unique as unique gets. Other bands say they are unique, Magma lives it.

Fast forward to 2-16. Some dedicated fans from Vancouver want to make a documentary film about Magma and they've setup a Kickstarter (running until April 27th) to raise a bit of the money they need to finance the project. That Kickstarter is here. Let's support a film about a truly unique artist with a vision like none other.

As a bit of supplemental reading, here are a few cool bits I've found explaining the Magma phenomenon.

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My new project launching today: The Quisling Qourner: A group blog on the library/publisher relationship

Reader Beware: Please note the date of publication of this post.

It's been really gratifying over the last year to see how my DSCaM scholarly communications empire has grown. From it's small beginnings, Dupuis Science Computing & Medicine has craved out a small but important niche in the discount APC publishing community.

And I really appreciate how the scholarly communications community has encouraged my career progression from publisher of a journal at Elsevier to Chief Advisor on Science Libraries for the Government of Canada to last year's huge launch of DSCaM.

And the DSCaM empire grows.

This year I would like to announce the launch of a major new initiative: The Quisling Qorner: A Group Blog on the Library/Publisher Relationsship.

I like to think of this new blogging community as being a fellow traveller with the longstanding Scholarly Kitchen blog. As well, we'd like to welcome the brand new In the Open: Libraries, Scholarship, and Publishing blog to the scholarly communications group blog family. While the Scholarly Kitchen tends to take the publisher's side of things and IO seems headed more towards a bias in the library direction, I think the QQ has it's own important niche.

And that niche would be the firm belief that the library side and the publisher side of the story are really the same tale, that libraries and publishers should be friends and colleagues of the highest order, that we are essentially on the same side of all the important issues in scholarly communication, that our interests are so intrinsically and explicitly tied together that they are essentially the same.

Publishers are librarians' best friends, they know what's good for us and we should just follow their lead in important matters.

Heaven knows, as librarians we've enjoyed so much publisher hospitality at conferences -- the wine! the cheese! the free pens! -- that it's really time for us to give back. There have been too many years of tragic misunderstanding and animosity between the two communities.

And repairing that damaged relationship will be the role of The Quisling Qorner. I've invited a plethora of the brightest lights in librarianship, some well known, some up-and-comers, to contribute their thoughts about how we can bring librarians and publishers closer together. I've also invited friends and colleagues in the scientific and publishing communities to weight in on some of those same issues as well a provide of broader perspective of how libraries and librarians can serve their interests exclusively.

 

Finally, I'd like to announce the first set up amazing posts that I'm publishing today. I'm a firm believer that any new blogging project needs to launch with enough initial content to draw people in and keep them reading.

So here goes -- the first set of posts, all by shining lights in the library/publisher interface universe!

 
And here's a few titles for forthcoming posts, all either written and in the pipeline or under development by the authors!

  • Paywalled Journals Are the Best, Only the Best, They Are HUUUUUUGE, I'll Build a Wall Around Them So Only the Good Scientists Can Read My Articles and Make Science Great Again by Donald Trump
  • PLoS Should Buy a Majority Stock in Elsevier: Here's Why by Roberta Eksevierian
  • Why APCs Are the One True Way Forward for Publisher Business Models by Cameron Neylon
  • Fire all Older Librarians and Give Their Salaries to Elsevier by Phillipa Springster
  • Thomson Reuter's ISI Makes all Citation Data Open Access in Bid to Thwart Allegations of Impact Factor Manipulations by Sharma Singh
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements as a Preferred Library Bargaining Tactic by Frances Taylor

 

And please consider this an open call. Everyone should go right ahead and pitch post ideas in the comments!

And the first authors' meeting will be in Stockholm in 2017! Paid for by all those fantastic publishers!

Update 2016.04.04. Laura Crossett's just published post was added to the list.

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Reading Diary: Graphic novel catch-up: Manga Guide to Physiology, Human Body Theatre, Secret Coders, Snowden

Feb 29 2016 Published by under book review, science books, Uncategorized

Rall, Ted. Snowden. New York: Random House, 2015. 224pp. ISBN-13: 978-1609806354

For those that have watched Citizenfour or read Glenn Greenwald's No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. surveillance state, there's not much new or shocking in Ted Rall's excellent graphic novel, Snowden.

