Some may know that I am into creating digital art. I drew this funny dragon in Photoshop with my little Bamboo drawing tablet!
Click on him to check out my digital arts portfolio on Carbonmade.
Just a quick update- I’ve received an invitation to attend the Alma College Alumnae reunion on June 14th, 2014. I’m so looking forward to being there, and to meeting many of you!
If you are an alumnae and cannot attend the reunion, but would still like to be a part of the Alma College Memory Project, we can always speak by phone or meet at the St. Thomas Public Library. Feel free to contact me through here or e-mail me at mausti22 (at) uwo (dot) ca.
Imagine if I was trying to charge you a fee to read this blog.
I know, I know. You’re all just scrambling to pull out your wallets quickly enough!
But the sad truth is that a lot of really important information is hard, if not impossible, for the average person to get at. That’s because it’s blocked from you by a barrier of some sort, like a pay-wall, a bad internet connection, or a lack of being listed in the top 3 of your Google search results.
Anyways, Open-access (OA) content can be defined as author consenting, digital, free-of-charge/license restricted information.
It is closely tied to the notion of lessening the “digital divide”. I like to picture this as a big, dark chasm that only the strongest of the informations can soar over. Except, on the other side of the chasm are locked doors to which only a few of the exhausted survivors possess keys.
You may have noticed that I used information as a noun there! And while maybe it made you twitch or cringe, it’s true. Michael Buckland’s pivotal article on “Information as Thing” explains that information must manifest physically in some way, as a “signal, text or communication”, in order to be shared.
One important take away from all this is that telepathy would be cool.
The “digital divide” in developing countries
Since the United Nation’s declaration of their Millennium Development Goals in 2002, libraries have recognized a growing awareness within social policy that they are well positioned to act as “agents of socio-economic change” in developing countries (Holmner 140). It is vital that these nations have access to an environment in which they can create, transfer, access and apply knowledge (139-40).
The digital divide can be found in many different places. The ever-increasing cost of journals has been driven both by the commoditization of information, and by the commercial ownership of scholarly publications (Buschman 86).
And that, my friends, is why open access matters.
If the cost of People magazine had risen as fast as academic periodicals since 1990, it would currently cost $182 for a year-long subscription.
The paid subscription-based database, Journal Storage (JSTOR), denies over 150 million attempts to virtually access their articles and other primary information every single year. That is 150 million denied attempts to learn something about this world!
So, say you want to publish your work so that it’s freely accessible. You have a few options…
Choosing Open Access for Your Work- GREEN VS GOLD
Gold OA- This involves fully publishing your work in a fully accessible journal or website. You do not profit financially from granting open access to your work. Sometimes it is expensive to produce but this is often covered by a research grant or institutional fund.
Green OA- Self-produced. May enable you to share your work more widely across the internet. Considered risky, approach with caution!
It’s like choose your own adventure. You can go down the green path, or the gold path.
This is just a very basic introduction to open access principles. I have included a list of some further reading, in case you are interested in learning more.
Some Further Reading
- The American Library Association. “Quotable Facts about America’s Libraries Reference Book”. 2012. Accessed October 6 2013. http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/QF2012_annotatedFINAL_2.pdf
- Braman, S. “Defining Information: An Approach for Policymakers.” Telecommunications Policy 13(1991): 233-42.
- Buckland, M. “Information as Thing.” Journal of the American Society of Information Science” 42(1991):351-360.
- Buschman, J. (2003). Dismantling the public sphere: Situating and sustaining librarianship in the age of the new public philosophy. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. (GRC Reserve) Read Introduction (pp. 3-13) and the public sphere: Rounding out the context of librarianship (pp. 37-53).
- Holmner, Marlene. “The Road to Information and Knowledge Society: Indigenous Knowledge and the Millennium Development Goals.” Mousaion 29, no. 2 (2011):139-57.
You may recall that I posted a couple weeks ago about Caitlin Seida and her experience with a personal image of her going viral. I wrote that her story serves as a lesson to all of us who maintain presences online.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. I do make a concerted effort to actively manage my privacy settings online. And beyond this, I truly believe in the importance of not posting anything online that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with everyone seeing.
