Sound and vision

YouTube and Information Literacy

As previously, for “information literacy” I am reading “copyright awareness”…

I think I already mentioned that I’ve used one of lordllama’s videos as a copyright awareness aid. I’m not sure about some of the “funny” accents but nothing gets a dull message across as successfully as a furry weasel puppet and a furry rat puppet…

I looked at some other YouTube material about copyright too. There’s some good general stuff out there (like this, er, copyright rap) but whereas the world-wide nature of the web would normally be hailed as a good thing, the different legal jurisdictions pose problems where copyright is concerned. Hence the legal minutiae underpining clever videos like this American one don’t actually toe the line with law in the UK where the reproduction of even small fragments of Walt Disney films would be a bit of a no-no.


I dip into a couple of podcasts now and then. I know that one of them  is updated weekly on the BBC site so I listen to that when I get time. The other one appears periodically and when that happens I get notified via my Google Reader subscription to their blog. I tend not to subscribe to them via iTunes since I’m not so bothered as to want to listen to every single episode.

For a while I subscribed to a programme on BBC 6Music but I abandoned this because only very short extracts of the music played in the show were actually included in the podcast, presumably because the rights hadn’t been cleared. Why is my life riddled thus with copyright restrictions at every turn?!

Music playlists

Hobby horse alert! I think there is now a generation to whom the idea of paying for music is now totally alien. (This I know from the blank looks I get when I try to enthuse–like some deranged old idiot–about the great new CD I’ve just bought.)

It’s good that the advent of Spotify and means that there’s now an alternative to all that illegal downloading malarkey which they say has brought the music industry to its knees. I hear though that there are real issues among musicians as to the means and extent to which they get reimbursed for all the free access which Spotify allows to their material. For some time I was a massive “user” but I now find it a bit overwhelming. I often think that it’s only at the point where I make a financial commitment to music, i.e. pay for it, that I actually engage with it to any extent. There’s so much, so easily available, it kind of loses its value.

Another sign of old age probably *folds rug over knees, nods off*…

(Images: Galeria de brylle & Javier Kohen)

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Seven up

More Week 7-related gubbins:


I like the democratic nature of wikis. How they allow everyone to contribute. In theory…

As instructed, I tried to add my 23things blog to the uklibraryblogs list of 23things blogs but clicking the “edit” button sadly got me nowhere. I forgot that I already had a pbwiki account having joined to view a the wiki on HEI digitisation procedures set up by a colleague at Kings College but I notice in my profile that I’m not entitled to edit the uklibraryblogs wiki, so have (I think) requested permission to do so. We’ll see where that gets me…

The Day in the Life blogs seem like a good idea. I have bookmarked this to come back to later (when the 23things deadline heat is off) which brings me to…

Social bookmarking

Lately I’ve been relying on the bookmarking possibilities of Pageflakes (see my earlier post about this) but I’d forgotten (so many resources, so many accounts already set up in the dim and distant…) that for some time I used the old defunct FURL service, now rebranded as Diigo. Imagine my surprise when I discover that my lists of web sites for French language learners and gig venues remain intact on the fantastic World Wide Web!

The layout of the page in is much more attractive than what you get in Diigo with its annoyingly prominent “Ads by Google” (I really have enough “Ads by Google” in my life already) but can I be bothered to start again from scratch with Er, no.


Hmm. I really need something to gather together all the handwritten notes I’ve started accumulating in various notebooks and help me keep tabs on all the ethnomusicology textbooks I’ve been reading for my research. Maybe Evernote could help with this? I haven’t got much in the way of online resources to add at the moment but it might be worth bearing in mind from that point of view too.

That’s all for today I think…

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On the slide

I can see the value of Slideshare in letting you look back again at presentations from meetings and conferences you’ve attended. It can even sometimes give speakers a reason not to dish out a pile of environmentally-unfriendly paper to accompany their presentations which has got to be a good thing. And the added flexibility of being able to incorporate audio and video and how you can embed them into your own website is all good.

So it works OK as a sharing tool, and to reinforce a message you’ve already heard. I wonder though about the extent to which slides in general work as a standalone means of communication. Having someone talking you through has so many advantages: it gives your bullet points some context, gives you more of an idea which are the important points and what’s less vital to commit to memory and generally puts a “human” face on the whole thing, injects some humour, a tall order otherwise.

