Wherein the IngentaConnect Product Management, Engineering, and Sales Teams
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Job Vacancies

Friday, April 27, 2007

We have a number of job vacancies open at the moment, in both the Ingenta and Vista divisions of Publishing Technology.

I wanted to highlight a couple of the engineering and technical roles as I'm keen to fill them as soon as possible. All of these roles are Oxford based.

In our Metadata Team, responsible for looking after the content loading, distribution, and reference linking services, we're after a software engineer with Perl and XML wrangling skills to help maintain and enhance this infrastructure. Ultimately we'll be moving this infrastructure to our new loading architecture (based around asynchronous messaging) and fully integrate it with our new "MetaStore" based on RDF.

In our Publishing Websites Team, who are responsible for building bespoke publisher sites for clients like the OECD, World Bank and IMF, we're recruiting for two positions. A Senior Software Engineer with J2EE experience to contribute to development of the overall platform and customized functionality; and also a Web Developer with strong Javascript and CSS skills, ideally with experience of JSP, PHP or other templating technology.

I think all these roles offer a great opportunity for anyone looking to work in a dynamic environment with a range of technologies. We make significant use of open source kit and are fairly aggressive about adopting new technologies, e.g. RDF. So there's plenty of opportunity to not only develop new skills, but also bring your existing skills into the mix and contribute to development of our overall platform.

There's quite a few interesting projects happening ranging from back-end stuff like the MetaStore which should appeal to markup and semantic web geeks, as well as web site builds in which we're keen to explore Web 2.0 technologies. The department is small enough that there's plenty of opportunity to take responsibility for application areas, champion new approaches and techniques, and influence our technology direction.

We're also looking for a Unix system administrator in Oxford, so if hardware and networking is more your style, we're interested in hearing from you too.

If you want more information on any of the positions then drop me a line at ldodds@ingenta.com, and/or send in your CV as described on the job postings.

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posted by Leigh Dodds at 11:06 am


Context matters: more analogies from the world of music

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've just returned from an exhausting, but always exhilarating, few days at the UKSG conference (which the team and I blogged in great detail at the UKSG's LiveSerials blog, if you want to read up on some excellent presentations). Perennial hot topic "what's the value of the journal?" reared its complex head in many sessions, and as usual, one of the arguments for not throwing the journal out with the OA bathwater was the wrapper of authenticity which the journal applies to scholarly content (i.e., sure, many of its other processes can be carried out by other mechanisms, but will academics be willing/keen to engage - either as authors or readers - with non-journal ways of publishing, given their lack of prestige or authority?)

I then returned home to an email alerting me to this article in the Washington Post. The "send this article to a friend" note by which I was alerted to the article included this trail:
Joshua Bell is one of the world's greatest violinists. His instrument of choice is a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius. If he played it for spare change, incognito, outside a bustling Metro stop in Washington, would anyone notice?
This caught my eye because it seemed to relate to the value-of-the-journal debate, and reminded me of previous thoughts I've had about analogies we can draw between the online models of music and publishing - imagine:
Gordon Arbuthnott is one of the world's greatest researchers. His publication of choice is multimillion-dollar journal [insert prestigious, highly-subscribed title here]. If he published his research free, without the stamp of a respected journal, in a bustling repository such as iTunes, would anyone notice?
Now, you can argue this is an entirely specious analogy, and I'm sure many archivangelists would do so (should they ever read this blog!) But nonetheless I think we need to pay attention to what happened to Joshua Bell: no-one stopped to listen, although some threw money (totalling $32) into his case as they passed. This is a man who normally makes $1000 an hour for his performance, so we can already see the extent to which the value of what he does was undermined by the method in which he choose to make it publicly "available".

In addition, "When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted." - a motivation perhaps familiar to academics seeking respected journals to publish their work, because of the validation and acceptance it provides for them and their research. As the article goes on to say, "Context matters."

Finally, an expert in the field (Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra) was asked prior to Bell's experiment what he thought would happen. The article notes that he expected a crowd - of maybe 75-100 people - to gather, and for Bell to make "about $150". Yes, yes, yes, it's all conjecture and it's not even our field - but, as I say, it reminds me of the OA debate, where its proponents use projected figures to "prove" that self-archiving won't cannibalise journal subscriptions, or that author-pays is a sustainable business model. What if they, like Slatkin, turn out to be way off the mark?

