Cool! I have been accepted to participate in the Summer Institute for the Consortium for the Science of Socio-Technical Systems (CSST) 2010 , funded by NSF. I'm looking forward to meeting some recent smart PhD graduates as well as the instructors and the faculty. The event will take place at Skamania Lodge, Stevenson, WA.
Open Access Repositories in the Cultural Configuration of Disciplines
Applying Actor-Network Theory to Knowledge Production by Astronomers and Philosophers of Science
This qualitative study provides an understanding of the role of self-archived disciplinary open access repositories in the cultural configuration of scholarly disciplines. It examines the implications of the technological and organizational layers of access tools and open access repositories and researchers' lived experiences and perceptions layer on researchers' localized knowledge production context and the construction of disciplinary knowledge production contexts. The actor-network theory, which posits that technological and social actors reciprocally affect each other, is applied to compare and contrast the information practices of two groups of researchers: the use of arXiv by astronomers, and the use of PhilSci by philosophers of science. Six astronomers and five philosophers of science were identified through purposeful selection. The interviews with the researchers were conducted over a period of five months, ranging in length between 40-75 minutes. Primary documentary evidence, describing open access repositories and access tools, is also used for the analysis. The findings show that the open access repositories, the access tools, and researchers' individual knowledge production contexts are co-constructed as researchers search, discover and access scholarly artifacts. Open access has impacted researchers' knowledge production by realigning the existing processes and by instigating the emergence of new actors and constructs. Four themes emerge as researchers articulate their perceptions about the value and the role of open access: impact on scholarly process, impact on scholarly output, integration with scholarly context, and democratization of the scholarly discourse. Congruent with the domain-analytic approach, two distinct socio-technological models emerge. Astronomers perceive arXiv as important and critical in their scholarly information practices, with a central role in their discipline. However, philosophers of science perceive PhilSci as having a limited value in their scholarly information practices and rather minimal role in their discipline. The properties of disciplinary cultures, such as the mutual dependence between researchers and the task uncertainty in a specific discipline, are implicated in the appropriation of the open access repositories and access tools at individual and disciplinary level. The socio-technological co-constructionist approach emerges as a viable theoretical and methodological framework to explicate complex socio-technological contexts.
This past Tuesday I passed my dissertation defense and presented my public dissertation this afternoon. Yes, I'm all done! :) Hopefully now I will have more time to keep writing here.
Open Access Repositories in the Cultural Configuration of Disciplines:
Applying Actor-Network Theory to Knowledge Production by Astronomers and Philosophers of Science
In 'response' to Theories informing my research, I would like to bring to attention another issue of concern regarding the empowering or restrictive properties the tacit and explicit theories have on individual's way of thinking and research.
Sooner or later many of us are guided by set of theories, frameworks and paradigms in our research work, some of them tacit and some explicit. They direct our research within the appropriate and relevant scholarly community, thus increasing the chances for scholarly collaboration and communication with like-minded folks.
However, the same theories, paradigms and frameworks also limit our imagination and innovative thinking, they create the box within which we think and operate. Thus, they can have potentially negative effect by filtering away problems and issues that merit scholarly scrutiny but are not scrutinized because our mode of thinking does not allow them to reach us.
In this sense, the explicit theories and frameworks we subscribe to are perhaps less inhibitive to our abilities to explore and innovate beyond our current interests. We are well aware of the explicit theories, we use them to conduct our research, and we can decide to go beyond.
The tacit theories seem to be more inhibitive than the explicit. Because of their tacit nature they direct our research in a way we might not be aware and thus do not know how to go beyond and expand our mode of thinking.
Certainly, there is a benefit in structured way of thinking and research; its awareness helps us position ourselves and our work within the relevant communities of practice. However, often a times the excessive structureness in our way of thinking might be depriving us of the ability to see various phenomena with a new 'eye'.
How does one go about identifying and discovering his/her tacit theories, frameworks and paradigms?
(Originally published Nov 18, 2004)
After few years of quiet from my blog, I finally think I have some time to write again. Not that I have not been writing for the past two years. I have actually been writing more but around my qualifying exam and my dissertation proposal. Finally, after passing my qualifying last year, I'm almost done with my proposal. One more meeting with my committee and should be ready to start data collections and work on some preliminary data analysis.
I'll write more about this but my dissertation is about scholar's interaction with open access repositories. Given that OA is a new phenomena in the scholarly communication, I thought it would be valuable to understand it in greater depth.
Five-hundred years ago, we had Johann Gutenberg, a German metalworker and inventor who pioneered the precursor to the Internet. His printing press became the first practical mass communications medium utilizing what was then an advanced memory technology -- paper.
Soon after, there was Martin Luther, a German theologian and priest who fervently believed the church had departed from the teachings of the Bible. In 1517, Luther began printing pamphlets condemning the church, and within several months his 95 Theses was being read all over Europe.
Imagine if the leaders of 16th century Germany, feeling threatened by the democratizing forces of the printing press, had taken Gutenberg's invention and limited its use to those they politically agreed with -- or if Luther had to pay licensing fees for nailing up his 95 Theses on every church door in Germany.
