A new report on broadband access in California highlights some of the problems of broadband that are often glossed over in other reports.
The report is available in several files including maps and a spreadsheet here: The State of Connectivity: Building Innovation Through Broadband.
The report says that, while 96% of California residences "have access" to broadband of some kind, only half of Californians have access to broadband at speeds greater than 10 Mbps. And though access is available, barely more than half of Californians have adopted broadband at home. Further, "broadband infrastructure is deployed unevenly throughout the state, from state-of–the-art to nonexistent." And 1.4 million mostly rural Californians lack broadband access altogether.
Since by some measures, according to the report, "California remains a domestic leader in broadband adoption", this is not an inspiring situation.
I found the spreadsheet, "Appendix: Broadband Pricing Survey" particularly interesting. It compares more than 100 broadband services throughout the state and shows the price for download speed varies from $3.81 to $144, per megabyte.
Press coverage: California Broadband Task Force Releases Final Report, By Gina M. Scott, Government Technology, Jan 18, 2008.
Free Government Information is investigating the usefulness of tagging government documents that do not receive traditional cataloging and needs your help! We've posted 32 documents that the Government Printing Office (GPO) harvested from the EPA web site and posted them to the Internet Archive. Over the next three months, we'd like to see as many people as possible tag and describe these documents using the del.icio.us bookmarking service. For a full project description and instructions on how to participate, please visit http://freegovinfo.info/epatagging. We'd like to thank GPO for posting a sample of their harvested EPA documents that made this project possible.
This project got its inspiration from Galaxy Zoo (http://www.galaxyzoo.org), an astronomy project which has a database of 1 million galaxies that researchers asked regular folks to classify as ellipical, clockwise spiral, or anticlockwise spiral. They aimed for and got at least 20 classifications per galaxy. If a particular galaxy was classified a certain way by 80% of users who assigned a classification to that galaxy, that classification was accepted. This "person on the street" data was compared with a small subset (50,000) of galaxies that professional astronomers had managed to classify on their own. The researchers found that there was pretty much total agreement between the professional and amateur assessments. Documents are more complex than galaxies. :-) , but if 9 out of 10 people tag an epa document as air quality, then it's probably about air quality.
So please visit http://freegovinfo.info/epatagging and get started. And tell your friends, coworkers and especially any environmental professionals that you know to get involved. Also, if you have a network in del.icio.us,
we'd appreciate you putting on a "for:[friend name]" tag for every member of your del.icio.us network.
UPDATE 1/25/2008 Forgive my overzealousness with the above suggestion to tag every person in your del.icio.us network. I should never advocate spam. BUT, if there are people in your network interested in the environment or government documents, please consider sharing our project page with them.
The more people involved with this project, the better the descriptions and the more robust the subject access provided by the tagging will be. At least that's our hope.
We are going to run this project for three months, then the FGI volunteers will compile data on the following:
A) How many people participated in the project.
B) How many documents were tagged.
C) How many documents were described.
D) The average number of tags per document.
We will also examine how much agreement on tags exist for a given document. We will make our compilations publicly available along with any analysis we have.
Hope to see you on del.icio.us soon making environmental documents easier to find and easier to digest!
The most recent issue of Dttp:Documents to the People (Winter 2007) had two very good student papers that used government documents in a major way to tell history. I found them engaging and informative and hope you'll find a copy and read them through:
Space Tourism: These Trips Are Out of this World by Alex Bertea on page 19.
Waterfowl and Wetlands: A History of the Federal Ducks Stamp Program by Marcy Carlson on page 23.
Both Bertea and Carlson are library school students. I'm glad to see LIS students researching well and able to communicate their hours of research that made me care about their subject.
This article was first published in 1997 but Government Technology reprinted it this month. Enjoy!
- When Our Systems Make Us Stupid, by Gopal Kapur, Government Technology, Jan 18, 2008.
If you're a member of Facebook and a fan of Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS), then you should join the LOCKSS group on Facebook. If you're not on Facebook, then check out the main LOCKSS web site at http://www.lockss.org or read some of our coverage about LOCKSS.
So far the Facebook group has 31 members, including some members of the LOCKSS team. Check it out if you can, if only to get your friends intrigued by LOCKSS.
This week the British library released a report of research designed "to identify how the specialist researchers of the future, currently in their school or pre-school years, are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years' time." (See "Google Generation Myth" Report.)
The Library has provided a recording of the press conference of the release of the report at the British Library on January 16, 2008.
- Recording of the Wednesday 16 January launch event (MP3, 77min 22sec, 66.3MB)
The recording includes:
- Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Innovation, Universities, and Skills: keynote speech (minutes 2-17)
- Ian Rowlands and Professor David Nicholas, the report's authors from the Centre for Information Behaviour and the Evaluation of Research (CIBER) at the University College London (minutes 17-30)
- Dr Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary, JISC (minutes 30-37)
- Dame Lynne Brindley DBE, Chief Executive British Library (minutes 37-46)
- Questions and Answers
This week the British library released a report of research designed "to identify how the specialist researchers of the future, currently in their school or pre-school years, are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years' time."
- Pioneering research shows 'Google Generation' is a myth, British Library, Press Release, 16 January 2008.
- Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future (PDF format; 1.67MB)
The reseach addresses the "media hype surrounding the 'Google generation' [those born after 1993] phenomenon" with an aim "to help library and information services to anticipate and react to any new or emerging behaviours in the most effective way."
Two things jumped out at me in the report. First, the idea that there is a "google generation" that has different information-seeking behavior from other generations because it has grown up with the Internet, the Web, search engines, and so forth, is largely false.
In many ways the Google generation label is increasingly unhelpful: recent research finds that it is not even accurate within the cohort of young people that it seeks to stereotype.
As Ian Rowlands says, there is a lot of "powerpoint puff" about this idea of a very different "google generation" ("Net Generation", "Digital Natives", "Millennials") and "many people have instant opinions" about it, but, until now, we have had very little evidence to support the assumptions. Now we have some research that says that "Many of the claims made on behalf of the Google Generation in the popular media fail to stack up fully against the evidence."
Second, there are changes in how all people seek information and do research. As the report notes: "much writing on the topic of this report overestimates the impact of ICTs [Information and Communications Technologies] on the young and underestimates its effect on older generations" [emphasis added]. The information seeking behavior of researchers, not just young people, but professors, lecturers and practitioners, has changed significantly.
Everyone exhibits a bouncing / flicking behaviour, which sees them searching horizontally rather than vertically. Power browsing and viewing is the norm for all. [emphasis added]
There is a lot of interesting information in this study and it deserves to be read by every librarian. In its conclusions, I noticed several themes that we've emphasized about government information here at FGI:
The significance of this for research libraries is threefold:
- they need to make their sites more highly visible in cyberspace by opening them up to search engines [e.g., Is your search engine finding the government information you need?]
- they should abandon any hope of being a one-stop shop. [Having a one-stop, single repository (GPO's "Federal Digital System") as the only digital repository of government information is not as good an idea as supplementing such a monolithic repository with many subject collections that mingle non-government information with government information. See, Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program]
- they should accept that much content will seldom or never be used, other than perhaps a place from which to bounce. [Preservation of the less-used and seldom used materials will continue to be a cost drain on a government that is using cost-savings as a reason to justify its digital decisions. See, e.g., Be aware: semi-annual regulatory agenda is 1,700-pages online, 483 pages in print and GPO's Budget and Priorities.]
Aimee, Daniel, Kathy, Jim, Anne, Debbie:
Thank you much for each of your thoughtful remarks (and I hope others contribute their own bricks and mortar to this curricular barn raising!)
It has been a week since I posted -- after about 15 hours with the Govt. Information studnets, and another six with my other class, I can say with some confidence they grasp all of our collective point -- goverrnment information and libraries rapidly change with each successive generation of technology, political and economic upheavals, as well as the dynamics of how our global society defines both traditional and civic literacies.
The take away from the first weekend, I hope the students got anyway, is the following:
-- you must understand how government works before you can understand the information products that these civic processes create. (I suppose this is why completing an extended legislative history on a particular law at the federal level remains a cornerstone of my teaching; even though it feels so "old school" to me.)
