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Maggie Simpson and Kim Jong Fun Get Published

January 6, 2015

Ah, the world of professional publishing. Is there anything like it? In an effort to lure shady journals into exposing their nonexistent peer-review processes, one engineer succeeded in catching two publications in his ridiculously obvious ploy. Vox reports, “A Paper by Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel Was Accepted by Two Scientific Journals.” The article relates:

“A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled ‘Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations.’ Rather, it’s a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.

“These outlets both belong to a world of predatory journals that spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work — whatever it is — for a fee, without actually conducting peer review. When Smolyanitsky was contacted by them, he submitted the paper, which has a totally incoherent, science-esque text written by SCIgen, a random text generator. (Example sentence: ‘we removed a 8-petabyte tape drive from our peer-to-peer cluster to prove provably “fuzzy” symmetries’s influence on the work of Japanese mad scientist Karthik Lakshminarayanan.’)

“Then, he thought up the authors, along with a nonexistent affiliation (‘Belford University’) for them. ‘I wanted first and foremost to come up with something that gives out the fake immediately,’ he says. ‘My only regret is that the second author isn’t Ralph Wiggum.’”

Why would any journal do such a thing? It’s all about the publishing fees, of course. Simpson et al continue to receive an invoice for $459 from just one of the journals. The article points out this is not the first time such “predatory publishing” has been exposed, and it is unlikely to be the last. See the article for more examples, as well as a brief history of the practice. (It seems to have begun in earnest in the early aughts.) Apparently, new shoddy publishers keep popping up. Researchers and readers should keep the phenomenon in mind when considering whether to submit to, or trust the information in, any given journal.

Cynthia Murrell, January 06, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Elsevier and Bad Information

December 22, 2014

Years and years ago, a unit of the Courier Journal & Louisville Times created the Business Dateline database. As far as I know, it was the first full text online database to feature corrections. The team believed that most online content contained flaws, and neither the database producers, the publishers, nor the online distributions like LexisNexis invested much effort in accuracy. How many databases followed in our footsteps? Well, not too many. At one time it was exactly zero. But people perceive information from a computer as accurate, based on studies we did at the newspaper and subsequently as part of ArnoldIT’s work.

Flash forward to our go go now. The worm, after several decades, may be turning, albeit slowly. Navigate to “Elsevier Retracting 16 Papers for Faked Peer Review.” Assuming the write up was itself accurate, I noted this passage:

We consider ourselves to have an important role in prevention. We try to put a positive tone to our education material, so it’s not a draconian “we will catch you” – it’s also about the importance of research integrity for science, the perception of science with taxpayers…there are a lot of rewards for doing this the right way.

The questions in my mind are:

  • How many errors are in the LexisNexis online file? What steps are being taken to remove the ones known to be incorrect; for example, technical papers with flawed information?
  • How will Elsevier alert its customers that some information may be inaccurate?
  • What process is in place for other Elsevier properties to correct, minimize, and eliminate errors in print and online content?

I can imagine myself in a meeting with Elsevier’s senior management. My task is to propose specific measures to ensure quality, accuracy, and timeliness in Elsevier’s products. I am not sure my suggestions will be ones that generate a great deal of enthusiasm. Hopefully, I am incorrect.

Stephen E Arnold, December 22, 2014

Google News in Spain: The Sound of Declining Traffic

December 17, 2014

Well, the Googley conquistadores seem to have caught the attention of the Spanish news sites. I read “External Traffic to Spanish News Sites Plummets after Google Move.” I find it remarkable that “real” journalism outfits fail to understand the power of the GOOG. Axil Springer pumped millions into Qwant. I bet you use that Pertimm-based service each and every day, right? A quick dust up with the Google, and the German publisher rolled over like my clueless boxer Tess. She is deaf, has three good legs, and one eye. But Tess figures stuff out without have to do much more than be aware of her environment. Perhaps there is a lesson there?


Is Tess the rescue boxer smarter than the average European publisher chock full of “real” journalistic wizardry? I can make a good case for Tess. She uses Google to help me research Cyber OSINT and NGIA.

The write up states:

Spanish publishers are now asking for help from the government because of the impact of the law, even though Google warned that it would have to remove their links if the law was passed (any links to Spanish sites are also removed from other content on non-Spanish versions of Google News, but they remain available through a regular Google search).

