Monday, May 11, 2009

aaaaaaaaaaaaaand thanks.

At the risk of repeating myself, with every technology I/we've discovered and worked with this semester, it's been overwhelmingly apparent that any tool is only as valuable as the energy and expertise being put into it... and the practicality of investing that energy. Similarly, the value of this class has been in the contributions you all have made, in conjunction with the structure of the course, and the materials made available to us.

Thank you all for your refreshingly genuine contributions to the class!

Hooray for technology and the cool people it connects!

Post-Course Discourse

As this semester ends, and with it the blogging assignments, I’m left to wonder whether—or in what form—I’ll continue to express myself online. I’m leaning toward continuing a blog, but a private one… or however private one can keep something added to the online trail/electronic footprint deal. When I feel motivated, I’ll share the blog with others.

Why a blog, rather than a journal?
- A blog is so much tidier, so easily made to look professional
- I’m a quicker typer than hand-writer
- Multi-media capabilities
- Easy sharing, if and (immediately) when I’m so inclined to share

As far as contributing online content professionally, in addition to consistently adding resource links to my library’s home site (Destiny) I’m leaning toward creating a new, official Ning account for the Manhattan Village Academy library media center. I’m also very strongly considering writing my REACH grant report on a Ning. My vision is to:

- Post a slideshow of photos of the library under development
- Post a video and/or podcast featuring students responding to the new library materials
- Describe the purchases made with the grant money in the blog portion of the site

The one weakness I can think of that I don’t know that I mentioned during my group’s final presentation (which, by the way, I really enjoyed, thanks to the contributions of my fellow group members), is that in order to view a Ning profile or network, one must belong to Ning by having created an account. In this context, and others, I wouldn’t want to create my report in a format that is exclusive. By “exclusive,” I suppose I mean that it excludes those not willing/eager to create (yet another?) online account, with all the trappings we’ve discussed an online identity to possess.

Thanks to this course, I feel comfortable with a number of new technologies, and I’m looking forward to experimenting with them further. There’s so much out there! There will be even more tomorrow. That’s awesome.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

sharing is caring

Not being able to use the popular (teen attention-grabbing) song that my group had envisioned as perfect background music for our podcast has had me thinking a lot about copyright law and content ownership.

Enter Sita Sings the Blues, a really terrific film for which a friend of mine did the sound editing. When I first saw Sita Sings the Blues, in the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, creator (read: writer, producer, animator, editor) Nina Paley talked a lot about the difficulties she and her team faced in distributing the film, and in being granted permission (or not) to include some of the songs in it. Learn everything about the animated feature film at, and more about its copyright problems and unorthodox distribution from wikipedia's Sita entry:

I am really inspired by these words and actions of creator Nina Paley (
"Dear Audience,
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.
You don't need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.
That said, my colleagues and I will enforce the Share Alike License. You are not free to copy-restrict ("copyright") or attach Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to Sita Sings the Blues or its derivative works."
From Nina Paley's blog (, I discovered, "A Clearinghouse For New Ideas About Copyright."

Paley wrote a great article titled Understanding Free Content, available here:

Another interesting idea realized (and described in full at "The Creator-Endorsed Mark is a logo that a distributor can use to indicate that a work is distributed in a way that its creator endorses — typically, by the distributor sharing some of the profits with the creator." I think that the concept is a good one, and I hope that the belief that, "...given a choice, audiences will prefer sources that support the artist, when they have a reliable way of recognizing such sources." I'll be keeping my eye out for the mark!

Here's anoth
er interesting article entitled Did You Say "Intellectual Property"? It's a Seductive Mirage:

I want to trust you, culture, and freedom with whatever I create!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

i prefer to consume... and how.

danah doyd’s Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace struck a chord with me in that it mentions the fact that academia—or the parameters it imposes—can be limiting, revealing the value of freer forums like blogs and social networking sites and YouTube.

Here, in particular: “For the academics reading this, I want to highlight that this is not an academic article. It is not trying to be. It is based on my observations in the field, but I'm not trying to situate or theorize what is going on. I've chosen terms meant to convey impressions, but I know that they are not precise uses of these terms. Hopefully, one day, I can get the words together to actually write an academic article about this topic, but I felt as though this is too important of an issue to sit on while I find the words.”

I like that people can sort out what they’re trying to say, and get feedback on it, as soon as they have something to say.

I generally prefer to read people’s observation-based assertions, in part because they strike me as more genuine those based upon statistics (which I cannot help but question). There is definitely value in theories based upon soundly collected data, but nothing is more compelling to me than personal accounts that illustrate (or start!) a larger trend (not to mention a discussion). There’s something to be said for the fact that reputation, readability, and relevance can make a blog oor site or forum popular (as opposed to knowing the right people in order to be published by the right entity), and that seems like such a pure democratic process.

On YouTube...
About this: “While [the] idealization of YouTube as a self-organizing, radically democratic community for sharing clip culture certainly helped to buffer what could be considered an act of selling “the community” as property to a corporate giant, the image of YouTube as a revolutionary alternative to corporate media culture has been a powerful one” (The YouTube Community)
. This “loss of an idealized space outside the global totality of commercial culture" (from John McMurria, quoted by Henry Jenkins in Taking the You Out of YouTube?) made me wonder about where our responsibility lies as far as being aware of—or assuring—that social networking sites be ‘socially responsible’ or ‘free’ or ‘ad free.’ My feelings on this are difficult to articulate (I’ll work on it), but it ties into my concern that Apple has set products up so well that we rely on them, however limited their lifespan (my shiny computer looks too beautiful to be outdated after just 4.5 years!!) and continue to pay big bucks for them. I wonder if people would still use YouTube if they had to pay a fee for it. I wonder if individuals will ever be generous and organized enough to beat out corporate giants. Or will we ever want to?

