Category Archives: globalization

Days of Destruction

This book landed on my desk this morning – I am curious if other have read or heard of it?  It seems like an interesting representation of the lives of people in rural poor America, taken from interviews with people directly impacted by corporate policy.
From the back of the book “only corporate profit matters – has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosure and unemployment….”  Sounds like it will be an interesting read, especially when looking at it from the American context…

Also – feel free to listen in: The Current CBC Radio Interview

Advertisements

Leave a comment

by | August 1, 2012 · 6:11 am

ICANN’s non-Latin domain approval

I’ve been wanting to say something about the ICANN non-Latin script domain approval move for a bit now, but found myself unsure of what to say. “Yay,” seemed trite, and “It’s about time,” is just more of my usual snark.

I think it’s a no-brainer for people with any sence of global justice issues to agree that the US government should not be “running” or “ruling” the Internet. The details get a little hairy, but really, this is the Internet folks. The world wide web made possible approzimately a gazillion-and-eight things no one thought were possible before, so pretending that figuring out how to make right-to-left and left-to-right scripts play together is beyond all the world’s geeks today is rather silly.

Further, fretting that you might have to actually learn some multilingual skills just makes you look like an ignorant American, so please just stop embarrassing us both. (as I did grow up as an ignorant American and am now an only-slightly-less-ignorant Canadian-American trying to foster a considerably-less-ignorant next generation)

I’m optimistic about the (slightly) increased distance between the US government and ICANN. I’m really interested to see where this goes, and what kind of representation non-Eurpoean countries (besides Japan) end up getting.

Finally, if you missed it, Xeni from Boing Boing did a great brief interview on this topic (the ICANN non-Latin domain ruling) on the Rachel Maddow show, and I encourage you to watch it (and not just b/c Maddow is my smarter, slicker twin!). You can link to it from this boing boing post.

-Greyson

Leave a comment

Filed under globalization, government, inclusion/exclusion, Internet

Caron’s LAC Modernisation message: huh?

(aka the blog post wherein I probably blow any and all future chances of working in government…)

Making the rounds of Canadian LIS (and presumably archives) listservs today has been Librarian and Archivist of Canada Dr. Daniel Caron’s “Message from the Librarian and Archivist of Canada: Modernization.”

As far as messages go, it’s kind of an odd one.

The message begins by promising to share the course for LAC he has charted, and ends by saying LAC should do what it was set up to do. Truly radical. Maybe some of this makes more sense to people with more inside knowledge of LAC? To me it sounds rather like the teacher from the Peanuts cartoons. (“Wa wah wa wa…”)

On my first skim through I was numbed by all the vague references to generally-unspecified issues, challenges, harmonizing and togetherness. The “today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday” business in the middle was somewhat amusing, and the reiteration of LAC’s mandate (repeat after me: acquire, preserve, access; lather, rinse, repeat) and praise for LAC’s “brilliant past” were a nice acknowledgment.

On my second read through I realized that Dr Caron must be reeeally worried about LAC being seen as “relevant.” I mean, he mentions this concern no fewer than 4 times in the 9 paragraphs (which is, incidentally, the same amount of times he used the word “library” in the message):

1.      “Today, digital technology has radically changed our practices and expectations and, to remain relevant, we will need to tackle the issues, communicate and collaborate more than ever before with others who share our goals.” (para 1)

2.      “Our relevance in the medium and long term is also called into question in this new environment.” (para 3)

3.      “How do we remain relevant in an increasingly fragmented and to a certain extent uncontrollable environment?” (para 5)

4.      “…our relevance depends on our ability to implement the best work procedures and marshal the most effective and efficient combinations of available expertise.” (para 8 )

(all above emphasis mine)

What’s weird is that exactly the things he seems to see as threatening LAC’s relevance (digitization, preservation challenges, information overload, social media…) are the exact things that I see as making the case for the relevance of information professionals.

Nu? This is really the man in charge of our national library & archives?

I accept that I am of a different generation, cultural background, and academic discipline than Dr. Caron. I, for example, don’t feel “condemned to live in both worlds, analogue and digital, at the same time,” (<-emphasis mine; and I would say something more like privileged to live at this time of straddling the aforementioned worlds); nor do I feel especially burdened by the “daily challenges” of unspecified “social transformations” (unless by that he means corporate globalization? I do feel kind of daily challenged by neocolonialism, come to think of it…).

