Friday, 16 January 2009

Censorship: new blogs, more action, new websites

I posted a little while ago on the lively online scene which has been generated by the Government's plans to implement filtering of the Internet. It has been a recurring theme of this blog.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has established a new blog, and one of its early postings, a very reasonable and encouraging welcome by Lindsay Tanner, has attracted 787 comments so far - overwhelmingly condemning the Government's plans for ISP-level filtering. The comments are particularly interesting, as you would expect. If you have the weekend free . . .

Further organisations have been established since the last blogpost. In addition to the organisations I mentioned in a previous post, the Digital Liberty Coalition has been established to organise protest, and another website,, has also been set up.

Big Issues for Libraries

In the recent ALIA survey of members, lobbying and advocacy were given as an extremely high priority. This was unexpected (for me, anyway) but it did prompt me to urge you all (Rebecca has proven that a plural audience might be assumed) to do some reading.

Here are three big issues.

Copyright, and the debate is hotting up about the settlement in the US between Google and the publisher and author organisations. Bernie Sloan, posting to the liblicense list, refers us to a
resource compiled by Timothy Vollmer, an IT policy analyst in DC. You can find it here. Many of the items listed relate to libraries, and the example of a report by OCLC Research on the impact on libraries is given.

Online content regulation (censorship) is interesting too, and there has been a recent article by Derek E Bambauer of the Brooklyn Law School which summarises, in a brief 30 pages, the development of the Australian Government's filtering plans. If development is the right word.

Finally, all of you interested in broadband and things related will want to read the consultation paper issues by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, just out. There is a link from here, and comments are due by 11 February.

There's a lot going on which might concern us, and one element in successful lobbying and advocacy is being informed. In the meantime, if you are interested in these kinds of issues, or just in helping to put together a library viewpoint, let me know.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Word of the Day

Thanks to the Dallas Morning News for today's word, which is back-burnered. This is clearly shorthand for placing something on the back burner of the stove, and turning the noun into a verb. It means to shelve something, put it on hold, or bump it down in priority, to cite three metaphors. The reference in the Dallas Morning News, which I don't normally read, is to incoming President Obama's failure to announce his "tech czar" although many other appointments have been announced. The writer draws several cynical conclusions.

Back-burnered has been used before - by the invaluable The Register, for example, referring to a non-decision of the UK Government. It seems to be used most often as a runtogether, rather in hyphenated form, as in this example of backburnering by, as you guessed, a government - "Social security reform backburnered."

Word of the Day

Today's word is de-catastrophise, and our thanks to Swinburne's own Dr Karen Hansen for the word. When we set out to plan our annual staff review day, the Big Day In, it was a natural step for the event to be kicked off by an expert in emotional intelligence, and Karen heads Swinburne's EI and Education Research Unit. It is from that environment that the word of the day comes.

The term is defined on ReachOut, a site for young people with problems: "When you catastrophise, you exaggerate the consequences when things go wrong, and you imagine that things are or will be disastrous. The challenge: de-catastrophise."

Or to quote the Hitchhjkers' Guide to the Galaxy, Don't panic.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Word of the day

Those of my readers (thank you, Rebecca) who have read A Snowball in hell (2008), Christopher Brookmyre's most recent novel, will know that The Sacred art of stealing is a funnier and perhaps better novel, although the two novels do share several major characters. What did puzzle me was the expression (and today's word) "Alakazamy, stairheid rammy", a favourite incantation of the lead character. According to Sharon White, in her article "The usage of too many metaphors and metonymy can make your paper less effective" published in Easyarticles, stairheid is a metaphor for face to face, and rammy is a violent disturbance or free for all. Or you can go to the source, and look it up the Dictionary of the Scots Language.

Easyarticles is worth looking at too. And yes CW, you definitely do pronounce it with a Scottish accent - a Glasgow accent.