Monthly Archives: April 2009

CRTC Online “traffic management” consultation ends today!

If you are Canadian/in Canada/care about Canada and  haven’t had the chance to comment on the CRTC’s online consultation on internet traffic management, here’s your reminder that today is the last day!

(And I think the website runs on Eastern time zone, so for us left-coasters it may close before our midnight, as my posts last night were showing up stamped with today’s date.)

Even though the online process could have been better publicized, I am honestly impressed that the CRTC is trying something this new and, well, fairly innovative for government! (Wait, would lack of a neutral net hinder the CRTC’s ability to try such innovative endeavours as online consultations…?

There are 6 sections, each with a question the CRTC is soliciting feedback about. They ask about things like: impact on innovation, which “traffic management” approaches you’d find acceptable, what the CRTC’s role should be with regard to the Internet, and whether/how ISPs should notify customers about their practices.

If you tried out the M-Lab tools I wrote about a few weeks back, you can mention your results in the “Impact on User Experience” section of the consultation.

I meant to highlight this consultation earlier, but, well with the flu and all and conference season starting up, it just didn’t happen. *hangs head*

So, if nothing else, try to take a few minutes on your lunch break or something to agree or disagree with some of the posts that have been written over the past month.

Last summer we were all writing letters to the CRTC asking for a real, open public consultation, and here is the most open, accessible consultation I’ve seen yet from the CRTC, so I really felt like it was my duty to go respond in pretty much every category.

Now, after all that work, I will be really frustrated if they don’t seem to respond to the input provided on this e-consultation. And I’m fairly confident I’m not the only one. Join me?

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Filed under government, net neutrality

New Librarian and Archivist of Canada…an Economist?

What does it mean that the new Librarian and Archivist of Canada is neither a librarian nor an archivist; not even an author, but rather an economist?

Daniel J Caron has been with Library & Archives Canada since 2003, in high level corporate management branch-type jobs.

Prior to that he was in various Ottawa jobs including for the Treasury Board Secretariat, Human Resources Development Canada, and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.

The outgoing Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Ian E. Wilson, was the National Archivist of Canada to Roch Carrier’s National Librarian until the positions merged, and has been involved with archives in Canada and internationally for ~30 years.

Am I the only one who is a little freaked out about this change?

I pulled Caron’s 1994 thesis record from the U Montreal catalogue, and according to Google Translate it seems to be something like “Land and political autonomy: emerging configurations of relations between Aboriginal people and the French, British and Canadian governments.” No abstract on the record so I’m not sure what his politics are, but sure doesn’t seem to be much related to libraries or archives.

I’ve tried to find some of his publications that might mention libraries or archives…looked on his publications list at the Université du Québec École nationale d’administration publique, for example.  Caron seems to have published quite a bit on human resources management, project evaluation, and in earlier years Aboriginal-government negotiations.

Yeah, I’m kinda concerned.

To figure out exactly what the Librarian and Archivist of Canada’s powers were, and what s/he is supposed to do, I went to the Library and Archives of Canada Act ( 2004, c. 11 )

Excerpt:

Objects

7. The objects of the Library and Archives of Canada are

(a) to acquire and preserve the documentary heritage;

(b) to make that heritage known to Canadians and to anyone with an interest in Canada and to facilitate access to it;

(c) to be the permanent repository of publications of the Government of Canada and of government and ministerial records that are of historical or archival value;

(d) to facilitate the management of information by government institutions;

(e) to coordinate the library services of government institutions; and

(f) to support the development of the library and archival communities.

Powers of Librarian and Archivist

8. (1) The Librarian and Archivist may do anything that is conducive to the attainment of the objects of the Library and Archives of Canada, including

(a) acquire publications and records or obtain the care, custody or control of them;

(b) take measures to catalogue, classify, identify, preserve and restore publications and records;

(c) compile and maintain information resources such as a national bibliography and a national union catalogue;

(d) provide information, consultation, research or lending services, as well as any other services for the purpose of facilitating access to the documentary heritage;

(e) establish programs and encourage or organize any activities, including exhibitions, publications and performances, to make known and interpret the documentary heritage;

(f) enter into agreements with other libraries, archives or institutions in and outside Canada;

(g) advise government institutions concerning the management of information produced or used by them and provide services for that purpose;

(h) provide leadership and direction for library services of government institutions;

(i) provide professional, technical and financial support to those involved in the preservation and promotion of the documentary heritage and in providing access to it; and

(j) carry out such other functions as the Governor in Council may specify.

