David Lee King

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Updated: 1 hour 51 min ago

Internet Librarian 2017, Day 2

Thu, 2017-10-26 12:45

Here are some highlights from Day 2 at Internet Librarian 2017.

Amy Affelt (@aainfopro on Twitter) spoke about Internet Search Tips & Tricks

Her tips mainly revolved around making your activity on the web a bit more private. Some of her tips included:

  • Using https://panopticlick.eff.org/ from the Electronic Frontier Foundation to see how well your web browser and add-ons protect you against online tracking techniques.
  • Use web browsers in their private browsing mode (i.e., Chrome’s Incognito mode).
  • Use Duck Duck Go instead of Google search, but start the search with a ! at the beginning of the search. That makes Duck Duck GO search Google, but using Duck Duck Go’s features.
  • Use a VPN
  • Use ad blockers and traffic blockers
  • Potential border crossing smartphone handovers, asking to look at your social media accounts. Take a burner phone instead.

Bobbi Newman was up next. Some highlights from her talk included:

She defined what privacy in an online world means:

  • Information collection – all that data
  • Processing of that information and data
  • Dissemination of that data, i.e, in order to use it or sell it
  • All of this is an invasion of privacy

Bobbi mentioned that if you are tech-savvy or more well-to-do, you have a better chance at privacy. [edit by DLK – thanks Jill for pointing that out!] Minorities and the poor are subjected to more unwarranted surveillance.

The last session I attended was Frank Cervone explaining Blockchain.

It was very helpful! Some highlights:

  • Blockchain is a network where transactions can be validated in a secure environment
  • And they are validated forever
  • It uses peer-to-peer technology (Tor networks and BitTorrent are other peer-to-peer systems) – supposedly there’s no single point of failure this way.
  • Bitcoin was originally designed around cryptocurrency (i.e., BitCoin)
  • It helps to embed trust rules inside each transaction, instead of doing that outside the transaction
  • There are some companies/projects starting to build blockchain-enabled apps. Etherium and OpenChain are two examples.
  • Problems with Blockchain – the chain grows as more transactions are added, and can eventually become unsustainable. It can also take more networking power to process, especially when those chains get longer.
Categories: Library News

Internet Librarian 2017: Day 1

Tue, 2017-10-24 13:49

I love attending and talking at Internet Librarian – I always learn new stuff and meet new people (new to me, anyway!). Good times.

Here are some highlights from a couple of talks from day 1.

Keynote presentation – we heard from a digital artist named Eric Chan. He shared his story with us – what he does and how he makes connections that allow him to do digital art in fun ways (like designing art on a coat, doing a mural, working on a branding project, etc.).

He said a few things that really resonated with me.

One of the themes of his talk was to not be afraid to make connections. that’s how he gets to do a lot of the cool and interesting things he does – he meets people, talks to them, shares what he does, and asks to collaborate with them.

I think that sometimes as librarians, we feel we don’t have permission to ask, or tend to hold back and not make those useful face to face connections. Eric is successful because he doesn’t hold back. Let’s be a bit braver, make those connections, and see what happens.

Eric also mentioned that digital amplifies things. Specifically, digital amplifies scalability, connections, creativity, and collaboration. Something all libraries should consider when working on new digital-based projects.

I also attended Roy Tennant‘s talk about Linked Data. Still trying to wrap my head around this concept, and Roy’s talk helped a lot. He explained why we need Linked Data (so our catalog records can be linked out to the wider world and have context outside of an ILS). He also said “if you don’t have links, you don’t have linked data.” Simple enough, and I never thought about it exactly that way.

He also said that card catalog records were made for description, not discovery. That made a lot of sense to me, and helps explain a lot about what’s needed going forward.

Basically, Linked Data is just getting started. Roy said most of us just need to wait for the vendors to figure it out, and that it’s a major transition that will take years to navigate. Should be interesting!

SO there you go – Day 1 of Internet Librarian 2017. Fun times!


Categories: Library News

NDP at Three

Thu, 2017-10-19 11:23

On Tuesday, I participated in the IMLS NDP (National Digital Platform) at Three meeting. It was a good day of learning more about NDP and IMLS, and all the amazing projects that IMLS funds.

