Friday 30 January 2009

Building Cultural Value - podcast of John Holden in conversation with Robert Hewison

I have been a fan of the work of John Holden and his colleagues at the UK based think tank Demos for some time. I am especially drawn to the thinking around cultural value in his semnal report.

While researching this area for another project, I came across this podcast from the Internet Archive. It features John Holden, who leads Demos work on cultural policy and Robert Hewison who is a commentator and Demos associate.

In this cast John and Robert discuss their work on Cultural Value - a concept they champion as a way to solve the "crisis of legitimacy" faced by cultural institutions in the UK caused by the dysfunctional relationship between politicians, cultural professionals and the public.

Then I spotted the embed - be still my beating heart - don't you love an embed code - here we go - just in time for the weekend.

Smithsonian 2.0 - the seminar - the buzz -

Last week's two-day Smithsonian 2.0 gathering explored how to make their collections, educational resources, and staff more accessible, engaging, and useful.

Over 30 creative people from the web and new media world met with 30 Smithsonian staff members to generate a vision of what a digital Smithsonian might be like in the years ahead.

The web site has a whole bunch of material from this seminal event, including video, here. There is also a blog, here. Good article from the Washington Post, here

Imagining a Smithsonian Commons
Also of note is the earlier article on the Smithsonian Commons authored by one of their staff, Michael Edson. Thanks to Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet & American Life Project, an attendee, who brought it into the light.

This seminar was a brilliant idea. Would be great to see some Australasian institutions doing something similar.

The Commons

This You Tube video is from Video Nation. This is what they say about it :

"In a just world, the idea of wealth--be it money derived from the work of human hands, the resources and natural splendor of the planet itself--and the knowledge handed down through generations belongs to all of us. But in our decidedly unjust and imperfect world, our collective wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few. There is be a better way--the notion of the commons--common land, resources, knowledge--is a common-sense way to share our natural, cultural, intellectual riches.

In this innovative animation, filmmaker Laura Hanna, writer Gavin Browning and video artists/animators Dana Schechter and Molly Schwartz examine the concept of "The Commons" as a means to achieve a society of justice and equality.

Inspiration from the film came from four provocative books:

Unjust Desserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take it Back by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly ( )

Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water, by Maude Barlow ( )

Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, by David Bollier ( )

The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All, by Peter Linebaugh ( )

In cyberspace, the "viral spiral" is a way ideas and innovations grow and be shared with ever-larger numbers of people. That spiral path could be the way the ideas of the commons can help shape a more just society. Learn more at "
Thanks to

Thursday 29 January 2009

Google Mail goes offline

Thanks to PC World for alerting me to the news that Google have begun to offer offline access to Gmail

This lets people use Gmail when disconnected from the Internet, and has been in the pipeline since the launch of Google Gears.

Gears is currently used for offline access to several Web applications from Google, like the Reader RSS manager and the Docs word processor.

Google has said letting users replicate their entire Gmail in-boxes to their PCs would cause too much data interchange between client and the Google cloud.

So instead they have developed an algorithm that determines which messages should be downloaded to PCs according to the use pattern of the user. The service is as is - i.e. you can't tweak the settings.

The Gmail Blackberry story
I never used to be a great Gmail user until I realised it was the easiest way to get e-mail in an out of a BlackBerry - i.e. make a generic forward from your inbox in Exchange/Outlook, and then tweak the Gmail settings to show your company address as opposed to the Gmail address.

Then download the Gmail application onto the BlackBerry. Easy peasy, and seems to work just fine. And you can't imagine the relief that was after all the shenanigans trying to get our Exchange server to run the BlackBerry server doda!

Just how it will play on a MacBook is still to be determined - but it is going to be fun to find out.

UK Film Council launches "Find Any Film"

In a welcome intelligent bid to own the agenda around copyright, legal downloading, consumer education, et al, The UK Film Council have put together a web site, Find Any Film, where users can search for films available in the UK and find out if they are for hire or sale, whether as DVD, local cinema, or legal download.

The website is free to use and contains records of more than 30,000 films, or roughly seven years' worth of viewing, and they come in 20 genres and over 60 languages.

The Site
The site is in typical matt black so beloved of film agencies, although, mercifully, the detail on the record is on a white background. Also, the search interface is clean and easy to use, as is the results page.

I also liked the interaction design, especially around the ease of use on the alerting feature which lets people know when a title is available either as a legal download as well when it will be playing at a cinema near me, or available as a DVD for hire or sale.

In short, a class act.

A portable Search Widget?
On the still to find front, if people have been following previous posts of mine, then it will come as no surprise that I went looking for a search widget that could be embedded in other sites. Nope. Not yet. However, I am sure it is on it's way?

The Leadership Thing
What's really good, is to see an initiative from a big chunky traditional player in the likes of UK Film Council, taking such a proactive stance in developing alternatives to combat the illegal download problem that is currently obsessing the entire cultural/creative industries.

