April 2011 Archives

The National Research Council (NRC) in the U.S. released a revised edition of its 2010 assessment of American research doctorate programs in late April. Jonathan R. Cole has written a piece about the rankings. This is an excerpt:

My assertion that the NRC study was not permitted to fail is predicated on the claim that the study was, in fact, a failure. In an effort to meet criticisms (some justified and others misguided) of the prior study, which was issued in 1995, the research-council committee spent a substantial amount of time early on debating a few important topics. In each case, I believe, it reached the incorrect conclusion, based on faulty assumptions, poor analysis, political pressure from the academy, and unexamined preconceptions. Each factor increased the probability that its study would end in failure.

...

Indeed, one of the study's primary failures, which has plagued previous NRC rankings, was that the focus on data collection, correction of errors, and classifications, as well as decisions about what fields to include, led to a lack of funds toward the end of the study for the adequate analysis of findings. Reports like these become perfunctory. The usual response is, "We'll finance a follow-up volume of analysis." Those volumes rarely appear--letting stand weak reports and unwarranted conclusions.

Access Denied: Striving for Balance is a copyright conference that will take place in Prince George, BC on June 23-24, 2011. Registration is now open.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) has announced that it will create an office of scholarly communication. From the announcement:

... This new office will be responsible for a range of activities intended to promote scholarship among our members and within the larger academic community and will incorporate and expand the work of the book publications unit. Kathleen Fitzpatrick will become director of scholarly communication in July...

Rosemary G. Feal, the Association's director, told The Chronicle of Higher Education in an interview that 'the MLA was "devoting more effort to thinking as an organization about the digital humanities" and about how to take advantage of Web-based publishing and networking opportunities.'

Philip Pochoda and Joseph Esposito have co-authored a blog post about "publishing through the wormhole." This is an excerpt:

The advantages of digital media are obvious (the disadvantages, less so). Among the advantages is the elimination of the constraints on length. The medium-form work can thrive in the cloud, downloadable to myriad devices or viewable through a browser. This opens up entirely new territory for all publishers, some of whom are already publishing individual short stories.


For scholarly publishers, the opportunity is particularly intriguing, as the economics of long-form scholarly monographs are under stress and the constraints put on authors of short articles militates against imaginative daring. We anticipate the evolution of an entirely new form of scholarly material: peer-reviewed medium-form works that combine the focus of the essay with the imaginative latitude of a book.

We call this, "Publishing through the wormhole."

Samuel E. Trosow has authored the article, The copyright policy paradox: Overcoming competing agendas within the digital labour movement. This is the abstract:

This paper discusses the varying and often disparate approaches that Canadian associations representing intellectual and creative labourers have taken to copyright policy. Copyright policies are important to intellectual and creative workers as they set the framework for their rights and obligations with respect to the works and performances they create, and to the intellectual goods they utilize in their own production processes. Copyright is now in a state of transition as policymakers grapple with the effects that technological, cultural and economic changes have had on established business models and practices in education and in the entertainment and publishing industries. Although the relationship of creators to the fruits of their labour varies in different settings, it is increasingly tenuous. While resulting rights are retained in some situations, in many others the creator is alienated from their rights at the outset, and in yet others they are subsequently assigned away. In comparing the differences in approach to copyright issues taken by different intellectual and creative labour groups, the paper asks what accounts for these disparities, and how they might be ameliorated to the benefit of a progressive politics of digital labour.

The World Bank has released a news article about its open data initiative. This is an excerpt:

The World Bank opened its vast storehouse of data to the public a year ago. Since then, people have come in droves--at the rate of about 100,000 a week--for thousands of free, curated and searchable datasets on education, poverty, health, water access and numerous other indicators.


The result is nothing short of a "game-changer" for data access at the World Bank, says Neil Fantom, head of the World Bank's open data initiative. "It's gone extremely well -- better than we dared to hope."
...

It's all part of an effort to achieve a more open, transparent World Bank. Last week, surrounded by young Apps for Development contest finalists, World Bank President Robert Zoellick described the open data initiative as one of the Bank's "first tangible steps in putting into action our commitment to become a more open institution; to more actively share our knowledge, and to encourage others to put that knowledge to use."

There is also a video about it.

