End of Semester and thoughts on access

One issue with many collections whether they are digital or not is allowing people to access them. Digital collections are convenient in some ways because they are always open, can be updated realtively quickly, and for the most part if you have internet access are free to use. The problem is that many people do not have internet access for various reasons and cannot access these collections which anyone who’s had to write any papers or read about the “digital divide” will know about. 

The FCC is supposed to be considering auctioning off a bunch of unused broadband air space to the cell phone companies with the provision that 25% of it be used for free access. This would be nice for rural areas that can’t get internet access because they are to far away from the main set ups, or any other areas where it is difficult for people to get internet for whatever reason. There is, however a caveat on this internet access. There will be filters put on it to keep out “adult content”. Having worked in places with filters on the internet it can be frustrating to have a legitimate search for information blocked because the filters block out sites with specific words and phrases, but as I know from some of the patrons computer use at my current job it can be fairly easy to get around these filters if you want to find actual adult content sites.  Anyways, it’s something to read up on, and here are a few places to start: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28054919http://news.zdnet.com/2424-1035_22-207721.htmlhttp://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9974596-7.html,http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080828-fcc-to-see-if-porn-free-network-penetrates-t-mobile-holdings.html

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Kitty Pidgin

A while ago someone commented on something I posted as not really qualifying as a collection, but they did consider LOL cats webpage icanhascheezburger.com as a collection. I like language things and was happy when I found this web page about LOL cats language http://www.dashes.com/anil/2007/04/cats-can-has-gr.html it was an interesting analysis of what LOL cat speak is and where it falls in the language spectrum. Cute overload and Adorablog are also collections of cute/funny which are there to amuse people and which use language incorrectly for standard English, but might be considered as using a similar style to kitty pidgin.

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RFID

My library recently switched over to RFID tags for all their books. I read up on RFID and while they do create issues on the privacy front they are also interesting as a bridge between digital and physical collections. RFID tags can be used to pull up information about books to check them out, or to pull up web pages of information on anything that gets tagged. http://www.thinkgeek.com/brain/whereisit.cgi?t=rfid&x=0&y=0 Has kits available that people can use to try out RFID on their personal belongings. I think that RFID could be used in museums and other types of collections in a variety of ways to enhance people’s experience.

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Collection Building

I recently finished building my collection for class and it was suprisingly harder than I anticipated. The topic I picked was Digital copyright law. I thought that this would be an interesting topic and something that would be useful to learn about as I prepare for comps. It is also an area that interests me because it is changing so drastically and is going to be important in my future career. I started out by looking through web pages, blogs, and wikipedia, trying to find some background information and to get a balanced idea of what people on both sides of the issues think. I have my own feelings about some things in Digital copyright law (and copyright law as a whole) but I tried to put those aside to come up with a more balanced collection. I thought that since this is a digital collections class a collection of links to useful resources such as laws, court cases, and information about the most current issues in digital copyright law would be appropriate, and hopefully useful. Government agencies’ materials are automatically in public domain and recent laws and court cases are published online, the main issue is finding materials on individual topics and then arranging them so they are useful. 

This was my first experience using omeka, and while I did learn from it and see how it could be useful to present some collections I think my collection would have worked out better in a more traditional web page format, so I may try and do that with dreamweaver and move it to my OU webspace after this class. I do think that this experience has taught me quite a lot about gathering digital materials and working with different tools to build a collection and I would like to continue to build on this experience.

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Digital Childhood

I recently came across this http://onceuponawin.com/ collection, and the idea fascinated me. I realized that quite a number of the things I enjoyed in my childhood could be presented in a digital format over a computer now. TV shows and movies that I liked can now be seen on sites like hulu and youtube, music I enjoyed can be downloaded through itunes or any number of online music stores,  books I read are available in ebook or audiobook format, video games can be played on simulators found online. There are even whole virtual communities where you can play with your stuffed animals online (webkins). While some things are not available in digital format yet, I can’t taste my favorite candy online, there are places where I could order it, amazon or ebay. While I do remember a time before cell phones, I can’t remember when I haven’t had a home computer, I remember playing the original Oregon Trail when I was about 5 (I recently played the newest version with my little cousin and it was a little weird to see how far it has come from little pixel people to fullscale graphics). This collection reminded me of all of the changes I can remember taking place during my lifetime that were exciting, but have come to seem like everyday or dated things. For example, I recently saw one of my first cell phones that I got when I was 16 and started driving, then it seemed like the most high tech thing, but now it seems huge and lacking in features. When I think of how much technology has changed in just the past 7 years it makes me wonder what will be possible in the next 7, maybe I will eventually be able to taste my favorite childhood candy digitally, right now there are digital recipe collections, wouldn’t it be cool if oneday there where also collections of tastes to go with them?

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Indexes

One of the other classes I’m enrolled in this semester is indexing and abstracting. This got me thinking about how even collections need indexes and sometimes abstracts. Google is an index to the collection that is the internet (if you consider the internet as a collection of collections like I think of it as sometimes). And google also makes little gadgets you can use to search within a web page or collection, along with other search engines which provide similar services, such as ebscohost. Ebscohost links to abstracts of papers, and google’s search results page comes up with some information about the web pages that you can read before you look at them, but it’s not neccesarily as useful in the way that it’s done. Ebscohost’s abstracts are still primarily human written synopses of the papers that people pull up, but google’s synopses are computer generated and pulled from the page without the oversight of a person. This can make it harder to tell if a page is useful or not. There has been a lot of discussion in my indexing and abstracting class about whether machines will be able to replace people soon in that field, but it doesn’t seem like machine produced indexes and abstracts are quite there yet.

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Google books

I heard about the lawsuit against Google’s book branch coming to a settlement a while ago, but I had not got a chance to actually find out about what it means until recently. When I finally read up on it I realized that they have basically opened up a number of books that otherwise would remain out of print to be read. They are going to offer out of print books for a fee and allow libraries to purchase subscriptions so that patrons can access these books through them. This should be beneficial to everyone from the authors who might gain royalties they otherwise would not to researchers and the public in general who will be able to access many more books than they could if they were limited only to in print materials. It seems analogous to a used bookstore with as many copies as are needed of many out of print books. This also may boost the sales of things like ebooks which Amazon has already been trying to increase with the Kindle.

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