Banned Books Week is This Week

And while I bitch and complain about the name “Banned Books Weekevery year [and the BBW acronym just continues to amuse] and think that “Free People Read Freely ®” is some sort of Orwellian catchphrase, there are some people doing some nifty things for BBW on the web. I’m not sure what happened to the logo thing that ALA was doing last year, I sort of liked it. The Office of Intellectual Freedom blog entry has some of the best information about how ALA is moving in to social spaces to discuss and promote BBW.

Feel free to include other projects in the comments here, this is just a few links I enjoyed and thought merited further attention.

Where is my jetpack and/or fast internet?

People in Nova Scotia were familiar with the issues I raised about the left-behindness of those still using dial-up. If you were on dial-up five years ago, or even two years ago, you could hope that some websites were still designed for low-bandwidth users. Now with the advent of AJAX as a way to increase responsiveness of websites, there is more code loading each time we visit a “responsive” page. Awesome for me in broadband-land, bad for my patrons up the road in dial-up town. So, what happened? How did we get here? How come we ALL can get dial-up and can’t get broadband?

Well, the reaons vary but they come down to a few key points, one of the major ones being regulations. This editorial from the New York Times — The French Connections (reg. required, sorry) — contains some heavy-handed language, but also some key truths about what is different about getting everyone on dial-up versus getting everyone on broadband.

[W]e’re lagging in new applications of the Internet that depend on high speed. France leads the world in the number of subscribers to Internet TV; the United States isn’t even in the top 10.

What happened to America’s Internet lead? Bad policy. Specifically, the United States made the same mistake in Internet policy that California made in energy policy: it forgot — or was persuaded by special interests to ignore — the reality that sometimes you can’t have effective market competition without effective regulation.

You see, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace — but to get there you need to go through a narrow passageway, down your phone line or down your TV cable. And if the companies controlling these passageways can behave like the robber barons of yore, levying whatever tolls they like on those who pass by, commerce suffers.

America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen — they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue — but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.

I’ve mentioned it before but the ONLY reason that the schools and libraries of Vermont are mostly connected is because Howard Dean (with help from the Dept, of Libraries? I’m unclear on this part) made deals with the telephone companies and cable companies eager to move in to Vermont in a favorable regulatory environment and said “you want access, you wire our schools and libraries.” The question is, how to get this sort of attention for our rural populations now that the easy money and access has been taken? [thanks susan]

The Decoration of Houses – book shelving chapter

IN the days when furniture was defined as “that which may be carried about,” the natural bookcase was a chest with a strong lock. These chests, packed with precious manuscripts, followed the prince or noble from one castle to another, and were even carried after him into camp. Before the invention of printing, when twenty or thirty books formed an exceptionally large library, and many great personages were content with the possession of one volume, such ambulant bookcases were sufficient for the requirements of the most eager bibliophile.

I enjoyed Henry Petroski’s treatise on book shelving called The Book on the Book Shelf. I am also enjoying Edith Wharton’s 1897 chapter on a smilar topic. [thanks will!]

five talks in five days in two countries

So. I just got back from a weeklong trip that took me to Somerville, Nova Scotia and environs, and the Manchester/Hooksett New Hampshire area. You can see some photos. This is what I did there.

  • I went to a brown bag lunch with the Dalhousie students which I mentioned a few days ago. It was really a good time. It was the first brown bag lunch session of the year and there was a big group of first and second year students there, as well as a few faculty members. People had done their homework and had really interesting questions to ask me from many different facets of what I do. We had a nice talk.
  • I helped Ryan Deschamps kick off the Learning 2.0 program he is doing at Halifax Public Libraries. I gave a talk on Learning 2.0 called Smart Tiny Tech and hung around for some of the other activities. The Learning 2.0 program is such a fun and non-threatening way to get people really digging under the hood learning some technology topics, I love seeing it being rolled out.
  • I gave a talk at NSLA about Library 2.0 topics, a little more “big picture” and a little less specific. I like doing this talk because I can always take the general outline and add local 2.0 examples so it doesn’t look like all 2.0 development is at Ann Arbor District Library and a few other techie-seeming places. My favorite new find was the Natural Resources Library of Canada (Ottowa) and their links.
  • Sunday I came home to the states, but not quite back to Vermont. Today I went to the NHLA Everything You Always Wanted to Know About 2.0 workshop where I presented with Andrea and Lichen. I gave a talk about Flickr and and one about Open Source Software which was a modification of Eric Goldhagen’s open source talk that I linked to here (direct link to his ppt). Then we stuck around for the gadget session and the geek session where we actually got a significant amount of hands-on time with the things we had been talking about. This was a really great and often-overlooked thing to be able to do.

Now I’m home and I’m uploading pictures and digging through backed up email and getting ready to start my work week tomorrow after some serious time off. Thanks to everyone who made the trip not just possible but enjoyable. update: Lichen has links to her talks and notes from the day up as well.

today’s DDC art link

Forgotten Futures is a data sculpture which visualizes 100 years of forward thought. Using web-crawls of Google News, Google Blog and Google Scholar, the phrase “in the future” was associated with key words and phrases which reveal previous though about the future of our world. The top 100 terms for each year were categorized using the Dewey Decimal system, and mapped onto a grid. Holes were drilled into sheets of plexiglass whose sizes correspond to their frequency. For example, “war” is the biggest hole in 1945. The prototype shown here is a sketch for a larger installation.” [via info aesthetics, via sudama]