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LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #105

This week's episode features an interview with the President of the ALA's counterpart in New Zealand, LIANZA. A new situation has arisen in New Zealand where a library may be starting to charge for loans of materials to adults. Barbara Garriock joined us via the magic of Skype to talk about the situation.

An LISNews zeitgeist recap as well as a miscellany of news bits are also presented.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #104

This week's episode brings an analytical essay. What is fueling this renewed drive for paywalls and exclusivity contracts for content? The essay talks about some of the economic pressures that may have been overlooked. Remember, the air staff used to work in print news which means that they have their bylines and photo credits in at least a vertical file out there somewhere.

A miscellany of brief items is also presented.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #103

This week's episode is truncated due to the holiday. A zeitgeist review is presented as well as a news bits miscellany.

Bridging The Divide: An Alternative Proposal

By Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS
Head Writer, Erie Looking Productions

It has been discussed in blog posts, columns, and episodes of LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast that regulation may not be the best way to bridge the digital divide. Some thoughts were obliquely mentioned at times as to how to carry out alternative measures for ameliorating the divide. Now is perhaps the time for some specifics for one facet.

Part of the problem with the whole digital divide view of things is that it insists upon rugged individualism in interacting with data. Quite unlike visiting a swimming pool, there are no lifeguards to jump in and save you when you drown in the sea of information. Economies of scale that can be derived from changing individual experiences into group experiences become of further interest as this drowning in information goes on.

For the consumption of online audiovisual content, it can be expensive putting personal media players let alone appropriate network connections into the use of every individual. Even the experience of having a television in everyone's bedroom in a home is a relatively recent phenomenon. As NCM Fathom has already shown through continuing to operate as a going business, people will gather together for communal experiences in watching programs. There are at least three movie theaters within easy driving distance of the eastern operations of Erie Looking Productions where one can watch the February 4th simulcast of the live production of A Prairie Home Companion.

The question then is how to do this sort of thing at your own libraries. Surprisingly some popular web video productions are available under Creative Commons licensing. Assuming you have your general ASCAP/BMI style licensing in play you may be able to show some of these programs without problem. Check with your library's legal counsel first to make sure that everything is in order, though.

The first matter of concern is selecting what to show. News feature program Rocketboom is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Many releases from the White House are public domain and give you uncut views of what President Obama actually said compared to the editing decisions of a video editor. More than that is out there but it is up to you to choose it.

The second step after you choose your content to show is to select resources in your library that highlights what is in the video content. Why leave it all to video? There is a world beyond and quite likely it is already on your shelves somewhat. This is the time when reference librarians can sharpen their group speaking skills and also introduce people to resources that would not normally be touched upon in one-on-one reference transactions.

After selecting your video, finding your books, and picking somebody to speak you still have two things left to do. First and foremost you have to promote the event. If nobody know it is happening, does it really matter outside of just being wasted labor costs?

Once you promote the event sufficiently, put your best foot forward. Popcorn might even be called for and might be something a friends organization, if it exists, could help with. The biggest thing to remember in putting on the show is that the library is but one beach on the sea of knowledge that thankfully has lifeguards the others most often do not. The key distinctive for libraries in this respect that allow for differentiation is the focus on service to the information seeker that the seeker will not be getting from a computer system like Bing or Google.

Once upon a time news reels were collective experiences where people saw moving pictures from beyond their own town. After a period of varying degrees of rugged individualism, economic pressures may make communal experiences more prevalent again. Until somebody takes the plunge and tries to implement something along these lines, though, who will ever know?

Creative Commons License
Bridging The Divide: An Alternative Proposal by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Quick Net Neutrality Column

Internet: Concept Not A Thing

By Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS
Head Writer, Erie Looking Productions

The District of Columbia circuit is interesting among the federal courts of appeal. This is the main circuit in which the decisions and orders of federal regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Consumer Product Safety Commission can be appealed. As might be imagined, the Federal Communications Commission does wind up there at times too.

Wired recently reported that a panel of the circuit has questioned whether or not the FCC actually has the authority to enforce net neutrality. Marguerite Reardon of CNET reported that the Chief Judge of that circuit does not want any regulatory agency acting on its own without proper statutory authority. Tony Bradley of PC World stated that Comcast claimed there was no federal law for the Commission to interpret let alone apply or enforce in the case and that the author thought Comcast had a valid point. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski issued a statement reaffirming his belief that the Commission has the statutory authority to do what it is trying to do.

