July 21, 2012
Suit By Graduates of Cooley Law School Dismissed.
JD Journal is reporting that the lawsuit brought by a former student against Cooley Law School was dismissed on Friday. The judge ruled that purchasing a law degree did not fall within the purview of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. Rather, investing in a law school career is a business decision. The fact that plaintiffs were motivated to get legal jobs after graduation reinforced the characterization of law school as a business choice. As for the job statistics reported by Cooley, the judge said they were literally true and it was unreasonable for the plaintiffs to rely on them to the extent that they did. Cue the appeals. [MG]
Another Useless AALL Price Index Has Been Published
In announcing that the 2011 AALL Price Index for Legal Publications is now available, the July 2012 eNewsletter reports:
The purpose of the Price Index is to provide members with comparative information about past price changes in order to help with budgeting and collection development decisions. In gathering information for the Price Index, the committee asks publishers to provide their pricing. If a publisher declines to do so, its pricing is not included in the index.
Well this year's Index committee discovered that LexisNexis has been submitting price date not for the Index's coverage year but for the following year for some time now. The Index Committee reports:
For example, instead of supplying 2010 data for the 2010 index, LexisNexis supplied 2011 data. Prior committees used this erroneous data in calculating prior years' indexes. This practice affected virtually all of the LexisNexis data for an unknown number of years. After difficult deliberation, the committee unanimously agreed to discontinue rather than perpetuate this error, and LexisNexis was required to submit 2011 data for the 2011 index. Given that virtually all the 2011 data also were submitted for the 2010 index, LexisNexis prices appear virtually unchanged from 2010 to 2011 in the index calculations. The result tends to bias the overall index to show greater price stability from 2010 to 2011 than actually was the case.
Remember the base year for the 2011 Index is 2010. Also remember what the Price Index Committee said about the the 2009 Index.
Thomson Reuters agreed to supply prices for the 2009 Price Index. They supplied list prices for new sets for the years 2005 -2009. Historically, prices within the Price Index have been for supplementation. After Thomson Reuters submitted new set prices, the [Price Index for Legal Publications Committee] Chair looked more closely at other publishers' prices within the Price Index. It appears that other publishers have also supplied new set pricing between the years 2005 and 2008.
That's because the Index Committee did not ask for print supplement pricing for its 2009 Index. Eventually, someday, the Price Index may convey meaningful information but in recent editions the only interesting information has been the Index Committee's disclaimers for its own work.
Endnote. It sounds like there will another new base year coming soon because the market basket of goods is going to be revised. That change is long overdue.
At its July 2011 meeting, the [Index] committee determined that the publication list for the PILP has not been revised materially for some years and may not give full consideration to some current Web-based products. The committee launched a two-year effort to revise the list, in keeping with price-index best practices and the need to provide year-to-year consistency, so that index changes convey meaningful information.
My Playlist for Boston 2012, Saturday: Roy Buchanan's Sweet Dreams
July 20, 2012
2012 Fastcase 50 Announced!
"The list of winners from 2011 was hard to top, but we received superlative nominations again this year." Wait a minute does that imply that the inaugural class ... LOL! Kudos to the "sophomore class of the Fastcase 50, the fifty most interesting, provocative, and courageous leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology." Details here. [JH]
Programming AALL's Next Annual Meeting: Top-Down or Bottom-Up?
From 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee survey.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is already thinking about programming in Seattle. We have identified the following content areas, and each includes particular issues and challenges that you may be facing in your job. As you look at these issues on the following pages, let us know which ones pertain to your situation. The feedback you provide here will help us develop programs that meet your educational needs.
Raising the profile of the library/librarian
I think AMPC should rethink its thinking.The best way to provide relevant programming for as diverse a group as practicing law librarians as we are is to establish track scheduling at annual meetings wherein which sessions will be offered is removed from AMPC's control and given to special interest sections to decide. Addressing topics such as the ones listed above require a far amount of specificity to be relevant for different types of law libraries.
Think programs selected for private libraries, academic libraries, and public and government libraries by their SISs based on their members (and others, if they want) submissions (with deadlines set by each SIS) to fill substantial slots of time each regular conference day. Perhaps, for example, PLL's annual summit could be held during the annual meeting instead of before it so that some of the sessions can be attended by all interested law librarians who can only go to the annual meeting. Functional groups like tech servs and computing can also be given time slots.
Must definitely there should be an official Executive Board track so that the Board's Summer meeting is conducted during AALL's annual meeting, not before the annual meeting, so all interested rank-and-file members can attend, in addition, to the epic tragic comedy known as the Business Meeting and Members Open Forum, as well as the "educational" sessions AALL conducts to inform members what AALL thinks about issues.
AMPC should be left to fill in a remaining limited number of time slots for others (smaller SISs and Caucus groups) and AALL ceremonial events. etc.