That said, I think that many who are social online have been scared to the point of silence. That fear of being judged, or even bullied, can be extremely oppressive. And it’s not easy to put yourself “out there”. But in my opinion, social networking should be based on sharing and communicating, rather than fear. I think that access to the Internet and to community websites and services should allow us to connect to one another on a more personal level, if we so choose. As such, I am an advocate for socially-aware networking.
In my opinion, many of the same rules apply online as in real life regarding privacy, safety and acceptable behaviour. It seems almost natural to feel a sense of invincibility or displacement while sitting behind a screen. But the people who access this information are real, and their responses can have consequences.
As Bilbo Baggins once said, “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
One way or another, if we interact on a daily basis, we will learn some surprising things about each other. So in the spirit of this, I’ve compiled a picture list of 5 (potentially nerdy) things I like to do that you might not know about if we have yet to meet.
I am an artistic type, who is reasonably self-aware and a mild extrovert. I enjoy sharing and posting online and I value others’ perspectives. And while I do believe in maintaining privacy settings online for the purposes of safety, I am not afraid to link to my Facebook address publicly. I would not post content there, or anywhere else online, that I would consider private knowledge. In a world where terms of service and privacy settings change like fashion trends, this seems like the only method that consistently works.
But as for my home address, well, that’s another story.
If you would like to connect with me on Facebook, I can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/mallorykaustin
One of the most commercially successful novels of all time, Dan Brown’s mystery-thriller has been translated into 42 languages and has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. The novel has been marketed to society as one of the most controversial texts concerning art and religion of all time- despite the fact that it is a work of fiction.
In the story, a prominent curator of the Louvre is found murdered, and a respected professor of “religious symbology”, Robert Langdon, is called in to solve the mystery of the curator’s death. The narrative, though written in third person, is cast mainly from Robert Langdon’s perspective. Thus, the reader is capitulated into a highly controlled, believable theoretical space, and their ability to negotiate their own reading of the art is lessened. The intended hegemonic reading of this book is that the protagonist’s interpretation of art is the only credible or plausible one.
Robert Langdon is apparently a professor of “religious symbology” at Harvard University… But wait. A quick search reveals that Harvard offers no class by such a name! Ahem… anyway. In the book, Robert is described as a “veritable Harrison Ford in tweed” (Page 9). In fact, much like Indiana Jones, Robert is a talented academic who just so happens to be able to execute epic action sequences. It’s like his PhD enables him to dodge bullets at close range while simultaneously solving intricate cryptograms.
The only people who challenge Robert Langdon’s scholarly authority on Leonardo da Vinci’s art are religious fanatics. The most diabolical of them is Silas, an albino, and a monk of the conservative Catholic Group Opus Dei. He is a tragic character who suffered in poverty and exile until being welcomed into the extremist Catholic cult. His unwavering devotion to the cult, combined with his poor eyesight, signify blindness to the reader. This extends to his inability to see the hidden messages in Leonardo’s art. Just as Langdon’s taste classifies him as a connoisseur, Silas’ lack of regard for art classifies him as barbaric and completely ignorant to the world around him.
There seem to be two main theories in this book that engage with Leonardo’s art. The first is that the Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of Leonardo in drag. As cool as that would be, this idea has been widely refuted by scholars, as the painting has been attributed to a woman of the time. But this emphasizes how Brown has re-appropriated Leonardo, as both a historical person and an artist, to suit his thematic agenda. Referring to Leonardo as a “flamboyant homosexual” (page 45) is just plain derogatory. Regardless of the artist’s sexual orientation, this orientation-based stereotyping and lack of historical basis is pretty unfortunate.
The second claim made is that the character to Jesus’ right in the Last Supper is not the Apostle John, but rather, Mary Magdalene. He claims that the lack of a chalice on the table and the feminine features of the character signify that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were actually married. Anyone with some knowledge of Renaissance art can tell you that a frequent way of depicting John was to show him as a beardless youth.
