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2009: the Year in Books

Well, it's been longer than I thought. August? Wow. Anyone still reading?

I just got a pile of new books visiting the exhibit hall at ALA's Midwinter meeting yesterday. I have not been to ALA before, nor had any desire too since I was a wee baby library student (chiefly because it's SO GINORMOUS compared to cozy AALL), but I had a great time. I even had one vaguely work-related conversation, as a vendor tried to sell me on a book that reminded him of A Civil Action. He's going to mail me a copy. It sounds fascinating, and I can't wait to add it to the pile--and pass it along/recommend for purchase if appropriate!

So, the point of this post is to report belatedly on 2009's reads before 2010 gets much further along. Last year I was inspired by Tom Boone's 2008 resolution to read 52 books in a year. Having similarly fallen out of the habit of regular lengthy reading (even before grad school in my case), I made that resolution for myself for 2009. My attempt began strong, faltered in the spring, and picked up steam again in the fall. I knew I wasn't going to complete the challenge, and would have been very happy to have finished 40. I came in at 30 and a half, and I'm not disappointed.

Along with some brief thoughts on them, my 2009 reads were (in approximate chronological order):

The Lady Elizabeth: A Novel by Alison Weir
Well-told historical fiction (and first novel) by one of Elizabeth's most popular biographers. I'm looking forward to the sequel. I learned later in the year that I agree with critics who claim Weir infers far too much in her non-fiction, but her writing is clear and compelling regardless of genre, so she makes a good novelist.

Innocent Traitor: a Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir
Since I loved the previous book, I wanted more of Weir's take on the Tudors, even though I'd read enough about Grey in the past to know going in that this would be sad and depressing, as it certainly was.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
Pre-inauguration, I thought I should do some reading about the new president. Dreams was as brilliant as I expected. Audacity, alas, was merely a campaign book.

Blindspot by Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore
I was excited about this one when I started it: it's written by local authors and I got a pre-signed copy at a local bookstore. It began as a great romp, but the prose got increasingly sensational and unbelievable and ended an absurd shade of purple. I've been unable to sell it on Amazon for some reason, so if anyone would like to take it off my hands despite this review, please let me know and I will be happy to mail it to you!

Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice by Joan Biskupic
Another signed-by-the-author volume, this one much more satisfying. Purchased at AALL2007.

The Tribe of the Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
More about big cats than I expected, but interesting reading about the psychology of cats of all sizes.

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Berry
Another locally authored and set book. Alas, way too much mystical woo-woo for my taste and I barely finished it.

Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
I've had this lying around since it was recommended during the 2004 presidential campaign. An interesting study of power and how to shift it, especially reading it so soon after The Audacity of Hope.

Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger
A re-read, before David addressed our library staff. In the unlikely event I ever teach a course in librarianship, it will be required reading.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Not my usual genre,but I enjoyed a co-authored Crusie I read for a friend's book club a couple years ago. This one was also fun. If she weren't a successful romance novelist, Crusie could make a good living as a food writer.

The River King by Alice Hoffman
I don't tend to care for Hoffman, so I'm not sure why I read this one. Oh yeah, a book club.

Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson
I got around to re-starting and finally finishing the book frequently cited as an inspiration for Second Life. Pretty good.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Waters got everything just right in this eerie novel about the British class system post-WW2. It would probably seem even more brilliant if I were British.

Angels and Ages: a Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik
Gopnik had the interesting idea of a dual exploration of the lives of Darwin and Lincoln, who were born on the same day. Some good insights, although Gopnik annoyed me on a few points as well.

Catching the Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham
If you liked the Omnivore's Dilemma, you'll probably like this. (And if you're a raw foodist, you'll hate it.) A great blend of food science, biology, evolution, and anthropology.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling
This one is cited as the progenitor of the Steampunk genre. I wanted to love it, but it got a resounding "meh." It was obvious that it was co-authored and the story totally broke down in the last third.

Ahead of Her Time: A Sampler of the Life and Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft edited by Ella Mazel
A short volume I picked up from my library. Mixed with some brief biographical notes, it was indeed a good introduction to the early feminist.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Such fun! I need to read more Neil Gaiman.

The Singing House by Janette Griffiths
I discovered this tale of Wagner fans and singers because its author and I were listening to and commenting to one of the Ring cycle operas at the same time on Twitter. No joke. A charming story that I'm really glad Janette mentioned!

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
How many books do you read where every word is perfect? Not many. This is one. A heartbreaking masterpiece. I might even read more McCarthy at some point, although I suspect most of his work is too grisly and bleak for me. Despite the bleak setting, this one was not.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superatheletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
A little adventure, a little sports, and a little science woven with great stories and characters who sound too outrageous to really exist, but do. So much fun, I suspect even non-runners would enjoy it.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
A sweet short tale about a library cat is buried among the story of the author's not very interesting personal troubles and repeated conviction that small town people are better than everyone else because they're so humble. Yuck.

March by Geraldine Brooks
March a Pulitzer and the topic was intriguing, but turned out to be the worst book I read all year. Mr. March of Little Women fame is revealed to be a craven coward who keeps meeting up in unlikely ways with his first love, a biracial slave woman who is a paragon of culture, literacy, medical talent, selflessness, and unlikelihood. Dear Geraldine Brooks: what did Louisa May Alcott ever do to you? Dear Pulitzer Committee: srsly?

Carrie by Stephen King
The only other King I'd read was the Hearts in Atlantis short story collection, which I didn't especially care for--partially because there was a tie-in to the Dark Tower series, which I hadn't read and thus found annoying. Carrie, however, was excellent, despite my general distaste for supernatural elements and my mostly knowing the whole story despite not having seen the whole movie. (Thanks, pop culture world.) I hadn't expected the faux primary sources interspersed with the story. Nice touch.

Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir
I'd been wanting to read a proper bio of Eleanor for years--or at least as proper as is possible given the paucity of primary sources for her life. Weir did a great job reconstructing, though as mentioned above, she frequently uses far too authoritative a tone in her guesses about her subjects' feelings and motivations.

Candy Freak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond
Omnomnomnom. I expected an inside view of the candy industry. I didn't expect the history and inside view of some remaining mom-n-pop candy producers from around the country. Fascinating...and will make your sweet tooth go out of control, especially if you can find the candies he mentions. Lucky for me, Lake Champlain chocolates are all over the place in New England.

Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown
Brown does give lots of examples of how design thinking works in different types of projects. Recommended reading for librarians who are thinking about designing or redesigning resources or services.

Are You Somebody?: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman
by Nuala O'Faolain
A sometimes hard to read personal memoir that was recommended to me by a law librarian last October. Although so much of it is specific to O'Faolain's experiences, it was still a fascinating look into an Ireland my mother might have experienced had she stayed there instead of emigrating as a young child.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Fun YA novel that is unavoidably reminiscent of Harry Potter due to the supernatural powers, trio of heroes, and special school. Still: fun. I didn't know when I started it that it's being made into a movie, but I'm looking forward to it.

Sense & Sensibility
by Jane Austen (started; finished in 2010)
I decided to read this one finally after re-watching the Emma Thompson movie for the umpteenth time. Typical witty Austen, and Elinor and Marianne continue to remind me of my sister and me. I will leave it as an exercise for my reader to figure out who is whom, but anyone who knows us both will get it right.


As you can see, there were quite a few I disliked. What were my favorites? Born to Run and The Road, with Catching the Fire a close runner-up to BtR in the non-fiction category and Sense & Sensibility and Neverwhere as runners up to The Road in fiction.

I read Catching the Fire, The Little Stranger, and the Lightning Thief on the Kindle app on my iPhone, which I love. The only reason I didn't read more things on it is that I frequently find the books I want to read either aren't available for Kindle or cost as much or more than the print versions, which is ridiculous. I also joined Paperback Swap this year on my sister's recommendation, and it is also awesome.

In 2010, I plan to read 40 books and do some other things. More on that soon.

All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me

Yesterday there was uproar in the law library community over this charming ad Westlaw sent to some of its subscribers:

Click to enlarge; the fine print punchline reads "If so, chances are, you're spending too much time at the library. What you need is fast, reliable research you can access right in your office. And all it takes is West."

