Come see me tomorrow in Portland, Maine with James Patrick Kelly!

I'm coming to Maine to keynote the Maine Library Association conference in Newry tomorrow (Sept 30); later that day, I'm appearing with James Patrick Kelly at the Portland, Maine Main Library, from 6:30PM-8PM (it's free and open to the public) This is the first time I've been to Maine, and I can't wait! Read the rest

Come see me in Toronto and Maine!

I'm in the midst of couple of weeks' worth of lectures, public events and teaching, and you can catch me in Toronto (for Seeding Utopias and Resisting Dystopias and 6 Degrees); Newry, ME (Maine Library Association) and Portland, ME (in conversation with James Patrick Kelly). Read the rest

Library of Congress releases 11,700 freely usable photos of "roadside America," taken by John Margolies

For decades, architectural critic and photographer John Margolies obsessively documented roadside attractions: vernacular architecture, weird sculpture, odd businesses and amusements. By his death in 2016, his collection consisted of more than 11,000 slides (he published books of his favorites, with annotations). Read the rest

The world's largest occult library has a public online archive

Amsterdam's Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica (AKA "The Ritman Library) houses more ths 25,000 occult texts, covering "Hermetics, Rosicrucians, Theosophy, alchemy, mysticism, Gnosis and Western Esotericism, Sufism, Kabbalah, Anthroposophy, Catharism, Freemasonry, Manichaeism, Judaica, the Grail, Esotericism, and comparative religion." Read the rest

Triple Chaser: a short documentary that uses machine learning to document tear gas use against civilians, calling out "philanthropist" Warren Kanders for his company's war-crimes

Laura Poitras (previously) is the Academy Award-winning director of Citizenfour; she teamed up with the activist group Forensic Archicture (previously), whose incredible combination of data-visualization and documentary filmmaking have made them a potent force for holding war criminals and authoritarians to account: together, they created Triple Chaser, a short documentary that uses novel machine-learning techniques to document the ways in which tear gas and bullets made by companies belonging to "philanthropist" Warren Kanders have been used against civilians to suppress anti-authoritarian movements, and even to murder innocents, including children. Read the rest

Data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-63 never had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain

This January, we celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain, as the onerous terms of the hateful Sonny Bono Copyright Act finally developed a leak, putting all works produced in 1923 into the public domain, with more to follow every year -- 1924 goes PD in 2020, and then 1925, etc. Read the rest

Literary tattoos of the New York Public Library staff

Apparently July 17 is National Tattoo Day (it's also my birthday, which means I spend it offline, not paying attention to the internet); to celebrate, the NYPL rounded up a gallery of its workers' literary tattoos. Read the rest

Linkedin to libraries: drop dead

For years, libraries across America have paid to subscribe to lynda.com for online learning content; four years ago, lynda.com became a division of Linkedin, and this year, the company has informed libraries that they're migrating all lynda.com users to Linkedin Learning, which would be fine, except Linkedin only allows you to access Linkedin Learning if you create and connect a Linkedin profile to the system. Read the rest

Louvre purges every mention of the Sackler opioid family after artist's protest

The Sackler family got richer than the Rockefellers by marketing Oxycontin in ways that kickstarted the global opioid epidemic, whose body count continues to rise -- more than 200,000 dead in the US alone, which is more Americans than died in the Vietnam war. Read the rest

Help climate scientists by transcribing weather data from old ships' logs

The Old Weather project is a crowdsourced effort to gather data on historic climate patterns by transcribing entries from old, logbooks, some typed and some handwritten. The project is jointly run by NOAA and the Smithsonian. (via Kottke) Read the rest

There's a particle accelerator in the Louvre's basement

Three basement levels of the Louvre are given over to the Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF), which provides research and restoration services to France's 1,200+ art museums and galleries. Read the rest

Using machine learning to pull Krazy Kat comics out of giant public domain newspaper archives

Joël Franusic became obsessed with Krazy Kat, but was frustrated by the limited availability and high cost of the books anthologizing the strip (some of which were going for $600 or more on Amazon); so he wrote a scraper that would pull down thumbnails from massive archives of pre-1923 newspapers and then identified 100 pages containing Krazy Kat strips to use as training data for a machine-learning model. Read the rest

Countries with longer copyright terms have access to fewer books (pay attention, Canada!)

Rebecca Giblin (previously) writes, "We've just dropped a new study we've been working on for a year. You know how it keeps being claimed that we need longer copyrights because nobody will invest in making works available if they're in the public domain? Heald and some others have done some great work debunking that in the US context, but now we've finally tested this hypothesis in other countries by looking at the relative availability of ebooks to libraries. It's also the first time anyone has been able to compare availability of identical works (by significant authors) across jurisdictions. The books we sampled were all in the public domain in Canada and NZ, all under copyright in Australia, and a mix in the US (courtesy of its historical renewal system)." Read the rest

How fanfic archives lead the world in data organization

Since the earliest days of the "semantic web,", millions of dollars and hours of coding effort have been thrown at the problem of really organizing large corpuses of information, with two approaches emerging: rigid ontologies (like the Dewey Decimal system) that require a system's users to be deeply expert in the structures they're working in; and "folksonomies" (aka hashtags), which allow anyone to tag anything with anything, and leads to fragmentation (like #sign or #signs; or #photos, #pix, and #pictures, etc). Read the rest

Boing Boing presents: Skeleton Boy, a moving short documentary about the life, death and afterlife of Harry Eastlack, star of the Mutter Museum

Philadelphia's Mutter Museum (previously) is one of my favorite museums in the world: built from the private collection of pathologist Dr Thomas Dent (who aggregated the collections of many other pathologists), it is a solemn and moving place to see the incredible breadth of human physiognomy and pathology. Read the rest

10 fascinating online collections at the New York Public Library

We've written extensively about the glories of the New York Public Library, from its talented book-sorters to its circulating collection of neckties and briefcases for job-seekers to the subway cars it turned into virtual ebook libraries to its pioneering work on e-lending platforms to its astounding online collections, which include some of the best-presented public domain resources in the world. Read the rest

Print book reading is surging, just not in research libraries

US booksellers and public libraries are reporting strong growth in demand for print books, but research libraries are increasingly serving as archives, rather than references. Read the rest

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