Friday, January 28, 2005

Eyes on the Prize

Last month, published a distressing story charting the disappearance of the civil rights history documentary, "Eyes on the Prize." This important, multi-volume documentary first aired on PBS in the 1980s and has been used in numerous schools and classrooms in the ensuing years as a powerful educational tool. I have distinct memories of watching parts of the documentary and can recall how much the footage in the film humanized and put a face on a history that at times could have seemed distant and remote.

However, the film is increasingly difficult to access, for reasons that are incredibly frustrating. From Katie Dean's Wired article:

The 14-part series highlights key events in black Americans' struggle for equality and is considered an essential resource by educators and historians, but the filmmakers no longer have clearance rights to much of the archival footage used in the documentary. It cannot be rebroadcast on PBS (where it originally aired) or any other channels, and cannot be released on DVD until the rights are cleared again and paid for.
This is not a problem unique to "Eyes on the Prize," but one faced by all sorts of filmmakers, particularly independent and documentary filmmakers. As discussed in a Washington Post article on the controversy:

In November, the Center for Social Media at American University released a report highlighting the problems that documentary filmmakers have as they try to clear rights to images. The report, which recommends finding ways to lower costs for obtaining rights, says current interpretations of copyright law "leads to a creative stranglehold."

"Filmmakers must pay a license to use a pop song that may play in the background [of footage shot] in a pizza parlor, an image or sequence from a movie, or from archival footage owned by someone else," the report says. "They may need to pay not only songwriters but performers, not only movie studios but actors. There is no central place to find out who owns what. There is no rule of thumb for pricing. No one has to agree to license. And it doesn't matter if you didn't intend to quote it. Did somebody sing 'Happy Birthday' in your documentary? Too bad -- you owe Time Warner a small fortune.

In the past month or so the fate of "Eyes" has received increasing attention across the blogosphere and within some activist communities. Currently spearheading action and activism in response to this is Downhill Battle. They're organizing a two-pronged activist response: (1) downloading unauthorized digital copies of the documentary; and (2) organizing screenings of Eyes on the Prize across the country, to be held on February 8 during Black History Month.

As with their previous activism, DB frames their efforts in the language of civil disobedience. This rhetoric is echoed by Lawrence Guyot, former leader of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party (quoted in the WP article):

"I would call upon everyone who has access to 'Eyes on the Prize' to openly violate any and all laws regarding its showing."
Downhill Battle emerged last year in response to the music industry crackdowns against filesharing, and its webpage describes its mission as, "a non-profit organization working to end the major label monopoly and build a better, fairer music industry." Their tactics have ranged from sending lumps of coal to the RIAA and MPAA (in exchange for donations to EFF, iPAC, or Public Knowledge) to stickering projects (distributing warning labels for CDs such as: "Warning: This record label pays radio stations to keep independent labels off the air") to their establishment of a P2P legal defense fund. Most notable was their spearheading of "Grey Tuesday":
DJ Danger Mouse created a remix of Jay-Z's the Black Album and the Beatles White Album, and called it the Grey Album. Jay-Z's record label, Roc-A-Fella, released an a capella version of his Black Album specifically to encourage remixes like this one. But despite praise from music fans and major media outlets like Rolling Stone ("an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly ahead of its time") and the Boston Globe (which called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the year), EMI has sent cease and desist letters demanding that stores destroy their copies of the album and websites remove them from their site. EMI claims copyright control of the Beatles 1968 White Album.

Danger Mouse?s album is one of the most "respectful" and undeniably positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z. Yet the lawyers and bureaucrats at EMI have shown zero flexibility and not a glimmer of interest in the artistic significance of this work . . .
The Grey Tuesday protest was simply amazing. On February 24, 2004 approximately 170 websites hosted a full copy of the Grey Album, in spite of the fact that many of those sites received a cease and desist letter from EMI's lawyers (read Downhill Battle's response to EMI). Right now, thanks to everyone who participated in this protest, tens of thousands of people in the US and around the world are listening to DJ Danger Mouse's "The Grey Album". Because the attempt to censor this record is one of the most clear-cut examples of what's wrong with current sampling rules, everyone who participated in the Grey Tuesday protest has sent a strong message in support of common-sense changes to copyright law. Grey Tuesday was organized by Downhill Battle, a music activism project . . . .