As Sally Morris noted in her USKG plenary session, we'll have a hell of a job resurrecting the journal model should we kill it off as a result of misguidedly, misinformedly, and incautiously embracing unproven (albeit well-intended) alternatives. Hence I remain on the side of caution. And continue to save my pennies for Joshua Bell tickets, since I don't expect him to be performing for free on my street-corner any time soon.

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 6:57 pm


Blogging from UKSG

Monday, April 16, 2007

The 30th Annual UKSG conference started today. If you're interested in following along with the workshops and talks, then head on over to the Live Serials where you can catch up with the event. The group blog, assembled by Charlie Rapple, already contains some great summaries of the days talks.

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posted by Leigh Dodds at 4:44 pm


Library newsletter and today's news announcements

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We're having a very communicative morning over at Ingenta Towers, with the latest issue of our eyetoeye library newsletter about to mail, and two press announcements being released to the media this morning.

Issue 21 of library eyetoeye includes
The press announcements are formal releases of news which has already begun to make its way around the blogosphere:
Over and out!

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posted by Charlie Rapple at 11:11 am


You've been Scribd

Monday, April 02, 2007

Following onto Leigh's posting about Scribd, and an older posting of mine about academic papers on iTunes, I'm following up with another Scribd posting - having been alerted to some slightly alarming content within the site by Rafael Sidi over on Really Simple Sidi.

Scribd, you may remember, is "a big online library where anyone can upload" and which "lets you publish and discover documents online". So far, so legal. However, as other industries have found (Sidi cited You Tube, of course, and one might equally obviously suggest Napster), you cannot supply users with sharing tools and expect them to observe, of their own volition, such niceties as copyright. Noting, deep within the FAQ, that "copyrighted content you don't own may not be uploaded" is inadequate.

Lo and behold, amongst the detritus, Scribd is already bubbling with copyright material being made freely available. Sidi, an Elsevier employee, cites a couple of examples from their publications, to which one might add this AIP example, this from Macmillan's Encyclopedia of Energy, this from the Ecological Society of America and this from the Linguistic Society of America, both via JSTOR ... and so on. The most alarming thing about the JSTOR examples is that they must (due to JSTOR's business model) have been accessed by users within an institution - users whose librarians will of course be tearing their hair out about this misappropriation of licensed content. And it is particularly galling that the AIP example includes a clear message ("this article may be downloaded for personal use only") which the user has either misunderstood or simply ignored.

Of course, it might be that all the articles I have found have been posted by authors with self-archiving permissions (do these tend to allow for posting on a site like Scribd? or might they only allow for self-archiving on one's own site, or one's own institution's repository?). But even if publishers do allow self-archiving on any chosen site, I believe authors are often restricted to archiving a pre-print (which none of the above are) - and one thing I *can* say categorically is that no publisher permits authors to archive the JSTOR version, so I would suggest the JSTOR examples above are clearly posted illegally - not necessarily by the author, of course.

Scribd full text is indexed by "Google and other major search engines", so it's certainly going to be as discoverable if not, one would hope, as highly-ranked, as the publishers' own sites. If the site takes off, therefore, publishers - like the entertainment industry before them - will need to rely on user understanding of, and adherence to, copyright law, or end up in a position where revenue streams (particularly single article sales) are threatened by centralised, free availability of copyright content. Of course, publishers could recourse to legal action - as they are doing in several other cases where they believe copyright and fair use are being undermined (think AAP v Google) - but, again, the music industry has a bit of a nasty precedent there. It is today, after all, that EMI has decided to give up and withdraw DRM from its iTunes content - i.e., music publishers have realised that getting Joe Average User to adhere to copyright law is just not happening.

Now, Scribd is not, of course, the downfall of copyright and scholarly publishing as we know it. But it's a nice site, with adequate functionality (as Leigh noted, for example, the PDF viewer is nice) - and 3 million documents viewed in less than a month since its launch is not to be sniffed at in terms of its findability, useability and, of course, quantity/quality of content. Users are discovering this site, and they are accessing content on it that - in some cases at least - should rightfully be accessed elsewhere. It will be interesting to keep track of the site's usage (both in terms of what's being posted, and how high its traffic is) - and to see how those publishers whose material is being pirated react.

Screenshot of the Scribd homepage, showing its identikit Web 2.0 design and some of today's popular documents (themselves demonstrating the varied quality of the content uploaded)


posted by Charlie Rapple at 1:26 pm


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