Having offered my 2-cents opinion, by republishing (without premission but what the heck) Steven Lastres' post (on AALLNET's Members Open Forum and Private Law Libraries SIS) I am not suggesting he agrees with me. However, he calls attention to changes in the making for programming Seattle 2013. I do think we both agree that (1) there are some serious issues about the 2013 Seattle programming procedural changes and (2) annual meeting programming needs to be relevant for specific types of law libraries.
Help Protect SIS Rights To Keep Providing Our Members With Relevant Programming
Dear Valued PLL Members,
There are significant changes being implemented for the 2013 AALL Annual Meeting in Seattle. While many are positive, there are some that may significantly impact the ability of Special Interest Sections (SISs) to offer programming that is relevant to its members. I am copying the "Members Open Forum" because I think the membership and other SISs should be aware of the potential impact to all of our members.
For example, SISs will no longer have any minimum guaranteed programming accepted and all SISs will be limited to sponsoring only one independent education program. SISs can no longer rank their submissions in order of importance/relevance to their members. The Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) will be making all the decisions about your programming.
Why should you care? Because PLL members deserve to attend a conference that provides them with relevant content they need to succeed in their work environment. While we always welcome the opportunity to cross polinate with our academic and court colleagues, law firms are a unique environment and are under economic siege. In fact, we have seen the loss of over 50 PLL members over this past year. A trend that continues since 2008.
Over the last several years, PLL members have grown accustomed to having over 10 progams at conference approved by the AMPC, in addition to 4 to 6 independent programs PLL pays to present to provide PLL members with more programming choices. These 14 to 16 education programs are also independent of the PLL Summit (now in its third year with expected attendance to exceed 300 attendees), which hosts over 10 additional programs as a preconference.
The PLL Education committee works hard to help our member submit programming relevant to "law firm librarians". As you well know, our working environments are unique and have special challenges.
The 2013 Annual Meeting Program Committee is conducting a survey to identify topics and issues of importance to AALL members.
I urge you to tell them what education programming you need to not only survive but to thrive as a law librarian who works in a law firm setting.
Took the survey and would not have know it existed but for Steve's membership alert. There are comment boxes in the survey but not one that asks "are you in favor of the plan we will be executing for you?" [JH]
July 20, 2012 in Academic Law Libraries, Education & Professional Development, Firm & Corporate Law Libraries, Government & Public Law Libraries, Library Associations, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)
Jason Wilson Wants to be Elected to AALL's Executive Board
I'm confused. So a legal publisher can now be a voting member of AALL? ... VOTE WILSON FOR EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER!
Personally, I'm thinking that once Dick Spinelli is elected AALL President for Life, Dick should appoint Jason CRIV Chair for Life because of an earlier tweet by Jason:
Looking forward to #AALL12 in Boston. I'm going dressed as a librarian this year.
Friday Fun: A Musical Prelude for AALL Boston 2012 Attendees
Provided by The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps.
From the YouTube description:
The 3rd U.S. Infantry, traditionally known as "The Old Guard," is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784. The Old Guard is the Army's official ceremonial unit and escort to the president, and it also provides security for Washington, D.C., in time of national emergency or civil disturbance.
Occupy AALL? Well, AALL is meeting in Boston, not D.C., and I seriously doubt there will be too great a civil disturbance to call in AALL's security force but that doesn't mean we won't see plenty of performances from our association's official ceremonial unit. [JH]
July 19, 2012
Some Thoughts On Technology Bonus: Yahoo
I hadn’t planned to write another technology piece so soon after the last two. The hiring of Marissa Mayer by Yahoo as the new CEO is worth a few words. She was a Google vice-president and employee #20 in the early days of Google. She is also credited with the look and feel of many Google products, including the landing page, Gmail, and others. Google announced that she would not be directly replaced when she left, instead shifting the responsibilities she had to other members of her team. Some in the press implied that Google has a “woman” problem. I don’t know because I don’t know their track record in this area. Eric Schmidt said by going to Yahoo she received a promotion. Take the implication for what you will.
So, what kind of a company is Mayer about to run? Certainly Yahoo is a company that needs competent leadership to survive. She is what, the eighth CEO in the last ten years. Something like that. The last year alone seemed a revolving door at the top. If I described Google as a risk-taker and Microsoft as (until recently) unimaginative, then Yahoo is downright boring.
Yahoo started off as a web darling. It was the place to go to find stuff on the web through its hand curated portal and its distinctive list of categories. When Terry Semel came along in the early 2000s he transformed the company into a media site. Sure, search was still there, but the company seemed to lose focus when it was surpassed by the up and coming Google search engine. If anyone remembers, Google actually powered search at Yahoo for a while until it started to compete with Yahoo for the same eyeballs.
Semel’s answer was to create or buy properties that turned Yahoo into a community. And while this strategy succeeded in attracting visitors, Yahoo wasn’t doing anything that necessarily made it an essential site beyond basic search. I think it’s the same criticism that people leveled against Google, that its search engine made it a one-trick pony. Google’s reaction was to diversify services. Yahoo had lots of services but none of them stood out. They bought Flickr, and to the dismay of early users, required a Yahoo ID to use it. And while Flickr is known to be a great photo sharing site, many consider it bland in the evolution of web technical possibilities. Other properties came into Yahoo with the same fate. Some, like Geocities web sites became so underdeveloped that Yahoo essentially shut them down.
