On Japan, the culture of used in

I find Japan’s treatment of new and old objects interesting. OK, that statement isn’t illuminating in any way; what do I mean?

Well, here’s one example. When I was studying authenticity, I noticed that different cultures will define “authentic” differently. Sure, that should be pretty obvious. But take a look at specifics: In the US, an “authentic” building usually means a building that was constructed at a certain point in time and hasn’t been renovated or changed beyond it’s original instantiation. In Japan, that’s not necessarily the case- many buildings have a far shorter lifespan then their western counterparts, and they were designed that way. Some temples are rebuilt regularly as part of their life-cycle, and that rebuilding is part of what makes the temple “authentic.”

The used market is also interesting. My wife and I have been very interested in Japan and Japanese culture for some time- it’s how we met, and she even lived there for a year through the JET program. That was a great experience, and we’ve both been part of various Japanese lists for many many years. I got to visit her when she was there for about a month. And in our limited experience, confirmed by some of our Japanese friends, the used market in Japan is very different from the used market in the US. Used materials are valued differently. I’m not quite sure how differently, but I can say that since we are perfectly happy with used materials we came back with suitcases and boxes and boxes of manga, all dirt cheap, because people didn’t really buy that particular item all that often in her area. The used market did exist, but it wasn’t quite the same. To some extent, it’s been explained to me that this is partly the result of the good economy Japan had some time ago- when the economy had a downturn, the used market started gaining strength again. That makes sense to me, but at some point I’ll need to actually do some research in the area. ^_^ I’m sure Holly will correct me somehow if she ever takes a look at this as well. ^_-

I’ve been seeing various stories about the electrical applicances in Japan recently, first on Japanese-centric tech sites, then Engadget, then on Game Politics, and most recently on BoingBoing. I commented elsewhere, but I wanted to note that this isn’t really a new law or a total surprise- even the link from BoingBoing with the English text of the law shows that the law was passed in 2001- it’s the list of items that would be affected by the law that’s new. Mutant Frog probably has the best links and description about this situation, which isn’t quite as dire as people thought. I have a decided “eh” feeling about the subject- the law seems to have passed more as a consumer safety issue rather than a handout to corporate greed. Slashdot has a pretty good discussion on the Japanse law, in which commentors note that the consumer safety issues are real (in that electronics that don’t meet those standards could kill you), and that many other places have passed similar laws (like the EU).

To some extent, there’s a similar situation with automobiles in Japan. The older a car is, the more expensive it is to get it insured and pay for additional fees that are mandatory with cars, which include periodic checks (shaken). The older the vehicle is, the more shaken is, and these are not insignificant costs. That being said, their old cars tend to run really well. ^_^

LISNews.org | Oklahoma House Votes 60-33 to Segregate Books

LISNews.org | Oklahoma House Votes 60-33 to Segregate Books

In a disturbing story from LIS News, the Oklahoma House has passed a bill that will require Oklahoma libraries to segregate books with “homosexual” and “sexually explicit” content from the children’s and young adult collections. A PDF version of the bill is available from Tulsa Library. It’s rather simplistic, and does not leave room for things like, say, redeeming social value. It is almost a cliche at this point to note that a bill such as this could mean that the Bible should be segregated to an adult’s only section. (Song of Solomon, anyone?)
It is completely ironic that one of the biggest proponents is stating that “libraries and librarians should not be usurping the role of parents,” because that’s the very reason that librarians do not tell children what they can and cannot read. Apparently this legislator believes that the government should be the ones to usurp the role of parents.

Legislator Sally Kern gets my vote for should-really-know-better because of her remarkably uninformed statement, “The American Library Association is out to sexualize our children.” I have a feeling I know what group she’s been listening to.

ALA isn’t out to sexualize anyone. The conflict lies in a number of places, including how the argument is defined. There are certainly materials which are illegal (obscenity, child pornography, and so on) and should not be available at a public library. Materials also exist which may be controversial or may be inappropriate for children (such as pornography), but it’s up to the parents of those children to determine what is or is not appropriate for their children, and not others’ children. One person’s pornography is another person’s art. Neither the library nor the state should be the ones to make that determination, in my opinion. The library is there to provide information, not restrict ideas. This is an important concept that should not be so easily dismissed.

It’s easy to fall into “freedom of speech” and “won’t someone think of the children” pleas, but we need to look deeper than that. This is an excellent article about inappropriate books and censorship when dealing with children.

