Attribution is not permission

Onajite_cover.png

This morning a friend of mine, Fernando Enrique Ziegler, a pore pressure researcher and practitioner in Houston, let me know about an "interesting" new book from Elsevier: Practical Solutions to Integrated Oil and Gas Reservoir Analysis, by Enwenode Onajite, a geophysicist in Nigeria... And about 350 other people.

What's interesting about the book is that the majority of the content was not written by Onajite, but was copy-and-pasted from discussions on LinkedIn. A novel way to produce a book, certainly, but is it... legal?

Who owns the content?

Before you read on, you might want to take a quick look at the way the book presents the LinkedIn material. Check it out, then come back here. By the way, if LinkedIn wasn't so damn difficult to search, or if the book included a link or some kind of proper citation of the discussion, I'd show you a conversation in LinkedIn too. But everything is completely untraceable, so I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader.

LinkedIn's User Agreement is crystal clear about the ownership of content its users post there:

[...] you own the content and information that you submit or post to the Services and you are only granting LinkedIn and our affiliates the following non-exclusive license: A worldwide, transferable and sublicensable right to use, copy, modify, distribute, publish, and process, information and content that you provide through our Services [...]

This is a good user agreement [Edit: see UPDATE, below]. It means everything you write on LinkedIn is © You — unless you choose to license it to others, e.g. under the terms of Creative Commons (please do!).

Fernando — whose material was used in the book — tells me that none of the several other authors he has asked gave, or were even asked for, permission to re-use their work. So I think we can say that this book represents a comprehensive infringement of copyright of the respective authors of the discussions on LinkedIn.

Roles and reponsibilities

Given the scale of this infringement, I think there's a clear lack of due diligence here on the part of the publisher and the editors. Having said that, while publishers are quick to establish their copyright on the material they publish, I would say that this lack of diligence is fairly normal. Publishers tend to leave this sort of thing to the author, hence the standard "Every effort has been made..." disclaimer you often find in non-fiction books... though not, apparently, in this book (perhaps because zero effort has been made!).

But this defence doesn't wash: Elsevier is the copyright holder here (Onajite signed it over to them, as most authors do), so I think the buck stops with them. Indeed, you can be sure that the company will make most of the money from the sale of this book — the author will be lucky to get 5% of gross sales, so the buck is both figurative and literal.

Incidentally, in Agile's publishing house, Agile Libre, authors retain copyright, but we take on the responsibility (and cost!) of seeking permissions for re-use. We do this because I consider it to be our reputation at stake, as much as the author's.

OK, so we should blame Elsevier for this book. Could Elsevier argue that it's really no different from quoting from a published research paper, say? Few researchers ask publishers or authors if they can do this — especially in the classroom, "for educational purposes", as if it is somehow exempt from copyright rules (it isn't). It's just part of the culture — an extension of the uneducated (uninterested?) attitude towards copyright that prevails in academia and industry. Until someone infringes your copyright, at least.

Seek permission not forgiveness

I notice that in the Acknowledgments section of the book, Onajite does what many people do — he gives acknowledgement ("for their contributions", he doesn't say they were unwitting) to some the authors of the content. Asking for forgiveness, as it were (but not really). He lists the rest at the back. It's normal to see this sort of casual hat tip in presentations at conferences — someone shows an unlicensed image they got from Google Images, slaps "Courtesy of A Scientist" or a URL at the bottom, and calls it a day. It isn't good enough: attribution is not permission. The word "courtesy" implies that you had some.

Indeed, most of the figures in Onajite's book seem to have been procured from elsewhere, with "Courtesy ExxonMobil" or whatever passing as a pseudolicense. If I was a gambler, I would bet that the large majority were used without permission.

OK, you're thinking, where's this going? Is it just a rant? Here's the bottom line:

The only courteous, professional and, yes, legal way to re-use copyrighted material — which is "anything someone created", more or less — is to seek written permission. It's that simple.

A bit of a hassle? Indeed it is. Time-consuming? Yep. The good news is that you'll usually get a "Sure! Thanks for asking". I can count on one hand the number of times I've been refused.

The only exceptions to the rule are when:

  • The copyrighted material already carries a license for re-use (as Agile does — read the footer on this page).
  • The copyright owner explicitly allows re-use in their terms and conditions (for example, allowing the re-publication of single figures, as some journals do).
  • The law allows for some kind of fair use, e.g. for the purposes of criticism.

In these cases, you do not need to ask, just be sure to attribute everything diligently.

A new low in scientific publishing?

