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October 2014
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Conversation in Charleston: Public Access and Data

"Promote ORCID."

That was Greg's "if you take just one thing from this session" recommendation.  Howard agreed, but added, "...equally promote having your researchers submit their funder information when submitting manuscripts for journal publication.  Having the Researcher ID and Funder ID together married up to the article DOI is a powerful combination."

On the other hand, just having Howard & Greg chatting together on the same stage was a pretty powerful combination.   When SHARE & CHORUS were first launched, just a few months after the Holdren memo was released, many observers saw them as competitive.  In this corner, the publishing lobby making a policy end run to try to maintain their market dominance; and in this corner the combined might of the research libraries and universities seeking to leverage their investments in institutional repositories into some greater relevance.  Which of these mutually exclusive solutions would the federal funding agencies settle on? (Or would PMC simply vacuum everything up into an expansive PubScience Central)?

Fortunately, it didn't take too long for the developers to see where the projects overlapped and where there were advantages to be gained for both projects by sharing expertise and perspectives.  By the time I had lunch with several of my Roundtable colleagues at the AAAS meeting last February those conversations had gotten to the point where a joint appearance at Charleston was starting to look like a real possibility.  I immediately thought of Greg as a potential participant.  He's a Charleston regular and has been working with SHARE as a consultant.  Turns out that he had been having discussions with Judy Ruttenberg about a similar panel proposal and when the Charleston directors got wind of all this, they put us together.

Bringing Howard in was a natural given his role with CHOR., and I wanted to include John Vaughn, whose experiences with handling scholarly commnications issues for the AAU go back many years, and whose roles in chairing the Roundtable and in helping to develop the SHARE concept have amply demonstrated his commitment to including the views of all stakeholders in working through these very complicated issues.

The concept that Greg & Judy were developing was broader than just SHARE & CHORUS, however, and when the three of us spoke by phone over the summer we agreed on the necessity of bringing in a data person.  We were very fortunate that Laurie Goodman, editor-in-chief of Gigascience, was able to join us.

I've done several sessions like this over the years -- "facilitated conversation".  No presentations.  Some informal agreement among the participants about the likely themes.  I prepare half a dozen or so questions ahead of time, but once we get to the event, I rarely use more than two.  With the right people, the conversation flows naturally and takes its own course.  My job is just to keep it moving.

With this group, my task was extremely easy and the 45 minutes went by in a flash.  Of course we could have gone on much longer, but I'm happy with the range of topics that we were at least able to touch on.  (The session was recorded, so there will be a link on the Charleston website at some point). 

One of the most striking moments was when Greg asked how many in the audience were involved in managing institutional repositories.  Half the people raised a hand.  Then he said, "Keep your hands up. Now how many of you are successful in getting your authors to submit directly to your IR?" Only 2 hands were left up and one of the two was wavering in uncertainty.

Reshaping the scholarly communication eco-system is a massive job.  As John said, developing achievable policy will require adult deliberations and negotiations among all the key players – universities, libraries, publishers, and government.  It is also clear that a focused effort in data access and interpretation, management, and preservation will become increasingly important, and is one of the areas that currently is both most volatile and most challenging.

So in addition to promoting ORCID, noting funding sources, sharing best practices for effective IR management, and a whole host of other things that came up during the session, John suggests getting one of the nifty yellow Data t-shirts like the one Laurie wore.  Cafe Press has some nice options.

 


The Goorin Guys and Their Magic Hats

The shop was closed when we passed by after dinner, but the Goorin guys were still there, rearranging the hats on the shelves, mixing & matching the colors & forms just so, getting the visuals ready for tomorrow's opening. 

The King Street store is long and narrow, with the slightly old-fashioned, but comfortably hip feel that Goorin Bros. cultivates.  The hats are stacked atop one another on shelves to the ceiling, fedoras & cloches & bowlers & gatsbys, browns & greens & soft purples & reds arranged as if haphazard; but watching them now, through the glass, we could see that it was anything but random. 

When we'd been there in the afternoon I'd begun to suspect, watching Chris scamper up the shelves, that they might be slightly other than human, these slender young men, with fine features, and wisps of facial hair.  The way that they, and their female colleague, moved through the store, tending to customers and phone as if it were an effortless dance, as if it were all just great fun. Now, watching their quick, slick movments and the way they balanced their arrangements I thought of the old tale, The Elves and the Shoemaker...

Tapping on the glass didn't get their attention, so I pulled out my phone.  Chris answered and I said, "I'm just outside.  We were passing by..."

Instantly one of them was at the door, "Please, come in, come in...  You have a hat to pick up...?"

"Well, it's my Stetson, actually.  I left it here this afternoon to be cleaned.  I don't know if you've had a chance..."

"Just finishing it up..." another one said, he of the twirled mustaches, coming out from the back, giving it a few more flourishes.  "Chris did a fabulous job.  He's the master."

My hat looked better than it has in very many months.  I'd come in that afternoon, tipped off to the place by Mr TomCat, who'd bought a dandy flat cap a day or two before.  My Royal Flush Stetson had gotten quite bedraggled and I was looking for a replacement.  Chris tried many options, skittering among the shelves and the styles, knowing my size without asking, coming close but, we agreed, not quite finding the one that was right.  He was crestfallen, but optimistic that the next time I came in, just the perfect hat for me would be there.  In the meantime he offered to keep my hat and get it cleaned and reshaped.  "This is very good felt," he said, fingering the brim. "Beaver...  maybe some rabbit..."  He might've been a young Olivander, fingering a wand.

Now, with my finely refreshed hat in hand, I looked at the three, all smiling, bright eyed albeit weary from the busy day. I fumbled, "And what can I owe you..."  "Oh no, nothing at all."  "Happy to do it."  "A free service."

"Well, I'll certainly be in the next time I come through Charleston.  In the meantime, I'll send everyone here that I can."

I know that I will buy a hat from them one day.  The perfect hat will arrive.  I wonder which one it will be.