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June 29, 2007

The Noble Amateur?

Not to be mean or to pile on (because really, law school has left me with maybe 5-10 minutes this year to both read and care about Michael Gorman's controversies), but I wonder if the fondly-thought-of former Prez of ALA has 1) heard about this book and 2) started fuming that he hadn't written it himself ...

I am curious enough about it to consider buying it, if only to see how the author sustains a 200+ page critique of Web 2.0. First though, I may do a Technorati search -- see what the blogosphere is saying about the book. ;> (yes, it's a lame joke ...)

June 26, 2007

Bits of activism

1) Gosh, it's quiet ...

Any libraries or librarians out there participating in the Internet Day of Silence? More info here. Short version: the Copyright Royalty Board has set rates for webcasting of music that many feel will stagger commercial webcasters and beggar small, non-profit webcasters (think of the web-based streaming and archived audio of your favourite college radio station) into shutting down entirely.

These teeming hordes request that you call your representatives and ask for a reprieve, via the Internet Radio Equality Act ...

2) Contact your senators via a free fax regarding REAL ID

The very short version: Congress debated having a national ID system. Many people take issue with the particular version that was passed in 2005, called The Real ID Act. Since then, a number of states have passed legislation rejecting REAL ID implementation. Now, there is a REAL ID provision in the current immigration bill.

EFF has quite a bit about it, and wants you to make a call ... but it's hard to get through because of all of the calls being left regarding copyright rates for music on the Internet (see above) -- but some activists have put together a website to send free faxes to your reps. So, if you're interested in this sort of thing ... pass it along.

June 25, 2007

"Hollywood Librarian" premiere

It sounds very glamorous and fun...

June 22, 2007

Broadcast treaty dying?

According to Ars Technica:

Delegates from around the world have been meeting this week at WIPO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland for their second (and supposedly last) round of consultations on the treaty since last year's General Assembly meeting. The plan was to hold two sessions in order to iron out differences between countries and then proceed to a Diplomatic Conference late in 2007 if consensus could be reached. But consensus was nowhere in sight, and negotiations now appear to be at an end. There will be no treaty.

The Broadcast Treaty was an attempt to give global broadcasters the tools they needed to stop the theft of their signals, but initial versions of the treaty (which has been under discussion for a decade) adopted a controversial "rights-based" approach. Under a rights-based treaty, broadcasters would receive new intellectual property rights over their signals, and consumer advocates worried that this could put an end to some things currently allowed under "fair use." Even the US Senate had reservations about the plan.

And sighs of relief are heard throughout CopyFight Land ...

June 20, 2007

Rex Libris on the big screen

Woo hoo!

Warner Bros. Pictures has hired Mark Burton to pen the bigscreen adaptation of James Turner's comicbook "Rex Libris," about an everyday guy who becomes part of a secret sect of librarians who battle forces of darkness in chasing down overdue or stolen books.


Story revolves around head librarian Rex Libris, who must protect the world's knowledge and most dangerous secrets from falling into the wrong hands, such as when a squad of goons storm the library and tamper with the Dewey Decimal System by removing a certain card from the catalog. The library's walls collapse and a secret stack of books is revealed.

In their global exploits, Rex and the other librarians are aided by an ancient god living beneath the library. They're also armed with an impressive array of high-tech weapons, not to mention their intellects.

Sweet ... I wonder if Frances Sternhagen can play Circe ... that'll rock.

June 19, 2007

Larry Lessig leaving the copysphere?

It's true ... from his own keyboard:

The bottom line: I have decided to shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of issues. Why and what are explained in the extended entry below.


After talking about the basic inability of our political system to reckon the truth about global warming, Gore observed that this was really just part of a much bigger problem. That the real problem here was (what I will call a “corruption” of) the political process. That our government can’t understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding.


I don’t mean corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean “corruption” in the sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it can’t even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right. Politicians are starved for the resources concentrated interests can provide. In the US, listening to money is the only way to secure reelection. And so an economy of influence bends public policy away from sense, always to dollars.


Third, in general, I will no longer be lecturing about IP (whether as in TCP/IP or IPR) issues. No doubt there will be exceptions. In particular, I have a few (though because this decision has been in the works for months, very few) obligations through the balance of the year. There will be others in the future too. But in general, unless there are very strong reasons, I will not be accepting invitations to talk about the issues that have defined my work for the past decade.

