Expatriot Act

The university of these days is a collection of books.

25 May 2006

Get yer finger out of my Internet

Big ups to my e-friend and fantastic writer Zoe Trope for pointing me in the direction of Save the Internet. Save the Internet is an online coalition fighting for Net Neutrality against the big Telecoms that they allege are trying to section off and otherwise restrict quick access to all the sites on the World Wide Web. According to Save the Internet, if the Telecoms had their druthers they'd make websites of competing or unsavory interests run slower -- or not load at all. There's no need for me to explain the possible implications of such an Internet.

I'm really surprised that the Internet has remained relatively free as long as it has. As soon as I even heard of the Internet and realized what it's capable of, I immediately started counting down until the time that major corporations could manipulate it in a way that would make it a giant cash cow and simultaneously the opposite of free. Think of the early days of other media -- particularly radio and television -- and think of what they've become today. There are many noble non-profits (I can think of Prometheus Radio Project off the top of my head) who are working to reopen the airwaves to the public, but once institutionalized it's much harder to undo such a change to a system than it is to prevent that change from ever happening in the first place.

Today's a big day for Save the Internet, as a key piece of legislation-- the Sensenbrenner-Conyers “Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act of 2006″ (HR 5417) -- is being voted on in the House Judiciary Committee (you can watch the proceedings here). Their blog also has contact info for the members of the committee if you want to do some last minute nudging. You might notice from the new button on the right side of my blog where my loyalties lie.

22 May 2006

Everything Zen

As I pass the hours of my last day in Toronto chugging my way through the school assignments that were inaccessible to me for most of the week, I have stumbled upon a fun little rock garden in the cubicle of the Internet -- CSS Zen Garden. So often the technologists and aestheticians are at odds, but here they converge to have graphic designers use CSS to achieve aesthetically pleasing results on the Web.

This mission brings to mind the thesis of a book I read for LIS 2000 - Ben Schneiderman's Leonardo's Laptop. The book explores the modern computer culture and his idea of the "new computing," relating it back to the Renaissance master Leonardo Davinci. The new computing, according to Scheinderman, focuses not on what computers can do, but what we can do with the aid of computers, and how computing's most important function is human connectivity.

I think if Leonardo were alive today he would be a proponent of things like the CSS Zen Garden, as he was a genius in the fields of science and technology as well as art. (Of course, poor Leo would have probably been too busy this week giving interviews in his defense to give the notion much thought.)

So my favorite designs from the Garden? I'm partial to LuGoZee and Organica Creativa for very different reasons, but I find them both aesthetically beautiful while still perfectly readable. For those interested in taking your CSS design reading out by the koi pond, there's also The Zen of CSS Design, the book. To me there's nothing quite so beautiful as technology aiding artistic and creative endeavors.

21 May 2006

The Expatriot Act Inaugural Address

This blog is being created as an assignment for my first semester in the University of Pittsburgh's FastTrack MLIS program, an entirely online library science graduate degree program. I consider myself a pretty technologically-savvy sort, or at least I did until I started looking through my coursework this week... Skype and VOIP and Shibboleth, oh my! Although it is all still a bit overwhelming, I'm sure I'll have a handle on the seemingly endless stream of information I'm getting, and luckily almost all of it is pretty fascinating stuff.

Now to the subject of the name of this blog -- The Expatriot Act. I thought it was a fun name for a blog for a globe-trotting library student, making obvious allusions of course to the one of the most politically-galvanizing issues for librarians in recent history -- The USA PATRIOT Act (which also wins the award for most absurd acronym). Researching this issue in respect to librarians and interviewing librarians of all political stripes (including the fabulous woman behind librarian.net and the head of the ALA herself) was one of the initial deciding factors in my wanting to go to library school, so I feel the name of the blog is as punny as it is personal.

Upon searching I discovered the sadly-broken link to my radio feature about librarians and the Patriot Act that originally aired on the formerly nationally-syndicated (and unfortunately named) NPR show Been There Done That. Some two years after its airdate, it would have been fun to be able to give it a listen, and it saddens me that a digital format of the story no longer exists. It strikes me as ironic that a more thoughtfully-planned digital archive would have prevented this orphan.