We need to talk about #Storify…..

It would not be exaggerating to say that there were groans of anguish across the library and information community when Storify (now owned by Adobe) announced that the service will close in May 2018.  While the lengthy notice period was appreciated, with only a month until Storify closes how can we ensure that we preserve existing stories and what can we use as an alternative?

Archiving existing Storify stories

Wakelet very quickly rose to the challenge with a two step process to Import your Stories to Wakelet.  Storify users can create Stories until the end of April 2018, and have until May 16 to move their Stories across.

Alternatives to Storify

Wakelet, obviously.  However, it has taken the recent introduction of the Import from Twitter feature to make it more of a Storify experience: see the brief Twitter Import video.

If you are primarily interested in curating content, there are still many alternative social bookmarking sites that can fill the void e.g. Scoop.It or Pocket.  The excellent C4LPT website has a list of Curation & Social Bookmarking Tools.

 

Why is Storify closing? 

If you are interested in why social media service Storify is coming to an end, it is due to a sequence of acquisitions plus the growth in chronology and curation tools.  In a blog post Ian Milligan reminds us of how vulnerable user-generated content can be online,  and that we need to steward our data responsibly.

 

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The Story Behind the Elsevier Purchase of Mendeley – Interview with Co-founder Victor Henning

Anyone with an interest in technology, open access, altmetrics and education cannot have missed the recent news of publishing giant Elsevier acquiring the social reference management tool Mendeley for something in the region of $69 – $100 million according to TechCrunch.

 

I first came across Mendeley in early 2009 and was instantly struck by its genius, it was one of those ‘Web 2.0’ that just jumped out at you like Dropbox, Prezi and Google Docs. In my department we’d been teaching our postgraduate students Reference Manager for the last decade and it was a no-brainer to move them over to the free, flexible tool that allowed them to work anywhere (they were mostly international students), create networks and find interesting research all in one place for the cost of nothing – what’s not to like?

 

ScHARR Library- Recommended Website of the Month - Mendeley
I was so taken by Mendeley that I enrolled to be one of their first advisors and over the last few years have taught hundreds of our students, colleagues and external parties on the software. Despite never really using reference management software that much I knew that this was going to be big, and have enjoyed watching it’s development via the advisor forums, meet-ups online and even a trip to their London headquarters.

 

Mendeley didn’t just happen, it was created by three academics, Dr. Victor Henning, Jan Reichelt and Paul Föckler, all of whom had seen how academic knowledge was locked down in a Web 1.0 world and information sharing was often at the behest of large publishing companies. It came around the same time as other notable social reference tools such as CiteUlike, Connotea and Zotero. Mendeley like Zotero came in two flavours, with a downloadable interface, which allowed the user to access their papers and annotate them anywhere. This was one of the most popular functions and also the one which most irked the academic publishing community and the copyright officers. Nevertheless the company grew and grew thanks to a large community of advisors and financial investment. For advisors like me it felt only like a matter of time before a big fish would come and buy the company. The rumblings on the Web started a few months ago and were finally confirmed a week ago as Elsevier announced the purchase.

 

Since there has been an awful lot of chatter on the Web, with many articles written all trying to predict what this means for both companies and academic publishing as a whole. The news led the New Yorker to publish the article ‘When the Rebel Alliance Sells Out’, a piece documenting the major differences between the two companies in terms of their business models and ethos. The truth is that no one really knows what impact this will have on the open access and altmetrics movements just yet. In addition how it may impact digital copyright, as many saw Mendeley as not only the iTunes of Reference Management, but also the Napster. Certainly the iTunes model is a possibility as some have branded the idea of the application being used as a front end for researchers to purchase papers directly from Mendeley. Certainly, whatever happens Elsevier is in the business of making money so will have already got ideas on how they can utilise their new purchase to make a return, although some fear that Elsevier have just bought Mendeley to reign in the biggest threat to their empire with over 2 million users and over 100 million papers.

 

I had met co-founder Victor Henning at one of the Mendeley Advisor days and via various contacts on Twitter and have found him to be always willing to talk about the software and support advisor initiatives like my Minute Mendeley website. So with that in mind, I decided to contact Victor to ask if I could run a short interview to get the Mendeley side of the story, something I think all Mendeley users should hear before they make a rash decision to close their accounts as some advisors have done in protest. Now don’t get me wrong, I was concerned by this purchase as much as the next advisor, as like so many others had put great trust in supporting this tool and following the recent news that Google was shutting down their brilliant Google Reader tool was wary of other such mothballing of great applications. I was also concerned by a potential step backwards in the fight to make knowledge more accessible, on the Cloud and via publishers.

