04 July 2008

Is sport outside the law?

I've had this argument with various folk (some of whom I'm related to) on and off over the years: Why is it that we are more willing to forgive breaches in the law when they occur in relation to some sporting activity?

Take this guy: He was playing football, he hit someone, and is surprised that he's been found of assault and given a jail sentence. Why? Is the football ground part of a Neverland where one does not have to answer to the law? Does that chalk line along the field boundary mark the end of the State's reach? I don't think so.

Oh, but it's part of the game; football has a rich tradition of violence; it's not his fault.


Regardless of what other players may or may not have done in the past, the rules state that hitting someone (other than several approved methods that wouldn't necessarily constitute assault anyway, like the venerable Hip And Shoulder). So he broke both the rules of the game and the laws of the state.

Oh, but the other team shouldn't have dobbed him in; there was bad blood between him and the opposing club; they would have let any other player get away with it.

Again, bullshit. Regardless of the other club's actions and motivations HE was found guilty because HE assaulted the other player. Why is it we seek to divert personal responsibility for someone's actions by using irrelevant arguments like "no one else got caught"?!? It's just like those fools that keep saying "speed cameras" (or red-light cameras, or parking inspectors, or whatever) "are there to raise revenues for the government." So what? If you don't want to provide them with that revenue, DON'T SPEED!

Argh, I'm too angry. I'm going for a walk.

15 June 2008

OCLC's non-profit status

Tim from Librarything posted this one about OCLC's dubious status as a not-for-profit: Now, OCLC does many wonderful things within the library and information field(s), but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck . . .

08 May 2008

I'm still around

Well, it's been 5 months (and 2 days) since my last confession blog entry. Long enough. Sure, I seem to have gained in certain other areas, but my writing has REALLY suffered, so I'd better start making time to look after this here blog.

Anyway, there's not a great deal to tell at the mo: I'm in the process of downloading CentOS 5.1 so I can build a new server at work (I'd much prefer to use Fedora, but with the demise of the Fedora Legacy project it's been decided that we'd be better off with a more stable distro).

I'm reading (if you can call it reading) Perl for web site management by John Callender (and yes, I know it's ancient (2002), but then all IT-related books are obsolete before they make it onto bookshop shelves! Anyway, I find it a good idea to look through these sort of books to pick up tools and ideas I can use later on). I'm also rereading Koko by Peter Straub and TAZ by Hakim Bey. Just for fun.

I've noticed recently (well, some time ago) that my reading habits have changed since I moved (just on a year and a half ago): When I had to commute for a good 3-or-so hours every day, I was getting through books at a rate of 2 to 3 per week. Now I read a book every 2 or 3 weeks. I don't think this was a good thing.

Anyway, more soon (I hope!).

04 December 2007

libraries as platforms for user-generated content?

Kathryn at Librarians matter poses an interesting question: Should libraries host user-generated content?

My first instinct is to say "of course not; we don't have the resources."

But is that really true? How much would it cost to set up a blogging environment for users, for example? A couple of old PCs? Running Linux, of course, which might incur some costs in terms of staff training. Some staff time to provide maintenance for the machines, generally police the content (if necessary), and provide (minimal) support for users? Bandwidth?

Sure, this might be beyond the means of many smaller libraries, but we're not exactly talking big bucks either. And with many libraries becoming part of large consortia, the costs could be shared with other member libraries.

So no, not impossible at all.

But what benefits could this provide?

Well, the biggest one I can think of is to serve the community: Libraries, and especially public libraries, are at the centre of a web of social and community relationships already. Sure, they're storehouses for books and the like, but that really is the shallowest reason for a library (you may as well pack all the books in boxes and send them to a warehouse if that's all you want out of a library).

Libraries are places where anyone in the community may come in and mingle and socialise (quietly, of course) with other members of the community. They are often places where local history is on display. They represent a physical manifestation of the local culture (microculture?) of a community. They already provide resources for local groups; not just bibliographic materials like books and periodicals and access to databases, but also meeting spaces and other resources. Local history groups and genealogy groups are often based at or run by local libraries.

So why not provide the means for the local communty to express itself through a trusted community web space?

03 December 2007

assorted cataloguing bits #1

just a few quick links:

First: Nicole quotes an AutoCat post from Mac Elrod which in turn points to a blog post by Chris which points to the URL for a lecture by Francis Miksa Brian Campbell (phew! long sentence!). It's titled "The Genius of Library Cataloging and its Possible Future." It's in Real Media format and goes for a good 90 minutes.

I haven't listened to it yet, but folk have been talking about it so I should.

Second: Check out this post by Rory over at Library Juice; I know what I'd be telling that particular student!

Third: A couple of weeks ago I saw this post over at Chris' Cataloging Futures blog, which included the question
How much interest is there from publishers and book vendors in the area of metadata creation?