What now? I believe Elsevier should retract this potentially useful book and begin the long process of asking the 350 authors for permission to re-use the content. But I'm not holding my breath.

By a very rough count of the preview of this $130 volume in Google Books, it looks like the ratio of LinkedIn chat to original text is about 2:1. Whatever the copyright situation, the book is definitely an uninspiring turn for scientific publishing. I hope we don't see more like it, but let's face it: if a massive publishing conglomerate can make $87 from comments on LinkedIn, it's gonna happen.

What do you think about all this? Does it matter? Should Elsevier do something about it? Let us know in the comments.


UPDATE Friday 1 September

Since this is a rather delicate issue, and events are still unfolding, I thought I'd post some updates from Twitter and the comments on this post:

  • Elsevier is aware of these questions and is looking into it.
  • Re-read the user agreement quote carefully. As Ronald points out below, I was too hasty — it's really not a good user agreement, LinkedIn have a lot of scope to re-use what you post there. 
  • It turns out that some people were asked for permission, though it seems it was unclear what they were agreeing to. So the author knew that seeking permission was a good idea.
  • It also turns out that at least one SPE paper was reproduced in the book, in a rather inconspicuous way. I don't know if SPE granted rights for this, but the author at least was not identified.
  • Some people are throwing the word 'plagiarism' around, which is rather a serious word. I'm personally willing to ascribe it to 'normal industry practices' and sloppy editing and reviewing (the book was apparently reviewed by no fewer than 5 people!). And, at least in the case of the LinkedIn content, proper attribution was made. For me, this is more about honesty, quality, and value in scientific publishing than about misconduct per se.
  • It's worth reading the comments on this post. People are raising good points.

Part of the thumbnail image was created by Jannoon028 — Freepik.com — and licensed CC-BY.

Another fossil book

I'm thrilled to introduce the latest book in the 52 Things series!

52 More Things You Should Know About Palaeontology is out. You can buy it direct from us, on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and it will soon be available all over the world via Amazon's other stores.

In common with all the books from Agile Libre, it is a scholarly text with some weird features. For example:

  • It's fun and easy to read. Each of the 52 essays is only about 700 words long.
  • It costs $19, not $49 (I am not making that $49 up. Welcome to academic publishing!)
  • It's openly licensed, so you can re-use any of the content with attribution but without permission.
  • $2 from every sale goes to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology to support their work.

A book for everyone

Like the first 52 Things on fossils, it's not just for palaeontologists. No matter who you are, I hereby guarantee that you'll find something useful and interesting in there, or your money back. I mean, just look at some of these chapters:

  • A closer look at fossil sex, by Benni Bomfleur & Hans Kerp — in flagrante!
  • A snake with four legs, by David Martill — chronic limb loss!
  • Birds of a fibula, by Jon Tennant — dino bones!
  • Fossils for sale, by Tony Doré, OBE, of Statoil — selling shells!
  • Gods and monsters, by Andrew Taylor — miracles!
  • How kangaroos got their bounce, by Benjamin P Kear — just so!
  • Impossible frogs in the Deccan Traps, by Michael Oates — igneous fossils!
  • In search of the Balearian mouse goat, by Alun Williams — mouse goats!
  • Interview with a Triceratops, by John Scanella — dinosaurs forever!
  • Micro-dung and its uses, by Wyn Hughes — tiny poo!
  • Traces in the terrarium, by Daniel Hembree — experimental ichnology!
  • Vertebrate palaeontology: more than fossil bones, by John Hutchinson — see dino run!

A huge thanks to the 50(!) authors of this volume. Together, I estimate they have over 1000 years of experience to share. Imagine that for a moment. All that learning, centuries in the field, decades in the library, or squinting down microscopes... just to write an essay for you! 

Massive thanks as well to Alex Cullum and Allard Martinius, both of Statoil. It takes a good deal of tenacity to rally 50 people to do anything, let alone write a book together... and they've done it twice. And they've nailed it again — check out what Prof David Polly (Indiana), president of the Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology had to say about the book:

[It] looks fantastic. There is a lot of useful and high-level information in it, plus it is entertaining to read. I’m also pleased to see several SVP members in the author list. It deserves to be a great success. (The other books in the series are equally wonderful... having worked with eigenvectors daily for decades, I nevertheless learned something from Ruelicke’s chapter in the Geology volume.)

I hope you enjoy the book too!


Have you read 52 Things... Rock Physics? If you enjoyed it, or even if you didn't, we'd love a short review on Amazon.com :) Help spread some geophysics goodness.