I'm intrigued and heartened by Downhill Battle's role in the "Eyes on the Prize" activism and their broadening of their efforts beyond the music arena. It will be interesting to see what responses to this action are-- both in terms of activist participation and in terms of legal responses. I'm particularly interested in the way this issue may be connecting seemingly disparate activist and creative groups and this opportunity to broaden the copyfight issue beyond the confines of the music/P2P issue that some mistakenly limit it to. While some may dismiss the latter issue as trivial as the whining of music "thieves," the "Eyes on the Prize" controversy nicely illustrates some of the more fundamental questions at stake.

Much more is at stake in the current struggles over copyright, intellectual property, creativity, and access to a commons than from where and whether we can download popular songs. This isn't to say that I don't think that access to music is itself a signficant issue. But, trends in the mediascape such as the unprecedented extension of copyright, the narrowing of the public domain (e.g., via technical means such as Digital Rights Management (DRM) backed up by legal power such as in the DMCA), and the connected issue of corporate consolidation of media ownership, have the potential to radically transform (and curtail) our abilities as users, creators, and researchers of media, culture, and knowledge in ways that go far beyond the music domain.

UPDATE: Well, one question is answered already: From the downhill battle webpage for their "Eyes on the Screen" action:

We have taken down the torrent links to these videos at the request of lawyers for Blackside, Inc. This sucks!
UPDATE: From Downhill Battle

The teacher who was planning a February 8th screening of Eyes on the Prize in Vienna, VA for students and community members has been forced to cancel after a threat of lawsuit from the "licensee level". . . . (read more)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Searching . . .

Google released today (in beta) a new service: Google Video. Basically, what they've done is indexed closed-captioning text from recent television programming. Then you can do searches for programs on which those words appeared (assuming that the closed-captioner spelled them correctly-- not always a safe assumption to make!). Google isn't offering actual video clips (yet), however-- it just reports when the program aired, provides still images, and the closed-caption transcripts.

Yahoo, apparently, also has a new program, Yahoo Video Search, which is not quite the same in that it does offer video clips found from across the web (and soon to include BBC and Bloomberg news clips)

These are both in their infancies and it's not clear what sort of and what degree of content will eventually be available through these searches, and what sort of DRM will be slapped on them. But, it's yet another interesting development in the convergences, collusions, and collisions between television and the internet. I'm curious to see how and where these develop. If you find yourself using either of these tools, let me know what and why you're using them.

Link: "Yahoo, Google Expand Searches" (LA Times; reg. req.)

Another search-related story also caught my eye this week. The Pew Internet Project has released yet another interesting report. Over the past few years , they've released a plethora of survey results, documenting Internet usage (and nonusage) patterns as they are developing in the U.S. While some of the results simply give firm numbers to back up general impressions, a number of their results have surprised me somewhat. This newest study, looking at people's attitudes about web searches, was no exception. The tag line of the report reads, "Internet searchers are confident, satisfied, and trusting-- but they are also unaware and naive."

Only 38% of users are aware of the distinction between paid or ?sponsored? results and unpaid results. And only one in six say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not. This finding is ironic, since nearly half of all users say they would stop using search engines if they thought engines were not being clear about how they presented paid results.
As someone who's only half- joking when she says that she can't imagine life without googling, this just served as a good reminder to me not to overestimate the web-savvy of most people. (Though apparently 92% of respondents said they feel confident in their searching abilities.)

And speaking of life without google:

But about one third of internet searchers, 32%, say they can?t live without search engines. They are a different breed of searcher?a more high-powered group who work the engines harder and more seriously. They are more likely to be: male, young, better educated, of higher income, and to have been online for more years than others. Compared with other users, they search more often and they search for more information that they consider important to them. They consider themselves more successful and more confident at searching. They also know more about the workings of search engines: they have heard about the distinction between paid and unpaid results and they are more likely to be able to distinguish between the two types.

Such trends will be increasingly important to follow. For, digital divides, such as they are today, may become less and less about divisions in simple access to the internet and more and more about knowledge of how to get things from and through it (or, I suppose, make contributions to it.) (Eszter Hargittai has published a couple of relevant studies, in this vein: One conceptualizing the digital divide broadly, "Digital Divide: From Unequal Access to Differentiated Use" and the other looking specifically at web searching, "Do You Google?: Understanding Search Engine Use Beyond the Hype")

Link: Pew Report: Search Engine Users (pdf)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bye bye Michael . . . (Changes at the FCC)

It's official: Michael Powell is resigning from his position as head of the FCC. This comes as no surprise; speculation about his departure has been steady for quite a while now. What's not entirely clear, however, is what his departure (and his replacement) will mean. (There's all sorts of guessing going on out there about who will replace Powell-- but I really have any way of judging the accuracy of any of those musings.)