Would be great to see the Australian and New Zealand counterparts doing something similar? For example, we hear so much about the dire affect on the local film industry as a consequence of illegal downloading and pirating of New Zealand film titles. And fair enought too.

So where is Sione's Wedding playing on the cinima screen, who is selling the DVD and where can I download it legally?

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Katherine Mansfield Society goes on the web

Welcome to the Katherine Mansfield Society, a new international organisation which will promote and encourage the worldwide study and enjoyment of Katherine Mansfield’s writing. They also hope they will be a forum for the exchange of information and for research collaboration.

In terms of reputation the Board is substantial . Honorary President Emeritus Professor Vincent O'Sullivan, DCNZM: Honorary Vice-Presidents Emeritus Professor Angela Smith Emeritus Professor C. K. Stead, ONZ, CBE, FRSL, Chair Dr Sarah Sandley Deputy Chair Dr Gerri Kimber

The web site
The web site contains material about the Society, the beginnings of an image gallery for/about KM, a small but eclectic set of links to other sites, and last but not least a substantial set of the works of Katherine Mansfield in pdf format.

Curiosity killed the cat
Being a curious type of person, I'm intrigued as to where they sourced the Katherine Mansfield stories from. A few years ago when McGovern worked with the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace on a parallel venture to become a bit of a cyber hub for KM, there were practically no online versions of her works to speak off. Believe me I looked.

Since then the NZETC, among others, has done a brilliant job in putting up a a substantial set of KM's works both in their TEC/XML format and Microsoft Reader.

Creative Commons
They have also given them a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand Licence [CC] . At the time this was applauded by the local CC community. Moreover, it was seen by many, including me, as a welcome signal from a key local institution, Victoria University, that the CC framework was starting to gain ground in the academic/heritage community.

Given the prestige of the new Katherine Mansfield Society Board, it's a pity that they haven't followed suit. Or perhaps this is in the pipeline?

The Image collection
I'm also more than a little intrigued by the images they have put up in the KM image archive. Unless I'm totally off the ball these are from the Alexander Turnbull collection, who in my experience, have a whole bunch of rules around online attribution etc. Can't see them here.

If I'm correct, then it would be good to see this rectified. Moreover, again from my experience of the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace site, the Turnbull, as a key repository of lots of KM material, was very keen to work with online ventures of this kind, especially if it gave the KM material in the Turnbull a wider audience.

Digital NZ

While on the subject of wider audience et al, while tapping away I wondered if Digital New Zealand would be a resource here. Turns out - totally - absolutely.

Took me 5 minutes maximum to find out they had nearly 200 sources on record from photographs to journal/research papers from a variety of sources on Katherine Mansfield, which in turn was available to me, and anyone else in three different ways.

1. Customised search page.
You can do this in Digital NZ with any search term you can think off. For this one I just used the simple term - Katherine Mansfield. The result is a customised "faceted search' page which you an tweak in terms of colour background. You can even insert your own logo.

If you want to try making one of your own, or just see what is on offer, then head here.

2. RSS feed to the search results.


3. Katherine Mansfield Search Widget
This is an embedded piece of code which gives any site who wants it the ability to run an authoritative search and discover Digital New Zealand sourced material on your search term - in this case Katherine Mansfield.
And just for fun I have inserted it at the bottom of this post.

Developing the heritage ecology
I give all this not as a way of taking a pop at a brand new site. On the contrary, I think the idea of a Katherine Mansfield Society devoted to extending the reach of her life and work is a brilliant notion.

However, like every other institution in the cultural /heritage sphere, I strongly believe it can benefit from a greater understanding of how the ecology of sources, tools and connections that make up the modern web can extend and enlarge both their ambitions and their purpose.

These tools in turn, give the institution the ability to join in and contribute to the same. Hence my points about collaboration - Creative Commons frameworks - and parallel worlds in the likes of Digital New Zealand.

In the meantime - perhaps I need to go back over to the KM Society and join!

Search: Katherine Mansfield

Tuesday 27 January 2009

CC seeks online focus group participants for NonCommercial study

Creative Commons Aotearoa reports that the next stage of the Creative Commons Non-commercial study is about to commence, and they're looking for participants.

Meaning of non commercial
In this stage, Creative Commons international will be conducting focus groups looking at the meaning of Non-Commercial. Some of the groups will be online, and they're keen to get international participation.

CC are also keen to get representatives from as many different groups as possible - so pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

If you're interested in participating, see here for details and the application form. Places are limited.

Gratuitous Plug for CC Aotearoa Web site
By the by, Creative Commons Aotearoa have been doing some really good work on their web site. Have a look here if you want to see case studies , resource guides etc. Nice one. Thanks to all.

Books and Libraries in the Digital Age - Robert Darnton at MIT

My latest pleasure is finding the online set of lectures and resources from MIT, here. In the one I embed below, the historian Robert Darnton, in conversation with David Thorburn and audience members, Darnton lays out why he finds more promise than peril in rapidly expanding digital collections.