Hooke's oolite

52 Things You Should Know About Rock Physics came out last week. For the first, and possibly the last, time a Fellow of the Royal Society — the most exclusive science club in the UK — drew the picture on the cover. The 353-year-old drawing was made by none other than Robert Hooke

The title page from  Micrographia , and part of the dedication to Charles II.  You can browse the entire book at archive.org.

The title page from Micrographia, and part of the dedication to Charles II. You can browse the entire book at archive.org.

The drawing, or rather the engraving that was made from it, appears on page 92 of Micrographia, Hooke's groundbreaking 1665 work on microscopy. In between discovering and publishing his eponymous law of elasticity (which Evan wrote about in connection with Lamé's \(\lambda\)), he drew and wrote about his observations of a huge range of natural specimens under the microscope. It was the first time anyone had recorded such things, and it was years before its accuracy and detail were surpassed. The book established the science of microscopy, and also coined the word cell, in its biological context.

Sadly, the original drawing, along with every other drawing but one from the volume, was lost in the Great Fire of London, 350 years ago almost to the day. 

Ketton stone

The drawing on the cover of the new book is of the fractured surface of Ketton stone, a Middle Jurassic oolite from central England. Hooke's own description of the rock, which he mistakenly called Kettering Stone, is rather wonderful:

I wonder if anyone else has ever described oolite as looking like the ovary of a herring?

These thoughtful descriptions, revealing a profundly learned scientist, hint at why Hooke has been called 'England's Leonardo'. It seems likely that he came by the stone via his interest in architecture, and especially through his friendsip with Christopher Wren. By 1663, when it's likely Hooke made his observations, Wren had used the stone in the façades of several Cambridge colleges, including the chapels of Pembroke and Emmanuel, and the Wren Library at Trinity (shown here). Masons call porous, isotropic rock like Ketton stone 'freestone', because they can carve it freely to make ornate designs. Rock physics in action!

You can read more about Hooke's oolite, and the geological significance of his observations, in an excellent short paper by material scientist Derek Hull (1997). It includes these images of Ketton stone, for comparison with Hooke's drawing:

Reflected light photomicrograph (left) and backscatter scanning electron microscope image (right) of Ketton Stone. Adapted from figures 2 and 3 of Hull (1997). Images are © Royal Society and used in accordance with  their terms .

Reflected light photomicrograph (left) and backscatter scanning electron microscope image (right) of Ketton Stone. Adapted from figures 2 and 3 of Hull (1997). Images are © Royal Society and used in accordance with their terms.

I love that this book, which is mostly about the elastic behaviour of rocks, bears an illustration by the man that first described elasticity. Better still, the illustration is of a fractured rock — making it the perfect preface. 



References

Hall, M & E Bianco (eds.) (2016). 52 Things You Should Know About Rock Physics. Nova Scotia: Agile Libre, 134 pp.

Hooke, R (1665). Micrographia: or some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses, pp. 93–100. The Royal Society, London, 1665.

Hull, D (1997). Robert Hooke: A fractographic study of Kettering-stone. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 51, p 45-55. DOI: 10.1098/rsnr.1997.0005.

52 Things... Rock Physics

There's a new book in the 52 Things family! 

52 Things You Should Know About Rock Physics is out today, and available for purchase at Amazon.com. It will appear in their European stores in the next day or two, and in Canada... well, soon. If you can't wait for that, you can buy the book immediately direct from the printer by following this link.

The book mines the same vein as the previous volumes. In some ways, it's a volume 2 of the original 52 Things... Geophysics book, just a little bit more quantitative. It features a few of the same authors — Sven Treitel, Brian Russell, Rachel Newrick, Per Avseth, and Rob Simm — but most of the 46 authors are new to the project. Here are some of the first-timers' essays:

  • Ludmilla Adam, Why echoes fade.
  • Arthur Cheng, How to catch a shear wave.
  • Peter Duncan, Mapping fractures.
  • Paul Johnson, The astonishing case of non-linear elasticity.
  • Chris Liner, Negative Q.
  • Chris Skelt, Five questions to ask the petrophysicist.

It's our best collection of essays yet. We're very proud of the authors and the collection they've created. It stretches from childhood stories to linear algebra, and from the microscope to seismic data. There's no technical book like it. 

Supporting Geoscientists Without Borders

Purchasing the book will not only bring you profund insights into rock physics — there's more! Every sale sends $2 to Geoscientists Without Borders, the SEG charity that supports the humanitarian application of geoscience in places that need it. Read more about their important work.

