Thursday, March 15, 2018

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? | danah boyd

Information literacy | Social Media | Media literacy

Published on Mar 7, 2018
A decade ago, we imagined a world of participatory culture where youth would be empowered to actively and strategically use technology. Through peer/self-learning and formal education, young people have developed a well-informed understanding of the world through social media. However, this participatory culture can be unhealthy, cruel, and socially devastating. In this talk, I’ll explore unintended consequences of efforts to empower youth, media manipulation and literacy, polarization, and other issues. danah boyd Principal Researcher & Founder & President Microsoft Research/Data & Society The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. Visit to learn more.

The below original text was the basis for Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd’s March 2018 SXSW Edu keynote,“What Hath We Wrought?” — Ed.

Growing up, I took certain truths to be self evident. Democracy is good. War is bad. And of course, all men are created equal.

My mother was a teacher who encouraged me to question everything. But I quickly learned that some questions were taboo. Is democracy inherently good? Is the military ethical? Does God exist?

I loved pushing people’s buttons with these philosophical questions, but they weren’t nearly as existentially destabilizing as the moments in my life in which my experiences didn’t line up with frames that were sacred cows in my community. Police were revered, so my boss didn’t believe me when I told him that cops were forcing me to give them free food, which is why there was food missing. Pastors were moral authorities and so our pastor’s infidelities were not to be discussed, at least not among us youth. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but hypocrisy is destabilizing. Nothing can radicalize someone more than feeling like you’re being lied to. Or when the world order you’ve adopted comes crumbling down.

Link to post on danah boyd's blog: Click here

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Banning literature in prisons perpetuates system that ignores inmate humanity

Censorship | Prison libraries | Human rights

Lawsuit among latest reminders that reading, education can help ensure that prisoners who gain freedom, keep it
(Photo: John David Mercer, AP)   

Last month, the publisher of Prison Legal News became one of the latest organizations to take action against the nation's prison systems for censorship.

The Human Rights Defense Center lawsuit targets the Illinois Department of Corrections and alleges that it keeps HRDC literature out of the hands of prisoners, including the monthly Prison Legal News magazine — which covers court rulings and other aspects of the criminal justice system.

 Read more:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The New Vanguard

Women's history month | Women writers | Fiction

Our critics chose 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.

Corey Olsen
In 2016, the feminist press Emily Books held a panel in Brooklyn titled, a bit cheekily, “What Is Women’s Writing?” There was no consensus, much laughter and a warm, rowdy vibe. Eileen Myles read from a memoir in progress and Ariana Reines read a poem, wearing a dress with a pattern of a city on fire. All of this felt exactly right.

But even if it puts your teeth on edge to see “women’s writing” cordoned off in quotes, you can’t deny the particular power of today’s women writers — their intensity of style and innovation. The books steering literature in new directions — to new forms, new concerns — almost invariably have a woman at the helm, an Elena Ferrante, a Rachel Cusk, a Zadie Smith. 

For Women’s History Month, The Times’s staff book critics — Dwight Garner, Jennifer Szalai and myself, Parul Sehgal — sat down together to think about these writers who are opening new realms to us, whose books suggest and embody unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge.

As we put together a reading list, we introduced a few parameters, for sanity’s sake. We confined ourselves to books written by women and published in the 21st century. And we limited our focus to fiction, but not without some grief. Memoir has emerged as a potent political and literary force in recent years (see the terrain-shifting work of Maggie Nelson, for example). And poets like Claudia Rankine, Solmaz Sharif and Tracy K. Smith are some of the most distinctive voices working today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The FBI's War on Black-Owned Bookstores

Black History Month | Independent Bookstores | African-American Heritage

At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

by Joshua Clark Davis | Feb 19, 2018

A Harlem bookstore in 1964, where a registration for the Back-to-Africa movement was held


In the spring of 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover announced to his agents that COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence program established in 1956 to combat communists, should focus on preventing the rise of a “Black ‘messiah’” who sought to “unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” The program, Hoover insisted, should target figures as ideologically diverse as the Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), Martin Luther King Jr., and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