Pamela Samuelson has authored an article on legislative alternatives to the Google Book Settlement. This is the abstract:

In the aftermath of Judge Chin's rejection of the proposed Google Book settlement, it is time to consider legislative alternatives. This article explores a number of component parts of a legislative package that might accomplish many of the good things that the proposed settlement promised without the downsides that would have attended judicial approval of it. It gives particular attention to the idea of an extended collective licensing regime as a way to make out-of-print but in-copyright books more widely available to the public. But it also considers several other measures, such as one aimed at allowing orphan works to be made available and some new privileges that would allow digitization for preservation purposes and nonconsumptive research uses of a digital library of books from the collections of major research libraries.

BTW, Samuelson delivered a presentation on why the Google Book Settlement failed at the University of California, Berkeley on April 13th.

The National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) has released two papers on scholarly communication and Digital Humanities. From the announcements:

Scholarly communication is undergoing a complex transformation, complete with rising journal costs, declining monograph numbers, and a rapidly evolving digital communication environment. In "The New (In)Visible College: Emergent Scholarly Communication Environment and the Liberal Arts" (.pdf), Bryan Alexander, senior fellow at NITLE, considers how the crisis in scholarly communication impacts liberal arts campuses and makes recommendations on how to take advantage of the sea change.


In this NITLE white paper, Rebecca Davis, program officer for the humanities at NITLE, and Quinn Dombrowski, scholarly technology manager at the University of Chicago, examine the scope and impact of isolation on the development of the digital humanities at liberal arts institutions. "Divided and Conquered: How Multivarious Isolation Is Suppressing Digital Humanities Scholarship" (.pdf) is based on interviews with liberal arts faculty, technologists, and librarians about the state of digital humanities on their campuses.

The editorial of the April 21, 2011 issue of Nature discusses how to fix the PhD in the science disciplines. This is an excerpt of it:

Something needs to change -- but what? Ideally, the system would produce high-quality PhD holders well matched to the attractive careers on offer. Yet many academics are reluctant to rock the boat as long as they are rewarded with grants (which pay for cheap PhD students) and publications (produced by their cheap PhD students). So are universities, which often receive government subsidies to fill their PhD spots.

There are also a series of articles about doctoral education in the same issue:

P.S.: Times Higher Education has published a piece about modernizing universities and preparing graduates for a 21st-century working environment.

Ann Silversides has written a piece about the withdrawal of the clinical trials policy by the Canadian Institute for Health Research. This is an excerpt:

Canadian researchers and academics are puzzled by the Canadian Institute for Health Research's decision to withdraw its policy on clinical trial registration and results just three months after posting it on its website.


The institute has declined to comment on the decision. A statement on its website says that its policy has been "superseded" by a more general guidance document on the ethics of research involving humans that was prepared for, and approved by, Canada's three major public funding agencies.

"The CIHR [Canadian Institute for Health Research] policy certainly was leading the drive towards increasing transparency," said An-Wen Chan, a scientist with the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto and co-author of the Ottawa Statement on Principles and Implementation of Clinical Trial Registration and Results Reporting (BMJ 2005;330:956-8; doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7497.956).

If the institute's policy is permanently rescinded, the result would be "a lost opportunity for a federal funding agency to make a statement that increased transparency is important for . . . ensuring that publicly funded research has maximal impact," said Dr Chan.

Spatial Humanities

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Spatial Humanities is a new site devoted to the academic interest in using geographic information system for Humanities inquiries and digital scholarship. The site is divided into different sections. Some of them are:

Cameron Neylon has written a blog post about Michael Nielsen's talk on open science. This is an excerpt:

I've been involved in many discussions around why the potential of opening up research practice hasn't lead to wider adoption of these approaches. The answer is simple, and as Michael says very clearly in the opening section of the talk, the problem is that innovative approaches to doing science are not going to be adopted while those that use them don't get conventional scientific credit. I therefore have to admit to being somewhat nonplussed by GrrlScientist's assessment of the talk that "Dr Nielsen has missed -- he certainly has not emphasised -- the most obvious reason why the Open Science movement will not work: credit."

...

If you believe that a move towards more open research practice is a good thing then what can you do to make this happen? Well follow what Michael says, give credit to those who share, explicitly acknowledge the support and ideas you get from others. Ask researchers how they go about ensuring that their research is widely available and above all used. The thing is, in the end changing the credit economy itself isn't enough, we actually have to change the culture that underlies that economy...

