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Peter Suber

Elaborating on a tweet

I just posted this tweet:

Scholars spend 68,500,000 hours/year performing peer review.
The US federal minimum wage is $7.25/hour. Scholars deserve more than that, but take it as a starting point. That's a gift to publishers of at least $496,625,000/year in free labor.

Here are a few qualifications that didn't fit into Twitter.

* Publons deserves credit for the study showing that scholars spend 68.5m hours/year performing peer review. But I link to a Nature article summarizing the study rather than the study itself. I wanted to link to the Publons study, and cite the page number for that figure. But to get access to the study, I had to disclose a lot of information about myself. I started to fill out the form anyway. But when it required a phone number, I bailed. However, here's the Publons page on the study.

* When I say "scholars deserve more than that" and then do a little math, I only meant to put an economic value (lower bound economic value) on the gift to publishers. I didn't mean that publishers should pay scholars for peer review. On the contrary. Good research and good access to research depend on the gift culture in which authors and referees donate their time. I make this argument in Section 1.1 ("What Makes OA Possible?") of my 2012 book ( Here's a deep link to an OA version of that section.

* By calling this labor a gift to publishers, I didn't mean that peer reviewers are uncompensated. They are usually compensated by universities, hence indirectly by taxpayers. Universities regard it as work that scholars may do on work-time. The point is that peer reviewers are not compensated by publishers. For universities and taxpayers, this is a subsidy. For publishers, it's a gift.

On this last point, thanks to +Björn Brembs for reminding me that I initially omitted this qualification.

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Thoughts on Plan S

First see the plan itself:

cOAlition S: Making Open Access a Reality by 2020: A Declaration of Commitment by Public Research Funders

Plan S: Accelerating the transition to full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications

Preamble by Marc Schiltz: Science Without Publication Paywalls: A Preamble to: cOAlition S for the Realisation of Full and Immediate Open Access

Members of cOAlition S on the day of launch, September 4, 2018

Statement by Carlos Moedas: 'Plan S' and 'cOAlition S' – Accelerating the transition to full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications

Press release: cOAlition S: Making Open Access a Reality by 2020

Overview. The plan is admirably strong. It aims to cover all European research, in the sciences and in the humanities, at the EU level and the member-state level. It's a plan for a mandate, not just an exhortation or encouragement. It keeps copyright in the hands of authors. It requires open licenses and prefers CC-BY. It abolishes or phases out embargoes. It does not support hybrid journals except as stepping stones to full-OA journals. It's willing to pay APCs but wants to cap them, and wants funders and universities to pay them, not authors. It will monitor compliance and sanction non-compliance. It's already backed by a dozen powerful, national funding agencies and calls for other funders and other stakeholders to join the coalition.

There are two main weaknesses or aspects to watch closely. First, on one reading, the plan welcomes both gold and green OA, which is good. Its key principle requires distribution through "compliant Open Access Journals...or compliant Open Access Platforms." But a section elucidating this principle damns green OA with faint praise, endorsing OA repositories only for preservation, not for OA itself, repeating the mistake of the Finch Group in 2012. It's not at all clear how far the coalition will let green OA satisfy the upcoming policies.

Second, the plan promises support for OA infrastructure, which is good. But it never commits to open infrastructure, that is, platforms running on open-source software, under open standards, with open APIs for interoperability, preferably owned or hosted by non-profit organizations. This omission invites the fate that befell bepress and SSRN, but this time for all European research.

- - - - - - - - - -

Here's a fuller picture. I start with some strengths and then mention some weaknesses. I treat the authoritative preamble by Marc Schiltz as part of the plan itself.

1. The plan is roughly what you'd want after 15 years of funder experimentation with weaker policies. Those policies proved that OA unquestionably helps research and researchers. They proved that that the sky does not fall, and they proved that recalcitrant publishers and misguided incentives still hold back progress. After all that experience you'd want an important body to push for stronger policies on a large scale. You'd want to recognize that there's much more progress to be made, good reasons to seize the opportunities, and -- for the public interest as opposed to private interests -- no good reasons to hold back.

