… as people handle an increasing range of their daily activities through electronic instruments–mail, banking, shopping, entertainment, travel plans, and so on–it becomes technically feasible to monitor these activities with unprecedented ease. Social transactions leave digitized footprints that afford opportunities for ingenious matching and correlating, opportunities that have a menacing aspect. While many have written about this problem, most identify the issue as one of a “threat to privacy.” As important as that issue certainly is, it by no means exhausts the potential evils created by electronic data banks and computer matching.
The danger extends beyond the private sphere to affect the most basic of public freedoms. Unless preventive steps are taken, we may develop systems that contain a perpetual, pervasive but apparently benign surveillance. Confronted with omnipresent, all-seeing data banks, the populace may find passivity and compliance the safest route, avoiding activities that once comprised political liberty. As a badge of civic pride one may announce: “I’m not involved in anything a computer would find the least bit interesting.” (p. 594)
Thanks to Roxanne Gay for her recent The Blog That Disappeared that points to Winner’s idea of mythinformation. Winner uses mythinformation to name the ideology that open access to information technology is necessarily a good thing, and that we needn’t spend time and effort thoughtfully and actively crafting its deployment. After reading his Wikipedia page it also seems that Winner was an early proponent of the idea that artifacts can have politics…a notion that seems congruent with the idea that archives, while seeming neutral, have politics as well.References
Winner, L. (1984). Mythinformation in the high-tech era. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 4(6), 582–596. http://doi.org/10.1177/027046768400400609
Last updated July 30, 2016. Created by Peter Murray on July 30, 2016.
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The Fedora Project is pleased to announce that Fedora Camp in NYC, hosted by Columbia University Libraries, will be offered at Columbia University’s Butler Library in New York City November 28-30, 2016.
The Hydra Connect 2016 Program Committee is pleased to announce that the timetable for the Workshop day on Monday 3rd October is now available. This year, in addition to workshops, we are also providing a half-day of optional “orientation sessions” aimed specifically at new or nearly-new members of the Community. Workshop convenors have provided a synopsis for each session and these should help you choose between them. Nearer the time, we shall ask those who have registered for Connect to specify which workshops they plan to attend so that we can allocate sessions to appropriately sized rooms. Further details of the conference program will be available soon.
Speaking of “registered” – have you registered for Hydra Connect 2016 yet? This year it’s taking place at the Boston Public Library (with some workshops at Northeastern University) from Monday 3rd October to Thursday 6th October 2016. Tickets for the four-day event are $135 and we have arranged a preferential hotel rate at the nearby Sheraton. Information about the conference, booking, workshops etc can be found via the Hydra Connect 2016 wiki page at https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/hydra/Hydra+Connect+2016. We are delighted, thanks to the assistance our Hydra Community, to provide selected materials in Spanish this year!
We will be asking each institution sending delegates to the conference to provide a poster for the Tuesday afternoon Poster Session. We’ll have plenty of lightning talks and breakout sessions as well. Start thinking of your great ideas now! You’ll be hearing from us on these topics soon.
If you can only make it to one Hydra meeting in 2016/17, this is the one to attend! You know what they say, “book early to avoid disappointment!”
Technological advances can have a variety of effects on access to information. New technologies can change the breadth, depth, and sheer amount of information we can readily consume. They can also fundamentally change the way in which we organize and access that information. One example is the way in which the use geolocation coordinates (also knows as GIS data) as an access tool has changed in the last decade or so.
While I was working at the Avery Library of Architectural and Fine Arts I was part of a concerted effort to explore the possibilities that GIS data offers for providing access to and context for collections. This is a brief look at three different projects that highlight different ways in which the same basic data can be used to change the way in which a library user interacts with a collection.
The New York Real Estate Brochures (NYRE) Collection
The NYRE project is a look at a collection of over 9,200 individual pieces of real estate promotional materials from the greater NYC area, starting in the 1920s and ending in the 1970s. It was launched in 2010 and is a valuable resource for researchers interested in trends in NYC real estate development, and the first project at Avery to include geolocation as an active component of the discovery process.
