Thursday, May 31, 2007

Managing information and expectations

I read quite a few posts/articles last night about managing (or really, lack of managing) email and other streams of information. There was an article in the Washington Post about declaring email bankruptcy and Merlin Mann of 43 Folders commented on it. In both pieces, the message is clear: some of us get way more email than we can reasonably be expected to respond to. I've written about my own issue with what I called the email time suck before. I have often thought about how to manage the incoming email and I do wish people who emailed me would stop and think sometimes before they do. Here's some thoughts:
  • I get a good portion of email that could be answered by calling (or emailing) the help desk instead. I wish people would start there.
  • I get email about questions that are answered in online documentation that's clearly and easily found.
  • I get email about stuff that has nothing to do with me, often beginning with the phrase, "I'm not sure if you're the right person . . . " Call the secretary or the help desk.
I'm sure there are other situations that I shouldn't be emailed about but those are constant and frequent enough that I think about them often. It's not that I don't want to help. It's that these superfluous emails take up time and keep me from doing other things. And if I'm not around (which I'm often not), the person sending the email often doesn't get a response very quickly. No good for anyone involved. When I'm going to be away, I have a vacation message that tells people to call the help desk. I'm amazed by how many people ignore this and send me a follow up message in an angry tone wondering why I haven't responded or taken care of x. Hmmm. Maybe because I'm away and am now dealing with 500 messages, half of which could have been handled by someone else.

I will say, though, that technology has really helped me to manage email and my other information streams. I do wish that, besides the filters I have set up to move list emails to folders and spam to the trash, I could have a way to autorespond to email based on key words. There probably is such a thing. If you know of it, please let me know.

Jenny, at The Shifted Librarian, writes about dealing with information overload and letting go of the idea that you have to take in everything. I'll admit that I often feel like I need to read more, find more, write more and that that can be a big stress point. However, I've gotten much better about using technology to help me let go. I switched to Google Reader a while back and wasn't sure I was going to like it until I discovered "List View." Now I have all my feeds in folders and I select a folder to look at and scan the headlines, reading the posts I want. And then, I hit "Mark All as Read" and don't look back. It was hard to do that at first, but it's freeing. I also star things I find interesting but don't have time to read and will go back to them later. Sometimes I add stuff to my links. It depends on how I want to use it. Knowing that I can access those links is really helpful and sometimes, I just browse through them and see what's there.

I have more to say about strategies for managing the information flow, but I think I'll stop there. How do you deal with the gushing stream of information?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Addendum, travel edition

Update: By the way, my defense is still over a month away, making this whole process even more ludicrous.

Part of my near-panic was (is) caused by my defense trip, which I'm not concerned about from a defense point of view. I know what I need to do to prepare and am ready to do so and to fill out forms and cross t's and dot i's. But the logistics of the trip were complicated and my mother stepped in and made things more complicated and stressed me out even more. Here was the issue. I had thought that since I was going to be about as close (distance-wise) as I'll ever get and since the whole family was planning to travel with me, that we'd hop over to see her after the defense. I mentioned this to my mother at some point and she sprung into action. A week after that brief mention, she called to see if she could rent a cabin closer to Defense City. I haven't even begun to plan.

My defense is on Tuesday. I want to arrive on Monday and I thought I'd make it over to visit my mother on Wednesday or Thursday. We will be at the beach until the Saturday before I defend. Mr. Geeky needs to be in Large Southern City on that Saturday, so he'd already planned to leave early. We hadn't worked out what was going to happen after that and there was a chance that the Saturday event was going to be canceled. My mother called several times to discuss the plans. She has booked the cabin for Monday through Friday. I said that was fine, but Mr. Geeky and I, at least, wouldn't be there until Wednesday at the earliest, which I had explained the very first time she even mentioned this scheme of hers. She calls again to ask if we've made our travel plans again. I say no. First, they're going to be complicated and Mr. Geeky and I have both been running around like chickens with our heads cut off for the last couple of weeks, so we haven't had time to think. Second, it's going to cost us about $1000, and we don't spend that kind of money lightly. So, then she explains that not only has she booked the cabin, but she's reserved canoes for Tuesday. I say, you know Mr. Geeky and I won't be there till Wednesday, right? Oh, you're not coming over after your "little conference"? She asks. I've said this to her before, but I say it again, enunciating like she has a hearing problem, "Mom, this is a big deal. It determines whether or not I receive my degree. After it's over, I'm either going to go out and celebrate with friends or commiserate. Either way, I'm not going anywhere until Wednesday." Seriously, this is at least the third time I've told her.

