September 30, 2008

Thomson Scientific still trying to predict the Nobel Prizes

Over the last couple of years (here, here, here), I've been razzing Thomson Scientific about their lame attempts to predict the science & economics Nobel Prizes. Last year, they predicted every single prize incorrectly.

Well, they're at it again. I won't go into detail again how misguided I think their attempts are to use their citation counts to predict the outcome of the prizes. However, I will list their predictions for this year so I can once again point to them as the prizes are awarded to show how useless something like citation counts can be for this kind of purpose.

Here goes.


  • Charles M. Lieber
  • Krzysztof (Kris) Matyjaszewski
  • Roger Y. Tsien

  • Lars P. Hansen and Thomas J. Sargent and Christopher A. Sims
  • Martin S. Feldstein
  • Armen A. Alchian and Harold Demsetz

  • Andre K. Geim and Kostya Novoselov
  • Vera C. Rubin
  • Sir Roger Penrose and Dan Shechtman

Physiology or Medicine
  • Shizuo Akira and Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann
  • Victor R. Ambros and Gary Ruvkun
  • Rory Collins and Sir Richard Peto

So, let's see how they do this year. I predict about the same as previous years, in other words, pretty random. Some of the people they pick based on citation counts will be picked in the year Thomson guesses, some won't. Some will get picked in a later year. It's interesting, as a way a hedging their bets Thomson lists some of the previous years' "citation laureates" at the bottom of the page.

Once again, I would also like to emphasize that I have nothing against the scholars whom Thomson has "nominated" and wish them well. I certainly don't mean to cast a negative light on their contributions at all. My beef is not with them, but with Thomson's misuse of their citation data.

September 29, 2008

Scott Rosenberg Traces the Blogosphere’s Origins

Simon Owens was kind enough to let me know about his interview with Dreaming in Code author Scott Rosenberg on the MediaShift blog.

Dreaming in Code was one of the best books I read in 2007 and I'm really looking forward to next summer when Rosenberg publishes his forthcoming book on the history of blogs and blogging, the topic of the interview:

Speaking with Rosenberg about his book, I felt like we were discussing evolutionary biology. Rosenberg’s research goes beyond highlighting the earliest blogs, and slowly pieces its way through the primordial ooze of the Internet, tracing a line of websites in the early 1990s that first began taking on blog-like characteristics.

"Most of the people I’ve talked to, I’ve asked who had inspired them," he said. "Who were you reading when you decided to start blogging? To a certain point that becomes a harder and harder thing the further back you go. For instance, Justin Hall started his site in January 1994, before most of us had heard of the web. I asked him, 'Well, you’re one of the first bloggers, was there anyone out there who you were getting inspiration from?' And he pointed me to this other guy named Ranjit Bhatnagar who was keeping a site at in 1993. And, sure enough, it was a reverse chronological list of stuff he found on the web."

It sounds like it's going to be a great book. Rosenberg has interviewed over 100 bloggers for the book, which should give him a good feeling for what's going on. My only hope is that he doesn't stop at the obvious choices for blogging communities to feature -- technology and US political blogs -- and explores some of the more niche communities, like, for example, science blogs or library blogs. Even parenting or knitting blogs or anything, just to give his readership the idea that the blogospheres are incredibly diverse and vibrant rather than just technophilia and political ranting.

In any case, Rosenberg talks about the new book here and the MediaShift interview here.

September 26, 2008

Friday Fun: What black arts could have stripped this chocolate of its natural hue?

As may have become apparent over the years, I've long been a fan of HP Lovecraft and always enjoy bringing Lovecraftian humour to light (or is that to dark?) (here, here and here, for example).

I saw this one via Katy Southern on FriendFeed: Selections from H.P. Lovecraft's Brief Tenure as a Whitman's Sampler Copywriter.

They're all funny, here's one of them as a taste (hehe):

Coconut Creme Swirl

They say that the Coconut Creme Swirl sleeps. But if the dread Coconut Creme Swirl slumbers, surely it must also dream. It is certain that while it dozes the Coconut Creme Swirl is absorbed by terrifying visions of exacting its creamy tropical vengeance upon mankind! Consume the Coconut Creme Swirl before it awakens to consume you!