Yes, I agree. It's insulting and offensive. But beyond the outrage, I'd love to see it lead to more discussion of the positive things we as law librarians are going to do to change things so that next time a major legal publisher makes such a blunder, we all just laugh it off. And more important than discussion, action. What do we, the legal information experts, do to take more control of legal information back from vendors?

Do we start at home, encouraging our in-house reviews and journals to publish in accordance with the Durham Statement (have you signed yet?): commiting "to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats"?

Do we continue to advocate for better and easier access to government information that ought to be free anyway? How many law librarians have signed the Improve PACER petition yet? There are definitely more than 682 of us.

Do we get more active finding creative ways around such shortcomings, like creating RECAP?

Do we help come up with more tools like handy LibX, the brainchild of a Virginia Tech librarian collaborating with a VT computer science professor?

Do we go continue to call for better user interfaces from vendors? How about going beyond critiquing the vendors to become expert interface designers on our own, making more useful library websites, less sucky OPACs, and engaging institutional or regional repositories?

Do we support our local legal information institutes and figure out ways to make them even better for research?

There's obviously not any set answer here, just lots of possibilities we need to get serious about exploring and implementing so we don't have any reason to get freaked out next time a vendor encourages users to make an end-run around us.

I'm not big on sports metaphors, but in his AALL 2009 keynote, Jonathan Zittrain mentioned the concept of library defense. Even I know enough about sports to know that you can't win only playing defense. So what's our offense?

Thoughts on ABA Standards for Library and Information Resources

Law librarians: for those who haven't heard, the ABA is revising its accreditation standards and sadly lacking in input from us on Chapter 6.

I've glanced at the law library standards before, but had never given them a really close reading. Having done so, I highly recommend it. It's entertaining to read through antiquated language and then remind yourself that it's talking about the place you work everyday. Rule 606-5(8), I'm looking at you.

But seriously, I do think it's important to send our feedback on this, and in that spirit, here's what I sent to Becky Stretch (stretchc AT staff*abanet*org) at ABA HQ:

601 (c)
Keeping the library "abreast of contemporary technology" is vague, and I don't know what it means. Keeping the library equipment current? Informing library staff about developments in technology?

If the former, I'm in favor of it, but hope the statement will be revised for clarity.

If the latter, the statement does not reflect reality. In some law schools, the technology departments report to the library director, thus the library is officially the unit keeping the law school aware of technology developments. And that aside, many law librarians are individually well ahead of the technology curve, helping to keep their law schools (and faculty) abreast of technology, rather than the other way around.

602 (c)
Typo: this one should begin "the director of the law library…" rather than "the directory of the law library…" [Blog note: it is REALLY embarrassing that this has passed unnoticed.]

In both the text and interpretation of this standard, the word bibliographic stands out as outdated. I would suggest replacing it with information literacy, which applies to information regardless of format.

606 (c)
It would be wonderful if this standard had an addendum promoting the public sharing of our collection development policies to enable better collaboration as libraries deal with continued pressure from budgets and vendors.

The focus on citators and periodical indexes puts this one out of date as well. Perhaps changing it to "electronic citators, finding aids and periodical databases…" I'm surprised that library OPACs/catalogs/discovery tools are not mentioned here, as they are the primary means of finding monographs in the library collection.

On the Future of Academic Law Libraries

While I was in D.C., a library director whom I'd just met wondered why there weren't more younger people at the Academic Law Library of 2015 workshop. I didn't have a ready answer, and I've been thinking about it ever since. There were actually a number of reasons.

First, I confess that my (possibly superficial) impression of the pre-workshop listserv discussion was that many of the issues on it were things that had been hashed and rehashed for years with little action. No thanks. (I have subsequently heard good things about the workshop, so I'm happy my impression was incorrect or that the listserv didn't otherwise accurately preview the workshop.)

My other personal issue with getting to the workshop was working with a shortened travel schedule, because I also went to CALI. The best I could do with that was get to D.C. in time for the late morning CONELL exhibit hall.

Finally, and perhaps most important, I've only now noticed in the workshop description that the target audience is listed as "academic law library senior managers." This does not describe me, nor many of my most talented peers--future directors and AALL presidents certainly among them. Granted, 2015 is not far in the future and there are some young-ish librarians that fit that description, but if one is really interested in the future of libraries, one should make sure that ALL the librarians who will be making and living it are invited.


I'm aware there was also some to-do about where the young law librarians were at the business meeting and member forum during the conference. (I'd been planning to go but didn't, because I ended up working the Gen X / Gen Y Caucus booth. Oh, irony.) I do think it takes a few years to figure out the association and gain a level of interest to support attending the business meeting. I went to part of one my first year (and haven't been back since), and it wasn't really clear to me that I was supposed to be there, to be honest. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in having had that experience.

Meanwhile, what I'd like to know is, where are the older law librarians showing an interest in the younger generation? Yes, quite a number support CONELL, but that's for newer librarians, not necessarily younger ones. Bob Oakley was a marvelous supporter of the Gen X / Gen Y Caucus from its first meeting, and I think of him fondly every year during our meeting. Jim Milles attended last year. This year, board member Chris Graesser attended our meeting (and witnessed our first election), and president Catherine Lemann joined her for our social. I may be missing some stealth boomers, but that's not very many.

Like the business meeting, Caucus meetings and socials are open to all law librarians. The former is now a must on my agenda for next year. I sincerely hope there will be some more generational cross-over in the other direction too.

Another year of law librarianship, another AALL

Three years ago this month, I went to my first day of work as a law librarian, then headed the next day to my first AALL.

I've always appreciated that my anniversary in the profession coincides with the annual meeting; it's a nice chance to reflect on my career so far. Not going to navel gaze here, but suffice to say I am satisfied, and looking forward to many more years of gentle law librating.

There are a few things, however, that stand out.

Before I became a librarian, I had an absolute dread of networking. The thought of it made my skin crawl. So I was surprised to find that it wasn't actually so bad when law librarians were involved. In fact, I didn't really mind it at all, and it's only gotten better from there. I think it helped a lot that the CONELL committee does such a great job of helping newbies get started.

The other thing that helped early on was walking into my first (the first, in fact) meeting of the Gen X / Gen Y Caucus. It feels incredibly corny to say, but it was a thrill to walk into a room with about a hundred people my age who were just as excited to be law librarians as I was. (I suspect part of the excitement was that I didn't really know anyone in library school let alone anyone younger who was also interested in law librarianship.) The first thing we did was re-arrange all the chairs in the room into an enormous circle. It was great. That was a highlight, but my whole first annual meeting made me feel like I'd found my people.

Fast forward three years to my fourth annual meeting. I got to work the CS-SIS booth at CONELL's exhibit hall this time. It was worth getting up for the early flight. I met a lot of the cool new people and began to feel more like an old conference pro. Someone handed me a slip with the URL to sign up for the mentoring program, and I think suggested I do so as a mentor. I guess I'm really not a newbie anymore.

Meanwhile, I've been on the Gen X / Gen Y social planning committee for three years, and this year's event was mind-blowing. We made a reservation for 20; I counted at least 53 people at one point. Yeah. It's just one indication of the group's success. We're taking all necessary steps toward becoming an SIS. Our members represent on SIS and chapter boards, and on national committees; and present multiple times at conferences. They're also behind creative new things like the first annual Lawberry Camp. (Got ideas for next year? Help with the proposal.) I have a lot of loyalties within the association, but ask me which group I'm most proud of, and it's the Caucus.

In addition all that, I've made some really amazing friends in the profession, especially over the past year or so. People I like to think I'd be friends with if we met outside of the law library sphere. I've found not only my people, but my pack.

