Posts tagged ‘Technology’

Copyright and disruptive technology

What if you could give a book to everyone on earth? Get an ebook and read it on any device, in any format, forever? Give an ebook to your library, for them to share? Own DRM-free ebooks, legally? Read free ebooks, and know their creators had been fairly paid?  –From About,

Copyright is a round hole.  Paper publications are nice, round pegs.  Electronic items are square pegs.  Hard copies can be passed around, shared from person to person across time and space.  A copyright holder’s distribution rights are curtailed by the physical transfer of the copyrighted item (by purchase or gift) to another.

Electronic items can be similarly shared. Maybe.  Because they are square pegs, a new way to control distribution was needed, so a square hole called “licensing” was carved into the copyright landscape.  This pretty much upsets the shaky balance between the public right to knowledge and a creator’s right to profit from the work.

Enter the crowdfunding concept, which takes advantage of the ubiquitousness of the Interwebs and the ability to use that to more easily raise money for relatively small scale projects.  Kickstarter is a fairly well known example of a crowdfunding conduit.  And now comes Eric Hellman, using the crowdfunding idea to harmonize the ideals of copyright and licensing, to make that square peg fit in the round hole.

Welcome to  I love it.  Where else can you find the possibility of getting your favorite book released into the electronic domain?  I’m hoping when this catches on, I’ll see In the Night Kitchen moved into an active campaign by the time my new grandson is ready to read!

The Digital Age, Books, and Libraries

There’s a lot of flag waving (especially by alarmed librarians) about the imminent demise of the book and libraries.  Actually, that’s not true.  The librarians are trying to fend off those who are buying into the idea that printed books, and libraries as we used to know them, are pointless vestiges of a prior era.  The debate has been picked up by the New York Times, which is getting a lot of press (sorry) lately.

The biggest issue, which is only obliquely hinted at in the arguments floating around, especially those in the Times opinion piece, is accessibility. I have a book. No one anywhere can prevent me from sharing that book with you. No one anywhere can prevent you from sharing that book with someone else (once it’s in your possession). Granted, this is a single item, with geospatial limitations which can be transcended by electronic networks. But “electronic” has its own, more restrictive limitations. Does one have access to the electronic network? Does one have the equipment to access the electronic network? Is there a power source to enable access to the equipment (or network)? Does one have permission to access the electronic device/network/item?

Librarianship has always been about finding and gaining access to books/information. The interesting twist today is the gaining access part, which involves navigating rights and permissions, as well as delivery options: both print (is there a printer?) and electronic (does the recipient even have the means to access an electronic version?).

The discussion in the NYTimes column (and others) focuses on universities and private schools, essentially ignoring that part of the population that is (a) less educated, (b) less affluent, (c) less technologically savvy, and (d) any combination of the above. My guesstimate, from experience and prior research, is that those categories make up a significant minority of the US population (maybe up to 40%), and likely always will.

So to the issue of accessibility, add disenfranchisement.  Where will the have-nots get what the haves are being taught to take for granted?  Those “pointless” vestiges of a prior era really aren’t so pointless after all.

Code4Lib Journal, Issue 2 now available!

Seriously, lots of good stuff:

Code4Lib: More than a journal

Free and Open Source Options for Creating Database-Driven Subject Guides

Using Google Calendar to Manage Library Website Hours

Geocoding LCSH in the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Toward element-level interoperability in bibliographic metadata

Help! A simple method for getting back-up help to the reference desk

Googlizing a Digital Library

Participatory Design of Websites with Web Design Workshops

Quick Lookup Laptops in the Library: Leveraging Linux with a SLAX LiveCD

The ICAP (Interactive Course Assignment Pages) Publishing System

Respect My Authority

Conference Report: Code4LibCon 2008

Whether you are in a public library, academic library, or special library, this issue has something for you. It is hard to pick a favorite among them, but I really like “Quick lookup laptops in the Library,” because it’s about using Linux to leverage old machines in the library.

I gotta say, it’s great being a part of the editorial team, bringing this to the world.

Code4Lib conference

I am heading off to another conference, this time to learn instead of teach. Code4Lib 2008 is in Portland, Oregon, next week.

If anyone is interested in stacking the deck for next year, I’m not above a shameless plug for a vote for South Florida for next year’s conference. If you have a login account at, go here to vote (note, some firewalls block the port in this url – leave a comment here if you are having problems). If you don’t have a login account at the code4lib site, you can get one here.

Code4Lib Journal now online!

The first issue of Code4Lib Journal is now available, thanks to the efforts of Jonathan Rochkind, who spearheaded getting a group of volunteers to put it all together and get it up on the web. The journal’s mission is “to foster community and share information among those interested in the intersection of libraries, technology, and the future.” Jonathan’s Editorial Introduction explains it all.

It is worth taking a look at, and keeping an eye on, whether you are involved in libraries or not. (As an aside, I happen to be one of the editors)