This isn't the first bold funder policy. But it's one of the few that I'd call strong, and it's among the strongest.

If it matters here, I'm an incrementalist. I always wanted strong OA policies, as strong as this one and even stronger. But I saw the political obstacles to adopting them 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Policies which might look weak today, but which went about as far as they could in their own time and place, helped the cause by showing that OA benefited researchers, showing that the sky did not fall, showing that removable obstacles still remained, and building the case to remove the remaining obstacles.

2. The plan recognizes the duty of public research funders to promote research. So far, so good. But it also recognizes their "fiduciary responsibility" to spend public money in the public interest. That's exactly right and too often ignored. When drafting OA policies, too many public funders compromise the public interest in order to accommodate private corporations. Sometimes the blame belongs to national legislatures for letting publisher lobbying water down strong first-draft policies.

3. The plan requires open licenses and prefers CC-BY. That's exactly right. Again, earlier weaker policies didn't go this far, and settled for gratis access (removing price barriers alone) and didn't hold out for libre access (removing both price and permission barriers). In the early days it might have been politically infeasible to go beyond a gratis mandate to a libre mandate. But it's no longer politically infeasible, and any policy-makers with the power of the agencies behind this plan should take full advantage of that.

4. Without naming Elsevier, the plan recognizes the difficult negotiations with Elsevier in Germany, France, and Sweden. It regards them as one more reason to act now, which is correct. Just as public funders have been slow to act decisively in the public interest, with minimal compromise, universities have also been slow to act decisively in the interest of research. These two families of non-profit, public-interest institutions can embolden each other, and it's good to see recent bold action by universities echoed in bold action by public funders.

5. The plan wants to "monitor compliance" and "sanction non-compliance". That's good. The funders with pioneering OA policies did little of the first and none of the second. Even though we've long since learned best practices here, far too few contemporary funder OA policies include steps to address non-compliance.

6. The plan is already backed by 11 major agencies, both at the EU level and the member-state level. It intends to apply to both EU-level policies and member-state policies (that is, to "national and European research councils and funding bodies"). In addition to the major agencies already on board, it calls for other agencies as well as "researchers, universities, libraries, and publishers" to join the coalition. Despite my criticisms (below), I'll join as soon as I'm able.

Now for some weaknesses, building up from smaller ones to larger ones.

7. The plan uses the term "science" to include the humanities. That's needlessly confusing. Instead of calling for open access to "science" and letting most people misinterpret its scope, it would have been easy to call for OA to "research" or "scholarship" in all fields.

This isn't just a quarrel about words. The coalition is built mostly of "science" agencies whose remit does not cover the humanities.

Moreover, the plan may assume too quickly that the OA principles that apply in the sciences apply without qualification in the humanities. The one exception it acknowledges is that it may take longer to implement an OA book mandate than an OA article mandate.

8. The plan says in bold type that "access to research publications...cannot be monetised in any way." Three paragraphs later it says that publishers "may charge fair value for [their] services in a transparent way." This is an apparent inconsistency. But the two principles are compatible and an easy revision could make that clear. The first principle applies only to research access. Access must be free of charge, or cannot be monetized. On the second: the entire history of OA shows that free access is compatible with publisher revenue, even profit.

9. The plan says that the "so-called 'hybrid' variants [on subscription journals]...should be terminated." Later it also says that "the 'hybrid' model of publishing is not compliant with [these] principles." But in between these two unqualified statements it adds the qualification that hybrid journals are acceptable as stepping stones to full OA. "Therefore, it is acceptable that, during a transition period that should be as short as possible, individual funders may continue to tolerate publications in 'hybrid' journals." In context, this exception leaves room for "offset" agreements, which only apply to hybrid journals. I accept the fully nuanced position here -- refusing to pay APCs at hybrid journals except those that can demonstrate that they are converting to full (non-hybrid) OA. But the plan contains an apparent inconsistency that a simple revision could fix.