The leadership problem was so severe that Yahoo had no idea of what kind of company it wanted to be. Is it a tech company? A media company? Who knew. The disarray brought the attention to Microsoft who actually tried to overpay in an attempt to buy the company. This is probably the most exciting thing to happen to Yahoo in its existence. The old guard led by co-founder Jerry Yang threw such a fit as to defeat the move. Steve Ballmer is counting his blessings having stated that sometimes the best deals are the ones that never happen. Yahoo has never been worth the money Microsoft was willing to pay at the time of the deal nor any time since. Carl Icahn’s subsequent invasion of the Yahoo board didn’t help matters.
So Yahoo drifted. Microsoft salvaged what it wanted by powering Yahoo search through Bing. That helped Microsoft at Yahoo’s expense. Though powered by Bing, it continued to lose search market share to Microsoft’s formal presentation of Bing. This may have disappointed the Yahoo engineers who believed in their home grown search product to the point where staff was demoralized. But business is business when there isn’t a central strategy.
And that’s the problem Marissa Mayer has to face. Give this company a direction. Make it exciting again. Yahoo’s social is almost non-existent compared to other sites. Microsoft sucked up partnered with Facebook to paper over its shortcomings. Google started Google+. Google also started other services such as Google Docs and the online Google Apps office suite. Yahoo still is a site where someone goes to do, what exactly. Email? Sure. Everybody’s got that. So Marissa, help this company define itself. Develop some stand-out services that attract not merely an audience, but real attention as a cutting edge company. Make hard decisions, and yes, satisfy the stockholders. Essentially make Yahoo cool again. Challenge the web for a change. I get tired of disdaining this company, but in the past it’s made it so gosh darn easy to do. If the question is “Do You Yahoo?,” have a response to “Why would I want to?” Good luck. [MG]
How will "AALL and its members ... influence legal and government information policies in the public and private sector"? The answer can be found in AALL's Proposed Vision Statement, Vivid Description and Goals
So ... tomorrow, the AALL Executive Board is going to review its revised "Strategic Directions" statement only now it has a jazzy new title, "Vision Statement, Vivid Description and Goals." OK, well, whatever. At least it didn't add "Clear" to "Vision" because that might make one think of the Pearle Vision "naughtly librarian" ad. Disclaimer alert -- there is nothing wrong with naughtly librarians.
The title also didn't add "Vital" to "Goals." That would have been false advertising ... at least for those invoice-paying law librarians who have been calling upon AALL to engage in robust consumer advocacy. In fact, you won't (or at least, I didn't) find "consumer" or "consumer advocacy" specifically mentioned once in the text. Download the complete extracted text from the Board's meeting book.
Under the heading "Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy," the stated goal is "AALL and its members will influence legal and government information policies in the public and private sector." The first two listed (but not numbered by priority) objectives related to the goal are:
- Improve communications with information vendors regarding their products, product development, and related policies and services. (H)
- Expand relationships with policymakers and organizations on the local, state, and federal levels to advance legislation and public policy issues affecting libraries. (M)
In case you are wondering:
H stands for "Must begin objective in next fiscal year" and
M stands for "May begin objective, if resources permit, in next fiscal year."
(Emphasis in the original "priority key"; resources implies $$ and AALL employee staff, full-time and/or part-time, committment.)
Hasn't AALL engaged in an endless pursuit of trying to improve communications with vendors? Has it produced any real results? How is this objective in any way, shape or form related to "Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy"? Is it some veiled threat that if our vendors don't do what AALL has for years called upon them to do, AALL is going to ratchet things up a notch? If so, all the vendor community will do is have a collective chuckle based on the "maybe next year" priority for taking action to "advance legislation and public policy issues affecting libraries."
There is a way to reprioritize the above objectives. Just convert the vendor liaison position into a volunary non-paying one so that there would be some financial resources available to "[e]xpand relationships with policymakers and organizations on the local, state, and federal levels to advance legislation and public policy issues affecting libraries" as a "must begin objective in next fiscal year."
The entire 5-page "Vision Statement, Vivid Description and Goals" draft is well worth reading for this and other reasons. For one, the language in the draft does not dovetail into the proposed membership bylaw revision on its face. [Here and here plus cites and their comments to the blog posts.] Of course, the statement does fit nicely into AALL's de facto antitrust policy and now we know what priority the E-Board thinks consumer advocacy for law libraries and their patrons deserves.
Apparently the revision was finalized in May and submitted to the E-Board on June 20th by soon to be outgoing President Kirk. The motion for Board action is "[t]hat the Executive Board approve the proposed plan's Vision Statement, Vivid Description and Goals." Of course that language is boilerplate much like last year's Antitrustism policy. In this year's case, the draft strategic goals statement has a greater chance of being approved because it has all the top-down markings of the unofficial direction the E-Board has been mapping out for the rank-and file.
