I really never thought that I would turn into someone who gave “pep rally” type talks, but I was asked to come to the Somerville Public Library and give a short, inspirational talk to their friends group at their annual appreciation day and was told I could talk about whatever I wanted. As you may have realized by now, this makes my little activist heart grow three sizes and inspires good work (in my opinion). This is the talk I gave and I am very happy with it. The library posted this summary of the talk (there’s no audio/video other than some blurry photos) which I think is pretty right on.
Archive for the 'access' Category
I was at the Lake Superior Libraries Symposium last week talking about the digital divide. The theme was “bridges” which was perfect because “librarians bridging the digital divide” is the subtitle of my book, now three years old. The talk was a variation of the talk I gave in Michigan, plus it had slides. You can check it out here: Bridging the Digital Divide. I had a wonderful time in Duluth and have to thank the organizers for putting on a really excellent one-day symposium.
This image, though it looks super old timey, is actually from late 2012 and is what it look like: two guys laying cable through the woods using draft horses. It’s a very dramatic image just because of the colors but I think it also shakes people up a little “Wow, there really are places in the US that aren’t there yet….” I talked a bit about the culture of learning new things and about our roles as not just teachers but emulators of good technology practices.
And it was timely because I’ve spent this week enmeshed in terrible, confusing, and poorly designed websites as a result of a job shift. I’ll talk about this more in a separate post, but in an effort to get more librarianing in my life, I’ve moved on from MetaFilter and taken a small job at the Internet Archive working for Open Library. This involved a shift in health insurance and possibly some unemployment payments (going from full-time to part-time). And, since this sort of thing is all done digitally nowadays I’ve gotten to experience first hand what it’s like to feel beaten down by technology when you feel like your money or your livelihood is dependent on it.
I am fine, nothing is wrong with me, I have health care and am still well-paid, but the creeping dread that came over me when I was worried “Did I fill this out correctly?” “What does that phrase mean?” “Why isn’t this Submit button working?” and the inability to get timely help or support via the website (I seemed to always start these processes 20 minutes after the phone support ended for the day) just made me frustrated with our culture of bad technology and poor user interfaces and made me sad for people less savvy than me having to navigate these waters and being worried that maybe the problem was them. As always, we have so far to go.
Karen Coyle has done an excellent write up of this so I will refer you there.
The full impact of this ruling is impossible (for me) to predict, but there are many among us who are breathing a great sigh of relief today. This opens the door for us to rethink digital scholarship based on materials produced before information was in digital form.
Folks can read the actual ruling (pdf) if they’d like. This is a very big deal. Thanks to folks who worked so hard on getting us to this place. I’ll add a few links here as they come in.
- Kenneth Crews, Columbia Copyright Advisory Office: “This ruling joins court decisions about HathiTrust and electronic reserves in demonstrating that even extensive digitization can be within fair use where the social benefits are strong and the harm to rightsholders is constrained. There will be more to come as we transition into a new era of copyright, technology, and even reading.”
- Brandon Butler, ARL Policy Notes blog; “The decision is a victory not only for transformative, non-consumptive search, but also for serving “traditionally underserved” libraries and their users, including disabled patrons.”
- Paul Alan Levy: “This ruling provides a road map that allows any other entity to follow in Google’s path.”
- Timothy Lee, Washington Post: “Many innovative media technologies involve aggregating or indexing copyrighted content. Today’s ruling is the clearest statement yet that such projects fall on the right side of the fair use line.”
- Mike Masnick at Techdirt: “It all comes together in making a very strong argument that Google’s book scanning promotes the progress of the arts and sciences just like copyright is supposed to do.”
- InfoDocket also has an updating list of links to discussion of the decision.
A friend pointed me to an article about educating novice users about technology: Joining the Surveillance Society? New Internet Users in an Age of Tracking (full article PDF). The article calls them “marginal users” which is a term I hadn’t heard before but it seems apt. While I don’t agree with every aspect of the article, the thesis is strong and worth exploring. Only some of the classes mentioned are library classes.
