One of the great things about the internet is the vast array of resources available for nearly every interest. One of the more frustrating aspects of the internet is that these resources are widely scattered, often difficult to find, and that the links change on a pretty regular basis.
Like most people, I save pages I like in my bookmarks file, which is great as long as you have the computer those bookmarks are saved on with you (or are using a portable browser from a flash-drive). I have had far too many computers commit suicide to trust in data stored on them, or even on physical back-up drives. Also, anything stored on your computer is only accessible to someone with access to your computer.
I believe information should be shared. As Stewart Brand once famously said to Steve Wozniak, “Information wants to be free.” In the same discussion he pointed out the tension of valuable information wanting to be expensive and thus being restricted by those who control the information.
In the sciences, this is an enormous problem, and part of why many people are scientifically illiterate. It is not because these people are stupid, nor is it because they are uninterested. More than anything else it is a matter of access. Repositories of scientific articles charge outrageous prices for short term access to individual articles; a quick search on JSTOR turns up charges of $10–$44 per individual article. Few people can afford to pay prices like that to read a 2-10 page article on something that they don’t know if they will be interested in or understand. These prices coupled with the extremely specialized language of most scientific articles serves to reinforce, if not exacerbate the divide between people who practice science and everyone else.
The UK has taken steps to begin the rectification process, and hopefully their actions will pull the rest of the world along with them. In 2014 all research done in the UK that uses public funds will be accessible for free to anyone who wants it. Public money went into doing the research, therefore the public gets to read/see/use the information.
This is excellent, but it is not entirely new. There is currently a fantastic array of great resources available for free… if you know where to look and (in some cases if you have the skills and tools to use the data).
I wanted a place where I could always (if I have an internet connection) find the resources I’ve found to be interesting and useful, and I wanted to have these in a place where other people could find them.
Accordingly, I’ve begun storing them here on my blog, the pages below link to specific repositories. These repositories are growing and I have many, many, many more that are saved elsewhere that I need to sift through and eventually add to the lists.
Please feel free to suggest additional resources and to re-post or pass along this information as you see fit.