The Fifth Transatlantic Intellectual Property Summer Academy will take place in Montreal, QC on June 13-17, 2011. This is part of the description of it:

Considering the growing role and importance of Intellectual Property in European and North-American knowledge-based economies, this one-week intensive course will focus on two IP subjects: IP Rights and Scientific Research and IP in the Digital Environment, with an inter-disciplinary approach, including IP law, IP economics, IP business and IP operational practicalities at an international level.

Registration is now open. This Academy is jointly organized by McGill University and The University of Western Ontario.

Lawrence Lessig delivered the presentation, The Architecture of Access to Scientific Knowledge: Just How Badly We Have Messed This Up, at CERN in Switzerland on April 18, 2011. The video of it is now online. This is the description of it:

In this talk, Professor Lessig will review the evolution of access to scientific scholarship, and evaluate the success of this system of access against a background norm of universal access.While copyright battles involving artists has gotten most of the public's attention, the real battle should be over access to knowledge, not culture. That battle we are losing.

Another version of the video is available here.

Catherine Saez has written a piece on Lessig's presentation.

Christoph Bartneck and Servaas Kokkelmans have co-authored an article on detecting h-index manipulation through self-citation analysis. This is the abstract:

The h-index has received an enormous attention for being an indicator that measures the quality of researchers and organizations. We investigate to what degree authors can inflate their h-index through strategic self-citations with the help of a simulation. We extended Burrell's publication model with a procedure for placing self-citations, following three different strategies: random self-citation, recent self-citations and h-manipulating self-citations. The results show that authors can considerably inflate their h-index through self-citations. We propose the q-index as an indicator for how strategically an author has placed self-citations, and which serves as a tool to detect possible manipulation of the h-index. The results also show that the best strategy for an high h-index is publishing papers that are highly cited by others. The productivity has also a positive effect on the h-index.

ORCID (Open Researcher & Contributor ID), a non-profit organization created to address the name ambiguity problem in scholarly research, will hold its Participant Meeting on May 18th. Registration for attendance is now open.

Robert Darnton has written on five myths about the "Information Age":

1. "The book is dead." Wrong: More books are produced in print each year than in the previous year...

2. "We have entered the information age." This announcement is usually intoned solemnly, as if information did not exist in other ages. But every age is an age of information...
3. "All information is now available online." The absurdity of this claim is obvious to anyone who has ever done research in archives. Only a tiny fraction of archival material has ever been read, much less digitized...
4. "Libraries are obsolete." Everywhere in the country librarians report that they have never had so many patrons...
5. "The future is digital." True enough, but misleading. In 10, 20, or 50 years, the information environment will be overwhelmingly digital, but the prevalence of electronic communication does not mean that printed material will cease to be important...

Pauline Yu gave the lecture, Of Storms, Frontiers, and Master Plans: Claims for the Future of Higher Education, at the University of California, Berkeley on April 6, 2011. The video is now online. Yu has been President of the American Council of Learned Societies since July 2003.

The London School of Economics Public Policy Group has released Maximizing the Impacts of Your Research: A Handbook for Social Scientists. This is an excerpt of the executive summary:

Getting better cited

17. Academics who wish to improve the citation rate of their journal articles should ensure that title names are informative and memorable, and that their abstracts contain key 'bottom line' or 'take-away points'.
18. Book authors should ensure that their titles and sub-titles are distinctive yet appear in general 'Google Book' searches around the given theme.
19. There are a number of schools of thoughts regarding self-citations. In general academics should aim to ensure their own self-citation rate is in line with academics in the same discipline.
20. Co-authored outputs tend to generate more citations due to networking effects between authors in a given research team or lab, especially if the co- authors come from different universities or countries.
...

Improving external research impacts
36. Academics should move beyond simply maintaining a CV and publications list and develop and keep updated an 'impacts file' which allows them to list occasions of influence in a recordable and auditable way.
37. Universities' events programmes should be re-oriented toward promoting their own research strengths as well as external speakers. Events should be integrated multi-media and multi-stage from the outset and universities should seek to develop 'zero touch' technologies to track and better target audience members.
38. Universities should learn from corporate customer relationship management (CRM) systems to better collect, collate, and analyse information gathered from discrete parts of the university and encourage academics to record their impact-related work with external actors.
39. 'Information wants to be free.' Publishing some form of an academics research on the open web or storing it in a university's online depository is essential to ensure that readers beyond academia can gain easy access to research.
40. Improving professional communication, such as through starting multi- author blogs, will help academics 'cut out the middleman' and disseminate their research more broadly.
41. Academics must realise key interface bodies like think tanks are not going to go away, Being smart about working with intermediaries and networks can broaden access to the potential beneficiaries of research.

