Articles by Hugh

I am a web-guy, writer, and participant in the open movement. I started, and have a little software development company.

You can find me at

I subscribe to Open Access News, by Peter Suber, which is a blog about:

Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature on the internet. Making it available free of charge and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. Removing the barriers to serious research.

And a topic near and dear to… The flow of announcements coming out of Open Access News is truly amazing. Universities and government agencies and quasi-governmental academic bodies, particularly in the US and Europe seem to be making statements on a daily basis – at least OA News is writing about them on a daily basis.

The front page currently has items about Harvard’s OA plans, University of Oregon Faculty Senate adopting a resolution in support of OA, the Budapest Open Access Initiative, OA in Italy … etc.

A slim number of the posts touch on Canada, and especially few on big announcements from Canadian universities and professional/scientific associations.

So, what is the state of OA in Canada? Where are all the initiatives? Where are all the Universities? Are they active, or are we happy, as a country, to lag behind the rest of the world?

Jim Till, of U of T, is writing a blog called: Be Openly Accessible Or Be Obscure, named after this article, which answers some of these questions.

Project Open Source | Open Access, also at U of T, is another place that ought to have some answers, since:

… phase II of the project will focus on research. We have identified Open Scholarship as the theme for 2007-2008, but we will also continue to build on faculty research strengths and interests in the design, development and use of open source environments for collaboration and learning; in institutional innovation; in OS business models; in open access journal publishing; and in the evaluation of journal impact factors.

Last update to their RSS feed was Oct 2007 … let’s hope there’s more good news to come.

So, how are we doing on OA in Canada?


DBpedia is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia and to link other datasets on the Web to Wikipedia data.

us political blogmap It seems that there is an explosion of data visualization work being done on the political process and the Presidential election in the US of A. I just landed on PresidentialWatch08 a site for all you political junkie/blogospheria/dataviz fans. They’ve got a lovely map of influential political blogs and news sites. The project seems to be run by a web analytics company, linkfluence.

Anyone planning anything similar in Canada?

[via infosthetics]

rice as visual data

A short promotional video of the Stan’s Cafe performance installation, Of All The People In All The World, in which rice is used to represent human statistics.

[via infosthetics]

Civic data comes in many guises, and this is a neat way to analyze a politician’s speeches:

Last year’s 2007 State of the Union Tag Cloud was such a hit, I decided to follow up again this year…

[from Boing Boing]

Would be nice to do this systematically for every politician, maybe just based on their web pages? Or published documents, anyway.

Well, why not? Why not, indeed? Here is:

Stephen Harper:

created at

Stephane Dion:

created at

Jack Layton:

created at

Gilles Duceppe:

created at

Environment XML is now live enabling people to tag and share remote realtime environmental data; if you are using Flash, Processing, Arduino, Director or any other application that parses XML then you can both respond to and contribute to environments and devices around the world.

EnvironmentXML proposes a kind of “RSS feed” for tagged environmental data, enabling anyone to release realtime environmental data from a physical object or space in XML format via the internet in such a way that this content becomes part of the input data to spaces/interfaces/objects designed by other people.


From Wired:

Sources at Google have disclosed that the humble domain,, will soon provide a home for terabytes of open-source scientific datasets. The storage will be free to scientists and access to the data will be free for all. The project, known as Palimpsest and first previewed to the scientific community at the Science Foo camp at the Googleplex last August, missed its original launch date this week, but will debut soon.

Building on the company’s acquisition of the data visualization technology, Trendalyzer, from the oft-lauded, TED presenting Gapminder team, Google will also be offering algorithms for the examination and probing of the information. The new site will have YouTube-style annotating and commenting features.

[Via Open Access News]

Peter Suber reports that:

The Scientific Council of the European Research Council has released its Guidelines for Open Access [pdf]

Here is the text:

  1. Scientific research is generating vast, ever increasing quantities of information, including primary data, data structured and integrated into databases, and scientific publications. In the age of the Internet, free and efficient access to information, including scientific publications and original data, will be the key for sustained progress.
  2. Peer-review is of fundamental importance in ensuring the certification and dissemination of high-quality scientific research. Policies towards access to peer-reviewed scientific publications must guarantee the ability of the system to continue to deliver high-quality certification services based on scientific integrity.
  3. Access to unprocessed data is needed not only for independent verification of results but, more importantly, for secure preservation and fresh analysis and utilisation of the data.
  4. A number of freely accessible repositories and curated databases for publications and data already exist serving researchers in the EU. Over 400 research repositories are run by European research institutions and several fields of scientific research have their own international discipline-specific repositories. These include for example PubMed Central for peer-reviewed publications in the life sciences and medicine, the arXiv Internet preprint archive for physics and mathematics, the DDBJ/EMBL/GenBank nucleotide sequence database and the RSCB-PDB/MSD-EBI/PDBj protein structure database.
  5. With few exceptions, the social sciences & humanities (SSH) do not yet have the benefit of public central repositories for their recent journal publications. The importance of open access to primary data, old manuscripts, collections and archives is even more acute for SSH. In the social sciences many primary or secondary data, such as social survey data and statistical data, exist in the public domain, but usually at national level. In the case of the humanities, open access to primary sources (such as archives, manuscripts and collections) is often hindered by private (or even public or nation-state) ownership which permits access either on a highly selective basis or not at all.

Based on these considerations, and following up on its earlier Statement on Open Access (Appendix 1) the ERC Scientific Council has established the following interim position on open access:

  1. The ERC requires that all peer-reviewed publications from ERC-funded research projects be deposited on publication into an appropriate research repository where available, such as PubMed Central, ArXiv or an institutional repository, and subsequently made Open Access within 6 months of publication.
  2. The ERC considers essential that primary data – which in the life sciences for example could comprise data such as nucleotide/protein sequences, macromolecular atomic coordinates and anonymized epidemiological data – are deposited to the relevant databases as soon as possible, preferably immediately after publication and in any case not later than 6 months after the date of publication.

The ERC is keenly aware of the desirability to shorten the period between publication and open access beyond the currently accepted standard of 6 months.

Peter has some good analysis.

What is the NRC’s policy on Open Access?



nice aerial pic of montreal’s north shore:

montreal's north shore

[via spacingmontreal]

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