Now there's this study bit of work done by Karen Coyle; Titles in retail and publisher data. It's not a study, as Karen herself says, and
the numbers should be considered valid only for this particular set of data,
but it's a measured, thoughtful look at how various 'bits' of data are handled by library folk and by retailers/publishers. I agree that we have to do a lot more study on how other people in the bibliographic world use/create/share their metadata, and how we as cataloguers can use/reuse/share that metadata. Unfortunately most evidence we have on the topic is anecdotal. And anectotal evidence depends on individual experiences. As one of my old teachers used to say,
one person's opinion is no damned good.

Which is why we have an armed camp of folk who say that we can only ever trust metadata we produce ourselves because only we understand the metadata structures we use, and another armed camp of folk who say that we can simply import our metadata from elsewhere, and that anyone in the first armed camp is simply
"wishing for the return of the golden age of cataloging,"
whenever and whatever that was.

Not good, people. As much as I hate the word "progress" (whenever I hear people invoke "Progress" it mostly seems to imply a White Male Utopian idea of what the future should hold) that is exactly what we need. It's no good burying our collective heads in the sand and saying "we control our metadata," but it is just as bad to say "you're just burying your heads in the sand" and leave it at that. Study. Investigate. Theorise all you want. But produce results. Don't rely on anecdote and opinion and theory itself. Test your theories. And don't denigrate folk who are simply trying to do the best they can with the metadata that's available now, not five years from now.

Okay. I've calmed down some now.

Four: Chris posts about
the seemingly contentious section 4.2, "Realization of FRBR."
She points to an article that quotes a JSC study on FRBR Group 1 entities (here).

Really, I don't see why this should be a contentious issue at all. I'm a big fan of FRBR, but it is far from perfect (how does it deal with serials? how does it deal with losely-grouped works such as Arthurian Romances, or the Dead Sea Scrolls?). Now, this may well be anal of me, but if we're building a standard that will suit our bibliographic metadata needs for the next (say) 20 years, shouldn't we get right as much as possible right at the outset? Or do we want major reviews every 2 years or so? I'm sure that would keep certain folk employed in the longish term, but how does that help the rest of us?

Measure twice cut once, I always say.

Finally, this one's from Chris again: She's posted about the LC Working Group.... report, with links to the text of the report and how to send in comments, but remember
The deadline for submitting comments is December 15th.

so be quick.

Bigger? no. Better, who knows?

There's been a lot of interest lately in smaller computer systems, tailored to one purpose or another, rather than the make-it-bigger, make-it-faster, generic systems we've come to expect.

I'm thinking in particular about projects like One Laptop Per Child, and systems like the Asus EEE PC (which I'm seriously considering for myself!) or the Aleutia E1.

Maybe we're heading away from the how-much-can-I-do-with-a-computer mentality and towards what-do-I-need-a-computer-for? Needs-based computing?


Just a heads up; it's possible very likely that I'll be posting less and less from now on; I'm not sure whether I'll be able to fit sleep, assorted geeky stuff (like upgrading my home machine to
Fedora Core 8), eating, procrastination, romance, and blogging into my schedule, so apologies in advance.

"The greatest living Englishman?"

For some reason I just love reading Stephen Fry. And recently he's been blogging about techy-type thangs (iPhones, portable music players, etc). Sure, he's one of them (a Mac user; sure OSX is based on FreeBSD, but it's not the same), but he's still okay in my book.

Anyhoo, Fry poses the question "Is Tim Berners-Lee the greatest living Englishman?" Me, I don't know about that, but I think he's pretty damned cool.

28 November 2007

Even a parent's sick of you people.

This one was found on Jennifer's blog: http://fullmoon.typepad.com/chaos/2007/11/even-a-parents.html

And you know, I've seen the same thing in Dreary Olde Melbourne Towne. Carlos not happy.

27 November 2007

Is it christmas?

This one
(http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TheSocialCustomerManifesto/~3/190988047/is-it-christmas.html) found
through the Social Customer Manifesto.

I dig.

What do conservatives spend their time thinking about?

Laugh? I nearly disgraced myself (in public too).

[please note: I'm sending this from my Google Reader account, so I don't really know how it will appear.


Sent to you by hermitcl via Google Reader:


via Feministe by Jill on 11/26/07

Amanda sends on this post, which provides Conservapedia's most-viewed articles list:

1. Main Page‎ [1,897,388]
2. Homosexuality‎ [1,488,013]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis‎ [516,193]
4. Homosexuality and Promiscuity‎ [416,767]
5. Homosexuality and Parasites‎ [387,438]
6. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea‎ [328,045]
7. Homosexuality and Domestic Violence‎ [325,547]
8. Gay Bowel Syndrome‎ [314,076]
9. Homosexuality and Syphilis‎ [262,015]
10. Homosexuality and Mental Health‎ [249,14]

And just when I thought I couldn't laugh any harder, I find this gem in the comments:

I don't want to stand in denial of equal rights and all of that PC stuff but then again I do object to enrolling my five year old in the gay straight alliance. If you are going to promote something as beneficial to all of mankind than you best not attempt to shove it up my ass like it or not. That kind of thing sort of like, well, breeds contempt and reactionary behaviors.

And here I thought shoving things up my ass would breed Gay Bowel Syndrome,* not contempt and reactionary behaviors. If only my mandatory pre-school GSA had set me straight!