10. The plan wants an exceptionless OA mandate: "_all_ European scientific publications should be freely accessible by 2020" (emphasis added). But it recognizes that author freedom to submit new work to the venues of their choice must take priority, in part because some European jurisdictions assure this freedom by law. The problem here is not deference to author freedom. The problem is the apparent inconsistency between the calls for an exceptionless mandate and this important carve-out.

Note the plan's two strategies to minimize the exceptions that this carve-out could allow.

Knowing that the growth of OA depends largely on author choices, it aims to influence their choices. It exhorts researchers to "realise that they are doing a gross disservice to the institution of science if they continue to report their outcomes in publications that will be locked behind paywalls." This is a true observation about the consequences of certain author choices twisted into an exhortation. You don't change researchers' behavior by berating them for doing a gross disservice to science.

Knowing that author choices are largely influenced by existing incentives, it aims to change those incentives. It doesn't acknowledge all these incentives, but it does identify the use of bad metrics like JIF. It recommends the DORA principles (from the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment). Again, I support the recommendation. The main point here is that it's a mere recommendation. The plan adds, "We therefore commit to fundamentally revise the incentives and reward structure of science." OK. But it says nothing about how it will carry out this commitment, apart from recommending DORA. Those of us who have worked on this front know that the needed changes must be made by individual hiring, promotion, and tenure committees in individual departments of individual universities (and by the individual counterpart review committees at individual funding agencies). This is a huge, messy problem that cannot be waved away by declaring a good commitment and endorsing good principles.

On the plus side, the plan recognizes the limits of the coalition's policy-making power. On the minus side, it offers nothing more than recommendations to minimize this large carve-out, and seems to underestimate the difficulty of implementing its recommendations.

11. It wants participating funders to pay fees at fee-based OA journals. But it seems largely unaware that there should be strategic restrictions on how to spend this money in order to create good incentives for the authors and publishers receiving the money. The only restriction it acknowledges is that the fees should be "standardised and capped". There are many more it ought to consider.

12. The plan criticizes predatory journals by saying that they "misuse the Open Access model of publishing". The problem here is not the diagnosis of predatory journals, but the assumption that there is just one business model for OA journals, namely, the APC model. This is an elementary mistake that shouldn't appear in a doc from informed, high-level policy-makers. It would have been very easy to say that predatory journals "misuse the APC model of OA publishing" and drop the implication that there are no other models.

This is not just a quarrel about wording. The plan doesn't acknowledge the existence of no-fee OA journals, let alone their dominance. Most peer-reviewed OA journals today are no-fee, and always have been. Nor does the plan acknowledge the importance of no-fee OA journals in the larger ecosystem of OA options. No-fee OA journals are critical for unfunded and under-funded researchers. The no-fee business models resist predation. (There's a reason why most predatory journals charge APCs.) If the plan wants to sustain fee-based OA journals by paying APCs, as it does, then it should also want to sustain no-fee OA journals. It might do that if it acknowledged their existence, their preponderance, and their value.

13. The plan's bold-type "key principle" says that publicly-funded research "must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms." This principle opens the door to both gold and green methods of compliance. That's good. But it almost completely shuts the door on green OA just a few paragraphs later when elaborating the principle. "The importance of open archives and acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation." There's no acknowledgement of their importance for OA itself! This is the same mistake made by the Finch Group in 2012, which was inexcusable even at the time, and should never be repeated by informed, high-level policy-makers. Going forward, we'll have to watch with care to see whether the new OA mandates can be satisfied by green OA, or whether they will be gold-only or gold-favoring policies like those that have so notably failed in the UK.

See my critique of this Finch Group mistake at the time, in my newsletter for September 2, 2012.

I made another version of the same point in this interview with Richard Poynder, July 23, 2013.

