Wednesday, January 28, 2009

LibraryThing - a better post-it note

Look for a LibraryThing widget here soon! I created an account some time ago but, like Facebook and several other 2.0 applications I signed-up for, left only a bare skeleton. The time has come to share my reading habits with myself!

What does that mean, you ask? LibraryThing is a social community of readers sharing their love of books with others. --- You are right. It also looks like a great way to remember what I have read, how I felt about it as I was reading it, and who I may want to recommend it to. My memory is not what it used to be and I am always looking for better post-it notes!

LibraryThing not only quickly pulls up author or title, bookcover, publication data, isbn, etc., it also allows users to "tag" for organizational purposes. Users are encouraged to "review" books and allowed to make private comments visual only through their own accounts. These will all help to spark my memory.

An added bonus is the social aspect. I look forward to using the tag-search process to locate similar books. It is also interesting to read other reader reviews and comments on books. This allows us to get inside the heads of non-professional (and many semi-pro) readers and reviewers.

I admit some concern about my ability in the area of readers advisory. I read voraciously as a teenager but that was many years ago. I really believe I can still think like a teen and understand feelings and needs of adolescence, but my knowledge about current juvenile and YA literature is limited. I read very little during my years in business and have forgotten much of what I read when I was younger. There are decades worth of new literature on the shelves and more being published each month than I could read in a year. I realize we don't have to read it all, but I know that this is a weak area that I need to address and improve.

I am reading when I can, and need a way to store, sort, organize, and remember what I have read (and maybe even some of what I need to read). LibraryThing is it! "The first step is to take the first step." I will enter some of the juvenile and YA books I have read recently into LibraryThing over the next couple weeks and will post my widget and user name to this blog soon. Please wish me luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

YouTube - the new copyright cop!

The copyright ©law cometh! The blogosphere is abuzz with news about the new YouTube policy of "muting" videos that contain copyrighted music. Very few videos have been affected by this policy so far but the potential is mindboggling!! Our students and other teachers may begin to see us as the copyright information specialists we are and no longer as the "copyright cops" they have perceived us to be. "There's a new Sheriff in town."

According to a Rolling Stone article, "YouTube Hits the Mute Button as Royalty Fight with Warner Bros. Continues" the policy currently only affects Warner Music Group releases. Videos being muted are tagged with the comment, “This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled.” They further report, "YouTube said in a statement issued after the muting began, 'Now we’ve added an additional choice. Instead of automatically removing the video from YouTube, we give users the option to modify the video by removing the music subject to the copyright claim and post the new version, and many of them are taking that option.'"

Both those who post to and who watch and listen to YouTube will feel the pain. As a consumer of music and video, I empathize with these users and will miss the popular, high-quality audio, but as an educator I am in full support of this policy and hope that it extends to all protect all studio releases. I have agreed before that our copyright law is in need of massive revision but I have also advocated strongly that creators should be allowed to earn a profit from their creations! Adding popular music, purchased or "borrowed," to videos and publishing them for mass consumption without compensation to the creator of that music is, by any reasonable revision of the law, infringement.

As teachers and librarians teaching in "project based" environments, we allow some level of legal (within the confines of the classroom) copyright infringement. Our students do not understand, though, that using an audio clip on their class video project is legal but posting the same clip to YouTube is not. It has been our responsibility to try to explain this concept, but lacking any form of evidence of the illegality by peers or providers on the Web, the explanations have fallen on deaf ears. We have been the nagging, copyright cops. A solid and sincere effort by You Tube, and other video hosting sites, to mute illegal posting of copyrighted music will not only protect creators, but will lend credence to librarians, and others who have assumed a responsibility for informing the public about the laws and attempting to protect creators.

Will this be the end of YouTube and publicly shared videos as we know them? I think not. It will be an obstacle to be hurdled. Many current users will, initially look for other hosting sites or ways to get around the filters. Beware the abusive and pornographic comments being added to every unmoderated blog and discussion group covering this story! Eventually though, this, like many obstacles we face, could make the system stronger and better. I will not attempt to predict specifics of the future, but feel confident that amateur created streaming video will mature and grow as a medium of entertainment and education for years to come.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Ten days till Inauguration, Happy New Year, & blog thoughts

Great Start, hunh . . . . I committed to keeping up with this blog one month ago to the day, and have made only one post since. Though I should apologize to myself and interested readers I must preface with the facts. Our holiday vacation was fantastic! We enjoyed family time, games, travel, reading, fun and relaxation! All this and we even got a few (small) things done around the house.

I learned lots during the break, on topics I may revisit later, but am not going to beat myself up about not recording every discovery. As discussed in earlier posts, my interests are random and I am going to let this blog grow out of my interests and my ever continuing education. Posts will vary in length, style, and value, and will, without remorse, be posted at irregular intervals. Unlike many bloggers who commit to their readers, my primary commitment will remain with myself and with my family.

Spring semester starts this week! I have already started reading for both classes and am prepared to jump in with both feet. I am taking two classes: Resources and Services for Young Adults, and Curriculum Roles of the Library Media Specialist. I haven't decided how to track books I am reading for YA -- will consider LibraryThing and blogging about them in the next few days; wondering if there are other, better options?

Check this four minute montage of 44 presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama. Each presidential portrait is video morphed into the next to the tune of Bolero. While Obama may be a look different from his predecessor, he is certainly not the first president who looked different than the one before him! This is a very interesting way to look at our presidential history and our changing preferences and ideals regarding our leaders through the decades.