BTW, MyRI (Measuring your Research Impact) is a new online resource that provides customizable materials to support bibliometrics training.

Open Science Manifesto

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A group of open scientists have issued an open science manifesto. This is an excerpt:

... Today we are living in another dark age of science: pay-per-access journals, unreleased code and data, prestige-based metrics, and irreproducible experiments. But another scientific revolution is taking place: open science.


We live in the age of the Internet: of Wikipedia, Google, and WikiLeaks. And we can use the internet for science - by publishing papers, code, and data; by building comprehensive online databases; by using modern algorithms to measure individual scientists' contributions; by enabling amateurs, and scientists from countries not as privileged as those in the West, to contribute. And eventually, by building revolutionary scientific search engines that understand the meaning of documents and can answer specific scientific questions; by using huge computational powers to automate the process of making discoveries and reasoning about them; by building a Wikipedia that completely reflects the current state of scientific knowledge and understanding.

Science is based on building on, reusing and openly criticising the published body of scientific knowledge. For science to effectively function, and for society to reap the full benefits from scientific endeavours, science must be made open...

Michael Nielsen recently delivered a presentation on open science at TEDxWaterloo in Canada. The video of it is online.

The Open Knowledge Foundation has released a short video on open government data, which includes "interview footage with numerous open government data gurus and advocates." There is also a site, Open Government Data, which is "about open government data around the world for and by the broader open government data community."

P.S.: Minnesota Historical Society in the U.S. has issued Best Practice Principles for Opening up Government Information.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada has announced that the application deadline for its Aid to Scholarly Journals is extended to June 30, 2011. This program is designed "to allow journals to seek support regardless of business model or distribution format." It aims to "increase access to, and readership for, original research results in the social sciences and humanities through Canadian scholarly journals."

Pamela Samuelson delivered the presentation, Why the Google Book Settlement Failed - and What Comes Next?, at the University of California, Berkeley on April 13th. This is the description:

More than a year after the Google Book Settlement fairness hearing, Judge Chin ruled that the settlement was not fair and could not be approved. This talk will explain why I think the failure of this settlement was inevitable. It will also discuss the options available after the failure of the settlement and why some of these options are more likely or desirable than others.

MyRI Debuts

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MyRI (Measuring your Research Impact) is a "collaborative project of four Irish academic libraries producing a set of materials to support bibliometrics training." It provides online tutorials and supporting materials for people to customize for educational purpose. An introductory video about MyRI is online. Other videos are available from the MyRI Channel on YouTube.

The 2011 Digging into Data Challenge Conference will take place in Washington, DC on June 9th and 10th. Principal investigators of the projects funded by the 2009 Digging into Data Challenge will discuss their studies. In addition, there will be three keynotes:

  • Tony Hey, Corporate Vice President, External Research, Microsoft Research
  • Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Open Text
  • Erez Lieberman-Aiden & JB Michel, Harvard University, lead authors of "Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books" and Google Ngrams tool from Science

Registration is now open.

The 2011 round of Digging into Data Challenge now accepts applications. The submission deadline is June 16th.

New York University Press has received a grant to study open peer review. This is an excerpt of the press release:

NYU Press (NYUP) has been awarded a grant of $50,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop and test a method of conducting open, public online peer-to-peer (P2P) review of scholarly monographs and journal articles. NYUP, which is part of the NYU Division of Libraries, will collaborate on the project with MediaCommons, a digital scholarly network affiliated with both NYU Libraries and the Institute for the Future of the Book.


"Peer review is considered the backbone of academic publishing," said Carol A. Mandel, dean of the Division of Libraries. "It is the vetting process for the selection of publishable works and the means by which scholars offer critical feedback prior to publication. However, scholars today connect with their peers via the Internet, and they naturally want to extend their online networks to the peer review process."

The outcome of the yearlong, Mellon-funded project will be a published white paper that will 1) assess the value and shortcomings of P2P review for the evaluation of scholarship, 2) serve as a roadmap for scholars and publishers, articulating criteria and protocols for conducting P2P review that are both rigorous and flexible enough to apply across disciplines; 3) identify the technical functionalities necessary to support these protocols; and 4) assess tools and platforms currently available for online peer review, and consider whether their functionalities will support our proposed protocols. The white paper will be made available for open peer review as part of its publication process.