I support the plan's call for unembargoed OA under open licenses. Many people, perhaps including the authors of this plan, believe that green OA must be embargoed. That's false. Many also believe that green cannot stand under open licenses (that is, provide libre access). That's also false. Some green OA is embargoed and some isn't. Some green is libre and some isn't. I'd be fine if the policy only allowed green OA when it was both unembargoed and libre. But because some green OA can be both, the policy should drop the language that virtually closes the door on green OA after emphatically opening it. It should cut this apparent inconsistency, and be explicit that unembargoed libre green OA is just as satisfactory as unembargoed libre gold OA. It should acknowledge the value of repositories for OA itself, not just for preservation and editorial innovation.

I've often called for green OA even when it was embargoed and without the benefit of open licenses. I still support that, especially when unembargoed or libre OA are out of reach. What's promising about this plan is that it is determined to put unembargoed libre OA within reach. Under these circumstances, it should at least support green and gold paths to this goal, and not rest on the mistaken assumption that one of them cannot lead to the same goal.

Here's another perspective on this: The easiest and most effective way to provide unembargoed libre green OA is with systematic rights-retention policies. If authors retain the rights need to deposit works in OA repositories, then the repository copies can be unembargoed and libre. Funders like the NIH and Wellcome Trust have rights-retention policies, though too few other funders have followed their lead. Nearly 100 universities worldwide have rights-retention policies for faculty. Several European countries (the Netherlands, France, Germany) have provided rights retention by statute, with different conditions and exceptions. The plan insists that "authors retain copyright...with no restrictions." That's more than enough to make unembargoed libre green OA possible. Hence, allowing unembargoed libre green OA to satisfy the future OA mandates is not likely to be a small concession taken up by few. It could be taken up by any and all. It would give authors a serious choice between green and gold OA, for every new work. It would solve the problem of insufficient funds to pay APCs at fee-based OA journals. It would solve the problem facing early career researchers who must comply with their funder policies while still satisfying their promotion and tenure committees (committees that didn't get the memo recommending that they change their incentives).

14. There are a few important areas of vagueness to be clarified later. These are not objections as much as spots to watch.
* The OA mandate for articles must be in place by January 1, 2020, but the OA mandate for books can take longer, provided that the extra time is "as short as possible". How short is that, and who decides?
* Similarly, offset agreements and paying fees at hybrid journals are acceptable for a transition period provided that the period is "as short as possible". Again, how short is that, and who decides?
* If authors will retain copyrights, then journal publishers will get some kind of license to publish. But what kind of license, and who decides? Some licenses give publishers no more right of first publication, and some are nearly equivalent to transferring permanent exclusive rights.
* "Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies" with this plan. Alignment would be good, and it's good that these funders will ask for it. But how persuasive will they be? What leverage will they have? Do they appreciate that this kind of diplomatic mission is very far from the simplicity of policy-making?
* The plan limits itself to principles and deliberately omits implementation details. "Science Europe, funders, the European Research Council and European Commission will work together to clarify and publish implementation details." That's entirely reasonable. But we should expect many devils in those details. Moreover, European institutions could bypass some of the implementation debates if the guidelines in the plan were more clearly written and more sensitive to details of the OA landscape.

15. The plan promises "support...for Open Access infrastructures where necessary." So far, so good. But the plan is silent on the importance of open infrastructure, that is, platforms running on open-source software, under open standards, with open APIs for interoperability, and preferably owned or hosted by non-profit organizations.

The plan is signed by Marc Schiltz (President of Science Europe), and says that it was initiated by the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission, Robert-Jan Smits (formerly the EC Director-General of Research and Innovation). While it credits other organizations, its chief co-authors seem to be Schiltz and Smits. Earlier this year both Science Europe under Schiltz and the EC under Smits called for new infrastructure for OA research. Both calls were good ideas, regrettably flawed. Both conspicuously failed to call for open infrastructure. It's as if Science Europe and the EC were unaware of the risks of hosting Europe's OA research on a proprietary platform, or unaware of what happened to SSRN or bepress.

See the Science Europe call for infrastructure (March 21, 2018)...

...and my note that it didn't call for open infrastructure.

See the EC call call for infrastructure (March 31, 2018)...