If you’re relying on a slideshow to get a message across to a new audience then it really, really needs to be short and snappy. The Zeitgeist 2010 presentation is spot with its advice to use a small number of words per slide, but in my experience many users just can’t resist the temptation to cram in as much information as possible into every screenshot. Prezi might be “vertigo-inducing” but the way it’s laid out does encourage you to cut things up into smaller bite-size pieces and maybe fight off indigestion.

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On the road again

With scant regard for my recent summer mini-break the 23things juggernaut hurtles on. In a frantic attempt to yank on the brake and regain control today I’ve had a blitz on Week 6. Afraid I’m now *that* far behind…

So, to report back, I have more or less successfully:

  • used Doodle to poll fellow members of the Web Development Group regarding their preferred date for our next get-together (straight-forward until I attempted to get Doodle to send out my e-mail requests via Outlook which seemed to entail installing a “Connector”. At this point, I opted for the easier option of sending out the messages myself).
  • used SurveyMonkey to create a survey for fellow-copyright librarians on their use of the Newspaper Licensing Agency licence, a current source of bewilderment to me. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to send it out yet though, not for technical reasons, but because I’d like to try and manage the extent to which my hastily-worded questions show me up for the ignoramus I surely am.
  • invited other members of my team to join me in remembering the milk, so to speak. For some years we have used an arcane tool called “the doctor” to manage our shared tasks and I often wonder a) if this actually doesn’t create work rather than save it and b) how likely it is to crash for good one day with hardly any IT expertise to kickstart it back into life again. Remember The Milk looks like it might do the job just as well. Will report back after requisite team huddle…
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Prezi’s for everyone

…and other such tortuous wordplay. I’m not quite sure that I’d recommend it for everyone just yet, anyway today I’ve been getting to grips (kind of) with the Prezi editing interface. It’s taken a while. I didn’t find it very intuitive and although Emily’s explanations and the links to further tutorials etc were helpful, I can’t help feeling that I would have benefited from having someone looking over my shoulder and prodding me in the right direction a few times. Anyway, I’ve made some progress.

I’ve been thinking about how Prezi might be useful in my quest to bring copyright awareness to the masses. I don’t really see a place for it as an accompaniment to the classroom-based presentations which I give–PowerPoint is fine in the way it displays bullet points summarising and giving some coherence to my rambling commentary. I think the value of Prezis(?) is as online tutorials which users can follow through themselves in their own time and space. In my experience there’s no way you can do this with PowerPoint.

It’s good how Prezi forces you to express yourself in digestible bite-size chunks, a useful discipline to have particularly on the subject of copyright where explanations tend to be lengthy and complicated. I think it also makes you more outward-looking in expressing your ideas, something to also have in mind when writing for the web (as we discovered in our workshop earlier this week). There’s a tendency for university copyright officers to base the information on their websites on the different parts of the legislation (putting my own hand up here too), rather than presenting it in a way which is comprehensible to the user. Prezi helps get you out of that way of thinking.

Some of the practical issues I’ve had:

  • As you’d expect, the number of licensed images available is quite small (let’s not go on about that again) and often it’s not possible to find something appropriate. It’s not at all clear how to return to the editing screen without selecting an image. It seems you have to select an image anyway then delete it.
  • At one point, in the interest of adding some variety, I tried to insert a table. The standard version in the template is very small and contains only single figures: there didn’t seem to be a way of resizing it so I could add more detailed text. I abandoned this.
  • As you can see by this huge block of unbroken text, I also spectacularly failed to embed my Prezi in my blog. Whenever I pasted the source code into the HTML editor in my blog dashboard then clicked to save, it changed into a hyperlink. It might be that WordPress is to blame for this rather than Prezi.

Anyway anyway… behold, if you will, the fruits of my labours. As I say it took me a long time to get this far, although that might be a consequence of the endless searching for appropriate/humorous images and video clips to complement the text, rather than the idiosyncrasies of the editing interface.

At time of writing it’s not yet finished. I thought I would stop here and seek advice on what I’ve done so far from those who know more about these things than I. So please, be unstinting in your criticism…

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Wot, no Oscar Wilde?

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” – Edward P. Morgan

You might remember the competition a while ago in which Library staff were asked to come up with an appropriate quotation to be displayed in the refurbished University Library? One prize was accorded to these pearls of wisdom by the inevitable Dr Samuel Johnson; another to the couple of sentences above from the lesser-known American journalist Edward P. Morgan.

There may or may not be a copyright issue in displaying quotations on library walls. It depends on the extent to which they can be considered a “substantial amount” of the work from which they’re taken. Copyright deity Professor Charles Oppenheim (who knows better than I) takes the view that if a quotation is considered worthy of public display in a university library, that in itself makes it a “substantial” amount.