Recent digital inclusion policies that aim to increase digital literacy of new Internet and computer users, promote civic engagement, and improve economic development do not currently address the privacy needs of new users. This paper presents an in-depth look at surveillance and privacy problems faced by individuals who turn to digital literacy organizations for training and Internet access, including low income individuals, people of color, immigrants, the elderly, and non-English speakers. These individuals are coming online without adequate skills, know-how, and social support to confront digitally enabled government surveillance and corporate intrusions of personal privacy.
Of particular note in the article
- Competency of people doing the instructing: “Some staff members revealed that they did not know what cookies are”
- Bias of the tools being used: “A study conducted at Harvard University showed how search engine queries for “African American sounding” names yield advertisements for criminal background checks. Searches for “Caucasian sounding” names do not.”
- Appropriateness of tasks to the students: “The (computer training) center required its students to send an e-mail to any city agency or official using the agency’s or official’s website. Staff members said that a majority of their students refrained from this exercise, due to anxiety over being contacted or targeted by government.”
- Needs exceed offerings: “none of the organizations reported offering privacy education to beginning learners. (The library did offer one-off sessions for privacy and safety…) … issues related to information sharing arose in an ad hoc manner in every class observed.”
Two things to mention here
1. I finally saw Desk Set. I have no idea how I not only managed not to see it before but also how I even missed the theme which is whether computers will ever really effectively (and cost-effectively) be able to do our jobs.
2. ALA is going on right now and I’m not there. Each year there is usually some sort of “Librarians, they are really great!” press release around this time which often winds up in my various mailboxes by various sources. This year it’s this one: APNewsBreak: Librarians to help with health law. Which, hey great, librarians they’re still there doing their jobs. Good for them. The thing that is so weird about this, to me, is it’s basically implying though not outright stating that librarians will be doing this work 1. officially and 2. as part of some nationwide project. Neither is true as near as I can tell. I asked over at ALA Think Tank for people to give me an update on what was happening at ALA (at this program) which further confused me.
The only real fact we got from that article is that OCLC got an IMLS grant to create training materials to help librarians do this. Today I got this press release from Meredith (thank you!) that seems to say that OCLC got $286,000 from IMLS to create training content on WebJunction to help libraries help patrons with the new heath care law. And then, amusingly as I was driving from Massachusetts to Vermont trying to find a radio station, I heard some right wing talk show radio host who was MAD that librarians were going to have a part in the “indoctrination” by the “regime” that was doing the health care stuff. Sheesh.
In summary: librarians are still doing their jobs. OCLC/WebJunction are getting money to (maybe) help us to do them, lots of people get the wrong idea about libraries’ role in helping the people who have been digitally divided.
1. Supreme Court KIRTSAENG v WILEY decision came down, supporting first sale doctrine even for copyrighted works made abroad. This is good news for Team Library. Here’s more analysis from ACRL that declares it “a total victory for libraries”
2. Now that we’ve gotten a nice little bump from the We the People petition to increase the public’s access to the results of publicly funded science research, let’s keep pushing for more access to (and funding for) government information.
More explanation over at FreeGovInfo.
If you paid for it, you should be able to read it. For publicly financed science research, the Obama administration agrees.
I’m aware that this decision wasn’t just because of this We The People petition (which I signed) but it’s nice to think that the petition has an effect. Read the entire memorandum here (pdf) and here is the short post on the White House blog about it. The Association for American Publishers is in favor of this move, in contrast to their strongly worded opposition to the FASTR Act, a bill endorsed by many library associations. Read more about the Open Access to Research movement.
This is yet another “big deal” open access move in what is starting to look like The Year of Open Access.
There has been a lot of great writing about copyright and access to our cultural and intellectual history in the weeks since Aaron Swartz’s death. I have been retreading some of my old favorite haunts to see if there was stuff I didn’t know about the status of access to online information especially in the public domain (pre-1923 in the US) era.