Instead, as soon as I can locate some necessary technical help, I will be moving every presentation I have made (that I can) to a Mixter site (see, e.g., ccMixter) where others can freely download and remix what I’ve done, and use it however they like. I will continue to work to get all my books licensed freely. And I am currently finishing one last book about these issues that I hope will make at least some new contributions.

Fourth, [my blog] will change too. My focus here will shift. That will make some of you unhappy. I’m sorry for that. The blog is CC-BY licensed. You’re free to fork and continue the (almost) exclusively IP-related conversation. But I will continue that conversation only rarely. New issues will appear here instead.

Honestly ... I think it bites. I think the forces of balanced copyright and free culture and unencumbered access to knowledge and content still need Larry Lessig. He wrote about having devoted nearly a decade to issues of IP and tech -- about the "important progress on [these] issues" and how others may push on as well or better than him. Which is probably true and well and good -- but it's still disappointing. Some fights are over the long haul. Some fights outlive their original proponents (literally) and generations beyond.

Prof. Lessig has to follow his own heart and mind, of course and I wish him nothing but well. And given his standing as a legal scholar, I'm sure I'll continue to track him, his work and his ideas. But forgive me for regretting, at least for a little bit, the loss of such a prominent voice in the IP and tech worlds.

Let's see who will next hold the bully pulpit for the information commons ...

June 09, 2007

Dr. Evil stole my mojo! - Day 5 at SLA2007


The last day of conference for me was very nice and very interesting ... but I could not bear to take notes. It was just painful. Not that I didn't get a lot out of the sessions ... okay, maybe I didn't get a lot out of the sessions. But I got some things.

News Research 101 - 7 am(?!!!?!)
It was, so some extent, a perfectly titled class - it covered a lot of what I've heard at other conferences on how to market the news library within an organization, how to use computer-aided reporting tools to contribute to complicated investigative pieces and initiative possibly new stories (or new angles on stories). The meat of those presentations came in how those particular procedures and tools were used at specific libraries and for specific stories. The most interesting presentation for me was on taking the tracking/billing forms, using a web-form/online tool to enter them with added fields for more information and basically creating a KnowledgeBase of active and inactive questions (which would allow multiple researchers to work on the same problem while not going over the same areas [thus saving time and money]).

Closing General Session with Scott Adams - 9 - 10:30 am
Not a huge Dilbert fan, especially after finding User Friendly, so I skipped. Found a wonderful diner nearby (Sam's #3 on 15th and Curtis if you're in downtown Denver) and tried to follow along with muted CNN (you would think that the graphics would help, but not so much). Heard later that Mr. Adams was pretty funny, but I really appreciated my French/Texas toast.

Social Networking Systems - 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Interesting session. Unfortunately, I missed most of what G. Kim Dority had to say about using LinkedIn but she did give a handout with a list of resources, such as columns she's written on the subject that I look forward to catching up on. Regina Avila of the Denver Post gave a very intriguing presentation on using sites like MySpace and Facebook to search for potential contacts/subjects of news stories. And Joe Murphy, also at the Denver Post, talked about multiple identities online and the efforts towards identity systems (one login to rule them all), such as OpenID. Joe's an IT guy who hasn't done many presentations, but he did a pretty good job - at the outset of his presentation, I would say that he had mashed up the presenting styles of Jessamyn West (used HTML instead of a PP-type app/slide show) and Larry Lessig (dark background, easy-to-read typeface with simple animation, and only a few words per "slide" for the first half of the presentation). Tres cool, it was.

I should mention that I have been thinking about some of the things presented in this session, before I arrived and now definitely after I heard it. There may be future posts about this ...
Archiving Systems - 1:30 - 3 pm A very nice presentation by 2 news librarians at U.S. News and World Report, on how they manage to convert their new CMS system to also archive and do other things ... but I was mentally checking out at that point. I'm sorry I don't have more to say about this.

Later that day: I went to a baseball game. It was a lark, mostly because of the company but I also enjoyed the game -- and the hot dog -- and the garlic fries. Mmmm, garlic fries. Oh, and Cracker Jack, too!

At the News Division Suite later, there were worries about midwestern storms (and high winds in Denver) delaying flights, and I spoke at length to one of the candidates for President of SLA. Gabbed and gushed with the folk until I tottled off to bed.

