December 4, 2016

Announcing the Open Review Toolkit

I’m happy to announce the release of the Open Review Toolkit, open source software that enables you to convert your book manuscript into a website that can be used for Open Review. During the Open Review process everyone can read and annotate your manuscript, and you can collect valuable data to help launch your book. The goals of the Open Review process are better books, higher sales, and increased access to knowledge. In an earlier post, I described some of the helpful feedback that I’ve received during the Open Review of my book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age.  Now, in this post I’ll describe more about the Open Review Toolkit—which has been generously supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation—and how you can use it for your book.

As described on the project’s website, the Open Review Toolkit is a set of open source scripts that you can download and use to convert your manuscript to an Open Review website. One way to think about it is that the Open Review Toolkit is the plumbing that ties together four outstanding projects: Hypothes.is, Pandoc, Google Analytics, and Google Forms. Full technical details and all the code are available from the Open Review Toolkit GitHub repository, but here’s an overview.

The build process that converts a manuscript into an Open Review website is codified in a single Makefile and has three primary steps:

  1. Pandoc converts the book manuscript into a single HTML file.
  2. A set of custom scripts enrich the single HTML (e.g., with richer information about each citation) and then split the single HTML file into a bunch of different HTML files, one for each section of the book.
  3. Middleman uses those HTML files and some custom templates to create the Open Review website, which is a static HTML website.

Step 1

Pandoc converts the book manuscript into a single HTML file. Currently, the only supported input format for this first step is Markdown. In other words, at this time, your manuscript must be written in Markdown. However, Pandoc supports a variety of formats as inputs, and in the future we hope to add support for additional input formats, such as LaTeX and Word. If you’d like to help build support for additional input formats, please get in touch.

Step 2

The custom scripts enrich and split the HTML output from Pandoc. First, an enrichment script adds information to each citation. In the future, additional enrichments could also be added at this step. Next, the splitting script splits the single HTML file into one file for each section of the book. These sections are then placed in directory structure that reflects to hierarchy of the sections in the manuscript. This splitting script also creates a JSON file that includes metadata about the manuscript structure. This JSON metadata file that allows the Middleman build process to create things such as the table of contents and previous / next page links between sections.

Step 3

Middleman builds the Open Review website, which is a static HTML website. The Middleman project lives inside the website/ directory. This project is pre-populated with existing layouts that include Google Analytics, Hypothes.is, and navigational elements for the site. This is also where pages that are part of the Open Review website but are not part of the manuscript reside (e.g., an About page). The HTML files from step 2 are used as the primary content for each book page on the site. These HTML files should not be manually modified as they will be overwritten the next time the site is built.

This entire build process takes place inside of a virtual machine we created that comes pre-installed with all the open-source software that you will need. By using this virtual machine, we hope to ensure that the Open Review Toolkit will work right the first time no matter what operating system you are using.

Once those three steps are complete, you have a set of static html files that you can host anywhere that you want (for my book, we are using GitHub pages). On the Open Review Toolkit website, I also describe additional features of the Open Review websites.

We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to convert your manuscript into a modern and functional Open Review website. All of our code is open source, but if you’d like to hire a developer to help you do the conversion, the Open Review Toolkit has a recommend list of Preferred Partners.

The Open Review Toolkit, which was inspired by earlier innovations in academic publishing, would not have been possible without the help of many people. I would like to thank the folks at the the Agathon Group, particularly Luke Baker (coding) and Paul Yuen (design) who built the Open Review website for my book Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age. The Open Review Toolkit grew out of that initial code and design. I would also like to thank Meagan Levinson and Princeton University Press for their support during the first Open Review process. Further, I would like to thank the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their support of the Open Review Toolkit. Finally, the Open Review Toolkit builds on some amazing open source software. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to the project we used in the Open Review Toolkit: Pandoc, LaTeX, hypothes.is, Vagrant, Ansible, Middleman, Bootstrap, Nokogiri, GNU Make, and Bundler.

 You can read more about the Open Review Toolkit at our webpage and download our code from GitHub.

CITP Call for Visitors and Affiliates for 2017-18

The Center for Information Technology Policy is an interdisciplinary research center at Princeton that sits at the crossroads of engineering, the social sciences, law, and policy.

We are seeking applicants for various residential visiting positions and for non-residential affiliates. For more information about these positions, please see our general information page and yearly call for applications and our lists of current and past visitors.

We are happy to hear from anyone working at the intersection of digital technology and public life, including experts in computer science, sociology, economics, law, political science, public policy, information studies, communication, and other related disciplines.

We have a particular interest this year in candidates working on issues related to Interconnection, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the ethics of big data and algorithms.

Visitors

All visitors must apply online through the Jobs at Princeton site. There are three job postings for CITP visitors: 1) the Microsoft Visiting Professor of Information Technology Policy, 2) Visiting IT Policy Fellow, and 3) IT Policy Researcher.