The collection consists of over 9,200 advertising brochures, floor plans, price lists, and related materials that document residential and commercial real estate development in the five boroughs of New York and outlying vicinities from the 1920s to the 1970s.
For this project, GIS coordinate information was added to the bibliographic record and then used to tag each object as being part of a neighborhood. Researchers then have the option to filter the collection by neighborhood, and the interface plots all of the materials tagged to a particular neighborhood on a map. The data is being used to section the collection into areas of potential research interest, and then to show how items of a specific designation interact geographically with one another.
Built Works Registry
The Built Works Registry was launched in 2014 as an attempt to create a geolocation authority control resource for works of architecture around the world. The project brings together data from forty-two different sources to form a single data entity that provides a point of reference for a building’s geographical location, similar to the function provides by the ISBN/ISSN standards. If you are interested in learning more about how the project came together feel free to check out the project blog.
Wy is this resource important? Building names and associations can and do change (for example, did you know that the New York Waldorf Astoria Hotel changed locations in the late 1920s?). I was briefly involved in the data validation effort for this project, and I can tell you from first hand experience that identifying a structure from its name or other descriptive information can be a difficult task. However, including the BWR identifier in your dataset lets users know exactly what building is being described.
Seymour B. Durst Old York Library
The Old York Library project was what I worked on for most of my tenure at Avery, a collection of over 40,000 objects related in one way or another to New York City. Collection materials span over 200 years (from the late 16th century into the late 20th), and cover a variety of topics and subject matter, including politics, economics, art, special events, and real estate development and the built environment. The only thread joining all of these items together is their relationship to NYC.
Because the collection focus was geographic in nature, we decided to include geographic information (neighborhood, street address, GIS coordinates) about an item’s subject matter, and to use that data to develop a map-based discovery tool, giving users of the site a spatial discovery tool to go along with more traditional text-based searches. This approach puts special emphasis on where something took place, and gives users an intuitive, “physical” interface to relate that something to other collection materials based on their location.
The main lesson I learned while working on these projects was about the versatility of tools. All of these projects basically use the same GIS data; what varies is the purpose to which the data is put, based on the different perceived needs of each project’s target audience. There is no single way of providing access to a collection, just a set of tools that librarians can use in whatever way they believe best fits the user’s information needs.
Jonathan O. Cain
I’m just back from Philadelphia. Wow—the extent of the programming, meetings, and receptions is staggering. The Democratic National Convention basically took over Center City. A nirvana for policy and political types—familiar faces everywhere, but also many new ones. Here I’ll briefly report on aspects that are most relevant (or appropriate) to our ALA work.
This is a national election and so naturally enough the focus is on major national issues. Millennials are receiving considerable attention here in Philadelphia as discussed in a session hosted by The Atlantic. This session included Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), who intimated that Democrats have particular appeal to this demographic. There was also discussion of demographics more broadly, which included Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress and Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute. Of the many trends raised, the bottom line one is that the white electorate is shrinking by about two percentage points in each four-year electoral cycle—and this is the key electoral issue in the long run. For us, what are the implications for libraries and library staff in terms of resources and services offered, especially for helping increasingly diverse communities of people to engage in the political process?
There were some events closer to home, substance-wise. In particular, Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, served on a panel about digital inclusion organized by the Media Mobilizing Project. This panel was keynoted by FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and included city officials from Philadelphia and New York and a representative of PhillyCAM (Philadelphia Community Access Media), which also hosted the event.
It was a really good session in articulating the problems of inadequate broadband access within the particular context of Philadelphia. Reardon really nailed some of our key messaging for libraries “as the true onramp to learning.” She pointed out that while broadband and devices are essential, basic AND digital literacy are needed, too, to make effective use of technology. She also acknowledged the importance of the E-rate program, advocated for school libraries, and explained how libraries are valuable resources in enabling distance learning.