Morgan’s book “Clearing the Air“, in which these words appear, was published in 1963 so the publisher’s own copyright expired twenty-five years later in 1989. However, since Morgan himself died as recently as 1993, author’s copyright will last until 1st January 2064 (more than seventy years after his death). Hence, playing by Professor Oppenheim’s rules (as we surely are), permission from the rightsholder would be needed for our Innovative Library Display plan to pay off.

One of the notable events in Edward P. Morgan‘s journalistic career concerned the 1956 collision of two ocean liners off the Massachusettes coast on which he filed reports for the ABC radio network. Only after the event did it become clear that Morgan’s own daughter had been a passenger on one of the two ships. Thankfully she survived but in the weeks following the disaster Morgan won many plaudits for the objectivity of his reporting in the face of possible personal tragedy.

I mention this not only as an interesting yarn but also because as surviving relative, this same daughter, Linda Morgan, now inherits copyright in her father’s work. Hence we can use the quotation if she grants us permission to do so.

Testing Google’s worldwide searching facility to its limit (maybe), I discover that these days Linda Morgan Hardberger is an active member of the community in San Antonio, Texas: director of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund and of the Green Spaces Alliance of South Texas, wife of the former mayor and a librarian by profession!

Taking this as a sign, I fire out some optimistic letters to three different destinations and sure enough, only days later, receive an e-mail back from Mrs Hardberger, currently cruising on the family boat in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. I’m happy to report then that, not only has she granted us permission to use the quotation, but also looks forward to seeing it displayed in our refurbished Library on her next visit to London.

Copyright win!

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Catch-up cricket

So this week I’ve been trying to paper over a few of the cracks I’ve left, having hurtled a bit randomly through the 23things thing so far.

This is what I’ve learned:

What mainly strikes me about LinkedIn is how it scarily makes connections for you with people from your murky past! Quite clever I suppose how it (presumably) trawls your e-mail activities from way back, but it’s a bit Big Brother though too eh? Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been watching too many news stories about Brooks and Coulson and their evil snooping PIs…

It does throw up some connections which I can see could be useful–former library colleagues, researchers with common academic interests, some fellow charity workers. On the other hand, much as I heartily recommend the B&B accommodation at Dalrannoch Farm in Oban, I don’t think I’ll be keeping in touch with the landlady via LinkedIn…

I did notice that several people’s profiles were out of date which makes me think that their use has tailed off latterly. On that basis I wonder whether LinkedIn has had its day and if it hasn’t already been run over by the mighty Facebook juggernaut. I can see though how LinkedIn has much more of a professional “feel”. Maybe it will endure for that reason alone. I don’t really see myself diving in to any great degree to be honest. I think I agree with Richard that it’s just a bit too “schmoozy” for me…

– The other “thing” I tried which I seem to have skimmed over from a couple of weeks ago was the facility to generate rss feeds from library databases. I spent a long time creating a JSTOR search I was happy with, returning a manageable number of references, only to find that when I clicked on the “rss feed” button to generate an update in my Google Reader account, an annoying “rss feed not found” message popped up. Not sure what happened here. I’ll have another go later in the week.

At least I had more success adding a straight, not particularly complex, Google search to my ever-growing list of rss feeds (unread blog score currently=119!). When am I ever going to have time to keep up with all this information?!

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Hobnobbing with the Twitterati

So, week 4 it is.

I found the Phil Bradley piece interesting. He says that he uses Twitter as an information source, rather than as a leisure activity. I know what he means. Although I don’t (yet) use Twitter for work purposes, I find it’s great for keeping up with latest news, not exactly the intellectual heavyweights in my case I’m afraid, more likely updates from the Guardian Film and Music supplement, events at the London Jazz Festival or British Film InstituteLDN_SW12 and LDN_EC1 following affairs near where I live and work, new postings from fellow music bloggers, etc etc.

I also find that Twitter can be tremendously entertaining, not because it lets you keep in touch with your friends–I’d tend to prefer to use Facebook for that anyway–but because you can “follow” anyone, however remote from your own experience (Barack Obama if you’re so inclined, Stephen Fry if you must) and hear their take on the issues of the day. I haven’t succumbed to the POTUS yet and have rejected Sir Stephen (tell you why in a while) but I’ve found that journalist/broadcasters like Caitlin Moran and Danny Baker are good for a pithy rejoinder or two, as is the excellent Dr Samuel Johnson.

