In 2013, when Victor Henning announced that his startup Mendeley would be acquired by one of the world’s biggest media companies, he knew there would be blowback. He just couldn’t have anticipated how bad it would get.

“Seeing that some of our most vocal advocates thought we had sold them out felt awful,” he says over a tea in Amsterdam, where Elsevier, Mendeley’s parent company, is headquartered.

Launched in 2007 by Henning and two friends at graduate school, Mendeley built an unlikely but very useful piece of software—think a variation on Evernote combined with Facebook—aimed at helping researchers organize their papers, annotate them, and share them with each other.

It swiftly took the academic world by storm. Researchers loved the ability to search for and in some cases access papers from journals they didn’t subscribe to—a small protest against the billion-dollar industry that critics insist serves as a gatekeeper to the world’s scientific findings. Within a few years, Mendeley had become an icon of the “open science” movement.

Enter Elsevier…


The Doorway Effect: Why your brain won’t let you remember what you were doing before you came in here

I work in a lab, and the way our lab is set up, there are two adjacent rooms, connected by both an outer hallway and an inner doorway. I do most of my work on one side, but every time I walk over to the other side to grab a reagent or a box of tips, I completely forget what I was after. This leads to a lot of me standing with one hand on the freezer door and grumbling, “What the hell was I doing?” It got to where all I had to say was “Every damn time” and my labmate would laugh. Finally, when I explained to our new labmate why I was standing next to his bench with a glazed look in my eyes, he was able to shed some light. “Oh, yeah, that’s a well-documented phenomenon,” he said. “Doorways wipe your memory.”

Being the gung-ho new science blogger that I am, I decided to investigate. And it’s true! Well, doorways don’t literally wipe your memory. But they do encourage your brain to dump whatever it was working on before and get ready to do something new. In one study, participants played a video game in which they had to carry an object either across a room or into a new room. Then they were given a quiz. Participants who passed through a doorway had more trouble remembering what they were doing. It didn’t matter if the video game display was made smaller and less immersive, or if the participants performed the same task in an actual room—the results were similar. Returning to the room where they had begun the task didn’t help: even context didn’t serve to jog folks’ memories.

The researchers wrote that their results are consistent with what they call an “event model” of memory. They say the brain keeps some information ready to go at all times, but it can’t hold on to everything. So it takes advantage of what the researchers called an “event boundary,” like a doorway into a new room, to dump the old info and start over. Apparently my brain doesn’t care that my timer has seconds to go—if I have to go into the other room, I’m doing something new, and can’t remember that my previous task was antibody, idiot, you needed antibody.

Read more at Scientific American, or the original study.


Summer Reading from The New Yorker

The New Yorker is opening up its Web site for the next few months, letting visitors read everything currently being published – along with archives back to 2007 – for free.

The move comes alongside a site redesign.

Via The New Yorker:

Beginning this week, absolutely everything new that we publish—the work in the print magazine and the work published online only—will be unlocked. All of it, for everyone. Call it a summer-long free-for-all. Non-subscribers will get a chance to explore The New Yorker fully and freely, just as subscribers always have. Then, in the fall, we move to a second phase, implementing an easier-to-use, logical, metered paywall.

Images: Twitter posts from The New Yorker… and an ellipsis for good measure.

Stop sharing accounts! SDR2 thread is at risk of closing!

According to Slow Beef’s recent tweet, the thread is at risk of being gassed. Nobody wants that. In an effort to eliminate shared accounts, Slow Beef is offering upgrades to anyone who can find and autoban a shared account. It’s a great incentive, and it should help to weed out those who can’t follow the site’s rules. Outdated information. The thread is safe. I guess account sharing isn’t as common anymore with the mirror now well-established.

Now, here are my thoughts. Most of you reading this only visit Something Awful for SDR2. I can understand your past frustration with the paywall, but orenronen has already allowed the creation of this mirror. There will obviously never be a paywall here on tumblr, there is no future risk of spoiler banners, and new updates are mirrored very shortly after they are posted in the thread. The first LP has been archived, and the current LP is in progress here on this blog. If you are only interested in Dangan Ronpa, there is absolutely no reason to attempt sharing accounts on Something Awful.

If someone is upset about the paywall, please direct them here. If someone is asking to share an account, please, please direct them here. If you come across a shared account’s login information, I encourage you to get it autobanned to prevent future use. Please spread the word about this mirror, and please be a decent person so we can continue enjoying this fantastic LP.


“[T]he Web site of the New Yorker, the last magazine in the world, will no longer offer the entirety of its archives, going back to 2007, for free. A metered paywall, using blueprints from the New York Times and the Financial Times, has been constructed; the plan is for it it to be erected at around eight in the morning. Once in place, it will allow unsubscribed readers to access just six articles per month for free. Then it will ask them to pay up.