I talk like a broken record about how I think the best thing that libraries can do, academic libraries in particular, is to make sure that their public domain content is as freely accessible as possible. This is an affirmative decision that Cornell University made in 2009 and I think it was the right decision at the right time and that more libraries should do this. Some backstory on this.
- Cornell Press release announcing this decision
- Librarian and Policy Advisor Peter Hirtle’s article for Research Library Issues about this decision, Removing All Restrictions: Cornell’s New Policy on Use of Public Domain Reproductions, and the thinking that went into it.
- Cornell’s 70,000 items accessible via the Internet Archive
- Cornell’s guidelines for use of these materials
So, if I wanted to share an image from a book that Cornell has made available, I have to check the guidelines link above and then I can link to the image, you can go see it and then you can link to the image and do whatever you want with it, including sell it. This is public domain. The time and money that went into making a digital copy of this image have been borne by the Internet Archive and Cornell University. The rights page on the item itself (which I can download in a variety of formats) is clear and easy to understand.
Compare and contrast JSTOR. Now let me be clear, I am aware that JSTOR is a (non-profit) business and Cornell is a university and I am not saying that JSTOR should just make all of their public domain things free for everyone (though that would be nice), I am just outlining the differences as I see them in accessing content there. I had heard that there were a lot of journals on JSTOR that were freely available even to unaffiliated people like myself. I decided to go looking for them. I found two different programs, the Register and Read program (where registered users can access a certain number of JSTOR documents for free) and the Early Journal Content program. There’s no front door, that I saw, to the EJC program you have to search JSTOR first and then limit your search to “only content I can access” Not super-intuitive, but okay. And I’m not trying to be a pill, but doing a search on the about.jstor.org site for “public domain” gets you zero results though the same is true when searching for “early journal content” and also for “librarian.” Actually, I get the same results when I search their site for JSTOR. Something is broken, I have written them an email. [update: they fixed it!]
So I go to JSTOR and do a similar search, looking for only “content I can access” and pick up the first thing that’s pre-1923 which is an article about Aboriginal fire making from American Anthropologist in 1890. I click through and agree to the Terms of Service which is almost 9000 words long. Only the last 260 words really apply to EJC. Basically I’ve agreed to use it non-commercially (librarian.net accepts no advertising, I an in the clear) and not scrape their content with bots or other devices. I’ve also seemingly acquiesced to credit them and to use the stable URL, though that doesn’t let me deep-link to the page with the image on it, so I’ve crossed my fingers and deep-linked anyhow. I’m still not sure what I would do, contact JSTOR I guess, if I wanted to use this document in a for-profit project. Being curious, I poked around to see if I could find this public domain document elsewhere and sure enough, I could.
- Wiley, the original publisher has the article available with no JSTOR preconditions.
- Google Books has it both available and not-available depending how you look for it. Readable online, downloadable if you really fish around for it. Google has nearly identical language to JSTOR: use this non-commercially, don’t scrape content or use bots, leave Google’s watermark intact. Hathi Trust has a discovery layer for this material as well and they provide this concise explanation of how “public domain, Google digitized” is different from the public domain. Seventeen different types of rights, whoo-wee!
- Worldcat shows me how to get this from a participating library
- The Internet Archive has a copy, though it was a little tough to find, and it’s an OCRed version of the Google Books document that’s been ported to their interface, though this one says NO_KNOWN_COPYRIGHT (all caps not mine).
At that point, I quit looking. I found a copy that was free to use. This, however, meant that I had to be good at searching, quite persistent and not willing to take “Maybe” as an answer to “Can I use this content?” I know that when I was writing my book my publishers would not have taken maybe for an answer, they were not even that thrilled to take Wikimedia Commons’ public domain assertions.
As librarians, I feel we have to be prepared to find content that is freely usable for our patrons, not just content that is mostly freely usable or content where people are unlikely to come after you. As much as I’m personally okay being a test case for some sort of “Yeah I didn’t read all 9000 words on the JSTOR terms and conditions, please feel free to take me to jail” case, realistically that will not happen. Realistically the real threat of jail is scary and terrible and expensive. Realistically people bend and decide it’s not so bad because they think it’s the best they can do. I think we can probably do better than that.