I know that there is a kind of etiquette which obliges you, when someone becomes your follower, to “follow” them back. I have to say that I tend to take Bradley’s view and *not* to do this unless the person in question is going to say something I’m interested in. There are a few people (friends as well as “celebrities”) who I’ve started to follow but then stopped.

This is normally because they tweet WAY TOO MUCH. I find it quite off-putting to be confronted with a screen full of tweets from the same person when I log on. Stephen Fry is a repeat offender here. Hence I rejected him at an early stage. Also friends of mine periodically use Twitter to have conversations between themselves which would be better held privately (not because they’re inappropriate, because they’re dull). Another reason to trim my “following” list.

I was interested to read, on the Twitter tools link, about the Buffer app. It seems that this might be useful for library accounts in that it would allow a member of staff to sit and key in a lot of tweets over, say, a half hour period, then release them gradually during the course of the day. This would avoid the scenario where some users are swamped with a lot of tweets all arriving at the same time of day while others, who happen to have logged on earlier or later see none at all (unless they actively look for them).

Interesting also to read that number 10 on the Twitter tools list, “BinReminded”, is considered ideal for people who “live inside Twitter”. I’m really hoping I never get to *that* stage…

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There’s been some good information in Week 3 along the same pathway as has been recently trodden by my own Creative Commons hobby horse.

The copyright of images is a huge issue for higher education. Of course it’s useful to know about Creative Commons and other image repositories, and other people’s blog posts have illustrated that it’s possible to find some quite attractive, funny and generally appropriate images on Flickr.

But there are real problems when it comes to using images for teaching. Many of our health science courses can’t function without huge numbers of images. And here lecturers are not just looking for something attractive on Flickr which will “do” to illustrate a general point. They’re looking for specific, detailed anatomical diagrams which form the very basis of their teaching. Almost no such material is available via licensed collections like Creative Commons, Everystockphoto, those linked from the BUBL site, and so on.

Copyright law offers almost no help: although “fair dealing” defences can be invoked for purposes of criticism and review and use in an examination, such defences can only be applied to what is termed an “insubstantial amount”. An image itself has its own copyright so fair dealing defences would only apply to an “insubstantial” amount of an image. Not much practical help then.

Our CLA Licence has some allowances for scanning images from printed material but most teachers these days (understandably) want to use images from websites or other online media. I’d normally repeat my “check-the-website-terms-and-conditions” mantra at this point but these often actively forbid re-use. In which case: contact the copyright holders and ask for permission. Well yes, but what academic department is going to set up and run a copyright permissions system to e-mail rightsholders, keep detailed records of all (possibly hundreds of) permissions received, chase where there’s been no response…?

(Getting very “preachy” here. Will try and rein myself in. Sorry.)

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Flaking out

I’ve been using iGoogle for non-work “stuff” for a while, but the Week 2 tasks have prompted me to have a think about how useful and usable I find it.

I like how iGoogle allows me to display a number of different gadgets on the same screen, for example my Google mailbox, the weather forecast (we Brits love our weather forecasts), RSS feeds from the numerous music blogs which I follow in an unhealthily obsessive way (not to mention those vital football and cricket updates), also the rather tasteful “Art of the Day” feature which helps me kid myself I know anything about art.

I’m still, I think, a bit of a fan of Pageflakes. Where I think it has the beating of iGoogle is that it allows you to create more than one page for your gadgets (“flakes”) which helps you organise your stuff a bit more. My iGoogle page has twenty RSS feeds (ahem) which makes quite a long page with much scrolling necessary. This also means I need to position the feeds I consider the most important at the top of the page where I can see them more easily. With Pageflakes I can create separate pages for different subjects: I have one for work stuff, then a different one for my various leisure/non-work interests.

There also seems to be a wider range of gadgets available in Pageflakes than in iGoogle (although the latter may have improved since the last time I looked). For example, there is something called the “Anything” flake which just allows you to input text in whatever format you want and to add images and hyperlinks at any stage. Also recommended: the “bookmarks” flake (self-explanatory) and the address book. And you can add your RSS feeds too of course.

BUT (and it’s a big but) the site itself is, ironically, massively flakey. It goes down often, and for days at a time. It’s been OK for the last couple of weeks but there’s no knowing when it will crash again, and for how long. This is really the only reason I’ve moved to iGoogle.

As for Google reader, I haven’t used that before but have now set up subscriptions to all the 23things blogs (it took blimmin ages!) and will see how it compares to what I’m used to with my iGoogle homepage.

This 23things stuff is really giving me something constructive to do during my Level 2 desk slots now that over-the-counter business has dried up for the summer. More please!

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