Blog from May, 2011

From the Indiana University News Room ...

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. and URBANA, Il. — The world's great libraries and archives use specially designed rooms, cases and vaults to protect and organize books and records so they may continue to be studied and understood for years to come. As an ever-increasing amount of our cultural record is created and stored digitally, we face the new challenge of how to ensure our digital cultural archives are easily accessible — both to contemporary researchers and those working long in the future.

A new collaborative research center launched jointly by Indiana University and the University of Illinois, along with the HathiTrust Digital Repository, will help to meet this challenge by developing cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure to enable advanced computational access to the growing digital record of human knowledge.

The HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC) will enable open access for nonprofit and educational users to published works in the public domain (as well as limited access to works under copyright) stored within HathiTrust, an extensive collaborative digital library of more than 8 million volumes and 2 billion pages of archived material maintained by major research institutions and libraries worldwide.

Leveraging data storage infrastructure at Indiana University and computational resources at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the HTRC will provision a secure computational and data environment for scholars to perform research using the HathiTrust Digital Repository. The center will break new ground in the areas of text mining and non-consumptive research, allowing scholars to fully utilize content of the HathiTrust Library while preventing intellectual property misuse within the confines of current U.S. copyright law.

From the SUNY Geneseo website...


GENESEO, N.Y. - SUNY Geneseo graduate Joel Dodge has won SUNY's 2011 Benjamin and David Scharps Award, conferred upon a student who demonstrates analytical skills in a legal opinion essay. Dodge is the second Geneseo student to win the award in the past three years.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher announced Dodge's award, established through the will of Hannah S. Hirschhorn. The student competitors were asked to submit an essay on the topic "Peer-to-Peer File Sharing," identify the legal issues and defend a position in a scholarly manner. The essay must be carefully reasoned, well-researched, authoritatively documented and precisely written. Dodge's essay is available to read online.

"Joel's essay presents a comprehensive and thorough examination of peer-to-peer file sharing on college campuses," said Chancellor Zimpher. "We are pleased to be able to recognize his hard work with the Scharps Award."

Dodge, from Liverpool, N.Y., received a check for $1,500 and a certificate of award from SUNY. He majored in international relations and economics and plans to attend law school. He was an Edgar Fellow in the college's honor program and also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

The previous Geneseo graduate to win the award was Megan Darlington, who received it in 2009.

The Fracking Song

I'd love to see some "explainers" like this for topics in the humanities.


I just wanted to say congrats to everyone. All of the projects were excellent, and I hope you all have a great summer!

... easily, at least. For now, at least.

Highlights from Library of Congress builds the record collection of the century (LA Times):

... according to a 2005 survey conducted for the [Library of Congress'] National Recording Preservation Board, of 1,521 recordings made from 1890 to 1964, only 14% has been made available to the public.


Matthew Barton, the recorded sound section curator of [the Library of Congress' $250-million Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, a 45-acre vault and state-of-the-art preservation and restoration facility on Virginia's Mt. Pony], points out: "Anything else from before 1923 — a book, a movie, a published song, sheet music — is public domain now." Not so for the music in that same time period, and as a result, many recordings, even those that have been digitized, can't legally travel beyond the library's walls unless a morass of ownership issues can be unraveled. "The whole idea of copyright," DeAnna said, "is that eventually it does become public domain."

DeAnna points to so-called orphan works, for which the rights holders are not readily identifiable, as evidence of the confusion. A prime example is the Savory Collection of nearly 1,000 live recordings made by recording engineer William Savory in the late '30s, discs now residing with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. They encompass previously unknown extended performances by such musical luminaries captured in their prime as Ellington, Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Artie Shaw and Chick Webb.

Museum director Loren Schoenberg said, "My goal is to have all of it, every last second of it, available on the Internet. If it was up to me, I'd just throw it on the Internet, let everybody sue each other and happy new year. But you can't do that, because you're dealing with [musicians'] estates, labels, record companies and publishers."


Whether a curious researcher will actually be able to play back what's stored in the vaults depends not only on copyright law, though, but also on the format.

"I love to give the example that the cylinder from 1900 may be easier to play back than the DAT [digital audiotape] from 2001," sound curator Barton said. "Seriously. There are a lot of DATs that just won't play now." ...

