Thursday, October 30, 2008

New website: R18+ for Games

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) has a new website: R18+ for Games. This is part of EFA's new campaign to support the introduction of a new classification for video and computer games in Australia. Movies can be classified R. They can contain R-rated content and still be sold, borrowed and watched legally. So why not games?

From the website:

Australia is the only Western country without an R rating for computer and video games. If a game is deemed unsuitable for MA15+ by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, it is refused classification and cannot be sold. Titles including 50 Cent, Bulletproof, Postal 2, Leisure Suit Larry, NARC, Singles, Blitz: The League, and Manhunt have all been refused classification in recent years. In 2008 alone, four game titles have been banned: Silent Hill, Fallout 3, Dark Sector and Shellshock 2.

According to recent surveys, the average age of gamers in Australia is around 30 years old.

An R18+ classification would require the unanimous support of all Attorneys-General, and in the past moves to change the current classification have been blocked on the vote of a single state Attorney-General.

EFA is now sponsoring a campaign to have the R18+ classification for games introduced in Australia.

If you support this cause, I encourage you to visit the site. EFA is asking supporters to write to their state Attorney-General and request an R18+ classification for games. Every letter helps!

I should also note that EFA has been a prominent voice against the government's current "clean feed" proposal. Yesterday, EFA Chair, Dale Clapperton, appeared on Channel 7's Morning Show to discuss the issue. You can read more and view the Morning Show clip on Dale's blog.

[Disclosure: My partner is on the EFA board]

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ice TV

Yesterday, the High Court began hearing the Ice TV appeal. This is a case that could potentially have fairly wide ramifications for copyright protection of data compilations, or none, depending on whether the High Court rules in line with precedent (Desktop Marketing).

For links to commentary around the case so far, see Peter Black's post here.

Ben Atkinson and Professor Brian Fitzgerald of the QUT Law Faculty yesterday posted a paper on QUT eprints, entitled, "Copyright as an Instrument of Information Flow and Dissemination: the case of ICE TV Pty Ltd v Nine Network Australia Pty Ltd". You can read the paper here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Short Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

Last night I saw the Importance of Being Earnest at QPAC. It was fabulous and hilarious - the audience (including myself) was laughing throughout. The cast did a fantastic job of hamming it up in true Oscar Wilde style. And the set design and costumes were also amazing. Highly recommended. Catch it while it's still in Brisbane

Open Access Day

Today, 15 October 2008, is Open Access Day!

Today I attended an OA Day event in the QUT Library, which was sponsored by SPARC, PLoS and Students of Free Culture.

First, we watched the “Voices of Open Access” video, which is available on the Open Access Day website, and the QUT Library Secretariat “Shout Out” for OA video.

We then had some presentations and discussions, moderated by Elizabeth Stark.

Peter Jerram, CEO of PLoS, gave a short introduction. He stated that there is now:
  • Over 3600 journals in Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
  • Now more than 12,000 OA repositories in more than 70 countries
  • More than 50 mandates for OA in 28 countries
He also gave his thanks to:
  • Authors who choose to publish in OA
  • Peter Suber
  • Melissa Hagemann, OSI
  • DOAJ
  • Publishers and editors of OA journals
  • Research funders such a Wellcome Trust that provide funds for OA journals
  • SPARC and Students of Free Culture
  • Advocates of OA

Dr Phil Bourne, Editor in Chief of PLoS Computational Biology, who was presenting from University of California San Diego, gave the keynote presentation. The webcast can be accessed at

Presentation: The Promise of Open Access

mash up of academic content
e.g. Pubcast – video integrated with the full text of the paper – but this requires openness in relation to the paper i.e. unrestricted access, Creative Commons licence
e.g. Professional Profile includes all sorts of content: publications, pubcasts and videos etc – profiles are a first step to virtual research environments

BioLit: Tools for new modes of scientific dissemination
Mash up between database and journal article
Integrate biological literature and biological database and includes:
  • A database of journal text
  • Authorising tools to facilitate database storage of journal text
  • Tools to make static figures and table interactive
Semantic enrichment of text
Semantic enrichment at the point of authoring – like the spell checker in Word – scans for specific information/word (e.g. name of a gene) and goes out an retrieves information, info appears in column to side of paper, author can choose whether to link to that information or not.


Q: How does peer review fit into the new multi-media environment?
A: It is a misconception that peer review does not fit into the OA environment
For Pubcast, the paper associated with the video has already been peer reviewed.

