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District Dispatch: Public libraries top public Wi-Fi spot for African Americans, Latinos

Mon, 2015-01-26 20:39

A first-of-its-kind survey (pdf) finds that public libraries are the most common public Wi-Fi access point for African Americans and Latinos—with roughly one-third of these communities using public library Wi-Fi. This is true for 23 percent of white people, who list school as their top public Wi-Fi spot.

The study of Wi-Fi usage patterns by John Horrigan and Jason Llorenz for WifiForward also finds that communities of color are more likely to use Wi-Fi networks in public places, use them more often, and report greater positive impacts of Internet use than their white counterparts. A majority of all online users have at some point used Wi-Fi networks in public places.

The new report also shows that Wi-Fi boosts how people view the Internet’s benefits. Across all racial and ethnic categories, users of public Wi-Fi networks reported higher levels of satisfaction with how the Internet impacts their lives. African Americans and Latinos are more likely to report that the Internet—in general—has a beneficial impact on education, saving time and searching for jobs. This pattern holds when examining Wi-Fi users.

Clearly, library Wi-Fi is no longer ‘nice to have.’ It is essential to support The E’s of Libraries™—Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment and Engagement—in cities and towns nationwide. In fact, the latest data from the Digital Inclusion Survey finds that virtually all (98%) public libraries now offer Wi-Fi, up from 18 percent a decade ago. By offering free public access to the Internet via wireless connections, libraries serve as community technology hubs that enable digital opportunity and full participation in the nation’s economy.

The survey finds there is strong support for investing in wireless networks. Two-thirds of people, for instance, think improving Wi-Fi at libraries and schools would be a good thing. The overwhelmingly highest response, though, to a question about what stakeholders could do to improve the internet was to make it easier to make sure their personal information is secure. Both findings have relevance for libraries as new funding is now available through the E-rate program to improve library and school Wi-Fi access, and digital literacy training clearly demands attention to data privacy and security concerns.

Patrons using Wi-Fi at the MLK Digital Commons in Washington D.C.

The findings highlight the importance of improving the environment for wireless internet use, including making more Wi-Fi spectrum available—and sharing what we already have—at low, medium and high spectrum bands because each band offers different opportunities for Wi-Fi. As a founding member of WiFiForward, ALA actively advocates for ensuring adequate unlicensed spectrum to support the next-generation of technologies needed for our libraries and communities. Wi-Fi contributes close to $100 billion each year to the U.S. economy, and libraries depend on unlicensed spectrum to support everything from self-checkout and circulation systems to mobile learning labs.

Library broadband and Wi-Fi access are clearly part of the solution in narrowing the Digital Divide that still exists for many people and for supporting the full range of modern library services. We’d love to hear how your library Wi-Fi is making a difference in your community or on your campus, if you’d like share in the comments section.

The post Public libraries top public Wi-Fi spot for African Americans, Latinos appeared first on District Dispatch.

Cynthia Ng: 2014 Blog Year Stats

Mon, 2015-01-26 19:53
Love that WordPress will compile at stats report for you if you’re using their hosted version. As with previous years, the most visits in a day are from Code4Lib, although the most views in a day is less than previous years. Of course, the most popular post that day was a Code4Lib one. Also very … Continue reading 2014 Blog Year Stats

Cynthia Ng: Happy Foxdays! (and Merry chibibimas)

Mon, 2015-01-26 19:52
Happy Holidays everyone! Hope you have a good time. Or should I say, Happy Foxdays and Merry chibibimas! I hope to get back to doing some regular blog posts soon.  Maybe I’ll have time to write some over the holidays (unless I work the whole time…). While I’m at it, Happy New Fox! (Year)Filed under: … Continue reading Happy Foxdays! (and Merry chibibimas)

Cynthia Ng: Building Community by Providing Great Experiences

Mon, 2015-01-26 19:52
Over the weekend, I decided to change my theme from the WordPress TwentyThirteen to TwentyFifteen. I switched mainly because I wanted a more accessible theme, and also because I was getting tired of looking at the Thirteen one. Another nice feature was the menu and sidebar integration. It may actually take up more space, but … Continue reading Building Community by Providing Great Experiences

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Koha - Security and maintenance releases v 3.14.13, 3.16.7 and 3.18.3

Mon, 2015-01-26 19:25
Package: KohaRelease Date: Monday, January 26, 2015

Last updated January 26, 2015. Created by David Nind on January 26, 2015.
Log in to edit this page.