Darton's books include[George Washington’s False Teeth: An Unconventional Guide to the Eighteenth Century (2003), Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France (1968), The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclop├ędie (1979), The Literary Underground of the Old Regime (1982), The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History(1984), The Kiss of Lamourette: Reflections in Cultural History (1989), Revolution in Print: the Press in France 1775-1800 (1989, Daniel Roche co-editor), Edition et s├ędition (1991), Berlin Journal, 1989-1990(1991), and The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Prerevolutionary France(1995).

Early Information Society : 18th Century Paris
He also wrote a seminal piece on “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in 18th Century Paris” (Feb 2000), where he juxtaposed the workings of Silicon Valley millennials with the organic communication circuits of forbidden best-sellers of pre-revolutionary France. There is an neat blog post from Kevin Lim on this, here .

See also Library in the New Age” (12th June 2008).

The Epherema Man
Famous for his enthusiasm for ephemera as a primary research source, in this session he also talks with a deal of passion on how the web can aid and transform historical scholarship as well as offering some pertinent insights in to the need to preserve our born digital world.

The Host and Lecture
There is a lovely introduction to both the lecture, the speaker and the series, here. However, in celebration of MIT's generosity in giving us the embed option [ huge round of applause there!] I offer it below. Be advised it is nearly two hours long. If you would like to check out the running order, then check here first.

Monday 26 January 2009

Barack Obama and libraries

Thanks to Lorcan Dempsey for the link, and to MLA of the UK for finding and re-broadcasting this 2005 speech from Barack Obama to a ALA Library conference in 2005 and MLA.

In the speech, in his home city of Chicago, he describes librarians as guardians of truth and knowledge, and thanked them for their role as champions of privacy, literacy, independent thinking, and most of all reading.

“I want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we’re up to,” he said

The full MLA release is here. Lorcan Dempsey is here.
The full text of Barack Obama's speech is still on the ALA web site, here
But because it is so worth it - I have reproduced it below.

Bound to the Word
Barack Obama
ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23–29, 2005, while a U.S. senator from Illinois.

"If you open up Scripture, the Gospel according to John, it starts: “In the beginning was the word.” Although this has a very particular meaning in Scripture, more broadly what it speaks to is the critical importance of language, of writing, of reading, of communication, of books as a means of transmitting culture and binding us together as a people.

More than a building that houses books and data, the library represents a window to a larger world, the place where we’ve always come to discover big ideas and profound concepts that help move the American story forward and the human story forward. That’s the reason why, since ancient antiquity, whenever those who seek power would want to control the human spirit, they have gone after libraries and books.

Whether it’s the ransacking of the great library at lexandria, controlling information during the Middle Ages, book burnings, or the mprisonment of writers in former communist block countries, the idea has been that if we can control the word, if we can control what people hear and what they read and what they comprehend, then we can control and imprison them, or at least imprison their minds.

That’s worth pondering at a time when truth and science are constantly being challenged by political agendas and ideologies, at a time when language is used not to illuminate but, rather, to obfuscate, at a time when there are those who would disallow the teaching of evolution in our schools, where fake science is used to beat back attempts to curb global warming or fund lifesaving research.

At a time when book banning is back in vogue, libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.

We are a religious people, Americans are, as am I. But one of the innovations, the genius of America, is recognizing that our faith is not in contradiction with fact and that our liberty depends upon our ability to access the truth.

That’s what libraries are about. At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good.

I remember at different junctures in my life feeling lost, feeling adrift, and feeling that somehow walking into a library and seeing those books, seeing human knowledge collected in that fashion, accessible, ready for me, would always lift my spirits.

So I’m grateful to be able to acknowledge the importance of librarians and the work that you do. I want to work with you to ensure that libraries continue to be sanctuaries of learning, where we are free to read and consider what we please without the fear that Big Brother may be peering over our shoulders to find out what we’re up to.

Some of you may have heard that I gave a speech last summer at the Democratic convention. It made some news here and there. For some reason, one of the lines people seem to remember has to do with librarians, when I said, “We don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states, or the blue states for that matter.”

What some people may not remember is that for years, librarians have been on the frontlines of this fight for our privacy and our freedom. There have always been dark times in our history where America has strayed from our best ideas.

The question has always been: Who will be there to stand up against those forces? One of the groups that has consistently stood up has been librarians. When political groups tried to censor great works of literature, you were the ones who put Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the Rye back on the shelves, making sure that our access to free thought and free information was protected. Ever since we’ve had to worry about our own government looking over our shoulders in that library, you’ve been there to stand up and speak out on our privacy issues.

You’re full-time defenders of the most fundamental liberty that we possess. For that, you deserve our gratitude.

But you also deserve our protection. That’s why I’ve been working with Republicans and Democrats to make sure that we have a Patriot Act that helps us track down terrorists without trampling on our civil liberties. This is an issue that Washington always tries to make into an either-or proposition. Either we protect our people from terror or we protect our most cherished principles.