Two other mentionable-but-not-really-related highlights:

  • This year's opening even in the halls of the Library of Congress was phenomenal. The mild thunder and lightning storm added a little locked-in-the-library magic to the evening. As I commented elsewhere, it's a shame the place isn't more portable, because it sure beats convention halls and hotel ballrooms.
  • CS-SIS karaoke outing. Last year when I went for the first time, there were fewer than a dozen people and it was fun, but low key. This year? I'm not sure what happened (nor which year was more unusual), but there were over 70 people. And since Connie Crosby has video anyway, I'm just going to say it: looking out into a room full of law librarians and realizing that everyone else was also belting "Don't Stop Believin'" is something I'll never forget. Though perhaps I should. :)
And with this post, I hope to get blogging here a little more often. I've been waiting till I get around to switching to WordPress, then Tom Boone and Jason Eiseman convinced me at CALIcon that I too can handle Drupal--but I'm unlikely to make any kind of platform switch until I get a new computer this fall.

Yale Library 2.0 Symposium Notes

On April 4, I attended The Yale Internet and Society Project's Library 2.0 Symposium. (Side note: it was ridiculously exciting, as a recent escapee from south Florida, to go to an event in another state and be able to drive there in less than six hours.)

Aside from transcription, formatting, and adding some links, these notes are presented as I took them - i.e., uncleaned up, sometimes random or unclear, and I've probably gotten a few things wrong or otherwise misrepresented them. My personal comments and observations are in brackets.

It was quite a good conference overall, but I felt some professional frustration in that the presenters with the more traditional library careers tended to be the ones who felt least current and relevant to me, while the non- (and wannabe) librarians seemed to "get it" much more--that fear of technology is so old hat it doesn't need to be restated in detail, that we need to embrace change, stand up for ourselves and our institutions, and get involved in our communities. There were definitely some exceptions, but that was my general impression.


Conference materials will appear on these websites:

Since it’s a digital conference, they created a video to open the day in lieu of formal opening remarks:

Panel 1

Josh Greenberg, Director of Digital Strategy and Scholarship, New York Public Library

  • How do we digitize librarians and their experiences?
  • Example of Jessica Pigza’s craft blog – started virally with no public link, worked with Design Sponge. Craft book exhibit eventually brought 400 ppl to NYPL exhibit, Flickr group created.
  • Important themes: IP, changing role of libs, third-party sites
  • Red tape involved to get out and do lib work where ppl are
  • No lit yet on personal/professional blogging and tweeting and public’s perception of this fuzzy line

John Palfrey, Professor of Law and Vice Dean, Library and Information Resources, Harvard Law School

  • 3 criteria of DNs: age, access, skills
  • 100% of DNs start with Google then Wikipedia. Some cut and paste; others savvy skeptics.
  • News currency: first step grazing; second step going to deeper to blogs; third step smaller group here re-blogs, creates own content
  • We need to experiment; pick out what works
  • Faculty: some sad about changes; others think we’re not changing fast enough
  • Empirical research support
  • What materials do we all just provide access to for everyone
  • What about unique things?
  • Collaborative collecting
  • Need to share info about coll. stuff
  • Services: moving from cathedral to bazaar model
  • Young ppl and fac work in bazaar model – we need to be bazaar guides instead of high priests


  • Q for JP: HLSL in ten years? A: Multi-faceted issue. Unique materials, BD materials, open access, Cohen fellowship – but we can’t do it all
  • JG: tension between individual and institutional voices
  • Q for JP: hurdles that need to be overcome? A: Local and IP hurdles, fac find OA procedures annoying, implementation is hard, publishing cycle needs to be broken, must be sure about preservation and commitment to archives, collective action opportunity rather than collective action problem. Crucial to push fair use boundaries: use it or lose it. [last sentence echoes in Twitter]

Ann Wolpert, Director of Libraries, MIT

  • Books are mature tech; JP’s students aren’t reading books/extended arguments [Twittering law libs don’t think this is a problem]
  • MIT fac discussion – committee formed after HU’s OA decision
  • Fac view lib as what’s in front of them – each fac sure other disciplines work same way as theirs
  • “so sue me” model of using fac’s own work – until they discovered open courseware site was gutted of copyrighted materials.
  • Death Star of vendor consolidation [this reference was popular throughout the day]

Charles Cronin, Visiting Fellow, Yale Information Society Project

  • An optimist, not a futurist
  • Woolf quote about two types of readers
  • 40 year crisis in pub libs; popular materials – piano rolls, films
  • Problem: ppl not using libs for info [again, some Twittering law libs don’t think this is the problem]
  • We need digital Carnegies

More Questions

  • JG: paradigm shift needed – model of licensing to higher ed/businesses must be broken
  • Questioner notes JP was the only person to mention special collections
  • Question for JP: libraries in sky with bazaar at each individual school – how do ABA accreditation stds affect ability to change/re-org? A: JP worried no one will follow us in OA; hubris keeps us from collaborating – we need to stop competing on size of collections and start competing on how well we collaborate [good response to this on Twitter]

Panel 2

Mary Alice Baish, American Association of Law Libraries

  • She’s not as cynical as she was a few years ago. Everyone seems to figure out answer to this before she says Obama
  • Transparency pledge [do we need one from libraries?]
  • Open govt directive: it should be transparent, participatory, collaborative (core principles of democracy [and maybe libraries?])
  • Govt responsibility for e-lifecycle mgmt of docs: creation, metadata, version control, official status, citation, authentication, permanent accessibility
  • EPA example – digitization without standards = bad
  • Change of culture after re-opening of EPA libraries – all about community [this should be underlined three times]

Michael Zimmer, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

  • Postman on Faustian bargain with technology
  • Long tail
  • [can libs really see FB data from those who fan their pages as opposed to friend them personally? I think not.]
  • Proposes best practices for Library 2.0
  • [Faustian bargain with tech can't be as bad as the deal we've got with vendors, can it?]

Ted Striphas, Assistant Professor of Media & Cultural Studies; Director of Film & Media, Indiana University Department of Communication and Culture

  • Focus on booklike aspects of Kindle obscure the ways it attempts to go beyond books
  • Why is Kindle always marketed displayed with books/paper materials?
  • Book recommendation: Gary Hull, Digitize This Book
  • Commodification of audience labor - Kindle users are a mass, unsuspecting focus group

Jessamyn West, Community Technologist, Librarian, and Blogger

  • Her slides at
  • Ppl who need egovt have the least access
  • 2.0 can feel like the anti-local
  • Michael Pollan variation: “Use the Internet. Not too much. Mostly _____.” What’s the _____? [I propose Twitter in jest; Tom Bruce proposes lolcats; Stephanie Davidson proposes "read information. Not too much. Mostly non-commercial" which I really like.]
  • [Everyone laughed at the picture of Jessamyn’s library building, which I thought was no more laughable than Langdell. Small cottage, big stone temple: both very traditional.]

Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

  • Was at 1999 ARL and OCLC joint meeting in Colorado – sensed fear
  • Library definitions, noun - pooling arrangement to deal with scarcity, first sale doctrine, organized piracy
  • Notes JP’s use of lib as verb [my notes unclear here]
  • Talks abt “consumption of knowledge.” Is knowledge gone when you consume it? What comes out the other end? A: We call that scholarship
  • Project Gutenberg – what a crazy idea to just start typing in books
  • Mentions .sig of Michael Hart (of PG)
  • Boldness of Google Books – why aren’t libraries doing this??
  • Perfect is the enemy of the good [this echoes through Twitter] [why does JZ get what many librarians don’t?]
  • Makes fun of WAX [Harvard's web archiving system]

Panel 3

Laura Gassaway, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, University of North Carolina School of Law

  • History of copyright act

Jonathan Band, Technology and Law Consultant

  • Proposes Fair Use Legal Defense Fund and notes EFF and other orgs already do some of this work

Denise Troll Covey, Principal Librarian for Special Projects, Carnegie Mellon University Libraries

  • Book recommendation: Corynne McSherry, Who Owns Academic Work?
  • Libraries should exercise and foster civil disobedience and moral courage

Kenneth Crews, Director of Copyright Advisory Office, Columbia University

  • Balance is impossible so throw it out and do good stuff
  • Copyright is a social interface – law is abt ppl
  • Awkward social relationship with copyright
  • Private responses and structural responses
  • Creative commons – Google Books
  • Remember that Google Books settlement is only about books
  • Fragmentation in the future of books, readers, publishers, libraries
  • New libraries: [need to get text of this slide in full] Expanding universe of… Supernova… Ecology… Gatekeeper… Appeasers… Apologists…

