Archive for January, 2006

Gary Flake’s "Internet Singularity"

Posted in Copyright, Digital Culture, Emerging Technologies on January 28th, 2006

Dr. Gary William Flake, Microsoft technical fellow, gave a compelling and lively presentation at SearchChamps V4 entitled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Imminent Internet Singularity."

Flake’s "Internet Singularity," is "the idea that a deeper and tighter coupling between the online and offline worlds will accelerate science, business, society, and self-actualization."

His PowerPoint presentation is text heavy enough that you should be able to follow his argument fairly well. (Ironically, he had apparently received some friendly criticism from colleagues about the very wordiness of the PowerPoint that allows it to stand alone.)

I’m not going to try to recap his presentation here. Rather, I urge you to read it, and I’ll discuss a missing factor from his model that may, to some extent, act as a brake on the type of synergistic technical progress that he envisions.

That factor is the equally accelerating growth of what Lawrence Lessig calls the "permission culture," which is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past."

Lessig discusses this topic with exceptional clarity in his book Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (HTML, PDF, or printed book; Lessig’s book in under an Attribution-NonCommercial 1.0 License).

Lessig is a Stanford law professor, but Free Culture is not a dry legal treatise about copyright law. Rather, it is a carefully argued, highly readable, and impassioned plea that society needs to reexamine the radical shift that has occurred in legal thinking about the mission and nature of copyright since the late 19th century, especially since there are other societal factors that heighten the effect of this shift.

Lessig describes the current copyright situation as follows:

For the first time in our tradition, the ordinary ways in which individuals create and share culture fall within the reach of the regulation of the law, which has expanded to draw within its control a vast amount of culture and creativity that it never reached before. The technology that preserved the balance of our history—between uses of our culture that were free and uses of our culture that were only upon permission—has been undone. The consequence is that we are less and less a free culture, more and more a permission culture.

How did we get here? Lessig traces the following major changes:

In 1790, the law looked like this:

  PUBLISH TRANSFORM
Commercial © Free
Noncommercial Free Free

The act of publishing a map, chart, and book was regulated by copyright law. Nothing else was. Transformations were free. And as copyright attached only with registration, and only those who intended to benefit commercially would register, copying through publishing of noncommercial work was also free.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the law had changed to this:

  PUBLISH TRANSFORM
Commercial © ©
Noncommercial Free Free

Derivative works were now regulated by copyright law—if published, which again, given the economics of publishing at the time, means if offered commercially. But noncommercial publishing and transformation were still essentially free.

In 1909 the law changed to regulate copies, not publishing, and after this change, the scope of the law was tied to technology. As the technology of copying became more prevalent, the reach of the law expanded. Thus by 1975, as photocopying machines became more common, we could say the law began to look like this:

  PUBLISH TRANSFORM
Commercial © ©
Noncommercial ©/Free Free

The law was interpreted to reach noncommercial copying through, say, copy machines, but still much of copying outside of the commercial market remained free. But the consequence of the emergence of digital technologies, especially in the context of a digital network, means that the law now looks like this:

  PUBLISH TRANSFORM
Commercial © ©
Noncommercial © ©

Lessig points out one of the ironies of copyright law’s development during the last few decades: the entertainment industries that have been the driving force behind moving the law from the permissive to permission side of the spectrum benefited from looser regulation in their infancies:

If "piracy" means using value from someone else’s creative property without permission from that creator—as it is increasingly described today—then every industry affected by copyright today is the product and beneficiary of a certain kind of piracy. Film, records, radio, cable TV. . . . The list is long and could well be expanded. Every generation welcomes the pirates from the last. Every generation—until now.

Returning to Flake’s model, what will the effect of a permission culture be on innovation? Lessig says:

This wildly punitive system of regulation will systematically stifle creativity and innovation. It will protect some industries and some creators, but it will harm industry and creativity generally. Free market and free culture depend upon vibrant competition. Yet the effect of the law today is to stifle just this kind of competition. The effect is to produce an overregulated culture, just as the effect of too much control in the market is to produce an overregulated-regulated market.

