some end of the week short links

It’s been a busy week this week. I had eight people come to computer drop-in time on Tuesday which was a tech frenzy of PayPal and email and inserting graphics and Yahoo mail address books. I’ve had a few of these links hanging around for a while waiting to find time to write proper posts, but I figured I’ll drop them in here. I see a lot of blogging as playing hot potato with a bunch of web content. You find it, you pass it on, the next person passes it on. The more content you shift, the easier it is to quickly ascertain which things you need to save for longer perusal and which need to just get passed on for the next person. I’ve read and absorbed these and thought you might like them.

DOPA dies on the vine

With the shift in power in Congress, DOPA looks like it’s done.

the final nail in DOPA’s coffin came with the switch of Congress from Republican to Democrat. Legislation that doesn’t get signed into law by the end of a congressional term has to start from scratch during the next term. In January, the Democrats will be in charge of both houses of Congress, and there’s no sign that they’re going to rush and re-introduce DOPA. Key DOPA critics in the House and Senate, including Reps Ed Markey, John Dingell and Sen. Patrick Leahy, will soon be in leadership positions. With the Republican losses in November, it will be harder for their caucus members to re-introduce DOPA, especially since Fitzpatrick is gone and they lacked Democrat co-sponsors in the first place.


confessions of a bookplate junkie

Hi. I’m in the Los Feliz branch of Los Angeles Public library where the air conditioning is brisk and the wifi is fast and free. Abby has an amusing wrap-up of her impressions of the WLA conference as well as some thoughts about Library Thing. It’s fun to hang out with other moderator/administrators of library-ish social-ish sites (LibraryThing for her and MetaFilter for me). A lot of the issues we deal with concerning identity, authority and content filtering as well as the sheer volume of the bits and bytes we move around mean that even though our sites are very different, some of the cat-herding aspects of being an overseer of a social software network are very similar.

Speaking of MetaFilter, here’s a fun link from there today: Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie.

library as conversation

I find it interesting that the conversation model is used frequently in favorable comparisons, implying that there is value in speaking and in being heard. I won’t contest that, but I think that it can sometimes gloss over power dynamics. In this way you can ask for input, for example, ignore it when you make your decisions, and then claim you “listened” to all the interested parties. Technically true, but not in spirit. This is apropos of nothing, just a sort of meme I’ve noticed lately. What I wanted to mention is Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation which looks like a well-funded mini project produced for the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy by R. David Lankes and Joanne Silverstein, of the Information Institute of Syracuse.

They want feedback. They have a wiki and a forum. Please consider reading the draft and letting them know what you think about their ideas. I haven’t read it all yet, but the table-heavy image-heavy home page design with no actual text on the page (even using images where text naturally should go) and no ALT tags on all the images raises “participation” red flags in the “Who is this call for participation really geared towards?” way. Seriously, it’s a great idea to have the library be more interactive for the patrons. However, another slick web page that seems to be selling the idea of participation with phrases like “libraries are in the conversation business” makes me a little wary.

The paper has few endnotes or footnotes making it tough to detemine whether untrue assertions like “to join LiveJournal, you must be invited, thus the community confers identity” or typos in URLS ( are author mistakes or source mistakes. This is a smart paper, so I’m sort of just splitting hairs here, but I feel like in some ways I’m waiting to read papers written by people who use these social software networks in their daily lives, not just get test accounts to study them and write about them. The extreme local nature of libraries means that even smart ideas will have a hard time catching on in broad ways if you can’t make them relevant to all kinds of libraries. Just because social software and the read/write web make sense to techies, kids and academics doesn’t mean that I can explain it to the librarians I work with, yet. Wikipedia has an entry for the phrase “Will it play in Peoria” and that’s what I think about when I read papers like this.

Flickr, patron complaints about

Are you a library that has gotten one of the cut-n-paste emails warning about “hardcore and even child porn” images on Flickr? Do you host a library-oriented group that has suddenly had an inundation of inappropriate (and possibly pornographic) pictures from users unknown to you? If so, you are not alone. Libraries and librarians have set up a discussion forum in this Flickr group to talk tactics. Michael Stephens has some backstory about the problem on ALA TechSource, particularly concerning as we watch DOPA inexorably move through Congress.

Educate your users—your community—about the good and bad of social software. I’d much rather give a roadmap and some guidance to someone instead of blocking access.