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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Lunchtime listen: “Storing Data Together” by Matt Zumwalt at Code4Lib2017

Drop everything and watch this presentation from the 2017 Code4Lib conference that took place in Los Angeles March 6-9, 2017. Heck, watch the entire proceedings because there is a bunch of interesting and thoughtful stuff going on in the world of libraries and technology! But in particular, check out Matt Zumwalt’s presentation “How the distributed web could bring a new Golden Age for Libraries” — after submitting his talk, he changed the new title to “Storing data together: the movement to decentralize data and how libraries can lead it” because of the DataRefuge movement.

Zumwalt (aka @FLyingZumwalt on twitter), works at Protocol Labs, one of the primary developers of IPFS, the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) — grok their tagline “HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web!” He has spent much of his spare time over the last 9 months working with groups like EDGI, DataRefuge, and the Internet Archive to help preserve government datasets.

Here’s what Matt said in a nutshell: The Web is precarious. But using peer-to-peer distributed network architecture, we can “store data together”, we can collaboratively preserve and serve out government data. This resonates with me as an FDLP librarian. What if a network of FDLP libraries actually took this on? This isn’t some far-fetched, scifi idea. The technologies and infrastructures are already there. Over the last 9 months, researchers, faculty and public citizens around the country have already gotten on board with this idea. Libraries just have to get together and agree that it’s a good thing to collect/download, store, describe and serve out government information. Together we can do this!

Matt’s talk starts at 3:07:41 of the YouTube video below. Please watch it, let his ideas sink in, share it, start talking about it with your colleagues and administrators in your library, and get moving. Government information could be the great test case for the distributed web and a new Golden Age for Libraries!

This presentation will show how the worldwide surge of work on distributed technologies like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) opens the door to a flourishing of community-oriented librarianship in the digital age. The centralized internet, and the rise of cloud services, has forced libraries to act as information silos that compete with other silos to be the place where content and metadata get stored. We will look at how decentralized technologies allow libraries to break this pattern and resume their missions of providing discovery, access and preservation services on top of content that exists in multiple places.


John Oliver analyzes Gerrymandering. Hilarious and disturbing

John Oliver is at it again, deeply analyzing a boring political concept in a smart, interesting — and funny — way. This time, he explains Gerrymandering, the nefarious practice of manipulating district boundaries for political advantage, named after Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry. If anyone is interested in delving deeper, you can read the new book by David Daley called “Ratf**ked: the true story behind the secret plan to steal America’s democracy.”


How to vote in every state. Thanks VlogBrothers!

The VlogBrothers Hank and John Green have completed a massive project for the public good. They’ve created short videos explaining how to vote in every state — from registration to voter ID laws to absentee ballots to casting your vote! Find your state at https://www.youtube.com/c/howtovoteineverystate and pass it along to all your friends, family and acquaintances.



John Oliver explains special districts

John Oliver explains special districts on “Last Week Tonight.” These units of government are local government bodies designed to collect taxes dealing with one specific service, like water, parks or sewage. But they are “ghost” entities with little or no oversight and are largely unknown to the public. Hilariously informative!

NSF YouTube channel

science nation

“Document” of the Day: National Science Foundation YouTube channel. “NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense. NSF funds a significant proportion of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

Craig Hase at The The Scout Report (March 27, 2015 — Volume 21, Number 12) says of the channel:

Nearly 13,000 viewers have subscribed to the National Science Foundation’s YouTube channel. It’s not a secret why. These well-produced and often poignant presentations have managed to pack so much into such a small space. Nearly all the videos clock in at less than four minutes. Many of the clips are just two or three minutes long so readers can easily learn about the birth of planets, the details of the tropospheric ozone, and the wonders of biomedical engineering – all within the timespan of a quick coffee break. The hundreds of available videos are broken into categories such as Computer Science, Brain Research, and Education, among others. Whether you are looking for an interesting tidbit to add to your lecture on Geoscience or you are simply curious about conservation efforts in Central Africa, there is much to enjoy here.

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