E-Literature: Exploring a lyric literary work for Oculus Rift – The future of Electronic Literature.

 

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As technology continues to advance, both online and offline, the way in which literary works can be produced and shared is transforming. We were firstly presented with the E-book, which did not only change the way the physical content of a literary work was presented, but how the user experienced that content (Staiger, 2012). The introduction of the electronic journal primarily for academic purposes was a huge step in increasing the accessibility of scholarly articles. Having previously delved into the world of Interactive Documentaries, the area of lyric literary works proved interesting.  Caitlin Fisher’s “Everyone at this party is dead” is a unique, individual work, which is one of the first literary works intended for Oculus Rift. For those without access to a VR headset, a browser edition is available, which adds to the universality of this work

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This work is unique, in that it is completely interactive, and this enables each user to have a different experience every time this lyric literary work is explored.  Like any other text or piece of literature, this work has a narrative. What makes this particular type of narrative unique, is that the user determines which parts of the story they unveil at any given time. The entire experience is user dependent. Navigation within the work is determined by the user, as well as what objects are clicked on.

 

Setting the scene fjjjor this work, the user finds themselves in an outdoor setting, clearly in the middle of some sort of celebration, this is represented by the sounds of wine glasses, conversation and laughing. It is not until you explore your surroundings further that the actual narrative comes to life. Upon clicking on ‘tear-shaped’ objects, the user is propelled into the life and death of those who attended that party. The narrative is of an autobiographical style, depending on where the user navigates in the world of the lyric literary work, a particular narrative about a character is heard. Through the interactivity and user involvement within this work, a level of empathy is felt for the narrator, who can presumed to be the one reflecting on those who have died.

As the user explores the landscape, various object can be collected along the way. Collecting these objects can be viewed as gathering a collection of memories. The more objects that can be collected, the more information is revealed about the lives and subsequently the death of the people who were once at this celebratory gathering.

There as an aspect of this work which comes across almost haunting, leaves you feeling on edge after the entire experience. For a lyric literary work to have this much of an impact on its users is remarkable. Experiencing this work through a VR headset, as it was originally intended for would further immerse the user in the story.

It is through works like these, that the extent to which digital technology is transforming the way in which literature can be presented and interpreted (Tabbi, 2010). Each user experiences a slightly weren’t version of events, depending on how they interact with the work. Being one of the first lyric literary works intended for Oculus rift, this work paves the way for further development in this field. This work can be regarded as a unique intersection of game mechanics and storytelling, without the need for a gaming console.

Fisher’s “Everyone at This Part Is Dead” can be found here https://projeqt.com/caitlin/cardamom/

 

Bibliography

Electronic Literature Directory (2016) Individual Work Everyone at the Party is Dead [online] Available at: http://directory.eliterature.org/individual-work/4765 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Pianka, J. (2016) Literal Immersion: Narrative Game Design in VR. Entropy [online] Available at: http://entropymag.org/literal-immersion-narrative-game-design-in-vr/ (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Staiger, J. (2012) How E-books Are Used: A Literature Review of the E-book Studies Conducted from 2006 to 2011. Reference and User Services Association [online].51(4) Available at: https://journals.ala.org/rusq/article/view/3919/4393 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Tabbi, J. (2010) Electronic Literature as World Literature; or,The Universality of Writing under Constraint.PoeticsToday[online].31(1),17-50.Available at: http://poeticstoday.dukejournals.org/content/31/1/17.full.pdf+html (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Revisiting DiRtDirectory: JotForm

dirt

For students and academics conducting research, acquiring a library of digital research tools is essential. The DiRt Directory (https://dirtdirectory.org/) offers a free web based collection of digital research tools intended to support the collection and analysation of scholarly material. The directory offers a wide variety of tool categories, ranging from interpreting and publishing data to transcribing digital media.

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Having previously explored the DiRt Directory, I chose to review CiteULike ( http://www.citeulike.org/), a free web based service for managing and discovering scholarly references.