Panel 4

Jeff Cunard, Partner, Debovoise & Plimpton

  • Overview of Google Books settlement

Guy Pessach, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Digital archives in Europe

Frank Pasquale, Visiting Professor of Law, Yale Law School

  • Similarity between private health insurers and Google. Google as middleman
  • Mentions Darnton’s On the Media appearance last week discussing “cocaine pricing” of info
  • Book recommendation: Jessica Lipman, Digital Copyright
  • [try to find his slides – a unique and interesting take, but my brain was full]

Brewster Kahle, Digital librarian and co-founder of the Internet Archive

  • Discusses problems in MIT’s making available digital copy of 1964 book Libraries of the Future by J. Licklider – which had been published by MIT.
  • Orphaned works
  • We’re very close to universal access to knowledge – let’s not stumble now.
  • Book recommendation: Terry Fisher, Promises to Keep</li>
  • Google gets libraries to work against each other with non-disclosure [sounds like Westlaw]

Concluding remarks

Yale’s Librarians on Parade movie was played

Where are we moving books and libraries to now?

AcademiX - iTunes U: Case Study Panel

(March 26 I attended an Apple-sponsored AcademiX seminar at MIT. Or most of it--had to dash back to the office for a meeting in the afternoon and I didn't make it back for the end of the day. What I went to, however, was quite good.

Here are my notes, raw and uncorrected except for formatting, with occasional comments in brackets.)

iTunes U: Case Study Panel
Kate James, Open Course Ware, Production Mgr., Video Coordinator, MIT
Jim Marko, New Media Producer, NJIT

Kate James:
In 2000, questions abt how internet would impact education, what to do about it.

Faculty conclusion wasn’t about money, but because of nature of MIT education (collaboration, etc), they recommended putting materials online for free—because it isn’t degree-granting, representative of interactive classroom environment, no contact with faculty. (Occasionally compelling requests are passed to faculty, but not often.)

OCW is free, will continue to be perm at MIT.

Voluntary contribs from ~80% faculty.

Various stats abt OCW. Creative Commons non-com/attrib/share alike audience.
Permitted to mix math lectures with dance beats

Translations happening

60% of access is from outside North America

Every six months entire site burned to drive and shipped to places like Nigeria where bandwidth and connectivity are issues

Inspiring movement—250 institutions in OCW consortium

Production process

Recruiting faculty
diff ways—superstar faculty, durable content, core curriculum, MIT-unique, distinct pedagogy, more and more fac submitting info

wardrobe (no white or checked shirts), props and other things to focus on, third-party materials (can’t have NY-er cartoons), student privacy, not Hollywood (mistakes okay)

Sony HDR-SR11 10.2mp 60gig hi def hard drive handycam
Wireless mics

Scrub and review
every minute reviewed for IP and 3rd party stuff, student privacy etc.
look for actual start and end
create edit sheet if necessary

Edit & Compress
final cut, iMovie, MetaX (neurotic about metadata)
Sorenson media squeeze for compression

(can email KJ for notes)

Moving from (couldn’t catch name) to four different models,
iTunes U,
Loves that iTunes supports PDF notes downloads, but it doesn’t support captioning
YouTube enhanced channel with 893 videos 21,000 subscribers
Will put smaller pieces on YouTube, but not iTunes U
Internet Archive for “pesky Linux users”, old stuff, small stuff (files check in at IA, but don’t check out)
Also video

as much as they can
recent addition to process
human transcribes, student reviews
increases discoverability
popular with non-native English speakers
need to find way to bring cost down (lecture browser)

Example of finished course page:

Jim Marko:
NJIT has tons of legacy materials – started pilot podcasting project in 2005.

iTunes U at NJIT collaboration between Uni Web Services, Uni IS, ??

UWS goal: manage and establish a greater web presence for the university
redesign, embrace Web 2.0, etc.

How do you get from here to there?

Challenge of populating site with quality material? Convert preexisting content, faculty recording , student reporters

Web content writer helped create podcasts to complement stories

Prof on video talking about essay as sole way students report is antiquated. New ways (podcasting, etc.) help them sharpen thinking.

Technical challenges for faculty not such a big deal now.

iTunes compared to network TV, website as premium cable, YouTube as all of the above + public access tv.

iTunes U provided good exposure for early adopters

5 year faculty plan has inspired podcasting.

Take-away tips:
Be a collector, not a curator—you never know what will appeal
Curate for quality and accuracy, but not interest.
Fences make good neighbors—one dept should have keys rather than profs uploading

Convince a professor of podcasting value- that person will get three more profs involved

Things to think about:
• Who will assume ownership
• Technical resources are required to establish a private face
• Getting faculty and university buy-in
(some profs will still think iTunes is only for Mac-using students!)

KJ: value of iTunes U is album unit creation. In YouTube, most lectures are found by other means than the channel—frequent comments from ppl wondering where other material is. YouTube announcing education channels maybe tomorrow.

AcademiX - The Center Cannot Hold: Living, Learning, and Leading in a Networked World

(March 26 I attended an Apple-sponsored AcademiX seminar at MIT. Or most of it--had to dash back to the office for a meeting in the afternoon and I didn't make it back for the end of the day. What I went to, however, was quite good.

Here are my notes, raw and uncorrected except for formatting, with occasional comments in brackets.)

[This particular presentation was the highlight of the day--very inspiring.]

The Center Cannot Hold: Living, Learning, and Leading in a Networked World
Dr. Paul D. Hammond, Director of Digital Initiatives, Department of English and Dr. Richard E. Miller Chair, Department of English and Executive Director, Plangere Writing Center Rutgers University

Very exciting for English teachers to speak at MIT.

Explanation of title – Yeats, advent of WW2 [I don't know why, but it's weird to see Yeats in Keynote template]

Hammond’s work on American apocalypticism.

Unprecedented economy, environment, government

We need to begin to imagine how to teach differently – not squeeze same old thought into new tube of toothpaste, but fundamentally different.

Miller notes that change is unprecedented because it is global. But wait: crisis or opportunity? That’s what we in education are asking ourselves.

Leopard screenshot: this is the machine of our age. But computers won’t solve our problems. Education experiences with unkept promises of tech. “If we can just get our students to Twitter about WoW in Second Life, we’ll be set.”

Turning off everything doesn’t work any better.

Hammond notes spent 8-12 hrs in lib in graduate school, but hasn’t been back yet…but reads more than ever.

Our info access is unprecedented, as is ability to get work out there. Beginning of a closing of a circle.

Teaching of writing has always been bedeviled by audience being untrue. Teacher says “think of your audience” Student says “I do…it’s you”

Ability to transform passive experience

Printing Press got us out of oral mode, but not into interactivity.

Getting students to engage with problems with our times—problems that don’t have solutions, but ways of being understood.

Enabling ways to drill down deeply beyond superficial aspects. Understanding of not only complexity but depth.

Books are not the main vehicle for people communicating the most important issues at this time. Books great tech for thinking, allowing for extended thought that is clearly endangered by (youtube example). Lends itself of grotesque triviality.

Best news we can get on Comedy Central.

Enabling students to see how things are put together, how do they take access to info and work on it themselves.

Our responsibility as humanists, compositionists is to teach our students to use this stuff. We haven’t done it well.

Designed a controlled experiment. Writers House.

• Access to ubiquitous computing
• Pedagogies that foster creativity and collaboration
• inspiring teachers of new media composition
• spaces that foster collaborative learning

We won’t be teaching keyboarding, MS Word—likely Final Cut, whatever it’s called then.

Delayed reaction to joke about ubiquitous computing in US.

Encourages us to spend time going to local high schools. Stories from comm. college professor abt what our nation has done to public education were shocking.

Education has always been designed first/foremost for convenience of teachers. Student-centered ed isn’t about petting Bobby, but putting him face to face with fundamental experience of learning--frustration, challenge, pushing through that.