However, I do know a fair number of librarians and archivists from backgrounds pretty different from my own, and when they send me messages, I generally feel like I have a decent clue what they’re trying to communicate.

This, well, what can I say? It’s a totally weird message. Maybe Caron’s trying to prove that he really does get libraries and archives,  while just totally missing the mark?

…or at least that’s what I’d like to think, since the alternative would seem to be that he’s basically paving the road for privatization of LAC…

-Greyson

Leave a comment

Filed under digitization, globalization, government, government information, preservation, privatization, The Profession

Librarianly committments + Privacy improvements = Facebook for me?

In my previous facebook post I said it would take 2 things to get me on Facebook (FB): trust and better terms of service (ToS, which FB now calls “Statement of rights and responsibilities”).

Since then, it has become likely that I will end up using FB as part of a KT (“knowledge trnslation,” aka making research into something that makes sense to regular non-researchy people) project for a health research group I do a bit of volunteer work with. And while I have a hunch I could possibly manage that project without actually having a personal FB account, that seems kind of awkward to me, and I don’t think I’d be able to do it as well. I got my own self into this position because the group was exploring 2.0 KT methods and of course I felt it was my duty as the librarian in the room to volunteer to shepherd such things. The upshot of this is that I’ve been appreciating this irony, and enjoying the special feeling of being someone about to go do something I’m fairly well-known for opposing. It doesn’t taste quite like crow, or my own words, but it does have a somewhat similar flavour.

However, perhaps as the spoonful of sugar helping the Facebook go down, it appears that FB may be making some of the changes I wanted (not in any way due to my request).

Right before I went on summer holidays, I noted that the privacy commissioner of Canada had issued the results of her investigation into CIPPIC’s allegations that FB infringed on users’ privacy, according to Canadian privacy law.

Maybe, just maybe, FB is responding well to the Privacy Commissioner’s requests.

Trust:

If this good response proves to be the case, it will certainly improve the company’s standing in my eyes – not to the level of a firm that sets out to do the right thing from the start, but at least to that of a firm that can be held accountable via legal measures when need be.

According to the CBC coverage,

“Facebook has agreed to prevent an application from accessing information until it obtains express consent for each category of personal information.

It also agreed to make it clear to users that they can either deactivate or delete their accounts, where deleting will remove the information entirely. And for non-users or deceased users, the company promised to change the wording of its terms of use statement and privacy policy to better spell out its practices.”

“Facebook has agreed to a timetable for the changes, and the privacy commissioner said they expect the changes to be put in effect within a year.”

Terms of Service (ToS)

The privacy commissioner’s requests address some of my ToS complaints. Looking at FB today, under “Sharing your content and information” the TOS now includes the following:

“1.  For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (“IP content”), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (“IP License”). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account (except to the extent your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it).

2. When you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).”

Of course I’d like to know what exactly is “a reasonable period of time” and I think the Privacy Commissioner of Canada would as well. However, this is great progress, in my view, because it pretty much eliminates the risk that a picture of my kid I might upload could be used for other purposes after I delete it. I’m not really convinced that it eliminates the risk of such a picture my cousin uploads and never deletes, though. However it is a MILLION times better than what was in the TOS when I wrote about this back in February. And, whether or not this is merited, seeing this movement and responsiveness from the company makes me feel like it’s less repugnant to me.

Things in the TOS are not all ironed out yet. Here’s an area where there’s still a privacy/IP problem: “Share Links” is supposedly only to be used to link to your OWN content.  I doubt this rule is being followed, and the way the TOS is written, FB assumes you are following this rule and giving FB permission to “Use such content” (that is linked to) on Facebook. <–Not cool.  Still need to work on that one, guys.

However, I think the “Special Provisions Applicable to Developers/Operators of Applications and Websites” and “Special Provisions Applicable to Advertisers” have improved since I last looked at the TOS.  Good on you, FB for actually tightening this up, saying you will not share user info with advertisers, and starting to limit the access application developers have to users info.