But I don’t believe in either-or. I believe in both ends. I think we can do both. I think when we pose the choice as either-or, it is asking too little of us and it assumes too little about America. I believe we can harness new technologies and a new toughness to find terrorists before they strike, while still protecting the very freedoms we’re fighting for in the first place.

I know that some librarians have been subject to FBI or other law enforcement orders, asking for reading records. I hope we can pass a provision just like the one that the House of Representatives passed overwhelmingly that would require federal agents to get these kinds of search warrants from a real judge in a real court just like everyone else does.

In the Senate, the bipartisan bill that we’re working on known as the Safe Act will prevent the federal government from freely rifling through emails and library records without obtaining such a warrant. Giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate suspicious activity is one thing, but doing it without the approval of our judicial system seriously jeopardizes the rights of all Americans and the ideals Americans stand for. We’re not going to stand for it. We need to roll that provision back.

In addition to the line about federal agents poking around in our libraries, there was another line in my speech that got a lot of attention, and it’s a line that I’d like to amplify this afternoon. At one point in the speech, I mentioned that the people I’ve met all across Illinois know that government can’t solve all their problems.

And I mentioned that if you go into the inner city of Chicago, parents will tell you that parents have to parent. Children can’t achieve unless they raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.
To some, that was perceived as speaking solely to the black community.

I’m here to suggest that I was speaking to a basic principle, a worry, a challenge, a concern that applies to all of America. Because I believe that if we want to give our children the best possible chance in life, if we want to open the doors of opportunity while they’re young and teach them the skills they’ll need to succeed later on, then one of our greater responsibilities as citizens, as educators and as parents is to insure that every American child can read and read well. That’s because literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy that we’re living in today.

The need to read
Only a few generations ago it was possible to enter into the workforce with a positive attitude, a strong back, willing to work, and it didn’t matter if you were a high school dropout, you could go in to that factory or work on a farm and still hope to find a job that would allow you to pay the bills and raise a family.

That economy is long gone. And it’s not coming back. As revolutions in technology and communications began breaking down barriers between countries and connecting people all over the world, new jobs and industries that require more skill and knowledge have come to dominate the economy.

Whether it’s software design or computer engineering or financial analysis, corporations can locate these jobs anywhere in the world, anywhere that there’s an internet connection. As countries like China and India continue to modernize their economies and educate their children longer and better, the competition American workers face will grow more intense, the necessary skills more demanding. These new jobs are not simply about working hard, they’re about what you know and how fast you can learn what you don’t know. They require innovative thinking, detailed comprehension, and superior communication.

But before our children can even walk into an interview for one of these jobs, before they can even fill out an application or earn the required college degree, they have to be able to pick up a book and read it and understand it. Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible, from complex word problems and the meaning of our history to scientific discovery and technological proficiency. And by the way, it’s what’s required to make us true citizens.

In a knowledge economy where this kind of knowledge is necessary for survival, how can we send our children out into the world if they’re only reading at a 4th-grade level? How can we do it? I don’t know. But we do. Day after day, year after year.

Right now, one out of every five adults in the United States cannot read a simple story to their child. During the last 20 years or so, over 10 million Americans reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. These literacy problems start well before high school. In 2000, only 32% of all 4th graders tested as reading-proficient.

The story gets worse when you take race into consideration and income into consideration. Children from low-income families score 27 points below the average reading level while students from wealthy families score 15 points above the average.

While only one in 12 white 17-year-olds has the ability to pick up the newspaper and understand the science section, for Hispanics, the number jumps to one in 50; for African-Americans, it’s one in 100.

In this new economy, teaching our kids just enough so that they can get through Dick and Jane is not going to cut it. Over the next 10 years, the average literacy required for all American occupations is projected to rise by 14%.

It’s not enough just to recognize the words on the page anymore. The kind of literacy necessary for the 21st century requires detailed understanding and complex comprehension. And, yet, every year we pass more children through schools or watch as more drop out. These are kids who will pore through the help-wanted section and cross off job after job that requires skills they don’t have. Others will have to take that help wanted section over to somebody sitting next to them and find the courage to ask, “Will you read this for me?”

We have to change our whole mindset as a nation. We’re living in the 21st-century knowledge economy; but our schools, our homes, and our culture are still based around 20th-century and in some cases 19th-century expectations.

The government has a critical role to play in this endeavor of upgrading our children’s skills. This is not the place for me to lay out a long education reform agenda, but I can say that it doesn’t make sense if we have a school system designed for agrarian America and its transition into the industrial age, where we have schools in Chicago that let high school students out at 1:30 because there’s not enough money to keep them there any longer, where teachers continue to be underpaid, where we are not restructuring these schools and financing them sufficiently to make sure that our children are going to be able to compete in this global economy.

There is a lot of work to do on the part of government to make sure that we have a first-class educational system, but government alone is not going to solve the problem. If we are going to start setting high standards and inspirational examples for our children to follow, then all of us have to be engaged.

