A perfect pair of guest speakers: Nackerud and Kahle
The large, prestigious, private academic institution of higher learning with which my place of work is affiliated just had a meeting of all the professional library staff. This is the second such annual meeting. Last year the speaker was the head of education type stuff from Apple (interesting but pretty much unrelated to my interests, plus he seemed to want us to pull a Duke and buy everyone an iPod).
This year it was a different story. First we heard from Shane Nackerud
who is the MT administrator, blogevangelist, librarian from UThink
at the University of Minnesota. He gave some history and some statistics. An interesting statistic was that more grad students maintain blogs than undergrads (percentage-wise). I think this may support my whole blogs for personal knowledge management thing (hmmm, future study?). The most important thing I took away from his talk was the reason the MT installation is hosted by the library instead of office of academic computing or IT department. Note this quote from the UThink site:
...is intended to support teaching and learning, scholarly communication, and individual expression for the U of M community
Nackerud feels very strongly that the primary raison d'etre
of libraries is to protect intellectual freedom
). In other words, other institutions have experimented with blogs by making them another tool
available from OIT. This really misses a lot of the social-software and PIM/PKM/collaboration aspects of the animal. By hosting blogs from a library address AND making it easy to post citations directly from SFX (cool), they're really emphasizing the personal and the supporting-the-researcher aspects. Wow, a library and university encouraging students to do independent thinking, keep a research log, and share information. Sounds good, huh?
The other speaker was the famous Brewster Kahle of Internet Archive
. There are a lot of dreamers and painters of broad, happy pictures involved in the open access, creative commons, and anti (the way it is going) copyright movements. Kahle borders on this, but then he brings it back and talks concretely about actual numbers, costs, investments required, etc. He actually puts his time and money where is mouth is. I use the internet archive frequently and I knew about the efforts to add more video and software. What I didn't know was the whole bookmobile thing. They drive around with satellite internet access, download entire books (pretty page scans, not the ascii text of gutenburg), and then print them and hand them to the local children/rural families, etc. It costs them about $1/book for black and white. He passed around some spiffy color children's books. Not bad. He says it's cheaper to print a book from the archive than to lend one from the library (purchase, cataloging, shelving, etc., costs included, I assume).
Anyway, got to finish packing for my 7am flight tomorrow...