Tag Archives: boingboing

A Special Obligation to the Future

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, writing, and editing in the last few months that all revolved around libraries and the future of the Internet. It seems more and more obvious to me that there’s an opportunity for libraries as participants in the growing number of decentralized services on the Internet. These services are multiplying, and it seems to me that the future of communication is likely to be a better one if distributed services were more normalized on the Internet.

I’ve decided to share two essays about this topic. The first is
How Libraries Can Save the Internet of Things from the Web’s Centralized Fate over at BoingBoing, which is the highly edited and polished version of the much longer A Special Obligation to the Future over on Medium. Normally I wouldn’t share two similar pieces, but I feel like the shorter BoingBoing essay is the compressed and focused “official” version and there were things that I liked about the longer, more emotive original. So I’m sharing both here, and you can comment on, share, and critique either or both as you’d like.

I’m hoping these serve as conversation starters, and possibly as inflection points for thinking about the future of libraries in terms of their role as pillars of democracy and freedom. I’m going to be doing more work on this topic, speaking and writing and organizing over the next several months. If you’re interested in helping out and lending a hand, let me know.

And if you’re interested in decentralization in general, I highly recommend checking out Yochai Benkler’s work, especially Degrees of Freedom, Dimensions of Power. Also recommended is Phil Windley’s Decentralization is Hard, Maybe Too Hard.

They are both right, decentralization is amazingly difficult to pull off. This is why it needs help in the form of library infrastructure, political capital, and skills.

Thanks especially to David Weinberger, who was instrumental in both the conception and the editing of this piece. Also thanks to everyone who read and commented on the piece as it developed, you are all awesome.

Libraries go bOING

Boing BoingI am incredibly excited that we’re finally launching Library Boing Boing! From the ALA post:

On the one hand, Library Boing Boing is a collaboration between ALA and the fabulously amazing Boing Boing folks to highlight all of the great new things libraries are doing. The most visible result will be regular posts about those great new things on the Boing Boing site itself.

On the other hand, Library Boing Boing: The Group has its own goals to help happy mutants in local communities connect with their happy mutant librarians to do good, work together on our shared interests, and make the world more better.

What can you do? To start with, head on over to the petition to make us a formally recognized ALA Member Interest Group…we need 100 signatures to get in front of the ALA Committee on Organization. Then at ALA Midwinter, it will go before ALA Council for approval.

We’ve already started a Library Boing Boing group over on ALA Connect, so go join that. It’s where we’ll hash out our plans to take over the world figure out what we can do to promote libraries and generally make some awesome happen.

Boing Boing is one of the most popular websites in the world, and having the opportunity to work with them to connect people to libraries is just about the coolest thing ever. I’ve been lucky enough to be featured on Boing Boing four times (1,2,3,4), mostly because the overlap between what libraries and librarians are interested in (freedom of information, democratization of information, copyright, DRM, technology) and what Boing Boing is about is huge. This is a great match, and I can’t wait to get started.

So, as Jenny said on the announcement post:

Start dreaming big. What could a dedicated, motivated, inspired group of librarians do with both Boing Boing and their own local happy mutants? How can we spread Library Boing Boing goodness throughout the profession?

Thanks to Andrea Davis and Patrick Sweeney for co-convening this thing with me, and special thanks to Jenny Levine for the idea and the wrangling! If you’re coming to ALA Midwinter, we’ll have a meetup on Sunday night (location and time TBA), and we’ll have some swag of some type to help identify other Happy Mutants. Keep your eyes out, go sign the petition, join the Connect group, and be on the lookout for wonderful things!

What does a BoingBoing look like?

Just a few days ago, a post showed up on BoingBoing. For those of you who haven’t had this happen, it can be great (lots of people reading my stuff!) and terrible (the /. effect, aka: melty servers). I just looked back over my raw hits to see how much of a difference BoingBoing made. Here it is, in all its naked glory:

boingboing'd

So I went from around 3000 hits a day to about 65,000 hits in a day. If your server isn’t ready for that, it can come as quite a shock. Luckily for me, Blake Carver and LISHost are amazing, and kept my blog up for the entire process.