...and my note that it didn't call for open infrastructure.

- - - - - - - - - -

I gave comments on Plan S to Holly Else for Nature News, and Martin Enserink for Science Magazine, which appeared at the same time as the plan itself.

I thank them for quoting me, and completely understand why they couldn't include more details from my take on plan's strengths and weaknesses. As you see here, a fuller account is longer than the plan itself.

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I'm pleased and proud to announce a major upgrade to TagTeam, the open-source tagging platform and feed aggregator. Among many other tagging projects or hubs, it supports the Open Access Tracking Project.

I launched the TagTeam development in 2011 with a grant from Arcadia to the Harvard Open Access Project. Its recent development has been funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. We've released upgrades periodically since 2011, and this is the largest upgrade ever.

For more details, see the TagTeam home page.

Here's the announcement from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

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Trying to upgrade a phone with AT&T

This is my verbatim chat conversation with AT&T earlier today about upgrading a phone. The AT&T web site offered an option to send myself an email transcript, but it didn't work and I saved this by cutting/pasting.

I don't assume that many people will find this interesting. But I'm sharing it because it might save others time when talking with AT&T customer service, and because it gave me a chance to vent about AT&T.


Jessica: Welcome to AT&T Chat. How may we help you today?

Me: Hi. I'm eligible for a phone upgrade, and looking at your Android phones. The selection is very narrow. I'd like a Pixel, from Google, but it's not on your list. How can I upgrade to a Pixel?

Jessica: Our agents are currently assisting other customers. Your approximate wait time is 5 minutes. Please wait and the next available agent will assist you.

Jessica: Hey! My name is Jessica. I’m happy to help! Can you please provide your name?

Jessica: I would like to let you know that I am here to help you. Are you still with me?

Me: Peter Suber

Jessica: Nice to meet you, Peter! I hope you are having a good day.

Jessica: I checked your request and please allow me to explain that AT&T doesn't carry the Google Pixel. We do have available great Android phones like the new Samsungs, LG, Motorola, ZTE, Sonim and KYOCERA.

Me: I see the selection. How can I upgrade to a Pixel even if you don't carry it?

Jessica: You can purchase the device elsewhere and make sure it's unlocked. Once you receive it, you just need to put your SIM Card into it.

Jessica: The service will be moved to that device and will work perfectly.

Jessica: There are no extra charges for doing that, Peter.

Me: Thanks. Can you estimate the price difference between buying an unlocked phone outside ATT and buying a phone from the ATT selection? That is, do you offer discounts on the phones in your selection?

Jessica: I'm happy to help!

Jessica: There's a very good promotion for upgrades. Customers purchasing the LG V35 receive a one-time $400 trade-in credit when trading in a paid off smart phone (good working and physical conditions) with minimum $20 trade-in value. The trade-in must be completed no later than 14 days after receipt of new phone.

Me: Sorry, I'm not following. I'll still have my old phone to trade in. Are you saying that you only accept trade-ins when I buy from your selection?

Jessica: No, Peter.

Jessica: You can be part of the trade-in program even if you purchase a device elsewhere and get up to $200 credits. However to apply for the promo I mentioned, the new phone need to be purchased with us.

Jessica: And applies for the LG V35 receiving $400 credits.

Me: Sorry, I'm still confused. There seem to be two discounts here -- one is the possibility of a trade in, and one is a promo. Are you saying that if I bought a Pixel outside ATT, I could get a trade in (up to $200), but not the promo?

Jessica: Correct.

Me: OK. If I do that, what determines how much I'd get in the trade-in? Do I send in my old phone and you evaluate its condition?

Jessica: Oh you can check it from the next link. Please Click Here [] to go to the right page.

Me: Thanks, I'll read that more carefully in a minute. But the headline says "$200 or more". Does this mean I might get more?

Jessica: Sure.

Jessica: That's according to your phone model and conditions.

Me: OK. Backing up, why do you limit customer choices? Why not treat the Pixel the way you treat (say) LG phones?