It was a very good conference. Next year is in Seattle! Woo hoo!! I may need to take a week and a half off for that one ...

June 06, 2007

Policy Geekery Day at SLA2007 - Day 4

I slept! Maybe 4 hours! Perhaps more! Joy!

SLA Public Policy Update

Issues -
Govt libraries closures: EPA, NTHSA reading room in DC and military libraries
Net neutrality
Internet governance
Orphan works and fair use

Amicus briefs SLA has contributed:
Grokster a huge success for libraries?
Fair Use
Net neutrality - Non-discrimination Act of 2006
WSIS and Internet Governance Forum - Janice LaChance was/is a member of the U.S. delegation

Broadcast flag - active on this front
CRS - SLA has sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi to make CRS Reports available (electronically) to the public

Q: has there been efforts to send librarians & info pros to Iraq? Janice - unfortunately, it's very hard and especially dangerous right now, but it's something to consider and work on as part of a dedicated rebuilding and recovery program.

Q: can we develop an info clearinghouse for now about current and future efforts in Iraq? That's a great idea ... Doug will talk to the suggesters

Q: can SLA help provide free/low-cost access to needed databases for Iraqi libraries? That is a great idea - will start talking w/ some vendors

EPA libraries update
Michael Flynn, Deputy Director, Office of Information Analysis and Access, EPA
"EPA libraries are alive and well and we intend to keep them that way for a long time to come ..."
Pressure to make material easily accessible
What we're doing, what we're not:
What we're doing -
Making things electronically available
Have doubled the number of documents that are digital/electronic
Closure of regional libraries to walk-in traffic; but there are still library services, such as document delivery, ILL, etc.

Responses to questions and concerns
What's true, what's false
"We are making no more changes in our library system while we're looking at our plan forward ..."
Document - Fiscal year 07 plan - will be revisited internally and then get input from important stakeholders
"We are working hard on the people's side ..."
A new manager(?) for EPA regional libraries - Debbie Balsamo
Digitization - 3rd party review of procedures and current practices
We are still developing a process for getting communication and input - may be setting up an advisory committee; also looking to get more involved in the federal community
Web presence - not a lot up now, but will be updating
"We are committed to improving access ..."

Woo hoo! - No plans to preclude Google caching/harvesting by the Internet Archive
EPA will be exhibiting at ALA, but won't be participating any session - plans to have a separate meeting in July to discuss what's going on at the EPA libraries

Copyright in the 21st Century
Moderator - Georgia Higley, Library of Congress
Speaker - Bill Burger, Copyright Clearance Center

Shifting paradigms - Internet use, content creation, technological and business innovation, the one-to-many model has broken down, content/software inextricably linked into tools of knowledge

Info about CCC

Copyright - U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 8
Statute of Anne - first copyright law in the world - 1710
"System to protect original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced ..."
Elements: creativity, fixation (regardless of distribution), exclusive rights to bundle of publishing/performance activities, duration
Protects literary works, pictures, musical works, dramatic works, choreographic and pantomines, etc.

With certain exceptions, same rules apply to both digital and analog content

Major (c) cases for special libraries:
Lowry's Reports v. Legg Mason
American Geographical Union v. Texaco
Basic Books v. Kinko's

Academia generally has broader fair use rights and will use them more extensively, but corporations do have fair use rights, as well ...

Copyright is about the law AND about:
Social policy and the public interest
Social norms and behaviour
Technology and innovation
Business models and economic incentives
Political and economic interests

Content comes in many new formats: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia of Life (high quality info for free)
Technology makes the sharing easy: ex - ShareThis
Google's business depends on fair use
The Age of Participation - Over 70 mil blogs have been created btw. Mar 2003 and Mar 2007, numerous tools to integrate
Why do people create? For the cheddah' ... "No man but a blockhead has ever wrote except for money" - Samuel Johnson
A clash of cultures: Exh. A - YouTube
Often, many new web apps tend to infringe on the rights of content owners
Wolfgang's Vault - archive of Bill Graham's concert productions - recordings and ephemera - should artists care about the distribution of their concerts? (some have and sued, some haven't appeared to care)
Rise of alternatives - Creative Commons
Long Tail

The balance of power is shifting away from content owners/disseminators to content users - distribution of content has become more efficient over time

Cool "digital ethnography" video by Michael Wesch shown (prof. of anthropology)

What lies ahead
Info-rich environment
Living documents, not static ones
Participation and collaboration

Collaboration and copyright in the corp.
Corporate spending on content is significant
Content consumption is high
Content sharing is critical to collaboration

There is a huge copyright challenge

Info on rightsphere
Checking rights is a speedbump
Most employees want to do the right thing

More on rightsphere

Is DRM dead? Some people say ...