The matter will be presented to the E-Board on Friday, July 20 at 1:30 PM. That's about 15 minutes after the scheduled lunch break ends. Don't know about E-Board members but, usually after eating lunch, all I want to do is take a very long nap like Rip Van Winkle. [JH]
July 18, 2012
Some Thoughts On Technology Part Two: Google
Google is one of those companies that can’t be avoided, not that any of that is news at this point. One can search the Internet from competitors such as Bing or Yahoo. But Google’s influence goes well beyond its direct services. Google search is pervasive enough that is the standard by which other search engines are measured against. This may take the form of market share or by distinguishing offered services such as those from WolframAlpha. The Google effect goes well beyond generic Internet search. Both Westlaw and Lexis have transformed their services to Google style search leveraged against their own content and indexes despite sophisticated Boolean search languages.
What sets Google apart from other companies is its willingness to take chances without knowing the outcome. Google bought YouTube when others such as Mark Cuban called it a litigation magnet. They weren’t wrong. Google had the resources to contend with the litigation (see the Viacom case) while still developing the site as repository for commercial and educational video. Any DVD player or television set that features Internet applications has one for YouTube access.
The book scanning project is another example. The mere act of scanning was immediately contested by rights holders and continues to this day. The activity, however, has the potential to either clarify the limits of fair use or inspire legislative changes to the copyright law. When Microsoft began its me-too scanning project, the company said it would avoid the copyright trap by only scanning books with permission of the publishers or those squarely in the public domain. Later someone in Redmond woke up and asked why Microsoft was even doing this and abandoned the project. Microsoft was not willing to take chances.
The Android mobile operating system is another chance. It’s now in its fifth version despite Steve Job’s claim that it is a stolen product and threatening to go “thermonuclear” to destroy it. Android has motivated patent suits either for features it contains or features of the third-party hardware that runs it. Most companies would shy away from this kind of hassle. In spite of it all, Android is a very popular mobile OS globally.
The most recent disruption by Google is the Nexus 7 tablet. It’s announcement must have made Microsoft feel like the proverbial “chopped liver.” Microsoft created a real buzz when it announced the Surface tablet in conjunction with Windows 8. The Surface had a compelling design with its detachable cover that acted as a full keyboard. The problem was that it didn’t have specifications, a price, or a specific delivery date. When Apple announces a product it makes it available shortly after the announcement. Microsoft’s attempt to freeze the market might have worked well enough. Shortly after Microsoft announced the Surface, Google announced the Nexus 7.
The contrast couldn’t be starker. It’s an Android based tablet, smaller than the iPad at 7 inches and considerably less expensive. The only real difference in the models was the memory configuration, with 8 and 16 gigabytes, and priced at $199 and $249 respectively. The tech press was disappointed that memory could not be supplemented with removable storage. My prediction is that feature will be in the next version of the Nexus. The disappointment did not stop the general public from flooding Google with orders and apparently selling out the Nexus 7 in its first production run. The Surface will likely be successful, but the Nexus 7 is getting the press. The tablet is supposed to be a direct competitor to Amazon’s Kindle and the B&N Nook. Rumors are swirling that Apple will release a slightly large iPad mini later on this fall.
Not everything Google does grabs that kind of positive attention. There was the collaborative platform Google created called Wave. That went nowhere and was dropped. Then Buzz came along, Google’s first abortive attempt at social networking. The heavy handed integration with the Gmail contact list brought lawsuits and administrative action from the FTC. The replacement, Google+, is faring much better despite not having nearly the amount of members belonging to Facebook. Recent surveys show that Google+ has a higher member satisfaction rate than Facebook. For all of its focus on selling ads and ad revenue, no ads appear on Google+ at this time.
Google’s privacy practices constantly get criticized because it can build profiles of individuals based on search. Google knows everything, probably more than it should, though that doesn’t stop it from getting around 65% of the search market. The truly paranoid and maybe the merely careful should consider using Ixquick. It advertises itself as searching ten different search providers in full privacy. That means Ixquick is at least one level of protection between a searcher and the profile makers, if that matters in the age of Facebook sharing.
I expect Google to continue disrupting, whether its pushing the legal limits of copyright, privacy, or some other norm. The Chrome browser turned out to be really popular and influenced some of the design features in its competitors. Google Glasses hasn’t hit the market yet, but is intriguing. The moment I read about them I said I want them. Now. I still do, though my feelings have been tempered a bit by the reality of how easy it would be for someone to grab them from someone’s head. Google is working on that problem as well. If robbing people of smart phones is a regular occurrence, I imagine stealing Google Glasses will join that trend. As of now I still want them. And while you’re at it, when you perfect your driverless car, figure out a way to make it fly. [MG]
Background on How the Proposed AALL Membership Bylaws Revision Came Into Existence
Relating some background information about drafting revisions to Article IV. Membership of AALL's Bylaws, Betsy McKenzie reports:
According to a conversation with Darcy Kirk [AALL President], the Bylaws Committee first offered an amendment that tightened the definition of an active member. The Executive Board sent them back with directions to broaden the definition, instead. And did they broaden it! The new definition is so broad that it would extend the rights to vote and hold office to any employee of a legal publisher or other company that has consistently violated basic consumer protections in our Association’s Guide to Fair Business Practices. Some members are concerned that a significant ethical problem would unfairly burden such employees elected or appointed to offices in which their activities could directly or indirectly influence AALL policy or action on consumer advocacy, or could reasonably sustain the perception of conflicted influence. Of course, the issue remains debatable. In fact, our colleagues debated a similar issue of conflict of interest in 1987. The debate ended without resolution, but such acrimony accompanied it that repeating the controversy now seems to concerned members no small risk that our Board can and should avoid. The Board would effectively confer its imprimatur on the expanded definition of active definition by approving it in its present form for the membership’s vote, even though some members do not agree that the proposal should carry this de facto seal of approval.