 

As I said earlier I think it is too early to decide on what the future holds, as with last week’s BBC Radio 4’s Material World show which featured interviews with Henning and ImpactStory’s Jason Priem the debate is finally starting to open up to a wider audience. The Mendeley purchase has brought the issue of academic publishing to a very big table. How Elsevier treat this or how other groups who share the Mendeley ethos will react nobody can say, but this feels like the end of one chapter and the start of another. Whether this chapter will be behind a paywall time will only tell.

 

Here is the transcript of the interview with Victor Henning – CEO and Co-Founder of Mendeley.com – I’d like to thank Victor for taking the time to respond to my questions.

 

 
The article is published under a Creative Commons By Attribution Licence – please feel free to share and repost.
 

The Elsevier purchase has been on the horizon for a some time, what were the reasons for going with them?
You’re right – they had actually been supportive of us for a long time. First, by recommending users of their 2collab tool to migrate to Mendeley, then by sponsoring our Science Online London conferences which we organized together with Nature Publishing and the British Library, and then by being the first publisher to build an “altmetrics” app on our Open API.

 

Late last summer, we were introduced to Olivier Dumon, who had just left eBay to join Elsevier and lead their database and web businesses, like ScienceDirect and Scopus. Because he came from a tech background, we immediately hit it off – he understood our vision for Mendeley, of trying to build a platform that served researchers’ workflow needs. In fact, he had a similar vision for Elsevier’s web businesses!

 

So we started comparing our respective roadmaps and found that they were perfectly complementary. The one thing that’s always bugged me about Mendeley’s user experience is how hard it is for our users to get access to full-text content – even the content that their library has already paid for! Users discover metadata in Mendeley, but are then sent away via DOIs or OpenURLs. Elsevier knows a lot about authentication solutions and access entitlements, and we can use that to make content access easier.

 

Conversely, Elsevier felt they needed to understand their users better. They knew when one of their PDFs was downloaded from Scopus or ScienceDirect, but then lost track of it. Mendeley helps them get a better sense of research trends in the academic community on an anonymized, aggregate level – which lets them improve the content they publish. Also, our recommendation technology allows them to improve content discovery for Scopus and ScienceDirect users.

 

Olivier and us also began to imagine how we could improve Mendeley’s crowdsourced, and thus sometimes messy, data with the clean, structured data from Scopus. Scopus also has data which we don’t have: Citations, and 17 million user profiles generated from those citations. We can use that to build amazing new services, for example to alert you when one of your publications, or any of the documents in your Mendeley library, receives a new citation.

 

We would never have been able to realize these ideas as a simple partnership or side project – as a start-up, Mendeley had to focus on becoming profitable. However, as part of Elsevier, we need to worry less about monetizing every new feature, and can think about these long-term goals instead. That’s why both Elsevier and Mendeley felt that it made sense to go “all in”.

 

What do think the reaction has been from the Mendeley Community, in particular the strong network of Mendeley Advisors to the Elsevier purchase?
Understandably, there has been a lot of concern about what it means for Mendeley – will it still remain free? Will we continue to support collaboration and sharing? Will we maintain our Open API, and will be keep our data open under a Creative Commons CC-BY license? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

 

Fortunately, while our Mendeley Advisors voiced the same concerns and had a lot of questions, they generally continue to support us based on our track record of listening to our users closely. We promised to them that this wouldn’t change, and I think they will hold us accountable.

 

On Twitter and elsewhere, there have also been angry voices about why we would sell to Elsevier, or to a publisher in general. It wasn’t an easy decision, but as I explained earlier, one that we felt made sense for us and will ultimately benefit our users.

 

What are Elsevier’s plans, will the software or the pricing change much in the near future?
 As I outlined earlier, we are now in the fortunate position that we are under less pressure to monetize. We’ve already doubled our users’ cloud storage space for free and upgraded our Mendeley Advisors to free Team Accounts. We’re currently reviewing how we can make sharing and collaboration easier and more affordable.

 

Apart from that, the plan is to focus on integration between Mendeley, Scopus, and ScienceDirect. Ultimately, we’re aiming for single-sign-on, meaning you can use the same account on all three websites, which will make it easier to search for content directly within Mendeley, or save articles to Mendeley more easily.