The New Yorker’s paywall is both inevitable and eminently reasonable; it’s hard to imagine it being controversial for any reason other than its abruptness, though it was always clear that a paywall was comingeventually. (And what some might see as interesting quirk of the paywall architecture, that a short blog post is weighed the same as a sixteen-thousand-word profile of the president, is ultimately a net good: As a value system, it incentivizes the magazine to make every piece equally excellent, since they all count the same for readers.)

Reporting and writing and editing (and offices in the World Trade Center) are all very expensive. Someone has to pay for it, and advertising alone, even in an era when the New Yorker can hope for an exponentially larger audience than it has ever had, cannot yet, if ever, cover that bill. So it must fall to readers. And if there is a magazine that is worth paying for, it’s probably the New Yorker.”

A Paywall Rises | New Yorker on Tumblr | My New Yorker

The Staten Island grand jury must have seen the same video everyone else did: the one showing a group of New York City police officers swarming and killing an unarmed black man, Eric Garner.

Yet they have declined to bring charges against the plainclothes officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen on the video girdling Mr. Garner’s neck in a chokehold, which the department bans, throwing him to the ground and pushing his head into the pavement.

The imbalance between Mr. Garner’s fate, on a Staten Island sidewalk in July, and his supposed infraction, selling loose cigarettes, is grotesque and outrageous. Though Mr. Garner’s death was officially ruled a homicide, it is not possible to pierce the secrecy of the grand jury, and thus to know why the jurors did not believe that criminal charges were appropriate.

What is clear is this was vicious policing and an innocent man is dead. Another conclusion is also obvious. Officer Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge; he needs to be stripped of his job. He used forbidden tactics to brutalize a citizen who was not acting belligerently, posed no risk of flight, brandished no weapon and was heavily outnumbered.

Any police department that tolerates such conduct, and whose officers are unable or unwilling to defuse such confrontations without killing people, needs to be reformed. And though the chance of a local criminal case is now foreclosed, the Justice Department should swiftly investigate what certainly seem like violations of Mr. Garner’s civil rights.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton responded quickly to Wednesday’s development, as they did in July, when anguish and anger flared. Mr. de Blasio went immediately to Staten Island to meet with elected officials, clergy members and other community leaders, and he issued a statement urging that New Yorkers outraged by the grand jury’s failure express themselves in peaceful ways.

Protests in New York City on Wednesday unavoidably echoed those in Ferguson, Mo., where an officer escaped indictment for fatally shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. Protesters in both places have every right to deplore both outcomes, as well as the appalling frequency of fatal encounters between black men and the police.

New Yorkers, at least, have a mayor and Police Department that have not fully squandered their credibility with the public. Mr. de Blasio’s and Mr. Bratton’s vows to retrain the police force top to bottom in defusing conflict, to reduce unwarranted arrests and restore community trust, remain credible, if far from fulfilled.

Those who seek justice should remain hopeful, if skeptical and wary. Indeed, if not for a bystander with a cellphone, the police officers’ version of events would have been the prevailing one: that Mr. Garner “resisted arrest” and had to be subdued.

Mr. Garner, who was 43, and left a wife and six children, cannot speak for himself. But the video, at least, speaks for him. It’s a heartbreaking, damning exhibit, showing Mr. Garner’s final moments alive, and his final words: “I can’t breathe.”

—  The New York Times, The Editorial Board, New Inquiry Needed on Eric Garner’s Death

“Paywalls are for pussies. It’s a head-scratcher why all publications are erecting them. They learned none of the lessons from the music industry. Foremost of which is your enemy is not reduced revenues, but obscurity. The key is to be the paper of record, to be available to everybody. And not everybody is concerned with everything, but when you break a story…be sure it can go viral.

In other words, if you make people buy your music to hear it, you’re never going to make it in today’s marketplace. And it’s always about the music. Thom Yorke can get everybody to pay attention to his opinion on Spotify, but he can get almost nobody to listen to Atoms For Peace. And that’s backwards.

There’s a huge desire for news. By pulling back from the audience, the paywall police are doing it wrong.”

“London is the beardiest city I’ve ever seen!”

Aaron Tveit: ‘Speak out in the US and you’re seen as unAmerican’, The Times

The new article this photo is from on is locked behind a paywall! Does anyone around already have a subscription and is willing to share?

rhythmstarfruitcitrus took one for the team and then some! The full text is now available on her Tumblr here - please do not repost, but do reblog and give effusive thanks! ;)

More than a year and a half later, it’s clear the New York Times’ paywall is not only valuable, it’s helped turn the paper’s subscription dollars, which once might have been considered the equivalent of a generous tithing, into a significant revenue-generating business. As of this year, the company is expected to make more money from subscriptions than from advertising — the first time that’s happened.

Love the subtle slam on “the common tactics for attracting eyeballs on the Web” later in the piece.

Who are the most ruthless capitalists in the western world? Whose monopolistic practices make Walmart look like a corner shop and Rupert Murdoch a socialist? You won’t guess the answer in a month of Sundays. While there are plenty of candidates, my vote goes not to the banks, the oil companies or the health insurers, but – wait for it – to academic publishers. Theirs might sound like a fusty and insignificant sector. It is anything but. Of all corporate scams, the racket they run is most urgently in need of referral to the competition authorities.

