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Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “The CSS3 Anthology: Take Your Sites to New Heights, 4th ed.”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:24
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 419-420
Elizabeth Fronk

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “Going Beyond Google Again: Strategies for Using and Teaching the Invisible Web”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:24
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 420-421
Kali Davis

Journal of Web Librarianship: Editorial Board/EOV

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:24
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages ebi-ebi

Journal of Web Librarianship: Tutorials on Google Analytics: How to Craft a Web Analytics Report for a Library Web Site

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 404-417
Le Yang

Journal of Web Librarianship: Exploring Library Discovery Positions: Are They Emerging or Converging?

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 331-348
Nadine P. Ellero

Journal of Web Librarianship: Assessment of Digitized Library and Archives Materials: A Literature Review

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 384-403
Elizabeth Joan Kelly

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “More Technology for the Rest of Us: A Second Primer on Computing for the Non-IT Librarian”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 423-424
Dena L. Luce

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “Information Services and Digital Literacy: In Search of the Boundaries of Knowing”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 422-423
Joseph Grobelny

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “Handbook of Indexing Techniques: A Guide for Beginning Indexers”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 421-422
Bradford Lee Eden

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “The Transformed Library: E-Books, Expertise, and Evolution”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:23
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 425-426
Robert J. Vander Hart

Journal of Web Librarianship: A Review of “Optimizing Academic Library Services in the Digital Milieu: Digital Devices and Their Emerging Trends”

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 06:22
Volume 8, Issue 4, October-December 2014, pages 424-425
Paula Barnett-Ellis

Coral Sheldon-Hess: Playing with GitHub

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 01:33

I had the opportunity, at work (and a bit outside of work), to learn the GitHub API, as wrapped by Python’s github3 module. I found the documentation really hard to follow, maybe because I don’t have a lot of experience reading API docs, or because it wasn’t organized in the way I think about things, or maybe just because my work on this API was part of a larger, much more harrowing project, and I was already discouraged* … who knows?

I made a thing! Maybe it’s helpful!

Ultimately, I ended up documenting the parts of it I needed to understand in an IPython notebook; if you’d like to play with the GitHub API, then, please, feel free to download and run it, after filling in your own username, your chosen repository name, and your API token for GitHub (which you will want to keep secret, of course).

I’m not sure the format I used is going to be helpful to others, but I kept referring back to this notebook over and over as I worked, so, at the very least, I’ve found a format that’s helpful for me! Since I was trying to mock GitHub objects, I was very interested in return types. I hope it’s useful for others who want to understand github3…

I made a funnier thing! Maybe you’ll want play with it?

Now, because I had a funny idea (and I wanted to remind myself that I like programming), I also spent most of a Sunday building a tool to help make GitHub feel less like a game I have to win**. In short, it makes one commit per day on my GitHub account—actually, to the repository in which it is housed, because I was feeling puckish—so that I maintain a perfect streak. See? Perfection, since the day I wrote the script!

The code itself is pretty short; look at You can tell I had fun writing it, though. :)

The trickier (read: way more time-consuming) part ended up being the “make it run daily” bit. I had to learn about launchd, which Mac seems to prefer to cron. That’s too bad, since I already understood cron, but launchd has some nice features, like running when the machine wakes up if it was sleeping at the appointed time.

Anyway, once I gave in and took the advice of the launchd tutorial linked above and installed LaunchPad, it went better for me.

I’ve included my plist file in the repository, so nobody else has to write their own; I also gave the directory to put it in and listed the one necessary change, in the README. It shouldn’t be too hard to get running if you’ve got a Mac on hand.

I’d like to deploy this on Heroku at some point, rather than having to keep my laptop on all the time; maybe if I find that doable I’ll write a follow-up post, or just edit this one. :)


*We have this big code base, which is built on Flask (which I don’t know) and MongoDB (which I don’t know) and which has a RESTful API (which I haven’t learned yet; that’s my current project, happily!), which requires some internal routing to build and resolve URLs (which I don’t really understand, though I can trace through it with PyCharm). My job was to use mock (which I didn’t know at the time and still have trouble keeping my head wrapped around) to write tests (which I have only minimal experience with) on some internal API routes and permissions stuff for the GitHub addon (which was written in a fairly complicated way, in part by necessity, and which I didn’t understand at all at the outset of this project). This was supposed to be a good learning project, and I don’t doubt the intentions of anyone involved with assigning it, but … it was a pretty terrible, demoralizing experience, made worse because I was instructed not to ask the more-senior devs any questions, and the time estimate I was given was not realistic. (I did finish, pretty much. I have to redo my pull request in the morning.)

** “GitHub displays a lot of useless stats about how many followers you have, and some completely psychologically manipulative stats about how often you commit and how many days it is since you had a day off” – Why GitHub is not your CV, by James Coglan

Ed Summers: Removing Bias

planet code4lib - Wed, 2014-12-10 01:00

Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture Wikipedia article edited anonymously from US Senate

— congress-edits (@congressedits) December 9, 2014

OCLC Dev Network: All Services Unavailable 3 January 2015 for Technology Upgrade

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 22:00

On Saturday, 3 January 2015, OCLC has scheduled a technology upgrade to support system performance and reliability. During this upgrade, all OCLC services will be unavailable on 3 January 2015, from 12:01 am to 3:00 pm, U.S. Eastern Standard Time (approximately 15 hours).

District Dispatch: E-rate order at the FCC? B-i-n-g-o!

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 20:24

You’re sitting down, right? This Thursday marks the culmination of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-rate modernization proceeding—18 months in the making. The Commissioners will vote on a landmark E-rate order that addresses the broadband capacity gap facing many public libraries and the long-term funding shortage of the E-rate program. For the American Library Association (ALA) this is a very big deal as we have spent countless hours in meetings, on calls, late-night drafting and revising, cajoling our members for more cost data, and a few times engaging in down-the-hall-tirades during the tensest moments.

Photo by Sarae via Flickr

For libraries, this vote is a very, very big deal. In July the Commission voted on its first E-rate Order that focused on increasing the Wi-Fi capacity for libraries and schools (among a number of other program changes). At that time, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler made a commitment to taking up the outstanding issues, making it clear that the modernization process would be multi-phased. The outstanding issues that matter most for libraries are the lack of high-capacity broadband to the door of the library—because it’s actually just not available or if it is, the monthly cost is much too much. A second issue left open in July was the long-term funding needs of the program.

ALA fought hard to have these issues addressed and on Thursday, the Chairman is living up to his commitment by bringing a second order before the Commission that squarely takes on both, making strategic rule changes and adding (sitting down still?) $1.5 billion to the fund, permanently. We are very pleased.

And how do you celebrate 18 months of work that involved all of our allies (in states spread across the country)? Step one is to join the meeting on Thursday virtually. While all E-rate meetings are interesting, this one will be especially so. The Chairman has invited librarians, teachers, and students to meet with him before the public open meeting so he can hear directly from the beneficiaries of the program on the difference having a library (or school) connected to high-capacity broadband makes.

On behalf of libraries, the Chairman will be joined by Andrea Berstler, executive director, Wicomico Public Library; Rose Dawson, director of Libraries, Alexandria Library; Nicholas Kerelchuck, manager, Digital Commons, Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, DC; and Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director, DC Public Library. In addition to meeting with the Chairman, Richard will also present during the Commission meeting. We were pleased to be asked to provide a library perspective and are thrilled to have representatives from a variety of libraries who give the color to why what the Commission is doing will have such positive impact on libraries and the communities they serve.

Join in the fun

A little lighthearted fun at an E-rate meeting? Of course. Play E-rate Bingo online:

Bingo Card A
Bingo Card B
Bingo Card C
Bingo Card D

When one of the Commissioners or the Chairman says one of the words on your card, mark it out. Use the twitter hashtag #libraryerate to let everyone know when you get Bingo! Since the meeting starts at 10:30 Eastern time, we can’t encourage adult beverages so use chocolate when you hear one of your words. Of course you should also tweet throughout the meeting. Tell everyone what more broadband will mean for your library.

After the meeting, we will still have to wait to see the actual order until the Commission releases it publicly. We are planning a number of outreach activities to help navigate the changes to the E-rate program and to help libraries take advantage of them. The first will be a webinar in collaboration with the Public Library Association. This will be January 8 at 2:00 Eastern. Also, look for a summary of the order once we’ve had a chance to read it!
We’re looking forward to Thursday and the work ahead. So while we’re taking at least a day off to reflect and high-five a little, stay tuned. More is on the way.

The post E-rate order at the FCC? B-i-n-g-o! appeared first on District Dispatch.

Mita Williams: From DIY to Working Together: Using a Hackerspace to Build Community : keynote from Scholars Portal Day 2014

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 18:55
On December 3rd, I gave a keynote for Scholars Portal Day.  The slide deck was made using BIG and is available online.  Thank you to Scholars Portal for inviting me to be with one of my favourite communities.

You can’t tell how many apples are in a seed.

In May of 2010, I, Art Rhyno, Nicole Noel and late and sorely missed Jean Foster hosted an unconference at the central branch of the Windsor Public Library. 

Unconferences are seemingly no longer in vogue, so just in case you don’t know, an unconference is a conference where the topics of discussion are determined by those in the room who gather and disperse in conversation as their interests dictate. 

The unconference was called WEChangeCamp and it was one several ChangeCamp unconferences that occurred across the country at that time.

At this particular unconference, 40 people from the community came together to answer this question: “How can we re-imagine Windsor-Essex as a stronger and more vibrant community?”

And on that day the topic of a Windsor Hackerspace was suggested by a young man who I later learned was working on his doctorate in electrical engineering.  What I remember of that conversation four years ago was Aaron explaining the problem at hand: he and his friends needed regular infusions of money to rent a place to build a hackerspace so they needed a group of people who would pay monthly membership fees. But they couldn’t get paying members until they could attract them with a space.

Shortly thereafter, Aaron - like so many other young people in Windsor- left the city for work elsewhere. It’s a bit of an epidemic here. We have the second highest unemployment rate in Canada and it’s been said that youth unemployment rate in Windsor is at a staggering 20%.

In Aaron’s case, he moved to Palo Alto, California to do robotics work in an automotive R&D lab.

In the meantime back in Windsor, in May 2012, I helped host code4lib North at the University of Windsor.  We had the pleasure to host librarians from many OCUL libraries over those two days as well as staff from the Windsor Public Library. Also in the audience was Doug Satori. Doug had helped in the development of the WPL’s CanGuru mobile library application. He came to code4lib north because he was was curious about the first generation Raspberry pi that John Fink of McMaster had brought with him.  You have to remember that in 2012 that the Raspberry Pi - the $40 computer card - was still never very new in the world.

A year later, in May 2013, Windsor got its first Hackerspace when Hackforge was officially opened. The Windsor Public Library graciously lent Hackforge the empty space in the front of their Central Branch that was previously a Woodcarver’s Museum.

When Hackforge launches, Doug Satori is president and I’m on the board of directors.

In our 20 months of our existence, I’m proud to say that Hackforge has accomplished quite a lot for itself and for our community.

We’ve co-hosted three hackathons along with the local technology accelerator WETech Alliance.

The first hackathon was called HackWE - and it lasted a weekend, was hosted at the University of Windsor and was based on the City of Windsor’s Open Data Catalogue.

HackWE 2.0 was a 24-hour hackathon based on residential energy data collected by Smart Meters and was part of a larger Ontario Apps for Energy Challenge.

And the third HackWE 3.0 - which happened just this past October -  had events stretched over a week and based on open scientific data in celebration of Science and Technology week.

We’ve hosted our own independent hackathons as well. Last year Hackforge held a two week Summer Games event for people who wanted to try their hand at video game design. Everyone who completed a game won a trophy.  My own video game won the prize for being the Most endearing.

But in general, our members are more engaged in the regular activities of Hackforge.

They include our bi-weekly Tech Talks that our members give to each other and the wider public, on such topics as Amazon Web Services, slide rules, writing Interactive fiction with JavaScript, and using technology in BioArt.

We have monthly Maptime events in the space. Maptime is an open learning environment for all levels related to digital map making but there is a definite an emphasis on support for the beginner.

This photo is from our first Windsor Maptime event which was dedicated to OpenStreetMap. There are Maptime chapters all around the world, and the next Maptime Toronto meeting is December 11th, if you are curious and if you near or in the GTA.

The Hackforge Software Guild meets weekly to work on personal projects as well as practicing pair programming on coding challenges called katas.  For example, one of the first kata challenges was to write a program that would correctly write out the lyrics of 99 bottles of beer on the wall and one of more recent is how to code bowling scores.

We also have an Open Data Interest group and we are going to launch our own Open Data portal for Windsor’s non-profit community in 2015.  We’re able to do this because this year we have received Trillium funding to hire a part-time coordinator and to small pay stipends to people to help with this work.

Our first dataset is likely going to be a community asset map that was compiled by the Ford City Renewal group.  Ford City is one of several neighbourhoods in Windsor in which more than 30% of the population is have income levels that at poverty level. Average incomes of those from the the City of Windsor as a whole isn’t actually that much less than average for all of Canada - its just that we’re just the most economically polarized urban area in the country.  That’s one of the reasons why, in January Hackforge is going to be working with Ford City Renewal to host a build your computer event for young people in the neighborhood.

As well, our 3 year Trillium grant also funds another part-time coordinator who matches individuals seeking technology experience with non-profits such as the Windsor Homeless Coalition who need technology work and support. 

Hackforge has also collaborated with the Windsor Public Library to put on co-hosted events such as the Robot Sumo contest.

 And we’ve worked with the City of Windsor to produce persistence of vision bicycle wheels for the their WAVES light and sound art festival.  I know it’s difficult to see but in the photo on the screen is a bicycle wheel with a narrow set of lights that are strapped to three spokes on the wheel. When the wheel spins, the lights animate and give the impression that there’s an image in the wheel - it only works with the human eye - because of our persistence of vision - and it’s something that really come across in a photo very well.

[here's a video!]

Also, the City of Windsor commissioned us to build a Librarybox for their event which I thought was really cool!

And like most other Hackerspaces, we have 3D printers. We have robotic kits. We have soldering irons, and we have lots and lots of spare electronic and computer parts. But unlike most other hackerspaces who charge their members $30 to $50 a month to join and make use their space, our hackerspace is currently free to members who pay for their membership with volunteer work.

This brings us to today in the last days of 2014.

2014 is also the year that Aaron came back to us from California. He’s now my fellow board member at Hackforge.  And, incidentally, so is Art Rhyno, who  - if you don’t know - is a fellow librarian from the University of Windsor.

I was asked by Scholars Portal if I could share some of my experiences with Hackforge in light of today’s theme of building community.  And that is what my talk will be about today: how to use a hackerspace to build community. And I will do so by expanding on five themes. 

But as you know know - we are only 2 years old, and so - this talk is really about just the beginning steps we’ve been taking and those steps that we are still trying to take.  We admittedly have a long way to go.

Helping out with Hackforge has been a very rich and rewarding experience and I’ve learned much from it. And it’s also been hard work and sometimes it has been very time consuming.

All those decisions we made as we started our hackerspace were the first ones we’ve ever had to make for our new organization. This process was exhilarating but it also was occasionally exhausting.  Which brings us to our first theme:

Institutions reduce the choices available to their members

The reason why starting up an organization is so exhausting can be found in Ronald Coase’s work. Coase is famous for introducing the concept of transaction costs to explain the nature and limits of firms and that earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1991. Now I haven’t read his Nobel prize winning work, myself. I was first introduced to Coase when I read a book last year called The org: the underlying logic of the office by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan.

I also read Coase being referenced in a blog post by media critic Clay Shirky that was about about the differences between new media and  old media. It’s Shirky’s words on the screen right now:

These frozen choices are what gives institutions their vitality — they are in fact what make them institutions. Freed of the twin dangers of navel-gazing and random walks, an institution can concentrate its efforts on some persistent, medium-sized, and tractable problem, working at a scale and longevity unavailable to its individual participants.
Further on in his post Shirky explains what he means by this through an example of what happens at a daily newspaper:

The editors meet every afternoon to discuss the front page. They have to decide whether to put the Mayor’s gaffe there or in Metro, whether to run the picture of the accused murderer or the kids running in the fountain, whether to put the Biker Grandma story above or below the fold. Here are some choices they don’t have to make at that meeting: Whether to have headlines. Whether to be a tabloid or a broadsheet. Whether to replace the entire front page with a single ad. Whether to drop the whole news-coverage thing and start selling ice cream. Every such meeting, in other words, involves a thousand choices, but not a billion, because most of the big choices have already been made.
When you are starting a new organization or any new venture, really, every small decision can sometime seem to bog you down.  There is navel-gazing and random walks.

We got bogged down at the beginning of Hackforge. We actually received the keys to the space in the Windsor Public Library in October of 2012.  Why the delay? We had decided that we would launch the opening of our space with a homemade keypass locking system for the doors because we thought it wouldn’t take much time at all. 

And if we were considering how long it would take one talented person to build such a system by themselves, then maybe we would been right. But instead, we were very wrong. And looking back at it, now it seems obvious why this was the case:

We had a set of people who have never worked together before, who don’t necessarily even speak the same programming languages, working without an authority structure, in a scarcely born organization with no promise that we will succeed or survive, nor sure promise of reward.

Now it’s very important for me say that this so I'm absolutely clear - I am not complaining about our volunteers!!!

Hackforge would not have succeeded if it weren’t for those very first volunteers who made Hackforge happen in those early days when we were starting with nothing.

And the same holds to this day. When we say that Hackforge is made of volunteers, what we are really saying is that Hackforge = volunteers. 

Our volunteers are especially remarkable because -- like all  volunteers - they give up their own time that’s left over after their pre-existing commitments to work, school, family and friends. In volunteer work, every interaction is a gift. But, that being said, not every promise in a volunteer organization is one that is fulfilled. Sometimes you learn the hard way that first thing on Tuesday means 3pm.

But the delay wasn’t just from the building of the system. Once it was built, we then we had to make sure that the keypass system was okay with the library and that it was okay with the fire marshall. And we had to figure out how who was going to make the key cards, how they were going to be distributed and how we would use to decide who would get a keycard to the space and who would not.  Ultimately, it took us 8 months to figure this all of this out.

I wanted to explicitly mention this observation because I’ve noticed that within our own institution of libraries that sometimes when a new group or committee is started up, there is the occasional individual who interprets the slow goings and long initial discussions of the first meetings as, at best, extreme inefficiency, and at worst, a sign of imminent failure.

When in fact, we should recognize that slow starts are normal.

Culture is to a organization as community is to a city

New organizations and new ventures happen slowly and furthermore, they should happen slowly because each decision made is one that further that defines the “how” of “what an organization is”.  Are we, as an organization, formal or informal?  Who takes the minutes at meetings?  Do we need to give a notice of motion? Do we do our own books or do we hire an accountant? Do we provide food at our events?  Do we sell swag or do we give it away? How should we fundraise?  How do we deal with bad actors?  Every decision further defines the work that we do.

It’s very important to take the time to take these steps slowly in order to make sure that the way you do things match up with the why you do things.  As I think we can appreciate in libraryland, once institutions reduce choices of their members it is very difficult - although not impossible to open them up again for rethinking and refactoring.

One of reasons why Hackforge has been very successful in its brief existence - is that it was formed with clearly articulated reasons and clear guiding principles that continue to help us shape the form of our work. And I know this, because the vision of what Hackforge should be was told to be me when I was invited to serve of the board when Hackforge began and, I can attest to the fact, that it is the same the as the one we have now.

Now, there are many different types of hacker and makerspaces: some are dedicated to artists, others to entrepreneurs, while others are dedicated to the hobbyist.   Hackforge - in less than 140 characters has been described as this: Hackforge supports capacity building in the community and supporting a culture of mentorship and inclusivity.

More specifically, we exist to help with youth retention in Windsor. We aim to be a place where individuals who work or want to work in technology can find support from each other.

I know it might sound strange to you that we believe that our local IT industry needs support, especially when we read about the excesses of Silicon Valley on a regular basis.

But in Windsor, there are not many options for those with a technology background to find work and so, despite of the impression we give to those pursuing a career in STEM, tech jobs in Windsor can be poorly paid and the working conditions can be very problematic.

Many of the provisions in the labour law - the ones that entitle employees to set working hours, to breaks between and within shifts, to overtime and even time to eat - have exemptions for those who work in IT.  I’ve been told that the only way to get a raise while working in IT in this town is to find a better paying job.

The IT industry sometimes treats people as if they were machines themselves.

Hackforge was built as a response to this environment. It was build in hopes that it could help  grow something better.  At Hackforge we know our strength does not come from the machines that we have in our space, but our amazing members and the time and work that they give to others.   

I mean, we love 3D printers because they are a honeypot that brings curious folks into our space, but the secret is we are not really about 3D printers. 

And yet if you look at all of what our media coverage we receive, you would think we’re just another makerspace that loves 3D printers and robots.

This is why it is SO important to be visible with your values, which is our second theme.

Show your work

One of the challenges that we have at Hackforge is that we don’t have very many women in our ranks.  Women make up half of our board of directors but our larger membership is not representative of the Windsor community and it’s likely not representative in the other aspects of identity, for that matter, either.

We know that if we wanted to change this situation, it would require sustained work on our part. And so when we had our official launch of Hackforge last year, we, as part of the event, hosted a Women in Technology Panel that featured four women who work in IT, including the very successful Girl Develop IT from Detroit, all of whom both shared their experiences and offer strategies to make the field of technology a more inclusive environment and better place for everyone.

In the audience for that panel discussion was a representative of WEST. WEST is a local non-profit group who works and stands for Women’s Enterprise Skills Training. Starting next year, with the support of another Ontario Trillium grant, Hackforge and WEST are going to be launching a project that will offer free computer skills training workshops for women as well as trying to create a community of support, and continue to advocate for women in the IT field.

So I can’t stress this enough. You have to do your work in public if you want your future collaborators to find you.

I have also another Women in Technology story to start our third theme.

So remember I told you about unconferences? Well, the Hackforge members who run the Software Guild do something similar.  Sometimes instead of coding, the folks do something like this.  They write down all thing the things they want to talk about, vote for the topics and then talk the most voted topics within strict time limits. But they don’t call it an unconference:

They call it LEAN COFFEE.

I love it. It’s so adorable.

Anyway, at one of these Lean Coffee sessions, our staff coordinator suggested the topic Women in Technology.  And the response she received was this: We know there’s a problem because Hackforge doesn’t have enough women. But we are not sure how to fix this. 

To me, I found this statement very encouraging. 

Its sad, but in these these times, when people can admit that there’s a problem without any deflection or allocation of blame is actually very refreshing.

I mean, within librarianship - we have some organizations who consistently organize speaking events made up of mostly men. Whenever I raise this matter I usually told that if the speaking topic is not about gender, then it’s not about gender. In other words, they tell me that there is no problem.

But sometimes there is a problem.

Look at this photo:  from this you would never guess that it was taken in a city that is over 80% African American.  This photo from the first meeting of Maptime Detroit that I attended last month.  One of the first things that was said during the evening’s introduction was a simple statement by the organizer.  “I want to acknowledge who isn’t this in room”  And what followed was a plan to hold the next Maptime meetings, not in the mid-town Tech Incubator, but within the various neighbourhoods in the city and alongside partner organizations already working with Detroiters where they live.

So before we can be more inclusive, we need to recognize when we are not.

We can start by acknowledging who isn’t in the room. It isn’t hard to do.

Quinn Norton wrote a lovely essay about this called Count. Speaking of counting, we are now at theme four.

A mailing list is not a community

What you might find surprising is that - for Hackforge being a gathering of people who generally love love love the Internet, is that we really don’t even have a strong online space for folks to hang out in, with the exception of our IRC channel.  We used to have forum software, but is was so overwhelmed with spam on a daily basis it was almost immediately rendered unusable. 

Also, Hackforge doesn’t even have a listserv mailing list. 

And I would go as far to say that one of the reasons why Hackforge has been as successful as we have been is in part, because that we *don’t* have a mailing list. 

There’s a website that’s called Running a Hackerspace that is a collection of animated gifs that metaphorically capture the essence of Running a hackerspace. I think it’s particularly telling that there are many recurrent topics that arise this Tumblr: like the complaints that folks don’t clean up after themselves. 

(And this is when I confess that when I drop by Hackforge, I am also sometimes made sad).

But the most prevalent theme in the blog is mailing list rage.

You would think this would have been a solved problem by now: how do you support project work that is done asynchronously and dispersed over geography. Many open source communities are finding that the traditional tools of mailing lists, forum software, and IRC channels are not doing enough in helping their communities do good work together. More often than not, these technologies seem to be better than boosting the noise rather than the signal.

Distributed companies like Wordpress are moving from IRC to software platforms such as Slack. As I’ve mentioned before,  I’m involved with a largely self-organized group called Maptime and we also make use of Slack, which is essentially user friendly IRC, chat, and messaging along with images, file sharing, archiving and social media capture. 

At Hackforge, we’ve recently decided to use the Jira issue tracker to manage the hacking work that we need to do in the space and we will be switching to Nation Builder software to manage our members and member communications. When activists, non-profits, and political parties are using software like Nation Builder to manage the contact info, the interests, and the fundraising of tens of thousands of people, it makes me wonder when libraries are going to start using similar software to manage the relationships it has with its community.

And at a time when my neighbours who rent the skating rink for collective use, use volunteer management software to figure out who’s turn it is to bring the hot chocolate, I would like to suggest that libraries perhaps could start using similar software to - at least - manage our internal work and communications as well.  Good tools make great communication possible within organizations and our communities. They are are worth the investment.

Invest in but do not outsource community management

Before I end my presentation with this last theme, I do want to offer a caveat to everything I’ve said.  If you asked all of the people who have been involved in Hackforge - those who have come by our events, spent time in the space, or even volunteered some mentoring at an event - if you asked them if they felt they were part of a community, I think most people asked would probably say, no.  I think we have a wonderful group of people who have contributed to Hackforge and  I think we have a group of people who have even found friends at Hackforge, but I think we still can’t call the whole of what we do "a community" - at least not yet. 

Hackforge is approaching its 2nd birthday and this talk has been a wonderful excuse to reflect on what we do well and what we still need to work on.

What works for us are regular events, contests and Hackathons. We are well aware of the limitations of hackathons and how they produce imperfect work but, for us, it seems to be that  that pre-defined limits and deadlines produce more work and generate more interest and excitement than unstructured free time seems to.

Unlike many hackerspaces, we don’t tend to have many group projects. The door project - as you have learned - was one of few group projects, and that one took longer than expected. In our early months, we also had a LED sign project that was never completed and actually resulted in some people leaving Hackforge in frustration.

We are a volunteer organization and as such, by the process of evolution, we are a place for the patient and the forgiving. Sometimes we have gotten our first impressions wrong.

One of the largest challenges I think we have as an organization is to be more accessible to beginners.  In fact, that the feedback that we’ve been getting.

Aaron recently had a tech talk about tech talks and the message he received was that Hackforge should provide more sessions for beginners.  And this is a particular challenge that we haven’t really addressed yet. We’re luckily that Hackforge has people who are both generous with their time and not afraid of public speaking and give tech talks. But many of our speakers don’t preface their talks with an introduction that a newbie could understand. They are so excited to have fellow experts in the crowd and they jump right into the code or electrical specs or what have you.

Likewise, it’s amazing and wonderful that we have regular supportive events like our member’s coding katas in which those who work with software can practice and share their coding practice with others. But at the moment, we don’t really have anything for those who want to learn how to code.  And you might not be shocked to hear this, but Hackforge’s machines like our 3D printers - lack even the most basic documentation on how to use the machines.

Without expanding the work of communicating, documenting, explaining, and teaching, Hackforge won’t be able to attract new members. 

Hackforge started as a top down organization.  Our job as board has been to the build the systems that will allow more of the day to day work of the Hackforge to move from the board to our community and program managers.  We were able to hire our managers in the middle of this year and already, they have made wonderful contributions to Hackforge.  Our next challenge will be how to move more of the operational work of the managers to the members themselves.

In other words, the challenge for Hackforge is to ensure that the work that needs to be done - all of that communicating, documenting, explaining, teaching - needs to be embraced by all of its members as a community of practice.  And through this practice, it’s hoped we can  build a community.

So, those are my five themes for building community with a hackerspace:

Institutions reduce the choices available to their members (so choose carefully)
Show your work (so future collaborators can find you).
Acknowledge who isn’t in the room (Count is only the start).
A mailing list is not a community (Invest in tools that do better).
Invest but do not outsource community management.

The work of figuring how to get a bunch of people to come together and face a shared challenge isn’t just the way the build a community.  This is also how political movements begin.  It’s also how a game begins. I would like to thanks to Scholars Portal for giving me the opportunity to begin Scholars Portal Day with you all. 

District Dispatch: Free financial literacy webinar for librarians

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 18:20

Today, the Department of Labor will host a webinar that will outline and discuss suggested activities states should undertake to comply with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) beginning immediately through July 1, 2015. This session has limited space so please register quickly.

US Department of Labor

During the webinar “WIOA Technical Assistance Webinar- Jump-Starting Your Implementation,” speakers will highlight areas where states have existing authority to take action to comply with WIOA, as well as provide technical assistance, based on statutory requirements, on additional areas in which states are encouraged to move forward in the transition from Workforce Investment Act to WIOA.

  • Adele Gagliardi, Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
  • Christine Quinn, Special Assistant, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
  • Lori H. Collins, Director, Division of Workforce & Employment Services,
  • Kentucky Career Center
  • Mike Riley, ETPL lead, Division of Workforce & Employment Services, Kentucky Career Center
  •  Lisa Salazar, Director, City of Los Angeles OneSource, Youth Opportunity System
  • Thomas Colombo, Assistant Director, Division of Employment & Rehabilitation Services, Interim Deputy, State of Arizona
  • Alice Sweeney, Director, Department of Career Services, State of Massachusetts
  • Scott C. Fennell, Chief Operation and Financial Officer, Career Source Florida
  • Moderator: Maggie Ewell, Policy and Reporting Team Lead Office of Grants Management, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Webinar Details
Date: December 9, 2014
Time: 2:00pm ET (1:00pm/Central, 12:00pm/Mountain, 11:00am/Pacific)
Join the webinar

The ALA Washington Office does not know if the webinar will be archived. Contact the Department of Labor with questions about the webinar.

The post Free financial literacy webinar for librarians appeared first on District Dispatch.

District Dispatch: Alan’s NYC Adventure

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 18:03

I spent much of last week in New York City as part of the American Library Association (ALA) advocacy effort regarding ebooks. These meetings with publishing executives are described in my post on the American Libraries magazine’s E-content blog. However, I also engaged in some other activities during this trip.

I had the pleasure of participating in Jim Neal’s retirement celebration, held at Casa Italiana, Columbia University, which saw hundreds in attendance to pay tribute to him. As many of you know, Jim is a long-time, strategic, and highly-respected contributor to the library community at the national level. Among his many contributions, he has served on ALA’s Executive Board for three separate tenures, including one presently, and is a former treasurer of the Association.

Jim Neal speaking at his retirement party.

Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, kicked off the formal program to recognize Jim’s contributions as vice president of information services and university librarian. Several other Columbia University officials participated in the praise, including our close collaborator Bob Wolven, an associate university librarian and former co-chair of the ALA Digital Content Working Group. Bob commented on Jim’s extraordinary energy and initiative, noting that if Jim received some lemons, he would not make lemonade—instead he would develop a plan for a multi-division business and demand more lemons.

In 2015, Jim will become university librarian emeritus, an honor bestowed only two times previously in the university’s history. Jim will remain active in the field and so ALA and the national library community will continue to benefit from Jim’s strategic guidance in copyright policy and other areas for some time to come. As he is a member of the Policy Revolution! Initiative’s Library Advisory Committee, I am relieved to learn that we will continue to benefit from his counsel in our efforts to reshape national public policy for libraries. While on campus, I also had separate meetings with Jim and Bob to discuss broad issues in digital content and information policy.

I Love My Librarian event.

The award ceremony for the I Love My Librarian award took place last week and so I was able to attend it, held at the offices of The New York Times. Of course, I expected to hear about the exemplary library work of the awardees, but the intense level of emotion exhibited at the event was a bit unexpected.

For these librarians, their work extends far beyond a job, becoming a calling—and their patrons see it that way as well. This award is extremely competitive, with over 1000 applications received that ultimately yielded 10 awardees.

Finally, I made it to Connecticut for an evening. My first stop was the Darien Public Library to meet with Amanda Goodman, a staff librarian and member of the Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) advisory committee.

Darien Public Library December 2014

I got a looksee at the library’s four 3D printers and its fine children’s library. I then met up with Dr. Roger Levien, author of our policy brief Confronting the Future. Roger is working on a new book on the future of public libraries and we discussed varied aspects of his developing analysis in the context of related work in the field.

Trips are great, but then they end and you end up back in the office trying to catch up. I don’t ever seem to catch up—I’m just trying to keep the backlog under embarrassing levels!

The post Alan’s NYC Adventure appeared first on District Dispatch.

DPLA: December 15, 2014: Open Board Call

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 17:32

The DPLA Board of Directors will hold an open call on Monday, December 15, at 3:00 PM Eastern. Agenda and dial-in information is included below.


Public Session

  • What’s coming in early 2015
  • Update from Executive Director
  • Questions and comments from the public

Executive Session

  • Voice approval of strategic plan
  • Review of draft tax return
  • Update on nominating subcommittee
  • Update on current grant activities
Public session dial-in Dial-in: 800-501-8979 Access Code: 2739336

Open Knowledge Foundation: The Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

planet code4lib - Tue, 2014-12-09 16:45

The Global Open Data Index 2014 team is thrilled to announce that the Global Open Data Index 2014 is now live!

We would not have arrived here without the incredible support from our network and the wider open knowledge community in making sure that so many countries/places are represented in the Index and that the agenda for open data moves forward. We’re already seeing this tool being used for advocacy around the world, and hope that the full and published version will allow you to do the same!

How you can help us spread the news

You can embed a map for your country on your blog or website by following these instructions.

Press materials are available in 6 languages so far (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese and French), with more expected. If you want to share where you are please share a link to our press page. If you see any coverage of the Global Open Data Index, please submit them to us via this form so we can track coverage.

We are really grateful for everyone’s help in this great community effort!

Here are some of the results of the Global Open Data Index 2014

The Global Open Data Index ranks countries based on the availability and accessibility of information in ten key areas, including government spending, election results, transport timetables, and pollution levels.

The UK tops the 2014 Index retaining its pole position with an overall score of 96%, closely followed by Denmark and then France at number 3 up from 12th last year. Finland comes in 4th while Australia and New Zealand share the 5th place. Impressive results were seen from India at #10 (up from #27) and Latin American countries like Colombia and Uruguay who came in joint 12th .

Sierra Leone, Mali, Haiti and Guinea rank lowest of the countries assessed, but there are many countries where the governments are less open but that were not assessed because of lack of openness or a sufficiently engaged civil society.

Overall, whilst there is meaningful improvement in the number of open datasets (from 87 to 105), the percentage of open datasets across all the surveyed countries remained low at only 11%.

Even amongst the leaders on open government data there is still room for improvement: the US and Germany, for example, do not provide a consolidated, open register of corporations. There was also a disappointing degree of openness around the details of government spending with most countries either failing to provide information at all or limiting the information available – only two countries out of 97 (the UK and Greece) got full marks here. This is noteworthy as in a period of sluggish growth and continuing austerity in many countries, giving citizens and businesses free and open access to this sort of data would seem to be an effective means of saving money and improving government efficiency.

Explore the Global Open Data Index 2014 for yourself!


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