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Terry Reese: Task Automation Modifications

planet code4lib - Sun, 2015-10-18 03:18

An interesting question came up on the ListServ this week – a user was wondering if a task could be created with the option that data sorted in the task was variable.  An example user-case might be something like, a task where the replace all function may be variable depending which vendor file might be processed. 

By default, the Task Automation tool has been designed to be pretty much like a macro recorder.  You set values, it simply uses those values.  However, at it’s core, the task automation tool is just a script engine – the tasks represent a simple set of commands that get interpreted by the automation engine.  Given that, it would be pretty easy to provide the ability to support user defined values within a task.  So, I’m giving it a go.  I’ve defined a special mnemonic – {inputbox_[yourvalue]} which can be defined within a task – and when encountered, the task engine will prompt the user for data. 

The important part of the mnemonic – the part the tells the engine that user data is required, is the first part of the mnemonic: {inputbox_.  When this statement is seen, the engine pauses and passes the command to the pre-processor.  The pre-processor looks at the start of the mnemonic, and then pulls the data after the {inputbox_ to give the user a prompt regarding the data that is being requested.  

For example, say the user is creating a Replace All task and the program should request data for both the Find and the Replace strings.  The mnemonic should look like the following for the Find expression: {inputbox_Find} and for the replace: {inputbox_Replace}. 

When run, the pre-parser, when coming across these values, will break them down and prompt the user for input:

The pre-parser will then substitute the user provided values into the task and process the data accordingly.  If the user cancels the dialog – the pre-parser will take that as an indication that this process should be skipped, and will move on to the next operation in the task. 

This change will be part of the next update.


Terry Reese: Validate Headings Update

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-10-17 21:00

MarcEdit’s Validate Headings tool is getting a refresh to add a few missing elements.  Two new features are being added to the tool – the ability to automatically correct variants when they are detected, and the ability to automatically generate preliminary authority records for personal (100/700) records. 

The new interface looks like:


Example of a sample generated authority record:

=LDR 00000nz\a2200000o\4500 =008 151016n|\acannaabn\\\\\\\\\\|n\a|d\\\\|| =100 10$aWillson, Meredith,$d1902- =670 \\$aWillson, Meredith,1902-. $bWhat every young musician should know.

The records are generated directly off the data in the record.  This means that if the heading is coded incorrectly (dates not in the $d, etc.) – then the generated data will be as well, but this is a start.  You’ll notice that the data is coded as being preliminary because these are automated generated, and probably should be evaluated at some point.


Andromeda Yelton: Introducing Open paren: a podcast about libraries and code

planet code4lib - Sat, 2015-10-17 20:26

should we write it all again
I’d end it with
a close-paren.
xkcd, With Apologies to Robert Frost

“I need an excuse,” I thought, “to talk to people and not just my cats,” because (great as my cats are) working from home is lonely sometimes.

“Gosh, there are lots of libraryland coders doing really cool stuff,” I thought, having brainstormed a giant list of them. “I could chat with them, and if I recorded it, I could call that a podcast!”

So here it is. Open paren is a series of conversations with coders in, and near, libraries, at all levels, with all sorts of use cases. It’s about starting something: conversations, projects, ideas. It’s about all these remarkable people doing fascinating things that connect tools, services, and values. Want to play along? You can!

In the first episode, the super-awesome Cecily Walker and I talked about Maptime, metadata, human stories, user experience, learning to code, digital humanities, inclusive librarianship, and more (I told you she’s super awesome). Soon I’ll talk to Francis Kayiwa about devops, and Ed Summers & Bergis Jules about their work doing rapid-response social media archiving of things like #ferguson (which may well be the coolest libraryland tech work happening today).

I don’t actually have time to do a podcast, so this is an exercise in incrementalism – what’s the minimum I can do to get this thing out the door? So there’s no fixed publication schedule, and I should probably get around to buying a proper mic but haven’t, and I definitely don’t have time to artisanally hand-edit audio, because the perfect doesn’t get to be the enemy of the good. I did have a pretty fun time writing scripts in a couple of languages I don’t really know to automate my production process, though, so maybe I’ll blog about that later. (Want to read the scripts? Go for it.)

My cats are super great, though. FYI.

SearchHub: Data As a Virtuous Cycle

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 17:12

Deck from Lucidworks CEO Will Hayes’s opening remarks on the first day of Lucene/Solr Revolution 2015. Video coming soon.