Monthly bug fix, security and maintenance releases for Koha. See the release announcements for the details:

District Dispatch: Tell the IRS your thoughts!

Mon, 2015-01-26 16:37

Want to comment on the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) tax form delivery service? Discuss your experiences obtaining tax forms for your library at “Tell the IRS: Tax Forms in the Library,” a session that takes place during the 2015 American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. The session will be held from 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 1, 2015.

A new speaker will lead the interactive conference session: L’Tanya Brooks, director of media and publications for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), will lead the discussion that will explore library participation in the agency’s Tax Forms Outlet Program (TFOP). The TFOP offers tax forms and products to the American public primarily through participating libraries and post offices. During the conference program, Brooks will discuss the IRS’ ongoing efforts to create a library-focused group that works with library staff members.

The session takes place in the McCormick Place Convention Center in room W187. Add the conference program to your scheduler.

The post Tell the IRS your thoughts! appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Out of Control

Mon, 2015-01-26 16:06

Image courtesy of Flickr user Eric Peacock

Last week I found myself in a grey area. I set up a one-on-one tech appointment with a patron to go over the basics of her new Android tablet. Once we met in person I learned that what she really wanted was to monitor her daughter’s every move online. It felt like a typical help session as I showed her how to check the browsing history and set up parental controls. She had all the necessary passwords for her daughter’s email and Facebook accounts, which made it even easier. It wasn’t until she left that I realized I had committed a library crime: I completely ignored the issue of privacy.

I’m still mulling this over in my head, trying to decide how I should have acted. I’m not a parent, so I can’t speak to the desire to protect children from the dangers of the Internet. Chances are her daughter can work around her mom’s snooping anyhow. But as a librarian, a champion of privacy, how could I have disregarded the issue?

A friend of mine put it best when he said that situations like this devalue what we do. We’re here to help people access information, not create barriers. Being a parent in the age of the Internet must be a scary thing, but that doesn’t mean that any regard for privacy goes out the window. At the same time, it’s not our job to judge. If the same patron came in and said she wanted to learn about parental controls for a research paper, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. You can see how the issue gets cloudy.

Ultimately, I keep going back to a phrase I learned from Cen Campbell, founder of Little eLit at ALA last year: “We are media mentors.” We are not parents, and we’re not teachers, rather we are media mentors. It’s our job to work with parents, educators, and kids to foster a healthy relationship with technology. Regardless of right or wrong, I was too quick to jump in and give her the answers, without going through a proper reference interview. I suspect that she was afraid of all the things she doesn’t know about technology; the great unknown that her daughter is entering when she opens her web browser. That was an opportunity for me to answer questions about things like Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat, instead of blindly leading her to the parental controls. After all this, one thing I know for certain is that the next time I find myself in this situation, I’ll be slow to act and quick to listen.

I would love to hear back from other librarians. How would you act in this situation? What’s the best way to work with parents when it comes to parental controls and privacy?

LITA: LITA Interest Group Events at ALA Midwinter

Mon, 2015-01-26 16:02

Are you headed to ALA Midwinter this weekend and curious about what the LITA interest groups will be up to? See below for a current listing of LITA IG events!

Saturday, January 31, 2015 10:30am to 11:30am

Imagineering Interest Group, Hyatt Regency McCormick Adler/CC 24C

The Imagineering Interest Group will meet to plan for future ALA Annual programs and meetings. We will also talk about future group endeavors, such as creating online resources. Please attend if you are interested in working with the group.  Additional Information: Librarianship, Adult Services, Collection Development, Popular Culture, Reader’s Advisory

Open Source Systems Interest Group, Hyatt Regency McCormick Burnham/CC 23C

Meeting to discuss future projects for the Open Source Systems Interest Group.

Search Engine Optimization, Hyatt Regency McCormick Jackson Park/CC 10D

Attendees will have an opportunity to share their experiences with search engine optimization. We will also discuss the SEO Best Practices Wiki entry in Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki as well as the latest SEO tools.

ALCTS/LITA ERM Interest Group, MCP W194a

The ALCTS/LITA ERM Interest Group will host a panel entitled “Data-Driven Decision Making in E-Resources Management: Beyond Cost per Use.”

1:00pm to 2:30pm

Library Code year – Saturday 1/31, 1-2:30pm, MCP W175c

Are you ever in a meeting where people throw around terms like front-end,back-end, Bootstrap, git, JavaScript, agile, XML, PHP, Python, WordPress, and Drupal, but you are not sure what they mean in the library context (even after you looked the terms up on your phone covertly under the table)? If so, please join us for an informal and lively discussion about decoding technology jargon.

