Archive for January, 2014

Codes and levels

Posted in ALA, Stuff on January 3rd, 2014

I haven’t written anything about the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct so far. In some ways, “Freedom of speech” relates to some of the issues, but it was mostly inspired by a separate, wholly ludicrous “controversy.”

I don’t anticipate that I will write much of anything about the Statement, and I am not tagging posts and articles toward a future essay about it.

Which does not mean either that (a) I think the statement is addressing nonexistent problems or (b) I’m in fundamental disagreement with the statement. Neither of those is true.

Of course there’s a problem

ALA conferences don’t have any instances of attempted silencing, sexual and other forms of harassment (verbal and otherwise), that sort of thing? Bull. I can’t think of a medium-to-large conference I’ve been to where I didn’t see at least one or two situations that were at least borderline harassment, silencing or unwanted attention. With 12,000 to 25,000 people and a huge variety of formal and informal social events as well as sessions, it’s essentially not possible that ALA conferences would be paragons in this regard, and they’re not. (Of course they’re not as bad as a lot of tech and entertainment and other conferences. That’s a different issue.)

More to the point, perhaps, many of the more insidious and dangerous instances won’t be visible, because they’ll be one-on-one.

Hey, I’ve even been the subject of attempted silencing and unwanted attention. But I’m also…well, we’ll get to that in the next section. Let’s say the odds of my being the subject of such stuff are maybe 1% of those of, say, a 25-30 year old woman.

The Statement strikes me as a reasonable start

I wrote about a proposed Code of Conduct in June 2007 (C&I 7:6). I didn’t believe the particular code made sense. If I revisited that issue now, I still probably wouldn’t believe the code made sense. (As far as I can tell, it disappeared without a trace.)

ALA’s Statement does make sense. It isn’t a solution for which there is no problem–there is a problem, and even shining light on the problem may reduce it.

Could it be improved? I’m not the one to say, but I’m certain that there will be efforts to do so. I’m certain the people involved in crafting it put informed and intelligent effort into it.

It’s not censorship. It doesn’t attack freedom of speech. (ALA isn’t the government, and the meeting spaces, exhibit halls and social events of ALA aren’t inherently public fora. In any case, I don’t see anything forbidding specific language. Telling people it’s not OK to intimidate or harass other people is quite a different thing…and I find the argument that this somehow impinges upon free speech unconvincing, to put it mildly.)

A number of people have written about this eloquently and reasonably. I won’t give you a list, but Andromeda Yelton has at least a couple of relevant, worthwhile posts. On the more general issue of appropriate conduct and the need for codes to deal with harassers, John Scalzi has done a fair amount of writing, as have others.

Why I’m not the one to write about this

  •  I’m a middle-aged (OK, aging) straight white male of mostly Anglo-Saxon/Northern European extraction who grew up in a healthy family, never went hungry and have no obvious disabilities*. I operate at the lowest level of difficulty (or did until I turned 60 or so and ageism became a factor), so maybe I’m not the one to be arguing these things.
  • I’m no longer an active ALA participant. It’s unclear how often I’ll be attending any ALA conferences in the future (or whether, for that matter), for fiscal and other reasons, so this doesn’t affect me directly.
  • There are plenty of library folk who (a) are more directly affected, (b) operate at different levels of difficulty, (c) write and think as well as or better than I do.
  • I have no reason to believe that what I say would carry much weight.

So that’s it: Probably all I’ll say about this. Not because I don’t feel strongly about it, not because I’m not reading about it.


*Introversion may be a slight disadvantage in some work and professional areas, and may make me a bit more likely to be shouted down, but it’s far from being a disability or a real level-changer.

Making Book S9: Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader

Posted in Books and publishing, C&I Books on January 3rd, 2014

Here’s what I said about this book on the back cover:

This book is the first in a series of Cites & Insights Readers, combining major essays on a single topic from Cites & Insights for easier reading and permanence.