The Commission presently has a proceeding underway to codify net neutrality within the Commission's rules. If the appeals court rules against the FCC, all current efforts to codify net neutrality fail. Stretching interpretation and implication to the limits to reach desired policy outcomes may backfire when it comes to the Commission's goal of preserving an open Internet.

In the midst of all this action from above it is almost totally discounted that action can also come from below. Breaking free of the notion of the Internet being an agglomerated whole is the first step. The Internet is merely a collection of autonomous systems that interact with each other. That terminology may sound rooted in the Internet's early days in the late 1970's but age does not mean it is not still true.

The time seems to have come to start changing the Internet's topology from below. If communications companies have problems with what traffic is being carried, alternative methods of data transport should be explored. While the companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable have complications with file downloading and a rich media world, older technology remains quite mature to handle less intense datagrams.

Bulletin Board Systems, UUCP (Unix-to-Unix Copy), Freenets, FidoNet, and the rest remain mature technology. Even though they are old, they do work. Before there was Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail, Internet e-mail was possible through a Freenet or even through a FidoNet-based gateway. The author's very first e-mail address from days gone by seemed a mile long and was from a Bulletin Board System that participated in FidoNet and passed traffic over the FidoNet to Internet gateway.

Removing the more "mundane" traffic from what is called the Internet today would help deflate the calls for much of these fairly aggressive network management practices. Letting the Internet become a place where only intense video game traffic and NetFlix streaming video happens would take the wind out of the sails of those broadband providers waiting to aggressively manage their networks. That such would also create an incentive to compete with their own video-on-demand offerings against NetFlix would also potentially help drive prices down. Those companies know how to provide content on-demand and would have a more level playing field upon which they could compete.

To remove the "mundane" traffic would require shifting towards different access topologies. Shifting things back to dial-up modems would mean a change for some while for others nothing would change. After all, there are still dial-up users of the Internet out there connecting to Earthlink and AOL through dial-up modems. For businesses clearing credit card transactions dial-up modems are still out there in use as backup systems in the event of the main connectivity tool's failure. There is one text published by O'Reilly detailing how community wireless networks using WiFi backbones could be created. The current access paradigm is neither inevitable nor desirable in today's world.

The easiest thing to do in this case is to throw hands in the air and claim that net neutrality is a lost cause. Libraries have long been centers of public access computing. Some even hosted Freenets back in the day. Since the imposition from above of net neutrality seems assuredly in danger of not happening it seems subversion from below is now the order of the day.

Older yet more mature tools remain viable ways to carry out the subversion. The question now, though, is whether or not there is will to carry such through. Using UUCP over an Iridium satellite telephone is just a somewhat costlier way of carrying the theme above. Worrying about the means now is far less important than simply starting to take action.

Where do you stand?

Creative Commons License
Internet: Concept Not A Thing by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #101

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #100

Somehow LISTen made it to its 100th episode. This week's episode recaps the zeitgeist while putting forward some radical ideas to improve the life of the profession in 2010. Recommendations of other podcasts to consume alongside LISTen are also given.

It must be noted that the person previously referred to as the head of business and finance with respect to the podcast's production has discontinued their association in regards to that role.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #98

This week's podcast looks forward into the past with a replay of archival audio of President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressing the US Congress after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The dateline for this episode is the 78th anniversary of the event.

Also presented in the podcast was a brief discussion of the late-breaking story of Comcast's attempt to acquire a controlling interest in NBC Universal. There was originally going to be discussion of remarks by Rupert Murdoch concerning why news online should never have been free in the first place. The Comcast-NBC matter took precedence.

Related links:
FDR's speech at Archive.org
This installment of Profile America
MSNBC reporting on the Comcast-NBC matter
Greg Sandoval at CNET discussing the Comcast-NBC matter
One Reuters story on the Comcast-NBC matter
Another Reuters story in the matter
Discussion at the Erie Looking Productions blog of the recent coverage of remarks by Rupert Murdoch
MSNBC relaying an AP report on Google's new attempt to restrict how users can reach news sites
Linux Outlaws, a show produced by Sixgun Productions

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #97

This week's episode recognizes that a holiday weekend just passed in the United States so a miscellany of notable news items is presented.

LISTen: An LISNews.org Podcast -- Episode #92

This week's episode talks about two proceedings before the Federal Communications Commission that librarians have an interest in. Other notable headlines are also discussed.

Related links:

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