Everyone claims to agree that people should be encouraged to understand science and other academic research. Without current knowledge, we cannot make coherent democratic decisions. But the publishers have slapped a padlock and a “keep out” sign on the gates.

You might resent Murdoch’s paywall policy, in which he charges £1 for 24 hours of access to the Times and Sunday Times. But at least in that period you can read and download as many articles as you like. Reading a single article published by one of Elsevier’s journals will cost you $31.50. Springer charges €34.95, Wiley-Blackwell, $42. Read 10 and you pay 10 times. And the journals retain perpetual copyright. You want to read a letter printed in 1981? That’ll be $31.50. Of course, you could go into the library (if it still exists). But they too have been hit by cosmic fees. The average cost of an annual subscription to a chemistry journal is $3,792. Some journals cost $10,000 a year or more to stock. The most expensive I’ve seen, Elsevier’s Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, is $20,930. Though academic libraries have been frantically cutting subscriptions to make ends meet, journals now consume 65% of their budgets, which means they have had to reduce the number of books they buy. Journal fees account for a significant component of universities’ costs, which are being passed to their students.

(via Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian)

Illustration by Daniel Pudles

The number of unqiue users recorded last month by the New York Times website in the US increased by 2.3 per cent year-on-year, despite the introduction of digital subscriptions in March this year.

Speaking on a paywalls panel at the World Editors Forum in Vienna, Jim Roberts, assistant managing editor for digital, said the year-on-year increase to an average 34 million unique users in September per month was “incredibly surprising”, admitting that at first he thought the paywall was “at least potentially a bad idea”.

» via

More than a year and a half later, it’s clear the New York Times’ paywall is not only valuable, it’s helped turn the paper’s subscription dollars, which once might have been considered the equivalent of a generous tithing, into a significant revenue-generating business. As of this year, the company is expected to make more money from subscriptions than from advertising — the first time that’s happened.
—  Bloomberg’s Edmund Lee • Discussing the success of the New York Times paywall, which has done something very surprising — it’s allowed the New York Times to make more than half of its overall revenue from subscriptions, rather than the traditional 80 percent advertising/20 percent subscriptions balance that has traditionally defined newspapers. That’s good for a number of reasons, with the biggest being that the New York Times is no longer as overly reliant on ad dollars to sell its news. That’s an awesome spot for the Times to be, but the real question: Does that mean anything for papers that aren’t the Times, which may be a tougher sell than a paper of record?

When we say “open access” we are referring to the practice of making scholarly research available online for free upon publication (or soon after). Open access policies should aim to remove barriers and encourage scholarly and educational reuse of research. Copyright restrictions sometimes undermine scientific ideals of openness and collaboration; good open access rules help to bypass traditional copyright limits by encouraging full use of open licensing systems that enable sharing.

Reasons for supporting open access policies abound. From maximizing taxpayer funded research to increasing the exposure and use of publications, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, and enhancing the overall advancement of scholarship, the need for open access is more important now than ever. As tuition prices continue to rise and Internet adoption is at an all time high, trapping knowledge behind prohibitively expensive paywalls is a disservice to scientists and problem solvers across the world. Progress is stifled.

Research institutions, academics, and the intellectually curious are increasingly embracing the open access model for research worldwide. Open Access Week is about keeping the dream of easy-to-access knowledge alive. And we have a chance to connect this global momentum toward open sharing with the advancement of constructive policy changes on the local level.

This year’s theme is Generation Open.  We’ll be focusing on the importance of students and early career researchers embracing open access, and exploring how changes in scholarly publishing affect academics and researchers at different stages of their careers.

Journalists are True Alphas When it Comes to Comment Trolling

Background: Yesterday in the Columbia Journalism Review Howard Owens published a piece called How David Simon is wrong about paywalls. In some five thousand plus words he expounds on how paywalls cannot, and will not, save the newsroom.

First comment, by David Simon to defend himself includes such gems as, “Your numbers are just whack. Insane. Off the charts.”

Then come Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz, creators of the Software as a Service paywall system Press+, and a host of other media thinkers sniping at one another.

It’s a lively discussion, to be sure, and well worth the now very long read. It is, after all, a gathering of many who have worked with and without paywalls and study the overall economics of sustainable news operations.

Start with David Simon’s original post and be sure to hit the comments. 

Then move on to Howard Owens’ rebuttal.

It may be very much inside baseball but sometimes inside baseball is a very good place to be.

The Top 5 Best Uses For Your Local Library (That Aren’t Just Books)

H/T to Lifehacker:

  1. Rent A/V Equipment
  2. Get Access To Paywall Content
  3. Find Tickets To Museums, Concerts, And Events
  4. Print Off Legal Forms
  5. Fill Up On E-Books