A Visiting IT Policy Fellow is on leave from a full-time position (for example, a professor on sabbatical); an IT Policy Researcher will have Princeton University as the primary affiliation during the visit to CITP (for example, a postdoctoral researcher or a professional visiting for a year between jobs). As such, applicants should apply to only one of the Visiting IT Policy Fellow position or the IT Policy Researcher position as appropriate; applicants to either position may also apply to be the Microsoft Visiting Professor.
For all visitors, we are happy to hear from anyone working at the intersection of digital technology and public life, including experts in computer science, sociology, economics, law, political science, public policy, information studies, communication, and other related disciplines.

Applicants should submit a current curriculum vitae, a research plan (including a description of potential courses to be taught if applying for the Visiting Professorship), and a cover letter describing background, interest in the program, and any funding support for the visit. CITP has secured limited resources from a range of sources to support visitors. However, many of our visitors are on paid sabbatical from their own institutions or otherwise provide some or all of their own outside funding.

Microsoft Visiting Professor of Information Technology Policy

The successful applicant must possess at least a bachelor’s degree and will be appointed to a ten-month term, beginning September 1st, with the possibility of renewal for a second year. The Visiting Professor must teach one course in technology policy per academic year. Preference will be given to current or past professors in related fields and to nationally or internationally recognized experts in technology policy.

The application process for the Microsoft Visiting Professor of Information Technology position is generally open from November through the end of January for the upcoming year.

To apply to become the Microsoft Visiting Professor, please go to Jobs at Princeton, click on “Search Open Positions,” and enter requisition number 1600994.

Visiting IT Policy Fellow; IT Policy Researcher

The successful applicant must possess an advanced degree and typically will be appointed to a nine- to twelve-month term, beginning September 1st. These visitors may teach a seminar if desired, subject to the approval of the Dean of the Faculty. We encourage candidates at all levels to apply.

As noted above, candidates should apply to either the Visiting IT Policy Fellow position (if they will be on leave from a full-time position) or the IT Policy Researcher position (if not). Please do not apply to both listings.

Full consideration for the Visiting IT Policy Fellow and IT Policy Researcher positions is given to those who apply from November through the end of January for the upcoming year.

To apply to become a Visiting IT Policy Fellow, please go to Jobs at Princeton, click on “Search Open Positions,” and enter requisition number 1600996.

To apply to become an IT Policy Researcher, enter requisition number 1600995.

Princeton University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

All offers and appointments are subject to review and approval by the Dean of the Faculty.

Affiliates

Technology policy researchers and experts who wish to have an affiliation with CITP, but cannot be in residence in Princeton, may apply to become a CITP Affiliate. The affiliation typically will last for two years. Affiliates do not have any formal appointment at Princeton University.

Applicants should email applications to between November and the end of January for affiliations beginning the following academic year. Please send a current curriculum vitae and a cover letter describing background and interest in the program.

New Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection

[Joe Calandrino is a veteran of Freedom to Tinker and CITP. As long time readers will remember,  he did his Ph.D. here, advised by Ed Felten. He recently joined the FTC as research director of OTech, the Office of Technology Research and Investigation. Today we have an exciting announcement. — Arvind Narayanan.]

Arvind Narayanan and I are thrilled to announce a new Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection (ConPro ’17) to be co-hosted with the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (Oakland) in May 2017:

Advances in technology come with countless benefits for society, but these advances sometimes introduce new risks as well. Various characteristics of technology, including its increasing complexity, may present novel challenges in understanding its impact and addressing its risks. Regulatory agencies have broad jurisdiction to protect consumers against certain harmful practices (typically called “deceptive and unfair” practices in the United States), but sophisticated technical analysis may be necessary to assess practices, risks, and more. Moreover, consumer protection covers an incredibly broad range of issues, from substantiation of claims that a smartphone app provides advertised health benefits to the adequacy of practices for securing sensitive customer data.

The Workshop on Technology and Consumer Protection (ConPro ’17) will explore computer science topics with an impact on consumers. This workshop has a strong security and privacy slant, with an overall focus on ways in which computer science can prevent, detect, or address the potential for technology to deceive or unfairly harm consumers. Attendees will skew towards academic and industry researchers but will include researchers from government agencies with a consumer protection mission, including the Federal Trade Commission—the U.S. government’s primary consumer protection body. Research advances presented at the workshop may help improve the lives of consumers, and discussions at the event may help researchers understand how their work can best promote consumer welfare given laws and norms surrounding consumer protection.

We have an outstanding program committee representing an incredibly wide range of computer science disciplines—from security, privacy, and e-crime to usability and algorithmic fairness—and touching on fields across the social sciences. The workshop will be an opportunity for these different disciplinary perspectives to contribute to a shared goal. Our call for papers discusses relevant topics, and we encourage anyone conducting research in these areas to submit their work by the January 10 deadline.

Computer science research—and computer security research in particular—excels at advancing innovative technical strategies to mitigate potential negative effects of digital technologies on society, but measures beyond strictly technical fixes also exist to protect consumers. How can our research goals, methods, and tools best complement laws, regulations, and enforcement? We hope this workshop will provide an excellent opportunity for computer scientists to consider these questions and find even better ways for our field to serve society.