There is plenty that needs to be done to improve our schools and reform education, but this is not an issue in which we can just look to some experts in Washington to solve the problem. We’re going to have to start at home. We’re going to have to start with parents. And we’re going to have to start in libraries. We know the children who start kindergarten with awareness of language and basic letter sounds become better readers and face fewer challenges in the years ahead. We know the more reading material kids are exposed to at home, the better they score with reading tests throughout their lives. So we have to make investments in family literacy programs and early childhood education so that kids aren’t left behind and are not already behind the day they arrive at school.

We have to get books into our children’s hands early and often. I know this is easier said than done, oftentimes. Parents today still have the toughest job in the world. And no one ever thanks parents for doing it. Not even your kids. Maybe especially your kids, as I’m learning.
Most of you are working longer and harder than ever, juggling job and family responsibilities, trying to be everywhere at once.

When you’re at home, you might try to get your kids to read, but you’re competing with other by-products of the technology revolution, TVs and DVDs and video games, things they have to have in every room of the house. Children eight to 18 spend three hours a day watching television; they spend 43 minutes a day reading.

Our kids aren’t just seeing these temptations at home, they’re seeing them everywhere, whether it’s their friend’s house or the people they see on television or a general culture that glorifies anti-intellectualism so that we have a president who brags about getting C’s.

That message trickles down to our kids. It’s too easy for children to put down a book and turn their attention elsewhere. And it’s too easy for the rest of us to make excuses for it. You know, pretending if we put a baby in front of a DVD that’s “educational,” then we’re doing our jobs.

If we let a 12-year-old skip reading as long as he’s playing a “wholesome” video game, then we’re doing okay, that as long as he’s watching PBS at night instead of having a good conversation about a book with his parents, that somehow we’re doing our job.

We know that’s not what our children need. We know that’s not what’s best for them. And so as parents, we have to find the time and the energy to step in and help our children love reading. We can read to them, talk to them about what they’re reading, and make time for this by turning off the television set ourselves.

Libraries are a critical tool to help parents do this. Knowing the constraints that parents face from a busy schedule and TV culture, we have to think outside the box, to dream big, like we always have in America about how we’re going to get books into the hands of our children.
Right now, children come home from their first doctor’s appointment with an extra bottle of formula. They should come home with their first library card or their first copy of Good Night Moon.

I have memorized Good Night Moon, by the way: “In the great green room there was a telephone….” I love that book. It should be as easy to get a book as it is to rent a DVD or pick up McDonald’s. What if instead of a toy in every Happy Meal there was a book?

Libraries have a special role to play in our knowledge economy. Your institutions have been and should be a place where parents and children come to read together and learn together. We should take our kids there more.

We should make sure our politicians aren’t closing libraries down because they had to spend a few extra bucks on tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them.

Opening doors
Each of you has a role to play. You can keep on getting more children to walk through your doors by building on the ideas that so many of you are already pursuing: book clubs and contests, homework help, and advertising your services throughout the community.

In the years ahead, this is our challenge, and this has to be our responsibility. As a librarian or a parent, every one of you can probably remember the look on a child’s face after finishing their first book.

During the campaign last year, I was asked by a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times if she could interview me about the nature of my religious faith. It was an interesting proposition. I sat down with the reporter, who asked me some very pointed questions about the nature of my faith, how it had evolved. Then the reporter asked me a surprising question. She asked me, “Do you believe in heaven? And what’s your conception of it?”

I told her, you know, I don’t presume to know what lies beyond, but I do know that when I sit down with my six-year-old and my three-year-old at night and I’m reading a book to them and then I tuck them in to go to sleep, that’s a little piece of heaven that I hang onto.

That was about a year ago, and what’s interesting now is watching my six-soon-to-be-seven-year-old reading on her own now. My four-year old will still sit in my lap, but my seven year old, she lies on the table and on her own. She’s got the book in front of her. She’s kind of face down, propped up. And I say, “Do you want me to read to you?” “No, Daddy, I’m all right,” she says, and there’s a little heartbreak that takes place there.

Yet, when I watch her, I feel such joy because I know that in each of those books she’s picking up, her potential will be fulfilled. That’s not unique to me. It’s true of all of us who are parents. There’s nothing we want more than to nurture that sense of wonder in our children. To make all those possibilities and all those opportunities real for our children, to have the ability to answer the question: “What can I be when I grow up?” with the answer “Anything I want. Anything I can dream of.”

It’s a hope that’s old as the American story itself. From the moment the first immigrants arrived on these shores, generations of parents worked hard and sacrificed whatever was necessary so that their children could not just have the same chances they had, but could have the chances they never had. Because while we can never assure that our children will be rich or successful, while we can never be positive that they will do better than their parents, America is about making it possible to give them the chance, to give every child the ability to try. Education is the foundation of this opportunity.

The most basic building block that holds that foundation together is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word.”

