Nature Wants Your Input on Scientific Metrics

Nature is running an Opinion piece from Julia Lane, the Program Director of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science of Science and Innovation Policy.  Nature‘s editorial staff is keeping it available for free online to facilitate discussion and response to the piece.

The main thrust of the article is that steps need to be taken to move beyond the current flawed metrics for measuring and assessing scientific productivity.  Acknowledging the good efforts of many groups in this area, Dr. Lane argues that a main challenge is making all of these new measures interoperable – easily accessible to researchers in the area of science metrics regardless of software or proprietary information.  That could be as big of a hassle as figuring out new, more effective measures of determining what scientific work (and researchers) need more support and encouragement.

The benefits of standardization and openness in the collection and distribution of new research metrics can be time and money savings.  Unfortunately, the article suffers from the same problem as the Science of Science and Innovation program – a noted disconnect from better information about science and better information about science policy.  But I’m used to that by now.

Nature will keep the article available for the next several days for comments.  You will need to register to post comments, and I hope that you do post.

The Great Barrier Internet is Still Under Construction

Australia still thinks China has some good ideas about how to manage the Internet within its borders.  The plan I mentioned late in 2008 is still moving forward, and the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy just published the comments it received in response to a consultation on how they would manage their Refused Classification content list for foreign-hosted material (H/T Liberation Technology listserv).

To take a step or two back, let me be clear that I’m nowhere near up to speed on Australian telecommunications law, or the relevant statutes for controlling so-called prohibitive content.  I’ll try and summarize my understanding of Australian practice on ‘unsafe’ content.  Child protection appears to be the overriding rationale for the relevant actions.  Some legal provisions appear to reflect the U.S. legal process around online intellectual property violations in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).  Australian law established in the early 1990s set up various procedures for classifying broadcast content (whether web stuff was immediately included or later put under these laws is unclear), including complaint provisions.  Recent actions appear to try and extend this management scheme to non-Australian content and require local internet providers to deal with restricting certain kinds of content.

Legislation is currently under consideration for requiring Internet service providers (ISP) to filter for “Refused Classification” (RC) content list materials that flow through their systems.  This is a separate list from a blacklist established by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. RC content includes: Continue reading