Monday, February 25, 2008

Brewster Kahle -post speech- blogpost

So Kahle's talk was very interesting. He seems like a quirky guy. While he was speaking up there I had glimpses of a Will Ferrell character, it's that side of the Ferrell characters that are serious in a funny way i think.

Kahle is the visionary behind the Internet Archive- a place where the idea of having all the world's information stored- is possible and now being put into motion. They are currently teamed up with the Library of Congress, and are in a race with Google for other libraries around the country to digitize all the books within. There is a cost for this, but it's not much in the grand scheme of things. For the cost of a nice car, you could have all the words in the Library of Congress digitized, Kahle pointed out. All over the country, staffers are scanning each page of each and every book, one by one.

His main idea is that, "Universal Access to ALL knowledge is within our grasp!"

And he did address the non-cuddly-ness of computer screen reading. The Internet Archive's Bookmobile has traveled around the world with a book-making machine inside so people can print their own books right from the machine! The BookMobile has even been to The National Library of Uganda where they also installed internet.

The archive has to deal with copyright issues, and so most of the content they have is from people who want to give away information, like the Grateful Dead. Starting in the 60's the Dead were all about the idea of letting people tape their shows- they wanted their music to be out there and accessible. Needless to say, they were all for it when Internet Archive told them they would host all of their music on the site, for free. This is their dream come true! The archive is eager to see more communities like the Dead community revolve around their site.

Is Google the Devil? Yes, pretty much so. In their method of digitizing books, Google is attempting to make the books private, by not allowing free use. "The idea of monopolizing information is the scariest thing, it's Orwelian," Kahle said.

This is why the Internet Archive is working really hard right now- to get ahead of Google. "Once something has critical mass it's harder to go head to head with it," said Kahle.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle at USF in 60 minutes

Brewster Kahle is coming to USF! Or may be here somewhere already. I am excited to learn a little more about this man- with a vision of archiving and preserving all information for all generations to come!- from his own perspective. Hopefully he will talk about himself.

This whole idea is pretty crazy and hard to grasp. Understandably I think. I am not sure there is a large enough way to say that this is a whole lot of information we are talking about.

Especially the idea of digitizing books. It's just not the same to cuddle up with a computer. But maybe Kahle will address how this isn't the point. This quote, from Kahle in an August 2007 interview with Andrew Richard Albanese, called Scan This Book for me illustrates the grand excitement of Kahle's vision.

"Books are the heart of the library. For thousands of years, humans have been putting their knowledge in books to pass on for future generations. So, yes, we have to have these materials in digital form, and we have to make them accessible in such a way that we can continue to have a library system like the one, frankly, that many of us grew up enjoying, where we can access and use these materials in new and different ways, as an engine for research, learning, and discovery, even if in ways not originally intended. So far, I think we have been negligent in our responsibility to perform this task. Not because we don't have the materials, but because we haven't put them into the formats new generations expect."

Also, I am curious what all he will say about Google. From what Kahle has said about Google in the above article, and in this one, and from the blog- the googlization of everything, I am beginning to think Google is the devil. What are they trying to do? And here I am writing on a blog represented by them, and owned by them? Shiest.

I am exited to hear more about this in less than an hour!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Librarian in Black Speaks about the Future of Libraries!

Tuesday night at the San Francisco Public Library, Sarah Houghton-Jan, known in the blogosphere as the "Librarian in Black," (her blog is here)gave a lecture titled, "The Future of Libraries- What's Next for Civilization's Great Educational Equalizer?" Awesome title. Compelling. I was required to go for my Davies Forum Digital Literacy Class, and I am glad, because now I feel enlightened.

The theme of the LIB's (Librarian in Black's) talk was that many things, including the digital world, have weakened libraries. Libraries aren't used to having to deal with change. Now constantly they are having to play catch up with the digital world, as they have lost their place in culture as an "institutional repository," and they are having to "redefine their cultural role."