Betsy also offers some talking points for this year's AALL Business Meeting & Members Open Forum on Monday, July 23, 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM in HCC-Ballroom B:
- Members were not well-apprised of the initial proposal to change the bylaws at the Board's March, 2012 meeting. Relying on the Board Book to tell general membership about important issues is NOT the kind of transparency members reasonably expect of the leadership!
- Members were not adequately informed of the request to the Bylaws Committee to broaden the active membership definition that took place at the March, 2012 meeting. Ordinary members should NOT have to dig through the Board Books and sift through 149 pages in them to find information that bears on ALL of our interests! This DOESNOT satisfy a reasonable expectation of transparency, but invites a suspicion, however misplaced, that the Board has tried to sneak a change past the membership.
- This has been a very divisive and rancorous issue in the past – when the issue of vendor membership was raised more than 20 years ago in 1987, it was a very bitter, emotionally charged town meeting.
- Changes to the Bylaws require a 2/3 approval of the full membership. An active minority will spare no procedural effort to defeat the proposed change in its present form. No one wants an avoidable conflict. The Board can still has means to avoid precipitating a conflict that otherwise seems inevitable.
Of course, the ways and means of conducting E-Board meetings also fails to be transparent in this age of live and low cost webcasting. Interested members can attend E-Board meetings in person. They can sit and listen but cannot speak unless asked to by a member of the E-Board at a board meeting when the membership knows one is taking place and what is on the agenda in advance. For example, the membership bylaws matter is on the E-Board's agenda for tomorrow's meeting. I doubt many, if any, rank-and-file members plan to attend the meeting in Boston because of the additional expense and the hurry-up taking care of business before heading to Boston.
Then there is the matter of when an E-Board meeting is called without any advance notice to rank-and-file members and the E-Board is conducting AALL business by way of a conference call. For example, "[t]he Executive Board met on June 7 by conference call to consider Antitrust FAQs that were drafted to address member questions about antitrust law and AALL." Quoted in The AALL's "Approved" Antitrust FAQ: A BS-Free Resolution for Our Association's De Facto Antitrust Policy. That meeting resulted in official E-Board action, namely approving the Antitrust FAQ.
Transparency implies accountability. Without intending to put words in Betsy's mouth, I view her post as one that is calling the E-Board to be held accountable. For much more, see Betsy's AALL changing definition of Active Members! post. See also Betsy's follow-up posts, Selling your association for a mess of pottage and Regulatory Capture and Professional Associations. In the context of the proposed bylaw revision, she raised the issues of ethics and potential conflicts of interest. As a rank-and-file "active" AALL member, I would argue the case that our fundamental duty is to represent our employer's interests which is certainly doable when our employers support the objectives stated in Article II of our association's bylaws. Under the proposed bylaw changes, will AALL have to institute some sort of "pledge of allegiance" and "good housekeeping seal of approval" to weed out those vendors who do nothing more than give lip service to AALL's non-binding recommended business practices?
As I have stated already, if the intention is to only include as active members, colleagues working in related fields like knowledge management, competitive intelligence and business development, and those IT/IS functions that relate to evaulating, purchasing and supporting vendor solutions for legal process workflow who are employed by our employers, then I am strongly in favor of that. If others want to point to other library associations that allow vendors to be full members, it would be wise to remember that our market structure is too concentrated for taking that step. It is even much more concentrated than in 1987 when, as Betsy notes, a similar membership revision proposal was considered.
The drafted revision need to be changed. Just like any 1L LW&R instructor would point out, poorly drafted language does reflect sloopy thinking. Based on the background information Betsy provides, don't blame the Bylaws & Resolutions Committee because it is clear that the Committee was taking directions from the E-Board.
"Per request of the AALL Executive Board, the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee presents this language for Bylaws amendments [for Article IV. Membership]."
Expecting More: From the Library Profession to the Communities Libraries Serve
I think the professional education I acquired from the long-closed Graduate Library School at The University of Chicago has served me fairly well over the past 30-plus years but it never hurts to read learn more about it. Several month ago I heard about R. David Lankes' The Atlas of New Librarianship (MIT Press, 2011) because it was awarded 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature. The ALA press release intrigued me:
In his book, Lankes articulates a new purpose for librarianship: “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” He envisions a profession based not on books and artifacts but on knowledge and learning which are created through conversations. The innovatively structured text, graphics and accompanying website are designed to stimulate further conversation about the field of librarianship.