The most famous acts of the FCC during Powell's tenure have undoubtedly been the decisions regarding censorship, indecency, and fines. To the degree that he has any widespread name recognition, it probably comes from the battles with Howard Stern et al. (Not to downplay the seriousness of that issue, but his spars with Howard Stern were pure entertainment. If you never heard the on-air radio fight between them, you really should taken a list to the MP3.)

While I have found the moral panic around television "indecency" (or, worse yet, "profanity") quite frustrating, and while I am certainly no fan of Powell, I never really got the impression that this issue was his baby, so to speak. His part in the indecency crackdown seemed to me more to a response to caving under pressure than a crusade he was specifically invested in. Granted, this doesn't make it any better. Indeed, if his response seemed genuinely grounded in the idea that the broadcast airwaves are a public property and public trust, which therefore requires public oversight and regulation, I would have some sympathy. But instead he continually eschewed such a notion in the relentless drive to deregulate the broadcast media, to treat them as the private fiefdoms of corporate America, particularly around media ownership rules.

Powell's lasting, negative legacy will be the media ownership deregulation that he oversaw and extended and the ensuing consolidation and conglomeration that it engendered. The only bright spots that have occurred on this front during his reign have been exclusively in spite of rather than because of him-- i.e., in those important moments when his attempts at deregulation have failed or been stalled by the courts or Congress.

Will his successor be any better on this issue, I wonder?

On the one hand, Bush is hardly likely to nominate someone with a substantially different approach to issues of corporate control of the media, regulation, ownership, etc. (Not that this is really a red-state/blue-state issue. Indeed, it is Clinton who first appointed Powell to the FCC and it was under Clinton that the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed in the first place. Sadly, I'm not sure that we'd be terribly better off in this area had we had a Kerry rather than a Bush inauguration this week.)

On the other hand, these will be the first confirmation hearings for this position since the surge of unprecedented activism around issues of media ownership and consolidation became so visible in recent years-- activism to which Congress at least briefly responded. So, maybe there is a little hope for at least some dialogue around this issue? However, I worry that the indecency issue will continue to overshadow things, supplanting the more fundamental issues of media control in the sorts of things that a nominee is grilled over, in terms of broadcast media.

Of course, while the indecency rulings and media ownership (de)regulations are probably Powell's most visible legacy, these are hardly the only important issues at stake in the FCC these days.

For one thing, there are a multitude of issues relating to my own research interests-- the digital television transition, the broadcast flag rules, new television technologies (will the new Commissioner share Powell's enthusiasm for TiVo, I wonder?) (But, I'm not quite ready to blog about these issues. Why is it that I'm so much more comfortable spouting off about the implications for the issues I know less about than the ones I actually study? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?)

In an essay in last month's Wired, Lawrence Lessig provocatively pointed out two areas of positive contributions from Powell: his commitment to experimenting with the wireless spectrum as a commons rather than as private property to be auctioned off, and a tendency toward supporting the idea of access neutrality to the internet.

Regardless, I'm not sorry to see him go. But in terms of what the next years will bring us from the FCC, I hope that in retrospect we won't have to see this as a "be careful what you wish for" moment.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Santa Barbara is number one . . .

. . . in unafforadable housing.

Can sushi be worth $350?

In Santa Barbara, one of my favorite sushi places is Edomasa. The sushi is not quite as cheap as getting it half-priced at Kyoto nor quite as delectable as that at Arigato, and the restaurant is totally lacking in the ambiance-department. The 'masa nevertheless serves up some pretty mean sushi rolls (the Santa Barbara roll is my personal favorite) and the simple tuna nigiri never fails to satisfy.

I was recently reading, though, about a whole other type of sushi experience at a different Masa, in New York. There the cost of a prix-fixe meal is $350. Per person. Plus tax. Plus tip. Plus alcohol. $350!

Now, to say that the reviews of this place are superlative would be an understatement: The NYT's food critic, Frank Bruni, described eating there as "Discrete moments of pure elation." It's garnered incredibly rare 4-star ratings and other highest honors.