Communications of the ACM, Oct 2008

Some interesting articles from v51i10:

September 23, 2008

IEEE Annals in the History of Computing, July/Sept 2008

Lots of interesting articles, as usual, in this special issue on Methods and Challenges in the History of Informatics, v30i3:

Science in the 21st Century conference recap

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was at the Science in the 21st Century conference at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario for the week of September 8th. The conference location was terrific. The PI's building is a great site for a small conference, the food in the Black Hole Bistro was fantastic and the PI library is small but very nice and really starting to grow.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience, one that will take a long time to properly digest. I'm not going to bother with session summary posts for a couple of reasons. First of all, videos of nearly all the sessions are available; second, the FriendFeed room has an amazing amount of really good microblogging about the conference. You can really get the essence of the sessions. Chad Orzel of Uncertain Principles has also blogged a bunch of very good sessions summaries. There was hardly one single bad or even mediocre presentation at the entire conference; it's well worth the time to watch several of them. The organizers should be proud of assembling such a fine roster of speakers.

There's also a good compilation of blog reactions on the conference site.
Before I forget, there's a really nice photo of most of the conference attendees available.

Since summary isn't that useful at this point, I thought I'd maybe talk a little about some of the main impressions I got out of the conference.

First of all, science 2.0/open science still are pretty minority interests and movements, with not much happening in the broader community yet beyond the early adopters. This seems to be mostly due to issues in incentives and workload. On the other hand, there's some very interesting stuff going on in some disciplines and with some scientists. I think there's enourmous possibilities for a sea change in the way science is both done and communicated over the next decade as the current crop of young scholars become the senior scholars in their various fields. In particular, today's undergrads and grads see open content and social networking the way fish see water.

So, everybody is grappling with the 2.0 stuff and it's hard to say if the science community is ahead or behind the curve. In some ways libraries and librarians are perhaps a bit ahead of the curve, if only because we see a train-like light at the end of the tunnel and are reacting by innovating and experimenting. You'd be hard pressed to find many large- or medium-sized academic libraries that aren't at least experimenting with some of the tools; some are even experiencing some success. On the other hand, if a library news blog posts in the forest and nobody reads it, does it really exist.

One thing that was pretty apparent at the conference was that libraries aren't really on most faculty members' radar, something that may be somewhat more true of the science 2.0 savvy types at the conference. But that's something we knew already. If faculty don't come to the library anymore -- and we've worked very hard to make sure that they really don't have to -- we might have to find other ways to let them know what we're doing and to engage them in what we have to offer.

As a result of our success (or joint success with publishers and OA advocates), faculty can tend to be somewhat unaware that their students still use and value the library. This trend may be more prevalent in disciplines with generally small numbers of majors, but I think is also be pretty widespread. It's going to be a challenge to both find our roles in the evolving context as well as make a case for that role with faculty and administrators.

Are we in danger of being shut out from the research process unless we find a way to be relevant -- research support, curation, advocating for and building the arxiv equivents for other disciplines? A difficult question without an obvious answer; I think part of it will be to continue to build on our relationships -- with information literacy and undergraduate education, moving into the ebook space, hosting journals, and as the place for good study space on most campuses. The good news is that for the most part people are willing to listen and give us a chance if we can get their attention. Since everyone is grappling with the implications of the web for science, there's certainly an openness to contributions from all quarters. There was about 20% librarians at the conference, something that I think most people noticed, even if they were somewhat mystified by our ubiquity. Perhaps some will go back to their institutions and drop by and see their own librarian to see what he or she is thinking about. A bunch of people asked me questions about the future of libraries and if my answers were a little fuzzy, well, there was a lot of fuzziness about the future of science and science institutions in the 21st century. In retrospect, I probably should have asked them what they thought libraries had to contribute.

