November 14, 2012
An article by Josh Wallert went up on Nov. 8 at the Design Observer Group’s Places: Forum of Design for the Public Realm, titled, “State of the Commons: Wikipedia, Flickr, and the Public Domain. It’s a good, though brief, read on the state of the public commons for visual documentation. Excerpt:
For better and worse, public-making in the early 21st-century has been consigned to private actors: to activists, urban interventionists, community organizations and — here’s the really strange thing — online corporations. The body politic has retreated to nominally public spaces controlled by Google, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, which now constitute a vital but imperfect substitute for the town square. Jonathan Massey and Brett Snyder draw an analogy between these online spaces and the privately-owned public space of Zuccotti Park, the nerve center for Occupy Wall Street, and indeed online tools have been used effectively to support direct actions and participatory democracies around the world. Still, the closest most Americans get to the messy social activity of cooperative farm planning is the exchange of digital carrots in Farmville.
More at The Design Observer Group
November 1, 2012
Late Night Library One for the Books Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A PLEDGE CAMPAIGN SUPPORTING INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLERS AND PUBLISHERS
PORTLAND, OR, October 22, 2012—Responding to the US Department of Justice vs. Apple case set to go to trial in June of 2013, Late Night Library has announced the One for the Books! campaign in support of independent booksellers and independent publishers.
One for the Books! is a pledge drive not requiring a monetary pledge. It offers four levels of participation:
Late Night Reader: Anyone who pledges to purchase books from independent booksellers and independent publishers.
Late Night Author: Published authors of any genre who on their website includes links to independent retailers or IndieBound rather than retailers engaged in predatory pricing.
Late Night Publisher: Independent publishers who do not feature links to corporate retailers who predatory price on their official websites.
Late Night Brick & Mortar: Independently-owned physical bookstores supporting independent publishers by offering multiple independent titles on their bookshelves and providing a pick-up or delivery service for community-based readers.
To participate in One for the Books! is simple. E-mail email@example.com and Late Night Library will add your name or business to the appropriate pledge level. We will publish the results on our website in April.
LATE NIGHT LIBRARY is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting talented writers early in their careers. To make a donation to Late Night Library, please visit www.latenightlibrary.org and click Give. All donations will be applied directly to program services.
October 13, 2012
I have interviewed Rachel Bridgewater about her class, Exploring Fair Use, which she will be teaching for Library Juice Academy next month. Rachel talks about her background and what participants will get out of the four-week class. I enjoyed interviewing Rachel and hope you enjoy reading the interview.
September 10, 2012
This is a couple of months old now but has just reached my attention. It is a statement from IFLA, cosigned by some of its member associations, including ALA and ARL, raising alarm about a new multi-lateral trade agreement that establishes new intellectual property rules that bypass essential balancing user rights such as Fair Use. The agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Please read the IFLA statement for a good explanation of what is happening in this area.
February 24, 2012
A low-paid outsourced content screener in Morocco has apparently leaked the “Abuse Standards” guidelines that are in effect at Facebook. Gawker.com published the next update to those standards shortly after releasing the originally-leaked document (these were versions 6.1 and 6.2).
Without commenting on the appropriateness of the rules as we now know them, I want to ask whether Facebook has become, to a certain extent, perhaps like Google, a public infrastructure, given its ubiquity and people’s reliance on it. If it is to a degree a venue of the public sphere, shouldn’t the public have a role in determining these policies?
February 23, 2012
Excerpted from Barney Rosset’s obituary:
By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times
February 23, 2012
Barney Rosset, the renegade founder of Grove Press who fought groundbreaking legal battles against censorship and introduced American readers to such provocative writers as Harold Pinter, Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco and Jean Genet, died Tuesday in New York City. He was 89.
His daughter, Tansey Rosset, said he died after undergoing surgery to replace a heart valve.
In 1951 Rosset bought tiny Grove Press, named after the Greenwich Village street where it was located, and turned it into one of the most influential publishing companies of its time. It championed the writings of a political and literary vanguard that included Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Tom Stoppard, Octavio Paz, Marguerite Duras, Che Guevara and Malcolm X.