June 05, 2007

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep ... SLA2007 Day 3

For some reason, I have been unable to sleep a full 6-8 here in Denver. It may be a touch of altitude sickness, it might be the sterility of my hotel room, it could be angst. But I hadn't slept well, and I started really feeling it on Monday. I was dazed, confused and barely sensate. So most of what I got out of Monday was general impressions.

The biggest impression -- Change, change and change. There is change going on and be prepared to change with it ... or you may end up begging for change. (Okay, that last part wasn't said, but given the extreme impetus for change, it's not a completely ludicrous conclusion).

Synergy Session: 3 superstars of the library/info industry on a couch, riffing on previously submitted questions: Stephen Abram, Eugenie Prime and Clifford Lynch

The gist of the Conversation - where we are as a profession and where we're headed

One of many money quotes (this one from Cliff): the Google experience isn't necessarily that you'll get everything on the Internet, it's that what you want/need, the thing that will satisfy your query, is only one more click away (unlike the library experience, where you have to go to a shelf, or ask a librarian or wait for ILL, etc.).

Eugenie talked about leadership and being willing to 1) question one's own paradigms in terms of service, tools, etc. and 2) go to where your bosses are and talk up the value of your library/information professions, because your bosses aren't coming to SLA - take the message to them.

Stephen talked about learning and play, among many other things. Mentioned second life, talked about the need to take game play and recreation and non-traditional learning/interactivity to stay on top of the technology wave.

You can get more details/impressions of this session here and here.

Future of News Librarians: Radical changes, proactive research necessary to keep news libraries functioning and intregral to newsrooms.

Yes, I'm being extremely reductive. I was flagging in a big way. And I was trying to grok the context - newspapers are feeling the heat and pressure is building for news libraries (and thus news librarians). Lots of buyouts are going on, and major restructurings of editorial staffs are occurring. So yeah ... change, change, change.

The Denver Post tour was lovely. At a later point, I'll create a Flickr set and post the URL to the blog. The News Division silent auction was raucous as always, and I happily staggered home with my Raleigh News and Observer mini-fan, with a $5 bid (thanks, Denise!).

June 04, 2007

Nostalgia time at SLA2007

I should re-post what I wrote last year about SLA's Info-EXPO to this blog at some point. But Jill Hurst-Wahl was kind enough to re-post my minor epiphany at the SLA Blog. Thank you, Jill ...

June 03, 2007

Day 2 at SLA2007

I feel like I'm slowly easing my way back into the library world. It's going pretty well. But for the first time since I've started attending SLA annual, I missed 1) the Exec. Board meeting and 2) the raffle and ribbon cutting for the exhibit hall (Info-Expo in these parts).

The Info-Expo is pretty interesting, as always. Not nearly as big as ALA's exhibit hall, but then that means it's more managable. And various big vendors have various ways of enticing users -- Dow Jones/Factiva hired two handwriting analysts to read our scribbles and discern our personalities. A bit like astrology, and I'm not sure how much the guy was actually reading from my handwriting versus my appearance and mannerisms, but he was very sweet and gave me an ego boost.

This year, I did a 4-hour Continuing Ed on copyright, led by the Copyright Clearance Center. Shamefully, I ducked out in the middle of it and missed the interesting panel discussion on DRM, but I did come back at the end to hear about international copyright. Per my wont, I ended up throwing in a molotov cocktail of a question at the very end, but it was apparently appreciated. And I have a nice little meta-outline frame for when I take Copyright Law (hopefully this fall)

And then there was the highlight(s) of the day, and why I ditched a session I paid around $250 (or was it $300) out of pocket -- Al Gore was in the house.

First, there was a 45-minute signing, which was very rapid. Me and 549 of my close personal friends got to say hi ...


No personalization, one book only, no posing with the former VP. I did manage to give him a hello from someone who travels in his circle, so he did pick up his ears a bit.