The above may seem a bit pessimistic, but I can't say that I really feel that way at all, in fact if anything I'm optimistic. Sure, there are challenges but we would be mistaken if we thought that the scientists have raced past us and totally embraced all the possibilities of the web. Some them have perhaps raced past, some of them haven't embraced the web, some of the stuff we've done in the past is just just gone, some of the things we could do in the future will elude our grasp. But, change brings possibilities.

I like to quote myself sometimes from a long ago post on the future of science libraries:

I want to facilitate a future, one that is good for our patrons but one that also has me in it. And I think that's what we should all aspire to in our professional lives, to bringing about the best future we can imagine, for ourselves and our patrons.

(Still to come -- I might possibly get around to some brief session notes. I definitely have a post in the works with some more concrete ideas on engaging the science communities in online library social spaces but a lot of that stuff is still percolating.)

September 21, 2008

Computer science does not study the digital computer

A great post by Eugene Wallingford at Knowing and Doing on a topic that has long interested me: What is computer science and is it a science?

Computer science does not study the digital computer. Dijkstra told us so a long time ago, and if we didn't believe him then, we should now, with the advent of ideas such as quantum computing and biological computing.

Computer science is about processes that transform information. I see many naturally-occurring processes in the world. It appears now that life is the result of an information process, implement in the form of DNA. Chemical processes involve information as well as matter. And some physicists now believe that the universe as we experience it is a projection of two-dimensional information embodied in the interaction of matter and energy.


I believe everything I've said here today, but that doesn't mean that I believe that CS is only science. Much of what we do in CS is engineering: of hardware systems, of software systems, of larger systems in which the manipulation of information is but one component. Much of what we do is mathematics: finding patterns, constructing abstractions, and following the implications of our constructions within a formal system. That doesn't mean computer science is not also science. Some people think we use the scientific method only as a tool to study engineered artifacts, but I think that they are missing the big picture of what CS is.

BTW, if you haven't already, feel free to take a look at the interview I did with Eugene a few months ago.

September 19, 2008

Friday Fun: Destroying the world...again

For some reason, the beginning of the school term has me thinking about apocalyptic ideas...first a few weeks ago and now today, thinking about whether or not the Large Hadron Collider has the destroyed the world yet. Check the link. And refresh every once in a while just to be sure.

Oh yeah, check out the hard-core LHC geekery at the Science in the 21st Century conference...

September 17, 2008

Sunburst Award: 2008 winners and 2009 jury

The winners have just been announced for the 2008 edition of the Sunburst Award, Canada's juried award for literature of the fantastic:

  • Young Adult: Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet by Joanne Proulx
  • Adult: The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson

The complete short lists are here.

The reason I'm posting here, aside from the opportunity to celebrate great Canadian fantastic fiction, is to mention that I'm honoured to have been asked to serve on the jury for the 2009 award, along with Barbara Berson, Ed Greenwood, Sandra Kasturi and Simon Rose. It should be great fun. Needless to say, I don't expect to be reading much else other than Canuck fantastic fiction for the foreseeable future. However, I do hope to read at least two or three more science books this year.

Of course, I encourage everyone to check out the wonderful books on this year's short list as well as the two winners.

September 16, 2008

ScienceOnline '09

Bora has just announced that registration is open for the new, improved version of what was previously called the North Carolina Science Blogging Conference: ScienceOnline '09.

It uses the unconference format, so you can follow the evolution of the program here. As seems to be typical of many conferences these days, you can also see who's registered to attend -- 26 people already.

Here's some of the text from the homepage:

ScienceOnline’09 is the third annual science blogging conference, to be held Jan. 16-18, 2009 at the Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Please join us for this free three-day event to explore science on the Web. Our goal is to bring together scientists, bloggers, educators, students, journalists and others to discuss, demonstrate and debate online strategies and tools for promoting the public understanding of science.


Our conference addresses a variety of issues and perspectives on science communication, including science literacy, the popularization of science, science in classrooms and in homes, debunking pseudoscience, using blogs as tools for presenting scientific research, writing about science, and health and medicine.

I went to the conference last year and it was a truly great experience. I'm 99% certain I'll be going again this time around. I'll also very likely be taking my science blogger son with me as well.