The most enduring formats? Not CDs or MP3 digital files.

"Vinyl discs properly stored will last hundreds of years," Miller said. "Shellac too."

Producer T Bone Burnett, a vocal champion of analog vinyl over digital audio, visited the library not long ago to discuss the issue. "He testified in front of us and said, 'I would encourage the Library of Congress to preserve to vinyl,'" DeAnna recalled. "We all kind of leaned forward, and my colleague said, 'So, Mr. Burnett are you preserving your own collection to vinyl?' He said, 'Nah, I'm doing all digital.'"

Digital Activism

Here's an awesome site completly devoted to digital activism around the world.

If You’re Not On Facebook, It’s Time To Get Over Yourself

So I am one of four kids and my older twin brothers (and both their wives) randomly decided that they were.... to cool? sophisticated?....for facebook and got rid of it about a year ago.  My sister and I joke that they are just getting old and don't know how to let loose anymore.  Anyway, my sister send all us siblings this article.  Its nothing we haven't talked about in class, but it's mildly funny...

French Kissing Computers

File this under slightly irrelevant, but since it's the last day of class: have you ever wanted to make out with your computer? Of course you have! And now you can!

Christina's World

I am curious to investigate the ways in which this art world has been touched by intellectual property laws.


Only one more piece of advice to all of us as we finish up the semester, courtesy of my own personal memebase trolls:

(The shark is digital humanities. Did it eat us?)

Technology and learning

Hey, thought you guys might enjoy these two songs from It's something that my biochem professor showed us as we were trying to learn about PCR and enzymes. If you're a non-science major, you might not get all the references, but I figured you'd still enjoy the YMCA theme music. 



This is to go with the discussion that we're having about technology and learning...somewhat related! Enjoy!

Claiming Code for Your Own

I feel slightly uncomfortable posting this because it is dwarfed by everything else in the media right now, but it is what it is.

We often copyright what we write. We string together concepts and words that have been pushed together and pulled apart for thousands of years. I know that the English language is incredibly massive, but comprehensible strings must have some countable cardinality, even if it is countably infinite? Hence issues of copyright.  And as words build everything we've got, I started thinking about issues of copyright and licensing in the building blocks of the Internet, coding. In code there are many ways to build an aspect of your program, whether it be a basic loop, a GUI, or an incredibly complex modeling algorithm. 

"Programmers are notorious for going to a search engine when they get stuck on a problem and then copying and pasting code into their code without the necessary modifications. Unfortunately, this is most likely illegal unless the poster of the original code expressly granted usage rights to you."

So you can create, craft, a series of commands that accomplishes your goal more efficiently and with clearer, more transparent coding. And this code is naturally preferable as it offers new users to understand a code more readily and perhaps jump right in. I found this man's blog super interesting because he points to meach programmer having his/her own style, much akin to writing, and the fact that Microsoft has an incredible number of patents on sections of code. When comments are lifted from perhaps a search engine, citation in a comment is preferred and necessary, as to avoid legal trouble. I thought a little insight into copyright of a different realm was worthwhile. 

... though "heard" isn't quite the right term, is it?

BBC: Bin Laden raid was revealed on Twitter

Word frequencies and Osama bin Laden

I find myself wishing I could put people's speech, politicians' statements, and facebook statuses into Textstat write now and see how many times the words "proud/pride" and "celebrate" (or any of its forms) come up. I am deeply moved and disturbed by what's going on right now, but I'll probably post more later either here or on my individual blog or on facebook or something. There's a lot to sort through right now as our nation navigates this moment in global history.

Skills for the 21st Century

At Times Higher Education, Cathy Davidson, Ruth F. DeVarney professor of English and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute professor of interdisciplinary studies at Duke University,
is calling on higher education to re-think how and what it teaches in light of the "end to end" nature of communications in the digital age.

"So Last Century" is worth a read — and so are the comments posted by readers in response.

Davidson looks at the problem of higher education's relevance through the lens of job skills. Does the problem look different when viewed through the lens of citizenship — that is, the skills needed for meaningful participation in a democracy?