Later, Gore was the keynote speaker for tonight's General Session (the other keynoter will be Scott Adams, creator of "Dilbert"). I took some semi-basic notes ... as has been mentioned in many other forums, he has considerably loosened up in public since 2000. He doesn't have Clinton's famed charisma but he is definitely no robot.

Gore speech

Warm thanks to Janice LaChance and Rebecca Vargha.
He introduced himself as the "former next president of the United States." People laughed. He said, "It's not funny." Someone yelled "2008!" He wagged his finger. People laughed harder.

He told a story about the culture shock of going from VP to just an average Joe - taking off his shoes at the airport, not being part of a motorcade, going to chain restaurants

General impression -
Quite funny -- very much into self-deprecation
More political than I thought (and if you think corporate librarians are significantly more conservative than the ALA crowd ... well, you wouldn't be able to tell from some of the reactions and applause lines for this crowd)

Libraries and librarians are important
New book, Assault on Reason - about the role info should play in the "decisions we make together"
Grateful for our willingness to speak out on info policy issues
We face a challenge not only in keeping up with the info explosion, but also in describing who we are and what we do to others - AG believes we're making headway
We're being asked to take on more complex tasks, but there is also 'a great deal of misunderstanding on the part of some who think that the role of info pros is diminished, even though it's increasing dramatically'
Illustration of that - the closing of EPA libraries
AG told EPA librarians - God Bless you for hanging in there ...
Digitization alone is not a solution
Good news: most orgs who are in a competitive environment understand that the ability to hire the best info pros and have the best strategy for [dealing] with information is ... one of the most important strategies ...
The info society is a reality - info is a key strategic resource now, just as oil was the key strategic resource in the last century
Analogy - the oil industry is lacking the highly developed, experienced workers to extract oil from more difficult reserves; the info industry needs highly developed, experienced info pros to "characterize" information and help find what's relevant quickly and effectively
Info pros are now more important - the sheer amount of info can be/is a detriment to the goal of speedily finding relevant info
Changing technology is a big challenge, but a lot of the basic skills remain the same.
One thing that is different - the challenge of the climate crisis - unlike anything we've faced thus far
Our democracy is faced with the challenge of deriving the essential meaning from all of the technical/scientific information out there

What does the decision to go to war against Iraq have in common with the climate crisis? In both situations, there is voluminous info out there indicating that the best direction was the opposite of the strategies we chose to pursue

Printing technology led to the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment - the world changed when the libraries weren't the province of the wealthiest feudal families ... or exclusively under the control of the church

The dominant info medium of today is TV -- TV is not in and of itself bad, but TV has a different architecture than print - print is more multidirectional than TV
New challenger to TV - the Internet - but it's not yet strong enough to overturn the dominance of TV

Please continue to help our country pursue strong info policy - such as ensuring net neutrality

In response to questions:

Apparently he's involved with something called "The Climate Project" which teaches others how to make persuasive presentations on climate change/crisis, in the model of his slide show from "An Inconvenient Truth". We all need to help bring about change.

He agrees that a lot of "green" activities have middle-class (or higher) price tags, and that improving mass transit is also key

Someone asked THE QUESTION he's getting at every forum now - will he run in 2008? From my recollection, it's a qualified no. He may get back into politics. At one point, he said, "I WANT TO BE PRESIDENT!" He seemed to let his guard down and there were hints of anger and frustration in his voice -- basically, he seems to be doing more good on the outside, rallying the public and framing the message, than he believes that he would do if he were to campaign for the next 500 days

Now, I'm off to the News Division suite. Fun times.

June 02, 2007


I'm here in Denver and 2007 SLA Annual has started. Very low-key start. Tomorrow should be hopping.

So far, I've seen a bear ...Colorado Convention Center bear sculpture.

And I went to a wonderful bookstore. Tattered Cover is awesome in so many ways. While the LoDo location was only 2 stories, the breadth and depth of material there reminded me of Powell's Books as well as the sweet, mellow vibe there. But I also had to make a pilgrimage to TC for another reason - TC is a milestone in 1st Amendment law and privacy rights.

So I gushed (to a very gracious young woman at the info desk) and chilled and perused and spent way too much money for someone living on loans and grants, but I think it was worth it. Good start to what should be a good trip.