September 14, 2008

Science in the 21st Century reading list

I spent the past week at the Science in the 21st Century conference at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, ON. It was a heck of a conference, an intense five days of workshops, discussions and social events. I'm still digesting what went on and trying to make a bit of sense of it, especially how it all relates to libraries. However, I'm not quite up to the task of getting all that down on pixels yet. I thought I'd first start by arranging some of my "to be read" list that I gleaned from various of the discussions.

As you can imagine, lots of books, articles and web sites were mentioned at the conference, which is no surprise, of course. A lot of the web sites and articles that were mentioned are listed in the various FriendFeed threads in the Science21 room. A bunch of books were also mentioned in a thread that Mark Tovey started. I thought it would be interesting to take Mark's thread as well as some notes that I made during the conference and make a nice list here. (Thanks to everyone who contributed to Mark's thread!)

You could do a lot worse job of preparing for the present and future of science and scientific communication than reading these books:

  • The Dream Machine : J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop

  • Libraries of the Future by J.C.R. Licklider

  • Rethinking Expertise by Harry Collins and Robert Evans

  • Gravity's Shadow: The Search for Gravitational Waves by Harry Collins

  • American Physics and the Cold War Bubble by David Kaiser

  • Pedagogy and the Practice of Science: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives edited by David Kaiser

  • The Ghost of the Executed Engineer: Technology and the Fall of the Soviet Union by Loren Graham

  • Scientists in the Classroom: The Cold War Reconstruction of American Science Education by John L. Rudolph

  • The Sputnik Challenge by Robert A. Divine

  • Brainpower for the Cold War The Sputnik Crisis and National Defense Education Act of 1958 by Barbara Barksdale Clowse

  • Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics by Peter Louis Galison

  • QED and the Men Who Made It by Silvan S. Schweber

  • The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial Complex at MIT and Stanford by Stuart W. Leslie

  • Towards 2020 Science

  • Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves by Adam Hochschild

  • Sixty Days and Counting by Kim Stanley Robinson

  • Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge

  • Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

  • The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers by Tom Standage

  • Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace edited by Mark Tovey

  • Anything by Lawrence Lessig

  • The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler

  • Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe

  • The access principle: The case for open access to research and scholarship by John Willinsky

  • Ambient Findabillity by Peter Morville

  • Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger

  • The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel J. Solove

  • The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google by Nicholas Carr

  • Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

  • The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary by Eric S. Raymond

  • Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg

  • The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups by Mancur Olson

  • Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams

  • Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet by Christine L. Borgman

Of course, a similar list or lists could be compiled for articles, web sites, videos, etc, but I'll leave that task to some one else. Books lists seem to be more my thing.

In any case, feel free to suggest more books either here or in the FriendFeed thread, especially if there were items from the conference, the FriendFeed or the video that I've forgotten.

September 7, 2008

Lacy, Sarah. Once you're lucky, twice you're good: The rebirth of Silicon Valley and the rise of web 2.0. New York,: Gotham, 2008. 294pp.

As with many of the business books I review in this space, I am profoundly torn by this book. On the one hand, tech journalist Sarah Lacy's account of the business side of the ride of various web 2.0 companies is compelling and fascinating reading. On the other hand, the depths of uncritical and nauseating hero-worship she displays toward the tech entrepreneurs she profiles is both revolting and disturbing.

Revolting because because of the over the top admiration and worship Lacy has for the people she profiles. Disturbing because the "it's all about the money" mindset diminishes the social impact, or at least my appreciation of the social impact, of the web 2.0 technologies.

In fact, if you're not careful reading this book could completely disillusion you about the whole web 2.0 phenomenon because it tears aside the veil and you see it for what the business people truly see it as: not a way of sharing and expanding our social horizons and making our true, real life social networks easier and more pleasurable. But as a way of making money, of delivering eyeballs to advertisers, of growing market share. Almost, but not quite. You really have to read this book with your business book brain engaged -- ignore the sycophanticism and hype and get a feeling for the stories and the personalities.

