JESSE e-mail ist reborn

As many of you know, one of, if not, the leading e-mail list for LIS educators was JESSE. JESSE was a moderated list and sadly, the moderator passed away earlier this year and the list hasn’t been active since. A new JESSE list has been created at Wayne State University. They don’t have access to the original JESSE list’s subscriber base so if you are interested, you will need to subscribe again. Subscription information is included in an e-mail that was sent to various Deans, Directors, and Program Chairs and is copied below.

Dear ALISE Dean, Director, or Program Chair:

Please alert your faculty, staff, and any other interested persons that Jesse, the discussion list for library and information science, is back in operation. Anyone may subscribe to the list. Only subscribers may post messages but, unlike before, posting is without moderation.

Since this is a new address and we don’t have access to the original subscriber list, it is necessary to subscribe again.

To subscribe, send the following message to listserv@lists.wayne.edu:

Subscribe jesse < first name > < last name >

I hope you and your colleagues and stakeholders will find this list to again be a useful component of your communications activities.

Sincerely,

Stephen T. Bajjaly
Associate Dean and Professor

New Book: Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives, and Museums

A few weeks ago a new book I co-authored with Heather Lea Moulaison was published by Rowman and Littlefield. The book is titled Digital Preservation for Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Initial reaction has been extremely positive. It is available through all of the major book sellers such as Amazon where at one point it was #7 in one of its categories! If you interested in digital preservation, please consider purchasing the book or borrowing it from your local library. Below is the publisher’s description of the book:

Digital Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums represents a new approach to getting started with digital preservation: that of what cultural heritage professionals need to know as they begin their work. For administrators and practitioners alike, the information in this book is presented readably, focusing on management issues and best practices. Although this book addresses technology, it is not solely focused on technology. After all, technology changes and digital preservation is aimed for the long term. This is not a how-to book giving step-by-step processes for certain materials in a given kind of system. Instead, it addresses a broad group of resources that could be housed in any number of digital preservation systems. Finally, this book is about “things (not technology; not how-to; not theory) I wish I knew before I got started.”

Digital preservation is concerned with the life cycle of the digital object in a robust and all-inclusive way. Many Europeans and some North Americans may refer to digital curation to mean the same thing, taking digital preservation to be the very limited steps and processes needed to insure access over the long term. The authors take digital preservation in the broadest sense of the term: looking at all aspects of curating and preserving digital content for long term access.
The book is divided into four parts based on the Digital Preservation Triad:

  1. Situating Digital Preservation,
  2. Management Aspects,
  3. Technology Aspects, and
  4. Content-Related Aspects.

The book includes a foreword by Michael Lesk, eminent scholar and forerunner in digital librarianship and preservation. The book features an appendix providing additional information and resources for digital preservationists. Finally, there is a glossary to support a clear understanding of the terms presented in the book.

Digital Preservation will answer questions that you might not have even known you had, leading to more successful digital preservation initiatives.

MITx

Some of you probably have seen MIT’s announcement of MITx on December 19. Basically, “MITx will offer a portfolio of MIT courses through an online interactive learning platform.” It will “operate on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure” and offer many features that current learning Management Systems offer as well as some other unique features. While the technology sounds interesting, I am most interested in the program itself, in particular the credentialing. MIT has been a leader in the open education with its OpenCourseWare project, but adding a level of credentialing is a huge step. There isn’t a lot of information available yet, but basically if you want to learn, you can do that for fee. If you want some form of credential, there will be a fee for that. The credential will be a certificate of completion that will be offered buy a not-for-profit body within the Institute created to do such a thing. The body offering the credentials will be distinctly named to avoid confusion that MIT “proper” awarded the credential and costs are yet to be determined.

MITx has yet to announce what classes will be available but they plan to start offering classes in Spring 2012. More information can be found on the MITx announcement FAQ. If they have something I am interested in and it fits my schedule, I may try to take a class and, if I do, I’ll probably pay for the credential.

WordPress Theme Kerfuffle

People reading this blog outside of an RSS reader will notice something different with my blog. I changed the theme. I was using the Coppyblogger theme by Chris Pearson which I really like. However there has been a bit of kerfuffle that Chris is in the center of. The developers of WordPress feel that themes are part of the WordPress code base and therefore subject to the GPL as a derivative work. Chris feels differently. I don’t know from a legal standpoint who is right, except to say that if any WordPress GPL code is in the theme (which is true of many themes, including Thesis which Pearson wrote and is at the center of the kerfuffle), than it would definitely by GPLed.

For a convincing argument about why the developers think that it themes are subject to the GPL, see Mark Jaquith post about Why WordPress Themes are Derivative of WordPress. Whether or not it is legal to distribute themes under a license other than the GPL, after thinking about the issue, I feel not distributing themes under the GPL is unethical, or at least shows a lack of respect now that this issue has come to light.