 

Do the Mendeley Advisors still have a part to play in all of this?
Yes, absolutely. They’ve been great at teaching Mendeley to students and faculty on their campus, and we continue to rely on them to provide us with feedback from their campuses around the globe. Next week, we’ve actually scheduled three days of user testing session for new features at the Mendeley HQ.

 

 

 

Considering what Elsevier does and how it operates, do you think this purchase will help the Altmetrics and Open Access movements in the long term?
 I believe so. Elsevier already supports and provides data to ImpactStory, the popular altmetrics tool. Mendeley will keep offering altmetrics data via our API, and thanks to access to Scopus data, our data will be cleaner, richer, and more complete.

 

As for Open Access – while Elsevier is certainly not know as a big OA publisher yet, this is changing. They have doubled their number of OA journals last year and introduced additional hybrid options, and acquisitions like Mendeley will enable them to build new business models around OA.

 

Do you think the purchase will have opened the doors for similar applications in Altmetrics such as Figshare and Impact Story to reach a wider audience or will it make academics interested in this area a little more wary – considering how many feel about the publishing giants.
Yes, I think so. Altmetric.com and Figshare are already owned by a major publisher – Macmillan/Nature – and when Elsevier starts to integrate Mendeley’s altmetrics data, it will be brought to a much wider audience. Elsevier has 10 million monthly users!
Do you think the purchase will help loosen very tight copyright laws that prevent the sharing of information, or at least the accessibility of academic content within the Cloud for individuals and their own access and groups?
In my mind, the laws are not necessarily the issue – they keep getting more permissive anyway, for example with the UK Hargreaves review. To me, it seems that we simply don’t have an easy solution to determining who should have access to which piece of content. The information about this – e.g. a user’s affiliation or multiple affiliations, the various holdings of the different libraries of a single university, authentication methods – is too decentralized. We hope that Mendeley can indeed make this easier and thereby increase the accessibility of content.

 

What will yours, Jan’s and Paul’s involvement be with Mendeley from now on?
We’re still in the same roles: Jan runs our day-to-day operations, Paul manages projects and interfaces between business requirements and technology, and I work on the strategy and product vision. Additionally, I will join the Elsevier strategy team as VP of Strategy.
Looking back 6 years ago, could you have ever imagined that Mendeley would be where it is today?
To be honest: Yes 🙂

 

We always hoped, and passionately believed, that this idea could turn into something big – and I think it’s fair to say that it has! Of course, it hasn’t always been a smooth ride, we’ve had many setbacks and catastrophes along the way. The friendship between Jan, Paul, and I played a big role in overcoming those challenges – we supported each other and kept believing in our idea.
 

Are you working on any other projects or are you planning to concentrate on your own research more again?
No – Mendeley is keeping me busy enough, and that won’t change for the foreseeable future!

 

Though my girlfriend Michelle just finished her diploma in nutrition, and I’ll help her get started with her own nutrition and health coaching projects. Can I plug her amazing food blog? It’s here: http://phelanhungry.tumblr.com/. Of interest for academics, she also just published an article in Wired Magazine called “How to eat yourself smarter”: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/03/how-to/how-to-eat-yourself-smarter

 

Food for thought…
Dr. Victor Henning is the Co-Founder & CEO, Mendeley Ltd. @mendeley_com

 

Tattersall, A. (2011) References, Collections, Corrections and Mendeley. MmIT Journal, 37 (4) 11-12.

Engage, review, repeat: Using metrics to improve your Twitter engagement

It’s been more than a year since we looked at social media analysis tools and a lot has changed in that time. If an internet year is 7 weeks¹, than a social networking year feels like even less than that.  And, as important as it is to have a social media strategy, it’s equally important for this to be a dynamic strategy, being constantly revised.

TweetCloud for MultiMediaIT
TweetCloud for MultiMediaIT on TweetStats

Some of the tools mentioned last year are still around; ThinkUp has left beta, HootSuite is now  a freemium platform and, sadly, TwapperKeeper is no more (although the core functionality is now built into HootSuite). Twitter itself has gone through a couple of iterations since then. In the latest version of the Twitter web client (I’ve lost count by now, let’s just call it #newnewtwitter) you can view the interactions and mentions, activity (what people you follow are up to), browse categories and try to make sense of the latest ‘trends’ (only joking). But there still aren’t really any built-in tools to monitor the reach and effectiveness of your Twitter presence.

