Thursday, March 12, 2015

Video: The Curious Copyright Case of "It's A Wonderful Life"

The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" is a classic, which is frequently viewed during the December of each year. Some people are seemingly addicted to it and will watch it whenever it is on. There is, though, a copyright story lurking behind the moving images, which John Hess of FilmmakerIQ tells in this 22-minute video.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

BYOD, Digital Literacy & Those That Are Left Behind [Movement 4]

Last fall (Oct. 9, 2014), I gave the keynote at the Polaris Users Group meeting in Liverpool, NY.  I am finally posting my keynote text (as written) here in four blog posts - four movements.  Below is Movement 4.

By the way, I've added photos to these posts; however, I did not use any images or projected presentation in October. 

Mark Surman, executive director of the Mozilla Foundation, said:
Coding, editing video, design — it really is just the tip of the iceberg. What’s below the tip of the iceberg is participation, critical thinking and being able to collaborate. You really need to be a well-rounded, Renaissance, Internet-era kind of person.
43 by Rodrigo SatchI've been talking about people and situations that are not what we think of when we hear the word well-rounded, Renaissance, and Internet-era. When we think of "Renaissance", we think of people like Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo worked across knowledge areas. For example, he sketched the human skeleton and designed a helicopter. Today people who are Renaissance-like are able to work in different industries. They have broad skills that do not limit their opportunities. They are serial entrepreneurs. They are self-sufficient in ways that capture our attention. They've developed the critical thinking skills needed to tackle the problems that our world needs solved. They collaborate and these days that means collaborating with that device that they carry with them...all the time.

We have people, who lack some of the basics and who are being treated like they are disposable. On top of that, they look around and see others exhibiting skills that they know they may never have. Every person they see with the latest smartphone, iPad or tablet computer is a reminder of what they don't know, can't do, and can't afford.

You may be wondering if there is good news - or something positive - in all of this? Yes. I've already mentioned ideas that you might act on. But there is more that you can do.

First, adopt a definition of what you think digital literacy is. You'll notice that I have not yet defined it! According to the Digital Literacy Standards for New Yorkers:
Literacy represents a person’s ability to read, write, and solve problems using both spoken and written language. Digital literacy is the ability to apply those same skills using technology such as desktop computers, ebook readers and smartphones.
Is that a definition that resonates with you? If yes, use it! If not, create your own. Discuss the definition with your staff, with your champions and with your constituents. Help them understand the need for everyone to be digitally literate. Use examples to demonstrate what the life of a digitally illiterate person is like.

Second, work with your staff on their digital literacy skills and their ability to use mobile devices effectively. Yes, some of them are digitally literate, but some are not. Find create ways for people to improve their skills without making them feel self-conscience. You might take time at staff meetings to have people show each other new apps or new techniques. If everyone doesn't have a device, ask people to share OR use the library's devices during the meeting.

Third, if you're library isn't lending mobile devices, talk about the possibility of doing that. You might lend them for on-site use only, if you don't want them to leave the building.

Fourth, if you're in a public library, use mobile devices - in some manner - in your story times, ESL classes, and other events. These are times when we - the digitally literate would use devices - so let's give our community the same privilege.

Fifth, develop and implement create ways for your community members to use mobile devices to:
  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Demonstrate creativity
  • Communicate and collaborate
  • Be creative
  • Continue to learn
  • Be good digital citizens
Those five things make seem overwhelming. That's okay. If you do ONE of them, you will be on your way to making a difference. We're not going to create a digital literate citizenry over night. This is going to take time and so every step forward is a step in the right direction.

BYOD, Digital Literacy & Those That Are Left Behind [Movement 3]

Last fall (Oct. 9, 2014), I gave the keynote at the Polaris Users Group meeting in Liverpool, NY.  I am finally posting my keynote text (as written) here in four blog posts - four movements.  Below is Movement 3.

By the way, I've added photos to these posts; however, I did not use any images or projected presentation in October.

Give us this day...In August, with schools delayed in Ferguson, Missouri one of the concerns quickly became the health of the students, who received meals at school. I want to mention hunger, because it is more prevalent than we think and hunger gets in the way of learning. We even have college students, who find themselves without food, and they rely on college or local food banks. There are have stories of adjunct professors, who are homeless. As a former corporate librarian, I can imagine that some of the workers that we interact with are homeless or living in meager conditions.

We generally focus on the problem that we want to focus on. For example, we focus on the fact that people are not digitally literate, because we know that is a problem and we're willing to focus on it. Can we also focus on more basic problems, knowing that if we can help people with some of the basics - like food - we can create fertile ground for other efforts?

I can hear your thoughts...Jill, we're librarians and there are some problems that we can't solve! Yes, we're librarians. We are also people who are trusted by our communities. Could we use that trust to help our communities in ways other than what we traditionally do?

Each of our communities has basic needs that are going unmet. Through conversations, anecdotal evidence, information from social services, or surveys, we can figure out what those needs are. Through our ability to collaborate, we can build relationships that can help to meet those needs. Take a moment and think about the people and organizations with whom you could collaborate. Remember that collaboration means that each party brings something to the table. Perhaps food isn't what you bring to the table, but there is something else that you can provide. For example, libraries are often located in areas that are easy to get to and have parking lots. Is it your location and exterior space that would be of value in a partnership?

BYOD, Digital Literacy & Those That Are Left Behind [Movement 2]

Last fall (Oct. 9, 2014), I gave the keynote at the Polaris Users Group meeting in Liverpool, NY.  I am finally posting my keynote text (as written) here in four blog posts - four movements.  Below is Movement 2.

By the way, I've added photos to these posts; however, I did not use any images or projected presentation in October. 