The Copyblogger theme is free and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5. Outside of this kerfuffle the CC Attribution Share Alike would be fine by me. Still I decided to at least temporarily change my theme since it was developed by Chris Pearson. I mostly did this as a tiny signal of support for the WordPress developers. I may change the theme again soon because I didn’t do a lot of searching/experimenting for a theme – I just took the first one that looked good.

Redwoodvirtual closing down

When I started this blog way back in October, 2004 I started it on a Linux Virtual Private Server hosted by Redwoodvirtual. Although I moved my blog about a year ago to another provider, I kept my Redwood account although I really only used it for SSH access to IRC. Still, it was with a bit of sadness I recieved the following in an e-mail the other day:

Due to many factors we have decided to close redwoodvirtual. This is a difficult decision to make after being in business for six years.

Our last day of operation will be March 24th, 2010 at noon. This will give one last month for monthly accounts to migrate to another host provider. For yearly accounts we will refund the remaining amount, prorated from March 24th, 2010. If you have any questions, please emails us at support@redwoodvirtual.com.

We apologize for the sudden announcement, but wish you all the best.

Sincerely,
the Redwoodvirtual Support Staff
support@redwoodvirtual.com

While Redwoodvirtual was not always the most responsive company, they were also very inexpensive and overall doing business with them was a positive experience. I’m sorry to see them shut their virtual doors and I wish them good luck in their future endeavors.

Cristóbal Conde Interview

The New York Times published an interview with Cristóbal Conde, president and C.E.O. of SunGard on 16 January 2010. The interview is about leadership and is well worth a read for anyone at any level (or desire) of leadership. I could point out many things that struck me, but using Conde’s concept of everything in threes, I’ll point out three.

  1. Threes: The idea behind this is you can give a list of things of people to do or priorities, but that doesn’t mean they can remember it all. Instead focus on a handful of things, which Conde translates into threes. For example when he does a review, he always points out three things that are going well, and three things that need improvement. Since everything knows he does this, they don’t take the three negatives as personal as the otherwise would.
  2. PowerPoint: Conde said he “actively despise[s] how people use PowerPoint as a crutch.” He instead believes people should write a proposal before the meeting and assume everyone has read it. One reason Conde doesn’t like PowerPoint is that “PowerPoint can be a way to cover up sloppy thinking, which makes it hard to differentiate between good ideas and bad ideas.” Added to this is the question if a meeting added value? If it is mostly a deck of PowerPoint slides, typically Conde believes “you conveyed information, but you didn’t actually add value.”
  3. Time Management: Conde said that one of the thing he tries to block off an hour and a half every day to” go somewhere that doesn’t have a PC or a phone” so he can think. He thinks many entry level people do not have enough to to think and are bombarding with information. I don’t know about others, but I certainly am. Since so much of my work is computer based, I doubt I can do this with 1.5 hours of my day, but I think I may try to build in some part of my day to do this. Even if it is just 30 minutes after I get my mid-morning coffee. This reminds me of something John Maeda said at TED 2007, “Vacation is the most important skill for any kind of over-achiever.”

Blog directions

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction of blog.ecorrado.us. There a number of things that are making me do this:

  1. I really would like to post more about library leadership and philosophy topics as they relate to technology.
  2. If you read back on old posts, I used to post a lot more about going to autoracing events, now I hardly ever do. In fact, I haven’t in approximately 1.5 years. I have now been to over 200 tracks and feel like a real member of the TrackChasers community. Thus, I feel even more of a desire to write brief blog posts about autoracing
  3. People have suggested to me that I should start a food blog, and I have some good ideas about how to do that, and am considering it. This is especially true since I’ve become addicted to reading some food-related blogs such as (never home)maker and Simply Recipes
  4. Do Trackchasers want to read about food and libraries? Do librarians want to read about racing and food? In other words, is a single blog approach appropriate?
  5. This all requires time.

Right now, I am leaning towards starting separate blogs for the autoracing and food topics, with this one being more of a professional blog and the racing one containing most of the personal stuff and my “top ten” posts about college football. This would lead me to having 3 blogs. I’m a little skeptical of keeping my food blog populated (how many chili recipes can one person post?) – which is also a concern.

However, I’m not sure. In theory, keeping one blog with three categories would be the best way to do this, but do people really just subscribe to categories in their RSS readers? I tend to doubt it.

What do people think about hybrid personal, hobby, and work blogs? Should they be avoid in favor of separate blogs?

2009: A year in a Tweet Cloud

I created a Tweet Cloud of my 2009 tweets using http://tweetcloud.icodeforlove.com/.

