Librarians: have Robert Dawson over for tea

Thanks to Library Bazaar, I now know about the Kickstarter project of Robert Dawson who is traveling the country taking photos of libraries. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a way to crowdsource fundraising for creative-type projects. I’ve supported a few things including the GET LAMP text adventure documentary and a recent MC Frontalot video. If Dawson is coming to your town, or even near it, I’d suggest giving him a call.

a shot over the bow – Aaron Swartz indicted for … downloading articles from JSTOR?

I saw this post circulating around facebook and, of course, the word “library” caught my eye. The Boston Globe has a longer explanation about what all the kerfuffle is about, but still uses words like “hacking.” The Demand Progress blog, the organization that Aaron directs, has this statement and some additional blog posts. The New York Times seems to have the most comprehensive explanation of what happened when and has the text of the indictment.

What we do know is that the US Government has indicted Aaron Swartz [who you may know around the internet for any number of things] for, apparently and allegedly, downloading 4mil articles from JSTOR without (I think?) the proper credentials. Aaron turned himself in. At issue are many points of JSTORs terms of service and what sort of access is given to guests of the university. As Aaron is a net activist, I’m certain this is some level of intentional move on his part, I’m quite curious to see where it goes.

Update: JSTORs official statement, Wired article with more details

the tools and the hammer/nail problem in the digital divide

“The way you talk about the [digital divide] changes people’s view of who is responsible for resolving it…. This issue has been around for years, but its meaning is in constant flux and is manipulated by political agendas.”

I’ve switched some of the tools I use for keeping current over the past few months. I’m finding that I use RSS less and less for keeping up on blogs and rely more on Twitter lists and searches to sort of keep my hand in. I also read a lot of print material still [some of my best “things to think about” things are still coming from the pages of Library Journal and Computers in Libraries magazines] and am trying to keep to my book-a-week plan for 2011. Oddly I also get news from seemingly random places like other people’s facebook walls and I made a little image-milkshake over on a site called MLKSHK. You might like it.

I have a standing search for “digital divide” on Twitter that just auto-updates itself onto my desktop via TweetDeck. The thing that is so interesting about this, to me, is how often the term gets used and for how many different things. This morning there are discussions about the digital divide and gender, how the EU is trying to narrow the digital divide (referring to access to broadband) and a report about how switching to online social services in the UK would adversely affect people who are digitally divided already, mostly talking about seniors.

Which leads me to the paper I read recently which was really pretty intersting and on topic: Who’s Responsible for the Digital Divide? Public Perceptions and Policy Implications (pdf) It’s not long, you can read it, but the upshot is that depending how we define the digital divide, we will develop different strategies to “solve” the problem. This is not just hypothesized in the paper but addressed scientifically. So if the problem is lack of compturs, we throw computers at the problem. If the problem is broadband, we work on network infrastructure. If the problem is education we design sites like and then wonder why a website isn’t teaching people how to use computers. Tricky stuff, endlessly fascinating, thorny problem.