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Peter Suber
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Temperatures in Boston fell 30 degrees from yesterday to today, reminding me to reprint this short piece I wrote for the April 2010 issue of my open-access newsletter.


The winter coat factor: A small spring thought

Look at how people decide to put away their winter coat as spring arrives. It's a small decision, but it shows how people differ in their readiness to change. Some put on their winter coat every morning until the weather has been warm for a week or even a month. Some eagerly put it away on the first warm day, even if they have to spend the next week or month shivering in their shirt sleeves. The late changers put up with some sweat and the early changers put up with some chill. The two types differ, but not in their intelligence or understanding.

In any given neighborhood, the weather changes for everyone at the same rate, even if the rate itself is jerky and uneven. So why do we see the variation in response, even within the same neighborhood? Part of the answer is that we're comfortable at different temperatures. Granted. We also differ in our predictions of what will happen tomorrow, next week, and next month. The rest is complicated, but for convenience we can call it temperamental. We differ in our readiness to accept change, when change might be costly, and in our readiness to resist change, when resistance might be costly. Eventually everyone behaves as if winter is over and spring is here. But we're not all ready at the same time.

People respond differently to the case for OA in part because they understand it differently, including some clear cases of misunderstanding. Here I don't even want to try to estimate the size of that fraction. But whether we consider it to be large or small, we should make room for another large fraction that we could call temperamental. Call it the winter coat factor.


Update. This was an attempt to be generous with OA activists who differed from me (or other colleagues and allies) on the rate of OA progress, and on our levels of patience or impatience with the rate of OA progress. I'm not sure it was widely read that way, so forgive my flat-footedness in spelling it out.

My mid-April wish: Let's accelerate progress and increase generosity at the same time.

#oa #openaccess

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I like the fact that these researchers are harnessing open data to save lives. I also like the fact that they emphasized that they were using open data, when they could merely have said (as they said in another place) that they were using data from an "online psychological assessment function."

#opendata  #oa #openaccess  #suicide  

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Brian Bergstein in the MIT Technology Review draws a good analogy between television in the 1960's and Facebook today, quoting Newton Minow's famous speech in 1961: Television is "a vaste wasteland....When television is bad, nothing is worse."

#facebook #tv

Does anyone know an RSS-to-Google+ service other than Hootsuite?

I use +Hootsuite to forward an RSS feed to +Google+, and I'm frustrated with it for two reasons. First, Hootsuite abridges the feed, and will not post more than five RSS items per hour. Second, it occasionally stops posting altogether. When it stops, it never lets me know, for example, by email. And when it stops, it never starts again automatically, for example, when a flaky connection to the RSS source is restored. I have to discover the failure on my own and restart the feed manually. That means I have to monitor the RSS-to-G+ mashup in real time, and often, which defeats half the purpose of the mashup.

Related: Can anyone from +Hootsuite explain why it must abridge the feed at all, and why it can't add a notification feature when one of its feed-forwarding mashups breaks down?

Related: Why doesn't +IFTTT support posting to G+? If Hootsuite can figure out how to do it, then IFTTT should have figured it out. It would open up a powerful new family of IFTTT applets.

Background: I want to pipe the unabridged RSS feed from the Open Access Tracking Project to the project's G+ account, +OATP. I'm asking today because Hootsuite stopped posting to +OATP two weeks ago and naturally didn't tell me. I just discovered the failure, turned the posting back on, and I'm still frustrated by Hootsuite's unreliability.

#rss #googleplus #google+ #hootsuite #ifttt #mashups #oatp

A friend of mine in the UK just asked by email how the US federal OA policies were faring under Trump. I didn't have time to write a long version of the story. But I wrote a short version and thought I'd share it here as well.

The federal OA policies are under Trump's control but below his radar. He has no opinion about them, and neither do his top advisors. On the other hand, he and his top advisors have a strong hostility to science, almost a resentment, and show it by cutting the budgets of the science funding agencies, taking some OA databases offline, and and even bar​ring some publicly-funded researchers from communicating directly with the public (except through their publications). All this reduces the volume of OA to publicly-funded research, past and future.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has an OA policy, is especially vulnerable because Trump-style Republicans believe that protecting the environment is bad for business. They've had it in their sights for years, and will either slash it or lay it down. But this shows the Trump approach. He doesn't oppose OA as such; he just favors corporations and deregulation. OA is collateral damage, along with much bigger things, like the planet.

