Today in the #Code4Lib channel:

[1:36pm] jrochkind_lunch: woohoo! NYU is moving forward with Umlaut.
[1:40pm] edsu: nyu++
[1:41pm] mjgiarlo: jrochkind++
[1:42pm] rsinger: awesome
[1:43pm] rsinger: jrochkind++
[1:43pm] jtgorman: jrochkind++
[1:43pm] charper joined the chat room.
[1:43pm] rsinger: more_suckers++
[1:43pm] rsinger: oops
[1:43pm] rsinger: i mean…
[1:43pm] rsinger: nyu++
[1:43pm] charper left the chat room. (Client Quit)

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Dan has written (twice now) about the ‘ILS Bill of Rights’ and its complete lack of perspective.

He’s right in his equation (or lack thereof) of the OPAC to “Free Speech” and “lack of Government Oppression regarding which religion I choose”; however, I disagree with him about the ability to be able to freely change vendors at will when the vendor doesn’t meet our needs (which means we’d be changing vendors, like, weekly).

That being said… why bother with the ILS?

Art Rhyno and I have been trying for more than a year to extract our bib database into a Lucene index to work with as we please. It took until NCSU released their Endeca index for us to be taken even remotely seriously. Still, the question remains… why bother with the ILS? If we can change the public interface, are the staff interfaces so lacking? Do we need to AJAX-ify the cataloging client or the circulation interface?

Dan’s right, we don’t need an ILS “Bill of Rights”, but we do need to fix our problems. And we don’t have to change vendors to do so — we just need a bit of vision.

One of the cool things about having our TiVo hooked up our (really
crappy) broadband connection (no thanks to you, Comcast) is the seemingly random shit that just comes to us.

Yesterday I was, on a whim, flipping through the TiVo menus and I saw that I could subscribe to Rocketboom on it. On an average yesterday, I probably would have ignored this feature, since I would have had no idea what Rocketboom was. However, since Rocketboom was featured on either Morning Edition or Marketplace (since our crappy internet connection is out again, I can’t look it up to know) this week, I actually knew what it was and was interested in it.

So tonight I got to watch my first Rocketboom. It featured Mark Hosler of Negativland and he mostly talked about copyright law (which makes sense coming from him). Negativland was heavily involved in the creation of the Creative Commons license. What I found interesting was that Mark Hosler was actually fairly critical of the CC license (for reasons I agree with).

Since I started releasing things that other people might use, I have struggled with what license to release my work under. In the end, I have released most of my code under the MIT license (in my laziness, I’ve never actually bothered to learn the details of what this means — a coworker once told me it was the most relaxed of the OSI approved and I was happy to accept that explanation); I basically wanted an “I honestly don’t care what you do with this, just use it” license. I didn’t care how the code was reused. I didn’t even particularly care if I was attributed for it.

Mark Hosler talked about the a la carte menu that CC gives the user for creating their own license terms (‘Cannot be used for profit’, ‘Cannot be changed’, etc.) and how this, ultimately, is ridiculous. Once released in the wild, the creator cannot expect to retain any control of his or her creation. It can be reconstituted, reused, recycled and remixed in ways that the creator never intended or expected and, if the original has any value, should be.

What I liked about his viewpoint is that he noted a difference between the intellectual property and the artifact (at least, this is what I got from it). Negativland was compensated for making an original work that satisfied both their label and their audience. What becomes of the work (shy of outright plagiarism — that is to say, passing off the original work as one’s own) is none of Negativland’s business since they had an arrangement to be compensated to create the original work in the first place. His prevailing argument (again, in my opinion) is that intellectual property should be more defined by the inspiration, not the artifact.

Unfortunately, I still don’t know what license to release my work under.

Code4lib 2006 day 1 went exceedingly well.  Much better than I had expected (only because I am one of the “organizers”), in fact.

I was nervous about starting off with a “virtual keynote” (PINES, literally, just phoned in their presentation), especially since I was the goob that had to advance their PPT when they made a “beeping” noise.  It went great, though!

The only “problem” (which actually has a hidden “advantage”) is that we’re cramming so much stuff in such a short amount of time, the scheduling and timekeeping gets to be a bit draconian.  On the flipside, the energy and momentum is so high, and so much is being said, that it certainly makes up for having to occasionally rush people/cut them off completely.

The unAPI breakout session was remarkably productive.  I think we’re actually going to have a useful spec soon!

My lightning talk didn’t go so well, but I’m kicking around the idea of another one tomorrow, so maybe that will balance things.

I’m really happy with where this is going.  It’s great to meet these like minds face to face and I think a lot of ideas (and energy) are brewing.

Speaking of brewing — time to go drink some local beer.


Fairly recently on the Web4Lib mailing list, a thread started by Jim Campbell (of UVA) and David Walker (of Cal State San Marcos) (and others) prompted me to ask what the role of OPAC is in the modern library.

Outside of “Inventory Control System”, I don’t feel like I got a very good or meaningful response.

I have been thinking a lot about something that Karen Schneider had written a while ago about the need for search interfaces to be search/browse. By this, I mean you begin your session by typing some words in a box and your interface adapts itself contextually to the results and what you should be looking at, so your “browse” options would be logical based on the context of your results.

If your terms were to bring back government documents, say, you would also have the ability to browse our GovDocs research guide or email our GovDocs librarian. If your search brought back a database (for example, ABI/Inform), then the page should also link to the subject guide that includes ABI/Inform (in this case, the Business guide).

This, of course, requires that the “library website” be in a format that makes it potentially servable in this manner. For our site, I have proposed that our content be broken down into small sections (rather than pages) that can be classified and served as necessary.

If you are an undergrad and one of your results happens to be one of your reserves items (which I’ll get to in a minute), there’s not much need to see the faculty policies for placing something on reserve. There is a use, however, in seeing the circulation policies regarding said reserve as appropriate to an undergrad.

If your search results in a journal that we get through an aggregator that sucks (meaning Lexis-Nexis or Factiva or their ilk), present tutorials on getting to the journal through that aggregator (or just a tutorial, in general).

Searches should be weighted contextually, as well. Objects that appear in your reserves lists or subject disciplines should have more relevance than other things. Circulation/clickthroughs should boost relevance (although I realize that non-circulating items present a problem here).

The important thing I want to see is the relationship between objects and content. My search brings back a journal. Besides the obvious information I want to know about thing (esp. things not included, like, what is it about?), tell me what databases index this thing; what other journals are similar; what is the current ToC (if available via RSS); are there preprints from this journal in our institutional repository/ETDs; etc. If there is any library created content related to a particular object, I want that, too.

I want to break down the silos between our resources and content and different collections.

And, yes, I think articles and other database content should be included in that as well (if you have the credentials to view them – if not, an indication of what you’d see if you were logged in).

If we don’t include the entirety of our collections, I am not entirely sure what the purpose of the catalog is.

I notice a lot of the ‘blogs I read regularly have recently had a similar posting to this one:

Wow, it’s been so long since I last posted. Well, it’s time to catch up.

I suspect for many, summer is the busy time of year. This is when you have to pack in all of the important projects before fall semester begins. It’s also conference season and, hopefully, you might be able to sneak in a vacation (oh well, two out of three for me).

Anyway, here’s to getting this blog beast out of hibernation.