Sampling from Internet

(2) In exercising the powers referred to in paragraph (1)(a) and for the purpose of preservation, the Librarian and Archivist may take, at the times and in the manner that he or she considers appropriate, a representative sample of the documentary material of interest to Canada that is accessible to the public without restriction through the Internet or any similar medium.

Destruction or disposal

9. (1) The Librarian and Archivist may dispose of any publication or record under his or her control, including by destruction, if he or she considers that it is no longer necessary to retain it.

Restriction

(2) Any such disposition is subject to the terms and conditions under which the publication or record has been acquired or obtained.

After reading that, I’m still concerned. I get that a director needs to be a manager, have strong management skills. However, I want the person charged with leading the preservation of documentary heritage of the country, facilitating access to that heritage, coordinating government library and information services and supporting library and archival development across the country to, well, demonstrate some evidence of caring about preserving and providing access to this documentary heritage, and some connection with the library and archival communities.

I’m concerned that access to information will take a backseat, that documents may be disposed of under principles other than those of the archival or library communities, and that library and archival communities in the public sector will be neglected rather than developed.

Is a professional administrator really the person we want as our national librarian and archivist?

Is it too much to, at very least, hope that the person installed as the figurehead and visionary for our library and archives sector at *minimum* have some literacy or heritage focus, if not actually be a librarian or archivist?

-Greyson

postscript: Oh, look! Unsurprisingly, the CLA agrees with me.  Or probably I should have stated that vice versa…

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Filed under government, government information, LIS education, preservation, The Profession

Anti-ethnic Penguins part 3

We’re getting a lot of new hits related to searches on why “And Tango Makes Three” might be anti-ethnic. I assume this is thanks to the ALA OIF’s recent release of their top 10 most frequently challenged books for 2008, and the fact that Tango again tops the list (for the third year running!).  Due to this interest, I thought I’d just give my most recent update on the question.

I did hear back from the ALA OIF in response to my previously posted follow-up questions, and in summary:

  • they can’t tell us what type of institution the “anti-ethnic” charge came from (but I assume it has to be public or school library, and more likely a school)
  • but they can tell us it happened in North Carolina
  • they don’t know of any books beyond Maus and Tango that have been charged as anti-ethnic but have non-human characters
  • they’re not sure how the anti-ethnic category came to be, and
  • it’s entirely possible that it was checked off by mistake on the report form for And Tango Makes Three

I’m resonably satisfied, but not sated, you know? I’d like to find time sometime in the coming year to dig deeper into the “anti-ethnic” category, try to uncover some of its evolution, and compare the US and Canadian use of the category.

If you’re finding this post first, here are the first and second posts in this series about our dearly beloved anti-ethnic penguins.

-Greyson

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Filed under Intellectual freedom, school libraries, The Profession, youth

Another Canadian Health Research Funder OA Policy: CHSRF

The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF) now has an OA policy for grantees!

Apparently the Policy on Open Access to Research Outputs (FAQ here, actual policy in PDF here) went into effect in October, but perhaps it was quite a soft launch at the time, as it’s not in Sherpa JULIET funder mandate list yet (don’t worry, I submitted the notification form, so it should be soon), I I don’t recall seeing it on Open Access News and I wasn’t aware of it myself until a colleague tipped me off today.  (Launch is soft no more, however, as there’s a big banner about it on the website!)

CHSRF is an organization that does an absolutely amazing job with KT, from their Mythbusters publication series to their “Researcher on Call” conference calls. I’m so pleased to see their thoughtful dedication to transparency and KT reflected in their new OA policy.

From their FAQ on the policy:

Why does the Foundation support open access?

