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Bruce James at DLC

Here’s some quotes from Bruce James (some not “direct” but paraphrasing from your’s truly). Mike Wash, lead technologist, also gave a presentation on ConOps:

–Internet is a disruptive technology. It will be seen in th future on par with the printing press.

–“Strategic scheme”

–Jack Valenti says that internet2 will be standard within 1-2 years.

–Printing is still a necessity. Dozens of publications need to be in print for the foreseeable future.”

–Libraries should make decisions about what’s in print, not the government.

And here are some questions that I have:

Since Law Libraries have the greatest need for information in print, why not get a list of essential titles from them?

Mike mentioned “markets” and the fact that the system needs to serve its markets. What are the “markets” that GPO is talking about? Are libraries a primary market?

Mike mentioned that the FDS is “policy neutral”. How can a system be policy neutral?

Mike talked about plumbing. Are libraries included in the primary future plumbing scheme?

The metaphor of a car was also mentioned. This is apt. How will the system allow for tinkerers who like to change their own oil, tweak their carburators etc?

Open source was mentioned. Will the source for FDS be distributed on sourceforge? Where and how do you seee the open source community getting involved?

Budgets were mentioned. B.J. had some ideas about future funding, primarily the sale of the old GPO building and repurposing that $$ into the FDS. What’s to stop Congress from taking that $$ instead of letting GPO repurpose it? There are 1250-ish depository libraries. Has there been any thought about leveraging those budgets to help create a sustainable, distributed system? Not all libraries would be willing or able to help out, but I imagine there are some that would be willing, and some that would be willing to lead a consortia of libraries in creating local/regional digital depositories.

–This was interesting. GPO’s legislative liaison, Andrew Sherman, mentioned working closely with Congress. He dropped a little teaser about working on an amendment to Title 44. I would be *Very* interested in finding out what GPO is thinking in terms of changing title 44.

Please give us your comments.

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  1. Here’s what I asked in the open forum:

    I’m concerned that GPO may be taking its intellectual property lead from Jack Valenti, who is notoriously unsupportive of the public domain and the fair use concept of copyright. Have you thought about what will happen to public domain information in the future digital system when that material is combined with private, licensed material? Please reassure me that citizens’ intellectual property will not be summarily given over to the private sector and that there will *not* be toll booths set up in order for citizens to access fully-functional government information.

    B.J. said that’s an issue to take up with Congress and that he believes that Congress is interested in widespread access, not limiting access. He said he did not understand why I would mention Jack Valenti in this context.

    Any thoughts?

  2. I think it particularly important that we get more of an answer from GPO on this important question. There are at least 2 issues. First, is GPO going to avoid using “Digital Rights Managment” solutions? If they do intend to use DRM, then they should be explicit about how using DRM with public information will allow full, complete, fully-functional access. GPO has implied that they will use such DRM technologies as DOI (Digital Object Identifier), so I do not understand why Mr. James does not understand why mentioning Jack Valenti is approriate. Second, if GPO does not intend on using DRM technologies, how do they intend to distributed digital materials “on a cost recovery basis” as they say they wish to do.

  3. I like the line, “Libraries should make decisions about what’s in print, not the government.” I wish it were a real quotation and not just a paraphrase, which if I understand correctly is what it is.


  4. As someone who also attended the DLC conference and heard Bruce James comments, I think the assumption that Mr. James is taking advice on intellectual property issues from Jack Valenti an unfair statement and only served to obscure the real question that was being asked. Bruce James is a name dropper … he’s just trying to show the librarians that he walks in “important” circles.

    While I agree that there are still some unanswered questions about the public’s ability to access all the content and output of GPO’s future digital system without barriers … I believe I heard a commitment to free access to the content that would normally be available from depository libraries. This may not be the clear statement we want … I do believe it shows some progress in Bruce James thinking.

    Perhaps if inflammatory statements were left out of questions, we could establish a more effective dialogue …

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for stopping by! Since you attended DLC, we’d be very interested in having any other comments about your experience at DLC. If you find FGI’s coverage inflamatory, this is your chance to balance it. Either send e-mail to me at dnlcornwall@alaska.net (I won’t forward your names to anybody, not even oznog, unless you give permission) or simply post your anonymous comments on the Spring 2005 DLC page, and they will get incorporated into the page w/o editing.

    As far as Jack Valenti goes, I *wasn’t* at DLC so I cannot judge the comment directly. However, I can say that based on his tireless advocacy for the copyright industries, mentioning his name to librarians shows as much political acumen as quoting Saddam Hussein to a group of Kurds. The quote may be accurate, but the audience wonders why the speaker is taking his facts from an enemy of the people. Your explanation of name-dropping is quite plausible, though.

    “And besides all that, what we need is a decentralized, distributed system of depositing electronic files to local libraries willing to host them.”

  6. James used Jack Valenti’s comments about Internet 2 to emphasize the growth of technology. I didn’t know what Internet 2 was so I went to Wikipedia for a quick read. Although one can’t always ascertain the authority of wiki entries, it’s worth reading.

  7. Your point is well taken. My goal was not to be inflamatory (nor did I think that he would be so ruffled by the mere mention of Valenti’s name!), but to show Mr James that we’re listening to *everything* that he says. I have heard intimations on free access, but no clear-cut statements as of yet that free — and fully functional — access is a principle on which the FDS stands. Further, I think that Mike Wash needed to hear that concern just as much as Mr James and Ms Russell. Lastly, I would much rather he drop names like Lessig and Vaidhyanathan if he has to name drop!

    Thanks for the comment. I can’t promise that I won’t ask pointed questions in the future though 😉

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