New knowledge typically builds on old knowledge, new content on old content. "Democratization of content" works if the content is completely new, if it builds on content that is in the public domain or under a Creative Commons (or similar) license, or if fair use can be invoked without it being stopped by DRM or lawsuits. If not, copyright permissions granted or withheld may determine if a digital "Rip, Mix, Burn" (or as some say "Rip, Mix, Learn") meme lives or dies and the full transformational potential of digital media are realized or not.

If you are concerned about the growing restrictions that copyright law imposes on society, I highly recommend that you read Free Culture.

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    Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog Update (1/16/06)

    Posted in Announcements on January 16th, 2006

    The latest update of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog (SEPW) is now available, which provides information about new scholarly literature and resources related to scholarly electronic publishing, such as books, journal articles, magazine articles, newsletters, technical reports, and white papers. Especially interesting are: "The Changing Scholarly Communication Landscape: An International Survey of Senior Researchers," Digital Rights Management: A Guide for Librarians, The Google Library Project: The Copyright Debate, "Learned Society Business Models and Open Access: Overview of a Recent JISC-Funded Study," "Library 2.0 and ‘Library 2.0′," and "Open Access in 2005."

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      Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography 2005 Use Statistics

      Posted in Announcements, Bibliographies, Scholarly Communication on January 13th, 2006

      There were 1,327,703 successful SEPB file requests in 2005, of which 1,034,745 were page requests. 115,029 host computers were served in 160 domains (excluding unknown domains). From October 1996 through December 2005, there have been 5,564,636 successful requests for SEPB files. See the details below.

      SEPB Use Statistics

      Requests By Year (October 1996-December 2005)

      Year Number of File Requests Average Daily File Requests Number of Page Requests Average Daily Page Requests
      1996 (October to December) 19,801 281 14,616 207
      1997 156,139 428 109,638 300
      1998 230,143 630 150,422 412
      1999 254,411 697 170,517 467
      2000 317,220 867 215,113 588
      2001 405,037 1,109 280,547 768
      2002 622,311 1,705 393,251 1,077
      2003 1,023,619 2,827 634,607 1,752
      2004 1,208,252 3,301 796,953 2,177
      2005 1,327,703 3,637 1,034,745 2,834

      Total File Requests (October 1996-December 2004)

      Year Number of File Requests
      1996-2005 5,564,636

      Number of Host Computers Served (October 1996-December 2005)

      Year Distinct Hosts Served
      1996
      (October to December)
      4,276
      1997 29,160
      1998 39,145
      1999 43,114
      2000 51,809
      2001 68,391
      2002 94,464
      2003 117,777
      2004 128,218
      2005 115,029
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        "Open Access and Libraries" Preprint

        Posted in Announcements, Open Access, Scholarly Communication on January 9th, 2006

        A preprint of my forthcoming book chapter "Open Access and Libraries" is now available.

        The preprint takes an in-depth look at the open access movement with special attention to the perceived meaning of the term “open access” within it, the use of Creative Commons Licenses, and real-world access distinctions between different types of open access materials. After a brief consideration of some major general benefits of open access, it examines OA’s benefits for libraries and discusses a number of ways that libraries can potentially support the movement, with a consideration of funding issues.

        It will appear in: Jacobs, Mark, ed. Electronic Resources Librarians: The Human Element of the Digital Information Age. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2006.

        Postscript: A new preprint is available. I have added more content specific to the impact of OA on electronic resources librarians’ jobs and an appendix on the Creative Commons. Also, I have added another way that OA can save libraries money. I’ve changed the above link to the new preprint; the old one is still available; however, I would recommend reading the new one instead.

        Post-PostScript: Having two versions of the preprint available has caused some confusion, so I have taken down the earlier version.