-- the formats or forums where these govenment information objects might appear (or distributed) has become less important to me. As I told the students -- I am going to try to teach them how to be the best librarians who can find government information, not the best government information librarians. Seems to me with the consolidations, reorganizations, and reconsiderations many libraries (academic, public, special) now put their traditional documents departments through -- I am convinced the next generation of government information librarians will come to professional maturity in library organizations that do not give government information services or collections any special consideration.
-- that this is essentially hard and difficult work. The traditional bibliographic tools (if not perspectives) no longer work in a variegated world of digital, tangible, and print formats. Government information is where you find it (another way of expressing the ideas of the previous point). I think the relevance of government information for our users will evolve through how we structure our public interactions with them, and how we build a sustainable knowledgebase of this interactions over time and among communities. In other words we are moving from a form of librarianship based on formats (with all its attendant organizational schemes and theoritical controls) to a much more rough and ready form of librarianship focused on singular and collective service to our communities.
One other takeaway I got from this conversation so far is the reminder of how much of our storehouse of government information "best practices" remains scatterred across our professional and digital landscapes. In the eight comments over the past week there was mention of
GODORT Handout Exchange at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange
Webjunction. The Government Information section at http://webjunction.org/do/Navigation?category=14562
Individuals in particular areas who contribute to our students' learning by bringing their experience with "best practices" into the classroom
Perhaps through the library associations, the association of Library and Information schools, and other integrating collaborative entities can begin to work bring these strands together into a stronger fabric. I am on the GODORT Education Committee (www.ala.org/ala/godort/godortcommittees/godorteducation/index.htm) and know we are discussing aspects of this issue -- focusing in particular on the compentencies for government information professionals.
That's enough from here for the moment -- got to get some notes prepared for the next class.
I appreciate the discussion so far -- and am anxious to hear more people join!
From the 1-18-08 post:
I am about to spend my first weekend teaching Government Information Resources for the Spring semester at Dominican University. I have been teaching such a course here in Illinois and other places for the last 17 years. What I wonder is – for those of you who use government information resources out there – what would be your take-away for library students interested in the future of the government information resources and our bibliographic institutions. In other words, given the number of weeks and hours we will spend together over the next three months, what words of wisdom would you like to see them walk away with?
Is it the technologies of egovernment and how they shape the paths of public information distribution?
Is it the shifting fortunes of civil liberties that threaten aspects of a open and transparent government?
Is it the changing nature of our library institutions, and by the same token, their shifting responsibility of libraries to keep and preserve government information?
Or is it all the above?
Obviously I am not looking for yes or no answers here. Just trying to get a sense of how my colleagues are dealing with these problems in the communities of practice.
Looking forward to your responses.
The pentagon has posted a link to a long version of the Straight of Hormuz incident on page with the transcript of the Cosgriff press conference of January 7, 2008.
- Video - Long version (Three U.S. Navy Ships Approached by Iranian Boats)
[Hosted by a commercial service, feedroom.com, not a .mil or .gov site]
Thanks, and a Tip of the Hat to Steven Aftergood!!
UPDATE 1/16/2008 - An alert reader who attended Ric Davis' speech wrote me to say that the speech was his prepared text and that there was more information about shared regionals than his speech text indicated.
If anyone else has observations, please make a comment. We welcome feedback and discussion.
In a refreshing change from the mid 2000s, the Government Printing Office has already posted a speech given by Acting Superintendent of Documents Ric Davis at the 2008 Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association.
The speech can be found at http://www.fdlp.gov/file-repository/gpo-attended-events/lscm-director-speech-ala-midwinter/view.html and covers a variety of topics including GPO's Budget, the new FDLP desktop, web harvesting plans, current FDSys status and new marketing plans that sound like they will be developed in conjunction with depository libraries, at least in part. The whole 13 page, double-spaced speech is worth reading and I hope that at least some of you will have comments on it.
FGI tips its hat to Ric Davis for posting his ALA MW speech only a few days after it was given. It beats the months we've sometimes had to wait in the past.