But for someone who hasn't had a chance to check out either or those works, this is a fantastic place to start a deeper exploration into the amazing story around Edward Snowden, one of the major figures in the current debate about the way governments try to control and monitor the Internet. It affects our privacy, our security not to mention our sense of whether or not our governments work for our benefit or whether they see our interests as subservient to their own desire for control and secrecy. And we're not just talking about the secret US government programs that Snowden blew the whistle on, but a whole bunch of other countries too.

Ted Rall's very fine graphic novel uses a stark and subtle style of illustration as well as a keen sense of narrative to hit the high points. This book is highly recommended for all library collections that deal with the interface between technology and politics -- academic, public and even middle school or high school libraries.

 

Tanaka, Etsuro; Keiko Koyama; and Becom Co. Ltd. The Manga Guide to Physiology. San Francisco: No Starch Press, 2016.256pp. ISBN-13: 978-1593274405

Similar to the Survive! Inside the Human Body graphic novel series I reviewed a little while back, The Manga Guide to Physiology is a spoonful-of-sugar-makes-the-medicine-go-down treatment of physiology in a graphic novel format, a specialty of the the publisher, No Starch Press. In fact, the Manga Guide series and the Survive! series are both No Starch publications.

An No Starch really knows how to do this type of book well. Just as the Survive! books combined a fun story with serious information about the various systems that make the human body run in quite a bit of detail, so too does the Manga Guide to Physiology. The framing story for the Manga Guide is a nursing student, Kumiko, who needs to, uh, bone up on physiology for a make up exam. Under the tutelage of a cool young prof, Kumiko combines studying for the exam with preparing to run a marathon. The framing here works extremely well as there's plenty of opportunity for light-hearted banter and well as serious discussion about physiology. The race-training provides a great opportunity for putting the book-learning into practice! As with many other books of this type, the story line covers only fairly basic information while each chapter has several pages of more in-depth information.

This is a very fine book which would work well for a quick study of the basics in any physiology course, sort of to provide some scaffolding to help get a student over the hump. Any academic, public or school library would benefit by having this fun and instructive book in their collection.

 

Wicks, Maris. Human Body Theater. New York: First Second Press, 2015. 240pp. ISBN-13: 978-1626722774

Maris Wicks' wonderful Human Body Theatre is quite similar to The Manga Guide to Physiology in that it is a fun and lighthearted digest of anatomy and physiology. However, while the Manga Guide could quite easily be used to provide some support/scaffolding for an actual course in physiology, HBT doesn't go into anywhere near the same detail. As such, it's more appropriate for younger students who show an interest in biology or physiology, probably at the elementary or middle school level. The art is simple and elegant yet detailed enough to illustrate the science while the story is fun and breezy. Basically, a skeleton telling it's story through the various systems of the body while it sort of re-assembles itself into a fully-fleshed body.

A fun book that I would recommend for any school or public library as well as any academic library that collects graphic novels. It would also make a perfect gift for any child that has shown some interest in science or biology.

 

Yang, Gene Luen and Mike Holmes. Secret Coders, Book 1. New York: First Second Press, 2015. 96pp. ISBN-13: 978-1626720756

Want to get a youngster in your life acquainted with the logical principles that underpin computer programming? Well, Volume 1 of Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes' Secret Coders series is just the book to get the tech ball rolling. Hopper has just started at a new school and is feeling a bit discombobulated. But she does make a few friends among the nerdier denizens of her new school. But there are mysteries at this new school -- some sort of cleaning robot that behaves by some strange rules or instructions. Hopper and her buddies' process of figuring out what that all means is the first step in the books stealthy introduction to what programming is all about -- teaching a machine to follow instructions. Of course, we have a cliff hanger so Volume 2 is anxiously awaited.

Of course, the name of our hero is a nice nod to computing history.

This is a very fine book that I would recommend for any school or public library as well as any academic library that collections science- or technology-themed graphic novels. It would also make a great gift for any young person who might be interested in science or technology.

 
(Manga Guide to Physiology, Human Body Theatre and Secret Coders review copies all provided by the publishers.)

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Other science graphic novels and illustrated books I have reviewed:

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