Just a few months later, in October 1968, Hoover penned another memo warning of the urgent menace of a growing Black Power movement, but this time the director focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

In a one-page directive, Hoover noted with alarm a recent “increase in the establishment of black extremist bookstores which represent propaganda outlets for revolutionary and hate publications and culture centers for extremism.” The director ordered each Bureau office to “locate and identify black extremist and/or African-type bookstores in its territory and open separate discreet investigations on each to determine if it is extremist in nature.” Each investigation was to “determine the identities of the owners; whether it is a front for any group or foreign interest; whether individuals affiliated with the store engage in extremist activities; the number, type, and source of books and material on sale; the store’s financial condition; its clientele; and whether it is used as a headquarters or meeting place.”
Perhaps most disturbing, Hoover wanted the Bureau to convince African American citizens (presumably with pay or through extortion) to spy on these stores by posing as sympathetic customers or activists. Read more...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do? | Medium

Research | Access | Libraries | Open Access

by Jake Orlowitz  | Nov 15, 2017

Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us.

Wikimedia Commons


 The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you.

Local Library

Citizens, taxpayers, cities, states, and nations pay a lot of money to provide free services. Use them! Public libraries often subscribe to costly databases; the annual investments for these licenses are only worth it if they are of use to the libraries’ constituency. The good news is that most people have a library nearby, many of the resources are fully available online (especially the databases), and a library card is often free or inexpensive. Also, libraries have librarians, who are pros at finding what you want (or something even better).

Bad news is that your local library may not be that local, and you may need to jump through some hoops to get your library card. Not all local libraries can afford masses of scholarly journals either, although many have at least some access. Read more...

The unexpected role librarians are playing in Sacramento’s homeless crisis

Homelessness | Public libraries | Mental health training

by Cynthia Hubert  | January 29, 2018 (updated January 30, 2018)

A homeless man waits for the downtown library doors to open on Jan. 26, 2017. Librarians and other staff members are receiving training to help them understand and deal with mental illness, which affects many more homeless people than others according to studies. Randy Pench

Read more here:
For many of Sacramento’s homeless men and women, the public library is a haven from harsh weather, a primary source for bathroom facilities, a place to rest from the stress of the streets.

Sacramento library director Rivkah Sass welcomes them all, she said, as long as their behavior is not disruptive to staff members and other patrons.

But as the homeless crisis deepens in the capital city and around the country, libraries increasingly are seeing people with untreated mental illnesses that cause them to act oddly, or put themselves or others in danger.

“Clearly, there just are not enough services for people who need to address their mental issues, and they end up with us because we are the last free, public open space available to them,” Sass said.

Read more here:

Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here's What You Don't Know About Her.

Civil Rights | Black Heistory Month | Women's History

by Urana McCauley as told to Liz Dwyer | February 2, 2018

Urana McCauley  
After that NAACP event, that’s when I started asking her questions about what she witnessed, what she endured, and what life was like for black people back then. That led to her telling me a lot of stories. She’d tell me what her life was like when she was a little girl growing up in Alabama. One of the things that people don’t understand about my aunt is that she was an activist her whole life and she started questioning things at a young age. I think part of it was her upbringing with her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards. He would sit up at night with a shotgun — in case the KKK might come by and try to kill them — and talk to her about black resistance and the key figures in it: Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey. That laid the foundation for my aunt to feel like, "This isn’t right. I should be doing something and becoming an activist." Her whole life became dedicated to change.

When she was 10, a white boy pushed Auntie Rosa, and she pushed him back. Auntie Rosa’s grandmother told her, "You need to be quiet, you need to stop being so vocal." She was told, as black people, we’re not allowed to do those things to whites. Her grandmother was concerned that she’d get hurt, that she could even get lynched. But Auntie Rosa told her grandmother, "Let them try to lynch me." She was that bold, even when she was young. Read article...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Slow Info: Where Libraries, Reading, and Well-Being Converge

Slow information | Libraries | Mental health | Productivity

by Oleg Kagan  | January 23, 2018

Like when you lie down in the forest and look up at the trees.