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Bearing in mind that this year we will be actively conducting research, a tool which appeared appealing was JotForm (https://www.jotform.com/about/). This digital tool allows the user to efficiently build web forms, for surveys, e-commerce sites or for any other research or business need. JotForm uses a web based platform and offers the user a free or paid version. The site uses an extremely user friendly drag and drop interface, which adds to the efficiency and simplicity of this tool. This tool appeared under the data collection category on the DiRt Directory.

Conducting surveys is inevitably a huge aspect of conducting any form of research either at an undergraduate or post graduate level. JotForm offers over nine thousand templates to their users, many of these being survey orientated. The process of building a survey using a given template was unsurprisingly efficient, quick and user orientated. There is an also an option to create a form (or survey in this case) from scratch. However, I found the templates to be a useful guideline for those only beginning to construct surveys.

For those building a form on the site, there are also themes to accompany the templates available, which makes customisation of the user’s work to be extremely easy.

Strictly for experimental purposes, I chose the topic of student’s social network usage in order to construct a short survey. The purpose of this survey is to exclusively exhibit how user friendly JotForm is and how simple it is to complete a simple form to collect data for research purposes.

Student’s Social Network Usage Survey:  https://form.jotformeu.com/62742817885368

The other functions JotForm has to offer should not be disregarded, they currently have nine million users and offer eighteen languages, adding to the sustainability and prosperity of the site.  They also have integrations with other web services such as PayPal, Google Drive, Drop Box, alongside many other services which can be added on to forms created for e-commerce sites or small businesses. JotForm’s accessibility and user interface makes it  very appealing for those looking to conduct research using online surveys or if one were to build an e-commerce presence, they offer options for payment forms as well as booking forms. JotForm’s usability appears to be endless whether it be for academic, business or casual use.

 

 

 

Our Nation’s Mental Health, Men And Our Digital Voice

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Upon opening the Facebook newsfeed, we are asked “What’s on your mind? Alternatively we can express an emotion or “feeling” in an instantaneous click. It is through social media, using our newfound digital voice, we are dissolving the stigma around our mental health. Mental health continues to be one of society’s most pressing issues (Utley, 2016).

For many the idea of speaking out about a topic that has been swept under the carpet for so many decades is daunting and for some, humiliating. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, those who were mentally unwell and could not “behave” or integrate well into normal society were commonly placed in mental asylums (Moran, 2009), where their behaviour could be contained, controlled and ultimately their mind contained to the four walls of a building.

Looking at our society now, we still have the same mental health issues to some extent. What is unique about the era we live in, is the role our digital presence plays in our day to day lives. It is our responsibility to harness the potential for online technologies for mental health promotion.  Through social media platforms, such as Twitter, campaigns exist, like the #IAmAReason hashtag, which took over Twitter amid the mental health outrage in April of this year. It was through this hashtag that people vented their anger and frustration at the TD’s who failed to turn up to the Dail for the Mental Health Debate that month, following cuts and failure to release the 35Million Euro to the HSE. It was through this hashtag that people showed they weren’t just another number, they were people who felt let down and vulnerable thanks to our nation’s mental health services. It was through this hashtag (merely a few characters squished together) that united so many people on a digital platform over an issue we are forced to take into our own hands. It was through this hashtag that someone in a depressive state or amid a panic attack, who has been turned away countless times by our health services, may have thought “wait, maybe I am actually a reason.”

 

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Men, a sex which are often overlooked when it comes to mental health. 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year, that equates to one every minute (The Movember Foundation). It is apparent that men are more hesitant to ask for assistance with their mental health than women. (The Movember Foundation).

“We’re alarmed by the increasing number of men who take their own lives around the world. We are working to ensure all men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable to reach out to others for support when they’re struggling.” — Therese Fitzpatrick, Global Mental Health Director

Recently there has been a popular campaign targeted at men’s mental health and suicide prevention. The campaign uses the #itsoktotalk, men from all over the country have been uploading selfies on social media sites to spread the awareness of suicide among young males. The movement has gone viral and encourages young men to talk to one another about their problems, and their mental health. Part of the campaign also encourages those involved to tag friends to take part, which reignites this whole idea of using our digital voice to motivate, support and share with others.