Some of the personalities/entrepreneurs she profiles include Max Levchin (PayPal, Slide), Mark Andreessen (Netscape, Ning), Jay Adelson (Digg) and, of course, Sarah Lacy's King of the World, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

From the first chapter, focusing on Levchin, all the various entrepreneurs mostly come off as almost repulsively arrogant and greedy -- these social networking pioneers are no Robin Hood figures, it's all about the money. While their life stories are often interesting and even compelling, I find it hard to believe that they're actually as unpleasant as they seem in the book and for that I blame Lacy. She really needed to balance their stories of ambition with a more "human" side.

From a library point of view, one of the important ideas that I always try to keep first and foremost in my mind is that as public institutions (or private not-for-profits) it's not our job to deliver eyeballs to vendors or advertisers but to serve the interests of our patrons first. We should not make it our mission to deliver our patrons' attention to corporate interests. If nothing else, this book has reminded me that when we partner with vendors, even vendors we think have high ideals, we have to remember that their bottom line is ultimately different from ours.

In sum, this is a business book about business issues and mostly business people. There's a bit of analysis and reflection in some of the chapters, but you definitely won't learn much about what web 2.0 is and why it's important from this book. For that, definitely pick up Clay Shirky's book Here Comes Everybody. Is it all bad? No. Although superficial, I did pick up quite a bit of useful history and background on the web 2.0 phenomenon. I mostly enjoyed the book and would recommend it for any library that supports people studying the historical or business side of the web.

Some minor (and not so minor) things that annoyed me: Lacy's constantly using first names for her subjects giving and overly familiar air plus making it hard to keep track of which person she's talking about when it's a fairly large cast of characters. I also didn't appreciate that she referred to all the technical people as "engineers" -- may of whom were likely computer scientists, mathematicians or whatever. She didn't seem to have a sense that the job title engineer means someone that studied engineering. There were also a couple of uncomfortably misogynistic moments in the text (p. 42 and 226) that were unnecessary; Lacy seemed to be suffering a bit from The Stockholm Syndrome. She was also a bit flippant about the dark side of web 2.0, blowing off cyberbullying and copyright issues (p. 109).

September 3, 2008

Nature Network panel discussion & pub night

The Toronto Nature Network mafia are organizing another event this coming Sunday evening:

Science 2.0: the future of online tools for scientists
A pub night and panel with Timo Hannay, Cameron Neylon, and Michael Nielsen, hosted by Nature Network Toronto

What does the future hold for the way we do science? Are online repositories such as GenBank and the physics preprint ArXiv, or social tools such as Nature Network, about to change science profoundly? To find out, join Nature Network Toronto for an interactive panel discussion over drinks at the pub.

Date: Sunday September 7 at 7:30pm
Place: Fionn MacCool's (181 University Avenue, near corner with Adelaide)

About the panelists:

Timo Hannay is Publishing Director of at the Nature Publishing Group, publishers of Nature and over seventy other scientific journals, plus numerous online resources for scientists. He is responsible for new online initiatives in social software, databases and audio-visual content. Timo trained as a neurophysiologist at the University of Oxford and worked as a journalist and a management consultant before becoming a publisher.

Cameron Neylon is a biophysicist working in molecular biology, biophysics, and high throughput methods. He has a joint appointment as a Lecturer in Combinatorial Chemistry at the University of Southampton and as a Senior Scientist in Biomolecular Sciences at the ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Facility. He is developing an electronic notebook for biochemistry labs which has lead to his involvement in the Open Research movement and to his group moving to an Open Notebook.

Michael Nielsen is a writer living just outside Toronto, Canada. He is currently working on a book about The Future of Science. One of the pioneers of quantum computation, he coauthored the standard text on quantum computation that is the most highly cited physics publication of the last 25 years. He is the author of more than fifty scientific papers, including invited contributions to Nature and Scientific American.

For more information visit Nature Network Toronto (, or contact Eva Amsen ( or Jen Dodd (

It looks like a fun event, coinciding with the two of the panelists appearing at the Science in the 21st Century conference starting the next day. I'll be there, of course.

There is, of course, the obligatory Facebook event.