Sunday, February 1, 2015 8:30am to 10:00am

LITA/ALCTS Linked Library Data Interest Group, MCP W192b

The ALCTS/LITA Linked Library Data Interest Group is hosting three presentations during its meeting at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Chicago. The meeting will be held on Sunday, February 1, from 8:30-10:00, in McCormick Place West, room W192b. To read the speaker abstracts, go here.

Nancy Lorimer, Interim Head of Metadata Department at Stanford University Libraries will speak about the Linked Data for Libraries project: The Linked Data for Libraries project: An Update

Kristi Holmes, the Director of Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University and a VIVO Project Engagement Lead will speak about VIVO: Opening up science with VIVO

Victoria Mueller, Senior Information Architect and System Librarian, Zepheira: BIBFRAME: A Way Forward. Moving Libraries into a linked data world!

10:30am to 11:30am

Drupal4Lib Interest Group, MCP W186c

The Drupal4Lib Interest Group was established to promote the use and understanding of the Drupal content management system by libraries and librarians. Join members of the group for a lively discussion of current issues facing librarians working with Drupal at any skill level. Bring your questions and meet your colleagues!

Game Making Interest Group, Hyatt Regency McCormick, DuSable/CC 21AB

The Game Making Interest Group will meet to discuss how we use games in libraries and to plan for our meeting and informal presentations at ALA Annual and future plans for the group. Please join us if you are interested in using games in libraries.

Library Consortia Automated Systems Interest Group, Hyatt Regency McCormick, Jackson Park/CC 10C

Managing IT services in a consortium has its own particular challenges and opportunities. The Library Consortia Automated Systems Interest Group provides an informal forum where people working in a consortium environment can share ideas and seek advice.

Public Library Technology Interest Group, MCP W194a

Will meet to discuss trends in technology that are applicable to public libraries.

User Experience Interest Group Meeting, MCP W176b

The LITA User Experience IG seeks 2-3 short presentations (10-15 minutes) on UX and Web usability for the upcoming 2015 ALA Midwinter Conference. This will be a physical meeting, and so the physical attendance for the ALA Midwinter is required for the presentation and/or attendance for this meeting. The LITA UX IG is also seeking the suggestions for discussion topics, things you have been working on, plan to work, or want to work on in terms of UX/Usability. All suggestions and presentation topics are welcome and will be given consideration for presentation and discussion. Please submit your topic in the comments section in ALA Connect ( You may also e-mail us off-the-list. Bohyun Kim, LITA UX IG chair and Rachel Clark, LITA UX IG vice-chair

1:00pm to 2:30pm

Head of Technology Interest Group , MCP W176b

HoLT IG provides a forum and support network for those individuals with administrative responsibility for computing and technology in  library settings. It is open for anyone to give short presentations on a library technology project you might be working on to explore  issues of planning and implementation, technology management, support, leadership and other areas of interests library technology.

LITA/ALCTS Authority Control Interest Group – until 5:30pm, MCP W474b

The joint LITA/ALCTS Authority Control Interest Group provides a forum for discussion of a variety of issues related to authority control for online catalogs and for international sharing of authority of data.

Library of Congress: The Signal: From the Field: More Insight Into Digital Preservation Training Needs

Mon, 2015-01-26 15:45

The following is a guest post by Jody DeRidder, Head of Digital Services at the University of Alabama Libraries.  This post reports on efforts in the digital preservation community that align with the Library’s Digital Preservation Outreach & Education (DPOE) Program. Jody, among many other accomplishments, has completed one of the DPOE Train-the-Trainer workshops and delivered digital preservation training online to the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL).

Jody DeRidder

As previously discussed on The Signal, DPOE has conducted two surveys to better understand the digital preservation capacities of cultural heritage institutions. The respondents provide insight into their digital preservation practice, what types of training are necessary to address their staffing needs and preferences for the best delivery options of training events. Between the 2010 and 2014 DPOE surveys, I conducted an interim survey in 2012 to identify the digital preservation topics and types of materials most important to webinar attendees and their institutions. A comparison of the information uncovered by these three surveys provides insight into changing needs and priorities, and indicates what type of training is most needed and in what venues.

