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heads roll and heads roll

maura @ 11:26 pm

My birthday was last week. It was a good day: I went to Library Camp and ate chocolate cupcakes w/vanilla buttercream frosting, yum. (not at the same time, though.) I am also old finally enough now. “Old enough for what?” you may ask. And I will answer: “everything.”

Among the lovely wishes + gifts, I got the latest release by 50 Foot Wave: “Power + Light.” 50 Foot Wave is Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses fame)’s other band, and they are loud + rocking. Lately this old lady has been all about the rock music, and I am happy to report that this scratches my rock itch. (Which sounds kind of yucky, actually.)

But that’s not what I want to blag about. What I really want to do is give big ups to Kristin & Co. because they have escaped the shackles of the recording industry and are kicking it open access-style. They founded Cash Music as an alternative means of music distribution. They released this new record on beautiful vinyl (choice of 4 colors! I picked cyan), which you can buy. And they also made the mp3 of the whole dang record available to download for free. Which kicks ass for me because now I don’t have to sit there making sure the cats don’t mess w/things while the USB turntable rips the vinyl to mp3. And of course the whole dang thing is Creative Commons licensed, so others can mix + mash these tracks as the spirit moves them.

I’ve been interested in open access/source kinds of things for a while, I guess, but I’ve gotten more and more passionate about those issues since I became a librarian (don’t get me started on the absurdities of scholarly journal publishing). Of course music/content/art producers need to get paid for the good work they do, but so many of them are held hostage by the recording/publishing industry. These models are broken. I’m not sure what the answer is — I don’t think we’ll know that for a while yet — but I’m 100% convinced that things like Cash Music are a step in the right direction.

les tags: ,

wherever you think you are

maura @ 10:30 pm

Right now we’re in the midst of our busy teaching time at work, when most of the English Comp classes (between 60-100 per semester!) come in for a session to learn how to do research in the library. I usually start off my sessions by talking about finding information on the internet. As a segue into discussing library resources I ask the students: “Is there anything, any kind or format of information, that is NOT available for free on the internet?” Usually most of them assert that everything is on the internet, and then I jump into finding books in the library catalog and scholarly journal articles in the subscription databases.

I was caught off guard by one student’s response last week, in an 8:30am class no less! “You can just download anything you need, even books.”

Woah. I do mention a bit about copyright during these sessions and we talk some about plagiarism, but I’ve never had a student bring up peer-to-peer file sharing before. There were a couple of articles about illegal textbook downloading on the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s website last year, but the issue didn’t feel concrete to me until today. With the insanity of textbook prices and students’ limited budgets I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I was.

And speaking of pirates, they’re apparently the subject of one of the most popular courses taught in the Anthropology department of my alma mater these days. Course content includes both pirates with peg-legs + parrots as well as the kinds of pirates that the RIAA has in their sights, and copyright issues too.