The reality is that the folks with the wonky logo and teenagers on the payroll are the gatekeepers. If you are not in Google, you do not exist. This applies to cold blooded northern Europeans and the more excitable southern Europeans. Thomas Mann explained this is his novels. Well, some “real” journalists may want to refresh their memories. Reality check: Google has traffic power. Sartre provided some insight in No Exit. I have an idea. Let’s run a modern European literature class for “real” journalists. Yes, students, you can use Google. I excuse from class the wizards at IDG/IDC who suggested that Google pull out of Europe. Europe may request that Google remain available. Look for a report from IDC expert Dave Schubmehl explaining why Google should put its tail between its legs and scurry back to Silicon Valley.

Stephen E Arnold, December 17, 2014

More IDC Cleverness: Innovation Is Alive and Well

December 10, 2014

Short honk: Navigate to this link on the Attivio Web site. I verified this on December 9, 2014. Here’s the link:

What do you see? I see this:


IDC published this information based loosely on my team’s research. There was no written permission take this action. My attorney requested that IDC pay for the rights to use my information, including its resale on Amazon without my permission. As I understand my legal eagle, IDC was to stop selling documents with my name and the name of an IDC expert: Dave Schubmehl.

Well, here we go. After months of fiddling, a report with my name is attached to Attivio.

The only hitch in the git along is that the Attivio described in the IDC report does not match up with the Attivio with which I described in my research reports.

Attivio, instead of struggling to generate sufficient revenue to repay its stakeholders, morphs into a different company.

I care because misrepresenting who wrote what, using another’s work for personal aggrandizement and economic benefit, and trampling over the professionalism of a 70 year old strikes me as uncomfortable.

My suggestion? Think about the source of the information. Figure out who is the expert. Ask yourself, “Do I want to be treated in the IDC manner?”

My answer is, “I want experts to be experts. I want high value information to be fairly presented, not massaged. I want basic business practices observed.”

What’s your answer? We know Mr. Schubmehl’s and IDC’s answer.

Stephen E Arnold, December 10, 2014

King CONsumer Service Starts in January 2015

December 5, 2014

I have been trying to figure out where to put items of interest and maybe some humor. A new site called “King CON” sumer will be the place for some of the helpful things that companies do for their customers, suppliers, admirers, and stakeholders. For example, we will collect the IDC “surfing on my name” content (a sport practiced by “expert” Dave Schubmehl). We will post photos of the non-helpful design features of some retail stores (a maze behind vegetables that rival those of the British aristocracy’s maze gardens), and activities of quotidian folks like CON-tractors, pain-ters, and representatives of “we’ll get the quote to you tomorrow” (stated weekly until we gave up calling the vendor). I have had an artist create a character called “King Con”, which is short for a consumer anti-hero. Stay tuned for news.

Stephen E Arnold, December 5, 2014

Sci Tech Publishers Quiver: Nature Articles Free to View

December 3, 2014

If you are a commercial database publisher, you have had your share of thrills and spills. But now the funding for libraries is modest and not likely to rebound quickly. Publishers whose content has been indexed now want some kind of compensation and even worse a few are putting up their own online services. But the scary part of relying on other people’s content is that some big guns will just roll over and make their content available with ever looser restrictions.

Nature now “permits subscribers and media to share read only versions of its papers.” Nifty idea but for many getting a third party to digest and highlight the important points is pretty useful. In fact, I think it will be sufficiently useful to replace a subscription.

If you wonder how the MBAs at LexisNexis, Cambridge Scientific, and EBSCO will react to this state of affairs, so do I. Maybe there are some other opportunities to pursue?

How will the Nature “marketing” experiment work out? My hunch is that for some sci tech publishers, no marketing trick will work. The companies anchored in the information models of the past have to find a way to pop up a level or two in the game of information.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2014

Traditional Publishing versus Digital Flow

November 24, 2014

I read “Technology Set Journalism Free, Now New Platforms Are in Control.” I reacted positively to the word “platforms.” After I read the essay, I am not convinced that the platforms mentioned in the article are in control. These platforms have the appearance of control, but I think Facebook, Twitter, and other big consumer services have a flaw. The content streams can be manipulated, often easily. There are platforms that operate outside of the consumer sector. Some of these platforms are far more important than channels that disseminate content (either well intentioned or weaponized).

The challenge publishers who want to use print as a revenue generator and as a way to enforce information control on a customer segment face a number of challenges. The big one is figuring out how to make money as monopolies develop in various sectors. There are some interesting efforts to combine print and digital; for example, the Monocle operation. For most of the companies wanting to tap print’s unique power, the problems require clear thinking. When I have been asked to think about how to make print work, I extricate myself from that engagement. I am probably able to come up with useful ideas, but I want to spend my time working on more interesting problems.