At the dawn of the 21st century, where knowledge is literally power, where it unlocks the gates of opportunity and success, we all have responsibilities as parents, as librarians, as educators, as politicians, and as citizens to instill in our children a love of reading so that we can give them a chance to fulfill their dreams. That’s what all of you do each and every day, and for that, I am grateful"


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Thursday 22 January 2009

World Digital Library - collaboration walking the talk

This is a quick check in from last day of the ALIA Online conference in Sydney, Australia. It was a great three days. I have a lot to sift through and will write about some of the projects and reports that were presented when I get back home to Auckland.

US Library of Congress - Laura Campbell
However as a taster, I especially loved the keynote from Laura Campbell from the US Library of Congress. I have been a big fan of their American Memory projects. for a while.

I'm also really happy to learn from Laura Campbell the extent to which the Library strategic policy around collaboration is now starting to show some real results and energy.

World Digital Library

One of the key results of this is the upcoming World Digital Library which is to be launched in Paris by UNESCO on the 21st April 2009. It is a stunning looking project. She played this video at the conference exploring its ambition - then I found it on You Tube - so here we go!

Monday 19 January 2009

Auckland City Library: Once upon a time exhibition

Once Upon a Time
Although I have a strong professional interest in public libraries - seeing them as key institutions of civil society, etc etc, I also regularly turn up at my local library, Auckland Central, as a good old fashioned punter/member.

Which is why I ended up last Saturday pouring over the glass case exhibits from Auckland City Libraries latest Special Collection exhibition, Once upon a time - an exhibition of fairy tales and fantasies for children

The Exhibition
The exhibition is just lovely. I really enjoyed looking at some of the splendid first editions that Auckland City has of some of the great children's classics, including, Lewes Carrol, Charles Kingsly , A.A Milne et al. There is also a lovely section on the Grimm Brothers.

Going even further back I was entranced to see on display Vol 36 of 48 vols] 1786 of Le Cabinet des Flees, the original French collection of "fairy tales, from which we get the likes of Cindarella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, and Puss in Boots. The exhibition also connects these to the work of Charles Parrault who some people credit with the creation of the whole fairy tale genre.

There are also some lovely examples of the great illustrators, including Richard Doyle, Edmund Dulac, Ernest Sheperd, and of course Beatrice Potter herself. On the latter they have an original Jemina Puddleduck. The colours still look fresh and vibrant.

In short totally worth going to see if you can get to Auckland.

I would have liked to have seen a bigger effort to get to "kids eye level" - "lower down" cases - or display cabinets at small person height - feels a pity that the kids have to be picked up to be able to see the books. I'd also have liked to see some signage - integration, or whatever with the children's area down on the ground floor.

Web integration
As for the web integration - well lets just say I was disappointed not to be able to find a parallel virtual exhibition with ongoing links to some of the other great heritage resources online around this subject. I haven't checked, but I suspect the likes of Lewis Carrol, Beatrice Potter and the Grimm Brothers have a very large web presence.

For sure, there will be good reasons for this - but , as I say , I was disappointed to not find anything.

As for the exhibition itself - total big ups - I thought it was lovely. Thanks!

Friday 16 January 2009

Big Day Out. C4 live streaming

The annual Auckland Big Day Out is upon us. Neil Young is a headline act. I won't be there - sigh. Actually. I don't think I could handle the memory stack - buffer overflow in 10 minutes, leading to erratic and embarrassing behaviour, especially to gen Y watching. I know, sad, but true.

However, I will be in the closet - watching the live steam from NZ C4. Thanks a bunch for that . The image clicks through to it.

The embed thing?
I have to ask - where is the embed thing guys? It would have been great to see you going that. Surely your super cool marketing guys have heard of viral?

Thursday 15 January 2009

Dr Ruth Harley - muses on NZ film

Courtesy of The Big Idea, I have just caught up with this interview with Ruth Harley, who after ten and a half years as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, has moved across the ditch to lead Screen Australia.

I remember her as a very able and entertaining co-judge of the
Interactive New Zealand ICON awards.. She also did a brief spell with Saatchi, Wellington on their interactive/web accounts, but then returned to the NZ Film Commission, her first love.

In this interview she talks to Clare O'Leary from NZ OnScreen. She makes some compelling points, especially around the challenge for small countries to make big film/foot/ prints. Here's wishing her good luck across the ditch.

Flickr Commons: BBC Interview with Indicommons founder Anna Graf

Indicommons founder Anna Graf was recently interviewed by the BBC’s “Pods and Blogs” podcast. Anna discusses the nature of the Commons project and how it benefits Flickr, as well as how seeks to benefit The Commons.

Listen to just the Indicommons interview portion alone or to the “Girls and Gadgets” episode in its entirety.