Going into the evening I was curious what she would talk about because I don't use the public library (well I didn't before the talk) and upon my entrance into the building for the first time yesterday I thought it kind of a crusty place. it turns out I held many stereotypical, popular ideas of what libraries are about and reasons for why I don't use them.

For example, libraries aren't up on digital technology. Often, scary negative signs like "ABSOLUTELY NO DOWNLOADING" prohibit potential world changers from embracing the world- through all that the internet has to offer -because the computers can't handle the load.

The stock at the library isn't the same as People do not go to libraries for stuff. Because, let's face it: there is large chance you won't get the specific stuff you want at the library (I did a brief browse of the DVDs yesterday and the A section totaled 15-20). LIB gave a stat: 8/10 times that we want a book or music or a movie, we buy it. As a Librarian, she said, this was so sad to her!

The large reason for this is funding. Libraries don't have money. Where are they supposed to get it? Grants only do so much.

But there are things libraries can do without tons of money too. For one, their public face is important, and perhaps there are simple steps that can be done to enhance it that don't include a high priced PR person. For example, common ways of running libraries include negative signage strategies like the one mentioned above. There's also a lot that libraries could do to self-promote in the way of social networking sites, like Facebook, and through other online outlets like podcasts, videocasts, and 2nd Life. Different ways of marketing should definitely be explored, LIB emphasized.

Libraries face many challenges, and LIB's talk proved that librarians aren't crotchety old ladies with buns who don't know what's up. She thinks the keys to their future success include: creative marketing; getting rid of the old fashioned ideas that, "we do it the right way," and instead welcoming social organizations of data and social knowledge; making libraries clean, inviting, relaxing places; and embracing change!

According to LIB, their game plan now includes: making the library the peoples' third place (after home and work); combining virtual and physical environments for one space; and focusing on the question "what can we provide that nobody else can?"

I am interested and excited to follow and be part of the development and future of libraries after this talk.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Internet Connection

Ivan Chew, giving the most engaging power point presentation I've seen

Yesterday's blog would be impossible not to tie into the Davies Forum on Digital Literacy's speaker Ivan Chew and his talk at USF yesterday. Chew, expert blogger (he has 8 blogs- his main blog link is here) and Singaporean librarian, spoke mostly about the connections that can be and have already been created through blogs and the internet. It seems the couch on the street I spoke of is a symbol for the internet! and perhaps more specifically, blogs. I will elaborate.

The most interesting part of the talk for me was his mention of IG (Inter-Generational) relationships in his segment on seniors and blogging. I guess this part was so interesting to me because I do think about the divide between old people and young people. Maybe it is just as simple as that there's no relationship there because the two generations can't relate. But old people have stories to tell, and young people have so much to learn, that it seems there should at least be an attempt at a connection. What if, for example, kids in elementary school who were assigned a project about something that took place in recent history could have the choice to go to the library and check out a book, or to connect with someone who had actually experienced this time in history- through a library hosted blog? I think this would be great.

Some seniors don't blog or may be apprehensive about it because the internet in general is still foreign to them, not to mention that negative view the media can give blogging and the Internet. And also seniors are more private- they come from more traditional times. One thing that does get them into blogging, Chew pointed out, is so that their great great grandchildren can read about them. They usually don't trust the Internet otherwise. Maybe the library hosted blog could remedy this apprehension. If they were to realize that sharing their stories created positive results, and then saw the beauty of newfound connections, they would be more into it. The key is showing seniors the beauty of it. The Internet truly does get a bad wrap in the press- sex stalkers, identity theft, etc.

All seniors have stories, and do have motivation to tell them, they just need to be asked. A guest in the audience, identifying himself as a senior (he was in his late 50s or early 60s), pointed out that also most seniors don't want to write their own stories but dictate them to someone who will type them, or they will sit in a front of a camera- a videoblog.

I don't know, it seems pretty cool to me. I think if when I were in elementary school or high school and could have seen a videoblog of someone talking about what the depression was about, rather than learning about it in a book, I would have been wayyyy more interested. Hopefully this is the future.