E-Science, Science 2.0, Open Science

Some recent posts that got me thinking about various escience/science 2.0/open science issues:

First, Christina gets us rolling with some definitions:

So I'm asking and proposing that e-science is

  • grid computing - using distributed computing power to do new computational methods in other areas of science (not in CS but in Astro, in bio, etc.)
  • data curation - using computing power and information science to store, discribe, and provide access to scientific information for reuse while taking security and policy issues into account
  • supporting scientists work using social computing technologies (SCTs) to support collaboration around data and equipment (as in collaboratories) as well as collaboration to find new research partners and to discuss science
  • maybe some sort of support for benchtop computational methods or support for workflow or electronic lab notebooks?

What do you think? Is it just one of these or all or some subset?

More or less, as I said on FriendFeed, I see the terms e-science, science 2.0 and open science bandied about quite a bit these days. I tend to thing of e-science as comprising grid computing and data curation issues. Science 2.0 I think of more as social software applications in science, including lab notebooks and the like.

Open science is a newer term, I think, and a little more nebulous to me. It's more an overarching attitude and approach rather than a set of tools. Certainly, open science includes aspects of grid computing, data curation and web 2.0 tools but all of the above don't necessarily have to be "open." It's possible to curate large data sets that are private, for example, or for a wiki lab notebook to be for the lab members only; e-science and and science 2.0 don't have to be fully open although, of course, it's infinitely preferable that they are.

So, I'm a little uncomfortable with using open science as a catch-all term for all the four items that Christina mentions, just as I'm a little uncomfortable with e-science as the catch-all. If I had to choose, though, I'd probably go with Christina and pick e-science.

And speaking of getting more openness into science, check out this article, Era of Scientific Secrecy Near End by Robin Lloyd.
Beyond email, teleconferencing and search engines, there are many examples: blogs where scientists can correspond casually about their work long before it is published in a journal; social networks that are scientist friendly such as Laboratree and Ologeez; GoogleDocs and wikis which make it easy for people to collaborate via the Web on single documents; a site called Connotea that allows scientists to share bookmarks for research papers; sites like Arxiv, where physicists post their "pre-print" research papers before they are published in a print journal; OpenWetWare which allows scientists to post and share new innovations in lab techniques; the Journal of Visualized Experiments, an open-access site where you can see videos of how research teams do their work; GenBank, an online searchable database for DNA sequences; Science Commons, a non-profit project at MIT to make research more efficient via the Web, such as enabling easy online ordering of lab materials referenced in journal articles; virtual conferences; online open-access (and free) journals like Public Library of Science (PLoS); and open-source software that can often be downloaded free off Web sites.

The upshot: Science is no longer under lock and key, trickling out as it used to at the discretion of laconic professors and tense PR offices. For some scientists, secrets no longer serve them.

The article is basically about using web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, mashups, collaborative document creation) to create a more open scientific culture. In other words, what I've called science 2.0 above. It's a very well-written article, particularly for an audience that might not be that familiar with the topic.

Of course it's great to have all these sharing and collaborative tools available for scientists to use, but how to you actually get more than a handful of them to use them? What's the killer app for science 2.0, in other words. Eva Amsen has some ideas!
Many, if not most, scientists are not in the habit of putting things online. The ones that are might be tempted by the concept of sharing the papers they read, letting everyone look at their lab notebook, joining a forum or writing a blog. If you’re reading this in your RSS feed or clicked through from FriendFeed , you’re probably one of those people. But think about your friends and colleagues who only turn on their computer for work and e-mail. They’re not going to tag their favourite papers or discuss the process of research with total strangers on the internet. It’s an extra thing to do that’s not already part of their lives, and no matter how appealing they might find the concept of open data or sharing information, they won’t join these sites or movements because it’s not something they are already doing.


Imagine if there was a bibliography reference manager that keeps a record of papers read, and allows users to cite papers with one click of the mouse, but does all this in a simpler way than EndNote, and perhaps has one extra feature that people really need but that EndNote doesn’t have. For example: if you’re cowriting a paper with someone else, the EndNote library needs to be on two computers. You can export it, but it’s kind of unwieldy. It would be easier to have a common shared library that both computers could use to cite in their word processing software....

