Media for eScholarship

Composite Media eScholarship Short List of Tools to consider

This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive but is the group’s choices of suggested tools and techniques to enhance eScholarship

·         Low level Media Tools

o    Mac

§  Screen capture- Opt-Shift-4  Whole screen

§  Application capture- Opt-Shift-Space  Application screen

§  Application demonstration capture -

o    Windows

§  Screen capture-  Snipit (windows accessory) or PrtSc

§  Application demonstration capture -  Camtasia

·         Versioning for scientific documents

Sharing documents by email is inefficient, and often confusing when multiple authors are editing the same documents - filenames like ‘Proposal FINAL_EDIT FINAL.docx’ don’t help anybody. Even the ‘Track changes’ tool in Word is useful to follow what’s changed, but there are more advanced tools available. Storing a complete history of changes to a document is also useful for recovering who did what, and why, later on.

Tools used by developers to keep track of code changes can be repurposed powerfully for document versioning. Git is probably the most straight forward distributed revision control solution. 

 About Git

Git offers a distributed revision control repository. Concretely this means that every member in a collaboration has a full copy of all documents and the directory structure available locally, rather than just on a server. Various online services for Git  (such as Github) exist; when there is a need for a ‘master’ repository various contributions can easily be synced.

Using Git

Designed by Linus Torvalds, Git’s primary user interface is command line although a basic default graphical user interface is supplied. There are however various graphical user interfaces readily available for Windows, Mac and Linux that allow for easier Git operations and enhanced functionality over the default GUI: 

* Windows: Git Extensions (,
 TortoiseGit (

* Mac: GitX (, GitBox (
* Linix: RabitVCS (
A good resource for learning git is the Git Community Book:

To learn about Github (and also git concepts) try:

Using Git to version Word Documents: 

git-annex allows managing files with git, without checking the file contents into git. While that may seem paradoxical, it is useful when dealing with files larger than git can currently easily handle, whether due to limitations in memory, check-summing time, or disk space.     

GRAND: Git Revisions As Named Data

GRAND is an experimental extension of Git, a distributed revision control system, which enables the synchronization of Git repositories over Content-Centric Networks (CCN). GRAND brings some of the benefits of CCN to Git, such as transparent caching, load balancing, and the ability to fetch objects by name rather than location. 

Named Data

Related to versioning is named data which, among other things, leads to named-data networking (NDN) or content-centric networking (CCN). Project CCNx™ is an open source project exploring the next step in networking, based on one fundamental architectural change: replacing named hosts with named content as the primary abstraction.





·         Blogging 

Blogs are primarily a tool for communication with the outside world - an easy way to publish content on the web. They can also be useful research tools - a private, password protected blog can be an online repository for your own notes and thoughts, an online lab notebook that is searchable. As blogs are inherently serial - one post following another - they’re particularly useful for tracking evolving thoughts and ideas. : Wordpress is the most commonly installed software for blogs; if you don’t want the hassle of running a server, will host your blog for you - it takes literally seconds. 

 Researchers who are good models of blogging in a radically open way :

Rosie Redfield (Astrobiology)- “Watch me fumbling my way towards understanding how and why bacteria take up DNA, and getting distracted by other cool questions.”

David Hogg (Astrophysics) - “I must post five days per week (I choose which five), except when traveling, no matter what I have done.”

Mary Beard (Classics) - Some outreach, some university politics but also a look at the processes of lecturing, teaching and thinking. is a network of bloggers writing about (mostly) peer reviewed research.

Astrobetter is a community of researchers writing about what tools help them :


An important aspect for to long-term accessibility and interoperability aspects is the choice of format for different classes of media. Widely spread formats based on open standards are more likely to be migratable to new formats than those that are based on proprietary formats of niche vendors. 

Another important aspect in the choice of formats would be the preservation of underlying data i.e. lossless formats, both in terms of the quality of the data (for instance resolution in images) as the overall information (such as the source file of a 3D model as opposed to the actual render of it). In some cases it might be necessary to do use a lossy format, for instance when need arises to precisely control the rendering of a document at the pixel level across different platform one would probably use PDF as apposed to ODF or OoXML. When deliberately choosing a lossy format, it is import to understand what kind of strategy to implement to keep the original rich data accessible as well. 

The following list isn’t intended to be a set of hard and fast rules - use whatever gets the job done - but it is worth bearing in mind that correct choice of format helps your document and media survive and helps others use it. 


Do use

Don’t use


·         ODF

·         OoXML

·         PDF with XMP

·         binary Word

·         plain PDF (without XMP)


·         OGG Vorbis

·         FLAC

·         AAC

·         Apple Lossless


·         WebM

·         H.264

·         DivX

·         QuickTime

·         Flash Video


·         WebP

·         PNG

·         SVG

·         GIF

·         JPEG

Interactive content

·         HTML5/CSS3/Javascript

·         Flash

·         Air

·         Silverlight


·         Screencasting

It’s often easier to show rather than tell; explaining how to use software, tools or even sharing visualizations is much simpler if you have video. 

Decent screencasting software includes the ability to record sound along with the video, to focus attention on an area or a window, and to emphasise the position of the mouse so that it’s easy to follow what’s going on. 

Camtasia : 30 day free trial :

ScreenFlow : $99, but full featured. Mac only

Pencasting (also known as ‘Livescribe’) is an interesting way to record sound and drawing at once. It requires the purchase of a special pen, but can produce interesting results :

RSA Animate - animated lectures :

Explaining a paper (recorded off the cuff) :

o   New type of journals: video journal (e.g. JOVE), interactive journals,

·         Enhanced Media



o   Dnatube

·         Interactive 3D Models

o   Why 3d models in papers?

§  3D models can convey spatial context through interaction that no number of static figures can equal. Eg this example in Nature  

o   What tools should I use?

§  Adobe Acrobat X enables import of 3D models and data

§  Creating 3D data visualizations: Octave, SciPyLab, R


·         Citizen Scholarship

What is Citizen Scholarship?
Citizen Scholarship is a way to involve the power of many minds to solve anything from grand-challenge science to understanding the nuances of changing culture.  Everyone can be part of addressing challenges, solving problems, finding solutions.  It can be applied to a wide variety of fields. It encourages everyone to engage in the scholarly processes.

How to get started?
There are projects that count on citizen involvement. Here are four:

    Get involved!


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