sex drugs and intellectual freedom

Top Searches—March 12, 2009

Posted in sdif, sex, wtf? by A on 12 March 09


Presented without comment.

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Some Thoughts on Intellectual Freedom, Plurality and the West Bend Library Book challenge

Wisconsin readers of SDIF may already be aware of the ongoing books challenge in West Bend, WI. Local Fox6 News has a video clip on the matter here (though you may cringe at its rhetorical pandering to this absurd construct collectively known as “the culture wars.” At least I did.)

While the situation has blown up into a call for the removal of certain GLBTQ books by the local religious community, that was not originally the case. Initially, (as I have come to understand it) the challenge centered around the book lists on the West Bend library’s website for Young Adults. A mother was concerned that the GLBTQ book list contained, in her mind, only pro-gay literature (whatever that means). Her request was that some sort of alternative viewpoint (specifically, a Christian-based homophobic one) be represented there as well. Presumably, this would come in the form of Christian “conversion” literature. That is, literature claiming that through Christian faith, one can overcome (or, in some iterations, “cure”) their homosexuality.

Now, this post is not intended to address the ideological battle over whether or not homosexuality is some sort of “sin.” I will state that I am certain it is not a sin, and that to believe otherwise is to engage in bigotry, plain and simple. I further believe that “conversion” literature has no place in a public library’s Young Adult section (or, in most cases, any section). But, again, while I am more than happy to argue why elsewhere, I do not look to do so here.

Rather, I would like to address some of the discussions among library and information science students and professionals that I have been privy to as of late. Specifically, I would like to address what seems to be a common consensus that, in the name of Intellectual Freedom, the GLBTQ books should not be removed and that some sort of “conversion” literature should be necessarily added to the collection.

In short: I find this quick consensus to be alarming and, frankly, dangerous.


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Google Latitude: The Loneliest Place on Earth

Posted in privacy, social networking, surveillance by A on 8 February 09


I got on board with Google’s Latitude shortly after its unveiling last week. I was curious on two fronts, 1) to see what kind of privacy mess it could be and 2) to see what kind of utility a location-based social media app might have for my life. After a few days of playing around it seems I’ve (mostly) had my curiosities satisfied…


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Download Me Do

Posted in awesome, copyright, music by A on 6 January 09

Norway’s national broadcasting service (NRK) gets the greenlight to post a boatload of free podcasts that, among other things, happen to contain the entire Beatles’ catalog.


2008 Word of the Year: Overshare

Posted in blogosphere, free speech, internets, social networking by A on 18 December 08

[tip via Michael Zimmer]

Obama, YouTube, and Privacy

Posted in politics, privacy, social networking, surveillance by A on 8 December 08

You know how Obama is “bringin’ it to the people” via those Fireside Chat 2.0 things on YouTube? Well, besides it maybe kind of sort of being totally unfair (the addresses are uploaded to YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo!, giving smaller video hosting sights no respect and also placing the burden of bandwidth onto, mostly, YouTube, as the video on the site is embedded from there), it also presents some major privacy risks…


A Decade of DMCA

Posted in copyright, fair use, il/legal, policy, tech by A on 28 October 08

Public Knowledge has a week long series of blog posts and video interviews to commemorate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which was enacted 10 years ago this week.

Yesterday, Rashmi Rangnath wrote:

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – a law that content owners claimed was absolutely necessary if they were to make content available in digital form. At the time the legislation was being considered, opponents including libraries, museums, and representatives of the consumer electronics industry warned that the legislation would jeopardize fair use and other lawful uses. Today, many of these fears have been realized. What is more, the DMCA has been used in ways lawmakers never intended. However, the law’s effectiveness in preventing “piracy” still remains questionable.

From Mad Men to Mad Science

Posted in advertising, intellectual freedom, media by A on 28 October 08

I, like many bloggers and critics (but not nearly enough viewers), am an avid fan of AMC’s Mad Men. The balance between gritty HBO-style series and Sirkian melodrama is delicately struck, and it’s a pleasure to watch.

However, with tawdry office sex and button-down social politics taking up most of the screen time, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of the show’s centerpiece: advertising. It’s clear Weiner and company aren’t as distracted as we are; they are hyper-aware of the ad man’s role in shaping the mass culture of the 1960’s. The casually placed McLuhan references make that obvious enough.

But, that was almost 50 years ago. Where are we now?


Wikipedia, Truth, and the University

Posted in education, internets by A on 23 October 08

Technology Review currently has an article up about Wikipedia that basically amounts to a roundabout discussion of the subjective nature of truth. [via]

However, the piece brings up an interesting problem many of us haven’t considered: the often vicious circle of citation and verification.


Facebook Photos Privacy Loophole

Posted in privacy, social networking by A on 23 October 08

Remember last spring when anyone who was up to two degrees away from Paris Hilton on Facebook could look through her photo albums? All it took was knowing someone who was tagged in a photo in any given album, and you had access to the entire album – not simply the one photo your friend was in. Well, it’s still an issue!