Lucene/Solr Revolution 2015 Opening Keynote with Lucidworks CEO Will Hayes from Lucidworks

The post Data As a Virtuous Cycle appeared first on

District Dispatch: In Google case, court finds creating an index is fair use

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 16:54

Copyright Card Catalog Files, Popular Electronics, 1975, by Michael Holley.

This is how I always describe Google Book Search (GBS) – it’s an index, and in this case, a truly magnificent one.

Today we learned that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s summary judgment that the GBS is a transformative fair use, so it’s happy days for people in library land. Many will know that this Authors Guild v Google litigation has been going on for years with many twists and turns. See Jonathan Band’s cool chart (which now needs to be updated!)

The appeals court ruling included a statement that “the exclusive rights of copyright do not include the exclusive right to supply information” about books. I think this is the key to what the Authors Guild (and others) did not understand. Even though copyrighted works were scanned in their entirety, the original, creative expression—that which is protected by copyright—is not infringed. The scanning implicates individual words in books (and these words can be searched in order to find books). It all seems very straightforward to me—no one holds copyright in words, thank God.

Trying to squeeze out a dollar for words surely does not advance the progress of science and the useful arts. And, imagine the chaos of people trying to register words for copyright protection. Now that would be a burden for rights holders.

The post In Google case, court finds creating an index is fair use appeared first on District Dispatch.

David Rosenthal: Securing WiFi routers

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 15:00
Via Dave Farber's IP list, I find that he, Dave Taht, Jim Gettys, the bufferbloat team, and other luminaries have submitted a response to the FCC's proposed rule-making (PDF) that would have outlawed software defined radios and open source WiFi router software such as OpenWrt. My blogging about the Internet of Things started a year ago from a conversation with Jim when he explained the Moon malware, which was scanning home routers. It subsequently turned out to be preparing to take out Sony and Microsoft's gaming networks at Christmas. Its hard to think of a better demonstration of the need for reform of the rules for home router software, but the FCC's proposal to make the only reasonably secure software for them illegal is beyond ridiculous.

The recommendations they submitted are radical but sensible and well-justified by events:
  1. Any vendor of software-defined radio (SDR), wireless, or Wi-Fi radio must make public the full and maintained source code for the device driver and radio firmware in order to maintain FCC compliance. The source code should be in a buildable, change-controlled source code repository on the Internet, available for review and improvement by all.
  2. The vendor must assure that secure update of firmware be working at time of shipment, and that update streams be under ultimate control of the owner of the equipment. Problems with compliance can then be fixed going forward by the person legally responsible for the router being in compliance.
  3. The vendor must supply a continuous stream of source and binary updates that must respond to regulatory transgressions and Common Vulnerability and Exposure reports (CVEs) within 45 days of disclosure, for the warranted lifetime of the product, or until five years after the last customer shipment, whichever is longer.
  4. Failure to comply with these regulations should result in FCC decertification of the existing product and, in severe cases, bar new products from that vendor from being considered for certification.
  5. Additionally, we ask the FCC to review and rescind any rules for anything that conflicts with open source best practices, produce unmaintainable hardware, or cause vendors to believe they must only ship undocumented “binary blobs” of compiled code or use lockdown mechanisms that forbid user patching. This is an ongoing problem for the Internet community committed to best practice change control and error correction on safety-critical systems.
As the submission points out, experience to date shows that vendors of home router equipment are not motivated to, do not have the skills to, and do not, maintain the security of their software. Locking down the vendor's insecure software so it can't be diagnosed or updated is a recipe for even more such disasters. The vendor's don't care if their products are used in botnets or steal their customer's credentials. Forcing the vendors to use open source software and to respond in a timely fashion to vulnerability discoveries on pain of decertification is the only way to fix the problems.

FOSS4Lib Recent Releases: Fedora Repository - 4.4.0

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 14:44

Last updated October 16, 2015. Created by Peter Murray on October 16, 2015.
Log in to edit this page.

Package: Fedora RepositoryRelease Date: Monday, October 12, 2015

LITA: Brave New Workplace: Start with a Survey

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 14:00

In the on-going blog post series, Brave New Workplace, we talk about tech tools for helping new employees acculturate. While this series is aimed at empowering recent hires, workplaces and managers could modify some of these suggestions in order to speed the acclimation process as well. In today’s first installment, I’ll discuss developing and administering a workplace survey as a tool for developing relationships and assessing needs.

Plan: Survey Your New Workplace

Tool: Google Forms

Next Steps: Text Mining and CRM creation

Developing a survey can speed your workplace acclimation. All the benefits of surveys generally- a standard set of questions, a functionally sized test group- translate well to developing workplace relationships and getting to know the systems in place.

A few disclaimers here: I in no way suggest sending out a mass email to new coworkers on your first day asking them to fill out a survey. Such an approach may appear alienating, and disrupts the natural social process of starting your new job. When I speak of survey as a method here, I mean rather that insuring that you consistently ask a set group of questions in the standard language. Your delivery method should be appropriate to your workplace.

For my own use and organization, I created a simple Google Form. Rather than distributing the form via email, I simply asked the questions at the natural points in my orientation/get-to-know you meetings with members of my department and other department contacts. Before I began this process, I reached out to my supervisor to discuss my methodology, rationale, and proposed questions. With her feedback, I refined my questions, and incorporated them into my conversations with my new coworkers.

My basic set of 5 questions was as follows:

  • How do you prefer to communicate about work
    1. Meeting/In-Person
      1. informal
      2. formal
    2. Email
    3. Phone
    4. LYNC Chat
    5. Other
  • Do you have any electronic resources you would love to get?

**Follow – up : What is it, and why don’t we have it?

  • Describe your average work day.
  • How would you describe the culture and workplace environment?
  • How can I assist you?

My pretty form looks like this:

While in my introductory meetings I would go with the natural flow of conversation, I would also insure that these questions got answered, usually just interspersing them at the right time. As a result, I wound up with a book full of notes that looked like this.

And then I took the answers and put them into my Google Form, which created a nicely organized spreadsheet that looks like this.

Names disguised.

Much more manageable. This spreadsheet served as the basis of my text mining plan for assessing opportunities and needs.

I’ll talk you through it and show you the ropes in the next installment of Brave New Workplace, coming November 18th!

William Denton: No librarian or archivist should vote Conservative in the Canadian election

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 04:01

The American Library Association’s Core Values of Librarianship seem right to me. Stephen Harper and the Conservatives stand against every single one of them.

  • access
  • confidentiality/privacy
  • democracy
  • diversity
  • education and lifelong learning
  • intellectual freedom
  • preservation
  • the public good
  • professionalism
  • service
  • social responsibility

The list of what they’ve done is overwhelming, but covered well here:

Of the many terrible things Harper is doing—and he’s almost entirely solely responsible for everything the government has done—the most relevant for libraries and archives is the sustained war on truth, fact and history. He is trying to prevent there from being any basis in fact for any argument about any policy and to prevent any informed expert from making public facts that go against his plans.

The damage done to the country just by stopping the long-form census is permanent, and that’s just one small part of the irreparable harm he’s caused.

It is professionally unethical for any librarian or archivist in Canada to vote Conservative in this election. I encourage all my colleagues across the country to vote for other parties.

(Note: This opinion is mine and does not represent York University, where I work. The academic freedom section of our collective agreement says, “When exercising their rights of action and expression as citizens, employees shall endeavour to ensure that their private actions or expressions are not interpreted as representing positions of York University.” Consider it done.)

DuraSpace News: Jim Blake: Dedication and Talent Marked Tenure as VIVO Software Developer

planet code4lib - Fri, 2015-10-16 00:00

Winchester, MA  On Sept. 21, 2015 Graham Triggs took over as technical lead for the VIVO project. He took the reins from a team of talented developers that include the original VIVO developers–Jon Corson-Rikert, Brian Lowe, and Brian Caruso, many others who have contributed to VIVO as an open source project, and Jim Blake as the recent VIVO lead developer and release manager. As Jim Blake ended his official work with VIVO he paused to reflect on key accomplishments and changes during his tenure.

William Denton: Book City

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-10-15 22:59

I got something nice in the mail last week: a bright yellow certificate for $5 off my next purchase at Book City, the four-store Toronto bookstore chain.

I got it because I have a Book City loyalty card. It costs $20, and gets me 10% off every book I buy there plus an extra 10% off all new hardcovers, plus $5 on my birthday (I lied to them about when it is, of course), and $5 for every $300 I spend there. My fake birthday just arrived and I got this nice present.

I don’t remember the first time I bought a book at Book City, but as soon as I moved to Toronto in 1985, I started buying books there. There used to be a lot of bookstores in Toronto, of course. There were all the used bookstores on Harbord and Queen West, which are all gone now (though Bakka is on Harbord, as are two or three other stores selling new books). There was the Reader’s Den on Bloor, where I worked from 1990–1993 when it went bankrupt in the recession. (After that I interviewed at Book City, but didn’t get hired. No hard feelings.) There was a store in Yorkville whose name I forget. There was Lichtman’s. There was Britnell’s. All gone.

They’re all gone because of Chapters and Indigo, which began as two separate monster bookstore chains but merged in 2001. They almost entirely crushed all competition across Canada and then expanded into the apparently more profitable arena of candles, photo albums and smugness.

And of course they’re all gone because of Amazon.

I used to buy a lot of books on Amazon. It’s so easy: any book you might possibly want is listed, and when you’re looking at one it suggests all sorts of others you might like, and it’s probably right. Press a couple of buttons and in two days the books are in your mailbox. You can go from “I think I might like this book” to “I want this book” to “SEND ME THIS BOOK NOW” in a few seconds.

In March 2014 I was walking along Bloor Street West late one night and passed the Book City store that I’d been shopping at for thirty years. It was closed down! I was completely surprised and utterly appalled.

That was the last straw. I’d been meaning to change my habits, but that was it. I decided that night I wouldn’t buy from Amazon again. I haven’t.

I’d been meaning to change my habits because of the early 2014 news about how terribly Amazon treated its workers. Salon’s Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon’s sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers lays it out.

Perhaps the biggest scandal in Amazon’s recent history took place at its Allentown, Pennsylvania, center during the summer of 2011. The scandal was the subject of a prizewinning series in the Allentown newspaper, the Morning Call, by its reporter Spencer Soper. The series revealed the lengths Amazon was prepared to go to keep costs down and output high and yielded a singular image of Amazon’s ruthlessness—ambulances stationed on hot days at the Amazon center to take employees suffering from heat stroke to the hospital. Despite the summer weather, there was no air-conditioning in the depot, and Amazon refused to let fresh air circulate by opening loading doors at either end of the depot—for fear of theft. Inside the plant there was no slackening of the pace, even as temperatures rose to more than 100 degrees.

Seeing a Book City branch close down made it very local and very real. By using Amazon I was supporting a bad company and I was putting a friendly local bookstore out of business.

And they are friendly. I started emailing my local Book City branch: “There’s a book I’d like to get—do you have it?” “The new Terry Pratchett is coming out next month. Please set one aside and let me know when it’s in.” A couple of times a month, I email them. The next day Chris or Phil or Alison replies and says, “We have that, and I put it behind the counter for you,” or, “I’ve put in an order for it,” or “It won’t be out for three months but when it comes in we’ll let you know right away.” If they have the book now, I go over and get it. If I have to wait, I know they’re reliable, and sure enough, the book arrives, they email me, and I go get it.

I’m in the store every couple of weeks, picking something up or just looking around. A couple of times I’ve done impromptu reader’s advisory for customers. Sometimes I chat with the clerks. (Other times I listen to them, and remember back when I worked in a bookstore, and had the same belief that no customer in the store could hear what I was saying to my fellow clerk.) They know me now, and if there’s a book on hold for me, when I go the counter, they’ve pulled it out and it’s ready for me.

In August there was another long investigate piece about Amazon’s work practices, this one in the New York Times: Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. It got a lot of discussion going, including among friends.

It didn’t change my behaviour, though. I’d already changed. I told people about how I’d moved to Book City and encouraged them to do the same. A few days later, like usual, I emailed Book City to say I needed a book, and they said they’d get it, and they did.

I don’t need books delivered to my door through the oppressive machinations of an internet billionaire. I’m happy to walk a little ways and get them from real people in a real Toronto bookstore.

Library of Congress: The Signal: Announcing the 2015 Innovation Award Winners

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-10-15 18:25

Proud and battered winner of demolition derby holding trophy and checkered flag standing next to severely damaged automobile. Nat Youngblood.

On behalf of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Innovation Working Group, I am excited to announce the 2015 NDSA Innovation Award winners!

This year, the annual innovation awards committee reviewed over thirty exceptional nominations from across the country. Awardees were selected based on how their work or their project’s whose goals or outcomes represent an inventive, meaningful addition to the understanding or processes required for successful, sustainable digital preservation stewardship.

The NDSA Awardees will be recognized publicly during iPRES 2015 at a reception on the evening of Wednesday, November 4.  Each of the winners will be featured in an upcoming blog post on The Signal, so please stay tuned to hear more about these excellent awardees!

Future Steward:  Lauren Work, VCU Libraries. Lauren is recognized for her work on several projects with the aim of giving VCU Libraries’ collections greater exposure and connect the Library with the Richmond community.  In her short time at VCU, she’s created collaborations and working relationships inside and outside of the library to expose hidden collections in order to further digital preservation.

Individual: Ben Welsh, LA Times. Ben, a reporter and developer at the LA Times, created Past Pages, a project that archives the homepage of a broad swath of new sites homepages every hour. This project is something he does in his spare time and it is something he was able to raise money for via kickstarter.  It is an example of the kinds of innovative creative interdisciplinary work that can happen in digital stewardship.

Organization: Digital POWRR.  Digital POWRR is recognized for offering standalone advice for implementing a digital preservation program on a need-based spectrum spanning no funds or technical assistance up though all-in-one preservation and dissemination systems.

Project: Documenting Ferguson.  Documenting Ferguson seeks to preserve and make accessible the digital media captured and created by community members, representing diverse perspectives on the events in Ferguson and the resulting social dialogue. By providing long-term access to digital media surrounding recent historical events, this project helps set a new framework for digital preservation.

Read posts about the 2012, 2013 and 2014 award recipients.

The Annual Innovation Awards were established by the NDSA to recognize and encourage innovation in the field of digital preservation stewardship. These awards highlight and commend creative individuals, projects, organizations, and future stewards demonstrating originality and excellence in their contributions to the field of digital preservation. The program is administered by a committee drawn from members of the NDSA Innovation Working Group.

David Rosenthal: A Pulitzer is no guarantee

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-10-15 15:34
Bina Venkataraman points me to Adrienne LaFrance's piece Raiders of the Lost Web at The Atlantic. It is based on an account of last month's resurrection of a 34-part, Pulitzer-winning newspaper investigation from 2007 of the aftermath of a 1961 railroad crossing accident in Colorado. It vanished from the Web when The Rocky Mountain News folded and survived only because Kevin Vaughan, the reporter, kept a copy on DVD-ROM.

Doing so likely violated copyright. Even though The Crossing was not an "orphan work":
in 2009, the year the paper went under, Vaughan began asking for permission—from the [Denver Public] library and from E.W. Scripps, the company that owned the Rocky—to resurrect the series. After four years of back and forth, in 2013, the institutions agreed to let Vaughan bring it back to the web. Four years, plus another two to do the work. Imagine how long it would have taken had the story actually been orphaned. Vaughan also just missed another copyright problem:
With [ex-publisher John] Temple’s help, Vaughan got permission from the designer Roger Black to use Rocky, the defunct newspaper’s proprietary typeface. This is the orphan font problem that I've been warning about for the last 6 years. There is a problem with the resurrected site:
It also relied heavily on Flash, once-ubiquitous software that is now all but dead. “My role was fixing all of the parts of the website that had broken due to changes in web standards and a change of host,” said [Kevin's son] Sawyer, now a junior studying electrical engineering and computer science. “The coolest part of the website was the extra content associated with the stories... The problem with the website is that all of this content was accessible to the user via Flash.”It still is. Soon, accessing the "coolest part" of the resurrected site will require a virtual machine with a legacy browser.

There is a problem with the article. It correctly credits the Internet Archive with its major contribution to Web archiving, and analogizes it to the Library of Alexandria. But it fails to mention any of the other Web archives and, unlike Jill Lepore's New Yorker "Cobweb" article, doesn't draw the lesson from the analogy. Because the Library of Alexandria was by far the largest repository of knowledge in its time, its destruction was a catastrophe. The Internet Archive is by far the largest Web archive, but it is uncomfortably close to several major faults. And backing it up seems to be infeasible.

DPLA: Unexpected: Getting Fit (the 19th Century Way)

planet code4lib - Thu, 2015-10-15 14:55

This month will mark the 111th annual World Series of Baseball. As the final teams of the National and American Leagues battle it out in their divisional series, DPLA takes a look back at a type of publication that arose during baseball’s formative years: 19th century sports or fitness manuals.

The roots of our modern interest in sports and fitness have several 19th century antecedents. One was the physical culture movement, which advocated exercise and strength training to fight the “diseases of affluence” that were thought to be increasingly affecting an urbanized, industrialized nation.

The trends that began with physical culture in the 19th century are still with us today – organized sports, calisthenics, even personal trainers can all find their roots there. The latter half of the century also saw large leaps forward in printing technology allowing many more books to be published much more quickly and cheaply than before. The market was ripe for instructional pamphlets on new sports and personal regimens for physical activity. Whereas today we might pull up a video online if we wanted to try something new, in the 19th century we’d rely on print.

With home manuals the exercise enthusiast of the 19th Century needn’t leave his or her home to get some activity. Especially if they were the owner of a portable gymnasium (as developed by Fr. Gustav Ernst and described in The Portable Gymnasium: a Manual of Exercises, Arranged for Self Instruction in the Use of the Portable Gymnasium). Look at all the activities you could do (voluminous hoop skirt not required):

Illustration of “Inclined Downward Traction” from The Portable Gymnasium : a Manual of Exercises, Arranged for Self Instruction in the Use of the Portable Gymnasium, by Fr. Gustav Ernst, 1861. Courtesy of the Medical Heritage Library.

“Upward Extension”

“Forward and Backward Extension”

The portable gymnasium and system of exercises was remarkably egalitarian in its aim to help both men and women improve their health. Many 19th century sports manuals spoke to a primarily male audience, but the physical culture movement recognized that both men and women needed to use their muscles to avoid losing them:

We all know that use has developed the “thews and sinews” of the artisan; use enabled the milk-woman to trudge with her heavy load day after day for many consecutive hours; use that lightens the domestic servant’s toil; and use that wins the sharply-contested boat race or exciting cricket match. If, then, it be admitted that the simple use of muscular power can enable the weak to achieve the deeds of the strong, what effects may we not calculate upon, when, under judicious treatment, use is brought to bear upon the debility of an inert or, possibly, morbid frame?”

It wasn’t all about physical strength though. In 1884, Roller Skating Made Easy, by E. Smith, emphasized grace and style. Coordination, balance, and grace were all part of the physical well-being package:

The form of a Venus or Adonis is not essential to grace. Absolute perfection in the human form is rare indeed, but those less favored by nature may, by proper attention to correct positions, acquire a grace approaching that which is natural to well-proportioned forms.

Cover of Roller Skating Made Easy by E. Smith, 1884. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Roller skating however, was also considered a fine athletic pursuit with races and a competitive game similar to polo described in the manual.

Photograph of Kenneth A. Skinner, champion roller skater, fashion icon, and mustache enthusiast.

19th century industrialized manufacture led to the availability of equipment like roller skates, and the back pages of manuals were prime locations for advertisements. The advertisement below features another piece of sporting equipment: a bicycle. Some of the earlier bicycles are quite different from their modern counterparts.

Bicycle advertisement from Roller Skating Made Easy.

Just getting on and off the bicycle seems to be a complicated affair as described in depth in Bicycling: Its Rise and Development, an uncredited publication of 1874.

Directions and illustrations of mounting and dismounting a bicycle from Bicycling: Its Rise and Development, 1884. Courtesy of the University of Michigan

Indeed the anonymous author sets the reader up for amount of work it might take to become a cycling master:

No two riders, on comparing notes, ever find their experiences coincident. We can only counsel patience and resolution, and give the assurance that bicycling is not so difficult after all, and that success is within easy reach of all who persevere; a few hours being generally enough to learn each successive stage on the way to complete mastery over the machine.

Bicycling: Its Rise and Development also covers bicycle racing in addition to more leisurely uses.

Illustration of a state-of-the-art racing bicycle of 1874.

The manual states “a modern Racing Bicycle, with a front wheel sixty inches in diameter, weighs something under fifty pounds.” (Racing bikes today are around 15 – 20 pounds and wheel diameters are around 26 inches.) Despite the added weight, the large front wheel enables the rider to cover a larger distance with less effort. Given that mechanical advantage, the distances and times recorded in the book are more impressive than you might expect: speeds of 16 to 20 miles per hour and distances of more than 100 miles per day.

Of course, one can only ride a bicycle for part of the year. What is one to do in the winter? Ski of course!  As with other manuals, the reader of the Book of Winter Sports is reminded that they need to work hard to acquire these skills, and that the author is just the expert they should listen to. But with directions like these, it seems it might be hard to figure out from a book:

“Kick Turn” directions from The Book of Winter Sports, edited by Edgar Syers and Madge Syers, 1908. Courtesy of The Boston Public Library

Of course, maybe the pictures would help…

Illustration of the “kick turn.”

On second thought, maybe we should just search for a video.

Stuart Yeates: Feedback on NLNZ ‘DigitalNZ Concepts API‘

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 21:02

This blog post is feedback on a recent blog post ‘Introducing the DigitalNZ Concepts API’ by the National Library of New Zealand’s DigitalNZ team. Some of the feedback also rests on conversations I've had with various NLNZ staffers and other interested parties and a great stack of my own prejudices. I've not actually generated an API key and run the thing, since I'm currently on parental leave.
  1. Parts of the Concepts API look very much like authority control, but authority control is not mentioned in the blog post or the docs that I can find. It may be that there are good reasons for this (such as parallel comms in the pipeline for the authority control community) but there are also potentially very worrying reasons. Clarity is needed here when the system goes live.
  2. All the URLs in examples are HTTP, but the ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement requires all practical measures be taken to ensure the confidentiality of the reader’s searching and reading. Thus, if the API is to be used for real-time searching, HTTPS URLs must be an option. 
  3. There is insufficient detail of of the identifiers in use. If I'm building a system to interoperate with the Concepts API, which identifiers should I be keeping at my end to identify things that the DigitalNZ end? The clearer this definition is, the more robust this interoperability is likely to be, there’s a very good reason for the highly structured formats of identifiers such as ISNI and ISBN. If nothing else a regexp would be very useful. Personally I’d recommend browsing around a little and rethinking the URL structure too.
  4. There needs to be an insanely clear statement on the exact relationship between DigitalNZ Concepts and those authority control systems mapped into VIAF. Both DigitalNZ Concepts and VIAF are semi-automated authority matching systems and if we’re not carefully they’ll end up polluting each other (as for example, DNB already has with gender data). 
  5. Deep interoperability is going to require large-scale matching of DigitalNZ Concepts with things in a wide variety of GLAM collections and incorporating identifiers into those collections’ metadata. That doesn't appear possible with the current licensing arrangements. Maybe a flat-file dump (csv or json) of all the Concepts under a CC0 license? URLs to rights-obsessed partners could be excluded.
  6. If non-techies are to understand Concepts, is going to have to provide human-comprehensible content without an API key (I’m guessing that this is going to happen when it comes out of beta?)
  7. Mistakes happen (see for recently found errors in VIAF, for example). There needs to be a clear contact point and likely timescale for getting errors fixed. 
Having said all that, it looks great!

LITA: Jobs in Information Technology: October 14, 2015

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 18:45

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

Library Division Coordinator Digital Services / IT Support, Marion Public Library, Marion, IA

Head, The Office of Scholarly Communications, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Web Services and Digital Environments Librarian, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, PA

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

District Dispatch: ALA discusses intellectual property enforcement

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 18:39

Responding to a request for input on the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, the American Library Association (ALA) submitted formal comments to the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator through the Library Copyright Alliance.

Student creating a product in Detroit public library maker space. Courtesy of Detroit Public Library.

To highlight those comments, I offer a few observations of a more informal nature on intellectual property enforcement:

  • Kids and others (e.g., designers, entrepreneurs, and researchers) who engage in the creative process, with no intent of intellectual property infringement, must not be inhibited in their lawful activities. Continued U.S. leadership in the global economy demands the innovative contributions from as many Americans as possible and so creative efforts need to be encouraged at every opportunity and at every age (from kindergarteners to senior scholars).
  • Those engaged in deliberate large-scale infringement need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Librarians strongly believe in the rule of law and ethical behavior, and indeed are considered to be amongst the most trustworthy of community members.
  • Law enforcement—whether for intellectual property or in our communities (referring to police forces)—properly focuses on criminal perpetrators and especially on the most egregious among them. At the same time, police forces reach out to the broader community, realizing that understanding of and support for their actions by law-abiding people are critical for society. Police forces also appreciate that long-lasting reduction in crime depends on affecting its root causes—which extend well beyond the latest infraction.

Every day, people use libraries to engage in creativity. Youth come to libraries to experiment in maker spaces, use 3D printers, produce in video studios and, of course, to explore the dizzying range of digital content and services now available. I recall my own childhood and the frequent visits to the local public library and school library. Of course, the technology in that time was rather different than today’s, but the purpose was the same. I was there to work on schoolwork and explore—to play, not on a jungle gym but among the stacks and other library paraphernalia. There was no nefarious purpose. Whatever is pursued with respect to intellectual property policy, we must not squash the ability or motivation of our youth to learn and play—to foster the foundational creativity essential for America’s future.

Of course, not only kids are implicated. Adults, from college students and entrepreneurs to immigrants and retirees, engage digital content and services in all manner of ways. Libraries provide guidance on digital literacy, just as they have done so before the digital era, educating the public on how to exercise the full extent of their rights (e.g., fair use) under copyright (and other) law, but to respect and not go beyond the law.

The Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator has a high profile and influence with its place at the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President. As the Office focuses on pure enforcement matters, as it must, we also ask it to consider the implications of its actions on public policy in the larger context. The Office’s decisions influence information policy beyond its formal purview—especially considering that there is no Office for Intellectual Property for the General Public—and so responsibility for doing good for the country overall also falls within the Office’s domain. We wish  Danny Marti, coordinator of the Office, and his colleagues well as they work on behalf of all Americans.

The post ALA discusses intellectual property enforcement appeared first on District Dispatch.

Islandora: 7.x-2.x -- Sprint 001 planning

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 16:37

A new Islandora Community sprint is coming up November 2 - 14. In September we had great success working on maintenance tickets for Islandora 7.x-1.x. The focus this time will be Islandora 7.x-2.x and the future of the stack.

The goal for the sprint is to get sprinters up to speed on the project through knowledge sharing, project workflows, and documentation. It may be the case that little to no code is written during this two week sprint, and that is perfectly ok! We hope that this will be the first sprint of many on Islandora 7.x-2.x!

You do not have to be a developer to join and we have a number of non-dev or "newbie" tickets lined up for you to work on if you want to take part.

The sprint will kick off with a meeting on November 2 where Danny Lamb and Nick Ruest will provide a brief overview of the new stack, go over issues marked for the sprint, and work with sprinters on what they would like to do or get out of the sprint.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself with sprint issues, please check out this list of issues.

If you’d like to join the sprint, please add your information to this spreadsheet.

You can build your own site to sprint on using vagrant, or download a VM here.

It would be great if we could also use this time to discuss some outstanding use-cases that will have architectural impacts. You don’t have to be a committer to take part in the discussions.  All opinions are welcome.  Please see the list of use cases here. Highest priority:

pinboard: Digital Technologies Development Librarian | NCSU Libraries

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 15:53
#hiring Digital Technologies Development Librarian @ncsulibraries Reviewing applications now! #code4lib #DLFjobs

David Rosenthal: Orphan Works "Reform"

planet code4lib - Wed, 2015-10-14 15:00
Lila Bailey at Techdirt has a post entitled Digital Orphans: The Massive Cultural Black Hole On Our Horizon about the Copyright Office's proposal for fixing the "orphan works" problem. As she points out, the proposal doesn't fix it, it just makes it different:
it doesn't once mention or consider the question of what we are going to do about the billions of orphan works that are being "born digital" every day.

Instead, the Copyright Office proposes to "solve" the orphan works problem with legislation that would impose substantial burdens on users that would only work for one or two works at any given time. And because that system is so onerous, the Report also proposes a separate licensing regime to support so-called "mass digitization," while simultaneously admitting that this regime would not really be appropriate for orphans (because there's no one left to claim the licensing fees). These proposals have been resoundingly criticized for many valid reasons.She represented the Internet Archive in responding to the report, so she knows whereof she writes about the born-digital user-generated content that documents today's culture:
We are looking down the barrel of a serious crisis in terms of society's ability to access much of the culture that is being produced and shared online today. As many of these born-digital works become separated from their owners, perhaps because users move on to newer and cooler platforms, or because the users never wanted their real identity associated with this stuff in the first place, we will soon have billions upon billions of digital orphans on our hands. If those orphans survive the various indignities that await them ... we are going to need a way to think about digital orphans. They clearly will not need to be digitized so the Copyright Office's mass digitization proposal would not apply.The born-digital "orphan works" problem is intertwined with the problems posed by the fact that much of this content is dynamic, and its execution depends on other software not generated by the user, which is both copyright and covered by an end-user license agreement, and is not being collected by the national libraries under copyright deposit legislation.


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