How do we transform learning space from 100 years ago to create learning spaces for now?

There’s a diff btw computer labs and experimental labs

Need to teach students to think with tech the way we teach them to think with writing. Vast majority of use for tech right now is for goofing around.

Q: how hard is it to get teachers (on board)?
A: (Hammond) Central stumbling point is acknowledgment that 20 yo mimeographed notes don’t cut it. [Yes. I had some easily 20 year old overhead sheets that had been poorly transferred to PowerPoint in one of my library school classes just over three years ago. Not Cool.]

A: (Miller) When we say center cannot hold, need to move from 1.0 [sage on stage] to 2.0. How many PhD programs have changed in light of all this? Answering questions doesn’t mean we can think. We need to be experts not at content management but at facing the unknown – how do we fix the economy? [possibly I have really mangled this answer]

A: (Hammond) Notes that we don’t know what the implications for this are.

Q: What’s the role of Shakespeare in these kinds of projects?
A: (Miller) New bucket for carrying info to students, have to realize this (Keynote, PPT) is NOT like the slide projector. You don’t get from Ptolemy to Copernicus just by moving a few words around. Does not mean Shakespeare is not relevant. We will never have anything to say if we don’t know something deeply. Universities need to stand for knowing something in depth and complexity.

Q: [missed it]
A: Loss of newspapers, disappearance of snail mail are not modest changes. People say “sure, GM can go out of business…but why is my research budget cut?” These ppl have no center to their world. [extreme paraphrase]

Young people’s facility with technology grossly oversold. We don’t find curiosity, despite having access to everything. Creativity also missing. Collaboration may take place only in WoW.

[how does the library inspire curiosity at HLS?]

They are trying to invent genre of idea-driven visual essay.

We're missing the idea that you can think in these media (but we know you can entertain and sell crap)

Miller admits that they have taught a lot of terrible classes…new pedagogy, creativity needs failure. Hammond: like in science, there’s a lot of screwing up, doing over

Miller: question he asks sometimes: how many of you work in English departments with 5 IT people? (He does, but it took 12 years)

AcademiX - Open: The New Deal for Education

(March 26 I attended an Apple-sponsored AcademiX seminar at MIT. Or most of it--had to dash back to the office for a meeting in the afternoon and I didn't make it back for the end of the day. What I went to, however, was quite good.

Here are my notes, raw and uncorrected except for formatting, with occasional comments in brackets.)

Open: The New Deal for Education
Dr Vijay Kumar, Senior Associate Dean & Director,
Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), MIT

Gathering storm of open ed movement and it’s potential for transformation

Movement characterized by open content, open tech, open knowledge

Shout-out to Social Life of Info [my favorite library school read]

Open courseware – almost 2000 at MIT. Two remarkable things when initiative announced: first: whoa, this is big. Second: none of us knew what it meant.

(Side benefit: figuring out how many courses they had.)

Benefit for educators: saving time and lowering stress

Benefit for students: students elsewhere can check out notes for better understanding
Open courses also serve as model, benchmark

We typically think of higher ed with this stuff, but there are notable K-12 efforts

MIT has “highlights for high school” open courseware channel featuring material that might be of use/interest to that group.

(the preceding section is “Metaversity Part I”, more about content, stand alone stuff)

Metaversity Part II: Harvesting the Collective Advantage

Examples in this section launched from MIT, but involve other players

MIT Online Laboratories
iLab provides access to actual labs via internet—not simulations

Communities form to discuss results

Transformative dimension: iLabs not just about making equipment available, alters econ of lab instruction—equipment is expensive (equipment, time, etc). iLab provides potential for 24/7 access. You must believe first-hand lab instruction important to education experience

MIT students have access to labs elsewhere too

Research tools for learning

Spoken lecture browser (lecture browser – spoken language systems)
idea is to search lectures to get relevant snippets

Shakespeare performance in Asia video presentations is another app of this

MIT Visualizing Cultures -

Wonderful to have various apps, many repositories, but need to bring them together

This isn’t just about e-learning, but also national efforts.
India National Knowledge Commission Recommendations for Open Education Resources (OER)

Open ed movement offers way around problem in India of insufficient schools (could build a school a day and not catch up)

Indo-US Collaboration of Engineering Education (IUCEE)

OER value proposition
• open high quality digitized content, tools, communities
• available anytime, anywhere, free
• localizable and remixable
• allows for collective improvement and feedback
• alternate way to learn: accelerate/deepen learning
• scaling excellence
(also allows a lot of feedback to improve on what you do)

“We know how to share our research, but not how to share our pedagogy”

Open Ed vision elements – two important dimensions it enables
1. Blended learning - intelligent combination of physical and virtual
2. Boundary-less ed – beyond geo-political, off campus, research teaching, disciplines, etc.

This is not a pipe dream--however you interpret pipe!

MIT Council on Ed Tech Strategic thrust
promote active learning
bolster… [missed catching this slide, but it was good]

Collectivity culture expressed by what we see (web 2.0 logos slide)

Group of Gen Y students who want to work for NASA, belief about the NASA culture they want to work with, their set of slides. (Why isn’t a whole generation connecting to NASA?)

Q: Are there opportunities for open learning coming out of stimulus bill? A: we think so – variety of responses from institutions. (tongue in cheek – tell your legislators!) Q followup: any particular leaders supporting this? A: great awareness of possibilities, industry leaders, people of influence serving on various boards, Hewlett and Carnegie foundations as champions of open education.

AcademiX - Welcome

(March 26 I attended an Apple-sponsored AcademiX seminar at MIT. Or most of it--had to dash back to the office for a meeting in the afternoon and I didn't make it back for the end of the day. What I went to, however, was quite good.

Here are my notes, raw and uncorrected except for formatting, with occasional comments in brackets.)

Welcome and Opening Comments
Scott Morris, Learning Services & Communities,
Strategic Education Solutions, Apple Inc.

Four AcademiX sessions happening around the country - not Apple marketing, abt learning what ed customers are doing.

Digital learning environment: create, access, distribute - held together by collaboration. Innovation happening outside LMS

People of the Book v. Digital Natives. – we here today are mainly former

What would we know if none of us had ever read a book.

We can’t predict what big things are happening, but we can be involved

In oral cultures, edu required proximity – now it’s everywhere at all times.

Literacy enables other rational discourses

What are time/space constraints, biases of digital world?

Mobility changes this. (No parking app joke)

Wikinomics quote: new promise of collaboration is that with peer production we will harness human skill, ingenuity, and intelligence more efficiently and effectively…

How do we create next gen of professionals/citizens, getting them to stand on shoulders of giants.


Is this thing on?

So, by a few days, I lost the chance to have a great April Fool's day joke at the expense of common perceptions of my new employer. Instead of admitting that I had simply been uninspired/lazy about blogging or consumed by Twitter, one of my new associate directors suggested a few months ago that I could claim Harvard made me shut down my blogging. Heh. But not too likely, really.

I should have just joined my friend Skullsnbats in declaring that I'm officially blogging without obligation.

That said, the blog has not been completely abandoned. I'm hoping to get my notes from two recent conferences up tonight, and from there, we'll see.

So, hello again!

Dozens of virtual worlds

Gary Hayes, director of the Australian Laboratory for Advanced Media Production, filmed the video below during his virtual travels in preparation for some reports on the evolution of virtual worlds. I knew there were other virtual worlds out there and in the works, but I had no idea there were so many that look--at least from the brief clips--so good. In seven minutes, Hayes provides glimpses of forty virtual worlds, interspersed with some interesting and thought-provoking quotations. Visit Personalized Media and scroll down to read some of Hayes's initial observations.

Thanks to Kathryn Greenhill at Librarians Matter for the tip!