I've told everyone at work this story (sorry everyone!) because it just really gets my goat. I realized that the reason it gets my goat is because I wanted to control this whole trip and my visit with her and instead, she took over and made me fee about 12 again when we used to go shopping for clothes and she'd bring me only stuff she liked. I know I'm complicit in this because I let her do it to me, but it's so hard not to fall into that same dynamic again. I have honestly been thinking about Phantom and her determination to say no more often. I really wish that the very first time my mom had called to suggest the whole thing, I'd just said, "Mom, that sounds like a great idea, but I really don't want to make this trip that complicated. Give me a week or two to make my own plans and we'll figure out how to visit with you." But I'm never that prepared.

At any rate, we did come up with a plan, and I swear, it's close to one of those cheesy Family Circus comics where Billy zig zags around the neighborhood. First, we go to the beach (yay!). Then, we all drive to Southern City (about 6 hours) on Friday and Mr. Geeky does his workshop thing while me and the kids hang out with some unsuspecting friends. On Sunday, I fly to Defense City and camp out in a hotel and prepare to defend. Mr. Geeky and family arrive by car sometime on Monday-ish. Somehow, we get the kids to my mom. Tuesday, I defend. We celebrate (I'm an optimist). Wednesday, we meet up with mom and family. Friday, we drive back. We're planning a scenic route. And then, the real relaxing begins!

Breaking point

I think I've reached it. This time of year is always busy, but for some reason I'm always blindsided by it. This week, the Summer Multimedia Institute began. The first week is an intense "boot camp" of teaching multimedia applications. It's back to back training. I stepped out to help a faculty member who was returning his tablet and when I explained that I was in training all week. He said, Really? Yep, I said, 9-5. Really? He said again, incredulously. And the look on his face said, Wow, I'd shoot myself if I had to teach for that many hours. The week by itself would be enough to stress me out, but both kids' birthdays are next week and so, belatedly, we are scrambling to arrange parties. I will definitely be glad when this phase is over. Plus, my father-in-law is visiting (as he does every year for the kids' birthdays). And I'm on the committee that's helping with the college web site redesign. There are meetings to attend and documents to read every other day. And I keep thinking about all the projects and tasks that are on hold this week and that I will have to attend to in a kind of frantic way next week. Sigh.

I'm thinking some stress management strategies are definitely in order. Meditation. Yoga. Calgon.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Summer (time)

I spent the weekend away from the computer, checking in for only 5 or 10 minutes each day. In so many ways, the weekend truly was a kick-off for the summer. I spent as much time as possible outside, digging in the garden, sitting on the deck, wandering around Day 142: Deck chairs-springthe yard. And the weather was perfect. Hot during the day followed by a thunderstorm that cooled the night. I remember summer as the most wonderful time of the year. A time when the days dragged out forever. As kids, we played spotlight into the night, ending with kool-aid and watermelon. During the day, we lounged by the pool or lake. We had nothing better to do than drink in the sun, read books and magazines, eat french fries and milkshakes.

As an adult, the days are different. There is no long summer break. I trudge off to work every day, unable to simply let the day unfold as it may, to just wait and see what will happen next. But the days still have that quality of lazy possibility about them. It seems possible to let the day unfold, to see what will happen next. It seems possible that, for a time, the world might spin a little slower, that time will expand and let just one more thought, one more activity squeeze in before we collapse, exhausted, into bed.