It's been an extra big effort to get this book out. The project was completely derailed in 2015, as we — like everyone else — struggled with some existential questions. But we jumped back into it earlier this year, and Kara (the managing editor, and my wife) worked her magic. She loves working with the authors on proofs and so on, but she doesn't want to see any more equations for a while.

If you choose to buy the book, I hope you enjoy it. If you enjoy it, I hope you share it. If you want to share it with a lot of people, get in touch — we can help. Like the other books, the content is open access — so you are free to share and re-use it as you wish. 

Six comic books about science

Ever since reading my dad's old Tintin books late into the night as a kid, I've loved comics and graphic novels. I've never been into the usual Marvel and DC stuff — superheroes aren't my thing. But I often re-read Tintin, I think I've read every Astérix, and since moving to Canada I've been a big fan of Seth and Chester Brown.

Last year in France I bought an album of Léonard, an amusing imagining of da Vinci's exploits as an inventor... Almost but not quite about science. These six books, on the other hand, show meticulous research and a love of natural philosophy. Enjoy!


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

Sydney Padua, 2015. New York, USA: Pantheon. List price USD 28.95.

I just finished devouring this terrific book by Padua, a young Canadian animator. It's an amazing mish-mash of writing and drawing, science and story, computing and history, fiction and non-fiction. This book has gone straight into my top 10 favourite books ever. It's really, really good.

Author — Amazon — Google — Pantheon

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon

Jim Ottaviani, Zander Cannon, Kevin Cannon, 2009. GT Labs. List price USD 15.99.

Who doesn't love books about space exploration? This is a relatively short exposition, aimed primarily at kids, but is thoroughly researched and suspenseful enough for anyone. The black and white artwork bounces between the USA and USSR, visualizing this unique time in history.

Amazon — GoogleGT Labs

Feynman

Jim Ottaviani, Leland Myrick, 2011. First Second Books. List price USD 19.99.

A 248-page colour biography of the great physicist, whose personality was almost as remarkable as his work. The book covers the period 1923 to 1986 — almost birth to death — and is neither overly critical of Feynman's flaws, nor hero-worshipping. Just well-researched, and skillfully told.

AmazonGoogleFirst Second.

A Wrinkle in Time

Hope Larson, Madeleine L'Engle, 2012. New York, USA: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. List price USD 19.99

A graphic adaptation of L'Engle's young adult novel, first published in 1963. The story is pretty wacky, and the science is far from literal, so perhaps not for all tastes — but if you or your kids enjoy Doctor Who and Red Dwarf, then I predict you'll enjoy this. Warning: sentimental in places.

Amazon — MacmillanAuthor 

Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon

Hergé, 1953, 1954. Tournai, Belgium: Casterman (English: 1959, Methuen). List price USD 24.95.

These remarkable books show what Hergé was capable of imagining — and drawing — at his peak. The iconic ligne claire artwork depicts space travel and lunar exploration over a decade before Apollo. There is the usual espionage subplot and Thom(p)son-based humour, but it's the story that thrills.

AmazonGoogle


What about you? Have you read anything good lately?

Geocomputing: Call for papers

52 Things .+? Geocomputing is in the works.

For previous books, we've reached out to people we know and trust. This felt like the right way to start our micropublishing project, because we had zero credibility as publishers, and were asking a lot from people to believe anything would come of it.

Now we know we can do it, but personal invitation means writing to a lot of people. We only hear back from about 50% of everyone we write to, and only about 50% of those ever submit anything. So each book takes about 160 invitations.

This time, I'd like to try something different, and see if we can truly crowdsource these books. If you would like to write a short contribution for this book on geoscience and computing, please have a look at the author guidelines. In a nutshell, we need about 600 words before the end of March. A figure or two is OK, and code is very much encouraged. Publication date: fall 2015.

We would also like to find some reviewers. If you would be available to read at least 5 essays, and provide feedback to us and the authors, please let me know

In keeping with past practice, we will be donating money from sales of the book to scientific Python community projects via the non-profit NumFOCUS Foundation.

What the cover might look like. If you'd like to write for us, please read  the author guidelines .

What the cover might look like. If you'd like to write for us, please read the author guidelines.

Another 52 Things hits the shelves

The new book is out today: 52 Things You Should Know About Palaeontology. Having been up for pre-order in the US, it is now shipping. The book will appear in Amazons globally in the next 24 hours or so, perhaps a bit longer for Canada.