Well, I said more than that, but that’s the key.

This was the first—and so far only—book branded as “A Cites & Insights Reader,” although Open Access and Libraries was really the first such compilation.

The genesis of this idea was severalfold:

  • Library 2.0 and “Library 2.0,” the essay that made up the Midwinter 2006 issue of Cites & Insights (I was going to call it “the massive essay,” but it was only a 32-page issue; one recent single-essay issue was nearly twice that long), was by far the most downloaded and read essay in the history of Cites & Insights. Through 2012, the HTML version had been viewed more than 21,000 times and the PDF downloaded nearly 34,000 times. (The next-highest essay is about half that number; the next-highest issue, not the same thing, about 16,600 downloads.)
  • According to Google Scholar, it’s my second most cited piece of writing—a long way behind Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness & Reality but considerably ahead of MARC for Library Use. (104 citations as of this writing.)
  • I’d done five followup essays—one later in 2006, one each in 2008 and 2009, and a two-parter in 2011—that I thought made valuable additions to the story.
  • I thought the Reader concept might be a nice way to add value to the publication—and a tiny amount of revenue as well (I said at the time that all Readers would be priced to return $4 to me).

I also replaced the Midwinter 2006 issue with a placeholder PDF that noted the book’s existence—but also gave the URL for the saved copy of the issue.

That proved to be interesting as a measure of how important “Library 2.0″ was in 2011 and beyond.

To wit:

  • In 2012, there were 667 attempts to view the HTML version of the article and 1,844 downloads of the PDF version (both stubs).
  • But the saved PDF was only downloaded 36 times in 2012.
  • In the last three months of 2013 (all that I have), the issue stub was downloaded 371 times; the saved PDF, 39 times.

This tells me that most of the time, people didn’t care enough to even key in (or copy-and-paste) a brief new URL. When I hear how many thousands and tens of thousands of times ejournal articles are downloaded, I do sometimes wonder what percentage of those are idle curiosity. For this issue, apparently, the answer is at least 98% of the time in 2012 and around 90% of the time in 2013.

How’s it done? So far, five paperback and 14 ebook versions.

Crawford, Walt. Library 2.0: A Cites & Insights Reader. 2011.

50 Movie Gunslinger Classics Disc 7

Posted in Movies and TV on January 2nd, 2014

Showdown at Williams Creek, 1991, color. Allan Kroeker (dir.), Tom Burlinson, Stephen E. Miller, Michelle Thrush, Raymond Burr, Donnelly Rhodes. 1:37.

This is a flashback film—except for the first few and last few minutes, it’s almost all flashbacks, as a man on trial for murder reluctantly tells his life story. The man, John “Kootenai” Brown (Tom Burlinson), was a British soldier from Ireland who emigrated to British Columbia in 1865, with a friend, to seek his fortune in the gold fields of Williams Creek. After various problems, he went—with a Scot who always seemed a bit less than trustworthy—to the Northern Territories, also for gold, and wound up first being shot with an arrow, then living with a group of Metis, a tribe of half-French/half-Native Americans, where he finds love and a family. Eventually, he winds up shooting the Scot, just as the Scot has robbed him of a season’s worth of wolf hides. (Kootenai Brown is his Metis name, where Kootenai means “the one who comes from the west,” since he’d traveled from BC eastward.)

That’s an absurd oversimplification of the plot, based on a true story. Raymond Burr gets star billing on the disc sleeve (but not in the movie), but he’s a secondary character, the imperious and racist judge at the trial.

It’s a leisurely film in some ways, and I found that it worked reasonably well. Filmed in Canada (a Canadian Film Board production, which may explain a 1991 movie being in the public domain?). Good scenery. The print’s reasonably good. All in all, while it’s not a great film, I thought it was worth $1.50.