That's what big telecom is trying to do: shut the democratic architecture of the Internet. By creating two "tiers" -- one that is fast and charges fees to Web site owners -- and a second class Web that is cheaper and slower and could limit access to independently run sites -- big telecom is hoping to make a larger profit off the Internet.
In other words, opponents to the Internet's open and free access are trying to change the rules -- and they're trying to mislead you, claiming that they're against regulation and that they only want you to pay for the rising cost of their "pipes." That's information warfare.
October 3 , 2005 — What a great idea! Why didn’t we think of that? Google Print’s ambitious effort to digitize the world’s book literature has inspired others to initiate their own effort. And, with the Google Print program caught in the snag of a copyright lawsuit, the sight of a relay race handoff keeps hope burning for a brighter digital future. The just announced Open Content Alliance (OCA; http://www.opencontentalliance.org) creates an international network of academics, libraries, publishers, technological firms, and a major search engine competitor to Google—all working on a new mass book digitization initiative. The goal of the effort is to establish a flexible, open infrastructure for bringing large collections of digitized material into the open Web. Permanently archived digital content, which is selected for its value by librarians, should offer a new model for collaborative library collection building, according to one OCA member. While openness will characterize content in the program, the OCA will also adhere to protection of the rights of copyright holders.
OCA founding members include the Internet Archive; Yahoo! Search; Hewlett-Packard Labs; Adobe Systems; the University of California; the University of Toronto; the European Archive; the National Archives (U.K.); O’Reilly Media, Inc.; and Prelinger Archives. The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org), which is led by Brewster Kahle, will provide hosting and administrative services for a single, permanent repository. Technological and some financial support will come from Adobe and Hewlett-Packard. Yahoo! Search will supply initial search engine access as well as technological support and some funding.
The Yahoo Search for Creative Commons makes it easier to locate Web content with a Creative Commons license. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that offers flexible copyrights for creative works. The group builds upon the traditional "all rights reserved" form of copyright to create a voluntary "some rights reserved" copyright, according to Creative Commons. Tools from Creative Commons are free and the organization offers its own search engine.
To say that listservs (i.e. news lists and discussion lists) are dead is a bit premature. Discussion lists and news lists serve different needs than RSS and blogs, though they do interchange at certain levels. At best, they are complementary to each other.
For example, I have plenty of news and discussion lists subscriptions, as well as plenty of RSS feeds. Over the past year I have supplemented some of my news lists with RSS feeds whenever possible.
However, as far as discussion lists are concerned, RSS is no replacement for those. Some people do prefer to get their discussion lists in their e-mail, filtering each list into separate e-mail folders. The technical difficulty to setup e-mail filters is not harder than the setup of RSS feeds. Webboards also are not a total replacement for discussion lists. Rather, a generic mix of discussion lists and webboards have sprung.
Also, lets not forget that throughout the world there are plenty of places where broadband is not readily available and will not be available in the near future. Thus, e-mail discussion lists are much easier to deal with, since the e-mails come to you, vs. having to browse badly designed webboards with lots of graphics over slow dial-up connections.
So, rather than saying that listservs (that is lists) are dead, I think they will coexist with other tools such as RSS and Blogs and complement each other since their tasks are different.
apophenia: why i'm in academia is a very interesting and thoughtful post by Danah. More or less I could have written the same, I feel the same. Managing and balancing the industry experience and involvement, and pursuing academic path is not easy. But certainly challenging… individuals in such positions can act as catalysts for learning experiences in both directions.
OPENING THE GATES TO INFORMATION COMMONS
(ShelfLife, No. 189 (January 13, 2005) ISSN 1538-4284
While respecting the right of corporations to charge for information, some information professionals are calling for fewer restrictions on its distribution and are lobbying for, or actively participating in, the creation of "information commons" -- a new way of producing and sharing information, creative works and democratic discussions. Like information portals, these "commons" (drawn from the historical existence of the English commons -- pieces of land to which members of a community had specific rights of access) are digital repositories of thematically related information. The information may include everything from scholarly journals to information on knitting. However, instead of being run by corporations, they tend to be run in a collective manner by like-minded individuals -- associations or university departments for instance -- and they are accessible to all. Proponent Marjorie Heins, a former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and founder of Free Expression Policy Project, doesn't support free distribution of all information; her main concern is the "copyright mentality" that sees media giants attempting to squeeze the last dollar out of all content they control "rather than striking a more reasonable balance between fair return for effort and tying up information... The balance has gone awry." (Information Highways Nov-Dec 2004)
How are LIS schools preparing tomorrow's academic librarians to deal with the emerging changes in scholarly communication? What more can they do? In this brief overview, we will look first at specialized courses dealing with various aspects of scholarly communication that have been added to the curriculum in many schools. The next section will look at how existing courses have been modified to include scholarly communication. Finally, we will explore the benefits of field experience, graduate assistantships and participation in institutional projects.
