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Crawford on PLoS: I Love You, Man!

The latest Cites and Insights is a delight, as always, but Walt’s comments about the Public Library of Science rocked my world.

After we added a record for PLoS to LII, a reader wrote to complain that our record description, pulled straight from the site, didn’t match the actual content on the site, which to date is skimpy. Point very well taken, and record reworded.

The hype for the PLoS–certainly a nice venture–came close to another scantily-clad emperor, the International Children’s Digital Library, which a year ago was trumpeted in newspapers and other media. It has improved since then–it’s not bad–but at the time, this “global” resource featured a demanding Java-based interface rivaling the geekiest Sourceforge contributions in arcane and child-unfriendly design. The site now features a “basic” version, which is what it should have started with in the first place, and it now has some content–over 300 digital books.

Still, for every overblown product of some fevered flack’s imagination, we get 30 more good sites, often from the most unlikely places: from mutual fund calculators emerging from a corner office buried in the SEC to tiramisu recipes from an ad exec who knows from mascarpone.

Thank you to the everyday Santas out there, in government program offices and nonprofits and wannabe startups and even the occasional dedicated and surprisingly good hobbyist sites… you also rock my world.

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