Saturday, November 03, 2001

[Library Association Record]

Touchstone of all freedom:
(Can't find a direct link to this - clicking on "online articles" will get you there.)

In his Literature and Freedom the great Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa argued that:

'In all totalitarian and authoritarian societies, if there is dissidence it is through the written word that it manifests and keeps itself alive. In a good number of places, writing is the last bastion of freedom. With its demise, the submission of minds to political power could be total.'

IFLA's Committee on Free Access to Information and Freedom of Expression has been working since 1997 to advance the cause of libraries and intellectual freedom. It takes its warrant from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

'Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers' . . . Assisting the peoples of the world to exercise the right of access to information is a precious responsibility of libraries and librarians.

Media Workers Against the War: "The news the pro-war media ignores"

We are workers in the media opposed to the current war drive and the plans for a US-led military assault on Afghanistan and possibly other countries.

We are utterly opposed to all acts of terror against civilian populations, whether committed by governments or groups of individuals.

We believe that in the current crisis it is more important than ever to protect and promote pluralism in debate, the free flow of information, and the public scrutiny of official pronouncements.

Courtesy of wood s lot.
[BBC News]

War View: 'It's like bombing Sicily to try to beat the Mafia'

The war on Afghanistan is indeed having an effect, not on terrorism - its total irrelevance in this context is exemplified in the mysterious anthrax attack which is currently afflicting America - but in other areas.

The hapless Afghan people are the worst affected. The refugee exodus from the country began even before US bombing began. Food supplies to the population have had to be halted because of the military action . . .

Countering terrorism is a job for civilian security services, intelligence gathering, tackling money-laundering, freezing assets and policing borders. Throwing bombs at it is like trying to defeat the Mafia by attacking Sicily.

This is an unprecedented situation and it requires an unconventional response. The US needs to show imagination and mature statesmanship in handling it. That means an immediate end to the bombing . . .

Thanks to World New York.

The Freeplay Foundation has won the first Tech Museum of Innovation Award for it's friction and solar powered radios.

The award is designed to "recognize people, companies or organizations which develop or use technology in creative ways to solve global challenges and have a high potential of yielding lasting, beneficial impact." Freeplay's radios are being used to assist educational and community development initiatives in Africa.

The most recent issue (Summer 2001) of Information for Social Change is now available in its entirety on the Web.

Thanks to Rory Litwin for the heads up.
[New York Times]

Court Allows DVD Hacker Software:

Using the Internet to publish software code used for decrypting and copying digital movies is protected by the First Amendment as an expression free speech, a California appeals court ruled.

The San Jose-based 6th District Court of Appeal found Thursday that Andrew Bunner's publishing of links to a software program called DeCSS on his Web site represented ``pure speech'' protected under the First Amendment . . .

Thursday, November 01, 2001

[Washington Post]

Bush Clamping Down On Presidential Papers:

The Bush White House has drafted an executive order that would usher in a new era of secrecy for presidential records and allow an incumbent president to withhold a former president's papers even if the former president wanted to make them public.

The five-page draft would also require members of the public seeking particular documents to show "at least a 'demonstrated, specific need' " for them before they would be considered for release . . .

"The executive branch is moving heavily into the nether world of dirty tricks, very likely including directed assassinations overseas and other violations of American norms and the U.N. charter," said Vanderbilt University historian Hugh Graham. "There is going to be so much to hide."

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Open source instant messaging reference software from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale's Morris Library:

The source code files for our online reference (chat) service are available here free of charge. You may modify them for your use and re-distribute them - as long as they remain free to all who ask. They are provided "as-is" ... Morris Library cannot provide technical support for them. You will need someone knowledgeable in HTML, Perl and MySQL to install and modify the files. We would certainly appreciate an email telling us if you use the files and what changes, if any, you've made.

Apparently all the features of commercial VRD software except for co-browsing are supported. Thanks to oss4lib.

[Electronic Frontier Foundation]

Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism:

The right to free speech faces the strongest challenges during times of crisis. Whether or not any of us agree about each particular decision made to prevent public access to sensitive information, it is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's responsibility to chart any such efforts so that we as a society are at least aware of what is no longer available to us.