The Award Committee praised the book for its unique visual map of ideas and their relationships to theory and practice. One committee member declared, “It made me think critically about our profession and our future…. I was taken out of my comfort zone and that was a good thing.” Other members praised the Atlas as “challenging,” “complex,” and “exciting both in its ideas and its design.”
Describing the book as “rich in optimism,” Kathryn Deiss, ACRL content strategist, said that "The Atlas of New Librarianship" creates "a platform for vital conversations about the future of librarianship.” The book’s unusual format presents more than 140 Agreements (statements on aspects of librarianship) and visually represents the threads that connect key ideas.
Did I run out to buy a copy (read click on the Amazon link)? No, but I should have because Lankes, professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute of Syracuse, has just published a new book. Expect More: Demanding Better Libraries For Today's Complex World (CreateSpace, June 12, 2012)(companion website) (hat tip to Greg Lambert's tweet). If The Atlas of New Librarianship is viewed as a call for re-purposing librarianship, because "touch[ing] on theory as well as practice, the Atlas is meant to be a tool: textbook, conversation guide, platform for social networking, and call to action," Expect More can be viewed as a call for library patrons and their sponsoring agencies to demand that the profession do so.
From the blurb:
Libraries have existed for millennia, but today many question their necessity. In an ever more digital and connected world, do we still need places of books in our towns, colleges, or schools? If libraries aren't about books, what are they about?
In Expect More, David Lankes, winner of the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature, walks you through what to expect out of your library. Lankes argues that, to thrive, communities need libraries that go beyond bricks and mortar, and beyond books and literature. We need to expect more out of our libraries. They should be places of learning and advocates for our communities in terms of privacy, intellectual property, and economic development.
Expect More is a rallying call to communities to raise the bar, and their expectations, for great libraries.
I think I better start with The Atlas for New Librarianship but these days I prefer reading eBooks and one appears not to be available! What's up with that? Curiously, there is a companion app for the book but no eBook. [JH]
July 17, 2012
Some Thoughts On Technology Part One: Microsoft
There’s been a lot of movement in the technology world lately that affects the average user. I think the “average user” is just about everybody on the planet these days what with the increase in the number of gadgets we rely upon. Certainly more shocks have come from Microsoft than any other company in the last year. In order, there is the radical Windows 8 Metro interface. It’s radical in the sense that it revamps Windows for the touch environment of tablets and phones. That’s obviously where the market is going, though desktop computing still has a place for consumers and corporations. Windows 8 still maintains the desktop computing environment, though it is secondary to Metro.
Desktop users will still have to use part of the tile interface as a substitute for the Start Menu, and by either gesturing with a finger on a touch screen or mimicking the same action with a mouse. Working through the various previews, my expectation was to hate it. Now I simply tolerate Windows 8’s changes though I’m not enamored with them. I happen to live on the desktop more than I ever will with portable computing, simply because everywhere I am there is an available desktop machine I can use. That might change if my needs change, which leads me to Microsoft’s Surface tablet.
Microsoft’s announcement of the Surface made waves in the tech press. It’s a Microsoft hardware product. Obviously Microsoft manufactures computer peripherals such as mice, keyboards, and web cams. The Kinect motion sensor device is a successful product as is the Xbox. Let’s not speak of the Zune, though there is a vocal minority of people who love them. The Surface, however, is a break from tradition in that Microsoft is essentially building its own general use computing device. Is this competition with their software OEMs or is this an example of a Windows tablet to inspire other hardware manufacturers? The jury is out on that one. We’ll see when these products hit the distribution channels later this fall.
Microsoft’s history is that of a company that takes its inspiration from other companies more than anything it invents on its own. The aforementioned Zune was a reaction to the iPod. In the mid-90s it wanted to be Netscape and define the nascent Internet with Internet Explorer. It wanted to be AOL and became an Internet provider with the various iterations of MSN. Then Google came along and it wanted to be Google. Microsoft started scanning books and then abandoned that project. It started Bing to compete in search and grab a slice of the ad world. The company recently wrote off its purchase of aQuantive, an acquisition that was a reaction to Google’s purchase of DoubleClick. Bing has operated at a loss since its inception.
Then Apple came along with the iPhone and Microsoft got into the phone operating system game with mixed results. Windows made a few inroads in the phone market, but not enough to meet the same level of market success of iOS and Android. The Kin, Microsoft’s attempt at creating a social phone for younger consumers was killed weeks after it was released because no one wanted it. Verizon hobbled the device with an untenable contract. The Windows 7 phones from Nokia that followed generated a better buzz with consumers. Within six months after they were released Microsoft and Nokia announced they were not upgradable to Windows 8. The technically minded consumers were not happy with their adoption.