  • The Foundation wants to improve access to Foundation-funded research in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Open access to research indicates that we, as an organization, acknowledge the growing importance and potential of digital technologies and the internet in allowing instant exchanges of knowledge between researchers and research users. Because the Foundation is ultimately accountable to the Canadian public, open access encourages the transparency of, and access to, its funded research results by the widest audience possible, without barriers.
  • Greater dissemination and use of peer-reviewed research will serve to enhance the timeliness and impact of sponsored health services and policy research.

I love how honest and real that sounds.

Mushy stuff, aside, the policy details appear similar to the CIHR Policy:

Individuals and teams who receive funding from the Foundation for research and related activities are required to make every effort to ensure that the results of their research are published in open access journals (freely available online) or in an online repository of published papers, within six months after initial publication.

6-month embargo seems to be emerging as the Canadian standard, which is interesting since publishers are largely hung up on the NIH’s 12-month embargo.  This can be a pain when dealing with copyright forms from journals that don’t think Canada is big or important enough to cater to, as you have to sort of cross things out and add bits in, or else try to attach an addendum.

The CHSRF policy does allow an “out” if a publisher refuses your copyright transfer amendment attempt, and also says that researchers can use research dissemination funds for OA publication fees. No mention of data, but this is unsurprising since health services data is stickier than many other types of data, seeing as so much of this data is very privacy-sensitive.

My only criticisms of the policy are:

  1. the lack of indication (again similar to the CIHR policy) of what sort of “teeth” the policy will have – i.e., will researchers who fail to comply be subject to some penalty, be ineligible for future funding, etc.?
  2. the lack of specificity about where to archive.  Particularly given that some of this research will be published on websites of organizations rather than via journals, if CHSRF wants to ensure these research results are preserved in accessible format (which it seems to, from my reading of the policy), I think they need to be clear about a copy needing to be archived somewhere, in an institutional or subject repository.

I know without Canadian PMC we are at a bit of a loss as to where all this mandated stuff should be going, but I think a future revision of the CHSRF policy could be strengthened by requiring that all grantees submit copies of their works to be archived (perhaps with their final grant report) to be collocated in an OAI-PMH compliant CHSRF archive — perhaps a collection within one of the many Canadian university repositories.

For those who are counting, this policy makes 8 Canadian funder mandates in JULIET, 7 of which are health research funders.  It’s such an interesting time to work in the field of Canadian health research information, really.

-Greyson

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Filed under copyright, funding, Health, OA

The Olympic Games & Information Issues (for those who don’t live here)

Most people who live in British Columbia are well aware of the multitudinous controversies surrounding the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which will take place in Greater Vancouver & Whistler next February. However, when I talk to friends and family from other places, I am reminded what a bubble I live in.  Most people are not hearing about Olympics-related issues on a daily basis, particularly not the information policy related issues. Therefore, I thought I’d just give a little sampler of some of the oft-ridiculous but all-too-serious issues related to privacy, freedom of speech, and access to information issues arising from these games, and the doings of VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Game.

Free Expression:

Trademarking

VANOC trademarked not only part of the Canadian national anthem (don’t worry, they say they will still let us sing the anthem before hockey games without a lawsuit :eyeroll:), but also common words that one would think un-trademark-able such as “winter,” “Gold” and “Silver,” thanks to a bill (C 47) pushed through the House of Commons last year, which makes using several such phrases a violation of the law.

VANOC has gone so fas as to take legal action against the pre-existing small local businesses Olympic Pizza and Olympic First-Aid Services.  (Good thing the Olympics aren’t being held south of the border; they might sue the Olympic Peninsula for infringement!)

Curtailing artistic and expressive speech in other ways

The Vancouver city council’s recently passed charter amendment (currently awaiting provincial approval) that, among other things, states that “the city may remove illegal signs from real property with limited notice, and may charge the owner for the cost of such removal.”  Illegal here being about Olympic trademark infringement, of course.  Naturally, artists who create social commentary works are up in arms about this.

Privacy:

We’re now aware that there will be  an unknown (to the public) number of security cameras that will be going up (but possibly not coming down?) by the Olympics, and the Giuliani-style police crackdown on our most vulnerable community members has begun.

One local community centre rescinded its offer to be an Olympic venue, citing privacy concerns for the local community. (Coincidentally, this centre’s bid for facility upgrade funds in the new capital budget was denied, while the neighbouring community centre that allowed VANOC to commandeer their facility had its request fulfilled.) However, this local area remains marked on the official security map, and we can only wait and see what that means.