Peter Hanna has written a piece about possible new copyright issues arising from 3D printing. This is an excerpt from the article:

Though still in its infancy, personal 3D printing technology already shows the same disruptive potential as the original printing press. Just as moveable type spread across Europe and democratized knowledge, the proliferation of 3D printers eventually promises to democratize creation. Broken dishwasher part? Download the relevant CAD file and print it out in plastic. While Amazon made trips to the store seem dated, 3D printing will make ordering (some) things online feel positively quaint.

...

... 3D printing is especially intriguing from a legal perspective because, like the printing press, it has broad implications for the existing legal regime (including all three areas of IP - patent, copyright, and trademark), but it also presents issues that may warrant broad changes to existing law--or require new laws entirely.

Tim Anderson, a third-year medical student at Case Western Reserve University, has provided six reasons why open access matters to the medical community:

  1. Education
  2. Patient Care
  3. Innovation
  4. Patient's Rights
  5. Global Health Equity
  6. Public Investment

The Association for Learning Technology has released Journal Tendering for Societies: A Brief Guide. This is the abstract:

Hundreds of societies publish journals in collaboration with publishers. Some may be considering how and whether to renegotiate or go out to tender. Some may be considering whether they can/should/wish to change the business model of the journal (e.g. by a move to Open Access). Other societies may be considering using an external publisher for the first time. This guide, based on our experience, is written for all of these. In their negotiations with publishers learned societies - especially smaller ones - may have difficulty articulating their requirements and assessing the publishers' offerings. This is true where they wish to compare the newer models with typical "conventional" models, or simply compare different conventional offerings. The reasons are complex and include: * lack of knowledge of the publishing industry on the part of the society's executive staff (who cannot always find the time to acquire the knowledge); * the "author/research funder pays" models, which, whilst becoming more prevalent in the domains of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), appear (but may not actually be) rather less feasible in other domains. This guide draws on the experience of one learned society, the Association for Learning Technology (ALT), in reviewing the publishing arrangements for its journal Research in Learning Technology, between September and December 2010.

William Turkel has written a blog post about a workflow for digital research using off-the-shelf tools. This is an excerpt:

Knowing how to program is crucial for doing advanced research with digital sources. There are still many powerful tools that you can make use of if you don't know how to program (yet), and even if you do, it usually isn't a good idea to reinvent the wheel. The posts below describe a complete workflow for finding, harvesting, clustering, excerpting, and keeping track of digital sources, using programs that run on your own computer.

The Research Information Network in the U.K. has released Heading for the Open Road, a report that examines the costs and benefits of enhancing access to scholarly journals. From the announcement:

The report suggests that policymakers who are seeking to promote increases in access should encourage the use of existing subject and institutional repositories, but avoid pushing for reductions in embargo periods, which might put at risk the sustainability of the underlying scholarly publishing system. They should also promote and facilitate a transition to open access publishing (Gold open access) while seeking to ensure that the average level of charges for publication does not exceed c.£2000; that the rate in the UK of open access publication is broadly in step with the rate in the rest of the world; and that total payments to journal publishers from UK universities and their funders do not rise as a consequence.


At a time of financial stringency for universities, research funders and publishers, it is important that all the stakeholders in the scholarly communications system work together to find the most cost-effective ways of fulfilling their joint goal of increasing access to the outputs of research. This report provides the first detailed and authoritative analysis of how this might be achieved over the next five years. We hope that it will stimulate new dialogue and new approaches to policy and practice across all stakeholders.

Michael Nielsen delivered a presentation on Open Science at TEDxWaterloo last month. The video of it is now online. This is Nielsen's description of the presentation:

The following talk gives a short introduction to open science, and an explanation of why I believe it's so important for our society. The talk is intended for a general audience...

P.S.: Melanie Gade has written a blog post about emerging science communication practices that empower the public.

Barend Mons et al. have co-authored an article on the value of data. This is the abstract:

Data citation and the derivation of semantic constructs directly from datasets have now both found their place in scientific communication. The social challenge facing us is to maintain the value of traditional narrative publications and their relationship to the datasets they report upon while at the same time developing appropriate metrics for citation of data and data constructs.