Let’s get back to the Surface for a moment. This is where Microsoft wants to be Apple again. There are two versions of the tablet: one that runs a Windows 8 Metro interface and a full desktop, which is based on Intel chips, and another called Windows RT based on ARM chips. The latter has a desktop that exists solely to run an included version of Microsoft Office and nothing else. This is especially where Microsoft wants to be Apple. It mimics the iPad in that all applications running on Metro must come from the Microsoft store. The hardware requirements for a Windows 8 machine are strict enough that they effectively lock out the option for other operating systems. Linux users are not happy, though there are other hardware alternatives they could use, just not with Windows 8 installed. I expect Microsoft to start selling books and other consumable media once Windows 8 hits the channel just like Apple.
Microsoft’s strategy is simple enough to understand: get the same operating system on all devices, tie it together with the cloud as a central place to manage files and content, and throw some social connectivity in the mix for the kids. I don’t know if this will work. Microsoft’s base in the enterprise is notoriously resistant to change. Windows XP is still on an awful lot of machines out there. The Windows 8 approach may work if tablets start to penetrate corporations in a way where they are must-have productivity devices. The potential is there. A lot hinges on whether the Windows 8 interface is conducive to the workflow in offices. There are no windows in Metro. One application in the foreground is all there is. Someone who uses multiple windows on a screen will not find the Metro interface appealing.
Microsoft’s moves in the last year are truly a gamble. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer likes to identify each dramatic choice as a “bet-the-farm” move. I think Vista was one of those, though the farm is still there in spite of itself. I think Microsoft is getting into the right game – tablets and mobile computing. I’m just not sure the strategy is the best one they could use.
Tomorrow: Google and the Nexus 7, Android, and Chrome. [MG]
Dick Spinelli for AALL President for Life
Because Dick Spinelli is the only vendor employee I know who, if elected to national office, would want current AALL "active members" to think for themselves as representatives of their employers. But wait, he can't hold national elective office because he is only an "associate member" under AALL's current Bylaws.
Well, that could change because the associate membership category would be eliminated and the active membership category would be revised to include vendor employees under proposed revised Bylaw language that is on the agenda for the E-Board's July 20, 2012 meeting. Text below (illustrated).
If the intention is to include in the active membership category, legal information professionals whose employers have bureaucratically separated functions that once were but are no longer performed "in the library," then the bylaws language needs to state that. I, for one, am strongly in favor of changing the bylaws to include such once internal library functions as knowledge management, competitive intelligence and business development, and those IT/IS functions that relate to evaulating, purchasing and supporting vendor solutions for legal process workflow as long as the folks who are now performing that work are employed by our employers. Hell, if we don't try to bring those folks into the fold, private sector law librarians might as well just turn in their AALL dues-paying membership "cards" and become a special interest section of ALA -- the Association of Legal Administrators, not the other ALA.
But the current language is so poorly drafted that it is much more inclusive. Vendors who are "interested in the objectives of the Association" could become full "active" members and their employee representatives could be elected to national office by the membership or appointed chairs of national committees by the Executive Board, which as we all know, is made without any rank-and-file oversight.
Suggestions for Thinking for Yourself as a Representative of Your Employer. Quoting our association's current bylaws
Article II. Object
The American Association of Law Libraries exists to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the public, the legal community, and the world, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information and information policy, in recognition that the availability of legal information to all people is a necessary requirement for a just and democratic society.
1. How do we foster a skills and knowledge-based profession when we haven't got enough information about today's proprietary metadata-enhanced search engines?
2. How do we provide leadership in the field of legal information and information policy when the commerical law publishing oligarchy is firmly entrenched in the "content farm" model because that is what "their customers want."
3. How do we even pretend to recognize that legal information should be available to all by way of Open Law and Open Access to primary legal resources generated at all levels of govenment and fair use of licensed electronic secondary sources when it is clear that some newly minted active members, under the proposed Bylaw revision, are more interested in enhancing revenue flow?
Remember, AALL is not an association of law librarians or legal information professionals. It is an association of "law libraries". We as members represent our employers' interests which despite the hollow "partnership" rhetoric of AALL oftentimes does conflict with our vendors strategic objectives and tactics at the enterprise and industry levels. As an association of employers should vendor employees whose paychecks are written by paymasters who certainly are interested in but not supportive of AALL's objectives be allowed to be active members with all the rights of membership?
What the heck, if the Bylaws drafters don't bring back associate membership status for vendor reps and don't limit active membership to representives employed by the same entities that employ us, we can eliminate the vendor liaison employment position entirely, close down the government affairs office, and the E-Board can appoint one of our "Dear Colleagues" push-back letter writers to head up CRIV. Imagine the tightly controlled Nominations Committee offering up two WEXIS reps for VP-P-Elect some year. This may sound fanciful but there is only one way to guarantee that it won't happen ... elect Dick Spinelli AALL President for Life! As you can see from the above campaign poster, Dick has plenty of life left in him.
If called to serve, I know Dick won't let us down.