But still: $350? Could it be worth it? I asked a few of my fellow sushi-lovers and responses were mixed. Sara responded that nothing could be worth $350, while Samara (whose rhapsodic description of her first encounter with sushi is truly inspirational) argued that if she won the lottery she'd do it and it would be money well spent. It was the lottery-test that I was thinking of too. Obviously none of us are going to be going there on our grad student budgets. (However, Anthony Bourdain claims that's no excuse: "Even if you make $300 dollars a week as a rookie prep cook, I urge you to go," Bourdain wrote. "Go! (Forget) Con Ed. Let 'em shut off the cable. Who cares if Junior needs bail money? The landlord can wait. Go. Now.") But, if I won the lottery? Well, I probably agree with Sara, that the price is absurd and it ultimately wouldn't be "worth it"-- yet, I think I'd want to try it nevertheless, just to satisfy my curiosity.

Of course, none of the three of us play the lottery. (Though we have been known to waste more than a few quarters on the progressive-slots in Vegas, for which the odds are just as stupidly against us. Speaking of which, when's the next trip to Vegas, baby?). So, regular-old SB Edomasa will have to do. But given the yumminess of the Santa Barbara rolls, maybe that's no so bad . . .

Link: Sushi steals critic's stars

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Recommended Reading?

Over at Crooked Timber, they've hosted an interesting discussion (a "mini-seminar") of China Mieville's novels, including a thoughtful response from Mieville himself.

Mieville's works are hard to describe. Are they horror novels? Science fiction? Steam punk? Fantasy? All and none of the above. For example, it's fantasy definitely, but think Peake not Tolkien (whom Mieville has rather famously denounced). (However, John Holbo's essay interestingly complicates the relationship between Mieville and Tolkien.) Or, monsters and grime abound, yet simply slapping on the horror genre label doesn't seem to do justice to the books at all. (I may be betraying my own genre snobbery, here, though; while I bristle at pat dismissals of my genres of choice, I'm probably guilty of a bit of the same with genres I don't normally think of myself as reading much of.)

Their uniqueness and Mieville's genre-busting comprise a large part of the books' appeal. However, what makes these books so intriguing and controversial is not just that they're different or weird (Mieville being the posterboy of the so-called New Weird movement in SF): Mieville's gritty worldbuilding, inventive language play, or political engagement-- each, on their own, would be enough to merit excitement about his work. The books at times frustrate me; the density and neologisms, for example, are often wonderful but at other times just bog things down (for me, anyway). And I'm sometimes hesitant to recommend him, knowing that his style will not be to everyone's liking. Yet, Perdido Street Station (his second book, but the first I read) propelled Mieville onto my "buy and read new books by this author immediately" list, and he has yet to fall from that position.

His newest novel, Iron Council, pulls off a difficult task in managing to be explicitly political, to be about politics (among other things), but in a non-pedantic way. It manages to be satisfying-- or at least engaging, I'm not sure that I can quite call this reading experience satisfactory--on both the political and narrative fronts; too often auathors sacrifice one to the other. (On the political front, Mieville's own background-- he's a socialist (who even ran for Parliament recently) and a recent PhD from the London School of Economics, whose dissertation apparently focuses on Marxism and International Relations-- seems relevant here. But his obvious love of ripping tales and genre classics (and should-be-classics) also seems relevant.)

The books themselves are certainly worth taking a look at, as is the discussion at Crooked Timber. (And continuing in the theme of the week, as a prod to myself to get around to that podcasting blog entry, I'll mention that I also recently listened to an MP3 interview with Mieville, that touches on many of the issues discussed above.)

Incidentally, CT has also had interesting blogging in recent times on the topic of other, themselves quite singular, speculative fiction texts of the past year.

The first is Susannah Clarke's delightful Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I know, "delightful" sounds so affected; yet I think it really is the perfect word for that book. Reading this quirky, witty book was truly enjoyable. If you do read it, be sure not to skip the footnotes, which may be the very best part. Again, it's a book that's hard to describe-- my attempt recently was, "Think Jane Austen meets Gormenghast." This description (which I I stole from someone whom I've forgotten) doesn't quite capture the book's charm, but maybe it will give you some idea. (Oh, and don't let the fact that I've referenced Peake in relation to both Mieville's books and Clarke's or that I'm discussing both in this one post mislead you into thinking that these two authors have much in common. In tone, style, and content, they really couldn't be more different. While I know I'm not the only one who likes both, I imagine that they tend to appeal to rather distinct audiences.)

