Jan 21, 2011

Have you seen it? the truth.

We have become more aware of the power exercised on us, on the atrocities committed by the ones that are elected/enforced to represent us, and yet we are powerless to stop bad decisions. Sure we can move information around but can we undo what as been done? Can we reach a state of information openness that avoids inequalities/atrocities/wars... of power being exerted upon us?

Are we really able to handle all the information and come to a collective truth? If each one of us had the time and the knowledge to understand all the information would we be able to reach a «good» decision, for all of us? Will we keep delegating the decisions to the people chosen by some to run our lives, our resources, our freedoms? What will open truths do for the living conditions of all? Do we not know by now that an equal distribution is a condition operated/manufactured in our labs? Isn't truth like tic-tac-toe? Aren't truths serving power, religion and science? What can each one of us do with so many truths? Can we restore order? Can we put them all to jail? Can we make them undo the lives they took? Can we choose others that will not become «infected» with power?

Strange/dangerous times we are living when there is so much information, that we have to choose/trust the information we'll use among the growing fragment/information...

Can we turn all this information into food, shelters, health? Our do we want this information to reinforce what we know by know? Yes, the moment we all had access to dissemination networked tools we all could became Julian Assange. But can we all be like Julian Assange? Who is Julian Assange?

Are we ready to interpret the information in Wikileaks? Are we having the time to read all the information to reach out for the «truth(s)» (do we want the «truth's»)? Which new players will use this information for their benefit? When we do not know enough about a person where do we go to form our opinion(s)?... talk about trust in a fragmented, over abundant information world, where nothing lasts what it should to help us reach an informed opinion... cause we are not allowed the time it takes to gather/confront/reflect upon to information torrent...

Jan 11, 2011

Europe Digital Agenda - The New Renaissance

"The report urges EU Member States to step up their efforts to put online the collections held in all their libraries, archives and museums. It stresses the benefits of making Europe's culture and knowledge more easily accessible. It also points to the potential economic benefits of digitisation (...) The report's recommendations will feed into the Commission's broader strategy, under the Digital Agenda for Europe, to help cultural institutions make the transition towards the digital age."
"Today europeana.eu already offers access to more than 15 million digitised books, maps, photographs, film clips, paintings and musical extracts, but this is only a fraction of works held by Europe's cultural institutions (see IP/10/1524). Most digitised materials are older works in the public domain, to avoid potential litigation for works covered by copyright."
Elisabeth Niggemann, Jacques De Decker & Maurice Lévy (2011). The New Renaissance. Brussels: Report of the 'Comité des Sages’, Europe.[PDF]

Jan 10, 2011

Access hindrances

In Right to Research Coalition entry (Access Around the World: Portugal) comes a piece of an interview made to a medical student, that elicits difficulties of access to scientific publications:
"While my colleagues and I face a variety of challenges in conducting research, the one I hear complaints about most often is lack of access to the scientific articles we need for our work. Indeed, our institutions have paid for access to the majority of the “relevant” publications, but that gives rise to questions such as, what if I need to work from home where I don’t have access? Or what if other colleagues are using the several school computers, which often happens? Or what if I need to use an article published by a “not so relevant” journal (according to the university), which the school doesn’t pay for? We face these problems and many others when trying to access research."
In the above account of a medical research student, and contrary to common beliefs about b-on, different places allow for different access to scientific papers. The papers that allow us to build on the shoulders of giants (OTSOG). If you are in a University campus like ISCTE, or in a State Laboratory like LNEG or in  University of Minho campus, the access you have to full papers differs (paid subscriptions by each institution are not the same, hence the differences in what one has access). And, if you work on the move (while commuting, travelling, etc.) or outside the campus (home, friends house, public internet spot, etc.) you wont be able to access the full papers, unless you find strategies to «go around» this hindrances. This strategies can be quiet simple or more complex: asking someone on the campus to retrieve the papers for you, search in advance and save/print/email, install a VPN (of course you will need more access passwords, local software installed in your computer/mobile/etc, and even security certificates)... or hack the system, are some of this strategies. All of this consumes (a lot of) time and affects personal information management and related tasks.

This entry was motivated by a Google Alert that I just received about open archives that was linked to the above entry. This in turn stimulated me to write about one of the many invisibilities that I've been researching in the past 4 years, and that are still to see the light of day.