White slugI moved slowly this weekend, more slowly than normal. Usually, I'm trying to cram in everything and I'm anxious to get laundry and tasks done so I don't have to try to squeeze them in during the week. I tend to rush around and when I'm not rushing, my brain is definitely rushing, thinking about all that needs to be done, things to be written down. I worked a lot in the garden this weekend. I'm not what I would call a gardener. I'm lazy about it. I don't prepare the soil as well as I should. I pick plants that grow without much need for care. I've been working on my garden for about three years now. It's been a slow process, but one I am beginning to appreciate. Sure, I could have a landscaper come in a do all kinds of work for me and my garden would probably look much better than it does, but I like that I've done all the work myself. I like that I brought a decades old azalea back to life and that I know where its roots run. I like that I've watched tiny shrubs grow and watched the rhododendron bloom for the first time. As I was digging another area to prepare for planting (in my usual lazy way), I thought about how long the soil had been there and thought about the layers. I only dug a couple of feet. I knew it must look really different further down. And I thought about the roots and how long they had been there and how intertwined and connected they were.

What I thought a lot about, what I let swirl around me without thinking about it too much either, was time. I tried to give myself some time to breathe, to just be. But I also thought about how it takes time for change to occur, for any kind of building or growth to occur, like the soil, layer upon layer or my shrubs slow but steady growth. We can certainly spur things on--like I sometimes do in my garden--by doing certain things, but sometimes we have to sit back for a bit and take some time--to think, to rethink, or to let things happen.

Friday, May 25, 2007


The last few weeks have been extraordinarily busy, filled with end of the year tasks and now filled with beginning of the summer tasks. Here's this week's schedule.

I know it's hard to see. It's just filled. Next week our Summer Multimedia Development Institute begins. The first week is a week of training. It's intense and long. The week after that are the kids' birthdays and people visiting from out of town, then there's a week and then vacation, defense, ugh. I'm just feeling like I'm not going to get everything done. And I feel like I haven't had time to think. There's a discussion I was going to be involved in that now I think I should back out of. I'm just not going to have time. But it seems important at a meta level. Plus I have the defense hanging over my head and all the little nitpicky stuff that goes with that--announcing it, applying for graduation, filling out form after form, making sure the margins are exactly right. I am not a detail-oriented person (though I fooled Steve). I've developed strategies for trying to keep all the balls in the air, but it takes energy, both physical and mental. It's like taking an introvert to a party and making them talk to everyone in the room. When I'm faced with a lot of these details, I start to get antsy and overwhelmed. I have to force myself to focus and just plow through some of them.

I have the weekend ahead of me, and I've been thinking I should shut down the computer for the weekend and get back into my own head again. I love all the ideas I get from reading blogs and articles, but I think it might do me good to go old-fashioned and jot some stuff down on paper.

Barbara chastised me a bit for quitting my project365. I found I was walking the same path every day and couldn't find anything interesting to take pictures of. But one thing that taking pictures did for me was to get me to look around and see things a bit differently. So I think I want to return to that project and to try to see things differently again. I think it also makes me slow down and stop and think. As a writer, I used to do this all the time, but I fall out of the habit when the world starts going crazy around me.

What I've been thinking about for a while now is what I want to be in the world, how I want to fit, locally, globally. I think about whether a person can change and if so, how. And this is not an "I feel frustrated and so I want to do something different" kind of thinking, though it is related, I guess. I'm trying to feel situated and not situated at the same time. I resist strict categorizations. My mantra has been (stolen from the Mythbusters): I reject your reality and substitute my own. I'm not sure what I'm saying here. These are just the thoughts that have been bouncing around my head. Maybe I'll figure all of it out by Monday. Right.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Let the teens sleep

I've been saying this for years.

Occupation Envy

Envy seems to be a recurring theme here. It's funny, because I consider myself pretty content. Yet when I search the dark recesses of my soul, I find little green-eye monsters waiting to be set free. Don't get me wrong, I have a good gig. I like what I do, but recently I've seen or thought about some occupations that make me think, wow, that sounds like a cool job! Laura, at 11D, was talking today about jobs that seem easy or don't require too much education, but that pay a lot more than her current gig. I've had envy like that. Once, I was talking with my co-workers at a corporate job. We were all middle management and we were at a dinner party discussing what was next for us. My supervisor and I both said we'd like jobs someplace like Target or the Gap. Our co-workers were stunned: why would two smart women like us want to do that? So we wouldn't have to think, we said, almost simultaneously. There's something to be said for jobs where you just get paid and any kind of intellectual energy is expended outside of work.