February 17, 2012
An illuminating article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week: “The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia,” by historian Timothy Messer-Kruse. It illustrates a problem with the protocol in place on Wikipedia that operate to attempt to ensure objectivity. This problem is one that academics who work on Wikipedia articles are likely to run into, because it tends to prevent new knowledge from making it into an article. Apologies if this article requires subscription access; most university libraries subscribe and should let you in from home using a proxy server if you are affiliated with the institution.
January 27, 2012
As we’ve been reminded again recently, in case we somehow forgot, the “facts” of news reporting are not actually neutral. Just plain data is part of a political context, too. For example, New York City counts homeless people, in an annual pavement-pounding overnight effort. But the city – despite its technocratic, data-driven mayor – has never counted homes without people. Why not?
Yesterday I went to the official release of “Banking on Vacancy: Homelessness and Real Estate Speculation,” a report based on a study conducted by Picture the Homeless (PTH) here in NYC. The results demonstrate that there is more than enough space for everyone living in the city to have a roof over their heads. And the fact that the hard data proving this deceptively simple point had to come from a grassroots group illuminates the resistance that the powerful have towards information that might challenge them.
I’ve long liked PTH because, first of all, they’re a membership organization that’s founded and led by currently and formerly homeless people – i.e. the people most affected by what the group exists to fight. There’s a small staff, but the members are directly involved in all organizational activities. Furthermore, they use a combination of more traditional channels (legislative proposals, legal reform) and direct action (demonstrations, banner drops, building occupations) in their work. And sometimes they do both at the same time. At a pre-release event in the fall, a PTH member summed up their attitude to bureaucratic static on the question of whether the city would ever sponsor a citywide vacant housing count: “We’re going to do it, whether you like it or not!”
City officials had told PTH that NYC has a 2% vacancy rate, which turned out to be calculated by whether a building had been occupied two years prior. So if a building has been empty of residents for three or more years – because of, say, a landlord who can make a good profit off a street-level business’s rent alone without the hassle of tenants in the apartments above – it’s not considered “vacant.” PTH was also told repeatedly that a city-sponsored vacant housing count would be complicated and prohibitively expensive, in the millions of dollars. (In the end, around $150,000 was spent to count a third of the city in a third of a year.)
“Banking on Vacancy” came out of a collaboration between PTH and Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning & Development (HCCCPD). The philosophy of the campaign was illustrated by Hunter professor Peter Kwong at yesterday’s event when he talked about “activist scholarship,” where the questions being addressed in the university come from the needs of the community, and engagement with those questions is a joint effort between the academics and the community members. Other speakers ranged from the Manhattan borough president and City Councilmembers to a PTH member who passionately reminded attendees that the work is not just about issuing a report (“Take back the land! Take back the buildings!”).
The bulk of the vacant housing census took place over a widely-publicized series of weekends in summer 2011. PTH members and allies (including your correspondent) convened in churches, community centers, and public library branches and then went out to identify vacant buildings and lots in neighborhoods spanning selected Community Board districts in all five boroughs. The report explains the full data collection process – the numerous Freedom of Information Law requests to almost a dozen city agencies that mostly got ignored or netted ineffective information (as one section is titled, “City Data Is a Useless Mess”), the almost 300 volunteers with varying levels of experience, the evolution of paper housing count surveys to Excel files to OASIS to PLUTO and other data utilities.
I’m writing about all this for Library Juice not because I think that everyone is interested in the vagaries of NYC housing policy (though if you’re a local, I hope you are!). The point is that community-driven data collection is important – it’s part of organizing, the process itself reflects and reinforces the values of the community, and it’s possibly the only way that a needed change can be kicked into gear.
“Numbers are power,” said HCCCPD’s Tom Angotti. But it’s not just the data, of course, which can end up sitting on a shelf. Like PTH member Willie Baptist said: “You’re going to have to get up and do something about it.”