For starters:

So what happened? The day was divided into 5 panel discussions – smart people sharing what’s happening in these five areas. The panels included:

  1. Building digital cultural heritage capacities
  2. Expanding digital cultural heritage capacities
  3. Opening scholarly communications
  4. Museums and the NDP
  5. Going forward – what’s next

During each panel, 3-5 panelists who are doing projects (or know stuff) related to those areas shared their thoughts, then the floor was opened up to questions. The first four panels largely discussed what is in the NDP at Three report linked above, plus added some personal insights. 

The last panel focused on what needs to happen next. Panelists focused on ideas like figuring out how to handle what they called “modern manuscript collections” (i.e., collecting and preserving Snapchat conversations, Slack conversations, email archives, etc); helping people navigate personal digital archiving; how to expand the concept of library as platform; and the age old idea of helping our communities see value in libraries.

And a bunch of other ideas.

What were my take aways from the day?

I didn’t know that IMLS NDP funded all this stuff! I’m certainly familiar with many of these projects (or these types of projects). For example, I know libraries working on issues related to data privacy and security, mini hotspots and better broadband access, TV whitespace use, gigabit networks for libraries, training and convening to help create better ideas, big data, open access, repositories, and digitization projects of all types.

But I didn’t really connect IMLS NDP to all of these projects. But it totally is! Good to know.

Also – there are a LOT of institutions doing a lot of great things – but sorta on their own. Yes, they might have a project partner or two. But some of these projects could be made better, and have better sustainability, if they connected more directly with other organizations doing similar work, and maybe even sharing what they do with each other to build something better and bigger than they could on their own.

That’s not really happening – it’s all silos. Which one the one hand makes a lot of sense. After all, theses are all individual institutions creating grants for their individual projects.

On the other hand, this IMLS program is called National Digital Platform – this seems to hint at … well … a National Digital Platform. So … shouldn’t there be more than individual projects taking place? Some of their funding certainly addresses that – DPLA is a recipient, for example. But certainly not all. Not really a criticism – just an observation after the fact.

Otherwise, I learned a TON about what IMLS does for libraries and museums in the digital realm – pretty amazing stuff!

Image from IMLS

Categories: Library News

Mobile Apps Make Life Easier

Tue, 2017-09-26 09:30

I’ve apparently had my passport for 10 years!

I know this because I have an international trip coming up in February, and my passport was going to expire a week or so before that trip. Go figure.

Time to renew!

Ten years ago, getting a passport photo was a bit of a hassle. I didn’t want to take the photo myself – there are lots of nit-picky rules about getting those photos taken.

So I went to a Kinko’s to get it done, because they offered “passport photo services.”

Remember Kinko’s? They are now FedEx Office stores.

Anyway – my eyes are really light sensitive (I usually wear sunglasses outside), and the flash on the weird camera Kinko’s used to take passport photos was … well, it was really bright.

And I blinked a lot.

So what normally would have been a simple photo (i.e., “look here, click … and you’re done”) took a little longer than normal. Those few minutes were filled with the Kinko’s staff person saying things like “no, you blinked again” and “Can you keep your eyes open for the photo?” etc.

I’m sure it probably only took like 5 minutes, but I was embarrassed and it seemed like it took forever.

“Flash” forward 10 years, and I need another passport photo! This time, instead of having a business take the photo for me, I tried something different – I just used an app on my iPhone.

I did a bit of research, and found two passport-photo-taking apps that were recommended by travel bloggers:

I took photos with both apps – not sure which app I ended up using. But they both worked fine. Both apps have semi-transparent outlines that show where your head and shoulders should be in the photo, etc.

The hardest part? Finding a plain, neutral-colored wall in my house. My wife helped – she took the photos. Then I printed those out at a local Walgreens, mailed in my renewal forms … and now I have a new passport. Simple stuff!

In this case, mobile apps made my life a little easier. I’ll have to add Passport Photos to my list of useful things my smartphone has replaced.

Just a post reflecting our changing technology world!

Categories: Library News

Instagram: Effective Use for Libraries – a webinar

Thu, 2017-09-14 09:30

Yesterday, I gave a webinar on using Instagram for libraries. Here are my slides. Hopefully you can get an idea of what I said by looking through them.