In another broadband session, the focus was on the Hillary Clinton tech agenda. This session, held at the Business Forward Briefing Center, featured Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Sara Solow, Domestic Policy Advisor, Hillary for America, with two executives from Google and several other representatives from the broadband policy community. They emphasized the importance of broadband for everyday life and how improving broadband is featured in Hillary Clinton’s tech agenda. In her first 100 days, Clinton plans to introduce a jobs bill that would include broadband infrastructure. The intent is to build on programs already in place. While fiber may be desirable for the long run, not everyone will be on fiber in the near-term, and so we need to focus on practical solutions for today as well looking at the long-term. An important objective is to ensure that community anchor institutions (CAIs) have strong broadband capabilities, expanding the scope of CAIs to include train stations, subways, recreation centers, public buildings, and more.
The last event that I want to briefly mention is a reception held in honor of Vernon Jordan, Jr. It was a packed room (and unfortunately my photo didn’t come out very well) and pretty emotional. Jordan talked about his youth and his encounters with racial discrimination. He also talked about his work and friendship with the Clintons over the past several decades.
In sum, my time in Philadelphia was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. There were opportunities for talking about libraries and developing new relationships and collaborations everywhere, really just limited by my energy to pursue them. Next time, I will invest more time into the political convention enterprise. But for now, onward!
The Digital Public Library of America is pleased to announce that Kelcy Shepherd will be joining its staff as DPLA Network Manager, beginning August 1, 2016.
In this role, Shepherd will work with Director for Content, Emily Gore, Curation and Education Strategist, Franky Abbott, and Data Services Coordinator, Gretchen Gueguen, to maintain and expand DPLA’s growing network of Hubs with responsibilities including oversight of Hubs communications; coordination of the Hubs application process; facilitation of education and training across our Hub professional network; and support for DPLA’s education and curation initiatives including Exhibitions, Primary Source Sets, and Ebooks. Shepherd will also help ensure the success of all partners across the DPLA Hub network by providing necessary documentation, statistics and support for various needs and activities of our current and prospective Hubs.
“We are excited to have Kelcy join the DPLA Content team,” said Emily Gore, Director for Content. “Kelcy’s expertise and experience in community building and digital collections management make her an excellent choice to lead the next phase of development and fostering of the DPLA Hubs Network.”
Kelcy Shepherd has worked on digital archives and digital library projects for over fifteen years, focusing on effective collaboration and community-building. Prior to joining the DPLA, she was the Head of Digital Programs at the Amherst College Library, providing leadership for the creation, curation, delivery, and preservation of digital collections. She has been an active member of the Digital Library Federation and the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and has taught workshops and courses for SAA, the Visual Resources Association, and the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, and a BA in Art & Design with a second major in Anthropology from Iowa State University.
The most important thing for the Network team at Open Knowledge International is the community we build around data. The tools we build to achieve this are crucial as well since they allow people to make even more and better plans and projects. To continue doing this, we are restructuring a bunch of technological tools for the community use. In this case, we are moving valuable information from our old Wiki server to the Open Data Handbook.
Throughout the years, our wiki has been filled with lots of knowledge, but in the last year, we have seen a decline in its ongoing updates and usage. We, therefore, decided that the best way to share and publish knowledge for our network will be the handbook.
Originally published in 2012, the Handbook has become the go-to resource for the open data community. It was written by the expert members of the open data community and has been translated into over 18 languages. Whether you want to learn about the why and how of open data or you’re working on a particular subject, the Handbook can serve as a resource for how to open data, finding use cases or a bunch of different resources that we’ve collected. However, we realised we were missing a vital part of building a community around data: Events!
To fix this, we added a section on Making Data Social. Whether it is an online event, a meeting to talk about data or showcase some work, we’ve gathered all the Open Knowledge Network learnings from past years and put them in a centralized place, guiding you step by step on how to run an event around data.
You can check out this new section here. And as always, we welcome input and translations to other languages from anyone in the community. Just submit your pull request and we’ll look into including the submissions.
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
Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.
Following several studies about the use and usability of the DPLA website, we’ve just completed a set of small but significant changes. We believe these changes will create a more pleasant, intuitive experience on our website, connecting people more easily with the cultural heritage materials our partners provide.
