Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Finding Digital Resources for Research and Teaching

A project based out of U of Michigan works to "harvest" publically accessible (but often hidden or hard to find) digital resources for research from across the Internet. I haven't had time to play with it much yet, but it looks like a great resource (and not just for academics). OAIster Project Description:
"The University of Michigan Library service establishes a broad, generic, information retrieval resource for information about publicly available digital library resources provided by the research library community. This service is built through a collaboration that relies on the University of Illinois's metadata harvester.
The two primary criteria for inclusion in the University of Michigan service are that the information resources the metadata describe are:
publicly accessible and have no access restrictions, and
have a corresponding web-based digital representation (e.g., this would not include the metadata records for slides when the slides cannot be accessed through the web).
The service also encompasses as broad a collection of resources as possible (i.e., with no subject parameters). The service is accessible to the entire Internet community, without bounds. We hope to finally begin to reveal these 'hidden web' digital library resources in a way that they are not now revealed. "

(via cultstud-l)

Liberal Media?

FAIR has a new study out examining the sources used/interviewed on NPR. They analyze an overwhelming reliance on official/elite sources (as well as corporate media journalists as common sources), gender trends in sourcing (approximately 80% male), and take on the assumption that NPR has a definite liberal bias.

"Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance."

Link: How Public is Public Radio?

Friday, May 21, 2004

Picturing radio spectrum allocation

Okay, spectrum policy does not sound like the material for comics-- but don't let that stop you from reading the New America Foundation's The Cartoon Guide to Federal Spectrum Policy" (576 KB)". It's really quite illuminating and clear. (via Crooked Timber)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Good news on the free culture front
How often do we get to post good news on this issue. All too rarely, for sure. But, according to Fred von Lohmann at EFF DMCA reform is looking like a real possibility. I've been swamped with work lately and am feeling totally out of the loop on things right now-- millions of unread posts are piling up for me in Newsgator right now-- so I have no idea what kind of coverage this is getting out there or more details, but hope to dive into it soon.

But I'd say the majority of the subcommittee just wasn't buying the "sky will fall" stories being told by Big Content. Members repeatedly asked why it should be illegal to make a single back-up copy of a DVD. They asked why it should be illegal to edit a DVD you own to remove "smut." They asked whether this impasse was the product of the entertainment industry's failure to deploy new business models. And Rep. Davis went so far as to ask Larry Lessig whether we should be thinking about alternative systems that would compensate rightsholders without insisting on digital lockdown or mass prosecutions.

Today was a good day for fair use, for consumers, and for our nation's tradition of balance in copyright law. Stay tuned for more.

EFF: Deep LinksL H.R. 107 Comes to Life

Update Seth Finkelstein has more commentary on today's hearings as well as a number of links to others' posts here: Infothought: DMCRA hearing impressions. Nothing I've read in my quick skimming thus far is quite as ebullient as the first post I discuss above-- but still a glimmer of hope is better than none.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Great rant/analysis at The Register on the announcement of MS's new WIndows Media DRM plan-- specifically on the way that this is presented as providing a wonderful solution for consumers while the "problems" it solves are those defined by the content distributors and on how this further contributes to the demise of actually owning cultural materials rather than subscribing to or renting it (and a restricted version of "it" at that).
You may have spotted that, as it's already perfectly feasible to rip all of your CDs to MP3s, shove them onto your portable music player and stream them around the home, this might not entirely be a solution to your digital entertainment problems. But granted, if from your perspective it's a good deal to pay a monthly fee in order to be able to listen to a big pile of music, then having the ability to listen to it on a portable player might be helpful. Otherwise, in the secure DRMed future you'll do well to keep questioning who exactly it is that 'your' hardware is working for.

Here's locking down you, kid - MS hawks vision of DRM future [printer-friendly] | The Register (via JD Lasica

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Indecency, censorship, and the news
I've been pretty flippant about this whole indecency/FCC/fines fervor thus far. This doesn't mean that I haven't been disturbed by it, but some of the uproar has struck me as downright comical. I just have such a hard time getting my head around the idea of "fuck" as inherently profane, for instance, that I have had a difficult time taking all of this seriously. Yet the results of all of this are quite serious. The effects on censoring entertainment culture are important-- but perhaps the effects on news media make the stakes more clear:

CBS affiliates are telling the Federal Communications Commission that unless it changes its ruling about profanities on-air, many will have to stop doing news outside of the 10 p.m.-6 a.m. safe harbor for indecent speech.

Noncommercial stations, meanwhile, argued that the decision has caused them to significantly self-censor for the first time.

The CBS stations move would mean an end to many morning, afternoon and newscasts, which are ironically just the sort of local service the FCC otherwise encourages.

Free Press News : Some CBS affiliates could drop newscasts

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Commodore 64!
Here's a toy I must have when it comes out this summer. It's basically Commodore 64 (or actually a c64 game console) crammed into a joystick. It comes with 30 games-- including one of my favorites from childhood: Summer Games. If M.U.L.E. is on there I'd be a happy camper indeed. The first computer my family owned was a Vic-20, followed not long after by the C64. My sister and I-- as well as a bunch of neighborhood kids-- spent many an hour playing games on that thing. And printing random signs with Print-Shop. But mainly playing games. Other favorite games included Below the Root and Alice in Wonderland as well as various arcade style games like Jumpman and Ms. Pacman. Okay, I'm babbling now, but reading about this little gadget just brought back a flood of memories. The C64 Direct-to-TV - Engadget -