Of course this is only scratching the surface. Sufferers need more than a hashtag to get them through this week, the next few days, even just tomorrow. With poor mental health, there is no respite for many, the funding set aside for the amount of people suffering is simply inadequate. Getting people to talk is the first step, using social media to promote this idea is looking more favourable each and every day. Taking these topics into our own hands and onto these digital platforms is proving a lot more beneficial than detrimental. Today we are uniquely equipped to make a huge impact with our digital voices. If a trending social media campaign can motivate even one person to admit they’re in fact not okay, that’s taking a step in the right direction.

 

Bibliography

Moran, J. (2009), History of Madness and Mental Illness: A Short History of Care and Treatment in Canada, Available at: http://historyofmadness.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80

Utley, T. (2016), The Rise Of Digital Technology In Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/toriutley/2016/05/24/the-rise-of-cognitive-technology-in-mental-health/#6205e03158fb

Walton, A. (2016), The Brave Voices Who Are Helping Dissolve The Stigma Around Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/04/27/the-brave-voices-who-are-helping-dissolve-the-stigma-around-mental-health/#46e2d5af798a

https://ie.movember.com/programs/mental-health

 

Reviewing a digital tool: CiteULike http://www.citeulike.org/

cite

Locating information for academic purposes is already challenging, sorting the information found is another common struggle among students and academics. Availing of the internet and online search engines for sources has become increasingly popular as supported by Reiger’s (2009) study. Collecting and sorting references can be a time consuming process, CiteULike is a digital tool that helps make this process more efficient. CiteULike allows the user to store, organise and share the scholarly papers they have sourced. Citation details are extracted automatically from the users’ personal library, where the selected papers are stored. CiteULike works from within the users’ web browser, adding to the accessibility of this tool. For the purpose of this review, CiteULike will be evaluated under a set of criteria;

Sustainability: How long has the tool been available for? Is the tool widely used? Can data be exported?

Efficiency: How easy is this tool to navigate? Does the tool supply adequate information for new users? Does this tool perform as it claims to?

Contribution to Knowledge: Does this tool contribute to the efficiency of the users’ research process?  Can data collected be shared with others?

Firstly, the tool will be evaluated in terms of its sustainability. CiteULike has been available as a free web service since 2004. As of 2007, there were 33,000 registered users, this number was reported to be growing at 100 users per day (Emamy & Cameron,2007). CiteUlike has accumulated a large community of users and is continuing to grow. The unique combination of a bibliographic management tool and a social bookmarking service is what makes CiteUlike so appealing. There are currently over 8 Million articles stored via CiteULike , compared to over 2 Million in 2009 (http://www.citeulike.org/).

CiteULike users and their selected articles are not confined to their web browser, the users’ personal library can be exported to their computer in various formats (ie. PDF,RTF,Plaintext). Since CiteULike is an open source tool, the content available depends on the amount of active users and the type of papers they are storing. CiteULike is evidently a very sustainable, viable tool that promotes the sharing of knowledge and has a large community of users.

Secondly, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its efficiency. The basic navigation and functionality of the tool is simple, step by step assistance is offered for new users. Scholarly papers can be stored instantly once the CiteULike browser button is installed. Users can organise their papers in their own personal library, which can be organised by user generated tags. These tags enable users to navigate libraries and discover new papers that have mutual tags. Users also have the option to prioritise papers of superior importance, adding to the efficiency of this tool. CiteULike also offers an alphabetical listing of journals as an alternative for users who decide not to locate their own articles.