The authors present some interesting insights about the type of current curricula throughout the US schools.
As a conclusion, I think that there should be a stronger emphasis on the role and the implication of digital libraries (DL) and open access (open content, open communication) in scholarly communication. Understanding DLs both as social as well as technological constructs is important because most of the scholarly communication is mediated through some flavor of DL. Knowledge about open access (and open content, open communication) is critical because as an actor in the web of scholarly communication, the concept of openness as related to content and access seems to be influencing and shifting the research focuses of many disciplines.
Ten major international libraries have agreed to combine their digitised book collections into a free text-based archive hosted online by the not-for-profit Internet Archive. All content digitised and held in the text archive will be freely available to online users.
Two major US libraries have agreed to join the scheme: Carnegie Mellon University library and The Library of Congress have committed their Million Book Project and American Memory Projects, respectively, to the text archive. The projects both provide access to digitised collections.
The Canadian universities of Toronto, Ottawa and McMaster have agreed to add their collections, as have China's Zhejiang University, the Indian Institute of Science, the European Archives and Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.
The magic that makes Google tick, an article worth reading if you are interested to learn how things work behind the scenes before and after you type your query into Google's search box.
Among the nicely said things in the article, here is a quote that is a bit sarcastic and arrogant:
The job is not helped by the nature of the Web. "In academia," said Hölzle, "the information retrieval field has been around for years, but that is for books in libraries. On the Web, content is not nicely written -- there are many different grades of quality."
Surely Google has done a lots of progress in implementing IR knowledge to a very practical problem, but isn't it a show or arrogance to claim that academia has not helped (directly or indirectly) Google with their search technology?
In A prologue in form of a dialog between a Student and his (somewhat) Socratic Professor, Latour presents some basic but very important ideas, and clarifies some misconceptions and misunderstanding about what actor-network and/or ANT is and is not, and what and what not it can do for you.
The dialog is philosophical at times, brings forth challenges for all of those who deal with actor-network/ANT in some shape of form. It does not seem that Latour answers the question posited at the beginning about what actor-network can do for you, but it certainly tells you what it cannot and what it is not.
In any case, whether you agree or not with Latour's take on what actor-network/ANT should be and what seems to have become, this reading will certainly clarify and reinforce your way of thinking about this theory and methodology.
December's Issue of D-Lib Magazine brings and interesting article regarding the implication of RSS in the science and research publishing. The Role of RSS in Science Publishing is worth reading. Yet another practical example of how blogs have brought forth a tool that can change the nature of the web as it is traditionally known. Website are no longer the static domains, RSS helps the sites be distributed widely, most importantly as a two-way communication.
The following few paragraphs where prompted from a discussion with a colleague of mine about the philosophical link to/from information science.
Well, I think that any practical disciplines or field of study is definitely informed by some philosophical discourse, even when the discipline itself does not acknowledge it, or does not seem to see it. In this sense, the field of Information Science(s)/Studies seems to lack an acknowledged philosophical grounding, even thought there are some obvious links of philosophical discourse. Imagine, many books and articles regarding information science do not emphasize the philosophical links (or if they do, they do so scantly, superficially and individualistically), or just start with practical issues, as if the phenomena treated by information science become part of the discourse just like that? Part of the phenomena treated by a discipline or field of study do emerge from practical problem, however, we should not neglect the phenomena that could arise from the philosophical discourse. The philosophical link might not be an obvious one, or it might not seem as a valuable enterprise worth research, thus, what would be the point in pursuing such a link for scholarly work. However, there could as well be very beneficial links.
Understanding the philosophical fundamentals/groundings that have informed and are informing information science/studies (implicitly or explicitly) might lead to a better understanding of the common elements that give rise (or are constitutive elements) to the phenomena treated by information science, thus, might provide us with a more coherent framework to treat such phenomena... to be continued...
SCIENTISTS, CONSIDER WHERE YOU PUBLISH posits challenging issues every author of research papers should starting thinking about. It isn't simple any more to assume that the most prestigious journals are the best venue to publish your research. So what if you have published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal and not many people can read what you have written due to its subscription cost? How long can this continue? Could this provide some incentive for scholars to publish in open access journals? What then? It is quiet possible that articles published in open access journals might be able to shift the focus of a discipline or a field of study because of their wider availability and accessibility.
Excerpt from the above mentioned article:
For scientists, publishing a paper in a respected peer-reviewed journal marks the culmination of successful research. But some of the most prestigious and soughtafter journals are so costly to access that a growing number of academic libraries can't afford to subscribe. Before submitting your next manuscript, consider a journal's access policy alongside its prestige - and weigh the implications of publishing in such costly periodicals. Two distinct problems continue to plague scientific publishing. First, institutional journal subscription costs are skyrocketing so fast that they outstrip the ability of many libraries to pay, threatening to sever scientists from the literature. Second, the taxpaying public funds a terrific amount of research in this country, and with few exceptions, can't access any of it. These problems share a common root - paid access to the scientific literature.