Q: is there a plug-in for the semantic enrichment tool for open office or other platforms that are not Word?
A: Not yet, but probably coming. Will be open source and people can do what they like with it. No restraints imposed by Microsoft

ARROW Repository Day

On 14 October 2008, I attended the ARROW Repository Day held in Customs House in Brisbane. I presented on the legal issues surrounding management of data for inclusion in a repository. You can access my slides here.

Chris Rusbridge of the Digital Curation Centre in the UK also presented. Some brief notes from his talk are below. Chris was live blogging the day, so if you are interested I suggest you read his notes at the Digital Curation Blog.

Chris Rusbridge (Digital Curation Centre) – Moving the repository upstream

The resistant scholar
  • Uncertainty, risk - about copyright; about Ingelfinger Rule
  • Change
  • Too busy
  • Doesn’t fit into the way they do things now
  • Not well motivated by advantages to others
  • Little in it for them!

Research workflow
  • many different tasks in parallel
  • all different stages
  • teaching (several), research (several), writing up research, writing grant proposals, reviewing papers, administrative tasks etc

On negative clicks

Asked - how many extra clicks are you willing to make to ensure preservation of your record?

Answer - zero

Negative click repository?

Can the repository help rather than hinder?
Towards a Research Repository System? [diagram]

Maybe we could…
  • help with publisher liaison
  • support multiple authoring across several institutions
  • more permissive identity management
  • support multiple versions
  • fine grained access control
  • checkpointing
  • support supplementary data
  • provide basic data management capability
  • provide simple, cross-platform, persistent storage
  • provide some longevity
  • provide additional benefits

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More on the Brisbane Declaration

This is what Professor Arthur Sale of the University of Tasmania, one of the chief architects of the Brisbane Declaration, has written about it:

...May I tease out a few strands of the Brisbane Declaration for
readers of the list, as a person who was at the OAR Conference in

1. The Declaration was adopted on the voices at the Conference,
revised in line with comments, and then participants were asked to put
their names to it post-conference. It represents an overwhelming
consensus of the active members of the repository community in

2. The Conference wanted a succinct statement that could be used to
explain to senior university administrators, ministers, and the public
as to what Australia should do about making its research accessible.
It is not a policy, as it does not mention any of the exceptions and
legalisms that are inevitably needed in a formal policy.

3. The Conference wanted to support the two Australian Ministers with
responsibility for Innovation, Science and Health in their moves to
make open access mandatory for all Australian-funded research.

4. Note in passing that the Declaration is not restricted to
peer-reviewed articles, but looks forward to sharing of research data
and knowledge (in the humanities and arts).

5. At the same time, it was widely recognized that publishers' pdfs
("Versions of Record") were not the preferred version of an article to
hold in a repository, primarily because a pdf is a print-based concept
which loses a lot of convenience and information for harvesting, but
also in recognition of the formatting work of journal editors (which
should never change the essence of an article). The Declaration
explicitly make it clear that it is the final draft ("Accepted
Manuscript") which is preferred. The "Version of Record" remains the
citable object.

6. The Declaration also endorses author self-archiving of the final
draft at the time of acceptance, implying the ID/OA policy (Immediate
Deposit, OA when possible).

While the Brisbane Declaration is aimed squarely at Australian
research, I believe that it offers a model for other countries. It
does not talk in pieties, but in terms of action. It is capable of
implementation in one year throughout Australia. Point 1 is written so
as to include citizens from anywhere in the world, in the hope of
reciprocity. The only important thing missing is a timescale, and
that's because we believe Australia stands at a cusp..

What are the chances of a matching declaration in other countries?

Arthur Sale
University of Tasmania

This is what Peter Suber had to say on his blog:

This is not the first call for OA to publicly-funded research. But I particularly like the way it links that call to (1) OA repositories at universities, (2) national research monitoring programs, like the HERDC, and (3) the value of early deposits. Kudos to all involved.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just announced: Brisbane Declaration [on open access in Australia]

Following the conference on Open Access and Research held in September in Australia, and hosted by Queensland University of Technology, the following statement was developed and has the endorsement of over sixty participants.

Brisbane Declaration

The participants recognise Open Access as a strategic enabling activity, on which research and inquiry will rely at international, national, university, group and individual levels.

Therefore the participants resolve the following as a summary of the basic strategies that Australia must adopt:
  1. Every citizen should have free open access to publicly funded research, data and knowledge.
  2. Every Australian university should have access to a digital repository to store its research outputs for this purpose.
  3. As a minimum, this repository should contain all materials reported in the Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC).
  4. The deposit of materials should take place as soon as possible, and in the case of published research articles should be of the author’s final draft at the time of acceptance so as to maximize open access to the material.