But those weren't the kinds of jobs I was envying today. I do often envy faculty jobs. As faculty are leaving for the summer, talking about the projects they're going to work on and the long trips and many conferences they're attending while I'm trudging in to to work every day at 8:30, I feel a twinge of jealousy. And there are other things I envy not having to do with the flexibility of scheduling: teaching, conferences, research. But I don't like the tenure ax hanging over your head. I often think about working for a think tank or foundation or something where I could do research, maybe give some presentations, publish stuff, etc. I have no idea if that's what jobs at think tanks are like but in my imagination they are. Sometimes I think about becoming a writer.

What I'm really thinking about is not having these jobs, per se, but how to get pieces of these jobs into my current job. Teaching. Check. Though I'm looking for spring teaching possibilities at the moment, possibly at my current institution or online or something. Research. Check. Just need to carve some time out to reflect, process, and write. Conferences. Check. Writing. Check. It's prioritizing those things I think is hard. I was laughing at Martha's tweet today about avoiding administrative tasks. Those of us on the staff side have far too many of these (though I know faculty aren't immune from them either), and it's easy to let those take up all your time. And you feel productive sometimes when you accomplish them. But I start to feel empty if that's all I'm doing and so I have to come back to something that makes me think. I definitely no longer envy those "non-thinking" jobs. Whatever I do, I want it to be intellectually challenging and I want to be surrounded by people who challenge my thinking. Barbara was talking about people she knew who have restless minds. I think I'm one of them.

50-75% Productive

I came back from Fredericksburg raring to go and jumped right in to work yesterday. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I only got 50-75% of everything I wanted to get done completed. One task was delayed because some faculty had not gotten back to me, so I emailed them again. Don't they realize they're cutting my productivity by 50%?! My mailbox still has over 200 (nearly 300, really) messages in it, but I think what's in there now is unimportant. Everything's been read at least. Then I ventured into meeting hell--back to back meetings from 11 to 4 without a break for lunch. Who has a meeting from 12-1:30 without providing snacks or at least telling us that no food will be provided so that we can bring our own?! And the meeting didn't go well and by the end, we were all cranky and hungry.

Finally, I was planning for a skypecast extravaganza and was trying to get live broadcasting working and just wasn't successful. I believe I know why, but there's no time to get it working before 11 a.m. today. Oh well.

The summer is going to be packed. Once again, I get envious of faculty who are unencumbered during the summer (even though I know they're busy in a sense). Here's a list of what I hope to accomplish this summer:
  • OpenCourseWare site goes live
  • Summer Multimedia Institute--7 students, 14 projects
  • Overhaul of New Media Lab (computers are in!)
  • Video documentation--look for it on your local YouTube channel
  • Defend the dissertation--officially get Ph.D.
  • Run three intense faculty workshops
  • Maybe, just maybe, get some writing or something done
I'm crossing my fingers that all of this gets done. There's three weeks of vacation squeezed in there too, the first of which is just over a month away. It'd be nice to write a post titled 100% complete come August.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Naked in Second Life

Inspired by my time at Faculty Academy, last night I decided to give Second Life another try. For those of you who think I have no first life, I'd already been out for dinner and a movie (Shrek the Third) before venturing into the virtual world. I fired up my SL application, logged in, and headed out. Since I don't know my way around, I thought it might be a good idea to head over to the NMC Campus where I knew there'd be stuff to look at and where there might be some people. So I teleported over. First I crash-landed. Then, I wandered around and looked at the art. After I came out of the museum, I paused and took a look at all my options. Geeky Girl and Mr. Geeky were sitting next to me, watching what I was up to. We all noticed under "Edit" the option to take off my clothes. They urged me to try it. Come on, they said, we want to see what it's like. So I moused down to "Take off clothes-->All". And then I was naked. And then I immediately freaked out. I was twittering this whole experience, giving the play by play to people. Honestly, I feared one of them might venture in to SL and see me in my naked state. I looked up and someone was coming toward me. I didn't see a "Put clothes on" option on the menu, so I immediately quit the program. I was about 14 shades of red.