I'm very proud of this volume. It shows that 52 Things has legs, and the quality is as high as ever. Euan Clarkson knows a thing or two about fossils and about books, and here's what he thought of it: 

This is sheer delight for the reader, with a great range of short but fascinating articles; serious science but often funny. Altogether brilliant!

Each purchase benefits The Micropalaeontological Society's Educational Trust, a UK charity, for the furthering of postgraduate education in microfossils. You should probably go and buy it now before it runs out. Go on, I'll wait here...

1000 years of fossil obsession

So what's in the book? There's too much variety to describe. Dinosaurs, plants, foraminifera, arthropods — they're all in there. There's a geographical index, as before, and also a chronostratigraphic one. The geography shows some distinct clustering, that partly reflects the emphasis on the science of applied fossil-gazing: biostratigraphy. 

The book has 48 authors, a new record for these collections. It's an honour to work with each of them — their passion, commitment, and professionalism positively shines from the pages. Geologists and fossil nuts alike will recognize many of the names, though some will, I hope, be new to you. As a group, these scientists represent  1000 years of experience!


Amazingly, and completely by chance, it is one year to the day since we announced 52 Things You Should Know About Geology. Sales of that book benefit The AAPG Foundation, so today I am delighted to be sending a cheque for $1280 to them in Tulsa. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy, and of course to the authors of that book for making it happen.

A fossil book

We're proud to announce the latest book from Agile Libre. Woot!

I can't take a lot of credit for this book... The idea came from 52 Things stalwart Alex Cullum, a biostratigrapher I met at Statoil in Stavanger in my first proper job. A fellow Brit, he has a profound enthusiasm for all things outside, and for writing and publishing. With able help from Allard Martinius, also a Statoil scientist and a 52 Things author from the Geology book, Alex generously undertook the task of inviting dozens of awesome palaeontologists, biostratigraphers, palynologists, and palaeobotanists from all over the world, and keeping in touch as the essays came in. Kara and I took care of the fiddly bits, and now it's all nearly done. It is super-exciting. Just check out some of the titles:

  • A trace fossil primer by Dirk Knaust
  • Bioastronomy by Simon Conway Morris
  • Ichnology and the minor phyla by S George Pemberton
  • A walk through time by Felix Gradstein
  • Can you catch criminals with pollen? by Julia Webb
  • Quantitative palaeontology by Ben Sloan

It's a pretty mouthwatering selection, even for someone like me who mostly thinks about seismic these days. There are another 46 like this. I can't wait to read them, and I've read them twice already.

Help a micropalaeontologist

The words in these books are a gift from the authors — 48 of them in this book! — to the community. We cherish the privilege of reading them before anyone else, and of putting them out into the world. We hope they reach far and have impact, inspiring people and starting conversations. But we want these books to give back to the community in other ways too, so from each sale we are again donating to a charity. This time it's the Educational Trust of The Micropalaeontological Society. I read about this initiative in a great piece for Geoscientist by Haydon Bailey, one of our authors: Micropalaeontology under threat!. They need our community's support and I'm excited about donating to them.

The book is in the late stages of preparation, and will appear in the flesh in about the middle of November. To make sure you get yours as soon as it's ready, you can pre-order it now.

Pre-order now from Amazon.com 
Save almost 25% off the cover price!

It's $14.58 today, but Amazon sets the final price...

Graphics that repay careful study

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte (2nd ed., Graphics Press, 2001) celebrates communication through data graphics. The book provides a vocabulary and practical theory for data graphics, and Tufte pulls no punches — he suggests why some graphics are better than others, and even condemns failed ones as lost opportunities. The book outlines empirical measures of graphical performance, and describes the pursuit of graphic-making as one of sequential improvement through revision and editing. I see this book as a sort of moral authority on visualization, and as the reference book for developing graphical taste.

Through design, the graphic artist allows the viewer to enter into a transaction with the data. High performance graphics, according to Tufte, 'repay careful study'. They support discovery, probing questions, and a deeper narrative. These kinds of graphics take a lot of work, but they do a lot of work in return. In later books Tufte writes, 'To clarify, add detail.'

A stochastic AVO crossplot

Consider this graphic from the stochastic AVO modeling section of modelr. Its elements are constructed with code, and since it is a program, it is completely reproducible.

Let's dissect some of the conceptual high points. This graphic shows all the data simultaneously across 3 domains, one in each panel. The data points are sampled from probability density estimates of the physical model. It is a large dataset from many calculations of angle-dependent reflectivity at an interface. The data is revealed with a semi-transparent overlay, so that areas of certainty are visually opaque, and areas of uncertainty are harder to see.