The Super Size Me of lexicography

Thanks to Library Boy for linking to an interesting book review by Nicholson Baker:

Ammon Shea, a sometime furniture mover, gondolier and word collector, has written an oddly inspiring book about reading the whole of the Oxford English Dictionary in one go.
. . . .
Months in, Shea arrives — back-aching, crabby, page-blind — at Chapter N. “Some days I feel as if I do not actually speak the English language,” he writes, his verbal cortex overflowing. “It is,” he observes, “like trying to remember all the trees one sees through the window of a train.” Once he stares for a while, amazed, at the word glove. “I find myself wondering why I’ve never seen this odd term that describes such a common article of clothing.”
Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages sounds like a great read for those of us who enjoyed The Professor and the Madman. I can't wait to get a copy.

Pogue postscript

Instead of editing the previous post...

Pogue's keynote was rousing and inspiring, even for those of us who were familiar with much of what he was talking about. It was beyond fantastic to have such a tech oriented, tech-powered (perfect use of presentation software, videos, live demos) session at AALL--and at the keynote, no less. Big kudos to whomever helped select and bring him in.

While I was eating lunch, I realized Pogue's keynote could just as easily have been a session at SXSW, and that made it rock another time over.

Live blogging: David Pogue's keynote at AALL2008

I've never actually liveblogged before, but I'm sitting with some fellow geeks at the AALL keynote and just paid for wifi access, so why not? The twist: I'm also knitting a sock and Twittering.

Honorary badge: "ich bin law librarian!!!"

Mac nut - yay! (Law librarians need more Mac evangelism.)

Slide graphic: "everyone's going to think I'm into Dianetics"

Will focus on five or six macro trends.

Last telegram: an ad for herbal viagra

I didd a lot of research - googled for six minutes

The future: nobody knows. End of Keynote!


VOIP. Why isn't Skype on a cellphone?

T-mobile hotspot at home - transitions seamlessly to T-mobile network. (This was announced June 29.)

Watching Grand Central commercial. I heard about that one years ago--didn't know it was still around.

Text 466-45 with query to get closest query match from Google.

Other things: weather, flight number, stock quotes, movie name and zip, definitions, driving directions, unit and currency conversions.

Pogue demo-ing Goog411.

Cha Cha. (I know someone who signed up to do this. She is not a librarian. I wouldn't want to do that!)

X-treme sarcasm: voicemail directions "when you're finished, you may hang up" Pogue: NOOOOOO!

Voicemail alternatives/text transcription services: callwave, phone tag, spinvox.

Big news about iphone is not what it is, but how it came about - carriers not consulted. Cingular CEO didn't see iPhone till two weeks before launch. Everyone copying model.

Hulu - one 15 sec commercial. Better than TV, but you're sitting at your computer looking like a dork.

Splintering graph includes mystery items phlogs (phone blogs) and Krogs. Anyone know what a Krog is?

Comcast: 9000 hours/month of on-demand everything. Why should shows come on at a certain time? (Since technical limits are no more. TV as giant jukebox.

It doesn't matter that blu-ray won format war, since it's not going to be about plastic discs - but this may not happen for another decade before 50% of households don't have high speed internet.

We need national movement for 27-hour day--or common sense. (Me, I'd bet on the 27-hr day)

Skpe phones: cost $175, then no fees again, ever

Trend coming: wireless everywhere, everything. Cameras, kindle, etc.

Eye-fi wireless card for camera - will automatically transmit high res pictures to your computer and ~20 photosharing services. An endless memory card.

Talking about Web 2.0. "I don't know if you're aware of web 2.0..."

Microsoft's blog - minesweeper/mimesweeper

Pogue giving us a copyright challenge quiz. When Pogue gave this to a college audience, not a single hand raised.

Ethics/credibility issues related to blogging, YouTube--LonelyGirl15.

Net neutrality. (Glad Pogue discussed this, since the proposed net neutrality program got turned down.)

Rattling off amazing examples we haven't heard of: Prosper (ordinary people making microloans), Kiva (same thing, but third-world countries), Goloco (ridesharing),, Who is Sick? (probably the first time the words "bloody stool" have been uttered in AALL keynote.)

Keeping up, overwhelmed...

Give it time, things settle down, people push back (e.g. net neutrality)

Pogue singing history of music downloads in 2 minutes...sing me a song, you're the music/tv man [Steve Jobs]...Tube, I've got YouTube...young man, you've just been sued by the R.I.A.A....people behind me are singing along.

And a well-deserved standing ovation.


Ihasahotdog, the canine companion of icanhascheezburger, says it helps them notice submissions "wen u put em on ur blog." So without further ado, here is a portrait of Buster, my parents' dog, from last Independence Day:

A few things I have recently been up to (since that picture was actually captioned last year!):
  1. Doing pretty well (though not quite winning) at quiz night at my favorite pub. My shame is the Back to the Future musical question. I won't say what I mistook it for.
  2. Rescuing and knitting for a sweet local stray cat
  3. Enjoying my Wii and its ability to download games from a number of Nintendo's prior consoles back to NES. It rocks. And some of the newer games are fun too, like the knit cows racing game that's part of the otherwise meh Wii Play. Who thought of that one?
  4. Blogging at Novalawcity. And needing to blog more at Out of the Jungle.
  5. Twittering
  6. Preparing for AALL. I'll be speaking at sessions G-2, I-2, and K-4, mostly about various aspects of Second Life and some about newsletters and blogs. I'm STILL not sure how my schedule got so crazy.
  7. Starting tonight I'll be speed knitting a few items for the AALL Stitchers' group. Once again, we'll be holding a silent auction, this year to benefit the Friends of the Portland Public Library. Last year we raised almost $1000 for the Friends of the New Orleans Public Library.
  8. Idly pondering the future of this blog, since it appears to be turning into a periodic kind of thing.

1993: the key to everything

Wired magazine, in an unreadable, messy yarn pile of a chart, posits that 1993--year of the first World Trade Center attack, the Apple Newton's launch, the debut of Star Trek:Deep Space 9, the famous "on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog" cartoon, and establishment of HDTV standards, among other events, including my high school graduation--is the year that "invented the future" and responsible for current things like Battlestar Galactica, current U.S. foreign policy, and iPhone lust.

Though there some undeniable connections in some of those items (Newton > iPhone, Ron Moore), I am more amused than convinced.

Happy anniversary, Beth and Bryan!

Part of the reason this blog has been neglected for the last couple weeks is that last weekend I was off in Nevada helping my sister and brother-in-law get hitched. I knew it would go by fast, but I underestimated the power of the wedding timewarp to make a day pass in five minutes.

Here are just a few of my favorite moments from their weekend:

  • Finally meeting my adorable, almost-4 step-niece, whose demand of "read to me, Meg!" within an hour of our meeting totally cemented her place in my affections. Later in the weekend, she was showing off a picture of herself going to the library, and I asked her if she knew I worked in a library. "Yep!" was her reply. I don't think she really did--"yep!" and "sure!" were frequent answers from her--but it cracked me up.
  • Nothing to do with the wedding, but getting another chance on Guitar Hero was fun. Suffice to say, it went much better this time. I got to rock out with "Anarchy in the UK" before I left, and I'm just starting to get out of withdrawal.
  • After the rehearsal dinner, we took Beth for a nightcap/her last single drinks out at The Artisan, a neat off-the-strip, non-casino hotel, which was decorated with bookshelves, candles, and fine art reproductions scattered across walls and ceiling. Really great atmosphere.
  • The ceremony went by in a beautiful blur. My only regret is that I didn't have more time to just sit and enjoy the Baroque music ensemble as they played before the ceremony.
  • Beth and Dad's "surprise" father-daughter dance. Somewhat inspired by this one, but Beth couldn't get Bryan to participate in such an exhibition. Instead, she and Dad started off slow dancing to "It's a Wonderful World" then segued into "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" from the Blues Brothers soundtrack--complete with sunglasses and lipsyncing the announcement. They rocked. As it started, Bryan was pre-occupied with trying to find something. I grabbed his arm and told him to pay attention a bunch of times. He must have thought I was crazy, but his expression when the surprise happened was fun to witness.
  • Being able to officially call Bryan bro, which I've been doing unofficially for the last few months. Having a brother is still a novelty, since it was just Beth and me growing up. I'm looking forward to many occasions of ganging up on Beth to tease her about whatever. :)
  • FINALLY turning over to them their wedding afghan, a project that took me about ten months to complete. It will be a long time before I knit anyone else an afghan, but it's awfully satisfying to have done it.
Happy one-week anniversary, Beth and Bryan! I am so proud of you both, and I know it will be the first of many, many observances.