November 8, 2011
Call for Chapters
Piracy: Leakages From Modernity
Edited by Martin Fredriksson (Linköping University) and James Arvanitakis (University of Western Sydney)
Published by Litwin Books
We are inviting proposals for chapters for an anthology on Piracy planned to be published by the end of 2012.
‘Piracy’ is a concept that seems everywhere in the contemporary world. From the big screen with the dashing ‘Jack Sparrow’, to the dangers off the coast of Somalia; from the claims by the Motion Picture Association of America that piracy funds terrorism, to the political impact of pirate parties in countries like Sweden and Germany. While the spread of piracy provokes responses from the shipping and copyright industries, the reverse is also true: for every new development in capitalist technologies, some sort of ‘piracy’ moment emerges.
This is maybe most obvious in the current ideologisation of Internet piracy where the rapid spread of so called Pirate Parties is developing into a kind of global political movement. While the pirates of Somalia seem a long way removed from Internet pirates illegally downloading the latest music hit or, it is our assertion that such developments indicate a complex interplay between capital flows and relations, late modernity, property rights and spaces of contestation. That is, piracy seems to emerge at specific nodes in capitalist relations that create both blockages and leaks between different social actors.
These various aspects of piracy form the focus for this book, preliminary entitled Piracy: Leakages from Modernity. It is meant to be a collection of texts that takes a broad perspective on piracy and attempts to capture the multidimensional impacts of piracy on capitalist society today. The book is edited by James Arvanitakis at the University of Western Sydney and Martin Fredriksson at Linköping University, Sweden, and published by Litwin Books, USA. It is open for recently unpublished articles from all academic disciplines and we particularly welcome contributions by young and emerging scholars.
If you want to contribute to this book please send an abstract of no more than 1000 words to Martin Fredriksson (martin.fredriksson [at] liu.se) or James Arvanitakis (j.arvanitakis [at] uws.edu.au). Deadline for abstracts is December 1, 2011.
University of Western Sydney
September 30, 2011
We have often pointed out here that privacy in Facebook is not primarily a matter of controlling what you share with your friends, as Facebook likes to say it is, but what data Facebook has about you that it can sell or otherwise make available to its business partners.
Here is a great link that was just sent my way, to an inventory of all of that data, Facebook’s Data Pool. It is possible to gather this information in Europe, because in the EU they have a wonderful law that requires companies to disclose to citizens what information they have about them.
There is not too much that is surprising in what they have found by doing this, but it is interesting to see the way the data is organized and how it looks from the Facebook side.
Serious case of law envy here.
September 13, 2011
Caroline Nappo sent a link to this New York Times story to the Library History Round Table email list:
What’s a Presidential Library to Do?
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — When Republicans gathered at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum here for the presidential debate last week, the backdrop was an overhauled exhibition on the Reagan presidency, done under the watchful eye of Nancy Reagan. It is intended, in part, to be a more complete depiction of the Reagan presidency, replacing one that many had seen as a bit too worshipful and airbrushed.
But another exhibition that just opened at yet another presidential museum not far away — the Watergate installation at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda — has offered a stark challenge to the Reagan tribute here, exposing both the different ways that these two museums have chosen to remember their subjects and the different positions that the two former presidents hold in the nation’s and the Republican Party’s memory.