Most people would agree that the level of stress is high in our society; many are worried about the present and the future. I posit that part of that anxiety is stoked by the speed at which many of us feel we are expected to absorb and respond to a panoply of information streams. A reaction to this reckless acceleration is the “Slow Information Movement” (SIM), founded by librarian Vanessa Kam, though the term “slow information” has been around since at least 2009. Based on a synthesis of my rudimentary research, “slow information” inclines towards the poles of certain dichotomies:
  • Currency: Enduring over new
  • Latency: More time between inputs over “one thing after another”
  • Density: Higher information density over lower
  • Length: Long-form over short
  • Speed: Deliberate over fast

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What changes will 2018 bring to libraries? – directly from library experts

Library Trends | Public libraries | Services | Innovations | Jan2018

2017 has ended and now is the time for libraries to take a look at their performance from the previous year and find new ways to add more value to their services.
To get more insights about the ways libraries should change in 2018, we have talked with 3 library experts for their insights and advice:
It is time for #libraries to take a look at their #performance from the previous year and find new ways to add more value to their #services. Click To Tweet

1. Laurinda Thomas, Team Leader, Libraries and Community Spaces – ‎Wellington City Council, New Zealand

I want 2018 to be the year that Libraries put a stake in the ground about what they stand for and stretch their ideas about how we do tha

Hearing other voices in a world of fake news

While “fake news” isn’t a new idea, the awareness of the public about mis- and dis-information is probably at an all-time high. More libraries will step up to the plate on educating people how to be media savvy, break out of their “media silos” to hear other voices, and help people understand how to work and communicate in a digital world that generally tries to reinforce our confirmation bias’ rather than expose us to a range of ideas and experiences.  Read more...

The Lost Giant of American Literature | American Archives

African-American writers | American novelists | Podcast

by Kathryn Schulz | January 29, 2018

William Melvin Kelley wrote about white people thinking about black people.
Photograph by Carl Van Vechten / Carl Van Vechten Trust / Beinecke Library, Yale

There were arrows, so we followed them. This was one afternoon last summer; my partner and I had spent the day at our local public library, working steadily through breakfast and lunch and what the British would call teatime, until suddenly hunger clobbered us both and we packed up and headed out to the car. Home was maybe four miles away. In my mind, I was already constructing enormous sandwiches. The arrows appeared two miles in, lining the side of the road where, that morning, there had been nothing but marsh grass. They were shin-high, wordless, red on a white background, pointing away from the sandwiches. My partner, who is usually more hungry than I am but always more curious, swung the car into the other lane and began to follow them.

The arrows led down a state highway, across an interchange, onto a smaller road, past a barn and some grain silos, then along one of the Chesapeake Bay’s countless tributaries. A sign warned us that we were in a flood zone. My partner, who grew up one county over, remembered the place from childhood—at seven or eight, she’d had a memorable encounter in the area with a trailer full of cockatiels—but she hadn’t been there since. The arrows ended at a large gray shed with a red roof. A spray-painted sign indicated that it was open twice a month, on Saturdays, in the summer only. We parked across the street, next to a boat, and headed for the door. Read more...

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Riot’s 2018 Read Harder Challenge

Book lists | Reader's Advisory | Reading

This year’s Read Harder challenged is presented by Libby.
Meet Libby. The one-tap reading app from OverDrive. By downloading Libby to your smartphone, you can access thousands of eBooks and audiobooks from your library for free anytime and anywhere. You’ll find titles in all genres, ranging from bestsellers, classics, nonfiction, comics and much more. Libby works on Apple and Android devices and is compatible with Kindle. All you need is a library card but you can sample any book in the library collection without one. In select locations, Libby will even get your library card for you instantly. Learn more at Happy Reading. Read more...

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How You'll Know Net Neutrality Is Really Gone

Net Neutrality | Access

The FCC has repealed the rules governing internet providers. Here are five changes consumers should watch for.