The second is Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, (comprised by Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World.) The series (really one, enormous book broken into three still themselves insanely large parts) never reaches the heights of his earlier Cryptonomicon, my very favorite of his book-- indeed one of my very favorite books, period--and for which these newest books serve as a prequel of sorts. Indeed, the infodumps, digressions, and minutiae-- which were maybe the most wonderful parts of Cryptonomicon--were downright tedious at times in these 3 books. Despite finding the reading to be a chore at some moments-- delightful would not be the perfect word here-- I remain happy that I made it through the series. The description and review of the books that I most appreciate comes from Cory Doctorow:

The historicity of these books is borderline alarming. Stephenson has researched so many goddamned interesting factoids about pirates, the birth off the monetary system, natural philosophy, alchemy, the court of the Sun King, the functioning of London's ancient prisons, the nature of sewage disposal in early metropolises, and many other diverse subjects that you can practically open the books to any page and find five cool trivia questions to baffle your friends with on e.g. long plane trips.

The storylines are convoluted in the extreme: they twist and turn on themselves, surprising and delighting.

The characters are Stephenson's best: funny, likable, roguish, brilliant, and insightful, and they serve to illuminate his research, and almost never seem like an artifice for this purpose.

The books' strengths, however, are also their failings. They are slow in many places, bogged down in detail (especially the intrigues among the many royals), as though Stephenson was bent on conveying the sheer tedium of life in the 16th and 17th centuries. The convolutions in the plotlines veer back and forth between intriguing and confusing.

For all that, these books are like a good curry. They're mild and interesting when you first taste them, but after you've swallowed, they grow on you, spreading a warm fire throughout your digestive system, making beads of sweat appear on your forehead. Since finishing the first two books, I've been practically haunted by them. Ever time I spend money, or walk through London, or see a ship, or think about math and science, some snippet of those books springs to mind, a lens through which to reexamine my thinking and assumptions.

I quoted a longer portion of that review than I had initially intended because in rereading it, I was struck even more by how much it mirrored my own response to the books. I'm not sure that I would go quite so far as to call the books "haunting," nor have they necessarily made me reexamine any my deep-seated. Yet, as with Cory, I continue to think of little bits of them here and there and everywhere (ost recently, while reading Bill Bryson's absurdly- yet not necessarily entirely inappropriately-titled, A Short History of Nearly Everything) and y appreciation of the books has increased with time apart from them (they're more satisfying in retrospect than in the process of reading). This might not sound like much of a recommendation, but it's a good thing, I think.

These 3 sets of texts-- Mieville's New Crobuzon novels, Clarke's Jonathan Strange, and Stephenson's Baroque Series-- are incredibly different from one another and I'm not sure how often they find common audiences. But I suppose these three works of speculative fiction do all share (in addition to the much-coveted endorsement of Molly) a similarity simply in that they are each in their own ways such provocative pastiches and reworkings of disparate literary traditions. But that sounds like the subject for another post.

Anyway, I started this post simply to point to the CT discussion of Mieville, but it seems to have evolved into a recommended-reading-riff (thus I changed the title of the entry, above.) Any of these 3 quite hefty (and I do mean hefty; none of these are light or easily transportable) texts might serve well, ifyou're looking for a diversion (if watching Lost, writing a dissertation, or actually, you know, going out and doing something aren't already taking all of your time). Then again these odd books will certainly not appeal to all, hence the question mark at the end of this post's title.

Link: Debating Iron Council

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Triple Evils of Racism, Poverty, and Militarism

Today, you'll likely hear many excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s familiar "I have a dream" speech, in commemoration of his birthday. It was interesting to hear from another of his speeches, this morning on Democracy Now!, however. They spent the majority of today's show simply playing the speech, which he delivered April 4, 1967, a year (to the day) before his assassination.

Though I was familiar in a broad sense with the radicalism of the connections King made between economic injustice, racism, and war (and the need to fight these simultaneously), I'm not sure that I'd ever heard this in his own words, at least not in this extended form. Many of his comments in this speech, which denounced the Viet Nam war and U.S. foreign policy, have a great deal of resonance today, with the current situation in Iraq and U.S. foreign policy more generally. If, as was the case with me, these words of King's are less familiar to you, you might want to listen to today's show.