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Another addition, is the subject specific pages where the latest papers are listed according to the subject they are classified under. This enables the user to explore papers under a specified category in an efficient, easily accessible way. “Citegist” displays the most popular articles in the past seven days within CiteULike. In this way, it is easy for a user to uncover new, popular articles that may be of relevance. CiteULike is unquestionably a highly efficient tool for collecting, storing and sharing scholarly papers.

Finally, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its contribution to knowledge. This particular tool facilitates the sharing and consumption of academic literature (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). A function entitled “neighbours” is incorporated in CiteULike, users who have bookmarked the same articles are shown here, connections can be made between users. Researchers in similar fields can build up professional networks, thus promoting knowledge sharing.

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Since every users’ bibliographic database is web based, users can browse each other’s collections. Of course this is not favourable for every individual, but gives users the opportunity to share and consume new academic information. The use of user generated tags also contributes to CiteULike’s contribution to knowledge. Users can explore academic papers under tags that interest them, which enables them to uncover articles others have collected.

In terms of CiteULike’s contribution to the efficiency of one’s research process, it succeeds in making the collecting and sorting of sources an easy task. It is an added bonus that the collections of others can be viewed. Not only does CiteULike act as a social bookmarking service, it also efficiently extracts the relevant metadata required for the bibliographic database (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). This contributes to the efficiency of the research process, sources can be cited almost effortlessly.

To present all perspectives fairly, the limitations of CiteULike must also be considered. Since CiteULike is an open source, their success is dependent on input from their users. CiteULike also has visible competition, Zotero being one of them. It is notable that it is mainly only articles available to store in the users’ personal library (Suhrstedt, 2009). It would be beneficial for CiteULike to be compatible with other forms of sources such as audio and video.

To conclude, CiteULike encompasses much more than just a bibliographic management service. It allows for professional networks to be built among users who share similar academic interests. CiteULike’s simple functionality and accessibility makes it an appealing outlet for those conducting academic research. Having evaluated this tool under the set of criteria (outlined above) it is evidently a beneficial digital tool that could be used universally.

Bibliography

-Emamy, K. and Cameron, R. (2007) Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service. Available at: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue51/emamy-cameron [Accessed 9 February 2016]

-Rieger, O.Y. (2009) ‘Search engine behaviour of students and faculty: User perceptions and implications for future research’, First Monday, 14 (12), pp.1-5. Available at http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2716/2385 [Accessed 8 February 2016]

-Suhrstedt, L. (2009) Citeulike. Available at: https://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/w/page/17801649/citeulike [Accessed 9 February 2016]

http://www.citeulike.org/ [Accessed 9 February 2016]

 

 

 

Booktrack: The future of reading?

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As the digital age develops traditional concepts also develop. Reading itself has not changed, however the various ways people can read has. We have not been taught new ways to read, but have found new platforms to read from. Readers are not just confined to a paperback or hardback text. Text has been digitalised and can now be collected and shared through an internet connection. The amount of people who read from a screen has increased hugely (Hayles,2010) .The introduction of e-books and electronic reading devices was met with mixed emotions. Many saw traditional books as the only way to properly read. Others saw these reading devices as an easily accessible catalogue of books in their back pocket.

Text has not only been digitalised and confined into a tablet, there have also been many possibilities with regard to book soundtracks. Their purpose is to provide the appropriate soundtrack to the text that is being read. Booktrack offers this service, it works off an estimated reading pace and inputs the appropriate soundtrack in accordance with the text. Booktrack claims to transform reading, just like sound transformed film (Booktrack,2014) . Its idea is to provide a soundtrack that emotionally corresponds to the words on the page. Having explored some books that Booktrack had to offer, it is evidently an inventive idea. However, the entire reading experience alongside a soundtrack proved more challenging than immersive. The point of the ‘movie-like’ soundtrack is to make the text more engaging. I found myself concentrating more on pace rather than the text itself. It was very difficult to read at a normal pace while the soundtrack was playing. This in turn caused the soundtrack to be faster than my reading pace, which confused the situation even more.

