Archives for posts with tag: online

In the last post, I wrote about how the big wigs in the UK we’re and still are looking to lean on social media to curtail riots and whatnot. As ridiculous as that is, this wonky mindset is catching on Canada’s side of the pond.


…proposed “lawful access” legislation would make “warrantless wiretapping pretty much normal,” David Murakami Wood, a member of The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said Wednesday.

Lawful access is part of the Conservative government’s comprehensive bundle of crime legislation that Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to pass within 100 days of the May 2 election.

Researcher Murakami Wood said, if passed, it would make the interception of communications a more general police tactic, rather than one that is only used in special circumstances.

Critics say the bill would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to disclose customer information to law enforcement without court orders and to invest in new technologies allowing for real-time surveillance of their networks. It would make companies, such as RIM, the gatekeepers of users’ privacy, and government would hold the key, they contend.[source]

It’s the sort of threat-inflation that tends to make me squeamish over the potential for state abuses of privacy. A recent Globe and Mail opinion piece criticized the proposed legislation for being paranoid and illogical.   I can’t help but agree with this.

However, there hasn’t been a lot of buzz about this in Canada yet. Once the UK riots died down, the issue faded.  But, I think as the Conservative government tries to push through their omnibus crime legislation, we’ll hear more about it.

This is something on horizon. We watched this rapid erosion of privacy in the US, and, yelp, it can happen here in Canada.

UPDATE: The CBC, way back on August 9, posted an article about an open letter sent to PM Harper about all this. You’ll notice that this pre-dates the UK riots a little, but I’m sure the Conservatives were happy that David Cameron’s anti-RIMism is greasing the wheels. END UPDATE

****Personal Note****

I apologise for the slow rate of posting. I started a new job last week, and I am actively learning the ILS Librarian ropes. This means that posts will sporadic until I settle in. Which is good, since my new job is giving me plenty of grist for this here blogging mill.

Walk the Moon: dancy dancin'

Today is my last day at NRC-CISTI. Neat. On Monday, I’ll be starting at the Ottawa Public Library as their newest Integrated Library Systems Librarian (It’s important because it has library in it twice!). In between, I’m going to hocking my shirts etc. at the Wolfe Island Music Festival. I’m sitting in a triangle of sweet times.

Here are my pics from this week’s library soundtrack.

Walk the Moon (I’m a sucker for schmaltzy indie-pop. No apologies)

Belle & Sebastian

The Vaccines

See you all soon from a new cube! Have a great weekend!

They are some frankly pretty cook kids, indeed.

This Friday, where I am, means another long weekend! I’m using the free time to make shirts for a wicked music festival next weekend. But, before the weekend comes is the work week and the work week’s musical accompaniment. Here are some highlights.

The Cool Kids

Gold Panda

Ohbijou NEW NEW NEW Yessss!

For people in a different sort of listening mood, I highly recommend Dan Carlin’s Fall of the Roman Republic – a pretty engaging 10 hour free audiobook about, obviously, the fall of the Roman Republic.

Have a great weekend, long or otherwise!

Just like Johnny Mnemonic... look at him!

People have been murmuring  that the Internet is “ruining”  our memory for a while. Ruin? I don’t know. Recent studies have shown that since the advent of the Internet our memory practices have been evolving and that this is also reversible.

Whether you think it’s a bad (Luddites!) or a good thing (non-Luddites! or normal people or “norms”), there is a change taking place in how Internet users combine their brains with the information on the web.

From Scientific American:

Led by Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow, the researchers conducted a series of experiments whose results suggest that when people are faced with difficult questions, they are likely to think that the Internet will help them find the answers. In fact, those who expect to able to search for answers to difficult questions online are less likely to commit the information to memory. People tend to memorize answers if they believe that it is the only way they will have access to that information in the future. Regardless of whether they remember the facts, however, people tend to recall the Web sites that hold the answers they seek.

In this way, the Internet has become a primary form of external or “transactive” memory (a term coined by Sparrow’s one-time academic advisor, social psychologist Daniel Wegner), where information is stored collectively outside the brain. This is not so different from the pre-Internet past, when people relied on books, libraries and one another—such as using a “lifeline” on the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?—for information. Now, however, besides oral and printed sources of information, a lion’s share of our collective and institutional knowledge bases reside online and in data storage…

And if our gadgets were to fail due to a planet-wide electromagnetic pulse tomorrow, we would still be all right. People may rely on their mobile phones to remember friends’ and family members’ phone numbers, for example, but the part of the brain responsible for such memorization has not been atrophied, she says. “It’s not like we’ve lost the ability to do it.[source]

Neat, right? The world is catching up with librarians in this respect. We’ve been using our collections, catalogues and reference tools (digital or physical) as prosthetic memory contraptions since always. The Internet for some is a revolutionary change in how people remember and access information. For LIS professionals it’s one new step in an ongoing evolution.

Read the rest of this entry »

I heard about Jane McGonigal and her book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and how They Can Change the World through a radio doc on CBC’s Spark.

She also has a TED talk.

Is this something libraries can get in on? Libraries have always been a sort of augmented reality tool (using analogue books (old fashioned information access) and now with more high-tech Internet based tools). It’s only one more step to add a game layer. The NYPL’s Find the Future is an example that combines learning and adventure through a mix of the physical library and laptops or smartphones. Gaming and reality are no longer so separate.

McGonigal may come off as a little optimistic, but she’s pushing an emerging idea. You can check out some of McGonigal’s games here.