In addition to being played on the radio (locally: on kpfk in the mornings and on kcsb afternoons at 4 p.m.) and on cable access (also at 4 p.m., in Santa Barbara), you can watch or listen to a streaming version of it online, or download it as an MP3 file. (Incidentally, the MP3 files are hosted by the Internet Archive, discussed in yesterday's post.) The MP3 download is the main way that I access Democracy Now! these days-- it gives me something to listen to on the walk to and from the bus stop, etc. (a fact that may answer the question, why does Molly, perhaps the least musically oriented person she knows, have an iPod mini? The answer to the question, why did Molly suddenly start speaking about herself in the third person remains unanswered, however.) (This all reminds me that I've been meaning to blog something about Podcasting for ages now, but I'll leave that for another day.)

Democracy Now! | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Google, libraries, and copyright

When late last year google and a number of major universities announced google print their ambitious plans to digitize huge portions of their libraries and make these available online, I was pretty excited. The potential embodied in this sort of expansion of access to books well beyond their physical, restricted homes is rather phenomenal. The press releases at the time stressed that they would be obeying copyright regulations; only out of copyright books would be posted in full. For books still in copyright, only snippets would be made available. (Something akin to the Amazon search inside the book feature, I guess.) Of course, grump that I am, my mind immediately went to the sorts of things that are in copyright but are almost totally inaccessible, out of print, and not making money for anyone anymore, but that would be neverthless locked behind the copyright restrictions. In a recent op-ed piece in the L.A. Times, Lawrence Lessig brings further attention to this issue, pointing to the importance of requiring active rather than automatic copyright renewal as a potential solution to this problem:

The vast majority of creative work published in 1930, therefore, is in the public domain. But it is extremely costly to know which works in particular are in that category. And for those works that remain under copyright, unless new editions containing the latest copyright information become available — a reprint of an old book, say, or a DVD of an old movie — tracking down the current owners can require hours of detective work that may come up empty.

The solution is obvious enough: Clean up the copyright system. As with every other federal intellectual property regime, all copyrights should be registered.

Another issue, not discussed in Lessig's op-ed, is the question of what it means that this is being done by google-- a for-profit corporation. Now, I still love google. I can't stop raving about how much google desktop has simplified finding things on my computer. [If only they'd start indexing firefox pages too.] And, like google print, google scholar (beyond the access this could open up, there's just the ability to use googly-smart searching for looking for academic texts; the search capabilities on most of the databases UCSB library uses, at least, are beyond frustratingly limited.) And of course just plain old google still manages to make me happy on a daily basis. And it's not that I think that their "don't be evil" motto is disingenuous. I do think that there may be some genuinely noble motives behind some of this plan. And I certainly respect how many millions of dollars are going to be necessary to bring something like this massive scale of digitization into fruition. But-- does all or any of this mean that we should be satisfied with leaving this important project to a for-profit corporation that does not have any direct responsibility to the public? It seems like this is a project with such important potential contributions for the public good that a publicly funded, large-scale project is very much called for (but incredibly unlikely, sadly.) In the absence of this, it at least points to the need to keep on supporting nonprofit endeavors like Internet Archive, which in addition to its quite helpful caches of the internet of days and years past, in its wayback machine, is embarking of just such a project:

Today, a number of International libraries have committed to putting their digitized books in open-access archives, starting with one at the Internet Archive. This approach will ensure permanent and public access to our published heritage. Anyone with an Internet connection will have access to these collections and the growing set of tools to make use of them. In this way we are getting closer to the goal of Universal Access to All Knowledge.

By working with libraries from 5 countries, and working to expand this number, we are bringing a broad range of materials to every interested individual. This growing commitment to open access through public archives marks a significant commitment to broad, public, and free access. While still early in its evolution, works in dozens of languages are already stored in the Internet Archive's Open-Access Text Archive offering a breadth of materials to everyone.

Over one million books have been committed to the Text Archive. Currently over twenty-seven thousand are available and an additional fifty thousand are expected in the first quarter of 2005. Advanced processing of these multilingual books will offer unprecedented access.

This doesn't mean that I don't still find the google print project exciting. And none of this negates the points Lessig makes about the need for copyright reform. Check out the piece, before it gets trapped behind the L.A. Times copyright wall . . .
Lessig: Let a Thousand Googles Bloom

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Gotta Get My Stuff Done

Of course, I never, ever procrastinate. But if you occasionally do, you might enjoy this short animation. Especially if you, like me, (er, I mean, like this person I know) are an expert at using supposedly productive tasks as a rationalization. What the fact that I'm (hopefully) back to blogging after a long hiatus says about my commitment to getting stuff done in 2005 (is blogging a source or an object of procrastination?), I'll leave to the reader. Gotta Get My Stuff Done