2009 Tweet Cloud

2009 Tweet Cloud

The top four words I used in my 2009 tweets were:

  1. time
  2. library
  3. binghamton
  4. coffee

In my time off from the library at binghamton I’m going to drink coffee.

Form to e-mail with attachments

For a new section of the Binghamton University Libraries Web site, I need to create a Web form that would e-mail attachments to a specific account. At first I thought this would be as easy as Googling “web form email attachments.” Apparently I was wrong. Most of he posts I found either talked about problems people had, or were just small snippets of code. Most of the actually code I found was rather outdated. I didn’t want snippets because I didn’t want to write my own script. I can, but I figured if I can get a more complete, tested, solution I’d be better off. I did see some scripts one could purchase, but I wasn’t interesting in paying for anything.

However, all was not lost, after lots of searching, I finally came across PHPMailer-FE, “a form-2-email application with very powerful capabilities.” PHPMailer-FE is licensed under the LGPL and was last updated on 2009-12-08. It took a little while to figure out how to configure it for my needs, and I still have a thing or two to clear up, but I’m happy with it so far. If you are looking for a php based Web to e-mail form, check it out.

Big 12 expansion

Besides my College Football Top Ten, I don’t talk much about sports on this blog, but I’ve been thinking recently about the Big 10(+1)’s plans to look into adding another team (or more). As a Rutgers University alumnus, this is particular interesting to ponder since they are one of the teams being mentioned. I may be biased, but I see them as the best fit. I do think, however that Missouri is a close second and Pittsburgh is a possibility as well.

According to Wikipedia, rumored teams include:

* University of Notre Dame
* University of Texas
* University of Connecticut
* Rutgers University
* Syracuse University
* University of Missouri
* University of Nebraska
* University of Pittsburgh
* University of Cincinnati
* West Virginia University
* Iowa State University
* University of Maryland
* University of Kentucky
* University of Louisville

Before we get into why I like these teams, lets talk about some of the other teams I’ve heard speculated by some informed or not so-informed people. The first thing people need to remember is that unlike many other major college conferences, the Big 10(+1) is not separable from the academics and missions of the University members. In fact, I believe the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (which is made up of the Big 10(+1) and University of Chicago) has veto power over any additions to the conference. This means, if you are not a member of Association of American Universities (or likely to become one), you are not going to make the cut. The following on Wikipedias list are not currently a member of AAU:

* University of Cincinnati
* University of Connecticut
* University of Louisville
* University of Notre Dame
* West Virginia University

A few of the above could probably get in if they wanted to, but the fact remains they haven’t tried to make that leap to be recognized by the AAU as a leading research-intensive university. Add to the fact that none of these (besides Notre Dame) adds a lot to the conference overall in terms of market or prestige, I will eliminate all of them besides Notre Dame from my short list on these grounds.

Notre Dame would be such a huge win on the athletic side, that the Big 10(+1) would take them in the heart beat and while they are a smaller school (11,300 students) by Big 10(+1) standards and are not an AAU school, they are excellent in what they do academically, so I am sure the CIC would not stand in the way. However, what does this alignment gain Notre Dame? Not much. They already have a conference for other sports. And not just any conference, the Big East, which is a (the?) top conference in many of them (especially basketball). Notre Dame with being able to stay independent and have their own TV contracts has nothing to fain from joining in. They really are a better fit academically with the Georgetown’s of the world anyway.

Moving on, University of Texas? Why would they leave the Big 12? They already have the highest or second highest sports revenue because of the way the Big 12 profit sharing works. Would the other public Texas schools let them even if they wanted to? How about the Texas legislative branch? Also, they aren’t a fit geographically. I have read that any new schools must be in a current member state or a contiguous state. While I’m sure rules can be broken, this doesn’t make sense.

Syracuse is an AAU school and brings a good football traditional and a great basketball one, so I can see why it is one of the most mentioned. However, it is a private school, not huge (12,491 FTE undergrads), and doesn’t bring a big media market. Athletically and academically it might be a nice fit, but I don’t see what it brings in monetarily compared to the other schools being talked about.

Iowa State seems to be mentioned by a lot of people. However, mostly on blogs by people from Iowa or adjoining states. Sure Iowa v. Iowa State in conference would make a nice rivalry, but don’t they already play every year? US News and World Report has them ranked 88 in national universities and is an AAU school. While 88th is a little on the low side, I think if the Big 10(+1) could show that Iowa State would add enough academically that the CIC wouldn’t put up a huge fuss. Still, what do they add? Not really any new markets since they already have Iowa. I don’t see it.