Thanks to for auchmill for Twitter link

LIANZA: Sec 92a - New Zealand publications on copyright for librarians

Given the ongoing interest in Sec 92a , I offer below a bunch of resources prepared by the LIANZA, the New Zealand Library and Information Association of New Zealand, Aoteareo. Very useful and timely.
They come from, here,

The Copyright Act 1994 and Amendments: Guidelines for Librarians
5th Edition - Revised December 2008
Produced by the Copyright Task Force of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa (Guy Field, Tony Millett, Tracy Parsons, Gail Pattie)
Edited by Tony Millett
LIANZA Public Document Number 1/2005
ISSN 1174-7897

Implications for Interloan of the Copyright Act 1994 and Amendments
5th edition - Revised December 2008
Edited for the Te Puna Strategic Advisory Committee
(TPSAC), formerly the JSCI, by Tony Millett

Questions and answers on copyright for librarians
By Tony Millett (December 2008)

Copyright guidelines for research students

Copyright guidelines for academic staff and students

Questions and answers on copyright for academic staff and students

Copyright and museums


Update: LIANZA has writter to Stephen Joyce, NZ Minister of Communication and Information Technology, asking him to reconsider Sec 92a and expressing concern at the wide ranging potential of the definition of ISP.

The quote below was posted to the NZ- Libs the main NZ Library listserv.

Letter to Minsiter of Communication and Information Technology.

A letter was sent yesterday on behalf of LIANZA to the Minister for
Communications and Information Technology, expressing LIANZA's concerns

(1) the extremely broad definition of internet service provider (it includes any person or organisation which has a website)

(2) the implication that ISPs will be required to act on accusations of illegal access of copyright materials by users (thereby reversing the legal principle that a person or organisation is deemed innocent until proved guilty)

(3) the provisions of section 92A, requiring ISPs to terminate the account of a repeat infringer (which, if the repeat infringer is a user illegally accessing or downloading in-copyright materials on a library public-access computer, may result in the library, and possibly also the organisation (e.g. council, university, school, etc) to which the
library is attached, to lose all Internet access).

The letter strongly recommends that:

(1) the definition of internet service provider be amended
(2) section 92A be repealed prior to the date of its implementation (28
February 2009).

end quote

See also Sue Cooper comments on her Auckland City Library blog.

Good game!

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Australian Council for the Arts: The writer's guide to making a digital living

The Australia Council for the Arts has published " a writer's guide to making a digital living".

Also included are resources on the new media industry, craft, marketing and distribution, business models.

They also provide case studies from Australian poets, novelists, screenwriters, writers, games writers and producers who are embracing new media.

Finally, it is welcome to see that the guide is published under a non-commercial, remix, share-alike Creative Commons licence - and an invitation to to " embed, download, distribute, remix, share alike and enjoy" 'Tis to be hoped this example will persuade some creatives that CC is an option/opportunity, not a barrier.

Download the guide, here.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Dear Mr Key - Copyright in NZ: Section 92A needs your attention

Last time I posted a press release from someone I got told off by a reader. For two reasons, this time round I make no apology. First up the deadline for the proposed Sec 92a is almost upon us, and unless something is done we are going to be saddled with this piece of nonsense. Second, Internet NZ have nailed the issues in their release. So here we go. Time Mr Key took notice - because believe me, the current situtation ain't going to work!
"InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) calls on the Government to urgently resolve problems with Section 92A of the Copyright Act, to prevent the cutting off of Internet access to innocent people and businesses, and disruption to business.

Executive Director Keith Davidson points to growing concern in the telecommunications and Internet industries at the proposed law. Section 92A is due to come into force on 28 February and will require the termination of Internet accounts on the basis of allegations of copyright infringement, potentially by-passing court involvement.

Davidson also notes little has been done to explain the implications of Section 92A to businesses in respect to their need to have a termination policy. “It is likely that most New Zealand businesses have never heard of Section 92A, yet any business that provides Internet access for its staff will be regarded as an Internet Service Provider and will need to implement a termination policy, prior to Section 92A coming law on 28 February.”

“What does the Government intend to do to educate New Zealand businesses as to these new obligations and how will they do that within the next 6 weeks?” he asks.

InternetNZ is a member of a Telecommunications Carriers’ Forum Working Party, which is working on a termination policy so that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can comply with the Act. InternetNZ is not convinced a reasonable solution can be found in the limited timeframe.

“A termination policy that meets the law will be very difficult, if not impossible to achieve, without compromising the rights of individuals and organisations to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty,” says Davidson.

“The TCF Working Party is working in good faith, but vague wording in the new legislation, and lack of reasonable protection for those expected to enforce it, make the Working Group’s task extremely difficult, and this does not bode well for the broader business community,” he says.

“Section 92A should not be brought into force. If the new Government remains committed to implementing it regardless of the concerns raised by many, it should still defer the commencement of the section by at least another two months to allow for the TCF Working Party to complete its work and for the Government to begin an extensive education programme for business.”

Davidson observes that even amongst right-holders the appropriateness of the new law is being questioned. A concerned group of artists has launched a petition to repeal the law saying they do not condone cutting off the Internet on the basis of allegation, despite the exhortations of the entertainment industries.

“This would appear to be an attempt to prop up a business model that has not been able to adapt to the Internet and where they are seeking legislative solutions to aid their failing business model. Forward-looking artists are realising that the Internet can be their ally and that new business models are evolving that benefit from and take advantage of it.”