Beautiful librarians

In case anyone doubts that librarians are a beautiful bunch of people in addition to being smart, helpful, passionate, etc., check out Cindi Trainor's set of portraits and other pictures from Computers in Libraries 2008. The light she captures and the way she focuses are just amazing.

I'm going to make sure to get to a conference with her someday! :)

New social networking article

The Social Networking Titans: Facebook and MySpace, the second installment of the column about social networking sites that I co-author with Debbie Ginsberg, has been published at LLRX:

With this article, librarians Deborah Ginsberg and Meg Kribble raise awareness about the different features provided by these services, and their respective impact on students, lawyers, public users, fellow professionals, and other patrons.

In addition, I was surprised to find our law library’s Facebook page featured on the cover and in the feature article of this month’s AALL Spectrum. The article by Jennifer Behrens is a great overview of the Pages feature on Facebook.

Subway violin study wins Pulitzer!

One of my favorite news stories of the past year, Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten's examination of what would (and did) happen if violin virtuoso Joshua Bell performed in a Washington Metro station, has won a Pulitzer prize! Very cool.

Read the original story with its integrated videos so you can see what happened illustrated.

Listen to yesterday's All Things Considered interview with Weingartner.

SXSWi Day One - Book Reading: High Performance Web Sites

Panel blurb: Want your web site to display more quickly? This book presents 14 specific rules that will cut 25% to 50% off response time when users request a page. Author Steve Souders, in his job as Chief Performance Yahoo!, collected these best practices while optimizing some of the most-visited pages on the Web. Even sites that had already been highly optimized, such as Yahoo! Search and the Yahoo! Front Page, were able to benefit from these surprisingly simple performance guidelines. The rules in High Performance Web Sites explain how you can optimize the performance of the Ajax, CSS, JavaScript, Flash, and images that you've already built into your site -- adjustments that are critical for any rich web application. Other sources of information pay a lot of attention to tuning web servers, databases, and hardware, but the bulk of display time is taken up on the browser side and by the communication between server and browser. High Performance Web Sites covers every aspect of that process.

Panelist: Steve Souders, formerly Chief Performance Yahoo!, now at Google
A slower version of Souders's presentation that incorporates his slides is available at Yahoo! Developer Network Theater. A complete list of the rules and short explanations are also available at the Yahoo! Developer Network.
Ahhh, yes. My second SXSW panel, and it was mostly over my head. I thought that was great. Yep, I'm at a technology conference. My notes are quite short for this one:

  • Souder's book contains 14 best practices for speeding up webpages
  • Speed matters
  • Bug checking tools: Firebug and YSlow (YSlow was originally developed in-house for Yahoo, and is now also available as a Mozilla add-on.
  • Keep scripts as far down as possible on pages, and put style sheets above scripts - MySpace pages break these rules [no surprise there!]
  • Stuff about caching
  • Focus on front-end
  • Two quick fixes: add expires headers and use Gzip components
The book reading sessions were fast-paced half-hour segments that took place in the day stage, a room that had both a traditional audience set-up and scattered tables and chairs. There was a small cafeteria line set up in one corner, where I incidentally got the best food I've ever had at a convention center: a (non-Taco Bell) taco. It was a convenient and comfortable place to casually drop in, get a snack, and check email while listening to snippets of interesting content. I popped into a couple others, but this is the only one I took notes on.

SXSWi Day One - Rome, Sweet Rome: Ancient Lessons in Design

Panel blurb: Vitruvius, the first Roman Architect to write about architecture, asserted that any well-designed building must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, and venustas or be durable, useful and beautiful. Can these same three tenets be applied today to help us design better interactions in a digital environment? This presentation will first touch on the similarities between designing buildings and designing digital interactions. Then, there will be an introduction to Vitruvius and his book, De Architectura. In his book Vitruvius writes about this notion of a well-designed building being durable, useful and beautiful. Those three qualities will first be looked at in their historical context, but then will be examined to see how they translate into the contemporary context of interaction design.

Panelist: Jennifer Fraser, Lead User Experience Designer, Corel Corporation (Fraser has degrees in building architecture)
Presentation slides are available at SlideShare.
[edited to add] Presentation audio


  • Interaction design is a profession in its infancy
  • Vitruvius was a theorist, not practitioner - we only know of one building he designed plus his treatise De Architectura consisting of ten books
  • Trivia: Leonardo's famous Vitruvian Man drawing is called that because it is based on Vitruvius's principles of ideal human proportions [I'd always assumed the proportions were original to Leonardo]
  • Three design qualities: durability, convenience, beauty
  • An example of what we might start with when approaching a project: the Winchester House
  • Various foundations for different designers: OS, browsers, Facebook apps, mobile devices, etc. If not carefully built, project/product turns into house of cards
  • Importance of failing gracefully. Examples: Twitter's 404 page and error pages, Firefox's "restore session" feature when restarting after crashes
  • Not so great: MS asking you to send crash data
  • No south-facing libraries in ancient Rome because of damp south winds
  • Rooms = webpages
  • Matching is important - don't mix Doric and Ionic features
  • Adhere to established vocabularies and conventions, or at least be aware of them
  • Good: MS Office 2007 minibar that shows up just when you need it and fades away after a moment
  • Modern interpretations of Vitruvius's three design qualities: usable, useful, desirable
  • Fraser used an equilateral triangle with points B, C, and D (for beauty, convenience, and durability) to illustrate. The aspiration is to be in the middle (in most cases--some products/projects will vary). Try to figure out where your project is in the triangle. There will be tension and pull between internal and external stakeholders.
  • It is terrifying what people will do with products!
Fraser's session was mainly theoretical and abstract, but managed to be practical at the same time. She said that she had been curious how traditional building architecture principles could be applied to interaction architecture design, and chose Vitruvius after considering several others.

Fraser's content was fantastic, but I wish she hadn't tied herself so closely to the prepared text. She made nice use of humor, but I'm not sure how much of the audience caught it in her delivery. That said, presenting solo to a SXSW crowd is an act of bravery I'm not sure I'd be up for.

Photo © Luc Viatour GFDL/CC

For my fellow introverts

If you dread networking as much as I (mostly) used to, check out this Allison Wolf's great article Networking for Introverts at SLAW.

Ironically, now that I'm more comfortable with it, one of the hardest items for me is number 2 on Wolf's top ten list of tips at the end: making sure to have business cards! I always forget to pack extra when I travel, so I just put enough in my purse that I'll be forced to remember to take them out and hide them in my travel bags.

Announcement: Bloggers Get Together at AALL

Passing along this message from DALL blogger Barbara Fullerton:

It's time to mark your calendars for the AALL's Third Annual Bloggers Get Together!

Time: 5-6 p.m.
Date: Sunday, July 13th
Place: TBA
Guest Speaker: TBA (we are inviting bloggers from the Portland area)

Come share your ideas and meet the other law librarian bloggers! Open to all bloggers and potential bloggers.

RSVP: Last year we had over 35 participants so we are anticipating a good crowd this year. For a headcount, please RSVP Barbara Fullerton by Tuesday, July 1st to

Special Thanks to Laura Orr, Law Librarian at Washington County Law Library, for helping in organizing this event!

Barbara Fullerton
DALL Blogger

And three fun sci-fi links

Three things I've been intending to link/post relating to my three favorite sci-fi series:

  1. Wired reports that Caren Golden Fine Art in New York City is hosting an exhibit of crafty Star Trek art:
    Mirror Universe, [Devorah] Sperber's show that opens March 20 at Caren Golden Fine Art in New York, consists of crafty Trek imagery pieced together out of beads and spools of thread. The show's title is an allusion to the 1967 Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror," in which the Enterprise crew is swapped with evil doppelgängers, but it also refers to the way viewers are supposed to look at the exhibit's art -- via reflective materials.
  2. Three lucky bloggers at Concurring Opinions interviewed Ron Moore and David Eick about legal, moral, political, and religious aspects (and more!) of their brilliant re-imagination of Battlestar Galactica. Though I haven't yet had a chance to listening to the whole recording, the beginning sounds excellent.