July 11, 2011
Call for Manuscripts for Special issue of Multicultural Review
Libraries as a public good in 21st century multicultural societies: Policy and the politics of literacy, libraries and librarianship
Guest Editors: Curtis Brewer, Anne McMahan Grant (Clemson University)
When it comes to recent national budget discussions, funding for library services has come up short. For example, a 9% cut has been proposed for the FY2012 budget to the Institute for Museum and Library Services, an organization that provides assistance to the nations libraries. (President, 2011) And, on a local level, according to a recent Library Journal poll, 72% of responding libraries said that their budgets had been cut during FY2010 with one library staff person making the pointed observation that “Public libraries are not sacred cows any more, and librarians need to accept this and make their libraries viable to protect them against future challenges” (Kelley, 2011 p. 28). With these newly limited budgets, libraries are moving toward changing their image from the library as a storehouse for books to the library as a learning commons or an information gateway designed to help patrons not only find information, but to help them determine good information from bad (Casserly, 2002). A strong argument could be made that the development and support for libraries as a public good are central to an everchanging multi-cultural information society with the provision of library services playing a central role. The simple fact is that libraries are no longer merely storehouses of information. Outreach services have expanded as more libraries have internet accessible chat services that provide a personal librarian for anyone who can access a web page. This is especially true in academic libraries as one study found that 84% of libraries surveyed offered instant messaging services via their web page (Tripathi, 2010). Hospitals have librarians who assist medical staff in finding crucial research for their patients (Abels, 2002). Schools and universities have librarians to train students to filter the vast amounts of information that they will encounter in their daily lives as well as to provide them access to research materials (The State of America’s Libraries, 2011). And communities have libraries that give them access to the internet, provide safe places for patrons to learn, and gives them free access to materials that could lead to public discussions that may reshape our understanding of ourselves and others (How Libraries Stack Up, 2010). Given the possibly robust dividends a public investment in libraries, librarians and literacy programs could provide, it is important to interrogate how the political and policy context are currently shaping these possibilities.
The study of politics, policy and multiculturalism makes us acutely aware of how the framing of problem definitions, research and policies shapes public understanding of an issue (Fraser 1989; Hajer and Waagner 2003). Therefore, in this special issue we seek to pay close attention to how dominant values, institutionalized power, privilege, and the policy process itself interact to frame and reframe literacy, libraries and librarians as political issues in multicultural societies in the early twenty-first century. We seek articles that will help make sense of this changing policy environment for all practitioners concerned with libraries or literacy.
In this special issue of the Multicultural Review we ask for manuscripts that might address the following questions:
1. What is the state of the politics of libraries in these times of retrenchment? What knowledge might help practitioners navigate the changing policy contexts?
2. How do the dominant values within our society create avenues for change or act as barriers in the development of policies that address libraries, librarians and literacy?
3. What are the experiences of patrons and those working in libraries across multiple contexts in this time of retrenchment?
4. How are librarians and supporters of public libraries currently influencing the creation of policy?
5. How do the dominant political discourses constitute the library as a public institution and how is this related to inequality?
6. What role do libraries and literacy programs play in the creation of space for a more democratic, deliberative and inclusive forms of political participation?
We assume each manuscript should clearly articulate a conceptual framework grounded in, and informed by theory and relevant research. We want to emphasize the importance of maintaining a focus on the politics of your substantive topic/area in your work, including political theories that interact with multicultural theory when relevant. We would also like to emphasize the breadth of the readership of MCR and encourage authors explicitly show the relevancy of their argument to the work in the field.
Possible themes may include:
The role of interest group development in the change of literacy policy;
A critical analysis of the racialization of libraries and librarianship advocacy and their relationships to the growing digital divide;
The ways in which political theories around social movements and fearless speech can shape the potential for the reframing of political discourses;
The use of radical democratic theory to inform the advocacy discussions surrounding literacy and libraries;
The use of feminist theory to analyze the development of politics of library and/or literacy policy;
An institutional analysis of the interactions between accountability policy, library policy and literacy policy in a multicultural society;
An economic/structural analysis of the distribution of funding for libraries and literacy programs;
An historical account of the development and evolution of the federal involvement in the public library in order to shed light on our current policy debates for all those who are currently working as practitioners.
For this special issue of the Multicultrual Review we invite papers that interrogate and challenge the assumptions within the themes described above. Submissions may be either qualitative, quantitative or interpretive/conceptual manuscripts that address the questions and areas outlined above will be considered. Manuscripts should meet the 6th edition of APA Publication Manual and a maximum of 8000 words in length. The deadline for submission is September 15, 2011.