In Summary:

  • FB may be responding reasonably well to the privacy commissioner’s requests
  • FB’s Terms of Service do appear to be improving
  • FB is becoming increasingly difficult for me to avoid, professionally, despite my successful resistance in my personal and activist life for the past several years

The upshot is that I may well end up there, for better or for worse. Weird, eh?

-Greyson

Leave a comment

Filed under copyright, globalization, IP, privacy, technology

OLPC Give 1 Get 1 for 2008 launches Nov 17

Tipped off by the Digital Copyright Canada blog, I heard that the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is gearing up to launch another “Give 1 Get 1” (G1G1) campaign.

This is awesome, and I think I know a number of folks who were considering getting computers for young people for the holidays and might buy in to this project. I have certainly spoken with a number of people who were disappointed they couldn’t participate in G1G1 earlier in 2008.  It’s a nice way to get an inexpensive general-use laptop, promote OSS, and make a donation all in one. And if the “get one” laptop is a gift for a young person in your life, it’s a great teaching moment about the value of openness, building the practice of making donations into your life, and the issue of the global digital divide.

Official word is:
“One Laptop per Child is launching its second ”Give 1, Get 1” [G1G1]
program starting November 17, 2008, following last year’s popular
program which received donations from over 80,000 people.  This year
the XO laptops will be shipped to donors through Amazon.com.

The laptops feature the latest release of the Sugar window manager, running
on a Linux-based Fedora Core operating system.  For answers to frequently
asked questions, and for other XO giving programs, see the OLPC wiki.

More on G1G1 2008:  http://wiki.laptop.org/go/G1G1_2008
More about the XO:  http://laptop.org/en/laptop/&#8221;

OLPC is setting up a storefront on Amazon.com.  Giving a laptop to a child in the developing world will be $199 this year, and G1G1 (giving a laptop to a child and getting one of your own) will be $399.

I’ve seen a few librarians with the XO laptops at conferences and thought what an awesome solution it is – for those who don’t want to risk damage or confiscation of their regular laptop while travelling.

I’d think about doing G1G1 myself, but it appears that G1G1 will only be available to US residents this year.  Hopefully by the time the hand-me-down computer my son uses crashes and burns, G1G1 will be available to us Canucks too.

Now that my mind has started spinning, I am starting to think of all kinds of ways to take advantage of G1G1 here, such as a campaign to donate the “get one” computers as well, to domestic under-resourced communities, class or school fundraising to both get computers for the school and to donate to the program…anyway, pass the word!  G1G1 is back!

-Greyson

1 Comment

Filed under globalization, inclusion/exclusion, OSS, Other blogs, technology, youth

Tomorrow’s History & the Role of Public Libraries

I’ve been thinking about digitization and history; specifically the trusim that history is written by the victors (aka the privileged), and what that means for our current era.

With literacy and war-conquests-slash-oppression on the part of literate groups, orality became devalued as “official” history in most of the mainstream, dominant, Western societies.  Non-literate or illiterate people and groups have largely either been written out or written *about* in what we now deem to be literature and history. (Please forgive my rushed-through and simplistic history of the conquests of literacy-based-culture here…this is just the context part of the post!) With mass printing, the privilege bar to produce, distribute and preserve was reinforced, perhaps nudged a bit, right?  Certainly by the 20th century just writing something down was rarely enough to incorporate it into official narratives of “history”; the writing had to be adjudicated and then reproduced by a professional publisher, preserved by an archivist, or otherwise selected by someone with societal power.

I went to undergrad in 1994.  It was a heady, exciting time, especially if you worked in a library, as I was fortunate enough to do.  The Internet had just gone public!  Netscape and Mozilla were battling it out!  Web 2.0 was already being foreshadowed by innovators like Crayon (remember CraYoN – Create your own newspaper?  Early mashup, back in ‘95!). All the street-level activists in my circles were xeroxing radical zines on their temp job office photocopiers, and the Internet was going to democratize the world! Anyone could publish their work and reach the whole world! Well, anyone in the portions of the world that had electricity at least.  Or at least the literate portions of the world that had electricity…

< – -time warp here- – >

Now, we have these amazing Open Access repositories forming, and we have increasing numbers of people creating and sharing content online. I’m particularly excited about and interested in the community-based archiving projects that are popping up. (**Note to self: write a post about some of these cool projects soon**)

BUT, I have a big concern. I think we’ve all outgrown the “the Internet is going to democratize the world!” phase by now (yes? no?), but I don’t think we’re paying adequate attention to the fact that this migration of “scholarship” and preservation – basically the bulk of what will be tomorrow’s “history”  – is reinforcing the exclusive nature of historical preservation.