    If you don't watch BSG, but enjoyed the Klingon story arc in Star Trek: the Next Generation, the ST: TNG finale, and/or much of Deep Space 9, Moore was responsible for all of those, and you should be watching BSG too.

  3. Finally, what if Star Wars had been made in the 60s and had an opening credits sequence designed by Saul Bass?
    See also the "special edition" version.

Catching up is hard to do

Now that I'm back from Austin, done with arranging and hosting the amazing Sabrina Pacifici's visit to SFALL, and done with the joint faculty-library presentation panel that I wasn't sure I'd be able to prep for with the other two things going on, I can catch up. Or at least that's my ambition.

Over the long weekend, I'm planning to post my raw notes from the SXSWi panels I attended--if I can read the chicken scratch my writing turned into on the small notepad. Yes, my notes, save for the one panel by which I'd lost my writing utensils, are analog. I confess though I popped it open from time to time, I found using the laptop too distracting. No laptop in the classroom for me, though I found that knitting through most sessions--the most extensively I have done this--definitely kept the fidgety portion of my brain occupied and helped focus my attention.

Last week I was welcomed as a contributor to Out of the Jungle, a blog that I respect and admire, and am excited and honored to join. I will likely post more coherent and discussion-inducing (I hope) thoughts from some of the panels there. My ulterior motive, of course, is to lure more law librarians to attend next year's SXSW.

SXSW catch up

Even at a conference with good wifi nearly everywhere,* I still don't know how people keep up with posting about conferences as they happen.

* Alas, I was in the overflow room during Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg's now infamous lame interview/keynote by Business Week's Sarah Lacy, and couldn't access Twitter, so I missed the backlash. I left after 20 minutes anyway, because it was boring. The groundbreaking message: "Facebook helps people communicate more efficiently." Wow, huh? Robert Scoble nailed it when he twittered that Lacy was asking too many business questions, and Zuckerberg was giving too many PR answers.

Some reports I've read point to sexism as part of the reason the audience reacted as they did, but I don't think that had (much) to do with it. Zuckerberg simply needed an interviewer more mature and experienced than he is, and instead he got one who was less mature. I'd never heard of Lacy before, and I wonder how many live interviews she's done in the past, or if she mainly works in text.
Back from the digression, a few items to note:
  • Got to play with an XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child program at the session on the future of textbooks, which was fantastic. It's pretty neat; I hadn't realized it's a tablet PC!
  • Kathy Sierra was incredibly inspiring. I went up to thank her afterward and had that nervously-interacting-with-a-celebrity-feeling(!), but managed to get out what I wanted to say.
  • After two sessions for which I felt I'd got our money's worth, I went to the LOLWUT? session, about the story of Definitely the sleeper hit of SXSW. I think a lot of people expected it to be silly, but it was a coherent, informative, and all-around excellent presentation. Bonus: they bought cheeseburgers for the audience! Will blog more about it later, but funny factoid: all the librarians who'd been in the textbook session were there!
  • The exhibit hall is small compared to library conference exhibit halls, but it's good. I got lots of cool stickers, a Mapquest T-shirt, checked out some interesting products, saw the most amazing mini-planetarium show, and bought the coolest flashdrive in the galaxy. Oh, and got some pens from the Google booth. They don't work. I'm trying not to read too much into that.
  • It took being here two full days before we ran into a local with an accent. I haven't felt much like I'm in Texas, which I haven't visited before. Austin is a strange blend of cultures. I suppose that explains the exhortation to keep it weird. :) It also seems to have a certain Mom-and-Pop town feel that a lot of similar towns and larger cities have lost. I'm curious how much of this has been constant over the last 30-40 years, or whether there's been much revitalization involved along the way.
  • The People-Powered Party sponsored by Threadless and Etsy last night was fun. I spent most of the evening chatting with a group of New Zealanders, including a couple who were here on their honeymoon! My breakfast waitress had mentioned them to me that morning, so it was funny to run into them.
  • This morning, I went to see Crawford, about the impact of George W. Bush's move to Crawford, TX on its residents. Lots of humor, an inspiring history teacher, and some moving moments. It made me want to visit, though I'm not sure that was its intended effect!
  • I am enjoying hearing words and references in sessions here that I couldn't imagine hearing at library conferences. :)
  • I finally tried Guitar Hero in the exhibit hall. (There are Guitar Hero and Rock Band stations all over.) It wasn't pretty.
Until I get back, I have unprotected my Twitter updates, and will continue to post most of my observations there.

SXSW: Saturday morning thoughts

I like being at a conference where:

  • Wifi is provided, and the organizers know there would be a massive revolt if it weren't
  • Sessions don't start until 10am
  • You get a card that can be punched for a complimentary drink each day!
Yeah, it'll be a few years before AALL catches up! :)

Things I wish:
  • That I had brought my messenger bag from SEAALL last year. I'm going to regret lugging everything around in the bag I brought by the end of the day.
  • On a related note: that I had a MacBook Air and iPhone. Nothing new there, but between the PowerBook, clunky old camera, and cellphone, that would cut down a good five pounds.
And ha! Just as I was about to write that weight aside, I don't care so much that I'm using some of the oldest tech gear I've seen here, I turned around and noticed the guy behind me is also using a 12" PowerBook. Yay for PowerBooks!

What's the biggest problem at SXSW?

LinkIt just may be the tens of thousands of bags, or to be more precise: all the waste in them. Check out this Cnet article for a more awe-inspiring photo.

First thing we did after getting them was find a spot to sit down and cull the stuff we knew we had no interest in. Unfortunately, while there seemed to be designated junk areas, some large recycling bins would have been appreciated and more encouraging from a conference trying to go green.

One way to help? Go over to Emma Email Marketing and vote for trees. If they get 1000 votes during the conference, they'll have 1000 trees plnated. (Emma is sponsoring this year's interactive lanyards, so I'm amused that I'm wearing my cat's name around.)

SXSW: Day 1

Just some random observations, reports, etc. from day one:

  • Freeze-dried astronaut food strawberries are yucky. No, I wasn't the one who bought them!
  • Austin airport is nice (much nicer than Houston), and MUCH larger than I expected.
  • What is with the emergency vehicles? We stopped for three in the 7-mile trip from airport to hotel, and that wasn't the last of them.
  • Speaking of driving, in the ten or so miles I've driven, I haven't encountered one scary/rude/aggressive driver. The pedicabs, however, are a bit of a pain to navigate around.
  • It's just a bit below my comfort level to go without a jacket temperature-wise, but I love it.
  • We had dinner at Ironworks BBQ. Contrary to what we had been told about Austin-style barbecue, there was sauce available. It was fairly cheap and quite good, with a great atmosphere
  • The Macs:PCs ratio around the convention hall made me smile. Lots of iPhones too, making it harder to control the iPhone lust.
  • Registration took so long that the only session we got to was Battledecks: watch your favorite speakers craft an off-the-cuff presentation using slides they've never seen before. . . judges will score the participants based on their use of jargon, gesturing and credibility. Some were more better others, but they all had some hilarious slides to work with (pics coming soon!). A library science version of the game could be highly entertaining, perhaps with slides inspired by Library 2.0 Idea Generator? Six Apart's Anil Dash stole the show. To start off, he left the room and made the audience welcome him back with a cheering ovation. Great tactic.
  • I got a ticket to see Goliath in the film festival part of the conference with my colleagues who have film passes. I don't think I'd have enjoyed it as much without the audience, and I'm still figuring out what I thought of it. Is it merely trying to demonstrate the effect pets have on our lives? Is it also saying something about our society and the convenience of scapegoating sex offenders now that it's so easy to find out where they live? Some scenes dragged on far too long--this is the filmmakers' first feature-length project--but the ending seemed to work.
  • First full day is tomorrow. Can't wait to meet the other librarians who are here at the LIS lunch!

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