Educational Patents, Open Access Journals, and Clashing Values

This posting has two goals — first, to introduce DLTJ readers to the notion of “Educational Patents” or “edupatents” and provide an update on events of this week. Second, to frame the sometimes contentious interaction between academic institutions and supporting businesses as one of “clashing values.” The former serves as a cautionary tale within the wider scope of the latter.

Educational Patents


Are you following the world of “edupatents” (broadly defined as patents that affect the educational markets)? This kicked into gear about this time last year with Blackboard‘s lawsuit [PDF] against Desire2Learn over alleged infringements by Desire2Learn of a Blackboard patent. Michael Feldstein posted a layman’s analysis of the lawsuit and concludes that many “Learning Management Systems have most or all of the features listed in the claims and therefore may infringe on the patent.” Those in the list are not only Desire2Learn and other commercial packages, but also the open source Sakai and Moodle projects. Al Essa has a graphical view of Blackboard’s patent claims, and it does seem that the patent covers a broad spectrum of educational technologies that we are starting to take for granted.

NPR’s Headquarters

NPR's Headquarters, looking east
NPR’s Headquarters, looking east
Side view of the triangular building, looking from Mt. Vernon Square. The DC Convention Center is just to the north of where this photograph was taken.

NPR's Headquarters main entrance
NPR’s Headquarters main entrance
The main entrance to NPR is along Massachusetts Avenue, and this banner in front of the construction scaffolding shows the address that I hear often on the radio: 635 Massachusetts Avenue, Northwest, Washington, DC, 20001.

NPR's Headquarters facing Massachusetts Avenue
NPR’s Headquarters facing Massachusetts Avenue
Three banners, “Think” – “Explore” – “Share,” hang from the front of the headquarters.

NPR's Headquarters viewed from 6th St and Massachusetts Ave NW
NPR’s Headquarters viewed from 6th St and Massachusetts Ave NW
VW car billboard, supplementing NPR’s membership dues and corporate sponsorships?

SOLINET’s Collective Vision of the Future of Libraries

Library Journal reports on the results of discussions among SOLINET1 members to envision what their library of the future will be. The summary is available as a PDF document as are the instruments used to generate the discussion. The report is two pages of executive summary, four pages of compact overviews of the major areas of focus, and four pages of recommendations for the SOLINET organization.

“Show Me The Code!!!” -or- It Isn’t Open Source Until We Can See the Source

Show Me the Money! There are days that I feel like Tom Cruise. No, I have no idea what it is like to be married to Nicole Kidman or Katie Holmes and I don’t have the secrets of Scientology. Let me rephrase: there are days that I feel like Jerry Macguire, the character Tom Cruise played in the movie by the same name. Have you seen it? Very early in the movie there is a scene where Jerry’s life as a top-tier sports agent is crumbling. He is on the phone with what turns out to be his last client — desperately trying to keep his business. The athlete (Cuba Gooding Jr. — I have no idea what it is like to be him either) gets Jerry to scream “Show Me The Money!” into the phone as a precondition for remaining his agent. In that vein, here is what I’m screaming into this PowerBook. (Imagine now that I am dancing around the room and standing on top of desks — not really a stretch for those that have seen my presentation style, I’ll admit.)

Data Visualization: Depth, Breadth, and Malleable

In case you haven’t run across Gapminder.org yet, I encourage you to carve out about 45 minutes of a day to do so. Even before going to the URL above, your first stop should be this 20 minute video by Hans Rosling — professor of global health at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute — from a TEDtalk last year. 1

Demonstrating the Mouse’s Absurd Copyright Practices by Using the Mouse’s Work

Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University demonstrates principles of fair use to give an overview of U.S. copyright principles in A Fair(y) Use Tale — a 10-minute video in five acts. Using clips from dozens of Disney films, Faden gives the historical perspective and underlying principles for copyright law in the United States. This is a great conversation starter for discussions about changing copyright — not only for its content, but also for its use of media from the very corporate interest that has had a big hand in the ongoing march towards indefinite copy rights. Wired Magazine’s blog also has a commentary on the video.

Creating Participatory Digital Libraries

“Participatory Digital Libraries” is the name of a talk Paul Jones, Director of ibiblio.org, gave this morning at OCLC’s Kilgour Auditorium. Known as “The Public’s Library,” ibiblio is a large, diverse digital library. His talk offered insight on how ibiblio works and commentary for applying the same successful techniques in library projects. This is a summary of the key points of his talk; errors of transcription and omission are undoubtedly my own.

Digital Archives in Action

Where Do I Fit? Pew Thinks I’m a “Connector”

So here is my role on the internet — a Connector: “Connectors combine a sense that information technology is good for social purposes with a clear recognition that online resources are a great way to learn new things.” That definition comes from the Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. How close did the definition come to my view of myself? Here is the “connector” definition picked apart sentence by sentence.

The Connectors’ collection of information technology is used for a mix of one-to-one and one-to-many communication.

“How can I Avoid Library Fines?” — Return Your Items!

A reader of DLTJ sent me a private comment this afternoon pointing me in the direction of a post on wisegeek with the title How can I Avoid Library Fines? This reply may never reach 246 Diggs (at the time of writing)1 as the original story did, but I’ll let you in on a little secret of our own:

Libraries Generally Don’t Care About the Fines.

“What!?!” – you say? ’tis true. The author of the wisegeek story says:

Stereotypical Vendors?

Recent posts by Richard Wallis and Paul Miller, both of Talis (a 40-year-old company in the U.K. specializing in information and metadata management), question a perceived division of library automation vendor technical staff with that of open source solution technical staff. I wasn’t at Code4Lib this year (I’m going to try to get there next year), but from the context of the blog postings and comments it seems like the Talis developers were showing some really cool stuff and concern was expressed by participants that they don’t want to see Code4Lib turned into a vendor forum.