Now imagine if this utopian tool they all switched to because it was so simple and fast and useful just happened to come with the default setting to share your entire collection of papers and prompted to quickly tag everything once you added it. People would leave the public setting on, and they would tag....

Please, read the whole post. It's wonderful. Eva's idea is that the killer app for science 2.0 is combining citation management with document preparation and making it social. A great idea, because it takes what scientists have to do already (ie. write papers) and blows it up into the miscellaneous universe.

But, are we there yet? First of all, take a look at these two conversations on FriendFeed about how to make Connotea the killer app: here and here. It's great to know that Nature is thinking deeply about transforming what is now Connotea into something that will truly help scientists. At the same time, you have to think that the Zotero project also has great potential to be that killer app with amazing improvements in v1.5 and a social version coming up.

E-Resources Librarian, York University

Here's recent job posting from my institution. FYI, I'm not on the search committee, int he hiring department or anything so I don't have any specific info related to the job. If someone is interested in general information about York or the library system, that I could answer.

York University offers a world-class, modern, interdisciplinary academic experience in Toronto, Canada's most multicultural city. York is at the centre of innovation, with a thriving community of almost 60,000 faculty, staff and students who challenge the ordinary and deliver the unexpected.

York University Libraries are seeking an innovative and enthusiastic individual for the position of Electronic Resources Librarian in the Bibliographic Services Department. This is a tenure-track position for a librarian with up to nine years post-MLS experience.


The Electronic Resources Librarian will provide leadership and expertise in the effective acquisition, management and promotion of electronic collections for the Libraries. Working closely with the Associate University Librarian for Collections, the successful candidate will monitor trends and developments in electronic resources, collaborate with subject specialist/liaison librarians to identify potential new acquisitions, work with publishers and vendors to coordinate trials, and solicit and evaluate user feedback. In collaboration with library colleagues, the incumbent will develop and implement a dynamic promotion plan for the York community that raises awareness of and increases use of electronic collections. He/she will also develop and implement qualitative assessment measures, analyze and disseminate usage data, and prepare reports to assist in timely collections decision-making. The incumbent will assist in troubleshooting, responding to user inquiries and following up on access and maintenance problem resolution. He/she will participate in library-wide committees and will represent the Libraries at regional, provincial and national consortia (e.g. OCUL), organizations and initiatives.


  • MLS (or recognized equivalent) from an ALA-accredited program
  • A high level of collection analysis, development and management expertise that includes negotiating and monitoring licensing agreements for electronic resources
  • Excellent skills in Excel, budget management and statistical tools
  • Demonstrated experience with OpenURL resolvers such as SFX
  • Knowledge of electronic resource management systems
  • Experience with current Web tools (syndication, mashups, etc.) and knowledge of discovery layers and next generation catalogues as potential channels for enhancing access to electronic resources
  • Demonstrated experience with project management
  • Excellent oral and written communication and training skills
  • Excellent organizational, analytical and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work independently and in collaboration with others
  • Ability to manage a complex workload in a timely, effective manner with minimum supervision

Librarians at York University have academic status and are members of the York University Faculty Association bargaining unit ( The appointment, to commence May 1, 2009, is subject to budgetary approval. Salary and benefits are competitive.

York University is an Affirmative Action Employer. The Affirmative Action Program can be found on York’s website at or a copy can be obtained by calling the affirmative action office at 416-736-5713. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents will be given priority.

Campus resources include an on-site daycare centre, a women's centre, a race and ethnic relations centre, a sexual harassment centre, initiatives in support of sexual and gender diversity, and a wellness centre. York University encourages attitudes of respect and non-discrimination toward persons of all ethnic and religious groups, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Preference will be given to applications received by December 19, 2008. Applications, including a covering letter relating qualifications to requirements of the position, a current curriculum vitae, and the names of three referees, should be sent to:

Chair, Electronic Resources Librarian Appointment Committee
York University, Scott Library, Room 310
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

Fax: (416) 736-5451

Applications should be sent by post or fax with original copy following. We do not accept applications sent by e-mail.