The question also arose whether books with soundtracks would entice non-readers or occasional readers to read more. It is apparent that a book with a corresponding soundtrack does sound more fun and intriguing, it adds another dimension to the written word. However, adults who have not read for leisure in several years would probably not become avid readers solely because of an added soundtrack. It most definitely would be of interest to avid and occasional readers at first, but might prove to be more of an annoyance than anything else. Is this the future of reading? Will ideas like this transform how people read? Or will people stick to a more simplistic approach?book2.jpg

Booktrack also offers a ‘create’ section, which allows users to add a ‘movie-like’ soundtrack to their own text. This particular section on their site could definitely be utilised in a learning environment. Children, who are encouraged to read from a young age would find a tool like Booktrack more stimulating than a traditional book. The ‘create’ section would appeal to children and would promote creativity on a digital platform.

David Gutowski (Morais, 2011) argues that adding a movie-like soundtrack to books would no longer allow books to be books, but more of a multimedia experience. The combination of literature and music could quite possibly be the future of reading for those who want a multimedia experience as they read.

 

Bibliography

Morais, B. (2011), Books With Soundtracks: The Future of Reading?, url: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/08/books-with-soundtracks-the-future-of-reading/244344/ Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

Hayles, K. (2010), How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine, url: http://nkhayles.com/how_we_read.html Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

 

My critical response to the evolution of storytelling

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The unique combination of the digital age and the art of storytelling has resulted in the evolution of storytelling. In recent years storytelling has been adapted to the digital age, like many other traditional concepts. The digital age allows for the interplay between creativity and technology. My “twessay” focused on this particular relationship between storytelling and technology. The possibilities the digital age offers to storytelling is varied, ranging from advertising to publishing. Recent technological advancements have allowed for storytelling to be utilised on digital platforms, for both commercial and personal use. Technology and the internet has profoundly affected how we consume and collect information. Even though the tools have changed, the basic structure of storytelling has not changed.

The various tweets from my classmates focused on the interactive nature of storytelling in the digital age and the accessibility of communication. The traditional ideas of storytelling still exsist but have been adapted to the current digital age. The combination of technology and storytelling has also enabled storytelling to be shared universally, to all nationalities and languages. This allows for ideas and information to be shared to a wider audience. Digital platforms in this way have enabled information to be shared universally. Arlene (@arlsmur) explored this idea in her tweet. She also noted that how we tell a story has evolved, this can be credited to the evolution of the digital age. The proposed possibilities of storytelling in the digital age were explored in the various tweets.

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Storytelling is commonly used in advertising for large scale companies. The traditional structure of a story; a plot, characterisation, a narrative remains. The use of this structure to convey a story has often been used in advertising on digital platforms. Digital media such as video, has added a new dimension to the idea of storytelling. Andrew (AndyWiggins_DAH) explored the evolution of stories and how they are delivered to their audiences.

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Stories, in a traditional sense were once delivered by word of mouth or by the written word. The digital age has added diversity to the concept of storytelling.

In recent years, storytelling has evolved visually. Visual aids, such as video and images has enabled storytelling to be utilised in the gaming world. Interactive documentaries have also availed of the qualities of storytelling. The increased popularity of gaming and its proposed educational benefits is an example of the diversity of storytelling. Danielle (@dansull22) noted how storytelling has evolved to be interactive.

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The tweets exploring the evolution of storytelling illustrated how technology can benefit more traditional concepts, like storytelling. Storytelling has evolved and will continue to develop as the digital era evolves and develops. The “twessays” explored every aspect of storytelling. There appeared to be a huge focus on the interactive nature of storytelling in the digital age. The core elements of storytelling have not changed, the platforms they are shared on have.

