Open access publishing on the web…

gatewayPicPlacing documents in the public domain is giving them away – often seen as an illogical position for a commercial entity to take?

Or should it be better put that placing information online in order to spread that knowledge as widely as possible, is best achieved by offering users of that information clear signposting that copyright and license of the material has been waived.

This is an Open Access argument. If you create information, articles or images that you wish to be freely available to others why not ‘mark’ them accordingly for others to use the material with confidence.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation has been working recently to provide researchers and information users with standardised sources of open access information.

The Creative Commons movement have also posted a set of tools online that can help you generate html to help signify the accessibility of information sources that you have published as original material.

These Creative Commons tools are clearly intended as markers for original content that has not been licensed. Delimiting material already prescribed by copyright is a cautious matter for the original content owners.

You can find the original blog entries from the Open Access Movement that inspired these thoughts here.

The Creative Commons tool kit or code generator can be found here on this Creative Commons web page.

If you are interested in reading more about the Creative Commons as a non-profit organisation you can find a Wikipedia article here.

There is some debate online as to whether the Creative Commons approach is really able to be aligned with the concepts of free software or images, or comparable with Open Source. Surely the point is that the creator of the work has a framework of possibilities available to him or her – deciding which right she or he wishes to devolve themselves of, or not.

We create content for access by the public and in our small way think any framework that helps information users or distributors to be clear about how material can be used is a good thing per se. What do you think?

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Google translator toolkit (beta)

translatePicWe love translation – building our web sites with machine translation facilities and using Google online translation services to publish printed material in other languages to support our clients and community organisations.

Google have recently lanched the Translator Toolkit. You can play your part in improving machine translation at Google, helping to correct automatic translations in a simple editor.

You can compare and contrast translated pages, search past translations for new words or publish the translations themselves directly to Wikipedia or Knol.

Translation – better with Google.

You can find the Third Sector Web home page here.

Wolfram Alpha – a computational knowledge engine

wolframLogoPicWolfram Alpha is a search engine with a difference. The beginning of a journey towards the creation of a search tool that will provide definitive answers to factual queries. Producing clear, accurate data for researchers at all levels and competencies.

As of now, Wolfram|Alpha contains 10+ trillion of pieces of data, 50,000+ types of algorithms and models, and linguistic capabilities for 1000+ domains.

You can see a full explanation of the Wolfram goals on their About Us pages – the project is built on the twenty years of research in the field by Wolfram Research.

Try the site with a couple of simple examples to see it in action and to appreciate the potential for reliable fact based research.

Add your date of birth to the engine. How many days have you been alive? When did the sun set on that day? How is your birth date expressed by the various calendars around the world?

Add two companies to the engine. Microsoft and Apple for example. Get a computed comparison which expresses their company size, profit to earnings ratio, number of employees and similar data.


Image: Section of sample search results from Wolfram Alpha

You can drill down into the data for even more detail, or save your search in pdf format. There are some bandwidth restrictions at the moment whilst the service is in alpha.

In search engine terms ‘watch this space’ is an understatement.

You can visit the Third Sector Web home page here.

New search engines for the New Year

Always with trepidation do we flag things as new. Such is the variety and flow of change available on the internet that we realise things we discover may already be old hat for our readers.

However, these we have recently found and have liked.

Clip3Joongel is a search engine which combines results from the ten most popular pages on any given theme.

You can use Joongel to select your search theme and it will consolidate the findings for you.

Dogpile is perhaps the most well known ‘search consolidator’, but we like Joongel too. There is a browser add-on for Firefox and IE7 too.

Clip4Tag Galaxy is another great find.

This is a diploma thesis project from Steven Wood of the Georg-Simon-Ohm University of Applied Sciences in Nuremburg.

Build using Papervision 3D and the Flickr API, Steven has integrated the concepts of web tags and the galaxy to present image search in a refreshing and engaging way. We loved it. Smooth rotations and quick image calls were available on our office high speed connection.

Definitely web search for the solar system – Tag Galaxy.

You can find the Third Sector Home page here.

The stuff we really like – tools and tweaks tested by time

gearsPicWe are always (they’re banging on again at Thirdsectorweb….) shouting about Open Source software in the office. We like it because it fits with a collaborative, best value, developing reflective practice business model that we are always trying to get behind in the partnership. Not everything we use is Open Source, but here are some tools that have impacted on our work.

Everybody blogs lists these days..after a quick intellectual whip round the office, here’s ours.

Open Office – the production suite and office saviour in software form. Yes we know it’s a chunky download and sometimes takes forever to load, but the effective integration of the suite, the ability to crop, cut and paste and alter stuff across the piece leaves other office bundles behind. Great extensions for increasing functionality too. Get the latest version today.

Thunderbird – we haven’t got a laptop without it. With different email addresses across domains for our business offerings, as a distributed remote partnership we reckon we would be lost without it. Lets us sort incoming mail easily, offers immediate access to bulk password management and is generally our email client of choice. Check it out, we know you’ll like it.

BlogDesk – if you post to a weblog this is a very small footprint, lightweight addition to your blogging toolkit. We like the way it spellchecks your potential post, has simple and clear post layout tools and scarpers through the managed upload process. The only minor criticism, some people felt, was that adding tags to posts can be a bit cumbersome.

Paint.NET – a really useful image manipulation, resizer and text overlay machine. (Haven’t seen it described that way before, but that’s how we use it). Think image, think Paint.NET.

Flock – lost in a sea of rss feeds and image stock sites, then Flock is our browser of choice for image and web development information sources. Its newsfeed capability works well, you can find and review images and keep in touch with your social networks all at the same time. You can also export your favourites easily and quickly to a desktop file. In our traffic heavy web zone – we thought this was a killer function. (…and you can post to your blog from the browser too).

Pixie – for colour blind web designers. I am shocked but can say no more.


Songbird – everyone needs a bit of music at the desk to close out the white noise of web chatter sometime. Haven’t taken this new version for a full run yet, but the alpha versions onward were a great looking alternative to other more invasive tune types. Vers. 1.0.0 now available as a XP/Vista download.


What are your favourites?

You can visit the Third Sector Web home page here.