There are lots of different tools and apps for exploring Twitter metrics. I’m ignoring Klout and PeerIndex because measuring ‘influence’ is not the same as measuring engagement and in order to review your social media strategy you need data to show interactions with those who use your library or info service . For similar reasons, I’ve steered clear of social marketing tools such as Socialbakers and the like (also their website is a bit ..busy).

Metrics specifically for Twitter can tell you more about your followers (including reciprocal followers and ‘influential’ followers) but there are also more meaningful measures such as ‘conversations’. If you ask a question on Twitter, for example, how do you track and store the responses? And how can you archive and analyse conversations that occur on Twitter at conferences or around a specific subject?

And these can also be linked to your other web services. Twitter (and other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn) have a growing role for web traffic referrals. Twitter announced a new Twitter web analytics tool late last year in recognition of this but it’s gone a bit quiet since the first announcement.

Most Twitter power users manage their Twitter account via a Twitter client. TweetDeck (now owned by Twitter) is a handy way to manage multiple Twitter accounts if you meet the rather stringent browser requirements but doesn’t offer anything in the way of usage statistics or analytics. Similarly, the reporting tools of Hootsuite are largely restricted to Premium account holders.

I’ve heard good things about TwitterCounter (which generates graphs for current and predicted levels of followers) but more in-depth analysis is again limited to premium accounts.

Tweetreach is handy for occasional reports; you can view the ‘reach’ of your latest 50 tweets without signing up for an account.

Tweet effect is also a useful reference but on the various accounts I tried, it didn’t identify any correlation between tweet content and follower loyalty.

ThinkUp is the Twitter analysis and archiving tool that I use the most. It’s particularly good at measuring Twitter-based conversations by keeping track of replies, retweets and inquiries (questions you’ve posted on Twitter). It also has a GeoEncoder plugin to let you map your social networking conversations. The downside (or at least a slight barrier) is that you need to have hosting but this has been reduced a fair bit by the increasing free and shared hosting options available. PHP Fog now offers free ThinkUp hosting which you can have up and running in next to no time.

Xefer in action - built using Yahoo Pipes, YQL & Google Charts

Tweetstats is great charting tool. As well as follower stats and frequency charts, you can visualise who you interact with most on Twitter, and even patterns of what time of day you tend to tweet — handy for identifying accidental routines.

Xefer is another great graphing tool built using Yahoo Pipes and Google charts. The Reply Explorer also lists replies to your tweets that you can sort by date or frequency.

And if you’re *really* into visualisation tools, check out TAGSExplorer, a brilliant tool created by Martin Hawksey that lets you create interactive visualisations of your Tweets using a Google Spreadsheet, the Google Visualisation API and some kind of d3.js graphing library magic. This is particularly great way of post-conference social networking analysis because it let’s you clearly see the interaction between participants.

Chances are, if your organisation is using Twitter in a significant way, you will need to use a couple of different sources and tools to review how you’re interacting with your network(s). And if there are any you’ve used and found particularly useful or any that we’ve overlooked, let us know in the comments.


1 This reference was quoted by Professor David Nicholas in a presentation (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dis/conferences/2009) but I haven’t found the original CIBER study reference online.

World Map of Social Networks updated for 2011

The World Map of Social Networks, which measures popularity of social networks around the world based on Alexa & Google Trends for Websites data, has been updated for 2011. You can also compare with older maps and browse an animated version of the map on the Vincos blog.

World Map of Social Networks

Data visualisation using Google fusion tables

Fusion tables is yet another hidden gem that Google quietly graduated from Google Labs to their (seemingly perpetual) beta status. It’s a free tool for managing, visualising and publishing data with a particular strength for developing chart and map visualisations.

You can get started just by uploading a spreadsheet or other data collection – it supports file formats such as .xls, .csv and .kml.

Depending on the information available in your spreadsheet, you can view the data as a chart, map, timeline, intensity map, bar graph or storyline.  For example, motion, timeline and storyline visualisations need to have a valid date field available. If you’re spreadsheet includes an address field or other location data, this will be automatically geocoded for the map view.

There are various options to customise the info window and style and you can also then embed the map or chart in your website.

Check out the example gallery for more ideas about what Fusion Tables are capable of and there’s plenty of data available in the public tables to get started with. Try the ‘UK libraries under threat’ table to view the data behind the Map of Library Cuts used by Voices for the Library and Public Libraries News. To see an example of a timeline or storyline chart, there’s even a Twin Peaks timeline available.