Four Rode Out, 1970 (or 1968 or 1971), color. John Peyser (dir.), Pernell Roberts, Sue Lyon, Julian Mateos, Leslie Nielsen. 1:39 [1:35]

This Western is decidedly leisurely. A Mexican bank robber, after stopping by to visit his American girlfriend [Sue Lyon] (who then gets called a whore by her father, after which the father shoots himself), heads out…and a marshall (Pernell Roberts) on his last case is sent out to bring him back. The marshall encounters a self-identified Pinkerton man (Leslie Nielsen) also out to bring back—or at least claim the reward for—the bandit.

All three wind up riding out together (or, rather, the girl follows the other two), much to the marshall’s dismay. They ride and ride and ride. They find the bandit’s dead horse and…well, the second half of the film (or more than half) involves the badly-wounded bandit, his assertion that the Pinkerton man is actually the other bank robber and the one who shot a guard, and the attempt to get everybody back to town (walking through the desert with frequent red-sun shots) before they die of heat and thirst. It is, as I say, leisurely…but made significantly better by Janis Ian, who provides the music (mostly twelve-string guitar, some singing) and begins the movie as a visible singer.

Great cast (Nielsen as a wholly untrustworthy shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later sneering type is wholly believable), good music, good scenery. Some censorship (oddly—a few words, and, apparently, two or three minutes of partial nudity). An unsatisfactory plot and ending, to my taste. Very leisurely, to the point where I double-timed through the last 40 minutes or so and still found it leisurely. Another one where its public domain status seems odd. A Spanish production. On balance, maybe $1.25.

They Call Me Trinity (or My Name is Trinity, orig. Lo chiamavano Trinità…,), 1970, color. Enzo Barboni (as E.B. Clucher) (dir. & writer), Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Steffen Zacharias, Dan Sturkey, Gisela Hahn, Farley Granger, Remo Capitani. 1:46 [1:50]

Both spaghetti western and takeoff on spaghetti westerns, this one’s delightful—more comedy than anything else. It’s also much more character-driven than violence-driven, and while there are a few typically ungory shootings, the biggest scenes are fights with the guns put away, including a long scene near the end (maybe 8 minutes).

The plot? This guy (Trinity) comes—well, not exactly riding into a waystation, more asleep on a sled of sorts being hauled by his horse. He’s so dirty that when he hits down dust flies up in the air. He’s also the fastest gun anywhere. We get to the point where he comes into town and finds that his crooked brother is acting as sheriff (his brother’s as fast as he is, but is also a mountain of a man who beats men down with one blow). The brother’s escaped from prison and is waiting for his gang to catch up so they can stage some more robberies. In the meantime, the town’s troubled by The Major who, with his gang, wants to run a bunch of Mormon settlers and their cattle out of the valley so The Major’s horses can have it.

It ends up…well, it ends up as it started, with Trinity asleep while his horse is dragging him along. In between, it’s great fun. Possibly best dialogue: After the two brothers (respectively the Right Hand of the Devil and the Left Hand of the Devil) have beaten up seven of The Major’s men after they insulted their mother, Trinity says “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t let them call Ma an old… [I'm guessing whore in the original].” His brother: “But it’s true.” Trinity: “Yeah, but she ain’t that old.”

It’s panned-and-scanned full-screen from a very wide-screen original, but it’s done well. The print’s decent, and I give this one a full $2.00.

The Gun and the Pulpit, 1974, color, TV movie, Daniel Petrie (dir.), Marjoe Gortner, Slim Pickens, Pamela Sue Martin, Estelle Parsons, Jeff Corey, David Huddleston. 1:14.

I reviewed this one in the March 2006 Cites & Insights as part of the 50-Movie All Stars Collection, and while I didn’t rewatch it this time around, it got one of the best reviews in that set: A full $2.00.

Getting it wrong

Posted in open access on January 2nd, 2014

An open letter to a whole bunch of people talking about OA as though they know something about it:

If you use the phrase

The gold (author pays) open-access model

you should just stop right there and maybe actually learn something about OA.