The phrases “radically democratic” and “profoundly democratic” fascinate me and have me wondering what the actual definition of plaine old “democratic” is! When I looked up the term in Wikipedia, I was redirected to the entry for Democracy. I did, however find a link to “Non-democratic democracies” which explains, “Moreover, in many countries, democratic participation is less than 50% at times, which makes them democracies only in name.” Could “radical democracy” have anything to do with the amount of participation, or am I leaping here? It’s interesting to note that Alex Juhasz describes YouTube as “relatively democratic.”

Another note about Boyd: She also asserts that “Americans aren't so good at talking about class,” and I feel her on that one. Never in my life has class been so immediately relevant to me, to my daily conversations and ruminations, as now, teaching in a New York City public school, and I often have the distinct feeling that I lack the vocabulary to discuss essential class issues. Interestingly, sometimes I feel suffocated by the need for political correctness (particularly in the context of student-related communications), and sometimes I feel offended by others’ lack thereof. Whether I have a set of standards that I can’t fully articulate, or whether my sensitivity depends on my mood, I can’t say. I’ll try to pay closer attention, and to connect the dots to see if there’s an identifiable pattern.

I like that class issues and moral debates are being explored online, in myriad formats and forums. I like that I can choose my sources, and that I can respond at will, and that how and why I (we!) do so is being talked about.

Monday, April 20, 2009

and you can quote me

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." --Alvin Toffler

Sunday, April 19, 2009

ipodder fodder

I'll admit that I've always dreamed of reading something I've written on NPR.

As a child of the Bay Area, I spent considerable time in the car, traversing 101 and 280 with my mother, who dutifully drove me back and forth between my myriad activities. The car stereo-enabled soundtrack to my uncomfortable yet swift changing from school clothing into my gymnastics leotard, and my scarfing down of the snack du jour to fuel me for a 4 hour practice, was always NPR. The voices of guest readers and regular hosts filled the car cavity and my brain cavity with information, sure, but mainly, unfailingly, with comfort.

When, years later, I met Prairie Home Companion's Garrison Keillor at a library conference, I stood as close to him as possible (he was signing at the Penguin adult group booth which neighbored the Penguin Young Readers booth at which I was working, managing a concurrent author signing session), for as long as I possibly could, inhaling the sound of his voice. When we were introduced, I hardly knew how to articulate what his voice meant to me, and it occurred to me that I had literally never been so excited to meet--or be in the proximity of--a celebrity. I asked Mr. Keillor to sign a copy of his latest to my mom and dad, and then boldly requested a photo as he joked about my looking far too young to actually work at Penguin. He said to me, "Be still my beating heart, of course!" and I've yet to fully recover, which explains why I'm sharing the story on this blog, like a blushing pre-teen.

The story, the feeling, demonstrate how powerful and wonderfully experiential voice and story telling can be, and there's nothing like the calm that I find when fully engaged in a beautifully designed radio program or podcast.

So. Since I know what I love and what I respond to, I'm really excited by the idea of creating podcasts... and not just to hear my own voice. These are a few podcast ideas I've come up with thus far (favorites in bold):

- How to conduct an effective search using MVA library's home page and database subscriptions
- REACH grant feedback from students and teachers, to post on planned REACH grant blog detailing purchases / use / evolution of library
- MVA book club: opinions on book, direction of the club, etc.
- Sample of MVA's upcoming drama production, advertising participants, date, etc.
- MVA students reading self-written poetry, explanations of the writing process
- Individuals reading their favorite quotes and explaining what the significance is (fair use: quote inspiring their original thought)
- Teachers or students reading brief excerpts of their favorite books, then explaining why it's a favorite and to whom they'd recommend it
- Students sharing their thoughts on the whole college preparation / selection / application process. Hopes / fears about college in general. Resources they'd recommend.
- Students sharing a research success story, detailing the search process, emphasizing what they learned and how they applied or will apply the results
- Interviews on stereotypes of librarians, and where they come from, how/if they're changing, and why/why not
- Interview with student library patron of the week, to be posted on MVA library site

Monday, April 13, 2009

a library's still about books. and questions.

Instead of bathing in the Bahamas (I like to pretend I could afford a week-long vacation), I'm logging student teaching hours with the little ones. My project here, at present, in between reading to and sitting with the wee ones, is to address the Native American / American Indian collection. It is still about the books. And there are still many questions that weeding brings about, as far as collection development goes.

It's refreshing to recognize that not EVERYTHING is about the newest technologies.

I found this, here, and I find it to be a refreshingly concise stance:

"Timmy wrote on October 3, 2006 8:05 am:
" Although I'm sympathetic to the spirit of this, this is not the proper solution. What qualifications do these media specialists bring to the table as arbiters of cultural correctness? Further, what literature does "accurately" portray culture? As a working class kid I seldom saw my "culture" depicted in books I read in school, and when I did it was usually in clumsy stereotypes. Given the infinite complexity of culture it's difficult to imagine any work that could withstand full scrutiny, no matter what culture it happens to be written about. Beyond that, even ethnographic histories themselves are forever shifting and changing. How are these media specialists to jump into the midst of the cultural maelstrom and determine "proper" and "improper"? I love Beverly Slapin's point that these books need to be maintained because they are a chroncile of our misguided notions of the past that should humble us into recongnizing that we still live with misguided cultural notions today. I admire the solution of leaving the books on the shlves, with reviews attached that challenge some of the information in the book so that the reader is allowed to think for him/herself, and truly grasp that books today likely contain similar inaccuracies based on contemporary understandings that will one day be similarly challenged. There is a real education in these old books that view cultural issues so differently than we do today. ""