The flaw in this write up and others that try to find a place in today’s world for certain approaches to information is cost. As soon as paper is involved, the expense of buying it, printing on it, shipping it, and delivering it are greater than the money most companies can generate by selling it. Without money, the companies accustomed to information control and its attendant power have a big job to do.

Niche outfits may be able to do okay. But the big companies dependent on print thinking are probably going to fall out of their leather chairs.

And what about the platforms that most do not see or do not seek out? These will continue to expand their reach, scope, and capabilities. When cheerleaders for Facebook and similar companies wake up, another paradigm shift will be well underway.

What’s interesting is that today’s new platforms will be facing the challenges print publishers deal with today.

Stephen E Arnold, November 24, 2014

The Use of Semantic Enrichment for Scholarly Publishers

November 20, 2014

The article titled The Power of Semantics on Research Information investigates the advancements in semantic enrichment tools. Scholarly publishers are increasingly interested in enabling their users to browse the vast quantity of data online and find the most relevant information. Semantic enrichment is the proposed solution to guiding knowledge-seekers to the significant material while weeding out the unnecessary and unrelated. Phil Hastings of Linguamatics, Daniel Mayer of Temis and Jake Zarnegar of Silverchair were all quoted at length in the article on their views on the current usages of semantic enrichment and its future. The article states,

“Daniel Mayer, VP product and marketing at TEMIS, gave some examples of the ways this approach is being used: ‘Semantic enrichment is helping publishers make their content more compelling, drive audience engagement and content usage by providing metadata-based discoverability features such as search-engine optimisation, improved search, taxonomy/faceted navigation, links to structured information about topics mentioned in content, “related content”, and personalisation.”

Clearly, Temis is emphasizing semantics. Mayer and the others also gave their opinions on how publishers in the market for semantic enrichment might go about picking their partners. Some suggestions included choosing a partner with expertise within the field, an established customer base and the ability to share best practices.

Chelsea Kerwin, November 20, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Scribd Competes with Kindle for Audiobook Subscriptions

November 19, 2014

The article titled Don’t Just Read, Listen” Scribd Adds Audio Books on CNet gives the details of the new addition to the Scribd service. In fact, 30,000 audiobooks were brought into the Scribd library, along with the 500,000 plus ebooks available. In a time when people seem to be losing interest in the written word, the spoken word might be the answer (especially spoken by celebrities like James Earl Jones.) The article explains,

“That catalog of 30,000 books includes new releases and award-winning books, including “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy and “The Days of Anna Madrigal” by Armistead Maupin. There are also children’s titles narrated by a few big-name actors, such as Meryl Streep reading”Chrysanthemum” and James Earl Jones reading “Who’s in Rabbit’s House?” Scribd is partnering with media company Findaway World to provide the e-books.”

In October of last year, Scribd began offering a $9 per month ebook subscription. The price will remain the same with the addition of the audiobooks, which puts Scribd just under the $10/month price of the Amazon Kindle. Purchasing individual books through itunes can cost a fortune, so these options are sounding mighty attractive in comparison. The brief article does not get into the question of search capabilities within audio, but they do mention the feature of a sleep timer for listening to audiobooks before bed.

Chelsea Kerwin, November 19, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Former Publishing Executive Sentenced

November 15, 2014

Short honk: I read “Thomas MIddlehoff, Ex Chief of Bertelsmann, Gets 3 Year Prison Term over Misuse of Funds.” The story online appeared on November 14, 2014, and it ran in the November 15, 2014, dead tree edition of a real “news” publication on page B3.

Ah, another executive getting caught. Not much to interest me. But tucked deep in the paragraphs of the “real” news story was this passage:

Despite his legal problems, Mr. Middelhoff had remained a director of The New York Times Company until April of this year, departing for reasons neither he nor The Times publicly explained. “We are saddened to learn this news today,” Eileen M. Murphy, vice president for corporate communications at The Times, said in an email. “Thomas was a valued member of our board for 10 years and we wish him well.”\

Real journalists are a loyal bunch. I assume in the rarified stratosphere of the intellectual gatekeepers, overlooking certain signals relating to a person’s behavior can be misinterpreted; for example, misuse of funds is translated as good business thinking.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2014

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