A higher percentage of subscription-based journals have article processing charges than do gold OA journals, at least the last time anybody who cared about facts checked.

But if your intention is to scare people away from gold OA and OA in general, I guess facts don’t much matter.

 

Cites & Insights February 2014 (14:2) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on January 1st, 2014

The February 2014 issue of Cites & Insights (volume 14, number 2) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i2.pdf.

The two-column print-oriented (and optimized for printing) PDF is 42 pages long.

If you’re planning to read it on a tablet or online, you may prefer the 80-page 6″ x 9″ single-column version (not optimized for printing) at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i2on.pdf

This issue completes the book-length discussion of ebook issues. It contains:

Perspective: E and P: What I Ignored   pp. 1-2

Possible motivations behind some comments and stances on pbooks and ebooks

Intersections: It Seems Like the Obvious Case: Ebooks as Textbooks pp. 2-15

For more than a decade I’ve assumed that textbooks represented the obvious billion-dollar (well, multi-billion-dollar) market for ebooks. It turns out not to be that easy.

Libraries: Ebooks and Libraries pp. 15-42

This discussion leaves out way too much and probably grossly oversimplifies the situation, but I do discuss some items having to do with the philosophical and general issues, problems, publishers and vendors, Kindles and libraries, and Douglas County and friends.

A year’s reading

Posted in Speaking on January 1st, 2014

Lots of people seem to keep close track of what they’ve read. I started keeping a spreadsheet, mostly to avoid checking out the same book twice. Anyway…

Books* started in 2013

58

Books* finished in 2013

56. I gave up on one (Any Old Iron, Anthony Burgess) and I’m in the middle of another. Oh, and I skipped an Orson Scott Card novelette in an otherwise-excellent SF collection…

Books* by category, excluding the one I’m in the middle of

Biography: 1

Fiction (general): 18

Mysteries: 8

Nonfiction: 19

Science fiction/fantasy: 11

Books I particularly enjoyed (in no particular order) – Grade A

Quiet Susan Cain
Lunatics Dave Barry/Alan Zweibel
Bed & Breakfast Lois Battle
Tricky Business Dave Barry
Break No Bones Kathy Reichs
Murder on the Lusitania Conrad Allen
Wishful Drinking Carrie Fisher
The City of Falling Angels John Berendt
The Long Earth Terry Pratchett & S. Baxter
Redshirts John Scalzi
The Last Colony John Scalzi
Night Sweats Laura Crossett

Books I enjoyed a lot but note quite as much (Grade A–

A Deepness in the Sky Vernor Vinge
Mars Crossing Geoffrey A. Landis
Bare Bones Kathy Reichs
Postcards from the Edge Carrie Fisher
Texasville Larry McMurtry
Insane City Dave Barry
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4) J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5) J.K. Rowling
Murder on the Leviathan Boris Akunin
Murder on the Half Shelf Lorna Barrett
Murder on the Celtic Conrad Allen
Small Town Lawrence Block
Groucho Marx, Master Detective Ron Goulart
The Happy Bottom Riding Club Lauren Kessler
How to Lie with Statistics Darrell Huff
The Case for Books Robert Darnton
Humans Robert J. Sawyer
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2) J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (3) J.K. Rowling

It’s fair to note that the genre count above is probably wrong: the Harry Potter books are all under Fiction rather than SF/F. Yes, I’m finally reading the rest of Harry Potter–I’d read the first one before all the movies, all of which I’ve seen. No credit for guessing what book I’m in the middle of or one that I’ll check out from the children’s room of the library after I finish this one…

*The asterisk

Not included: My own books, a couple of which I had reason to reread.

Other note: This is books. I also read 24 magazines, including three science fiction magazines, and I’d guess those add up to the text equivalent of at least another 50 books–the SF magazines alone are about 18 book-equivalents.

Last year’s minimum goal was three books for each LPL borrowing cycle, which comes out to 42. So I at least achieved the minimum. This year’s minimum goal is the same.


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