In terms of topics, technical training (to assist practitioners in understanding and applying techniques) is the clear top preference in all three surveys. In the 2010 DPOE survey, the highest percentage of respondents (32%) ranked technical training as their top choice. This was echoed in the 2014 DPOE survey as well. In my 2012 survey, this question was represented by multiple options. (Each of the rankings referenced is the percentage of participants who considered training in this topic to be extremely important.) The top two selected were training in “methods of preservation metadata extraction, creation, and storage” (77%) and “determining what metadata to capture and store” (68%). Both of these could easily be considered technical training.

Other technical training options included:

  • File conversion and migration issues (59%).
  • Validating files and capturing checksums (54%).
  • Monitoring status of files and media (53%).
  • How to inventory content to be managed for preservation (42%).

These preferences are echoed in the DPOE 2014 survey, where respondents identified training investments that result in “an increased capacity to work with digital objects and metadata management” as the most beneficial outcome with a three-year horizon.

In the 2010 DPOE survey, the need for “project management,” “management and administration,” and “strategic planning” followed “technical training” in priority (in that order). By 2014, this had shifted a bit: “strategic planning” led “management and administration,” followed by “project management.” Last in importance to participants in both surveys was fundamentals (described as “basic knowledge for all levels of staff”).

Has the need for strategic planning increased? Topics in the 2012 survey that related to management included:

  • Planning for provision of access over time (the third highest ranking: 65%).
  • Developing your institution’s preservation policy and planning team (51%).
  • Legal issues surrounding access, use, migration, and storage (43%).
  • Self-assessment and external audits of your preservation implementation (34%).

Strategic planning might include the following topics from the 2012 survey:

  • Developing selection criteria, and setting the scope for what your institution commits to preserving (52%).
  • Selecting file formats for archiving (45%).
  • Selecting storage options and number of copies (44%).
  • Security and disaster planning at multiple levels of scope (33%).
  • Business continuity planning (28%).

Thus it seems that in the 2012 survey, strategic planning was still secondary to management decisions, but that may have shifted, as indicated in the DPOE 2014 survey. A potential driving force for this shift could well be the increased investment in digital preservation in recent years.

When asked in 2010 about the types of digital content in organizational holdings, 94% of the respondents to the DPOE survey selected reformatted material digitized from collections, and 39.5% indicated digital materials. In 2014 the reformatted content had dropped to 83%, deposited digital materials had increased to 44%, and a new category, “born digital,” was selected by over 76% of participants. Within these categories, digital images, PDFs and audiovisual materials were the most selected types of content, followed closely by office files. Research data and websites were secondary contenders, with architectural drawings third, followed by geospatial information and finally “other.”

From the 2012 survey, with the numbers representing percentages of the types of content in organizational holdings.

In the 2012 survey, participants were only asked to rank categories of digital content in terms of importance for preservation at their institution. Within this, 65% selected born-digital special collections materials as extremely important; 63% selected born-digital institutional records, and 61% selected digitized (reformatted) collections. “Other” was selected by 47%, and comments indicate that most of this was audiovisual materials, followed by state archives content and email records. The lowest categories selected were digital scholarly content (institutional repository or grey lit, at 37%); digital research data (34%), and web content (31%).

Clearly, preservation of born-digital content has now become a priority to survey respondents over the past few years, though concern for preservation of reformatted content continues to be strong. As the amount of born-digital content continues to pour into special collections and archives, the pressure to meet the burgeoning challenge for long-term access is likely to increase.

In both the 2010 and 2014 DPOE surveys, an overwhelming number of participants (84%) expressed the importance of ensuring digital content is accessible for 10 years or more. Training is a critical requirement to support this process. While the 2012 survey focused only on webinars as an option, both of the DPOE surveys indicated that respondents preferred small, in-person training events, on-site or close to home. However, webinars were the second choice in both 2010 and 2014, and self-paced, online courses were the third choice in 2014. As funding restrictions on travel and training continue, an increased focus on webinars and nearby workshops will be best-suited to furthering the capacity for implementing long-term access for valuable digital content.

In the interest of high impact for low cost, the results of these surveys can help to fine-tune digital preservation training efforts in terms of topics, content and venues in the coming months.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Launching Open Data Day Coalition Micro-Grant Scheme: Apply Today!

Mon, 2015-01-26 15:44

OPEN DATA DAY 2015 is coming and a coalition of partners have come together to provide a limited number of micro-grants designed to support communities organise ODD activities all over the world !

Open Data Day (ODD) is one of the most exciting events of the year. As a volunteer led event, with no organisation behind it, Open Data Day provides the perfect opportunity for communities all over the world to convene, celebrate and promote open data in ways most relevant to their fellow citizens. This year, Open Data Day will take place on Saturday, the 21st of February 2015 and a coalition of partners have gotten together to help make the event bigger (and hopefully better) than its has ever been before!

While Open Data Day has always been a volunteer led initiative, organising an event often comes with quite a hefty price tag. From hiring a venue, to securing a proper wifi connection, to feeding and caffeinating the volunteer storytellers, data wranglers and developers who donate their Saturday to ensuring that open data empowers citizens in their communities, there are costs associated with convening people! Our Open Data Day Coalition is made of open data, open knowledge and open access organisations who are interested in providing support for communities organising ODD activities. This idea emerged from an event that was organised in Kenya last year, where a small stipend helped local organisers create an amazing event, exposing a number of new people to open data. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve on Open Data Day!

As such, this year, for the first time ever, we are proud to announce the availability of a limited number of micro grants of up to $300 to help communities organise amazing events without incurring prohibitive personal costs. The coalition will also provide in-kind support in the form mentorship and guidance or simply by providing a list of suggested activities proven effective at engaging new communities!

The coalition consists of the following organisations (in alphabetical order): Caribbean Open Institute, Code for Africa, DAL, E-Democracy, ILDA, NDI, Open Access Button, Open Coalition, Open Institute, Open Knowledge, Sunlight Foundation and Wikimedia UK. Want to join? Read on.

Applying for a Microgrant!

Any group or organisation from any country can apply. Given the difference focus of our partners, grants in Latin America will be handled and awarded by ILDA. In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Open Institute will handle the process. Finally, The Partnership for Open Data will focus on other low to mid income countries. Of course, in order to ensure that we are able to award the maximum number of grants, we will coordinate this effort!

You can find the application form here. The deadline to apply is February 3rd and we aim to let you know whether your grant was approved ASAP.

Currently, we have one micro grant, provided by The Sunlight Foundation, for a group organising open data day activites in a high income country. We would love to provide additional support for groups organising in any country; as such, if you are interested in helping us find (or have!) additional funding (or other forms of in kind support such as an event space!), do get in touch (see below how to join the coalition). We will make sure to spread the word far and wide once we have additional confirmed support!

How to Apply for an Open Data Day Micro Grant

If you are organising an event and would like additional support, apply here. If your grant is approved, you will be asked to provide us with bank transfer details and proof of purchase. If it is not possible for you to make the purchases in advance and be reimbursed, we will be sure to find an alternative solution.

Is this your first Open Data Day event? Fear not! In addition to the grant itself, our coalition of partners is here to provide you with the support you need to ensure that your event is a success. Whether you need help publicising the event, deciding what to do, or some tips on event facilitation, we are here to help!


All groups who receive support will be asked to add their event to the map by registering your event here as well as by adding it to list of events on the Open Data Day wiki.

After the event, event organisers will be asked to share a short blog post or video discussing the event! What data did you work with, how many people attended, are you planning on organising additional events? We’d also love to hear about what you learned, what were the challenges and what you would have done differently?

You can publish this in any language but if possible, we would love an English translation that we can share in a larger blog series about Open Data Day. I you would like to have your event included in our summary blog series but are not comfortable writing in English, write to us at local [at] okfn [dot] org and we will help you translate (or connect you with someone who can!).

What To Do Now

The next step is to start organising your event so that you can apply for your micro-grant ASAP! We are aware that we are a bit late getting started and that communities will need time to organise! As such, we aim to let you know whether your grant has been approved ASAP and ideally by the February 6th, 2015. If February 3rd proves to be too tight a deadline, we will extend!

Finally, if you need inspiration for what to do on the day, we are building a menu of suggested activities on the Open Data Day wiki. Go here for inspiration or add your ideas and inspire others! For further inspiration and information, check out the Open Data Day website, which the community will be updating and improving as we move closer to the big day. If you need help, reach out to us at local [at] okfn [dot] org, or check in with one of the other organisations in the coalition.

Interested in joining the coalition?

We have a limited number of grants available and expect a large demand! If you are interested in joining the coalition and have either financial and/or in-kind support available, do get in touch and help us make Open Data Day 2015 the the largest open data hackday our community and the world has ever seen!

Patrick Hochstenbach: Homework assignment #4 Sketchbookskool

Mon, 2015-01-26 13:40
Filed under: Doodles Tagged: fudenosuke, onion, portrait, sketchbookskool, watercolor

Cynthia Ng: Making Web Services Accessible With Universal Design

Mon, 2015-01-26 05:38
This was presented as a webinar for the Education Institute on Thursday, January 22, 2015. This presentation is mostly an amalgamation of the Access 2014 and LibTechConf 2014 presentations. There are a couple of small sections (namely analytics, how ever did I forget about that?) that have been added, but a lot of it is … Continue reading Making Web Services Accessible With Universal Design

DuraSpace News: DuraCloud Services Presentations Set for PASIG–Early Bird Registration Fast Approaching!

Mon, 2015-01-26 00:00

SanDiego, CA  The upcoming 2015 Preservation and Archiving Special Interest Group (PASIG) event will be held March 11-13 on the campus of UC San Diego. The organizers are bringing together an international group of experts in a wide range of fields, dedicated to providing timely, useful information.

Roy Tennant: Wikipedia’s Waterloo?

Sun, 2015-01-25 23:50

If you are involved in technology at all, you no doubt have heard about GamerGate. Normally at this point I would say that if you hadn’t heard about it, go read about it and come back.

But that would be foolish.

You would likely never come back. Perhaps it would be from disgust at how women have been treated by many male gamers. Perhaps it would be because you can’t believe you have just wasted hours of your life that you are never getting back. Or perhaps it is because you disappeared down the rat hole of controversy and won’t emerge until either hunger or your spouse drags you out. Whatever. You aren’t coming back. So don’t go before I explain why I am writing about this.

Wikipedia has a lot to offer. Sure, it has some gaping holes you could drive a truck through, just about any controversial subject can end up with a sketchy page as warring factions battle it out, and the lack of pages on women worthy of them is striking.

You see, it is well known that Wikipedia has a problem with female representation — both with the percentage of pages devoted to deserving women as well as the number of editors building the encyclopedia.

So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Wikipedia has now sanctioned the editors trying to keep a GamerGate Wikipedia page focused on what it is really all about — the misogynistic actions of a number of male gamers. But the shocking part to me is that it even extends beyond that one controversy into really dangerous muzzling territory. According to The Guardian, these women editors* have been banned from editing “any other article about ‘gender or sexuality, broadly construed'”.

I find that astonishingly brutal. Especially for an endeavor that tries to pride itself on an egalitarian process.

Get your act together, Wikipedia.


* My bad. Editors were banned. They are not necessarily women. Or even feminists.

Nicole Engard: Bookmarks for January 25, 2015

Sun, 2015-01-25 20:30

Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on <a href=

  • Krita Open Source Software for Concept Artists, Digital Painters, and Illustrators

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The post Bookmarks for January 25, 2015 appeared first on What I Learned Today....

Related posts:

  1. Governments Urging the use of Open Source
  2. eXtensible Catalog (XC) gets more funding
  3. Evaluating Open Source

Casey Bisson: Photo hipster: playing with 110 cameras

Sun, 2015-01-25 18:44

After playing with Fuji Instax and Polaroid (with The Impossible Project film) cameras, I realized I had to do something with Kodak. My grandfather worked for Kodak for years, and I have many memories of the stories he shared of that work. He retired in the late 70s, just as the final seeds of Kodak’s coming downfall were being sown, but well before anybody could see them for what they were.

The most emblematic Kodak camera and film I could think of was the 110 cartridge film type, and that’s what I used to captured this picture of Cliff Pearson and Millicent Prancypants.

I bought two cameras and a small bundle of film from various eBay sellers. They look small in the following photo, but they’re significantly larger and less pocketable than even my iPhone 6 plus.

Developing is $4 per cartridge at Adolph Gasser’s, but they can’t print or scan the film there, so that had me looking for other solutions. I couldn’t find a transparency scanner that had film holders for 110 film. That isn’t surprising, but it did leave me wondering and hesitant long enough to look for other ways to capture this film. For these shots I re-photographed them with my EOS M:

John Miedema: Writing has changed with digital technology, but much is the same. Pirsig’s slip-based writing system was inspired by information technology.

Sun, 2015-01-25 16:41

Writing has changed with digital technology, but much is the same. The Lila writing technology builds on both the dynamic and static features.

Writers traditionally spend considerable time reading individual works closely and carefully. The emergence of big data and analytic technologies causes a shift toward distant reading, the ability to analyze a large volume of text in terms of statistical patterns. Lila uses these technologies to select relevant content for deeper reading.

Writing, as always, occurs in many locations, from a car seat to a coffee shop to a desk. Digital technology makes it easier to aggregate text from these different locations. Existing technologies like Evernote and Google Drive can gather these pieces for Lila to perform its cognitive functions.

Writing is performed on a variety of media. In the past it might have been napkins, stickies and binder sheets. Today it includes a greater variety, from cell phone notes to email and word processor documents. Lila can only analyze digital media. It is understood that there is still much text in the world that is not digital. Going forward, text will likely always be digital.

Writing tends to be more fragmented today, occurring in smaller units of text. Letter length is replaced with cell phone texts, tweets, and short emails. The phrase “too long; didn’t read” is used on the internet for overly long statements. Digital books are shorter than print books. Lila is expressly designed around a “slip” length unit of text, from at least a tweet length for a subject line, up to a few paragraphs. It would be okay to call a slip a note. Unlike tweets, there will be no hard limit on the number of characters.

A work is written by one or many authors. Print magazines and newspapers are compilation of multiple authors, so too are many websites. Books still tend to be written by a single author, but Lila’s function of compiling content into views will make it easier for authors to collaborate on a work with the complexity and coherence of a book.

In the past, the act of writing was more isolated. There was a clear separation between authors and readers. Today, writing is more social. Authors blog their way through books and get immediate feedback. Readers talk with authors during their readings. Fans publish their own spin on book endings. Lila extends reading and writing capabilities. I have considered additional capabilities with regard to publishing drafts to the web for feedback and iteration. A WordPress integration perhaps.

Pirsig’s book, Lila, was published in 1991, not long after the advent of the personal computer and just at the dawn of the web. His slip-based writing system used print index cards, but he deliberately chose that unit of text over pages because it allowed for “more random access.” He also categorized some slips as “program” cards, instructions for organizing other slips. As cards about cards, they were powerful, he said, in the way that John Von Neuman explained the power of computers, “the program is data and can be treated like any other data.” Pirsig’s slip-based writing system was no doubt inspired by the developments in information technology.

Alf Eaton, Alf: Exploring a personal Twitter network

Sun, 2015-01-25 13:59
PDF version
  1. Fetch the IDs of users I follow on Twitter, using vege-table:

    var url = ''; var params = { screen_name: ‘invisiblecomma’, stringify_ids: true, count: 5000 }; var collection = new Collection(url, params); collection.items = function(data) { return data.ids; } = function(data) { if (!data.next_cursor) { return null; } params.cursor = data.next_cursor_str; return [url, params]; } return collection.get('json');
  2. Using similar code, fetch the list of users that each of those users follows.

  3. Export the 10,000 user IDs with the highest intra-network follower counts.

  4. Fetch the details of each Twitter user:

    return Resource('', { user_id: user_id }).get('json').then(function(data) { return data[0]; });
  5. Process those two CSV files into a list of pairs of connected identifiers suitable for import into Gephi.

  6. In Gephi, drag the “Topology > In Degree Range” filter into the Queries section, and adjust the range until a small enough number of users with the most followers is visible:

  7. Set the label size to be larger for users with more incoming links:

  8. Set the label colour to be darker for users with more incoming links:

  9. Apply the ForceAtlas 2 layout, then the Expansion layout a few times, then the Label Adjust layout:

  10. Switch to the Preview window and adjust the colour and opacity of the edges and labels appropriately. Hide the nodes, set the label font to Roboto, then export to PDF.

  11. Use imagemagick to convert the PDF to JPEG: convert —density 200 twitter-foaf.pdf twitter-foaf.jpg

It would probably be possible to automate this whole sequence - perhaps in a Jupyter Notebook. The part that takes the longest is fetching the data from Twitter, due to the low API rate limits.

Mark E. Phillips: What do we put in our BagIt bag-info.txt files?

Sat, 2015-01-24 23:03

The UNT Libraries makes heavy use of the BagIt packaging format throughout our digital repository infrastructure.  I’m of the opinion that BagIt is one of the technologies that has contributed more toward moving digital preservation forward in the last ten years than any other one technology/service/specification.  The UNT Libraries uses BagIt for our Submission Information Packages (SIP),  our Archival Information Packages (AIP), our Dissemination Information Packages, and our local Access Content Package (ACP).

For those that don’t know BagIt,  it is a set of conventions for packaging content into a directory structure in a consistent and repeatable way.  There are a number of other descriptions of BagIt that do a very good job of describing the conventions and some of the more specific bits of the specification.

There are a number of great tools for creating, modifying and validating BagIt bags,  and my favorite for a long time has been bagit-python from the Library of Congress.   (To be honest I usually am using Ed Summers fork which I grab from here)

The BagIt specification has a metadata file that is stored in the root of a bag,  this metadata file is called bag-it.txt.  The BagIt specification has a number of fields defined for this file which are stored as key value pairs in the file in the format of.

key: value

I thought it might be helpful for those new to using BagIt bags to see what kinds of information we are putting into these bag-info.txt files,  and also explain some of the unique fields that we are adding to the file for managing items in our system.  Below is a typical bag-info.txt file from one of our AIPs in the Coda Repository.

Bag-Size: 28.32M Bagging-Date: 2015-01-23 CODA-Ingest-Batch-Identifier: f2dbfd7e-9dc5-43fd-975a-8a47e665e09f CODA-Ingest-Timestamp: 2015-01-22T21:43:33-0600 Contact-Email: Contact-Name: Mark Phillips Contact-Phone: 940-369-7809 External-Description: Collection of photographs held by the University of North Texas Archives that were taken by Junebug Clark or other family members. Master files are tiff images. External-Identifier: ark:/67531/metadc488207 Internal-Sender-Identifier: UNTA_AR0749-002-0016-0017 Organization-Address: P. O. Box 305190, Denton, TX 76203-5190 Payload-Oxum: 29666559.4 Source-Organization: University of North Texas Libraries

In the example above,  several of the fields are boiler plate, and others are machine generated.

Field How we create the Value Bag-Size Machine Bagging-Date Machine CODA-Ingest-Batch-Identifier Machine CODA-Ingest-Timestamp Machine Contact-Email Boiler-Plate Contact-Name Boiler-Plate Contact-Phone Boiler-Plate External-Description Changes per “collection” External-Identifier Machine Internal-Sender-Identifier Machine Organization-Address Boiler-Plate Payload-Oxum Machine Source-Organization Boiler-Plate

You can tell from looking at the example bag-info.txt file above that some of the fields are very self explanatory.  I’m going to run over a few of the fields that either are non-standard, or that we’ve made explicit decisions on as we were implementing BagIt.

CODA-Ingest-Batch-Identifier is a UUID for each batch of content added to our Coda Repository,  this helps us identify other items that may have been added during a specific run of our ingest process,  helpful for troubleshooting.

CODA-Ingest-Timestamp is the timestamp when the AIP was added to the Coda Repository.

External-Identifier will change for each collection that gets processed,  it has just enough information about the collection to help jog someone’s memory about where this item came from and why it was created.

External-Identifier is the ARK identifier assigned the item on ingest into one of the Aubrey systems where we access the items or manage the descriptive metadata.

Internal-Sender-Identifier is the locally important (often not unique) identifier for the item as it is being digitized or collected.  It often takes the shape of an accession number from our University Special Collections, or the folder name of an issue of newspaper.

We currently have 1,070,180 BagIt bags in our Coda Repository and they have be instrumental in us being able to scale our digital library infrastructure and verify that each item is just the same as when we added it to our collection.

If you have any specific questions for me let me know on twitter.

John Miedema: Writing non-fiction is mostly reading, thinking, and sorting; the rest is just keystrokes. Lila is for writing non-fiction; poetry, not so much.

Sat, 2015-01-24 16:31

Writing non-fiction is mostly reading, thinking, and sorting; the rest is just keystrokes. And style. Think clearly and the rest comes easy. Lila is designed to extend human writing capabilities by performing cognitive work:

  1. The work of reading, especially during the early research phase. Writers can simply drop unread digital content onto disk, and Lila will convert it into manageable chunks — slips. These slips are shorter than the full length originals, making them quicker to evaluate. More important, these slips are embedded in the context of relevant content written by the author; context is meaning, so unread content will be easier to evaluate
  2. The work of analyzing content and sorting it into the best view, using visualization. As Pirsig said, “Instead of asking ‘Where does this metaphysics of the universe begin?’ – which was a virtually impossible question – all he had to do was just hold up two slips and ask, ‘Which comes first?'” This work builds of a table of contents, a hierarchical view of the content. Lila will show multiple views so the author can choose the best one.
  3. The ability to uncover bias and ensure completeness of thought. Author bias may filter out content when reading, but Lila will compel a writer to notice relevant content.

Lila’s cognitive abilities depend on the author’s engagement in a writing project, generating content that guides the above work. Lila is designed expressly for the writing of non-fiction; poetry, not so much. The cognitive work is performed in most kinds of writing, and so Lila will aid with other kinds of fiction. Both fiction and creative non-fiction still require substantial stylistic work after Lila has done her part.