February 2009 Archives

yes we scan: carl malamud for public printer of the us

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If you've never heard of Carl Malamud, or publicresource.org, start by reading this New York Times article, or listen to Jon Udell's 2008 interview with him.

Unlike many of the people I know endorsing Carl Malamud for the position of Public Printer, I've never met him. However, I have met the current last Public Printer, Bruce James--who also served as president of RIT's board of trustees. I was part of a group of RIT faculty that went to the GPO not long after Bush appointed James as Public Printer. We had a grand tour of the facility, culminating with a chat with James in his office. James got the job because of his strong history as a commercial publisher, and he brought a traditional publishing company background to the post. And while there are many advantages to having someone with traditional publishing experience running what is in effect the largest publishing "company" in the country, there's baggage that comes with tradition, as well. When I heard from students who left RIT to work at GPO, they seldom found the agency open to new ideas, or able to recognize and reward new talent. The current Public Printer is James' former chief of staff, a very capable Washington insider, with an excellent understanding of how agencies run, and his own set of matching traditional baggage.

I believe that Carl Malamud would bring not only extensive experience with electronic publishing, but also a strong and public-focused vision for the role GPO can play in making information accessible to all. It's easier to hire managers to handle the day-to-day business mechanics of the agency than it is to hire and support people with that kind of vision (and the knowledge to back the vision up). Real change in dysfunctional organizations only happens when the people at the top have a clear vision that they can communicate to those below them. Carl, I think, can do that.

That's why I'm supporting this grass-roots campaign to encourage President Obama to appoint Carl Malamud as the next Public Printer of the United States. And I hope you'll do the same. To go on record as endorsing him, all you need to do is put up your own blog posts, and email the link to carl @ media . org (or send it to him via twitter; @carlmalamud).

circle of trust

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At last year's social computing symposium, one of the participants (alas, I can't remember who...but I think it was Elan Lee) suggested that we try an interesting exercise. It's not exactly a "circle" of trust...more like a square. But it was great fun, nonetheless.

I didn't realize that Ponzi Pirillo had captured it on video and put it on YouTube, until my older son's best friend found it and showed it to him.

I highly recommend trying this yourself. It seems impossible that it would work, but it does!

why i won't buy an amazon kindle

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Not once since it was first released have I really coveted a Kindle. Part of it is that it was ugly, yes. But more importantly, it destroys the most important part of the book owning experience for me. No, not the smell, or the feel, or the look of the paper and binding.

It's that for me, books have always been, and will always be, social things. I don't just want to read a book. I want to share the book. I want to lend it to a friend...or better yet, give it to a friend and encourage them to pass it on when they're done. I want to see the back cover of the book you're reading on an airplane, and ask you when you put it down whether you're enjoying it (or tell you how much I enjoyed it if I've already read it). I want the books on my shelf to create a visual impression on visitors to my office, one that lets them see at a glance what's important enough to me to keep it near my desk, how I've chosen to organize them, what themes of interest and specialty emerge. I want to take the books I've "outgrown" and leave them outside my office every quarter, so that the students can swarm over the pile enthusiastically and leave the floor empty in their wake.

The Kindle is a supremely selfish machine. It says the book is mine and mine alone. It can't be lent, or given, or shared without giving up my entire library in the process. That so fundamentally breaks the book experience for me that it kills any interest I might have in owning one.

Perhaps in the future I'll change my mind. But unless that future involves the removal of DRM from ebooks, and the ability to easily show the world what I'm reading, I doubt it.

(In the meantime, I'm loving Stanza on my iPhone, which allows me to read a wide variety of public domain and creative commons ebooks, including all of Cory Doctorow's science fiction. Yay!)

25 random dibbell-inspired things about me

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I've been assiduously avoiding the 25 things meme, but Julian's fabulous entry spurred me to post. Perhaps his insertion of new DNA will result in a mutated version of the viral meme?

1. I'm holding out for a hero.
2. Because you're mine, I walk the line.
3. I'm no angel.
4. I feel the earth move under my feet.
5. I'm crazy, crazy for feeling so blue.
6. I've seen the bright lights of Memphis.
7. I would rather, I would rather go blind, boy, then to see you walk away from me.
8. I'd do anything, for you, dear, anything.
9. I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more.
10. If I had $1,000,000 I'd be rich.
11. I've got my love to keep me warm.
12. I've had bad dreams too many times.
13. I want to know if love is wild, girl I want to know if love is real.
14. I'd like to know that your love is love I can be sure of.
15. I need someone to hold me, not some fool to ask me why.
16. I am curious, don't want to hurry us.
17. I learned the truth at seventeen.
18. I've looked at clouds from both sides now.
19. I dig rock and roll music.
20. Since you been gone I can do whatever I want.
21. I'm gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever amen.
22. I believe it's time for me to fly.
23. I'll be home for Christmas.
24. I feel like a woman!
25. Someone saved my life tonight.

(Every song comes from my iTunes library. How many artists can you name without looking them up?)

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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