A librarian must have neutrality when selecting and providing access to materials. Part of that neutrality means that they must offer materials even if they might personally object to or disagree with the content. Does this mean that they cannot take part in arguing for or against various issues? The neutrality of the librarian is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently. I’ll write more about this when I have it better articulated.

Diddy infringing on fragrance? and other news.

DIDDY AVOIDS COPYRIGHT ISSUE OVER COLOGNE
Not quite. Fans of Diddy/P. Diddy/Puff Daddy will be relieved to know that the *trademark* issue was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. The US Patent & Trademark Office does not deny anything having to do with copyright, news writers. 😛

An article in the newspaper for Virginia Tech states that “[c]opyright laws [are] becoming increasingly more absurd. While I do tend to agree with this statement and am sympathetic to his views and those of many of the quoted sources, I am curious to what the author means when he states that “[w]hile I can rip, mix and burn a CD I purchased without fretting, according to American law, were I to try the same thing with a DVD, I could be thrown in prison for near a decade and/or be fined upwards of a quarter-million dollars.” Is he talking about first sale, Rio, private use, or circumvention of copyright protection technologies? Also, would be nice if he wrote about the problems authors are facing.

In sad news, the release of the PS3 is being delayed, apparently due to problems with COPYRIGHT PROTECTION TECHNOLOGIES. Come on, guys, you’re killing me. It’s bad enough that I might not be able to watch DVDs from the competing new standard, but this is ridiculous.

Across the pond, the British Library may be moderating the DRM debate at the suggestion of one of their politicians. The article notes multiple interested groups with a stake in the debate, including creators, publishers, and the public. This will be interesting to watch, and hopefully productive.

Michael Geist – Music and the Market

Michael Geist – Music and the Market

I am increasingly seeing copyright-related stories out of Canada based on the same sources (the Canadian Music Industry) that strongly imply the same thing. Music sales are down because peer to peer downloading is up; therefore, Canada needs strong copyright laws to stop this trend. We should know that correlation does not necessitate causation when looking at two factors, and in this article Michael Geist dives deeper into the Canadian music market for explanations about why these arguments seem hollow.

I love Penny Arcade.

There, I’ve said it. Shut up already.

Why?

Well, there’s things like this, for instance. In one news post, an “El Dorado” reference (from old-time Superfriends) AND a practical joke from Sony Online Entertainment. This could only be more complete if they posted images of some of the Elemenstor Saga cels they salvaged (although that might have just been a rumor).

RLG DigiNews February 15, 2006, Volume 10, Number 1

RLG DigiNews February 15, 2006, Volume 10, Number 1

A useful chronology of Massachusettes’ efforts to adopt an open standard as a file format. Beyond the access issues that the state was atempting to address, additional justifications included the fact that file format becomes a huge issue in the archiving and preservation of digital objects over the long term as well as problems with digital records retention schedules.

Google, Google, Google

Joining in the discussion about Google and Libraries at Madisonian.net.

Here’s the text of my comment. To summarize, I like Google, I like libraries, I use them both, and they’re not mutually exclusive. I think people should be very wary of the idea that Google is a replacement for libraries instead of another avenue to use in information seeking.

Again- I’m not a librarian, but I am pro-librarian. To answer your last question, I don’t think so.

I don’t believe that you need to stop Google to save librarians, because I don’t believe that Google serves as a replacement for libraries. I believe that even if all information in the world was available digitally, there would still be a place for librarians. I’m not anti-Google, either- I use Google constantly. I also use libraries, though. ^_^ In my day to day activities, I use Google more than the library. Really, it depends on what I’m doing.

(more…)

Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description

Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description

In this story, we learn that homeland security is not the library police. Hmm… if they want to help the community by working with libraries, how about going after overdue books? ^_^

Some not fun headlines…

Several stories from the last few days have been fairly grim.

Reading Harry Potter before release date illegal illustrates a view that some content industries love- that you shouldn’t even be able to read something without the author’s permission. This story is from Canada, and I’m not familiar enough with Canadian law to determine whether that viewpoint is accurate or not, but I certainly don’t think it’s accurate in the US. Michael Geist has a few things to say about the situation (July 12-13) and its attacks on the freedom to read, freedom of expression, and personal property. In the US, there’s also the doctrine of first sale…

In Australia, a man has been found guilty of hyperlinking. Combine that with proposed amendments to Canadian law that would make search engine activity illegal and a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, and you’ve got a good picture of how law and policy can affect the Internet as we know it.