Please direct submissions, questions or abstracts to the guest editors
Curtis Brewer (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Anne McMahan Grant (email@example.com)
Abels, Eileen G., Keith W. Cogdill, and Lisl Zach. The contributions of library and information services to hospitals and academic health sciences centers: a preliminary taxonomy, J Med Libr Assoc. 2002 July; 90(3): 276284.
Casserly, Mary. Developing a Concept of Collection for the Digital Age. portal: Libraries and the Academy, Volume 2, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 577-587.
Fraser, N. (1989). Unruly practices: Power, discourse and gender in contemporary social theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hajer, M. A., & Wagenaar, H. (Eds.). (2003). Deliberative policy analysis: Understanding governance in the network society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
How Libraries Stack Up: 2010, OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) Report.
Kelley, M. Bottoming out: Severe cuts today put big question marks on the future. Library Journal (1976) v. 136 no. 1 (January 2011) p. 28-31.
President Obama’s Budget Strips FY2012 Funding. American Libraries v. 42 no. 3/4 (March/April 2011) p. 8.
The State of America’s Libraries 2011 – A report by the American Library Association, April, 2011.
Tripathi, Manorama and Sunil Kumar. Use of Web 2.0 tools in academic libraries: A reconnaissance of the international landscape. The International Information & Library Review Volume 42, Issue 3, September 2010, p. 195-207.
May 20, 2011
I was in Cambridge, MA last weekend for MiT7: unstable platforms: the promise and peril of transition. This conference is put on every two years jointly by MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program and the MIT Communication Forum.
The conference is concerned with new media and new communication technologies and their broad implications. Presenters came to the conference with a multitude of disciplinary and methodological perspectives, but most are working in communications, media studies, or digital humanities. There were a number of librarians and archivists present (and presenting), but not everyone who spoke about libraries or archives had a library or archival studies background, which was refreshing and interesting.
The first of four plenary sessions in an auditorium started the conference, and it featured Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard; Kathleen Fitzpatrick of Pomona College (with a book coming out soon on scholarly communication); Mark Leccese, a former journalist now teaching at Emerson College; and Klaus Peter Muller, of Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. These four addressed questions on the fate of narrative and the shape of the public sphere in the new media environment, and were asked to give visions for the future. The introduction of the subject of narrative at the start of the conference was very interesting; at all of the sessions I attended, people drew ties between what was being discussed and questions of narrative and narrativity. I guess it must be common to talk about narrative among scholars who regularly attend MLA, but I think it is really great to introduce or invoke ideas about narrative in a setting that has a lot of social scientists as well. To me it seems that there is a lot still to be gained from studying narrative (or narrative theory or narratology) and its role outside of the usual literary contexts where it is talked about (film, literature, etc.).
Regarding narrative, the discussion seemed to show that the public at large is more aware of narrative structures in the media they consume than they possibly were in the past, as a result of the participatory online culture, fan culture, etcetera. Joshua Benton noted that “ancillary objects” surrounding news stories (i.e. links and commentary) affect the narrative by providing additional perspectives (alternate narratives) and additional entry and exit points. This makes it seem possible (to me) that people could be growing sharper about how narratives are used to manipulate them and might be becoming empowered by an enhanced ability to see through manipulative narratives (political, commercial, etc.). There doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for this that I can see though, considering how the masses (forgive me for using the term straightforwardly) continue to be moved by narratives that arise out of the facts but don’t do them justice. As refreshing as it was to me to find questions of narrative addressed throughout the conference, I would have been happier to see connections drawn between narratives and narrativity and social influence and control. That these connections weren’t drawn probably has to do with the fact that narrative is mostly a topic of discussion in the humanities rather than in the social sciences. (Please comment if you have something to suggest in this connection.)