We are beginning to see documentation of the same type of hierarchical dynamics in online content generation as we do in printed matter.  I’ve seen recent scholarship focused on the male-female gender gap both in scholarly self-archiving and in creative digital media sharing.

I know most of us aren’t purposefully torching the libraries of our enemies and competitors.  And I don’t want to question the very sensible move of scholarly communication into online, open access format.  But I would like to talk with more folk about how we can hark back to our idealistic 1994 mentality and regain those ideals, if not the naïveté, relating to the potential that digitization holds for the whole of society.

Academic libraries are working fast and furious toward digitally archiving their institutions’ scholarly output.  I think there’s a place for public libraries to serve an organizing function in the community in terms of creating public history. A public history project, perhaps.

Public History Project…I kind of like the sound of that.  Too bad the acronym’s already pretty much “taken.”  Maybe if we slap a “Canadian” on the front end or some such…

Of course, it’s easy to spout off about, and much harder to actually figure out the nuts & bolts: How to you ensure broad community representation?  What do you do with communities that don’t want to participate? How do you select what is of long-term value – or do you at all?  Is that up to the communities themselves, perhaps?  Do you allocate more space to groups under-represented in formal histories and scholarly communities?  Is there content that is unacceptable? What about illegal stuff?  Who’s responsible for the maintenance?  And where does all of this…stuff…reside, anyway?  What formats can reasonably be accepted and preserved? Should the government be involved in this?  What about private funding?  How do you keep things impartial?  Should you strive to keep things impartial?

Despite all of this chaos in my mind about the details, I do think that public libraries are uniquely suited to facilitate a public history project: something technically based on open source software, and developed in coalition with community groups.  And, frankly, perhaps in collaboration with academic libraries, who are doing TONS of work already getting Institutional Repositories up and running.

What are your thoughts?

-Greyson

2 Comments

Filed under academic libraries, archives, censorship, community development, digitization, gender, globalization, media democracy, OA, preservation, public libraries, publishing, racism, technology

Another one bites the dust: Publish & Perish

A press release from January 7 announced that Raincoast Publishing will soon bite the dust. Apparently this branch of Raincoast Books has been brought down by a stronger Canadian dollar (and the soon-in-sight end of the Harry Potter bonanza), they have decided to kill their publishing program in order for their wholesale/distributing business to stay profitable.

This is very sad news for the struggling Canadian publishing industry and, naturally, for many writers. It is also sad for Canadians and anybody interested not only in Canadian literature but also those who are concerned about the growing globalization of the publishing industry which gives less and less room for none-commercial hits and for regional interests. Like in most businesses, the multinational giants are either swallowing the smaller fish or pushing them out of the publishing ocean to die.

I wonder how Raincoast Publishing would have evolved if they hadn’t grabbed the Harry Potter deal. This blockbuster series allowed them to unprecedented growth, and as it often happens, some expansion decisions might have not been the best, but just late last May, Raincoast was featured in the Arts | Books section of CBC as a glowing example of one of the lucky surviving Canadian publishers.

Maybe we need to keep in mind that, like local organic produce, locally published books by local writers are worth paying more for and that there is a price to pay for not spending our money there. This is might be key at this point for Canadian publishers to survive. Anybody has better ideas?

See:

Raincoast gets back to basics. (2008, January 8). Message posted to http://blogs.raincoast.com/weblog/comments/raincoast-gets-back-to-basics/

Raincoast Books to ditch publishing arm. (2008, January 8). CBC.ca Arts. Retrieved January 23, 2008, from http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2008/01/08/raincoast-cut-publish.html

Buium, Gr. (2007, May 28). Life after Harry: What the final Harry Potter novel means for Vancouver’s Raincoast Books. CBC.ca Arts. Retrieved January 23, 2008, from http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/raincoast.html

1 Comment

Filed under globalization, publishing