End Note. Do note well, that when the E-Board considers this revision at its pre-conference July 20, 2012 meeting it has several options including (1) accept the currently submitted revision; (2) unilaterally change the drafted language; or (3) instruct the Bylaws Committee to go back to the drafting board. The first two options could result in a presentation for the current active membership's consideration and discussion and then a vote on the revised bylaws. That process would start within 60-days of what the E-Board decides to do --- meaning it would end post-Boston 2012. However, this does not mean the topic cannot or will not be open for discussion at this year's AALL Business Meeting & Members Open Forum on Monday, July 23, 4:15 PM - 5:30 PM in HCC-Ballroom B. [JH]
July 16, 2012
Tell The Obama Administration How IP Should Be Enforced
The government is reaching out to the public (remember, corporations are people too) for comments on how to shape intellectual property enforcement (Development of the Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement). The announcement came on the White House web site on June 25. The comment period ends on July 25. As of now there are only 36 comments with most of them by citizens rather than the intellectual property industries that have captivated Congress for so long. Anyone who has any interest in legislative trends (SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP, etc.) now has the opportunity to make their ideas heard.
The Notice requesting comment also has this bit of text:
Submissions directed at the economic costs resulting from enforcement of intellectual property rights must clearly identify: (1) the type of intellectual property protection at issue, e.g., trademark, copyright, patent, trade secret or other (2) the methodology used in calculating the estimated costs and any critical assumptions relied upon, (3) identify the source of the data on which the cost estimates are based, and (4) provide a copy of, or a citation to, each such source of information.
That might explain why there isn’t comment by the RIAA, MPAA, et al. Most every estimate of monetary and job losses from these organizations that has appeared in congressional reports justifying legislation seems to come from sources that could not be verified. Repeating the numbers over and over again tends to give them a semblance of truth, even if that is not the case. Just ask the GAO, who said this in its report Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, GAO-10-423, Apr 12, 2010:
Three widely cited U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies. Generally, the illicit nature of counterfeiting and piracy makes estimating the economic impact of IP infringements extremely difficult, so assumptions must be used to offset the lack of data. Efforts to estimate losses involve assumptions such as the rate at which consumers would substitute counterfeit for legitimate products, which can have enormous impacts on the resulting estimates. Because of the significant differences in types of counterfeited and pirated goods and industries involved, no single method can be used to develop estimates. Each method has limitations, and most experts observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts.
Here is a chance for members of the library community to let the government know what he or she thinks on the issue. [MG]
Kurzon LLP Sues Cooley Law School for Defamation
See Staci Zaretsky's ATL post for details and background. Remember the "second best law school" in the country had filed a defamation suit against the law firm. [JH]
Petitioning the Obama Administration to Support the Restoration of Copyrights to their Original Duration of 28 Years
From the online We Petition:
Our Founding Fathers established an initial copyright duration of 28-years, but that has been repeatedly extended to up to 120 years to favor corporations like Disney and Sony and authors’ descendants at the expense of the public. Such durations ignore the Constitution’s requirement that copyrights be for limited times and promote progress in science and the useful arts. They actually inhibit scientific progress by restricting the free flow of information, preventing global digital libraries, and withholding information that future generations need to freely exchange and build upon. The original copyright duration provides ample incentive for companies and authors to create, so we ask the President to urge Congress to pass a bill restoring copyrights to their original duration of 28 years.
The deadline for the required 25,000 signatures is August 8, 2012. Sounds like a very good idea to me. I do wonder, however, if I can sign the petition without a disclaimer that my support for it has nothing to do with being an AALL member and whether only AALL can represent my interests as a US citizen who happens to be buyer of copyrighted works by petitioning the federal government because of the financial and competitive impact reducing copyright to a mere 28 years would have on the commercial legal publishing cartel. So while I think this petition is a very good idea, it certainly is not a call for other like-minded AALL members to support it.
For more on if not global at least national digital libraries, see Pamela Samuelson's Reforming Copyright Is Possible: And it's the only way to create a national digital library (The Chronicle Review, July 9, 2012) and Legislative Alternatives to the Google Book Settlement (April 2011) [SSRN]. [JH]
Opening: Head of Collection Services, Univ. of Iowa Law Library
The University of Iowa Law Library seeks a Head of Collection Services to manage the technical services functions of the Law Library. To view the complete job description and apply for this position go to http://jobs.uiowa.edu (it’s requisition #61226).
The University of Iowa is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
July 15, 2012
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Monmouth County Bankruptcy and Consumer Lawyer Blog
Examines bankruptcy cases, news, and opinions as well as related consumer law topics in New Jersey. Published by Riviere Cresci & Singer
Virginia Defamation Law Blog
Examines defamation cases, news, and related legal topics in Virginia. Published by BerlikLaw
Mississippi Injury Lawyers Blog
Discusses personal injury cases, news, and related legal topics in Mississippi. Published by Kobs & Philley
Dallas Divorce Lawyer Blog
Examines divorce cases, news, and related family law topics in Texas. Published by Guest & Gray
Gravel2Gavel Construction Law Blog
Examines construction law cases, news, and related topics nationwide. Published by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP