The Shifted Librarian - Shifting Libraries at the speed of byte
 Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Rogi on a Roll!

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (on AIM)

"In the interests of recreating academically-relevant material in media more familiar and easily grasped by the youths of an increasingly technological society, the Fathers of Universally Consistent Knowledge in conjunction with proudly present The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, as they would have transpired over America Online's popular instant messaging program."  [via Rogi]

steviedoug420: no ur so toatlly rong
steviedoug420: constitution sez each state decide 4 itself
steviedoug420: u cant tell them all what 2 do
honestabe16thprez: but that wont work!!!!
honestabe16thprez: u cant have sum slave and sum free
steviedoug420: y not?????????>>

Warning: R-rated and politically incorrect language, but I thought it was funny. Just in case you haven't seen it, you can also check out The Gettysburg Powerpoint, one of the few things that makes Kate do spit takes.

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Free Security Scan

"Have you tried out your firewall recently? Here's a free Security Scan to let you know of any vulnerabilities that you might unknowingly have. It's from Sygate so it is all above board and safe and so on. Worth the 30 seconds it takes." [Rogi]

Whew - I passed.

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Gibberations "As well as being a great weblog, this has to be one of the best designed weblogs out there doesn't it? I think so." [Rogi]

Ditto. Filing away for inspiration when I redesign my site.

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Wow! My friend Deanna has been following her dream, which in-and-of-itself is admirable, never mind how good she's getting at it. She's gone back to school to become a real live graphic designer, and this is the first time I've gotten to see what she's been up to. Check her out at Deanna's Art Bin. I especially like Balance and Sim Midlife Crisis.

And oh yeah... you can hire her to do logos and the like for you, too.

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Plug Pulled on Site Selling $1 Movies

"Taiwanese Web site says its Internet service provider has blocked it without warning, describing the act as "equivalent to execution without trial." []

Remember when I highlighted this site? I'm sure what they were doing was a major violation of copyright law, but the scary thing is that the ISP pulled the plug without any inquiries or directives from the government. They just did it on their own. Or did the MPAA make a big contribution to them, too? Either way, the site lasted 12 days, which is 12 days longer than I thought it would.

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Lori is thinking out loud over at The Handheld Librarian about how to deal with AvantGo's short-sighted strategy to cut off the user base that made it popular in the first place. I hope she gets responses to the various software alternatives she is highlighting, but AvantGo was such a great service that it may take some time for us to play with and evaluate anything else. In a single instant that I think they'll look back at and regret, AvantGo has launched a market for its competitors.

Maybe they think they don't have any, but what about alternative technologies? Are there any products out there that easily turn HTML pages into WAP or WML versions that could be read easily on a PDA? I'm thinking maybe CSS to synch stripped-down HTML, but I just don't have enough experience with this. I know Ed over at First Monday went down this road - has anyone else?

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One to watch: Extra net: Where Librarians and Technology Meet. It's done in PostNuke, which could be one interesting alternative to what Lori and I have been discussing for ILA RTSF. Does anyone else have experience with this software? [via Library News Daily]

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New Ricochet Owner Plans Aggressive Pricing

"Aaronson detailed a specific plan to revitalize the network by pricing it well within the reach of many, considering wireless broadband more of a utility like power and water. The new pricing structure for the service is expected to be between $39.99 and $49.99, quite a bit less than the $70 previously charged by Metricom while the modem is expected to sell for less than $100. Aerie Networks will also *not* target the 'mobile professional' with the service, but instead position it more as a 'cordless-phone equivalent of broadband access' for those within the coverage area." []

What? A wireless company that "gets it?" Somebody pinch me!

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Weblog Power

"As with everything on the Web there is a wide range of quality and subject. Some are the musings (or ravings) of a would-be writer; and others, an expert's selection of issues or resources for a more discerning reading public." [via Serious Instructional Technology]

I should have passed out a copy of this article at my meeting today. It would have given some good example sites to illustrate the breadth and power of blogging. Points for including Gary's blog!

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What Web Services Are NOT

"Having trouble nailing down a concrete definition for the elusive buzz-word, "Web Services?" You're not alone. Guest XML author Sriram Rajaraman provides his own view, focusing not on what Web services are, but instead on what he believes they aren't" [WebReference News]

I'm still trying to figure out if Web Services have any application in libraries....

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Da Vinci on Usability "Da Vinci Usability - UCD clearly explains what usability is and the principles involved to designing a successfuly user interface." [meryl's notes]

Another one I'm filing away for when we redesign the SLS Web site and turn it into a portal. Hopefully I'll have more than a week to do all of these steps.

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Whatdya mean

"I want to turn the argument around: imagine, for a second, that CSS had come first, that everyone was familiar with it and its quirks, and that now a small but vocal minority was attempting to educate the community on the benefits of table-based design. What would the CSS-minded community say?" [via meryl's notes]

Excellent points made by Mark Pilgrim about the value of CSS. Makes me wish I had been able to learn CSS first, although that would have been kind of difficult back in 1995. But I don't have an excuse anymore, so I'm filing this in my mental vertical file and virtual file cabinet for when I'm ready to implement these on my site.

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A Footnote to E-Book History

"Syndicated columnist and NPR commentator Douglas Rushkoff's Exit Strategy will be published in print along with footnotes contributed by readers of the free e-book version published last July. Written as an early 21st-century manuscript discovered in the 23rd century, Exit Strategy is annotated heavily by fictional anthropologists who struggle to understand things like Ritalin, wedgies and The Shining.

More than a thousand people around the world participated in the project, with a disproportionate number from Croatia, Rushkoff said. The author says the reader's footnotes were better than his own, which was the whole point of the project." [Wired News]

How on earth am I supposed to get any work done when this fascinating experiment is online? The comments alone will distract me for days on end.

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Napster They're Not

"Web music services should be cheaper and more convenient than a store. They should pay artists and provide reliable downloads. They need every tune most people want and lots they don't yet know, like a good store has. Right? So why don't pressplay and RealOne Music, two new industry-backed Web music services, understand this? A test drive reveals weak selection and pricing that's not attuned to how people want to buy music....

RealOne and pressplay aren't cheap, either. A CD is like an honest Chicago politician: It stays bought. Both pressplay and RealOne use rental pricing....To get most of the artists I want, I'd need both services, for about $240 a year. Since I keep CDs about 10 years, I'd spend $2,400 to keep listening for that long online. RealOne and pressplay, however, may make economic sense for some people. For those who buy a few cuts from a CD rather than the whole thing, or those who tend to listen to a song for a short time and then move on, these services may be priced right. Otherwise, RealOne and pressplay serve record companies, not consumers. " [at BusinessWeek, via Tomalak's Realm]

I can't imagine how much my current record collection would have cost me in the RIAA's perfect world, especially when I'd have to pay for the CD version of an album to play it on my home stereo AND the MP3 version for my Archos Jukebox.

Even if we can get libraries inserted into this market loop so that we can lend digital files, what kind of an impact is this going to have on our budgets? If you think serials pricing is bad, just wait until you have to pay a monthly access fee for the music, videos, and audiobooks you want to circulate to your patrons! No B&T or Ingram discount there because there's no middleman, and the BigCos would rather deal with the consumer directly anyway. So guess where they're going to tell you go to....

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Wired goes a little further in the story about High Court Hears Copyright Case, noting the impact it may have both online and offline.

"Lemley said copies of old books, movies and sound recordings are being lost before they can be archived electronically. He said 10,027 books were published in 1930. But as of last year, all but 174 of them were out of print."

Yeah... that's really good for the general public and our culture in general. Really good. Um... really good. Maybe if I just mutter this often enough I'll start believing it....

6:28:23 PM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |

Supreme Court to Intervene in Internet Copyright Dispute

"The 1998 extension was the result of intense lobbying by a group of powerful corporate copyright holders, most visibly the Walt Disney Company, which faced the imminent expiration of copyrights on Mickey Mouse and its other famous cartoon characters. Mickey, first copyrighted in 1928, would have passed into the public domain in 2003 under the previous law, which gave a 75-year copyright to works created for hire and owned by corporations. That became 95 years under the new law, both prospectively and for existing works; material created by individuals, previously protected for the life of the artist or author plus 50 years, also received another 20 years." [NY Times: Technology]

Cha-ching. It will be interesting to see what happens when the pro-business Supreme Court affirms the Republican Congress' law to extend copyright. What on earth will the BigCos try for when they have this precedent?

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Kate might enjoy Take It Easy, the online version of the board game. [via MeFi]
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"OK...the hints are taken. Courtesy of Dave's pointer to Doc's pointer to Jacob's blog about blogging, this will be my last blog about blogging! From the 13th of January to last night, I've wrestled (rather publicly) with some fundamentals that others who use Radio know cold.

For those of you who have endured as we rookies have invaded your weblogging turf, I thank you for the patience you've had and the motivation you've given by showing us the kinds of things that are possible. I, for one, will attempt to create content worthy of the medium." [Steve Pilgrim's Radio Weblog]

Steve, I take issue with your decision to stop publishing while you're learning Radio and making changes. From the comments I've gotten, there are others who feel the same way you do about Beginning Radio 101, and reading through the process you're going through, especially while you're going through it, can be valuable for them.

I took Jacob's post to mean that blogging about blogging in general was repetitious. But you blogging about learning Radio is something entirely different. I think that content would be worthy, and it will help you work through and record your thoughts as you do it. In addition, it would be valuable for Userland to read about what you're going through so that they can improve their product, interface, and documentation for new users. They're going to have to do that if Dave wants doctors, engineers, and the like on board, and you can provide one piece of that puzzle. I'm sure Dave would say that you've already helped them identify some of these issues.

And let's not forget that the whole point of blogging is that nobody has to read your site. If folks aren't interested in what you have to say about Radio, who cares? If even one person does though, you'd be turning them away.

I hope you'll reconsider your decision.

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GUI Olympics

"The first event is most cheerful skin. A good user interface designer can design skins that imply a certain mood to them. Most interfaces have traditionally attempted to provide a "neutral" mood (gray). " [via ia/]

Cool, another Olympics to watch! Actually, I'd like to see a library GUI Olympics so that we could visually debate some of the best usability features for library Web sites, databases, and services. For example, over on WEB4LIB today, there's a discussion about how to differentiate a search box on a library's Web site. Patrons tend to use it to search for books in the online catalog or for finding information on the Internet, when really it's designed to search the library's Web site. I like the idea of the drop downs or radio buttons to remedy this, but let's see some real-life examples or mock-ups in action so that we can test and vote!

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The Enron Voice Mail System, 2002 [via Adam Curry]

Funny use of Flash for audio.

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Getting Copyright Right: Copyright licensing legitimized the early radio and cable TV industries. Can it do the same for the Internet? By Steven M. Cherry [at IEEE Spectrum Online, via Dave Farber's IP list]

"Digital music and e-book publishers have chosen to use complex digital rights management technologies to restrict when, how long, and on what devices consumers can listen and read. Such restrictions, by and large, do not exist for CDs and bound books [see "Making Music Pay," IEEE Spectrum, October 2001, pp. 41-46]. Moreover, copyright law has grown too complex for even the lawyers to fully understand, while the big record companies themselves are struggling to assemble all the licenses needed to form their own Napster-like music services."

I've said all along that inserting DRM software into existing devices when there are hundreds of different types of devices is NOT the way to go. It's like saying each brand of TV would have had its own embedded restrictions on what you could tape with your VCR. And then on top of that, each VCR would have its own restrictions. All of which would be a nightmare for consumers and a major conversation-stopper. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

"If earlier technologies and the ensuing changes to copyright law narrowed the public domain, it has been eviscerated by the DMCA, critics charge. The copy protection, and the digital rights management schemes that incorporate it, can take over traditionally fair uses of content, like your ability to copy a song or book onto a portable device for use when away from your computer. Arguably, a work like Great Expectations, which was in the public domain for the entire 20th century, could be combined with some new copyrightable illustrations or an introduction and wrapped in a copy-protection scheme that would prevent a schoolchild from accessing Dickens's no longer copyrighted words."

Why we need to worry about the DMCA, especially in libraries.

"A compulsory license scheme, with pooled royalties and monitored usage, could also work well in other media, especially e-books. The public's lack of interest in reading off a computer screen suggests that print sales would be unaffected, while new markets would develop among those for whom lower prices would be a decisive attraction, or who consume books more easily in digital form, magnifying the text on-screen or being read to by text-to-speech software. Open and easy on-line music browsing and previewing has been one explanation for Napster's possible contribution to CD sales; one can easily imagine it helping those of traditional printed books."

If eBooks manufacturers and publishers would just recognize this and get on with creating some standards, we'd see much faster adoption rates.

"We can insist on individually compensating the hundreds of rights holders whose work is included in even a two-minute rock video, or the thousands for a full-length movie, which will stymie the creativity of the next generation just as lawsuits over sampling in the early 1990s defused the rap music revolution. Or we can work toward a more rational system, one that recognizes the necessary role played by the primordial soup of mass culture, out of which all new cultural works emerge."

You can't see it, but I have my fist raised in the air. Right on! It's not a perfect scheme, but it would be a foundation for a more rational discussion than the one the RIAA wants to dictate.

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Battleground God is making the rounds.
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Bruce cheers my morning by sending along an article about the Jayhawks on Cusp of Perfection. It mirrors a lot of my own thinking, having been disappointed the last few years by good times that can't finish a game strong (especially with free throws!). In fact, I was just telling him how I don't want to go into the Tournament as a #1 because the Hawks tend to play better when they wear blue instead of white, but I think they're right and this time will be different. This is indeed a different team. Go Hawks!
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For Kate and Andy: Top 5 Trivia Games from

  1. Trivial Pursuit - duh
  2. In Pursuit
  3. Who Wants to be a Millionaire - whatever
  4. Who Am I? The Biography Game - hey, I got Kate this for Christmas!
  5. Hollywood's Reel Schpeel

For game night chums, an additional list of the Top 5 Party Games:

  1. Time's Up - I just bought this one but we haven't had a chance to play it yet
  2. Apples to Apples - my favorite new game which I HIGHLY recommend to one and all
  3. Beyond Balderdash
  4. Barbarossa
  5. Fib or Not?

Sounds like it's time to schedule another game night.... I'm sure you're all thrilled to your pinky toes to read through this post, but remember that librarians live for trivia games.

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Drat. Meryl's right... AOL has blocked Trillian again. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
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One of my many hats at SLS is creating documentation, so I totally understand Steve's request for help with Radio. Now I've gotten a couple of other requests to forward the email I sent him about editing Radio templates, so here's my thinking. I know there are lots of others out there with the same questions, and while Userland has done a fantastic job making the technical, behind-the-scenes magic easy, it's true that there is a dearth of in-front-of-the-scenes, newbies documentation.

So tonight I'll start writing up what I did, especially since I want to demo Radio at next week's ILA RTSF meeting. I'll create something online that everyone can go through, step-by-step, to add nav links, categories, the "open new links in window" script, and the YACCS commenting system to a default Radio template. It'll be for the Transmitter template, since that's the one I'm currently using, but it should be fairly applicable across-the-board. I also plan to change the image for a permalink and add a "divider" image at the beginning of each posted item to improve  legibility, so I'll document those tweaks as I get to them, too.

One caveat: I don't do documentation half-assed, so I probably won't get it all done tonight, especially because I always include screenshots, but I'll post what I've finished as I go along.

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Combo PDA-Cell Phone Selection Grows

"These so-called convergence devices, combining functions of PDA and cell phone plus Internet access, are still a small portion of all handhelds sold, says Randy Giusto, an IDC wireless and mobile device analyst. But they are gaining popularity and attention, especially with the rollout of faster wireless networks that promise to make Web browsing and wireless data synching more practical." [PC World]

A round-up of some next-gen devices will start seeing this year, hopefully sooner rather than later. I know Innovative is working on a module that can beam information to a Palm, but are they also working on the PocketPC equivalent? And have they gotten the Palm module out the door yet? I've been volunteering to beta test it for two years now!

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Forgot to mention that KU is #1 again.  Rock chalk Jayhawk KU! And oh yeah, March Madness will be upon us soon. Hallelujah!
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"Jenny Levine is MY INFO MAVEN!!!! She has sent me an email answering my questions. Were it not so late here this evening, I'd be editing my brains out." [Steve Pilgrim's Radio Weblog]

No thanks necessary, Steve. Just doing my job. I am, after all, a librarian. Answering questions is my life.  :-)

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Technology is Changing What's "Fair Use" in Teaching—Again

"Ask any teacher in the United Stated whether or not it's "fair" to make free use of copyrighted materials in the classroom and his or her answer will most likely be, "Of course it is." Ask that same teacher why it is so obviously "fair" and you will probably get a blank look. Teachers just "know" that education has important social benefit and that they as teachers are exempt from usual legal obligations surrounding use of copyrighted materials. Or are they?" [at Education Policy Analysis Archives]

Same thing with librarians and with students doing research. Our notion of "fair use," even as consumers is very different from what the BigCos want it to be. I haven't finished this article yet, but I'm already recommending it just because my Dad sent it in.  Good morning, Dad.

Final thought from the article:

"Somewhere the larger issue that led to the establishment of the Doctrine of Fair Use in the first place seems to have gotten lost in excitement over how easy the new technology can make the payments for copying rights flow. We as a society need to stop a moment and review what earlier courts had to say about the importance of support for the individual teacher or researcher who is exploring ideas and creating knowledge for the next generation and the general benefit of society."

A good primer

7:16:54 AM  |   Permanent link here  |    |   Trackback [] |