Jessica: I understand your point.

Jessica: Those are the requirements AT&T established and we unfortunately cannot make any tweaks or modifications, as everything is predetermined by AT&T. However we can escalate the request with our supervisor so they can explore the possibilities of new promos for other brands.

Me: I can tell that these are ATT requirements. I was asking why ATT has these requirements. They only limit choice and antagonize customers. --On your last point, I'd appreciate if you'd escalate the request. I'd like your standard promos for the phone of my choice [not just the phones of your choice]. (Moreover, it's not as if my choice were exotic or unpopular.)

Jessica: For sure.

Jessica: I totally get your point since I am a customer as well.

Jessica: I would like to let you know that I am still here to help you. Are you still with me?

Me: Good! Could you raise this concern within the company? The limitations on choice are irritating, and potentially expensive for customers. Plus they give the impression that ATT favors companies that give it kickbacks. I'm already locked in to ATT for connectivity (more or less, very little competition here) and it only adds insult to injury (or injury to injury) to be locked in on hardware as well. If anyone at a higher level in ATT would like to talk with me about this, I'd be glad to talk.

Jessica: I appreciate the info you have shared with me.

Jessica: I already escalated your concern with my supervisor. He will create a case in our internal system and the responsible team will be checking all possibilities.

Jessica: Keep in mind you can contact directly Customer Care at 1-800-331-0500

Me: Thanks for your help. That's all I need right now.

Jessica: Happy to help! Thank you for choosing AT&T. We appreciate your business.

Jessica: Have a lovely rest of your day and great weekend, Peter.
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I just received another spam request from a journal to submit an article, and have time to name names.

I call it spam because the journal's topic is biotechnology and my fields are philosophy, law, and open access. Not even a lazy and undiscriminating search would put me in the set of people qualified to write on biotechnology. The journal solicited me at random.

The publisher is Heighten Science.

I'd like to name the journal too, but this turns out to be difficult. The email uses two different titles, Biotechnology and Journal of Biotechnology. The publisher's web site lists no journals with either title, but does list one called Archives of Biotechnology and Biomedicine.

Here's an excerpt from the email solicitation:

In order to up bring your work to a higher crowd, we are releasing our newsletter to campaign for 10000 related resident/scholar database. This will bring learning, visibility, awareness and citations for you. I wait hearing your immediate response in this regards.

I don't always have time to name names. But I wish I did. The last time I did this, I explained my rationale: "If we name names when we get these random solicitations, will we stop the practice? I don't know, but it's an easy experiment to try."

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China is restricting the export of science.

From Yojana Sharma in University World News (July 20, 2018):
"China’s new regulations restricting the ‘export’ of scientific data collected within the country and asserting that any research for publication in international journals must first be approved by a new, yet to be set up authority, are causing uncertainty and concern for many researchers who are working in collaboration with China."

From Lester Ross in the Nikkei Asian Review (July 3, 2018):
"The measures are ostensibly intended to expedite the sharing of scientific data and accelerate research and its commercialization, thus promoting innovation and economic growth. As the measures do not address sharing on an international basis beyond restricting it, it appears that the expedited sharing of data is to be limited to domestic parties."

The Chinese regulations sound paranoid, self-defeating, and harmful to research. And they are.

But before Americans pile on, as if this kind of blunder could never occur in a country with a constitutional right to freedom of the press, recall a similar (but not identical) move by the George W. Bush administration during the height of paranoia after the 9/11 attacks.

On September 3, 2003, the Bush Treasury Department ruled that the existing rules against trading with the enemy applied to scientific research just as they applied to munitions.

The US had a trade embargo against Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and the Sudan. The Treasury Department decided that US scholarly journals had to block readers in those countries from reading online versions of their journals. Moreover, US journals could accept submissions from those countries but not edit them, since editing was a kind of added value that amounted to a prohibited export. If a journal wanted an exemption, it could apply to the Treasury Department for a license.