During the evaluation phase of the project, we drew insight from multiple sources, and benefitted greatly from our community network. In consultation with DPLA staff, two volunteers conducted usability studies of our website, interviewing and observing yet more volunteers as they interacted with our site. Professional UX researcher Tess Rothstein conducted a pro bono study of users’ experiences searching the DPLA, while DPLA Community Rep Angele Mott Nickerson focused her study on our map, timeline, and bookshelf features. In addition to these interviews, we conducted in-depth analysis of our usage statistics, gathered via Google Analytics. In addition to the studies, we considered informal feedback from our community of users and partners.
Here are a few lessons we learned, and what we’ve done in response:Highlighting full access
Anyone who has done a usability study is familiar with the shocking moment when your product completely fails to engage a user in its intended way. For us, that moment came when a first-time user of our website did not realize that they could get all of the digital materials on our website right now, for free. They were just one click away from total access — and they didn’t click!
To ensure that future users don’t miss out, we’ve done a few key things to highlight that our contributors provide public access to all the materials users discover through DPLA. For example, a link that use to read “View object” now says something like this:
DPLA is a treasure trove of cultural heritage materials – but sometimes it can be hard to find just the right thing amidst millions and millions of items. Our research gave us a clearer picture of how to help users when their first search attempt returned too much — or too little — of a good thing.
For example, many of our users rely on our “Refine search” filter to narrow their search results and hone in on truly relevant materials. In our usability studies, we paid attention to which filters interviewees used, whether or not the filters helped them achieve their goals, and what interviewees told us about their usefulness. We corroborated these observations with analytics data, looking at which filters are used most frequently and when used, which filters are most likely to be followed by a “click” on a search result.
As is often the case with user-driven decision-making, our findings surprised us. We had predicted that filters with the best-quality metadata would prove most useful, but that was not always the case. Ultimately, we moved the most in-demand filters, like subject and location, to the top of the page, and bumped the lesser-used filters, like type and date, to the bottom.Making room for new ebooks features
DPLA is actively working toward an innovative future for ebooks. To make space for this work, we decided to retire the “Bookshelf,” our original interface for browsing the ebooks collection. Developed by Harvard Innovation Lab, the “Bookshelf” provided a unique search experience that will continue to inform our work with online search and ebooks.No bugs, please!
Staying on top of bugs and layout issues – especially those that our community members take the time to report – is an essential component of usability. We identified and fixed many during the project. Thanks especially to everyone who has chatted with us or contacted us about bugs on the website.Future work
This round of improvements is but one component of our community’s ongoing efforts to improve usability of and access to digital materials. While small, low-cost improvements like these will make an immediate positive impact, we are also actively engaged in conversations about improved metadata quality, new technologies, and stronger community relationships.
Avoid the heat and stay inside on August 4 for a free webinar on “Rightsstatements.org: Communicating Copyright Status through Metadata.”
Rightsstatements.org is a collaborative project of DPLA and Europeana to create a standard way of communicating the copyright status of works in digital collections. The project is built on the idea that accurate and clear rights statements are needed to help both organizations and users understand how they can use digital collections. This session, led by members of the working group that developed the statements, will address what Rightsstatements.org does, how it was created, and its first stages of adoption by digital libraries both in the US and abroad.
Emily Gore, Director of Content at DPLA and Right Statement Working Group Co-Chair
David Hansen, Clinical Assistant Professor & Faculty Research Librarian at UNC School of Law and Right Statement Working Group Member
Day/Time: Thursday, August 4 at 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific for our hour long free webinar.
Go to http://ala.adobeconnect.com/copytalk/ and sign in as a guest. You’re in.
This program is brought to you by OITP’s copyright education subcommittee.
This blog post was written by Simon Matet and Antoine Dusséaux. French version follows the English one
Open data is sometimes considered first as a way to foster economic growth through the development of innovative services built on public data. However, beyond this economic perspective, important though it may be, access to public sector information should be seen first and foremost as an unprecedented opportunity to bridge the gap between the government and its citizens. By providing a better access to fundamental public services and promoting transparency and accountability, open data has the potential to guarantee a greater respect of fundamental human rights. In this respect, access to case-law (the law developed by judges through court decisions) could become a pioneering application of open data to improve our democratic societies.