The Research Information Network in the U.K. has released a report on research and information practices in the Humanities. Here is an excerpt of the executive summary:

Researchers in the humanities adopt a wide variety of approaches to their research. Their work tends to focus on texts and images, but they use and also create a wide range of information resources, in print, manuscript and digital forms. Like other researchers, they face multiple demands on their time, and so they find the ease and speed of access to digital resources very attractive: some of them note that they are reluctant on occasion to consult texts that require a trip to a distant library or archive. Nevertheless, none of the participants in our study is yet ready to abandon print and manuscript resources in favour of digital ones. Rather, they engage with a range of resources and technologies, moving seamlessly between them. Such behaviours are likely to persist for some time.

...

A key change in humanities research over the past 10-15 years has been the growth of more formal and systematic collaboration between researchers. This is a response in part to new funding opportunities, but also to the possibilities opened up by new technology. Over recent years there has also been a shift from the model under which technology specialists tell researchers how to do their research to more constructive engagement. Like other researchers, scholars in the humanities use what works for them, finding technologies and resources that fit their research, and resisting any pressure to use something just because it is new.
...

Barriers to the adoption and take up of new technologies and services include lack of awareness and of institutional training and support, but also lack of standardisation and inconsistencies in quality and functionality across different resources. These make for delays in research, repetitive searching, and limitations on researchers' ability to draw connections and relationships between different resources.

Sheehan Moore has written a piece about academia in the age of digital reproducibility. This is an excerpt:

The uneasy situation with copyright collectives in which Canadian universities have found themselves is a strong indication of the current state of academic publishing. New possibilities and limitations on the use of scholarship are fundamentally restructuring how research is circulated and the ways we think about access.

...

"The origins of the academic journal date back in a general sense to the eighteenth century," [Andrew Piper] wrote. "Their proliferation was a bedrock of the Enlightenment ideal of the open access to knowledge." But as the number of journals in circulation expanded and their contents became more specialized, questions of access turned to the issue of surplus - what Piper called "the equal and opposite problem of too much knowledge. How was one to contend with that?"

As the importance of journals within academia rose, publishers have capitalized on the burgeoning market. This has resulted in massive price increases - annual institutional subscriptions to journals published by Springer, a major for-profit academic publishing house, run from several hundred dollars to more than $8,500. In our current model, however, researchers depend on publishers for the organization of peer reviews, copy editing, and the storage and distribution of their work.

Furthermore, escalating prices create problems that run counter to the original intent of periodicals. "The journal, which was once the bastion of access to knowledge, is now inhibiting access because of its high cost," wrote Piper. "It also means we're buying fewer books. And this impinges on the type of knowledge that is made - more journals and fewer books usually means more specialization. Specialization in turn often implies non-access."
...

The problem for Piper, however, exceeds questions of digitization, distribution, and access: "How are going to address the crisis of academic publishing, not in terms of there being too few venues to publish research, but in terms of there being too much information for individuals to digest? This is something we have only begun to tackle."

HUBzero® is an open source online platform that enables the construction of Web sites for research and educational purposes in various disciplines such as science, engineering, health care, and social science. It is supported by a consortium of U.S. universities and can be downloaded for free. There is a video about what it can achieve.

Bloomberg Law has released a video in which James Grimmelmann comments on the ruling of the Google Books Settlement. This is the description:

James Grimmelmann, associate professor at New York Law School, talks with Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia about the legal and political implications of U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin's decision to reject Google Inc.'s proposed settlement with publishers and authors in a bid to create the world's largest digital library.

Brandon Butler has written about the Settlement:

... Judge Chin did not rule on the issue at the heart of the original dispute, whether it was a fair use to scan in-copyright books to facilitate search and to display snippets from those books in search results. That question remains wide open.

Last but not least, the Library Copyright Alliance in the U.S. has released A Guide For the Perplexed Part IV: The Rejection of the Google Books Settlement.

JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) in the U.K. has released videos about the importance of open access:

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University has released a video in which Larisa Mann talks about "decolonizing copyright." This is the description:

Jamaican music-making practices present an interesting case study in the relationship between culture, copyright law, technology and power. In this talk Larisa Mann -- a DJ, journalist, and student of Berkeley Law School's Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program -- shows how the street dance, the explosively creative heart of Jamaican musical practice, suggests several ways that technology can help or hinder people currently excluded from formal systems of power.

Open access as humanitarian aid is one of the topics Peter Suber addresses in the April 2011 issue of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter. There is also a roundup of the scholarly communication news.

BTW, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and two foundations have released the report, Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies, which "analyzes how the humanitarian community and the emerging volunteer and technical communities worked together in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and recommends ways to improve coordination between them in future emergencies."