Gary Hoover on Reading and Information

Enjoyed the interview with Gary on Roger Dooley’s site this month as part of his regular Brainfluence podcast. Gary has close to 60,000 books in his personal library and has fascinating tales to tell of the information industry. And of course, though he talks about his time at the UT, where he was the scholar-in-residence at the School of Information for several years.

Bribes to fake poll results? Are people really that stupid?

Don’t answer that second one. News this week that someone at Liberty University (there’s two words that warrant deconstruction here) took bribes to fake the results of polls in order to suggest Trump was more popular than the data suggested. The Chronicle of Higher Ed has coverage, here’s a sample:


President Trump’s former top lawyer paid Liberty University’s chief information officer to manipulate online polls in an effort to raise Trump’s profile before his successful presidential campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The news shows a deeper relationship than previously reported between the president and employees of the university, a private Christian institution located in Virginia and led by Jerry L. Falwell Jr., a prominent Trump ally.

The Liberty technology administrator, John Gauger, also created a Twitter account, @WomenForCohen, to promote the president’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to the Journal. “Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference,” the account’s description read on Thursday.

In one post reviewed by The Chronicle, the @WomenForCohen account shared a photo of Cohen, Falwell, and his wife. “Love to see good #Christian people on board the #TrumpTrain #Liberty #Trump2016,” the account wrote. The Journal reported that a female friend of Gauger operated the @WomenForCohen account.

Full story here: 

The only disagreement between briber and recipient seems to be how the money was received. Gauger claims he received a plastic bag of cash (how gauche!), which Cohen emphatically denies, claiming it was a check. Imagine…as if that’s the issue!  Netflix…we need you.

Editorial board uprising at Elsevier over charges

The entire editorial board of the Elsevier-owned Journal of Informetrics resignedThursday in protest over high open-access fees, restricted access to citation data and commercial control of scholarly work.

Today, the same team is launching a new fully open-access journal called Quantitative Science Studies. The journal will be for and by the academic community and will be owned by the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). It will be published jointly with MIT Press.

The editorial board of the Journal of Informetrics said in a statement that they were unanimous in their decision to quit. They contend that scholarly journals should be owned by the scholarly community rather than by commercial publishers, should be open access under fair principles, and publishers should make citation data freely available.


See the full story here


Elsevier reports that they ‘regret this decision’….I bet they do. Long live the revolution!

PSU Admin invoke weak charges against junior faculty member

The so-called “Sokal-squared” hoax took an unfortunate turn when the PSU administration brought disciplinary charges against the most vulnerable party to the research, Assistant Professor Peter Boghossian. Invoking somewhat flimsy charges of breaching IRB regulations on research, this story will run and run, but not for the right reasons one suspects.  Stay strong Professor, some of us are watching.

New Year, New (old) Books

Interested in seeing what’s now entered the public domain with the passing of copyright law? Here’s a good intro and set of links, courtesy of Motherboard. Can it be true that prior to this it was easier to get materials from late C19th than from the early C20th? Do you recognize any of those works and more importantly, do you care? You might, if you think about what it means to have access and when you understand that annually, from here, we will witness the extending release of C20th works into the public domain. Ah, the  world wide web…remember that idea?


50 years ago Doug Engelbart invented our world

Great article from the WSJ, worth reading. I met Doug Engelbart 24 years ago in Scotland. He was the most modest, well-mannered genius I’ve ever met (impossible to imagine him ever self-promoting on social media hoping for attention and likes), the epitome of a scholar and a gentleman. He really did invent the world we live in but is almost forgotten by today’s ‘designers’ (the term is becoming so irritating in current use that I’ve to put it in quotation marks….ooops, Doug would never have been sarcastic either).

Here’s the opening para, full link below.

On Dec. 9, 1968, Doug Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute presented what’s now known as “The Mother of All Demos.” Using a homemade modem, a video feed from Menlo Park, and a quirky hand-operated device, Engelbart gave a 90-minute demonstration of hypertext, videoconferencing, teleconferencing and a networked operating system. Oh, and graphical user interface, display editing, multiple windows, shared documents, context-sensitive help and a digital library. Mother of all demos is right. That quirky device later became known as the computer mouse. The audience felt as if it had stepped into Oz, watching the world transform from black-and-white to color. But it was no hallucination.

Researcher arrested for asking the wrong questions

UPDATE 11/26 — Today, Matthew was released and ‘pardoned’ though apparently still labelled a high level spy. Leaving the original post here for posterity.

Matthew Hedges, a doctoral student at Durham University in the UK must have been happy to secure funding for a field trip to UAE to conduct interviews for his dissertation on civil-military issues in the context of the Arab Spring. This is how significant research data is gathered, it takes time, effort and no little disruption to one’s normal life. Imagine then his horror when, at the airport to return to the UK, he is arrested and thrown in jail. Allegedly, an informer reported that he asked suspicious questions and the suspicion was enough to flout all rules of legal and civic propriety. He was arrested in May this year. He’s been in jail since, in solitary confinement, accused of espionage.

You might think this is punishment enough, but the horror is really only getting started. This week, in a five minute court ‘trial’ where he had no legal representation, Matthew Hedges was sentenced to life imprisonment.  Do you really need to know more?  Read the response from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies  and write a letter/email to the addresses provided. You can read a Guardian article too. This is no time for shyness — speak up.