A new wave of transit ads recently went up around the region, encouraging regular folk to report suspicious behaviour to the authorities. Look here for an example of this “Report the suspicious, not the strange” campaign. The image linked to, in case you can’t get it, is a poster encouraging you to “Call a paranormal investigator” if you see a transparent person taking a picture of a security camera in a public place in an airport, but “Call us” (the transit police) if an actual person is carrying out that same, perfectly legal activity of photographing an object in a public place. Here is a link to a transit representative’s explanation and defense of said ad campaign, with pictures of the other, less offensive, ads.

There’s going to be a conference in the fall of 2009 on “The Surveillance Games” that should prove quite provocative and fascinating to any interested in this type of privacy issues, btw.

Access to Information/FOI

It was identified by the in a “Threat Assessment” as early as 2007 that the “Access to Information and Privacy (A-TIP) can adversely affect the security of the Games…” (PDF here, heavily redacted after being subject of a FOI request by the Vancouver Sun). And VANOC seems to be taking that threat seriously.

Although they spend the public’s money (how much? we don’t know yet…), VANOC is not subject to the BC Freedom of Information Act.  Until early 2008, VANOC did, however, forward its meeting minutes to the Monistry of Economic Development, where they would then be subject to FOI requests.  This stopped abruptly and without explanation when VANOC apparently stopped taking minutes.  Interestingly, the ministry lost track of all back minutes they had received at the same time.

Not that the heavily redacted and sparse-to-begin-with minutes were a huge venue for public awareness, and input, but they were something. The fact that they contained as little information as they did and were still deemed too much to make public is impressive. When the smoke clears, likely in about 2012, one wonders what, if anything, will be left in the hands of the province to account for the billions in public funding that went into these Games.

Just for giggles

This isn’t strictly information related, but it certainly is social justice-y, so I thought I’d throw in a link here to the “2010 Inclusive Winter Games Commitment Statement.” (pdf here) Why?  Because it includes such a gems as:

  • “Make affordable tickets available for Vancouver’s low-income inner-city residents, including at risk youth and children”
  • “Develop opportunities for existing and emerging local inner-city businesses and artisans to promote their goods and services”
  • “Provide for lawful, democratic protest that is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”
  • “Ensure people are not made homeless as a result of the Winter Games”

Do you think the people who write those things believe in them, and just get disillusioned afterward, or is it tongue-in-cheek from the beginning?

-Greyson

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Filed under community development, copyright, government information, IP, privacy, privatization

Am I being throttled? Yep.

(Note: I am sick as a dog with the flu, and trying to do something productive by editing and rolling out a few drafts from the past months that never made it to fully-gorwn posts.  Please forgive any grammar atrocities while I type through the fever.)

If you need any more help getting riled up about net neutrality, check out the new M-lab (Measurement lab) tools to see whether you are being throttled!  Cool!  Just last October I was at an Info Policy conference bemoaning the fact that there were no tools easy enough for lay users to manage that would tell us whether we were being throttled.

According to their “Who We Are” page,

Measurement Lab was founded by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, Google Inc. and academic researchers. M-Lab was developed in 2008 after Vint Cerf and others at Google initiated conversations with network researchers to learn more about challenges to the effective study of broadband networks.

I tried it out and it worked for me.  Of course, it’s no surprise, since my ISP is one of the many that already disclosed to the CRTC that they “traffic shape,” and we have noticed what has seemed like undue congestion while trying to stream video in the evening hours, but now I know for sure: I AM being throttled.  My deep packets are being inspected.  Hrm.

How about you?  Throttled much?  Try it out and let me know, if you have the chance.

On the Search Engine podcast (#19) from back in February in which they discussed the M-lab applications that allowed me to verify this, Jesse Brown tried to get Google to admit that they were trying to egg people on into taking action against throttling ISPs.  The Canadian Google representative on the air demurred, but I think it’s brilliant, and it’s working on me.  I want to go submit my comments to the CRTC’s traffic shaping consultation all over again. (<–Hold that thought…)

Greyson

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Filed under net neutrality, technology, tips and tools