Brisbane, September, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My presentations - September 2008 conferences

You can access my presentation at the Open Access and Research conference (Friday's workshop on legal issues) here, and my presentation at the eResearch Australiasia conference (Friday's workshop on eResearch in the Arts, Humanities and Cultural Heritage) here. (Both are in PDF)

Friday, October 3, 2008

ANDS Workshop at eResearch Australasia Conference

On Thursday 2 September, I attended the Australian National Data Service (ANDS) Workshop at the eResearch Australasia Conference 2008. This was a full day workshop, but the ANDS team did a great job of keeping the workshop interesting and highly interactive, and the day went very quickly.

In the morning, there were a few brief presentations – notably from Andrew Treloar of Monash University and the ANDS Establishment Project and Tracey Hinds from CSIRO. I particularly enjoyed Tracey’s presentation, which at a conference that seemed dominated by IT issues, focused on the social issues and the governance issues involved in data management and sharing research data. My notes from Tracey’s talk are below.

The rest of the day was spent in small round-table discussions. The most lively discussion surrounded questions about what institutions and research bodies need to help them in managing and sharing their data, and how ANDS could help. The group found that there was a need for:
  • an openly accessible registry of ontologies for metadata of datasets, so that institutions can start using common and enduring metadata to describe their data;
  • training for researchers, repository managers, research management staff, librarians, archivists and IT staff about data management (including the legal issues surrounding data management), database/repository infrastructure (how to make the database easy to use and sustainable), open access (why should you share your data?) and metadata. It was agreed that the training materials might have a generic introduction component that could be used by all groups, but then there should be different kinds of training materials that provide relevant detail to different groups (e.g. research management staff will have different concerns to IT staff; science researchers may have different concerns humanities researchers);
  • developing conventions for the citation of data, so that researchers can get credit for sharing their data; and
  • proper and comprehensive data management plans (DMP).

There was a consensus that data management plans were particularly important and that it would be useful to develop template DMPs which included specific sections that could be added or deleted as appropriate (for example, a section about compliance with privacy laws might be relevant to medical research but not to astronomy research). It was also thought that ANDS could select a few research projects from different disciplines and assist these projects in formulating a DMP. The resulting DMPs could then be made available online for other projects to use and adapt.

In relation to ANDS selecting particular projects to assist, in a broader way, with their data management and release (“engagement targets”) in the hope that these projects might then appear as “exemplar projects” for other groups, it was considered that appropriate selection criteria might be:
  • broadness of audience and impact;
  • potential for reuse of data and the ongoing reusability/sustainability of the data;
  • the project’s willingness to assist others to develop their data management skills;
  • wide inter-disciplinary appeal;
  • willingness to transfer data around; and
  • projects which will have good exemplary value to attract other communities.

I believe that ANDS will make the notes taken from the workshop available online.

Here are my notes from Tracey’s talk:

Tracey Hind – CSIRO
  • ownership of data should stay with researcher
  • but still need to manage CSIRO’s data at a higher level – maybe provide an “enabling” service for this rather than dictate a “one size fits all” approach
  • As of now, CSIRO still does not formally recognise the idea of data management
  • Real challenges are not technology – it is the human factors – issues of acceptance, understanding, people being prepared to share their data, IP etc
  • High demand for storage, but storage is not management
  • Scientists are not working as well across disciplines as the Flagship vision as hoped, much of this is because “you don’t know what you don’t know” – and it’s hard getting insight into other research disciplines
  • Making data easily discoverable is the key to achieving multi-disciplinary outcomes
  • Lesson is that data is a complex issue – especially when researchers don’t understand the potential benefits – you need exemplar projects to demonstrate the benefits of data management to get buy in.
  • CSIRO’s data management vision (eSIM) – CSIRO scientists will be able to…gather, analyse and share scientific information securely and efficiently, leading to greater scientific outcomes for Australia
  • Four layers – people, processes, technology and governance
  • People challenges = incentives for deposit into a repository;
  • Processes challenges = making sure that the work flows created actually support the technology and make things easy
  • Governance = making sure all of this is properly funded and that data management is a part of the decision making (i.e. make sure researchers have a DMP before they are awarded funding)
  • CSIRO’s exemplar projects = Auscope project; Atlas of Living Australia; Corporate Communications