According to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), publicity of court decisions, “by making the administration of justice transparent”, is a condition for a fair trial, the guarantee of which is one of the fundamental principles of any democratic society. There is no concrete publicity without a free access for any citizen to court records. This is why the ECHR considers that the ability for any citizen to obtain copies of judgments, without the need to show a legitimate interest, “protects litigants against the administration of justice in secret” and “is also one of the means whereby confidence in the courts can be maintained”. Furthermore, according to the European Parliament, “certain aspects of (in)accessibility of Court files cause serious legal problems, and may, arguably, even violate internationally recognised fundamental human rights, such as equality of arms.”
For those reasons, all over the world, diffusion of case law is a public service task. However, accessing court documents can prove a daunting task for untrained, private citizens, reporters, and NGOs. In some countries, corporations or charities have captured the market of access to judicial precedents as governments proved unable or unwilling to fulfill this key mission. For instance, an important part of English judge-made law is owned by a private charity, the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting. In others, decisions are sold by courts to private legal publishers. For example, the Administrative Office of the US Courts collects $145 million in fees to access court records, every year. As a result, citizens usually only have access to a small selection of court decisions.
However, modern communication technologies and digitization now make it possible to provide free online access to millions of public court documents.
Open legal data would guarantee the respect of fundamental rights and also increase legal certainty. Indeed not only do citizens need to know the law, in codes and statutes, they also need to understand the concrete application and interpretation of the law by courts. Therefore, a free access to court records can help litigants to prepare their trials, for instance while assessing the opportunity of a negotiation. In the 21st century, the Internet must be seen as a valuable opportunity to enhance the transparency of the judiciary and improve legal certainty.
Open data of jurisprudence shows that behind the mere economic gains, access and reuse of public sector information is a fundamental instrument for extending the right to knowledge, which is a basic principle of democracy, and is a matter of human rights in the information age. The judiciary should not be left behind the ongoing digital transformation of public policies. In this domain, some countries, such as the Netherlands, have already made great efforts to provide a free access to citizens to a large amount of court decisions, while respecting litigants’ privacy, but most countries still have a long way to go. Although access to legislation is already included in the Open Data Index by Open Knowledge, it only requires all national laws and statutes to be available online, and not judge-made law. Since case law is an important source of law, especially in countries of common law tradition, it should be included in the legislation dataset in future versions of the Open Data Index.
Austin, TX In two weeks the 2016 VIVO Conference, Aug 17-19, is set to kick-off in Denver!
Please join us on Friday August 19 at 2:15 PM for a panel discussion on "Persistent Identifiers: Where we are now and the role of Networking Profile Systems in Shaping Their Future" with invited panelists:
DuraSpace News: VIVO Updates for July 17–New Steering and Leadership Group Members, VIVO 1.9 Testing, VIVO and SHARE Synergy
From Mike Conlon, VIVO Project Director
Steering Group Updates The VIVO Leadership Group has nominated new members for the VIVO Steering Group to serve three year terms. Mark Fallu of the University of Melbourne, Mark Newton of Columbia University, and Paul Albert of Weill Cornell Medicine have each agreed to serve. Please join me in welcoming them to the Steering Group! Short biographies below:
Austin, TX The Islandora Foundation held its Annual General Meeting recently and adopted a set of strategic goals to provide focus for development efforts in 2016 - 2017. Goals include a strong commitment to the CLAW project which is the next version of Islandora that supports Fedora 4 and the Portland Common Data Model (PCDM), which provides interoperability at the Fedora level.
Last updated July 26, 2016. Created by Peter Murray on July 26, 2016.
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The Princeton University Library is looking at hosting another Blacklight Summit this fall with tentative dates of Wednesday, November 2nd through Friday, November 4th. We are thinking the event will be organized similar to last year’s format with demonstrations of Blacklight-powered applications, sessions about enhancing Blacklight applications, and ample time for community roadmapping, code exchange and development.