#oa #openaccess #trump #epa #climate

Staying on top of news about open access.

I just wrote this out for a friend and thought I'd share it with the world. Here's how to subscribe the the primary feed of the Open Access Tracking Project (+OATP), the most comprehensive source of OA-related news anywhere. Naturally it's free.

The primary OATP feed is available in eight formats for people with different needs: HTML, RSS, Atom, JSON, Email, Twitter, Google+, and PushBullet. Unfortunately the Twitter and Google+ feeds are abridged, against our will. Most people who want an unabridged feed prefer the email version. The email feed delivers one well-formatted email per day with the day's OA news. To sign up, just go to this web form and fill in your email address.

For subscribing to the other versions, see the OATP feeds page.

For more on OATP itself, see the project home page.

(Disclosure, I founded OATP in 2009 and still run it as part of the Harvard Open Access Project.)

#oa #openaccess #oatp

[This is a re-post. accidentally shared the first one privately and meant to share it publicly. My fault. But I'm also irked that +Google+ doesn't let you change the sharing status retroactively, and requires a re-post.]

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Bipartisan letter pushing forward on federal OA policies.

The headline on this press release ("Representatives Johnson, Sensenbrenner Question Federal Public Access Policies") wrongly suggests that Johnson and Sensenbrenner are pushing against federal OA policies. They're pushing the other way.

Excerpt: "Today [March 28, 2017], Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) sent the following letter to the Government Accountability Office, asking it to evaluate the status, effectiveness, and benefits of current federal public access policies. This letter builds upon previous legislative efforts between these Members to ensure taxpayers, who are footing the bill for federal research, have adequate access to the published results free of charge....[Quoting Johnson:] Increased access and increased use of technology to enable and promote discovery across the body of scientific literature will advance the frontiers of science, medicine, and innovation across all sectors of our economy. I look forward to seeing GAO’s findings and to continuing to work with Mr. Sensenbrenner and with all interested parties as we move forward on this important issue...[Quoting Sensenbrenner:] Understanding how federal agencies create and implement their guidelines for covered works of publicly funded research is essential to improving and modernizing our public access policies. We made progress with the previous administration, and I look forward to working with our federal agencies, as well as Representative Johnson and our fellow congressional colleagues to continue moving forward on this effort...."

#oa #openaccess 

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Open access among the top recommendations from the NMC Horizon Report: 2017 Library Edition.

Excerpt: "Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six developments in technology profiled in this report are poised to impact library strategies, operations, and services....These top 10 highlights capture the big picture themes of organizational change that underpin the 18 topics: ...[Highlight 3:] In the face of financial constraints, open access is a potential solution. Open resources and publishing models can combat the rising costs of paid journal subscriptions and expand research accessibility. Although this idea is not new, current approaches and implementations have not yet achieved peak efficacy...."

#oa #openaccess #libraries 

HOAP at DPLAfest

I'm happy to announce that Kelly Fitzpatrick and Lisa Terrat will represent the Harvard Open Access Project (HOAP) at DPLAfest 2017 in Chicago next month (April 20-21), to spread the word about our work and hear what others are doing.

Kelly will present on TagTeam, the open-source software underlying the Open Access Tracking Project (+OATP). TagTeam and OATP are two of HOAP's major initiatives.


Harvard Open Access Project

DPLAfest 2017

DPLAfest 2017, program for April 21, 2017


Open Access Tracking Project

cc +L. Kelly Fitzpatrick, +Lisa T

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There are two large ways that the Trump administration and Republican Congress could reduce the number of OA publications arising from federally funded research. First, Trump could require federal funding agencies to drop or dilute their OA policies. Second, Congress could cut their budgets, reducing the amount of research they could fund. Or both.

So far there's no sign of the first danger materializing. (I'll do my best to keep you posted.) But there are now signs of the second.

#oa #openaccess #trump #antiscience 
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