 

Bibliography

-Clayton,S. (2014), #Cannes_Lions 2014: The art and science of storytelling in the digital age, url : http://blogs.microsoft.com/next/2014/06/10/cannes_lions-2014-the-art-and-science-of-storytelling-in-the-digital-age/ Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

-De Monte,M. (2012), Dawn of the ‘Story Arc’: The Return to Storytelling in the Digital Age,url : http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/12/dawn-of-the-story-arc-the-return-to-storytelling-in-the-digital-age/ Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

-(2012), Social media has evolved into the art of storytelling, and we must all become masters of it, url : https://www.simplyzesty.com/blog/article/november-2011/social-media-has-evolved-into-the-art-of-storytelling%2c-and-we-must-all-become-masters-of-it Accessed on the 26th of November 2015

My critical response to #openness

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Open access proves to be an extremely controversial topic on many discussion and social media platforms. The idea of openness can be interpreted in various different ways. I was interested to find out my peers’ opinions on this particular topic and more importantly compare them with my own views surrounding open access and the whole idea of knowledge being openly shared. I wasn’t particularly surprised to see that my attitude towards openness was similar to my classmates’. The general consensus was that knowledge should not be available on a restricted basis, or only available to those willing to pay. It shouldn’t be concealed. It was interesting to see people’s different ways of viewing openness, some visualising it as a tangible concept, like a “box” of knowledge, others considering it more as an intangible concept, it is merely information floating around.

It is not until I have come to college that I have started to properly appreciate the importance of other people’s research, how it can be retrieved and how much it costs to get your hands on it. While researching for my assignment for my minor Arts subject I have come across obstacles regarding open access, I have come across a handful of academic articles that meet the specifications of my essay title, but are only available to me (a student who is contributing to this country) for a small fee of 180 euro. I will probably never get my hands on these particular articles, I’m not that upset. However for someone in the medical or scientific field, an article that proves challenging to access could make or break a potential medical advance or scientific discovery. From observing the various “twessays” surrounding openness, the general consensus is that putting a restriction on peer reviewed academic articles or research, inhibits one’s ability to acquire knowledge.

Not only could open access benefit those looking for information but it could also benefit university libraries economically, by not having to purchase subscriptions to as many academic journals. The prices of journals have been described as unsustainable and untenable (Suber,2012).Journal prices are inflating and the average academic library budget cannot handle the financial demands of such journals .Can library budgets meet the increasing cost of journal subscriptions without some form of open access being introduced?(Worlock,2004).

There is also the debate that open access journals (as opposed to costly subscription journals) would undermine important values such as editorial quality (Van Noorden, 2013).The question also arises whether expensive, reputable journals can survive in an open access world. Students are not just seeking out open access research, but research that has been peer-reviewed, this proves to be of huge importance in the science and medical fields. I feel like the most important thing in regards to open access is not just to have a huge quantity of information accessible, but also to have quality information that can be accessed on an unrestricted basis.

In regards to the “twessays” and their content, the topic surrounding the quality of open access such as editing and reviewing was not explored. Open access has its limitations, however the proposed benefits of open access outweigh these limitations. I felt like the benefits surrounding openness were only explored and the limitations were not touched on. You have problems regarding sustainability, quality control and publication fees. However the various benefits of open access which were explored in the “twessays” included the idea of knowledge for all, increased readership and more possibilities for those in third world countries. I was not surprised to find that my viewpoint in regards to openness was similar to my classmates’ opinions. I really enjoyed @jadwiga_98’s idea of openness being a box,and the information inside to be shared on an unrestricted basis.photo (2)

I also enjoyed @deebrady_dh’s focus on inspiring creativity through open access.

photo (1)

“The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it.”- Aaron Swartz


Bibliography

Suber,Peter (2012),Opening Access to Research,url: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/opening-access-research

Van Noorden,Richard (2013),Open access: The true cost of science publishing,url: http://www.nature.com/news/open-access-the-true-cost-of-science-publishing-1.12676

Worlock,Kate (2004), The pros and cons of Open access,url: http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/accessdebate/34.html

The Internets Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz,url: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXr-2hwTk58

Moravec,Michelle,Writing in Public,url:

http://michellemoravec.com/michelle-moravec/

Swartz,Aaron (2008), Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,url: https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt