The American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy is accepting nominations for two prestigious awards. The first is the L. Ray Patterson Award: In Support of Users’ Rights. The Patterson Copyright Award recognizes contributions of an individual or group that pursues and supports the Constitutional purpose of the U.S. Copyright Law, fair use and the public domain. Professor Patterson was a copyright scholar and historian who argued that the statutory copyright monopoly had grown well out of proportion, to the extent that the purpose of the copyright law—to advance learning—was hindered.
Patterson co-authored (with Stanley W. Lindberg) The Nature of Copyright: A Law of Users’ Rights and was particularly interested in libraries and their role in advancing users rights. He served as expert counsel to Representative Bob Kastenmaier throughout the drafting of the Copyright Law of 1976. Previous winners of the Patterson Award include Kenneth D. Crews, Peter Jaszi, and Fred von Lohmann. The Patterson Award is a crystal vase trophy.
The second award is the Robert Oakley Memorial Scholarship Fund, sponsored in collaboration with the Library Copyright Alliance (LCA). This award is granted to an early-to-mid-career librarian who is pursuing copyright scholarship and public policy. Professor Oakley was a member of the LCA representing the American Association of Law Librarians, and a long-time member of the International Library Federation of Libraries Associations and Institutions (IFLA), advocating for libraries at the World Intellectual Property Organization and UNESCO.
Oakley was a recognized leader in law librarianship and library management who also maintained a profound commitment to public policy and the rights of library users and was a mentor to many librarians interested in copyright policy. The $1,000 scholarship award may be used for travel necessary to conduct, attend conferences, release from library duties or other reasonable and appropriate research expenses.
The deadline for nominations has been extended to March 31, 2014. For more information on nomination details, see the links above. If you have additional questions, contact Carrie Russell, OITP Director of the Program on Public Access to Information, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The post It may not be the Academy Award but there’s still time… appeared first on District Dispatch.
Developer Network will be going live with a whole new website this Monday, March 10th!
This is a project we’ve been working on for a while now and it’s exciting to finally be able to share it with all of you. While we can't wait to tell you about all of the bells and whistles, it’s most important that you know that the new site will be right here at the same address and all of the critical information you’ve been using will still be available. Our URL patterns will be changing somewhat and we’ve put re-directs in place to save as many of your bookmarks as possible. Still, you’ll probably want to take some time to explore the new site and make sure you can locate your favorites.
The idea that format migration is integral to digital preservation was for a long time reinforced by people's experience of format incompatibility in Microsoft's Office suite. Microsoft's business model used to depend on driving the upgrade cycle by introducing gratuitous forward incompatibility, new versions of the software being set up to write formats that older versions could not render. But what matters for digital preservation is backwards incompatibility; newer versions of the software being unable to render content written by older versions. Six years ago the limits of Microsoft's ability to introduce backwards incompatibility were dramatically illustrated when they tried to remove support for some really old formats.
The reason for this fiasco was that Microsoft greatly over-estimated its ability to impose the costs of migrating old content on their customers, and the customer's ability to resist. Old habits die hard. Microsoft is trying to end support of Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8 but it isn't providing cost-effective upgrade paths for what is now Microsoft's fastest-growing installed base. Joel Hruska writes:Microsoft has come under serious fire for some significant missteps in this process, including a total lack of actual upgrade options. What Microsoft calls an upgrade involves completely wiping the PC and reinstalling a fresh OS copy on it — or ideally, buying a new device. Microsoft has misjudged how strong its relationship is with consumers and failed to acknowledge its own shortcomings. Not providing an upgrade utility is one example — but so is the general lack of attractive upgrade prices or even the most basic understanding of why users haven't upgraded.This resistance to change has obvious implications for digital preservation.
I had the enormous pleasure on Saturday and Monday of seeing the three plays that make up The Norman Conquests by Alan Ayckbourn, put on by the Soulpepper company here in Toronto. This review of the October 2013 production explains well how well done they all were and what great plays they are. It was more excellent work by Soulpepper; even more enjoyable than usual because seeing three plays in such a short time—two Saturday and one Monday—concentrates and intensifies everything.
Here I note two especially interesting about the trilogy: the chronology and the fact that Norman is a librarian. I admit that second fact is of limited interest to non-librarians, but after all I myself am a librarian.The books on stage were perfect. These are in the sitting room; there were Agatha Christies in the dining room. Chronology
The three plays all take place over the same weekend with the same six characters, but Table Manners is set in the dining room, Living Together in the sitting room, and Round and Round the Garden in the garden. Each has two acts with two scenes, but the times are staggered, so as you see them—I saw them in that order—the pieces all lock together, and when someone enters a room in one play you realize you saw them leave from another room in another play, or when someone says something offhand in one play you realize they’re covering up an intense experience from another play.
Round and Round the Garden
Round and Round the Garden comes third in the sequence but contains the weekend in time: it begins first, Saturday at 5:30 pm, and ends last, in the garden on Monday morning at 9 am when people are leaving.
Seeing all three, and spending over six hours with the six actors—while sitting in the front row of an arena theatre!—was a marvellous experience.Digression
The Norman Conquests was first produced at the Library Theatre, which at the time was inside the library in Scarborough in Yorkshire.
Ayckbourn’s official web site has a huge amount of material about The Norman Conquests.Librarian
One of the characters is a librarian: Norman, played by Albert Schultz. He does it as a great hairy shambling kind of a man, as many male librarians are, and suitably dressed in a cardigan, as all librarians are. There are a few good library-related lines:
From Table Manners:
Norman: The trouble is, I was born in the wrong damn body. Look at me. A gigolo trapped in a haystack. The tragedy of my life. Norman Dewers—gigolo and assistant librarian.
Ruth: Forget it. You couldn’t possibly take Norman away from me. That assumes I own him in the first place. I’ve never done that. I always feel with Norman that I have him on loan from somewhere. Like one of his library books. I’ll get a card one day informing me he’s overdue and there’s a fine to pay on him.
From Living Together:
Sarah: I thought you were in a hurry to go somewhere, Norman.
Norman: Not at all.
Reg: Yes, I thought you said you had a—librarian’s conference.
Norman: It’s been cancelled.
Norman: About ten seconds ago. Due to lack of interest.
Reg: Funny lot these librarians.
Sarah: It’s a bit late to consider his feelings now, isn’t it? Having tried to steal Annie from under his nose.
Norman: I wasn’t stealing her, I was borrowing her. For the weekend.
Sarah: Makes her sound like one of your library books.
Annie: What are you going to tell Ruth?
Norman: What I was going to tell her anyway. I’ve been on a conference.
Annie: Which finished early?
Norman: Something like that. We ran out of things to talk about. What does it matter? She won’t care. She probably thinks I’m in the attic mending the roof.
Annie: I didn’t know Assistant Librarians had conferences.
Norman: Everybody has conferences.
Ruth: You’re supposed to be at work too.
Norman: I was taken ill, haven’t you heard?
Ruth: I’m amazed they keep you on.
Norman: I’m a very good librarian, that’s why. I know where all the dirty bits are in all the books.
From Round and Round the Garden:
Tom: Oh. I thought you said you were staying.
Norman: No, I’m just passing through on my way to East Grinstead.
Tom: Really? Business?
Norman: Yes. International Association of Assistant Librarians Annual Conference.
Tom: Jolly good.
Norman: I was brought up to believe it was very insulting to sleep with your wife or any lady. A gentleman stays eagerly awake. He sleeps at his work. That’s what work’s for. Why do you think they have SILENCE notices in the library? So as not to disturb me in my little nook behind the biography shelves. L–P.
Ruth: They’ll sack you.
Norman: They daren’t. I reorganized the Main Index. When I die, the secret dies with me.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services recently nominated 15 exemplary libraries for National Medals for their service to their communities. In its 20th year, the National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on libraries and museums, and celebrates institutions that make a difference for individuals, families, and communities.
This year’s honorees will come from a variety of library and museum institutions, including public libraries, cultural library centers and multiple county library systems.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is encouraging those who have visited finalist libraries and museums to share their story on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/USIMLS.
National Medal nominees include:
Today, President Barack Obama released his budget request for the 2015 fiscal year. The proposed budget for the Library Services and Technology Act falls $2 million short from the $180.9 million enacted by the U.S. Congress for the 2014 fiscal year. The big hit came to the state program, with slight increases to the set aside for Native Americans and Hawaiians and the National Leadership grants.Statutory Authority FY 2010 FY 2011 FY 2012 FY 2013 FY 2014 Request FY 2014 Enacted FY 2015 Request Grants to States 172,561 160,032 156,365 150,000 150,000 154,848 152,501 Native Am/Haw. Libraries 4,000 3,960 3,869 3,667 3,869 3,861 3,869 Nat. Leadership / Libraries 12,437 12,225 11,946 11,377 13,200 12,200 12,232 Laura Bush 21st Century 24,525 12,818 12,524 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 Subtotal, LSTA 213,523 189,035 184,704 175,044 177,069 180,909 178,602
On a conference call with stakeholders, Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Susan Hildreth discussed the Laura Bush 21st Century grants programs, saying that her agency is working on a National Continuing Education Platform so library employees can continue their education around new services and technologies.
On a disappointing note, the President did not include any resources for school libraries.
Please be on the lookout for an action alert from the Washington Office regarding several “Dear Appropriator” letters that your legislators can sign in support of these programs.
Since announcing the preview release of 194 Million Open Linked Data Bibliographic Work descriptions from OCLC’s WorldCat, last week at the excellent OCLC EMEA Regional Council event in Cape Town; my in-box and Twitter stream have been a little busy with questions about what the team at OCLC are doing.
Instead of keeping the answers within individual email threads, I thought they may be of interest to a wider audience:
Q I don’t see anything that describes the criteria for “workness.”
Q Defining what a “work” is has proven next to impossible in the commercial world, how will this be more successful?
Q Will there be links to individual ISBN/ISNI records?
Q Can you say more about how the stable identifiers will be managed as the grouping of records that create a work change?
Q Is there a bulk download available?
Q Where should bugs be reported?
Q There appears to be something funky with the way non-existent IDs are handled.
Q It’s wonderful to see that the data is being licensed ODC-BY, but maybe assertions to that effect should be there in the data as well?.
Q How might WorldCat Works intersect with the BIBFRAME model? – these work descriptions could be very useful as a bf:hasAuthority for a bf:Work.
Q Will your team be making use of ISTC?
The answer to the above question stimulated a follow-on question based upon the fact that ISTC Codes are allocated on a language basis. In FRBR terms language of publication is associated with the Expression, not the Work level description. As such therefore you would not expect to find ISTC on a ‘Work’ – My response to this was:
Note that the Works published from WorldCat.org are defined as instances of schema:CreativeWork.
What you say may well be correct for FRBR, but the the WorldCat data may not adhere strictly to the FRBR rules and levels. I say ‘may not’ as we are still working the modelling behind this and a language specific Work may become just an example of a more general Work – there again it may become more Expression-like. There is a balance to be struck between FRBR rules and a wider, non-library, understanding.
Q Which triplestore are you using?
As an aside, you may be interested to know that significant use is made of the map/reduce capabilities of Apache Hadoop in the processing of data extracted from bibliographic records, the identification of entities within that data, and the creation of the RDF descriptions. I think it is safe to say that the creation and publication of this data would not have been feasible without Hadoop being part of the OCLC architecture.
Hopefully this background will help those interested in the process. When we move from preview to a fuller release I expect to see associated documentation and background information appear.
This is a guest post from Andreas Von Gunten, founder of the Creative Commons-based publishing house Buch & Netz and editor of the brand new “The 2013 Open Read – Stories and articles inspired by OKCon2013″.
We all remember very well the fantastic OKCon / Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva last year. There were so many interesting and inspiring workshops from open data enthusiasts from all over the world, and it was a great honor for me to be able to publish an eBook and an online book about the themes and issues from the OKCon 2013.
Now «The 2013 Open Reader – Stories and articles inspired by OKCon2013: Open Data – Broad,Deep, Connected» is available for free until 16th March 2014. It includes blogposts, white papers, slides, journal articles and other types of texts from 45 speakers, workshop coordinators of this event and other contributors. Grab your copy now or read the content online at: http://books.buchundnetz.com/the2013openreader/
The eBook and its content is licensed under a CC-BY 3.0 license, so feel free to distribute the files and the links as you like.
Guest blog post is cross-posted from the Publish What You Fund blog.
[View the story "What does open data mean to you?" on Storify]
Farkas, Meredith: Getting into the gray areas with the draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education
This semester, I’m teaching I new course I developed for San Jose State’s MLIS program entitled “Embedded Librarians/Embedded Libraries: Embedding the Library into the Fabric of Higher Education.” It’s been a pleasure so far because the students are so ridiculously smart, insightful, and engaged that I can’t help but be excited about the future of our profession. One of my students, who interviewed a disciplinary faculty member and subject librarian for a project, wrote about how students in a certain science discipline had difficulty getting used to research and information literacy since in the first few years their coursework is so “procedural.” That really resonated with me.
I see students all the time asking us to basically make research like procedural coursework and more black-and-white than it is. And sometimes we indulge them. We show them how to click to limit to peer-reviewed journals, doing them no favors, because the world doesn’t have a button you can click to filter out the not-so-good. We sometimes focus too much on finding sources and not enough on what value sources actually provide (or should provide) in research. We provide students with rules for judging sources, when sometimes, the sources that get judged as poor using something like the C.R.A.P. Test are the exact ones they should be using. We (well, maybe instructors more than librarians) focus on scaring the crap out of students about plagiarism and, as a result, students don’t understand why they should provide attribution other than to not get thrown out of school.
I feel like the current Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education were an attempt to simplify and proceduralize something that is so much more complex (and I don’t blame anyone for that — it’s in our nature to try to make things simpler and more concrete). Start at A and get to Z, and you’re good to go, friend! But there’s so much secret sauce of information literacy success that simply isn’t a part of the current Standards. How much of being good at research is about being persistent? Tolerating frustration? Asking for help? Being curious? Looking at things with a critical eye? And then there are the things that are so hard to learn, but once you’ve internalized them, they seem the most obvious things in the world and improve your approach to research immeasurably. The idea that scholarship is a conversation and when you write a research paper, you are engaging in a conversation with those scholars who came before you. That the idea of “good” and “bad” sources is totally contextual, and what is good for answering one research question may not be good for answering another. Or the idea that information can be misrepresented in any format (from the blog post to the peer-reviewed journal article) and we need to be critical consumers of everything we read/see/hear. Or, even more disturbing, that what we know as true is constantly changing as it is held up to scrutiny and experimentation.
But teaching these things? So much more difficult, more time consuming and less satisfying for the student in the short-term. On the other hand, without getting over the hump of a threshold concept, can we say someone is truly information literate? And once they get over the hump, their perspective is irrevocably changed for the better. It’s like when I internalized the notion that assessment was about learning and not accountability. My cynicism around assessment melted away and I was able to design assessment tools that meaningfully informed my teaching. The shift in my thinking and awareness was incredible.
I got very excited reading the partial draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, because it embraced so much of what I and many librarians I know have been thinking about around instruction. They are built for the increasingly complex information environment we live in:
Greater need for sense-making and metacognition in a fragmented, complex information environment requires the ability to understand and navigate this environment holistically, focusing upon intersections. These intersections may be between disciplines, between academic major and employment, between sets of projects, or between academic pursuits and community engagement, to name just a few. All of these intersections are underpinned by the need to engage with information and the communication of information. To do so effectively, students must understand the intricate connections between knowledge, abilities, and critical dispositions that will allow them to thrive.
This makes it so clear that our current standards are woefully inaccurate as a model for informing information literacy instruction and for defining the information literate individual (as if that person could even be defined). Here is the proposed definition for information literacy in the new framework:
Information literacy combines a repertoire of abilities, practices, and dispositions focused on expanding one’s understanding of the information ecosystem, with the proficiencies of finding, using and analyzing information, scholarship, and data to answer questions, develop new ones, and create new knowledge, through ethical participation in communities of learning and scholarship.
While it is a bit less approachable in the way it’s written, I do appreciate the recognition in the proposed new definition that we’re talking about more than just skills. I also really like how it talks about using and analyzing information to answer questions (like “where should I go to college?” or “what cell phone should I buy?” or “who should I vote for?”) and that sometimes this happens through participating in communities (and learning from human sources of information in our social networks). That dovetails nicely with the idea of connectivism, which is a theory I’ve really embraced since I read about it in 2005-2006. The recognition of collaboration, participation, creation, and more than just contributing to research papers is very welcome.
I have the great fortune of working within shouting distance of two people whose work had a huge impact on the new draft. Amy Hofer’s fingerprints (along with Lori Townsend and Kori Brunetti) are all over the standards. Their research on threshold concepts in information literacy has made an indelible mark on the profession and our thinking about teaching information literacy (see “Troublesome concepts and information literacy: investigating threshold concepts for IL instruction” and “Threshold Concepts and Information Literacy”). Bob Schroeder has written, with Elyssa Stern Cahoy, on affective learning outcomes in information literacy, getting us all thinking about how information literacy is not just about skills, but about dispositions and feelings (“Valuing Information Literacy: Affective Learning and the ACRL Standards” and “Embedding Affective Learning Outcomes in Library Instruction”). Bob turned me on to the AASL standards, which included a lot of those great dispositions that now are part of the draft framework. Both Amy and Bob have had such an impact on my thinking about instruction and it’s nice to see that their ideas are also impacting thinking about information literacy nationally!
I think Threshold Concepts will force conversations with disciplinary faculty because no threshold concept can be taught in a one-shot. It requires re-emphasis, practice, and reflection. This has to happen in a partnership, much more so than when the focus is on teaching something that feels like our sole domain. (As an aside, I think the boundedness of threshold concepts as they were originally conceived of doesn’t really work in information literacy as it is inherently interdisciplinary.) Of course the problem is that those faculty who are still asking us to “teach JSTOR” or “teach APA” or “teach Boolean operators” will probably not be open to a switch to focusing on “research as inquiry” and “format as process.” However, there are plenty of faculty — those with whom have strong relationships, who trust us and see us as partners — who will be willing to go down the rabbit hole of threshold concepts with us. However, I do question this statement:
A vital benefit in using threshold concepts as one of the underpinnings for the new Framework is the potential for collaboration among disciplinary faculty, librarians, teaching and learning center staff, and others. Creating a community of conversations about this enlarged understanding should create conditions for more collaboration, more innovative course designs, more action research focused on information literacy, and a more inclusive consideration of learning within and beyond the classroom.
Do I think the new framework will have an impact on disciplinary faculty? No. Just as the current Standards didn’t at most institutions. The librarians who read and believed in the Standards did that, but it wasn’t the Standards. I don’t think the new framework will create more collaboration unless librarians work towards greater collaboration and disciplinary faculty are game for it. I feel like we’re as likely to have good collaboration with disciplinary faculty with the new framework and standards as with the old, unless they inspire us (librarians) to pursue deeper partnerships. The framework simply frames and guides the conversation on our side of things.
But I do really love that this framework emphasizes the fact that information literacy instruction is not (and cannot be) the sole domain of librarians. I have always resisted the notion that we are the only people who can and do teach this, and I think in embracing this idea and focusing more of our energies in supporting disciplinary faculty teaching these skills, dispositions, etc. is vital in the current environment.
When I think about assessing these things, yikes! It’s easy to see whether or not a student correctly provided attribution or used quality sources. How do you measure metacognition? How do you know when a student has made it over the hill of a threshold concept? Even looking at authentic student work — their research papers and other products of research — may not tell you this. A student can do a beautiful job on a paper by mimicking good papers s/he has seen before without ever actually internalizing any of the larger lessons. I do like that this draft framework provides ideas for self-assessment and assignments, but I feel like those are actually activities for teaching /learning the threshold concepts. If a student can successfully “conduct an investigation of a particular topic from its treatment in the popular media, and then trace its origin in conversations among scholars and researchers” does that really mean that they understand that scholarship is a conversation? They might, and they might not. But it’s a great tool to try and teach that particular threshold concept.
A small gripe I have with the Framework: I have never been a big fan of transliteracy or metaliteracy because I believe that all of the things covered under those tents fits into information literacy already. I’ve never understood why information literacy itself doesn’t include “new roles and responsibilities brought about by emerging technologies and collaborative communities” or how information literacy doesn’t empower “learners to participate in interactive information environments, equipped with the ability to continuously reflect, change, and contribute as critical thinkers.” In fact, I think the latter statement is exactly the goal of information literacy; to empower people to create, make decisions, etc. If information literacy isn’t about helping people to see themselves as producers of knowledge, then I don’t know why we do what we do. A lot of the stuff listed under metaliteracy learning objectives in the draft, such as “demonstrate the ability to think critically in context” and “compare the unique attributes of different information formats… and have the ability to use effectively and to cite information for the development of original content” seem like they were already part of information literacy in the first place. I agree with Donna Witek that “metaliteracy should [not] be elevated by name to the extent that it is in the new draft ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.” Threshold concepts — totally new and different way of looking at infolit. Dispositions — totally new to ACRL at least. Metaliteracy — kinda what we’ve already been doing.
I think the framework on the whole is a major change, and while a welcome change, it may be a lot for people to swallow. Plenty of librarians have never even heard of threshold concepts. But I love that we, as a profession, are learning and growing and improving our own teaching skills and approaches and ways of thinking. Looking at the line from the sort of “BI model” to what we see here — from a focus on tools to skills to dispositions and sense-making — it’s a beautiful thing. And, like Troy Swanson, I hope it’s never seen as completed, but is constantly improved (annually? don’t hate me people on the committee!) based on feedback and new research. Our information environment is changing rapidly. Our understanding of our user’s needs is changing. Our thinking about learning is changing. Maybe incremental changes would make more sense than such jarring alterations every 14 years.
Image credit: ?????????? Gaoliang Bridge of The Summer Palace. by Hennessy
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What a month! February may be the shortest month (at least, for those using the Gregorian calendar), but we’ve sure made the most of it. It seems to be the month of “the launch”: the campaign to Stop Secret Contracts; OKFestival’s website, ticket sales and Call for Proposals; Open Data Day 2014; Brazil and Spain as the two newest Chapters; a revamped Public Domain Review; a local City Census to complement the Country Census and resulting Index; and the Impact Stories competition for the Partnership for Open Data! Also, Open Knowledge Central published the results of the Community Survey taken at the end of the 2013 (huge thanks to all of you who contributed) and we’re digesting to learn how we can support the amazing Open communities better.
February is also known for St Valentine’s Day… If you are craving some romance in March, have a look at the ‘little book of love’, celebrated by the Public Domain Review.
Like the sound of what we’re doing? The Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation – all our community services are provided openly and for free. We rely on the generosity of our institutional and individual supporters. Please visit okfn.org/support to find out more about becoming an Open Knowledge Foundation supporter.OKFestival 2014 launched
We’re very excited to announce the Open Knowledge Festival 2014! This global, inclusive, and participatory event is taking place July 15th – 17th in Berlin, Germany.
With the main themes of Knowledge, Tools and Society – the three main levers of change – this will be a platform for the change Open Knowledge is making around the world. As for what the content will be, that is up to you! This will be a crowd-sourced event, built by the community. Visit okfestival.org/programme/ to see what sort of proposals we are looking for.
Early bird tickets are now available – get yours at okfestival.org/tickets/Stop Secret Contracts
This month saw the launch of our new global campaign, Stop Secret Contracts. Together with over 30 civil society groups around the world, we are calling on world leaders to end secrecy in contracting.
Millions of dollars of public money are lost every year to fraud, corruption and lining the pockets of unaccountable corporations. Citizens have the right to know who is doing business with their governments and on what terms. Transparency in government contracting is crucial to democracy.
This year’s Open Data Day was the biggest yet, with over 190 events taking place around the world. The global network gathered in person and remotely, with events from Nepal to Egypt, looking at everything from local government spending, to flood data, to mashing up public domain content into cool videos.
Lots of stories are reported on the Open Knowledge Foundation Community Stories Tumblr, and there’s a round up post on the blog.
We are proud to support Open Data Day, which has fast become a key date in the information activist calendar. The diversity of events produced across the world is a fantastic expression of the vibrant international movement which is building for open data.New Chapters welcomed
The Open Knowledge ‘official’ network continues to grow, welcoming both Brazil and Spain as Chapters. They join Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Greece, Spain and Switzerland as the group of organisations under the umbrella of Open Knowledge Foundation, making a real difference for Open Data and Open Knowledge in their areas and world-wide.
How does Open Data and Open Knowledge affect you? This month, Partnership for Open Data launched the Impact Stories Competition.
Prizes are available – 1000 USD for the winner, and 500 USD each for the two runners-up – submit your story now (before the 24th March) to be in with a chance of winning.
I’m happy to report that I finally completed work on the latest MarcEdit update. This change provides updates specifically to the RDA Helper and MarcEdit’s implementation/interaction with the OCLC WorldCat Metadata API. The full list of changes can be found below.
If you have MarcEdit, you can download the program via the automated update tool, or you can download directly from:
Exact 20 jaar geleden was dit mijn eerste stripje in de ANS, Algemeen Nijmeegs Studentenblad. Mijn broer kende de hoofdredacteur van de krant, Arjan Broers. Blijkbaar was net een striptekenaar vertrokken en ze hadden een nieuwe nodig. Tijdens het tekenen was
The Feynman Lectures on Physics was one of my favorite textbooks in college. It wasn't the assigned textbook, it was recommended reading. I think the reason it doesn't work as a textbook is that every chapter is so deep that students would get sucked so far into every topic that they would never finish the course. It's the sort of book that transforms your life and way of thinking about the physical world. When I started Unglue.it, The Feynman Lectures was one of the first books I investigated for ungluing.
My friends at Caltech informed me that the rights situation with the Feynman Lectures was exceedingly complicated, and it would be a cold day in hell before the Feynman Lectures would be free to the world in digital form. It seems that Caltech and the book publishing world had made an awful hash of the rights, with print rights being owned by Pearson, and the audiovisual rights being owned by competing publisher Perseus. Heroic efforts by Caltech lawyer Adam Cochrane and some dedicated physicists and educators resulted in the untangling of rights, leading to a revised edition available through Perseus imprint Basic Books.
And last year, a miracle happened. An authorized free digital version of the lectures appeared on the web! There is sanity in the world! The Feynman Lectures had been unglued!
Vikram Verma, a software developer in Singapore, wanted to be able to read the lectures on his kindle. Although PDF versions can be purchased at $40 per volume, no versions are yet available in Kindle or EPUB formats. Since the digital format used by kindle is just a simplified version of html, the transformation of web pages to an ebook file is purely mechanical. So Verma proceeded to write a script to do the mechanical transformation – he accomplished the transformation in only 136 lines of ruby code, and published the script as a repository on Github.
Despite the fact that nothing remotely belonging to Perseus or Caltech had been published in Verma's repository, it seems that Perseus and/or Caltech was not happy that people could use Verma's code to easily make ebook files from the website. So they hauled out the favorite weapon of copyright trolls everywhere: a DMCA takedown.
Luckily, Github has a policy of publishing every DMCA takedown notice it receives, which is how I found out about Perseus' action, and Verma's counternotice. Perseus had 10 days to respond to the counter-notice and since they failed to do so, Github has re-opened the repository.
Michael Gottlieb, the editor of The Feynman Lectures on Physics New Millennium Edition added this issue to the repo:
The online edition of The Feynman Lectures Website posted at www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu and www.feynmanlectures.info is free-to-read online. However, it is under copyright. The copyright notice can be found on every page: it is in the footer that your script strips out! The online edition of FLP can not be downloaded, copied or transferred for any purpose (other than reading online) without the written consent of the copyright holders (The California Institute of Technology, Michael A. Gottlieb, and Rudolf Pfeiffer), or their licensees (Basic Books). Every one of you is violating my copyright by running the flp.mobi script. Furthermore Github is committing contributory infringement by hosting your activities on their website. A lot of hard work and money and time went into making the online edition of FLP. It is a gift to the world - one that I personally put a great deal of effort into, and I feel you are abusing it. We posted it to benefit the many bright young people around the world who previously had no access to FLP for economic or other reasons. It isn't there to provide a source of personal copies for a bunch of programmers who can easily afford to buy the books and ebooks!! Let me tell you something: Rudi Pfeiffer and I, who have worked on FLP as unpaid volunteers for about a decade, make no money from the sale of the printed books. We earn something only on the electronic editions (though, of course, not the HTML edition you are raping, to which we give anyone access for free!), and we are planning to make MOBI editions of FLP - we are working on one right now. By publishing the flp.mobi script you are essentially taking bread out of my mouth and Rudi's, a retired guy, and a schoolteacher. Proud of yourselves? That's all I have to say personally. Github has received DMCA takedown notices and if this script doesn't come down pretty soon they (and very possibly you) might be hearing from some lawyers. As of Monday, this matter is in the hands of Perseus's Domestic Rights Department and Caltech's Office of The General Counsel. Michael A. Gottlieb
Editor, The Feynman Lectures on Physics New Millennium Edition
(Note: Gottlieb's description of the website copyright notice is inaccurate- it says nothing about "downloaded, copied or transferred for any purpose")
This is kind of sad. Here Caltech did the right and noble thing and made the Feynman Lectures free as a website. That they can make money from the work via sales of print and other versions is great. But having done that, trying to control what people do with the free digital version (other than sell it) is a hopeless endeavor, and they should just stop.
I was wrong. The Feynman Lectures hasn't been unglued.
Update, March 3: Verma made a one-line change to the script to un-break it. But it's not a polite script, so don't all go and run it. Better to ask Caltech to use the script to make epubs and mobi's for sale; I would certainly pay for my DRM-free copy!
Update, March 4: Gottlieb e-mailed me to say that Perseus didn't respond to the counter-notice because Github's email notice went to a spam filter, and that more takedowns would be coming. He seemed to think that I am one of the flp.mobi developers and warned that I have put myself "in a precarious legal position". To me clear, I am not involved in the development or publication of flp.mobi. I hope its existence is not used as a pretext to take down or lock down the FLP website. Also, high-quality epub and mobi are on the way!
Update, March 7: Verma e-mailed me to say he is voluntarily taking down his repo:
I'm taking down my copy of the repository on Monday morning, in worry its continued availability will lead Caltech to discontinue free online access to FLP. You're each welcome to adopt maintainership if you prefer, though I would rather if you did not.Techdirt has a post and commentary.
Update, March 10: Verma's repo is now history, but forks of it remain in 15 places, including, bizarrely, Gottlieb's own Github page.
I've spent a large part of February becoming acquainted with Open Access ebook publishers. And the one thing that troubles me is that too many of them are not putting honesty first. Because existing distribution channels do not reward forthrightness in Open Access publishers; in fact the channels actively discourage it.
Let's take Amazon, for example. They don't like free ebooks, because there's no money in it for them. If you're a publisher and you want your ebook to be free for people to load onto their kindles, Amazon will charge you for the privilege. They rationalize that they're paying for a separate wireless network, "Whispernet", so it's only fair to assess "delivery charges" to free ebook publishers. If you use their 70% royalty option, the delivery charge is 15 cents per MB of data, and the minimum price you can set is 99 cents. The only way to get Amazon to deliver your ebook for free is to select their 35% royalty option, and then invoke this "matching Competitor Pricing" clause:
From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore, if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. If we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero. (Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won't change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.)Apple, Kobo, and Google are much happier to set prices to zero, because they make some money on hardware sales or advertising, so you can get Amazon to give your ebook away for free by getting people to report your zero price on Apple, Kobo, and Google.
So just to get your ebook to be free on Kindle, you're forced to be incompletely honest with your customers and distributers.
But Amazon creates a great temptation. Why not use the suckers paying on Kindle to subsidize the free availability for those smart users who come to your website? Isn't it convenience that these people are happily paying for?
And libraries are another temptation. They'll pay for the convenience of getting your ebook though their preferred platform, Overdrive or whatever, even as you offer the book for free to users at all the libraries that don't pay for your ebook. But would they still buy if they knew they could get the ebook for free? Maybe you shouldn't ask questions when you don't want to know the answer.
So here's my simple, unproven postulate: in the long run, full disclosure about pricing and an honest relationship with readers will be in the best, mutual interests of authors, publishers, readers, and libraries. And customers will prefer a distribution channel that enables that honesty.
In a desire to make our APIs faster, easier to use, and more flexible, we will be adjusting the Invoice and Budget schemas for the WMS Acquisitions API in the upcoming release, currently scheduled for 6 April.
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