There were two sessions following the opening plenary session on the first day. In the first I heard papers on the media and the Space Race of the 1960s, the 19th century telegraph system as a new communications medium, 19th century fan fic, and late 19th century American literature evidencing responses to media shift. In the second I heard papers on a discourse analysis of internet RFC’s to look for the history of information policies (Sandra Braman); Bill Gates’ “Open Letter to Hobbyists”; and the influence of the Interop conferences on the development of the internet. These two sessions were not the only ones where the point was made that “it was ever thus” or “this is not the first time” that we have been anxious and excited about the impact of new media technologies. I particularly like the insights that can be derived from historical studies such as these, and I began speaking with a couple of presenters about a possible series for Litwin Books in this area.
The conference went on to have three more plenary sessions and five more call sessions, in which I attended panels called Reading and Writing; Legal and Social Links; Classrooms and Libraries in Transition; Capital, Time and Media Bias; and Publishing in Transition. Highlights were talks by librarian Margaret Heller and her collaborator Nell Taylor, Paul van den Hoven, Bob Hanke, Paulina Mickiewicz, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, and Karen Hellekson.
Margaret Heller and Nell Taylor talked about an interesting, informal community-based library project that is building a collection of locally-published materials representing the diverse communities of Chicago and putting the catalog online in a social-media-rich way. It seems to be a very successful project, which, frankly, is unusual for things that are that innovative.
Paul van den Hoven does media studies of the legal system in Holland, and talked about the way the expanding, democratized media environment has outstripped the judicial system’s ability to handle the proliferation of narratives surrounding cases that have a public nature. His discussion helped me focus my own thinking about the current trend toward democratization of media and the de-authorization of institutions, in the sense that in the context of the law it is clear, to me anyway, how top-down institutions can protect people from the consequences of an irrational, narrative-driven public. Sandra Braman could certainly explain to me why my sense of security in feeling protected by the judicial system is a false one; nevertheless, there is still more to be said than we usually hear, it seems to me, about the dangers of de-authorizing institutions and empowering the masses (again, apologies for using the term in a straightforward manner).
Bob Hanke read a difficult paper (that he was kind enough to send me so that I could study it) addressing the technologization of the university and the changes that have emerged through the process. His paper was political, and addressed “media effects” (a term he avoided) of technology from a Canadian, media-studies point of view, but incorporating a political-economic structural viewpoint as well. Now having read his paper I am afraid to say I still find it difficult to understand in parts; but perhaps I just need to read some of the people he is citing.
Paulina Mickiewicz read a very interesting paper (with slides) about a major work of public architecture and its connection to the media environment: the Grande Bibliothèque du Québec. Mickiewicz’s background is in media studies, and her reading has so far not included much from the library literature. Her focus is on the architect’s thinking in designing the building, and how architectural decisions in building this and other innovative libraries define, or at least aim to define, the meaning of the library as an information place for the community. I will be interested to see her work as it progresses.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick and Karen Hellekson both gave papers in the Publishing in Transition session, and both were fascinating and informative, on the subjects of trade book publishing and scholarly journal publishing respectively.
It was a very good conference. In addition to the people mentioned above, I felt fortunate to hear papers and comments by William Uricchio, Kelley Kreitz, Heidi Gautschi, Andrew Feldstein, Julia Noordegraaf, and Goran Bolin.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to a couple of librarians from MIT libraries who were present: Patsy Baudoin and Marlene Manoff. I look forward to seeing them again in 2013 if not sooner.
May 19, 2011
No comment on this other than to say that Koofers is incredibly slimy, and it rankles me that they seem to be getting some tacit support from legitimate institutions. Here is a post by my friend Nicole Pagowsky on how Koofers ripped off one of her student papers and posted it to their for-profit site with a copyright notice.
I guess the good part is that the English language now has a useful new verb: “to koofer” – to steal something, claim it belongs to you, charge money for it, and then when called on it to pretend that it never happened.
May 16, 2011
MiT7 was a great conference – intimate, warm, stimulating, interdisciplinary, and cutting-edge. There were some brilliant minds at work. I plan to post a few comments on the conference later. For now, here are links to podcasts from the three topical plenary sessions:
Media in Transition 7: Unstable Platforms
Archives and Cultural Memory
Power and Empowerment