My thoughts are with the folks struggling with power outages and Sandy’s destruction. I left NYC on Sunday morning after attending the In Re Books conference given by New York Law School. I was on the Libraries panel. I learned a great deal about the current state of digital content and the legal structure supporting and/or inhibiting it and got to listen to a lot of very bright people speak. I was honored to be on a panel with author Caleb Crain, Doron Weber from the Sloan Foundation, and Jonathan Band who does technology law and policy work, all well-moderated by June Besek. I did what I always dread other people would do: prepared too much information for a twelve-minute slot. Fortunately I went last and managed to make it work okay but decided to put the full essay here. Here is my short piece which was intended as a cautionary side note to the idea of a digital public library, an idea I am generally in favor of. Title, swiped from a Cory Doctorow article on boingboing.
So I like the Olympics. Not like I wait for it all year, but I enjoy the spectacle, fresh-faced athletes, international competition, and an excuse to watch TV with friends. I also enjoy, from a nerd perspective, trivia in the making such as this being the first year that all attending countries have had female athletes on their teams or wondering what Muslim athletes are doing during Ramadan. I’m also fascinated by what I can and can’t see Olympicswise, versus my friends in other countries. Anyone who wants to watch stuff the normal way will have no problem though I do suggest the Easy Read version of the London 2012 site because it’s more straightforward and has less cruft.
So if you’ve been following along, you know that there was a big social media aspect to the opening ceremonies, which had some live tweeting which was already ancient in internet-time by the time the show was broadcast in the US. There was also some controversy concerning some parts of the opening ceremony that were edited out of the US broadcast. I have been sitting at home healing from a sprained ankle so I have been a little more immersed in the meta-story than I might be otherwise.
Anyhow, in my sometimes-role as the internet’s librarian, the question I’ve been seeing a lot is “How do I watch an Olympic thing when I can’t because of $_REASONS?” Now that reason may be because you’re in the US and so you can’t stream the BBC, or because you’re in an African country and don’t have cable, or in the US and allergic to Bob Costas.
It’s not super clear how to do some of these things, and less clear how much end-running these things is problematically extralegal. I will not be addressing the second part, you can consult your own moral compass for that. In any case, I’ve made a little guide which I’ll be updating which help answer some of these questions. The BBC even made two versions of their Opening Ceremonies coverage available, one with the BBC commentary and one without. For people who only saw the goofy NBC version of the ceremony, this English guide to the ceremony (pdf) may be helpful as well as this songlist. Note: I’m linking to MetaFilter, my employer, both because I feel like this sort of international social discussion can be helpful during times like this and because I feel that the information has been the most helpful to me personally. I have no other affiliations with the things I linked to. If there are other things you’ve found, please drop them in the comments.
Also notably: I haven’t said anything about bit torrent because I have not-that-fast broadband and I don’t use it much, but most recorded Olympic events are available for download from the usual places.
Jessamyn’s Guide on How to Watch the Olympics
A few relevant Ask MetaFilter threads
- Get someone with a UK VPN to let you borrow it and watch BBC coverage via YouTube(what is a VPN? nerdy VPN details)
- Pay money for a good UK VPN [suggested: what's on the box, unblock-us.com, VyperVPN]
- BBC Player or Expat Shield if you have a PC , TunnelBear if you have a Mac
- I was watching Olympics on BBC1 earlier via this link
- YouTube’s Olympic coverage is free for Asia/Africa, best place to start if you have the UK VPN working
- In the US, use a friend’s cable account login and watch NBC online
- this Deadspin thread seems to have ongoing new links in the comments, notably [www.vipbox.tv] which seems to work
And if you’ve just had it already? This browser plugin might be for you.
Can’t keep up? Consider this IFTTT recipe (What is IFTTT?)
Just the facts? The cross-linked medal table at Wikipedia should help. Someone is doing a bang-up job writing stubs for many of the atheletes.