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Tag Archives: democracy

Library 2.0 Inspiration

I love this TED talk and I came across it via the Library as incubator project. This fits my philosophy perfectly!

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Banned Book Week ~ 24th September to 1st October

BBW poster shared by American Library Association (ALA)

Courtesy of ALA TechSource I have been alerted to Banned Books Week. Following is the list of books challenged and/or banned in 2009/2010. You will notice that amongst the list is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Diary of Anne Frank and closer to home, The Twilight Series was “Banned in Australia (2009) for primary school students because the series is too

racy.”

To obtain lists of earlier years you can visit the ALA free downloads page where you find PDF lists from the years 2004-2005 onwards. It provides a snapshot of a trend in censorship. Mapping Censorship provides a visual geographical representation in the USA.

Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read, starting in 1982 and occurring as an annual event since. For more information visit the Banned Books Week site and the ALA Banned Books Week: celebrating the freedom to read page. You may even want to upload a reading of a passage from a banned or challenged book to the Banned Books Week youtube channel.

I’m off to reread Brave New World by Aldous Huxley!

 

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Biometrics and Privacy

This morning, while doing errands, I heard the following story on the radio titled Local Councils plan to use vein scanners to clock staff hours. I paid particular attention as the biometric scanners are being installed by a local council in Melbourne and it will be in libraries. As I am studying librarianship and am from Melbourne, it became personal.

The invasion of privacy under the increasingly ubiquitous surveillance landscape is certainly something I am concerned with.  What about the storage of this biometric data of individuals? Digital files are easily hacked, accessed or corrupted and the storing of individual data in this way for a purpose of tracking employee time at work is questionable.

Privacy is a longheld concern. Any attempt at invading individual privacy is something that all should stand up against. What are the rights of the individual in this circumstance? When you are faced with the imbalance in power relations of employer/employee, then how many can courageously speak up when faced with such a situation? When considering minors, then how many will accept that this is the way it is? I am only touching on the surface here. Dig deeper and the scenario is less than palatable for anyone.

Yes, I am concerned and there is reason to be!

 

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Information is unstoppable!

‘The end of the library’ is a catchcry that many studying information studies have had to endure in one form or another over the past five to ten years or so, maybe even longer. Some of the following headlines and related stories point to the continuance of this threat and are an indication that the threat to information provision and libraries is far from over. Clearly, as the articles indicate, this is not specific to Australia but something that is happening in other countries including the United States and the UK.

Libraries fear funding cuts

Libraries fire up over funding cuts

Maroondah Library services cut as funding goes

Councils united in fight against library funding cuts

Funding cuts closing book on all 62 branches in Queens Library

Cuts threaten survival of Michigan Libraries

Michigan Library Community suffers ‘a perfect storm of funding cuts’

Library closure threats spark campaigns across England

In times of economic downturn, it appears that information provision is an easy target. How easy is it for an individual to be complacent within the sphere of the web and accept without question that the internet will provide the information sources without bias and in a timely manner. The corporate imperatives and controls are easily overlooked (I only need to draw your attention to Google as a corporate entity and its expanding control of the cybersphere as an example). Our trust in the altruism of information provision is not wavered, not even for a moment when we are confronted with concepts of privacy invasion, and if it is, we are somewhat apathetic or more realistically paralysed in our attempts to protest. What can we do? Can we refuse to participate? Is this possible? And if it is, then what class in society do we then occupy as a citizen in the information Age that we now reside in?

Choosing to take on the study of Master of Information Studies has been something that I absolutely love and relish. My learning has been immense and it appears this journey is occurring at the right time in consideration of my passions and skills. Right now, my love of all things audiovisual, coupled with my desire and urgency to document all things audiovisual so that we can share this heritage from the past,  now and in the future has been ignited further with my studies. My passion for democratic access to information has been reinforced and my belief in freedom of expression has been reinforced with my belief in participatory culture that is evident in the world of Web 2.o. Beyond this, I believe in a free web, free of controls and surveillance and one that can encapsulate human rights as elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These ideals, I have discovered are encapsulated in the ideals of Tim Berner’s Lee and his vision of the World Wide Web. See the following clips for some inspiration.

What is my point in this post, I ask myself (beyond passion!)… I suppose what I am trying to emphasise is that the world of information is not dying. It is part of our DNA (in fact our DNA is an example of information, Gleick (2011.) as it encodes and shapes who we as individuals and as a society are) We are information and the way we relate is information. No matter how we/they try to control, block or divert the information and the sources of information provision, information will find a way to flood and flow. It is not something we can control, divert or suppress…. Even with funding cuts!

Gleick, J, (May, 17 2011, 11am), Mornings with Margaret Throsby, ABC Classic fm accessed from http://www.abc.net.au/classic/throsby/stories/s3218973.htm

 

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Filter bubbles and how to sidetrack them…sort of…

Bubble

Bubble cc licensed and shared by basquiat (Jens Mayer)

I keep coming back to the concept of the ‘filter bubble’ or Web 3.0/semantic web. There is no doubt that finding ways to access data and information smarter is a goal of most. We all love efficiency. Furthermore, having an ability to sort the minefield of thought/information and knowledge in cyberspace, in an effort to access the information you need as quickly as possible, is something to strive for. The following youtube clip stresses aspects about the positive elements of the semantic web.

However, as Eli Pariser’s Ted talk ‘beware of filter bubbles’  found in my post More on filter bubbles, highlights, the algorithms that have been developed or are being developed are focused too closely on matching information to what has been mapped based on the history of prior search and click activity. This is clearly where the web starts to narrow over time and you end up being less exposed to wider viewpoints, or diversity of information. This is exactly what I do not want. It clearly takes power and choice away from the individual in making broader and better informed decisions about information. I tend to agree with Pariser in urging the developers, including Google, to extend the algorithms used to account for a diversity of information. Representing many and contrasting viewpoints in an effort to counter this narrowing effect of the individual ‘filter bubble’ is hardly something one can argue against.

I am always interested in alternatives in search strategies as a way to sidestep the ‘filter bubble’. After all, I still believe humans are more powerful than the machine. The following youtube clip is widely popular with almost 1.5 million hits by the time I have embedded it here. It goes part way to indicating the strength of tagging as a process of sorting the data on the net.

In my search effort to discover how to sidestep the bubble, I have been traipsing the cybersphere and trying to find out as much as possible. I found a post on heyjude, (as I like to follow Judy) titled  Google+ plus the deeper web quite beneficial. This led me to start investigating further as it prompted the formation of a question in my mind about alternatives in search on the net. I discovered the search engine Duck Duck Go and found their Privacy policy beneficial as they don’t track your clicks. A further search resulted in the following List of Search Engines providing a comprehensive list of search engines and a brief description of each. I had a click on a few, and I do concede it could feel a bit like overload but,  it is worth a try. Interestingly, Duck Duck Go is missing from this list which begs the question what other search engine is missing?

The following wikipedia article, Web Search Engine provides another comprehensive list including information on whether the search engine is currently active. For people using Firefox as their web browser, you can go to the search addons site here and peruse over 2000 search engines that can be added to your search tool facility. When you need to search the added search engines are accessed via a pop down menu where you type in the search in the top right hand of the browser.

I have found it more difficult to add extra search engines to Chrome and would love to find out how to do this best.

 

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The internet in Society ~ Empowering or Censoring Citizens?

 

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The invention of the WWW

 

 

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