On these issue I agreed with academic publishers and supported their protests. The rule was largely rescinded on April 2, 2004...

...and a lawsuit from publishers was settled in October 2007

I first wrote about these issues in my newsletter for November 2003, after the US-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) learned that it could be "trading with the enemy" simply by treating its 2,000 members from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and the Sudan on the same footing as its 348,000 members from other countries.

Here are some of my blog posts about this controversy from February-April 2004.

Americans should condemn the new Chinese regulations. But they should steer clear of the attitude that it can't happen here. The easiest way is simply to condemn both sets of paranoid, self-defeating, and harmful regulations, and similar ones wherever they may pop up in the future.

#oa #openaccess

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I love Itty Bitty. It's a very cool idea, elegantly implemented.

Basically, it codes about a page's worth of info, including links and images, into a URL. When you share the URL, people can click on it and read your page. But the page isn't hosted anywhere. It's just coded into the URL.

No surprise, it works by compressing the info in the page. And no surprise, the resulting URLs can be long.

For example, here's the Itty Bitty URL for my Very Brief Introduction to Open Access:

Yes, still cool, but the URL is very long.

However, note that you can share this URL in a tweet, under the Twitter policy not to count the full length of a URL against your character quota.

Now here's cool raised to the power of cool. You can compress the Itty Bitty URL even further. For example, here's what the Google link shortener does with the giant above.

Try it. It works. That's a whole page of info compressed into about a dozen characters.
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A few minutes ago in Brooksville, #Maine. Sunrise over the Bagaduce River.
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Google just verified me. Among other things, this lets me suggest edits to the knowledge graph Google presents in the right sidebar if you search for me.

I don't have any edits to suggest right now, but I like this idea. Previously, what Google said about me in the knowledge graph was utterly beyond my control. Even if I had a demonstrable fact to correct a public error, I had no place to go with it.

Google doesn't automatically accept the changes I want. But it invites me to suggest edits, if I have any, and explains what happens after I submit them: "Google checks your suggested changes for accuracy by checking if they’re confirmed by other publicly available information on the web. When prompted, provide supporting documentation in the form of a publicly accessible webpage URL."

This is Google's solution to a problem that also arises in Wikipedia -- how to let people edit info about themselves or their organizations without opening the gates to puffery, bias, and falsehood.

In Wikipedia, the info about me is not utterly beyond my control, but the rules and process for changing it myself are far from clear. In Google, I know how to suggest edits without fear of stigma or punishment; Wikipedia can learn from that. In Wikipedia, I can follow the discussion or debate, and contribute to it if I want; Google can learn from that.

One reason to bring these methods closer to sync is that the Google knowledge graph is dominated by the corresponding Wikipedia page, when there is one.
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[This is a guest post by A. Britton of the Harvard Open Access Project. -- Peter.]

Wikidata and the Dynamic Open Movement

Recently, observers such as John Wenzler and Rufus Pollock have called for coordination within the open movement -- a longstanding, perennial challenge given the movement's remarkable global spread and dynamic evolution.

One of the Wikimedia Foundation's several giant projects, Wikidata, is a multilingual, CC0, human- and machine-readable knowledge base with over 49,285,004 data items. It has potential to structure disparate information and organize it for ready use, a critical feature of successful social movements.

The open movement could represent itself via Wikidata. The Open Access Directory, for example, has recently begun a pilot donation of its carefully curated content. Related queries on a variety of open-access subtopics now allow for convenient, on-the-spot creation of downloadable lists -- potentially useful to advocates, organizers, strategists, researchers, and machines for current awareness, metrics, social-media campaigns, and the like.

Much work remains in filling in the knowledge base. Queries are most useful with high quality, comprehensive data.

Anyone can edit Wikidata. Consider adding one fact about an organization, person, policy, publication, or tool that fosters open access, open data, open science, open education, open source, open government. Consider adding one hundred facts. Go big.

Get started by reading a short introduction, listening to a talk, or taking a quick tutorial.

(Thank you to Peter Suber for discussions that led to this post.)
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