University of Maryland fits the bill academically (53rd in US News). They could land the DC market, so I can see some interest. However, I don’t see what leaving the ACC does for Maryland. They get to play the likes of North Carolina and Duke in basketball every year and their football team normally (but not this year) does okay there. Plus, it isn’t a great fit geographically. Doesn’t seem like a good fit.

The University of Kentucky hasn’t gotten a lot of press as a possibility, but like Maryland I don’t see it happening. Why would they leave the SEC? They are one of the top 20 or 25 in college sports revenue and the SEC confines are a good fit. Also, the academic rank of 128 in US News isn’t going to bring any love via the CIC either.

University of Nebraska has been mentioned by some. It does add one thing that I don’t think any other rumored school besides Notre Dame could bring and that is the level of football history and excitement nation-wide, They don’t add much in basketball, but I’m not sure that would be a deal-breaker. Since Lincoln is on the eastern side of the state, they are not a real bad fit geographically. Academically they are 96th in US News. I think that would make a harder sell to the CIC though as I am sure they do not want to make this look like it is all about money and a 96th ranked school makes it look that way a lot more then a 71st ranked school would. While Nebraska would bring some notoriety, again, not a huge market. Also, I think the Big 12 has served Nebraska well and I don’t see the Big 12 letting them go very easily even if they wanted to leave. Thus, I think the Corn huskers are staying where they are.

This leaves the three teams I think have the biggest chance of being asked and accepted: Pittsburgh, Missouri, and Rutgers. All of them bring some good things to the table and are worthy of consideration. Also, I can see all of them being willing to leave under the right circumstances. And in fact, if the Big 10 wanted to be the Big 14, I can see all three of them being added, but I think they will probably stop at 10 despite statements saying they would consider 14 or 16 teams.

Missouri is ranked lower then Nebraska on the US News and World Report (102) but I don’t think the perception that this will only be about football would be as strong with them as it would be about Nebraska. Missouri has made rumblings that they are unhappy with how revenues are split in the Big 12 and they have been jumped over by worse teams for bowl games so I am not so sure they are thrilled with the Big 12 right now. They also bring in both the Kansas City and strengthen the ties to the St. Louis market. Not as big as New York/Philly like Rutgers, but still a nice addition. Still, I don’t think the Big 12 would let them leave without a fight.

One thing some people may not know is that the University of Pittsburgh is actually a fairly large (17,427 undergraduates) public university. It has a good tradition in basketball and football, and is closer to the center of the conference than Penn State. It is raked 56th in US News and is home to the internationally renowned University of Pittsburgh Medical Center so it makes sense academically and geographically. While it would seem that it would add the Pittsburgh market, it really doesn’t since Penn State already encroaches on it (as, I would imagine to some extent, Ohio State does from the west). Also, while Pitt is good in both major men’s sports, I’m not sure the Big 10(+1) is really interested in a top basketball program joining in. In this case, I think the basketball, if anything, might be a minus. Also, as a founding Big East member, I think they might be less likely to leave the Big East than Rutgers would be. Thus, why I wouldn’t be surprised if they were offers a spot in the Big 10(+1), I think television markets are working against them.

The last one on the list is Rutgers. As I mentioned, I received a degree from the fine institution so I am biased, but I think Rutgers makes a lot of sense. They are in the New York market and, often overlooked, are close to the Philadelphia market as well. They are raked slightly lower then Pitt (66th) but have a great reputation. One thing that hurts their ranking a bit is endowments, but I think Rutgers will start seeing that go up compared to other similar schools due to the history of the University (It didn’t become Rutgers The State University until 1956). With 28,031 undergraduate on the New Brunswick campus, it is a large(r) school and that means alumni watching TV. Also, while nay-sayers point out NYC is a pro-sports town, one needs to remember a lot of New York and New Jersey residents went to school at Big 10(+1) schools. This means alumni receptions at Rutgers stadium. This also means recruiting in the area. Geography is not as much of an asset as with Pittsburgh or maybe even Missouri, but it has good transportation hubs so it is not horrible. Rutgers has one four straight bowl games so they are an up and comer. While they won the first football game ever, they are not really a perennial powerhouse, but they have been pretty good of late and I think they can hold their own through Big 10(+1) conference play and might be able to grow into one of the teams in the top half of the conference. Mens basketball hasn’t been great either, but again,I’m not sure that is a problem. One plus that Rutgers (along with some other schools in the list that I didn’t mention) is the women’s basketball program is very good. I think that helps them a little bit as well. Also, I am pretty sure that Rutgers, as a large land grant institution, would love to join the CIC, which I think would be offered if they joined the conference.

With all that said, I think Rutgers is the choice 1a and Missouri 1b. Pitt is a not so distant third. Maybe that 14 team league is sounding good if the Big (10(+1) is thinking along similar lines.

Thoughts?

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