Last week, Van Jones - who is one of the hosts of CNN's Crossfire - spoke at Syracuse University and talked about how we treat people as being disposable. All of those people working at UPS are disposable. The job requires no real skill and when one person leaves, another can take easily take his or her place. I think being disposable is one way "some" think of people, who are different than them. You are not like me, so you can go away. You do not need to exist.

After Ferguson...and Santa Rosa, where a man was shot in a store after purchasing a BB gun...and after Columbia, SC...where a man was shot reaching for his driver's feels like more people are being deemed as disposable. And I wonder how we - libraries and librarians - can change that?

First of all, when we are disposable, people see you as being interchangeable with someone else OR maybe that you have no discernible value. Libraries - all libraries - are part of the American educational system. Outside of our K-16 schools, libraries are THE place where people go to get educated. The place. But that is if people can actually get to a library and if they are allowed to use the library.

Some of those that are being left behind don't have good transportation. Without good transportation, you can't get to the library when you need or want to. Without good transportation, you may not be able to return books on time. And if you can't return books on time, your library privileges may be suspended. By the way, transportation is also an issue when it comes to finding or keeping a job. A manager at an East Syracuse hotel once said that he had people, who wanted to work for him, but that the buses didn't come out to that area when people needed to get to work. He tried to coordinate other transportation with mixed success.

I want to stick with that example for a moment, because I think there are some lessons or ideas that we can take from it.

First, should we turn how we deliver services completely on its head? Rather than asking people to come to the library, can we take our services and resources to them? Perhaps this a variation on the bookmobile, which would give people access to both physical and digital resources.

Perhaps this is setting up mini-libraries out in the community. I know that immediately creates questions about cost, resources, and staffing...but maybe we need to take a leap of faith and try it, and then assess the impact.

Perhaps this means creating a service that is not based on "lending". Could libraries help people own books, for example? This might be something that the library did in conjunction with another community organization. What if the library - working with other community groups - helped every child to own one new book a year? That would be one way of putting books in the hands of children and could help families to have books to lend to each other. Being able to lend your own book is a nice feeling, and a feeling that everyone should have.

Could the library take its training classes out into the community? I know that would create many hassles...but would it help people get the training that they need and perhaps lift them up from being or feeling disposable?

Is there a way of bringing devices into our neighborhoods?

Truly I think we need to act innovatively, if we want to have an impact on the digital literacy and the lives of our community members. We can't sit back and wait for them to come to us for the services that we offer. We need to go to them and deliver the services that they need.

BYOD, Digital Literacy & Those That Are Left Behind [Movement 1]

Last fall (Oct. 9, 2014), I gave the keynote at the Polaris Users Group meeting in Liverpool, NY.  I am finally posting my keynote text (as written) here in four blog posts.  The keynote, as you will read, was structured into four movements, like a symphony.  Below is Movement 1.

By the way, I've added photos to these posts; however, I did not use any images or projected presentation in October. 

Jill Hurst-WahlI began using a computer in the early 1980s. As computers became more prevalent, people in the workforce recognized that the needed to develop "computer skills". For some, that meant learning how to type documents and create spreadsheets. For others, it meant learning how to program. This divided the "computer users" from "the techies"...and I was a techie.

Both the computer users and the techies had something in common - our skills were transferable. If I used an IBM computer, I could also use a DEC computer, or an Apple. Yes, there were some differences, but they were easily conquered. The real problem was gaining the initial skill. Once you made it over that hurdle, you were fine. And people wanted to make it over that hurdle. Parents implored their children to develop computer skills. Bosses encouraged their employees. Employees begged that their bosses learn how to use the computer themselves.

But the 1980s, computers were not everywhere yet. That changed as the technology got less expensive and different devices took on different aspects of the computer. Now computers are everywhere and in everything. Some of the devices used for computer input or output aren't even called by names that make you associate them with computers. If it doesn't look like a computer, are you using a computer?

Every evening, workers descend on the UPS facility in Syracuse to sort packages and load trucks. All of them use scanners to read in bar codes. Those bar codes allow packages to be tracked by UPS, as well as you and I. These scanners are easy for everyone to use and that means that there is no "skill" involved. So someone who is not computer literate can work at UPS and be an excellent employee, because that person can use a scanner. And sadly, that person can work there for years and never develop better computer skills on the job. Someone who is computer illiterate will remain so.

Every day a child enters the United States, who has not had a good education. That child goes to a K-12 school and hopefully finds that the school has access to good technology, which that child will be challenged to use. Unfortunately, it is also possible that the child will go to a school that has limited access to technology. That child, who lacked computer skills may go through our education system and still not develop good computer skills. When that child grows up, what job will she be able to do? If you think she'll go to college, which will lead to a better job, I would ask if a person with minimum computer skills can succeed in college? And as we become more technology-focused, what chance will that person have?

We know that libraries - K-12, public, academic and special - can teach children and adults, those born here and those born elsewhere - to use technology. Many people come to libraries for computer training and for computer help. We try to understand what skills they need and then how to give them those skills. We try really, really hard to make people better versions of themselves...and to give them a better life.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Article: The truth about contracts

Kevin Smith has written a very good article entitled "The truth about contracts", which touches on contracts, licenses and copyright law.  In it, Smith wrote:
Another reason librarians might think that contracts are formal and serious is because they hear so often that contracts “trump” copyright law. Since copyright law is a very important federal law, contracts must be an even more serious matter to trump it. But, actually, we allow contracts to supersede copyright law not because they are so “big” but because they are small. U.S. Copyright law binds every person who is subject to its jurisdiction, but a contract binds only the parties who agree to it. A contract is a “private law” arrangement by which two parties (or sometimes more) rearrange their own relationship.
The entire post addresses misapprehensions in the academic world about contracts and is definitely worth reading.