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Academia.edu (an academoc networking site) has an interesting alert service whereby they email anyone whose page is accessed with a referrer URL from one of the main search engines, and give the search terms, the search engine and, where available (from the web server log of academia.edu rather than from the search engine), the country from which my page was accessed. It’s interesting to see how people find me and from where. Yesterday I got such an alert where one of my papers was found via a search on a minor paraphrasing of one of the significant sentences (i.e. not a linking piece of text but one of the presentations of the core ideas in the paper). Thinking about how I’ve worked in the past, I suspect this was an academic checking for plagiarism in a piece of student work that has made them suspicious.


Current Mood: awake
Current Music: None


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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Having written far too many emails explaining my views on how academia can best move to toll-free access to the scholarly literature (often abbreviated as Open Access) I have written this up on my web site: How to Achieve OA.


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence Soiundtrack


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

a_cubed: (Peace)

I’ve just submitted a paper to Computers and Society. The draft submission is available on OpenDepot.


Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: Torchwood Soundtrack


Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

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On The Register recently there was an interesting article about ebooks and how the book publishing industry seem to be following the music and movie industry down the same path of woe by trying to screw their customers in the move to digital distribution. Leaving aside the actual proportion of costs which the physical printing, distribution and returns of overstock entail, the idea that the digital edition costs MORE than the print edition really is utterly stupid. Modern publishing uses internal digital formats for the files which are then passed to the printer for physical printing. Getting this into the digital distribution medium isĀ  trivial one time programming exercise. While I would be willing to accept that the digital price difference should only be small, the fact that new ebooks are selling at higher prices than the hardcover is just stupid.


Anyway, that’s all covered in the article. In the comments the author discusses the issue of the public lending library with some of the commenters. That’s what prompted this post, actually, which is thinking how it might be possible to run a public lending library with ebooks. The whole point of a public lending library is that the library buys the book once (depending on where you are they then pay a royalty fee for usage, or not) and lots of local people get to read it. There was always an issue raised by music publishers about LPs and later CDs being available this way since people were clearly borrowing things from their library and copying them, first onto tape then onto CDRs then into digital music files. The same thing would likely happen with public libraries. So, is it possible to have a system of public libraries (who will operate within the law as much as they can, although their patrons won’t necessarily do so if it’s easy)? Here’s for once where DRM might actually have a use. Consider a dedicated public library ereading machine. This machine has only one data interconnect method, and uses hardware-based encryption to decrypt the file held on its storage and display it on the screen. The device is physically sealed and designed so that cracking it open is hard to do and once done accessing the data transfer between the processor and screen is hard to do. These devices are loaned to the library user with the books they’re borrowing on them. When you go to the library you give them the current device back and get another with the books you want this time loaded up. Yes, you have to physically visit the library to do this, though the devices could be mailed through the post like DVD-rental services, for those in remote areas (postage costs would mean the device would need to be as light as possible, but since it is only trying to be a read-through device and not a general purpose device, this should keep the weight down). The library can, depending on the legal situation, either track how many loans they’ve made and pay the appropriate royalty fee, or limit the number of parallel loans to the number of “copies” they’ve “bought”. The point of this is to provide a replacement for the free public lending library service that minimizes the disagreements with the publishers, all of whom have long argued that public lending libraries unfairly undercut their business, but which still mostly survive in the UK at least, because of public support for free access to information, beyond what’s available for free online.




Originally published at blog.a-cubed.info

October 2016

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