milk

I went out with some friends tonight to see the new movie Milk at a nifty old (yet well preserved) theater near work. The film depicts the elements of Harvey Milk‘s personal and public life that lead him to become a political leader in San Francisco and activist in the gay rights movement of the 1970s. I had heard of Milk and knew that he was important, but I am sadly lacking in my queer history knowledge, so prior to watching the film, I did not know very much about anything that happened in it.

I was surprised at both how much things have improved for non-heterosexual Americans over the past three decades, and also by how many more barriers to true equality have been erected by those who fear it. The movement to defeat California’s Proposition 6 in 1978 was dealing with much more overt hatred and fear than those fighting Proposition 8 this year, and yet they managed to win against all odds. Those of us who do not remember or were not a part of the anti-Prop 6 movement need to sit down and figure out how they did what they did and where the anti-Prop 8 movement went wrong if we are going to find a way to gain back the hard-fought equal rights that were taken away from families in California this fall.

When I first began coming out to friends and colleagues, I was more afraid of their disapproval or being shunned than of any fear of my life. However, after having the violence that was perpetrated against gays and lesbians in the 1970s so vividly depicted before my eyes, I realized that I am lucky that I don’t have to live in fear of my life because of who I am. And yet, the fear and hatred and violence that is still perpetuated against my queer brothers and sisters in this country makes me hesitate. Am I really as safe as I think I am? What are the odds that I will cross paths with someone who will hate me and wish to harm me because of who I love?

I don’t have the strength to devote my life to fighting for equal rights like Milk did, but I can stand up and speak my mind. I am a citizen of this country. I have every right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as you do. You are free to do as you wish, believe what you will, as long as it does not hinder my rights, and I the same. Love it or leave it — that is what it means to be a Citizen of the United States of America.

CiL 2008: Going Local in the Library

Speaker: Charles Lyons

[Speakers for track C will all be introduced in haiku form.]

Local community information has been slower to move online than more global information provided by sources such as search engines and directories, but that is changing. Google can provide directory information, but they can’t tell you which of the barbers listed near you, for example, are good ones. They’re trying, but it’s much harder to gather and index that information. “In ur community, inforimin ur localz.” The local web can be something deeper, hyper, semantic.

Local information can sound boring if it doesn’t effect you directly. For example, information about street repairs can be important if it is happening along the routes you drive regularly. The local web connects the real world and the virtual world. The local web is bringing a sense of place to the Internet.

Libraries provide access to local information such as genealogy, local history, local government info, etc.

Local search engines started off as digital phone books, but now they are becoming more integrated with additional information such as maps and users reviews. Ask.com provides walking directions as well as driving directions, which I did not know but plan to make use of in the future. By using tools like Google Custom Search, libraries are creating local search engines, rather than just having a page of local links. MyCommunityInfo.ca is a popular search engine for residents of London, Ontario.

Local blogs also provide information about communities, so creating a local blog directory might be useful. Be sure to add them to your local search engine. Local news sites blend user-generated information with traditionally published sources. Useful news sites will allow users to personalize them and add content. Libraries are involved in creating local online communities (see Hamilton Public Library in Ontario).

Local data is being aggregated by sites like EveryBlock, which pulls information from the deep web. It’s currently available in three cities (Chicago, New York, & San Francisco) with plans for expansion, and once the grant ends, the code will be opened to anyone.

Wikipedia is a start for providing local information, and a few libraries are using wiki technology to gather more detailed local information.

Metadata such as geotagging allows more automation for gathering locally relevant information. Flickr provides geographic feeds, which can be streamed on local information sites.

Libraries are using Google Maps mashups to indicate their locations, but could be doing more with it. Libraries could create maps of historical locations and link them to relevant information sites.

No successful revenue generation has been formulated for local information sites. Most local sites are generated by passionate individuals. Libraries, which are not revenue generating sources anyway, are better poised to take on the responsibility of aggregating and generating local information. Particularly since we’re already in the role of information provision.

Libraries can be the lense into local information.

indoctrination

I missed listening to NPR All Things Considered last night because of my Wednesday evening class, but a friend sent me a link to one of the commentaries, which I just listened to. The point of the commentary was that this guy Aaron Freeman wants his daughters to be open and aware of the world around them. So, along with sending them to Orthodox Jewish summer camps (they’re Reform Jews) and watching Fox News every so often, he’s sending them to San Francisco for a few weeks to be indoctrinated by the lesbians.