The theme of Ivan's talk was -we are so alike-. His ideas may even be so profound to say that if more people used the Internet and connected with each other and realized this idea, there would be less war. He concluded by showing us a video he had made, with his own computer created music too- called, "Dolphins Galaxia." The music was lovely and inspirational and the visuals were a decoupage of visuals of different lights from all different settings (like stars in the sky and the sun and the earth and sun rays in water) so that while watching it I was thinking the lights represented the connections made by the Internet, and the dolphins swimming around represented the innocent bystanders, affected by the lovely connections. Like the couch provides a place for.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Sad Day (Every day is a sad day for someone somewhere)

I saw this couch here set up cutely right next to this thrown out Christmas tree and it looked nice, and being someone who thrives outside, I thought, wouldn't it be nice if people actually sat here? And there were couches like this set up all over where people could come and sit-

When they needed a break from life, needed to sit down and take a load off and share their emotions. If someone was feeling sad this person could sit down and have someone to talk to. Strangers hardly ever chat unless it's a must (sitting next to someone on an airplane), which seems downright ridiculous. Loneliness is a hard thing too, and I think many people feel very alone. Really everyone knows what it's like to be sad, or angry, or every other emotion. I know I'm an optimist, but it seems rather silly that people don't talk more, share experiences, and provide comfort for one another-often comfort is found just in simply having someone to talk to.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mary Madden at USF

Mary Madden, senior research specialist at the Pew Internet and American Life project, spoke at USF on Thursday, February 7th as a part of this semester's Davies Forum -Digital Literacy- guest lecturer series.

It was interesting, since Mary's job is to pretty much to compile and analyze the facts and ideas about what's happening RIGHT NOW! in this digital world. Here's what I got out of it-

We are moving from slow, stationary connections (land lines, dial up internet, and horse carried mail) to fast, mobile connections (texting, cell phones, i-phones). SO other things are surely happening along with this shift in access and communication that change our culture, the way we live in this world.

For one, how about this: what does it mean to be culturally literate? there's this whole idea of "self literacy"-using online tools to create an identity (facebook, myspace, blogs) which is just sort of part of being 'in the know' these days, and so is a part of one definition of being culturally literate. which is really interesting. I have sort of thought of Facebook more as creating an advertisement for yourself, which I think in some aspects weird and terrible, but that probably comes from a cynical side of me - and like these digital world embracers I should think on the positive side: these people are content creators! Facebook is a new outlet for artisitic expression! Even if it is uploading photos of yourself that make you look a certain way? And censoring photos of yourself that other people upload so that the only ones left represent the side of you that you want people to see? I guess so. People are the creators of their lives. One comment brought up in Mary's discussion was that people need the skill of how to integrate their online life with their real life, because often they can be different. Hmmm.

-She opened up her talk with the idea of "appropriating and remixing" content- like what DJs do. This gives it new meaning, and is an awesome art form. Bloggers can be said to do this too, and probably every other artist, if you think about it in a wide enough framework. Everything is intertextual, based off of everything that came before it.

-Our notions of public space and privacy are changing. What do we put on the web? Should I be putting this on the web right now? how much is too much?

-There's a website called Polar Rose that is working on their facial recognition technology so that they'll be able to identify a person by their photo. a little bizarre.

-What are the ethics on the internet? I don't think there are any.

Mary also met with us the next morning in Crossroads cafe on campus. She gave us a few more inside details on what it's like to work at Pew where reporters often "dial-a -quote"- expecting quick, simple stats and data about Pew's research. Professor Silver brought up the point that the kinds of things Pew works on aren't often things that can be summed down to a succinct quote.

She also talked about how she has realized how much prestige quantitative data has over qualitative data in the science/research world. So a report that has interviews with over a hundred people is less valid than one that divides everything into numbers and charts. Interesting. To me, the qualitative is far more interesting.

It was great to get to talk to her in a casual setting because (and I realize this sounds ignorant) one realizes that this very intelligent academic, organized professional with a prestigious job is a person just like you and I who has worked hard to the top! Inspiring for sure. Thanks Mary.

Mary said one of her favorite blogs is the shifted librarian