Things you can do from here:


26 November 2007

Ouch! More! Ouch! More!...

This one's in the "huh?" category: A vest that causes pain when it detects a WIFI network. The idea, supposedly, is that this would cause a pain-map that would make it easier for the wearer to remember where he or she might get good reception.

I don't really think it'll be too popular (except maybe with the Venus in Furs set).

WorldCat Identities

I don't always like OCLC initiatives, but this one seems like a good idea; a WorldCat 'Identity' page for each author, with lots of useful details and access points to that author's works. I must have spent a good couple of hours just playing with it. Good one!

I hope they integrate it into WorldCat proper soon!

Library Juice Press, LLC : Ethay Ookbay ofway Almspsay andway ethay Ookbay ofway Overbspray

you may remember I posted about a project to translate the Bible into Lolcats: Well, do I hear Pig Latin anyone?

Library Software Manifesto

This one was found through Meredith's blog: She points to a post by Roy Tennant in which Roy proposes a set of points as a possible ILS customer Bill of Rights.

Now, Roy didn't make himself too popular with certain folks in the cataloguing community a few months ago (I won't go into that: If you're interested, check out the AUTOCAT archives), but as a [default] system administrator, this so-called Bill of Rights makes a lot of sense to me. Read. Absorb. Comment.

24 November 2007

Ding, dong....

Well, after what seems to have been the longest election campaign ever, it looks as though the Little Man has lost government, and looks like losing his own seat to Maxine McKew. I'm glad and relieved. Especially relieved. Now we will see just what the Rudd government will be all about.

Automatic propagation of updated authority records?

[originally posted late on 24th November 2007, updated late on 26th November 2007]

An idea. For a while now I've been thinking it would be a good thing to have automatic propagation of updated authority records: We would need to have a central repository, and a system whereby records from that central repository could be spread to library systems everywhere.

Of course, NACO members currently have access to the NAF by FTP, but I'm talking about a system that would distribute individual records as they are changed and as they are requested, rather than the whole (5.5 million record) file.

Ideally, this would be an international (universal?) system, catering for libraries in all countries and languages (that is, not just the NAF). But how could it work?

Originally I though a system much like DNS could be put into place: A hierarchy of servers or repositories placed around the world, with changes moving from individual "host" nodes up the hierarchy to the 'top' level and then spreading to all nodes as requested. But recently I've been thinking more along the lines of package repositories.

Many Linux distributions use package management systems, going to a set of package repositories (often simply a set of mirror servers), in order to ease the installation and maintenance of software packages. Why couldn't a similar system work with authority records? Apt (or Yum or Slapt-get) for authorities!

So how would this work? Well, the authotity management system would keep a database holding information about authority records held by a particular library system. This authority management system would periodically (daily? once a week? once a month?) compare its database to an authorities server (or mirror thereof). If the local system had any new or updated authorities, these could be sent up the line for approval. Any local authorities that had become superceded by more up-to-date versions on the remote server, could be downloaded and imported into the library system; or perhaps a report could be prepared for the cataloguer or system administrator to accept before downloading and importing the new authorities.

Of course, getting something like a global authority file up and running would need a concerted effort by libraries world-wide (probably through IFLA), it would need the cooperation of ILS vendors, and it would have to be funded by someone! So it probably wouldn't happen any time soon.

Obsidian Wings: Surprise! Vagina Dentata!

This one reminds me of of Snow crash by Neal Stephenson.

librarian.net » Why isn’t your headline “why the hell are women still earning less than men?!?!”

This one's from Jessamyn; She comments on a Library Journal article on the value of an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science, I think), and asks why women are still earning less than men.

I also seem to recall some figures from years ago that stated that, though women made up something like 75% of library staff (I think it was an Australian study, so I'll say "In Australia", though it could have well been a study from the States), they earned something like 10% than men in the same or similar positions, and that only 45%(ish) of management positions went to women.


LibraryThing for Libraries

this is one of the posts that should have gone out weeks ago, but procrastination is a harsh taskmistress. Anyway, here it is.


I've been a fan of LibraryThing for a while now: What could be better than cataloguing your own books?

Well, LibraryThing now has a service for libraries. I haven't had a chance to have much of a look at it yet, but it looks as though it's potentially a great service. Anyway, have a look.

On the death penalty

This one's from a few weeks ago: It's am extract from Julian Burnside's Watching Brief: Reflections On Human Rights Law And Justice.

Now, I don't normally have much time for layer-type folk, but I could read Burnside all the time.

19 November 2007


Well, i've just paid up my fees for Linux.conf.au in Dreary Olde Mel8ourne Towne early next year.

I'll tell you ALL about it. Actually, I'm really looking forward to it; especially the mini-confs on the Monday and Tuesday. So if you're thinking of going to either the Fedora mini-conf or the SysAdmin mini-conf, watch out for the idiot in black in the back row.

more on the LC Working Group ...

Updates updates updates:

Karen Coyle posted this

The session webcast is here (I hope to get to it today, but we'll see)

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