At the same time, you can still see every data point that makes the graphic giving a broad overview (the range and additive intensity of the lines and points) as well as the finer structure. We place the two modeled dimensions with templates in the background, alongside the physical model histograms. We can see, for instance, how likely we are to see a phase reversal, or a Class 3 response subject to the physical probability estimates. The statistical and site-specific nature of subsurface modeling is represented in spirit. All the data has context, and all the data has uncertainty.

Rules for graphics that work

Tufte summarizes that excellent data graphics should:

  • Show all the data.
  • Provoke the viewer into thinking about meaning.
  • Avoid distorting what the data have to say.
  • Present many numbers in a small space.
  • Make large data sets coherent.
  • Encourage the eye to compare different pieces of the data.
  • Reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure.
  • Serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation, or decoration.
  • Be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set.

The data density, or data-to-ink ratio, looks reasonably high in my crossplot, but it could like still be optimized. What would you remove? What would you add? What elements need revision?

Whither technical books?

Pile of geophysics booksLeafing through our pile of new books on seismic analysis got me thinking about technical books and the future of technical publishing. In particular:

  • Why are these books so expensive? 
  • When will we start to see reproducibility?
  • Does all this stuff just belong on the web?

Why so expensive?

Should technical books really cost several times what ordinary books cost? Professors often ask us for discounts for modelr, our $9/mo seismic modeling tool. Students pay 10% of what pros pay in our geocomputing course. Yet academic books cost three times what consumer books cost. I know it's a volume game — but you're not going to sell many books at $100 a go! And unlike consumer books, technical authors usually don't make any money — a star writer may score 6% of net sales... once 500 books have been sold (see Handbook for Academic Authors).

Where's the reproducibility?

Compared to the amazing level of reproducibility we saw at SciPy — where the code to reproduce virtually every tutorial, talk, and poster was downloadable — books are still rather black box. For example, the figures are often drafted, not generated. A notable (but incomplete) exception is Chris Liner's fantastic (but ridiculously expensive) volume, Elements of 3D Seismology, in which most of the figures seem to have been generated by Mathematica. The crucial final step is to share the code that generated them, and he's exploring this in recent blog posts (e.g. right).

I can think of three examples of more reproducible geophysics in print:

  1. Gary Mavko has shared a lot of MATLAB code associated with Quantitative Seismic Interpretation and The Rock Physics Handbook. The code to reproduce the figures is not provided, and MATLAB is not really open, but it's a start.
  2. William Ashcroft's excellent book, A Petroleum Geologist's Guide to Seismic Reflection contains (proprietary, Windows only) code on a CD, so you could in theory make some of the figures yourself. But it wouldn't be easy.
  3. The series of tutorials I'm coordinating for The Leading Edge has, so far, includes all code to reproduce figures, exclusively written in open languages and using open or synthetic data. Kudos to SEG!

Will the web win?

None of this comes close to Sergey Fomel's brand of fully reproducible geophysics. He is a true pioneer in this space, up there with Jon Claerbout. (You should definitely read his blog!). One thing he's been experimenting with is 'live' reproducible documents in the cloud. If we don't see an easy way to publish live, interactive notebooks in the cloud this year, we'll see them next year for sure.

So imagine being able to read a technical document, a textbook say, with all the usual features you get online — links, hover-over, clickable images, etc. But then add the ability to not only see the code that produced each figure, but to edit and re-run that code. Or add slider widgets for parameters — "What happens to the gather if if I change Poisson's ratio?" Now, since you're on the web, you can share your modification with your colleagues, or the world.

Now that's a book I'd be glad to pay double for.

Some questions for you

We'd love to know what you think of technical books. Leave a comment below, or get in touch

  • Do you purchase technical books regularly? What prompts you to buy a book?
  • What book keeps getting pulled off your shelf, and which ones collect dust?
  • What's missing from the current offerings? Workflows, regional studies, atlases,...?
  • Would you rather just consume everything online? Do you care about reproducibility?

400 posts

The last post was our 400th on this blog. At an average of 500 words, that's about 200,000 words since we started at the end of 2010. Enough for a decent-sized novel, but slightly less likely to win a Pulitzer. In that time, according to Google, almost exactly 100,000 individuals have stopped by agilegeoscience.com — most of them lots of times — thank you readers for keeping us going! The most popular posts: Shale vs tight, Rock physics cheatsheet, and Well tie workflow. We hope you enjoy reading at least half as much as we enjoy writing.