Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Word of the day

Today's word is dogfooding, and thank you to Gary for the suggestion. This is a genuine word, in dictionaries and everything, believe me. It derives from the expression "to eat ones own dogfood", and is a shorthand verb deriving from that expression and meaning the same. The Urban Dictionary defines the term concisely as "using your own product."

According to Microsoft and the Wikipedia, the term was used at Microsoft twenty years ago. Microsoft suggests that dogfooding the product is integral to the Microsoft culture. In a university, I guess a dogfooder (if that is the noun) would study at the institution which employed him.

The definitions and usage of dogfooding produce one puzzle. One would think that the appropriate use of one's own dogfood would be to feed it to a dog, not eat it. But the metaphor (for such it is) in use at Microsoft these past twenty years implies that the product is not fed to an appropriate consumer (a dog) but eaten by a person. Curious.

Word of the day

Thank you for the ALIA new graduates list for audience development officer, which was discussed in January as a new synonym for the word "librarian". It came from a posting by Stacey Bale aboutan article in the Daily Telegraph (UK) on 12 January. The rebranding attempt by the city of Edinburgh provoked a threat of industrial action from librarians, although they seemed to be more worried about an attempt to introduce self checkout machines.

The term got picked up by the Wordie site, which is an interesting and curious place ("like Flickr, but without the photos"). As well as listing half a million words, it provides links to many online dictionary, and its own image search. Do an image search on audience development officer, for example, and you will find a selection of pictures of audience development officers - none of them, alas, in libraries, which should set the minds of the librarians of Edinburgh at rest.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Internet Censorship

There have been many recent contributions to the discussion on internet censorship. Radio National's Life Matters on 29 January included a segment on the topic, featuring Mark Newton, a network engineer, and Jim Wallace, Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby. Both have written on the subject, and their thoughts are linked from the Life Matters site.

There is an annotated and visual version of the broadcast here, on Somebody Think of the Children, together with a summary of recent coverage here. And by far the most extensive coverage of the whole issue is provided by Irene Graham on the Libertus site here.

Senator Stephen Conroy opened the Information Online conference on 20 January, and his presentation is available on YouTube. Senator Conroy devoted a significant part of his opening to the issue of internet censorship, presenting the Government's point of view on the matter. We are grateful to Senator Conroy for taking time from his busy schedule to open the conference, and to express his appreciation for the work of ALIA.

In closing the conference on 22 january, I said this "ALIA, like other library associations, has clear and strong policies which support the right of access to the world’s information, the free flow of information, freedom to read, and so on. We are opposed to censorship and we are very skeptical about proposals for new and innovative censorship, such as filtering the internet. [applause] Filtering is not just a technical issue, and not just about political content.

Twelve months ago we issued a statement, Ten Questions about Internet Censorship. None of our questions have been answered. We will ask them again – watch the ALIA blog."