Digital Preservation Workshop and Tutorial

I didn’t blog very much this month; the start of the school year is always a hectic time and we had what must have been a record number of technical problems with our e-resources. Besides that, I’ve been preparing for Cornell’s Digital Preservation Workshop, which requires completion of a pre-workshop tutorial and the reading of a couple hefty articles beforehand. The tutorial is very worthwhile on its own, and even if you’re not into the whole digital preservation thing you might be interested in the Chamber of Horrors, which illustrates media obsolescence, and the Timeline of Digital Technology and Preservation, which reveals, among other things, the original name of IBM and the identity of the first computer bug (it was a moth).

I hope to blog about the workshop, but will probably do so after the whole thing is over since I’ll have a long commute to and from Ithaca all week.

Portable New Yorker

Emdashes reports that the New Yorker will soon sell the Complete New Yorker on portable hard drive in addition to the DVD set already on sale. For $299 you get an installation CD and a portable 3″x5″ drive. Since $59.99 gets you the same coverage on DVD, I’m curious about their target audience with this venture. My other question’s been answered though; the description includes this: “Plus, there is plenty of extra room on the drive for future updates.”

Siva Vaidhyanathan on Google and Copyright

On June 15, I heard Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan give the keynote address at the 2006 SUNYLA conference. (Vaidhyanathan is a professor of communications at NYU; you can read more about him, and hear the correct pronunciation of his name, at his blog, sivacracy.net.) He discussed Google’s Book Search initiative and its implications for libraries, copyright law, and even the future of web searching. He noted that while debate about what Google is doing is often portrayed as two-sided, the situation is more complicated.

While Vaidhyanathan could be described as often on the “copyleft” (my description, not his), he is not supportive of Google’s initiative as far as it involves copyrighted works. For one thing, he is not optimistic that they will win. Google’s case will be heard by a court that is usually favorable to copyright owners–the 2nd Circuit, if I remember correctly. If the case does go Google’s way, Vaidhyanathan believes it is likely that Congress will step in. Will the case eventually have repercussions for web searching in general? Will the effect be the overturning of precedent that allows search engines to display thumbnails and snippets of web pages in their search results?

By way of conclusion, Vaidhyanathan noted that Google’s project is the human genome project of intellectual property, and he believes that there should be a comparable public initiative. The tragedy is that some people think there’s no need for an initiative because Google is already doing it. His hope is that Google will back off the digitization of copyrighted works and instead make a statement about the current state of copyright law.

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Bonus: For an interesting take on copyright in the print world, look for the 6/19 New Yorker article, “The Injustice Collector,” about the grandson of James Joyce.