Davidson says it is unreasonable to require Internet Service Providers to be unpaid policemen for the entertainment industry.

“ISPs already require their customers to obey the law with respect to Internet usage. They incur real costs with international traffic and are unlikely to receive any significant economic benefit from illegal downloading activities. Let ISPs get on with the business of developing decent high speed Internet access. Don’t force them to divert scarce resources into being unprotected enforcers of poor law.”


Sunday 11 January 2009

Larry Lessig on Colbert

Thanks to Nat Torkington  for pointer  - 

Gaza - ongoing developments from the UK Guardian

The events in Gaza continue to pre-occupy me. I'm not alone. The BBC reports on  the truly bizarre development that the Israel forces are distributing leaflets telling local residents of a potential escalation of their attacks.

Despite ongoing difficulties in covering the conflict, the UK Guardian continues to post detailed updates.  This interactive is one of theirs. 
I made a widget to the Flash  file using WidgetBox. I am not sure if this is okay in terms of copyright. I have written to the Guardian to ask. If they don't like it I will take it down.
The mainstream version is on their web site - here .

Tuesday 6 January 2009

What piracy? Movie biz sees record box office in 2008

From David Chartier, ars technia, " Despite the MPAA's continuing battle against film pirates and even a French group's warning that piracy could kill the industry, domestic box offices are doing better than ever.

Both blockbusters and not-so-blockbusters propelled record-setting revenues to an estimated $9.78 billion in 2008, with ticket price increases and films from Warner Bros, Paramount, and Sony drawing captivated audiences ... " more

TED classic : Kary Mullis - What scientists do

Summer in the Sun
I'm currently in Napier, on the kiwi summer holiday - staying in a cute wee holiday cottage, resting, reading, et al.

I am also playing with lots of sources [ e.g. Coleridge, Humphry Davy] which explore the creative link between science and artists. Makes TED more and more my natural home!

Saturday 3 January 2009

Android netbooks by 2010 ?

My Twitter feed is all a tweet passing on the speculation that Google might have a netbook, or mini laptop, up and running by the end of the year and potentially ready for market for 2010.

Being a combination of messianic enthusiasts and skeptics [in one body] the same hydra source is also quick to point out that Google would be very unlikely to have all the software by then , and hey, of course didn't we forgot , 'we are heading into the economic mini ice age for 2009'

The original story came from Venture Beat, via two freelancers, Mattuas Krzykoski and Daniel Hartmann who have parallel lives running their own outfit Mobile-facts.

As Mobile-facts they took a netbook Asus EEEPC 1000H running on an Intel chip and had the Google's operating system Android complied in four hours, plus a couple more to get sound and network drivers running etc, plus software et al. They then sat back and pondered.

Under the hood
First up they leveraged their discovery that the way the code was notated signaled that in addition to Google's known push to use Android as a mainstream mobile phone, there was also already in place, in the code, the ability to quickly interface with the emerging netbook or mini laptop market.

Chrome as the top slice
Second, like many others in the last few months, they pondered as to where and how last years new browser poster child, Google Chrome browser fits into this play.

Chrome it will be recalled is the slimmed down super fit browser which has its own ambition to bulid a dynamic community of practice/development which will result in an entire ecology of rich internet applications [RIA] running inside the browser.

The fact we don't have an Apple or a Linux version of Chrome hasn't deterred either the authors or their networks, from speculating that this scenario is not just achievable, but probably in play - with job done by the end of the year, and the resulting mass market netbooks out in the shops by 2010.

Hotel California 2.0
They might even be right - but somehow it don't feel cooked yet to me. That said, its a brilliant New Year kite for us all to play with - Google Android - Google Chrome - and all those third party communities and applications that could eventually ' embrace and extend' the Android model. Embrace - extend - is there an echo in the room?
Read the full story here.

Friday 2 January 2009

Happy New Year - welcome 2009

Happy New Year to one and all. As friends, workmates, acquaintances, co -conspirators know  - sorry but I loathe the colleague word-  I am a huge fan of New Year. 

For sure it's my Scottish background - but I think it also comes from an early understanding that it was also a perfect re-balancing trick - that in preparing the New Year resolutions, or whatever, you also got a chance to say which parts of the last year you want/need on the voyage into the next year.If not, then it gets binned! 

It's such a great way of saying - " it was a year ago -  enough already Michael - let it go!"

So - bye-bye 2008. You were a bit of a toughie if the truth be told - hard to please and quick to ask for more effort in the pursuit of what I would normally find effortless. 

But that was then - this is the new gig. I am totally up for it.  Hope it is the same for you!

Thanks - New Year Auckland
When me and my best pal, H, first came to NZ in 1990 we looked in vain for any sign of New Year public celebration around central Auckland. 

On Hogmany this year the Sky Tower erupted into fireworks - boats hooted horns on the Waitemata, Queen/Victoria Street was a heaving mass of happy people, while up on Albert Part the trees were packed with groups waiting for the chime of midnight. 

We might have a way to go to match Sydney - but this is much more like it - thanks Auckland!