The most important paper you can read, but you can’t have it

Several publications, including the New York Times are covering an important new paper on climate change in the future. In the paper, the authors predict that starting in 2047, the coldest years on record, will now exceed the warmest years on record we have now.

It’s an important paper, and one that presents a fresh outlook. Unfortunately, it’s also a paper that’s stuck behind a paywall, and therefore unavailable to the majority of people.

Yet, notice how climate change denial papers are never stuck behind paywalls. Of course, you might say it’s because no reputable journal would ever publish them. It’s true, their science is dubious, and their conclusions are questionable. However, the fact is, when you’re trying to reach as many people as you can with a message, you don’t make people have a pay a significant chunk of money just to see your paper.

The climate change denial folks understand this. Evidently the more reputable climate folks, don’t.


Flying high in the (Document) clouds

DocumentCloud is an online document management system for journalists. It provides a way to upload and organize documents, making them easier to share with the public and other team members. In addition, DocumentCloud also provides a set of tools enabling a host of functionality, including the ability to search among all of the uploaded accessible documents. (example from the Washington Post)

Currently, my documents are all uploaded to my own server. They’re easily available, true, but if I were to someday be nibbled to death by ducks, the documents would vanish from the internets. In addition, there’s no functionality available for searching among the documents, and they’re isolated from other comparable documents, making them a little less than useful for generalized researching. Yes, they are accessible via Google, but documents need a bit more.

They need persistence not dependent on a frail human body.

DocumentCloud was kind enough to give me an account, once I demonstrated the intent of my document web site, and how I’ve used my documents as source material for writings. Now I’m in the process of figuring out how best to organize them for uploading, which includes determining what I’m going to name the document files.

The RECAP folks had legitimate criticism of my file name scheme, which consists of folders containing documents named “document1.pdf” and so on. The names are meaningful in context, but meaningless out of context. This is especially true for my court documents.

I could use the RECAP naming scheme, which consists of court system, specific court designation, case number, document number, and attachment number, if any. An example is “gov.uscourts.dcd.129639.1.0.pdf”, which is the US federal court system, the DC court, case number “129639”, document 1, and the main document, not an attachment.

The FOIA Project uses something similar, but it actually spells out the name for the document. An example is “dc-1-2010cv00883-complaint-attachment-1.pdf”. This name breaks down to the DC court system, the year and court type (“2010” and “cv” for Civil), as well as the case number, in addition to the document type and attachment. (As a side note, the FOIA Project also uses DocumentCloud.)

PACER assigns each case a unique PACER number within the system, but that’s only useful when accessing the documents via PACER.

I’ll have to live with whatever I decide, because some of the cases I follow have hundreds, even thousands, of court documents. I’m going to do the “rename and upload to DocumentCloud” thing once.

You can provide file name suggestions on Google+.

Documents Web

Harvard Business School: it will cost you to link to us

Discovered via Facebook, Harvard Business School’s extraordinarily parsimonious attempts to milk every last penny out of its material:

No one ever charges people for the act of curating and directing attention. That is our job. It is our mantra. But that is precisely what HBSP are doing. To be sure, HBR looks like any other magazine and is already paid for under an institutional license by the UofT library. What HBSP are charging for are the links to those articles made by academics in the ordinary course of teaching. While our Dean was clear that he wanted us to continue to treat ideas as ideas and give the best to our students, he also wanted us now to be aware that it was costing money each time we did so. I don’t know how much it costs but my guess is that it is $5 or so per article per student. So if I have a class of 40 students and in the process of being thorough, add 10 HBR articles to my reading list or class webpage or, if the students do the same on bulletin boards for the class, we have to pay $2,000 for the privilege. I want to adhere to norms but that is enough to cause me to think twice.

Note, this isn’t direct access to the article content, this is just linking to, or citing the article.

I guess Harvard must be hard up for cash.


Lavabit Court documents

The company Lavabit shut down rather than give the government encryption keys that would expose all private communication related to its email server. This is the same server used by Edward Snowden.

The Lavabit founder, Ladar Levinson, was finally able to get the court documents related to this action unsealed, and they were posted yesterday. I was fairly sure that Kevin Poulsen of Wired’s Threat Level would post an actual copy, rather than just discuss them, and I was correct.

I’m also posting a copy in the interest of dissemination. I recommend, though, that you read Poulsen’s overview of the case.


Open Feynman Lectures

At Quantum Frontiers:

Last Friday the 13th was a lucky day for those who love physics — The online html version of Volume 1 of the Feynman Lectures on Physics (FLP) was released! Now anyone with Internet access and a web browser can enjoy these unique lectures for free. They look beautiful.