Friday, January 09, 2009

Broadband and fair use fan Rick Boucher new 'Internet overlord'?

[Revised] OK, that may be the most exaggerated title for a subcommittee chairmanship, but it could get you to read to the end of this item about a Southwestern Virginia congressman in the news... First, some sources:

Copyright Reformer Lands Key Legislative Post
"Some digital rights advocates cheered the appointment of longtime copyright-reform champion Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.
"Boucher is taking over for Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who will now head the Energy and the Environment subcommittee, the lawmakers announced Thursday."

From Dow Jones Newswires, via CNNMoney: US Rep Boucher Headed for Telecom Subcommittee Chair
"The recording and movie industries may suffer some heartache with Boucher leading the telecom subcommittee. For several years running, Boucher has sponsored bills dictating 'fair use' of copyrighted material, for example, allowing individuals to copy music or movies for their own use without violating copyright laws."

Here's the congressman's press release about his new chairmanship.
In the 111th Congressman Boucher will oversee the digital television transition and work toward reform of the federal universal service fund, promote broadband deployment and work to enable local governments to offer broadband in communities not fully served by commercial carriers.

Background: The online office of Congressman Rick Boucher

Geek cred: Boucher is a co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus and back in 2001 (a "first"?) was interviewed by readers of Slashdot, the "news for nerds: stuff that matters" Internet forum.

Result: Here's Slashdot's discussion of his new chairmanship. I wonder if the congressman has noticed that someone is calling him "our new sane, Slashdot-answering, fair-use-aware internet overlord."
Another "/." comment: "He's honest, smart, knowledgeable. Yet despite those handicaps he's served in Congress for many years."

Finally: Also thanks to a link from Slashdot, a relevant cartoon, although Boucher doesn't have quite the track record of the guy in the hat.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Beyond books and buildings: Always-on libraries

You'll find more questions than answers, but plenty of food for thought, in this First Monday article on Libraries in a world of permanent connectivity by Lorcan Dempsey, vice president for research and chief strategist of OCLC, the Online Computer Library Center.

(First Monday is an online peer-reviewed journal about the Internet and related topics. It requires no library-database subscription to view its full-text and heavily linked essays. Check out other articles in the latest issue.)

Dempsey puts together an extensive review of devices, software and services that have changed our use of communication and information over time and space, complete with an array of Web links to services from Twitter to Boopsie.

"As mobile communications diffuse networking into more of what we do, it reconfigures our relationship with time, space and other people, just as earlier networks did. Affordable air transport shortened the distance between home and college; now they are a phone call or text apart. Selective social networks live alongside face–to–face interaction in new ways. For example, individual students may participate in multiple communicating groups: short–term as in a particular class on a particular day, or longer term as with family or old school friends."

So where does "the library" fit in this new comm/info world? Library services have changed dramatically in the past 10 years, at least at the university libraries I've used in that time, but Dempsey hints that the institutional image may not be keeping up with its services.

"The library needs a brand which is meaningful and engaging, which communicates its value, and which transcends the caricatural impression many have based around the building and print collections," Dempsey says.

Maybe next to the "No one knows you're a dog on the Internet" cartoon, we need one that says, "No one has to say 'shhhh' in a digital library"?

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New York Times Sells Out

Was it the media history students, or the nostalgia fans, or the first-edition collectors? Maybe friends made The New York Times: The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008 the top Christmas gift choice for newspaper reporters who lost their jobs last year.

For whatever reason, in one month, someone has made the book and DVD-ROM collection a best-seller. The New York Times Store ( says its supply sold out -- at $60 a copy. Amazon and Books-a-Million are also sold out, but were offering the package at $37.80.

The Times Store says the collection is only "temporarily out of stock," and will be back sometime this month. (Note: My own copy is back-ordered. If another arrives as a belated Christmas or birthday present, I'll donate it to my university library and ask that it be put on reserve for students in my media history class.)

The Times store site carries one blurb promoting the book. For a subtle comment on the media world of today, notice the source:
“This satisfyingly hefty volume, with three accompanying DVD-ROMs, gives you access to 54,267 pages of pure undiluted history, reminding you of how the experience of reading the newspaper is at once public and intimate, of the enduring, essential, all-important power of the printed word.” – O, The Oprah Magazine

Hmm. The publisher's Web site, Black Dog & Leventhal, differs on the page count -- by one page:
"The 3 DVDs include each of the 54,266 front pages printed by the Times over the past 157 years. Completely searchable and user-friendly, the disks are designed to provide access to the full stories that made front-page news each day since the paper’s founding in 1851. Click on a page—the day you were born, for example—and you're instantly transported to the Times' online archive."

Of course you don't have to buy the book to search the historic back issues of the Times. Every page of every issue of the Times has been part of a searchable online archive for several years -- some of it free, the rest available on a pay-per-view basis to casual visitors, but also available to university students and library patrons through the Proquest Historical Newspapers service.

Audio reports on The Complete Front Pages:

If reading great journalism in PDF files on a computer screen interests you, you also should investigate The Complete New Yorker. The magazine's was founded in 1925, so you won't get the Times' 19th century perspective, but the DVD ROM edition of the New Yorker's weekly editions includes the full text of every page, including ads and cartoons. It's available for $39.99 on DVDs or $179.99 on a palm-size hard drive.

Now if Apple would just introduce a tablet-format Macintosh with internal DVD to read these things...

Footnote: Review -- The Platform: Front Pages by
Peter Osnos, The Century Foundation, 12/30/2008