Also, why does the mass market book provide no images of the artwork? It interrupts the natural flow of the work of fiction to pause and search images online or in other books. The book is suspiciously set up so that we have to rely wholly on Brown’s “facts”.
One of the most abundant items of support for this book is that it is a splendid page-turner. And I agree. It reads like an action movie. There are 454 pages, and 101 chapters. That’s about 4.5 pages, on average, per chapter! I was ten chapters in before I finished my first cup of tea.
Stephen King once called this novel the “intellectual equivalent of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese”. That pretty much sums it up for me. It is almost universally digestible, is quick, convenient and enjoyable. It pre-supposes (maybe relies on?) the average reader having a limited grasp of art history. Too bad for me, I studied it for four years in university.
Perhaps this novel represents a good opportunity for us to begin to understand the value of a more active, negotiated reading.
And maybe it’s time we started eating more fettuccine alfredo.
Rating: 2.5/5 (It passes because it passes the time).
Caitlin Seida is one brave woman. If you don’t know of her, you really should.
On October 23rd of this year, I came across a great article written by her: “My Embarrassing Picture Went Viral.”
Quick recap- This unflattering image of this beautiful lady had gone viral after she posted it to her own Facebook page:
But rather than bear the shaming, ridiculing and cruelty of many strangers in silence, Caitlin fought back.
Not only did she speak out, but she did so with an eloquence and grace that I both admire and aspire to. In the face of being called a “fridge raider” by complete strangers, to whom she owed nothing (at best), her response was patient, articulate and pro-active.
She was having a great time that night dressed up as powerful female action hero Lara Croft. Caitlin also has medical conditions which prevent her from maintaining a healthy weight.
So how exactly did Caitlin control the damage done by her image going viral?
Caitin’s story serves as a lesson to all of us who maintain a presence online, and also to those who repost and share viral images.
Three cheers for Caitlin. I hope she continues to write and cosplay for years to come.
I recently wrote a paper on changing organizational contexts in the library world, and it got me thinking in metaphors.
I’ve been visiting the same forest for many years. Over the course of time, I have noticed changes in the landscape of the woods, some subtle, but some significant. Fallen trees compost into rich soil, making room for new growth. Animal populations grow and decline, invasive beetles lay waste to certain plant species, and so on. The community changes.
Check out my slideshow of 35 mm images I took of my favourite forest in different seasons:
I think that succession in nature seems to bear some resemblance to how the landscape of the library evolves.
And juxtaposing the present with the past contextualizes the world that we operate inside of as information professionals.
In this video from 1947, the occupation of “librarian” as a whole is discussed. The narrator first asks us “Have you a real love of books?” and “Do you like people, and do they like you?” Though the term “books” should unquestionably now extend to “information”, these are two important questions that remain valid for aspiring librarians today.
Well, I mean, you don’t have to like everyone in the world in order to be a librarian. For example, I may not adore the guy who runs my local post office, and has mandated himself to keep all my parcels. He may be consistently rude and dismissive. He may not agree that the face on my I.D. is, in fact, my own. But I still believe that most postal workers are, in general, pretty nice. And that maybe this one has been having a bad day (or a series of them).
And if he ever wanders up to my reference desk looking for a book recommendation, I’ll happily to help him out, and hopefully brighten his day with some good reading material.
So, having “soft skills” like communication, initiative, enthusiasm and innovation really do remain vital to many of our jobs in 2013. And I’d argue that the current socio-economic climate makes it all the more imperative that we information professionals maintain a noticeable presence in society.
But what about the “must love books” part?
Well, the constitution of public library collections has changed considerably in recent years. While we still lend books, the share of non-print items, such as e-books, has tripled in the past ten years. Also, more demand for public access to computers has resulted in their numbers doubling since 2003 (American Library Association 2013).
This huge shift in the way people access and consume information continues to have vast implications for information professionals. But the idea remains, that the power of ideas, of imagination and knowledge, must be recorded, preserved, promoted and used to inspire generations yet to come.
And so as the landscape and scenery of the library changes, and new demands are placed on us, we can add “adaptability” and “resilience” to the list.