Categories: Library News

Ugly Beliefs, Free Speech, and Libraries

Thu, 2017-08-31 09:30

Ok – for starters, just to be clear: bigotry and racism is always ugly, and is always repugnant and wrong. Violent acts because of those beliefs? Horrible, and illegal.

I’ll also say this – pretty much every library has ugly, repugnant, and wrong content in our library collections. For example, my library has Mein Kampf (it’s currently checked out).

Why bring this up? Because in light of recent events in Charlottesville and elsewhere, I’ve seen some of my library friends and colleagues talking about libraries NOT being neutral spaces.

Some of that’s been in conversations on Facebook. I get that those types of conversations are more personal, off-the-cuff, random thoughts rather than official organizational policy from a library. Gotta blow off steam somewhere, right?

But I’ve also seen more formal commentary that seems to also be advocating a “libraries are not neutral” viewpoint. Here’s one such example from R. David Lankes. Really smart dude, and I usually agree with him.

Here are two things he said in a recent blog post that I don’t completely agree with:

  • “In Charlottesville, there is absolutely a need to acknowledge that racists are part of the community, but librarians should not be giving them an equal voice or justifying their beliefs.”
  • “Shouldn’t libraries be place for all voices in the community? No. Libraries are not neutral microphones placed in a town square open to all comers.”

You should read the whole post, and the comments too. There’s a really good discussion there between David and Jamie LaRue (Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association).

I also just read Joseph Janes’ column in American Libraries magazine (Sept/Oct 2017, pg. 24). I found much more to agree with in his column. Joseph said this: “We fight in public for the rights of our patrons to read and think freely without fear of exposure, surveillance, or censure, as well as for open and equal access to a range of materials. We stand for the principle that government and public information shouldn’t depend on the whims of the moment.” The whole article’s good – find a copy and give it a read.

This isn’t easy to say because of current events, but I’m saying it anyway: As libraries and librarians, we are defenders of the First Amendment and of free speech. Even if we don’t always agree with that free speech.

This isn’t some weird idea of mine. It’s in our Library Bill of Rights. Some highlights:

  • Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  • Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

I certainly agree with David about librarians not “justifying their beliefs.” That’s simply not our job. But I don’t necessarily agree when David says “librarians should not be giving them an equal voice” or the library not being a place for all voices in the community. That seems to be pretty much the opposite of our Library Bill of Rights.

I support the idea of libraries serving the whole community, and providing a neutral and trusted community space where ideas can be heard, discussed, and debated. Free speech is free speech, even if we don’t agree with that speech. That concept is pretty foundational to libraries.

I’m certainly not the only one working through these issues! Here’s what some other organizations have been saying:

  • From the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.”
  • From the ACLU: “We fundamentally believe that our democracy will be better and stronger for engaging and hearing divergent views. Racism and bigotry will not be eradicated if we merely force them underground. Equality and justice will only be achieved if society looks such bigotry squarely in the eyes and renounces it. Not all speech is morally equivalent, but the airing of hateful speech allows people of good will to confront the implications of such speech and reject bigotry, discrimination and hate. This contestation of values can only happen if the exchange of ideas is out in the open.”
  • From the TorProject: “We are disgusted, angered, and appalled by everything these racists stand for and do. We feel this way any time the Tor network and software are used for vile purposes. But we can’t build free and open source tools that protect journalists, human rights activists, and ordinary people around the world if we also control who uses those tools. Tor is designed to defend human rights and privacy by preventing anyone from censoring things, even us.” They were talking about why they aren’t moving to block websites they don’t agree with (actually, why their software is designed to not let them do that).

Libraries need to support the whole community – not just the parts we like and agree with. We need to provide safe, neutral and open community spaces where ideas are shared, debated, etc. We need to actively support the First Amendment and the Library Bill of Rights, even when we don’t agree with certain ideas – in fact, even when we find some of those viewpoints appalling and ugly.

It’s one way we can help change our communities for good. I’m a strong believer in people, and in the idea that if really wrong ideas are voiced, the community will take notice, will speak up, and will help better the community. I’m seeing that in Topeka, and I think our library has been part of that change.

Thoughts? Please share… (and please keep it civil).

Image by John Nakamura Remy


Categories: Library News