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          Library 2.0

          Posted in Emerging Technologies, Social Media/Web 2.0 on January 8th, 2006

          Walt Crawford has published a mega-issue of Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large on Library 2.0 that presents short essays on the topic by a large number of authors, plus his own view. At Walt’s request, I dashed off the following:

          Blogs, tagging, Wikis, oh my! Whether "Library 2.0" truly transforms libraries’ Web presence or not, one thing is certain: the participative aspect of 2.0 represents a fundamental, significant change. Why? Because we will ask patrons to be become content creators, not just content consumers. And they will be interacting with each other, not just with the library. This will require what some have called "radical trust," meaning who knows what they will do or say, but the rich rewards of collective effort outweigh the risks. Or so the theory goes. Recent Wikipedia troubles suggest that all is not peaches and cream in Web 2.0 land. But, no one can deny (ok, some can) that participative systems can have enormous utility far beyond what one would have thought. Bugaboos, such as intellectual property violations, libel, and fiction presented as fact, of course, remain, leading to liability and veracity concerns that result in nagging musings over control issues. And it all is mixed in a tasty stew of enormous promise and some potential danger. This is a trend worth keeping a close eye on.

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            What Is www.digital-scholarship.com?

            Posted in Announcements on January 8th, 2006

            I’ve switched to a new domain for everything but DigitalKoans and SEPB/SEPW:

            www.digital-scholarship.com

            If you enter an old escholarlypub.com address it will automatically switch you to the equivalent digital-scholarship.com address. Due to a peculiarity in the way my blogging software works, DigitalKoans must remain at:

            http://www.escholarlypub.com/digitalkoans/

            However, if you enter the digital-scholarship.com address by mistake you will still get to the site, but the URLs will revert to the old domain as soon as you start navigating the blog. Confused? Hopefully not.

            My new e-mail address is:

            cbailey@digital-scholarship.com

            I’ll still check the old one for awhile.

            Note to catalogers: Many catalog records for the Open Access Bibliography: Liberating Scholarly Literature with E-Prints and Open Access Journals still point to:

            http://info.lib.uh.edu/cwb/oab.pdf

            They should be updated to:

            http://www.digital-scholarship.com/oab/oab.pdf

            The old link will not get users directly to the file.

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              New Campus Copyright Booklet

              Posted in Copyright on January 6th, 2006

              Four associations (Association of American Publishers, Association of American Universities, Association of American University Presses, and Association of Research Libraries) have prepared a new copyright booklet, Campus Copyright Rights and Responsibilities: A Basic Guide to Policy Considerations, that, according to ARL, represents "a consensus document" that is "descriptive, not prescriptive." As such, this 30-page document is unique, and it is well worth reading.

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                Creative Commons Exceeds Fundraising Goal

                Posted in Copyright on January 1st, 2006

                As I write this, the Creative Commons has raised over $249,000, exceeding its fundraising goal of $225,000. In part, this is due to a check from Microsoft for $25,000. Following the fundraising campaign’s Web page daily, it has been obvious me that a large number of individual contributions have been made in the last week or so. In fact, there have been so many that the December contributor’s page seems to have cratered under the load, since it now shows no one. Anne Marino, Creative Commons Development Director, has posted a blog entry that says, in part:

                Because of this tremendous community support, the groundwork for CC’s fundraising program is in place. 2006 will bring many more opportunities for CC to serve the public, create programs for individual Commoners to connect and participate, provide networking forums and events for CC’s new Corporate Commoners Program and encourage and involve continuing institutional support. Stay tuned! 2006 will have many surprises!

                Update (1/5/06): The CC campaign had a spectacular finish: there was an anonymous gift of $1 million, plus the total funds raised, excluding this gift, have grown to $346,212.00.

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                  DigitalKoans

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                  Digital Scholarship

                  Copyright © 2005-2014 by Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

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