What through video games is possible? Collaboration and crowd-sourcing scientific research? Breaking down social barriers? I don’t know if video games and gaming CAN solve all our problems. I do think that it is necessary to rethink radically what we can accomplish since it’s a media form that has pretty much overtaken EVERY other media we’ve ever come up with.

Hey Rossetta, eat up.


Canada Day is tomorrow, so my week is ending a day early (whereas our American neighbours are starting their next week a little late.). I’m going to  do the predictable thing and be “all Canadian”, which would be a thing if I wasn’t sort of mostly Canadian in these posts already. Anyways, here are some “all Canadian” songs that I liked and listened to this week.


Young Galaxy

Hey Rosetta

Have a great long weekend (at some point, wherever you are)! Oh, Canada.

Grouplove offers some advice.

I shouldn’t complain because my week was shortened by a 4-day weekend, jet-setish vacation, but what days I have worked have been a tough slog. I came back to deadlines, change-ups, and newly vague projects. At least the library sound track plays on, even if I don’t have much time for regular blogging. Here’s some music that helped.


New Bon Iver!

Chad Vangaalen!

Have a great weekend!

Timber Timbre - scarifying in the best ways

Friday’s here. So are the highlights from my data-fixing soundtrack this week.

Timber Timbre‘s new album Creep On Creepin’ On dropped this week. It’s great and creepy (as advertised). I’d describe it as like a musical composed of Nina Simone’s darker songs and directed by Tim Burton.

I like this Midlake song. The Trials of Van Occupanther was one of my favourites back in 2006. And why? This track  maps somewhere between ELO and Fleetwood Mac. They also seem to love singing about 19th century life and love.  And occasionally, they drop a Hobbes reference. All this appeals to me.

Have a great weekend!

In February, the Globe and Mail ran an article proclaiming the pending demise of eBook piracy. The nails in the coffin were eBook lending sites like Lendle. It took just over a month from that article for to put the breaks on that.

Now, Amazon’s lending restrictions on Lendle basically make lending eBooks an activity for speed readers who prefer random, unpopular books. I suppose in light of those events, eBook piracy will live a little longer. Especially if borrowing eBooks and eAudiobooks  legitimately continues to be unfriendly to users.

My personal experience with OverDrive (the unchallenged content software for eBook excited libraries) via the Ottawa Public Library hasn’t made me (and a lot of other people) optimistic . To download to an audiobook, it required so much hoop jumping and the installation of  software that I gave up. eBooks work a little easier, but it’s still not a smooth process.

Out of curiosity, I found the same audiobook on a popular torrent site in about 30 seconds. It had enough people actively sharing the file that it could have probably downloaded in a few hours. After which, were I so inclined, I’d have unlimited use of the audio files for as long as I wanted and on any platform I wanted.

I imagine the process on a Kindle or Kobo or whatever must be strikingly easier than using OverDrive. Publishers have a clear interest in making lending more difficult for libraries or collaboration minded groups of  individuals. The Globe article had a fairly telling quote on that matter:

Not all publishers are assured [about eBook lending sites, including libraries/OverDrive], including Macmillan U.S., whose president Brian Napack recently defended his company’s go-slow policy at a conference in New York. “The fear is I get one library card and never have to buy a book again,” he said.

If you want to make money, sharing (legal or otherwise) is the worst possible business model. So of course publishers want a few roadblocks.

But, those roadblocks essentially treat would-be borrowers as would-be pirates.  The outcome for users being one of three things, paying for the eBook, putting up with  second class free service/access at dwindling levels of quality, or pursuing less “legitimate” means of access. (I guess you could use a mix of these three.)

If past experience with the music industry has shown anything, it’s that increasingly draconian attitudes do not translate into sales. It seems to me, that those who pay for eBook access were going to pay anyways. Everyone else? Well, there are three choices.

An interesting post from Aaron Schmidt at Walking Paper on the merits of simplified library web sites.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a daring pilot and talented author, also weighed in on user experience:

“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

In some ways, libraries have been taking the opposite approach. We’ve gotten in the habit of tacking on new services and taking on new responsibilities, and many library websites can be seen as piecemeal collections of patron engagement tactics…

There are two ways to increase the amount of attention the bits of a website receive: either by increasing staffing and funding, or reducing the number of bits. An extreme example: imagine if your web team was only responsible for the page consisting of your library’s contact information, location, and one book recommendation per week. They’d be able to spend plenty of time on this page, testing, experimenting, and revising regularly. It would be a great page.

For years, I’ve heard talk about libraries cutting the cord on irrelevant services. Yet I haven’t heard as much discussion about which sacred web cows we can put out to pasture. This might in part be owing to the perception that a 200-page website isn’t more expensive to manage than a 50-page one. While probably true in terms of hosting fees, it isn’t otherwise true. Good content takes staff time to produce and arrange, and the navigational overhead can be a time expenditure for users.

I’m not suggesting that libraries shouldn’t try new things or add content to their sites. They should. Still, the library world needs to start a dialog about an additional way to prevent stagnation: subtraction.[read the full post]

People following this blog know my affection for minimalism as a creative conceit. Apart from aesthetics, I really believe there’s merit to simplifying library online experiences (something I’ve argued for in the past).

Schmidt takes aim at the current library web-design ethos of trying to stake as much online territory as possible. But, enthusiasm and ambition can be a downfall. There are many library landing pages with so many content and navigation options that it’s difficult to really find specific things. Read the rest of this entry »