This page attempts to convey the chilling effect that responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have had on information availability on the Internet as well as some sense of the effect on people trying to provide this information.

Currently, this page tracks the following:

  • Websites Shut Down by US Government
  • Websites Shut Down by Other Governments
  • Websites Shut Down by Internet Service Provider
  • Websites Shut Down or Partially Removed by Website Owner
  • US Government Websites That Shut Down or Removed Information
  • US Government Requests to Remove Information
  • Media Professionals Terminated or Suspended
  • Other Employees Terminated or Suspended
  • Related Incidents
  • Related Links

    Thanks to Rebecca's Pocket.
    1% Free

    The Digger Archives

    The Digger Archives is an ongoing Web project to preserve and present the history of the anarchist . . . street theater group that challenged the emerging Counterculture of the Sixties and whose actions and ideals inspired (and continue to inspire) a generation (of all ages) to create models of Free Association.

    The transcript of an odd but interesting Alice in Wonderland-themed discussion about digital copyright broadcast recently by the ABC . . .

    Knowledge Indignation: Road Rage on the Information Superhighway:

    In ancient times if you wanted power, you burned the libraries and controlled the flow of information. Then God created the Internet. And in theory, everyone could read everything. It didn't last. Now, a couple of decades later, knowledge that was available to the public and scholars for free, is a hot commodity. It's being, wait for it, 'monetised'. That means ways are being found to make money out of it. Worse, access to it is being bought up by half a dozen big online publishers who are locking away information, research, journals, archives and libraries.

    So angry is this making some of the very people who love the technology that they're about to revolt. Scientists, more than 26,000 of them, have given September first, only a few weeks away, as the deadline for an agreement about setting knowledge free from the hijackers.

    Thanks to LISnews.

    [BBC News]

    Digital Photography and the Historical Record:

    News photography sits within the documentary genre. A belief system has built up around it, which says it is telling the truth, that the photograph records an absolute replica of what is there. But we have always been aware that by framing, selection, focus, things can be included or excluded to change the meaning of pictures. With digital image capture, the most pressing issue is that we are losing the past. We lose the sequence of images that captures the events leading up to whatever image is chosen for publication . . . We don't have the build-up, we don't have the aftermath, we don't have incidental shots of who was there.

    There's an interesting discussion about this article underway at Slashdot.
    Copyright as Cultural Policy:

    Each technological advance has forced successive Congresses and federal courts to wrestle with unresolved questions embodied in the Copyright Clause. Is copyright an authors right, entitling the origial creature to capture the full economic benefit when technology creates new markets for creative works? Is copyright essentially a private property interest, allowing subsequent copyright owners to appropriate a significant share of the value embodied in creative works? Or is copyright a users right, making the public at large the primary beneficiary of technological change through increased availability of cultural products and services? To establish a common vocabulary to discus these questions, this issue paper begins by identifying the historic rationales for copyright in the United

    Thanks to Library Juice.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2001

    Danvers Asylum for the Criminally Insane, Danvers, MA

    Two guides to H.P. Lovecraft's New England:

    A Short Tour of Lovecraftian New England and Lovecraftian Sites in New England.

    When you're done, stop by Miskatonic University's Department of Library Studies.

    [Washington Post]

    Dissenters Find Colleges Less Tolerant of Discord Following Attacks:

    "If the climate of worry about the terrorist attacks means there can be no controversy on campus, it is a very unhealthy thing," said Ruth Flower, director of public policy for the American Association of University Professors. "There are some things [happening] that harken back to McCarthyism. But this is different, because it is not the government telling the public what it can and cannot say. This is more a matter of public sentiment dictating behavior."

    [The Nation]

    Information Lockdown:

    Viewers of the old spy spoof Get Smart will remember the Cone of Silence--that giant plastic hair-salon dryer that descended over Maxwell Smart and Control when they held a sensitive conversation. Today, a Cone of Silence has descended over all of Washington: From four-star generals to lowly webmasters, the town is in information lockdown. Never in the nation's history has the flow of information from government to press and public been shut off so comprehensively and quickly as in the weeks following September 11. Much of the shutdown seems to have little to do with preventing future terrorism and everything to do with the Administration's laying down a new across-the-board standard for centralized control of the public's right to know.