Magazine article Information Today

Google Developments, Access to Public Resources, and More

Magazine article Information Today

Google Developments, Access to Public Resources, and More

Article excerpt

Google continues to grab headlines without announcing anything formally. Although the company shuns press releases and official rollouts, news about new features and even product tests is dribbled out on employee blogs or just gets noticed by astute bloggers and searchers. Search expert Stephen Arnold describes it as a "strategy of gradualism"; the company introduces many small changes in functionality with little fanfare. Recently, Google quietly added blog content to its universal search results--but rather sparingly. It also turned on a new sharing feature in Google Reader that raised some privacy concerns.

Of bigger potential impact was the blog entry in mid-December by Udi Manber, Google's vice president of engineering, about a new, free tool that Google has invited a select group of people to test (http://googleblog.blogspot .com/2007/12/encouraging-people-to-contribute.html). Google calls it "knol," which stands for a unit of knowledge. Manber described it as a way to invite people to share their knowledge. Others see this as Google's firm move into content creation: Google as publisher, not just content facilitator. Some see it as a challenge to Wikipedia. Manber wrote: "We do not want to build a walled garden of content; we want to disseminate it as widely as possible. Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine. ..." This will definitely be a development to watch. (See Barbara Quint's NewsBreak at Reader.asp?ArticleId=40548.)

As for digitization, Columbia University has become the 28th library to join Google Book Search to digitize public domain works from its collections and make them searchable online. If you want to keep up with the continual changes, sign up for an RSS feed to the blog Inside Google Book Search (http://booksearch

Put this item in the category of "What will Google think of next?": The company announced (this time in an actual press release) a new strategic initiative to develop electricity from renewable energy sources that will be cheaper than electricity produced from coal. The initiative known as RE

OA Mandate Becomes Law

Public access to U.S. publicly funded research received a huge boost recently. The House of Representatives and the Senate passed an omnibus spending bill that contained language requiring the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to adopt an open access (OA) mandate. Because spending levels were cut to those President Bush requested and because he received $70 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, he signed it into law just before the end of the year. However, shortly after this, both the Association of American Publishers and the International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers issued strongly worded statements opposing the mandate and promising to pursue with Congress their concerns over the perceived negative impact on science publishing.

Here's the applicable text from the new law, better known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007: "The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law."

Public Resources and Open Government

In December, I mentioned a number of new free legal resources for the general public. …

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