I eventually logged back in and managed to get some clothes back on. My original clothes had basically been deleted so I had to make new ones. It's funny how embarrassing the whole thing was even though it wasn't "real." I felt really naked. As one of the twitterers said, if the avatar looked like you, then maybe that would increase the embarrassment. My avatar looked a little like me, but not much. Normally, I'm not phased by these things, but because there was someone else there, the possibility of them seeing me exposed proved too much for me to bear. I'm sure there's a grand lesson in all this, or a research project or something. It occurs to me that most people feel a little naked when they're trying anything new and that most people do what I did--run away and hide. But you have to get back on the horse. As Barbara Ganley said on Wednesday, things worth doing are filled with risk.

Plus, it was just dang funny.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Reflections on Faculty Academy

So, I'm back in my hotel room after spending the last two days at the University of Mary Washington's Faculty Academy. It was crazy for me to come here. I worked all day as judge of elections on Tuesday, from 6:30 a.m to 9 p.m. I left as soon as the votes were counted and drove three hours to Fredericksburg. But, it was so worth the drive. I don't even know how to begin to describe my experience here. I was, in some ways, an interloper, not being a member of the UMW community per se, but I very quickly felt very much a part of the family. I even had to drive Martha to dinner after an unfortunate water incident. And it was great to talk about having kids, growing up in the south, and all kinds of other things.

During dinner this evening, I had the most wonderful conversations. People think these things are about technology, but we talked about Old English Literature, Emerson, Joyce, Imperialism, Faulkner, the future of education, and much more. I loved hearing Barbara, and Jeff, and Jim, and Patrick and Angela share their stories. There was a lot of laughing at our table and a lot of aha moments. And most of these conversations were continuations of moments in the hallways, of Twitters, of blog comments, weaving together our "real" and online lives in ways that some people might think is just plain crazy, but man, was it fun.

And, of course, there were so many others that I felt honored just to be in the same room with, much less to be able to talk to: Alan, Gardner, and Steve. It was just great to hear what they were thinking about, what they're doing; it was inspiring.

Steve said after dinner that some of his colleagues find it so odd that he is "friends" with people that he knows only online. But he said, and I agree, that he feels like he knows these people. I would never have met Barbara or Bryan or Steve or Gardner if I didn't have a blog or if they didn't have blogs and my life would have so much less rich without them in it. They make me think and challenge my thinking.

One of the things that I thought about as I was listening to Barbara talk was how the Academy (capital A) is not always about struggling to figure out what you have to say (as I am doing now) but about having something definitive to say (complete with footnotes and other apparatus to prove it). Participating in this event has given me permission to continue that struggle. It is this struggle that's the hard part. Figuring out what we're doing. It's not about the technology. That part's easy (as Steve said), but technology has cracked something open that we can't close anymore. Again and again, people brought this up, the struggle, but also the great reward at the end of that struggle, the learning.

I know I'm rambling now, but let me close by saying that I'll be thinking about this experience for a long time to come. Thank you to all the UMW folks for letting me be a part of this. It's going to be hard to go home, but my suitcase is definitely fuller.

Funding Public Education: Why are people so stupid

Pennsylvania Voters Reject Tax Plan to Finance Schools - New York Times

I worked the polls on Tuesday and heard many comments from people (especially older people) complain about the tax increase proposed to fund schools. The saddest thing is the income tax increase would have been offset much more significantly by a property tax decrease. Now, let me just pull some logic on you. If you are on a fixed income, your taxes will not increase as long as the tax rate doesn't increase. Your property taxes, on the other hand, increase or decrease according to the rate, but most importantly, as the property value increases. So, I'm thinking, duh, a slight income tax increase (1%) is a better deal than a potential huge property tax increase. Am I missing something?

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Friday, May 11, 2007


Enjoy the weekend everyone and an early Happy Mother's Day to all of you.

I'm going to be away and occupied most of next week. When I get back, what do you all want to talk about? Leave me a note in the comments.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Harvard decides to focus on teaching

Where Harvard goes, others often follow. I wonder what this will mean for the ramping up of tenure requirements that has occurred at "teaching" schools. I'll believe this when I see it, of course.
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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Privacy--or not--on the Internet

Although we've had many, many instances of people getting into trouble because of things they've posted online, we still haven't figured out where, exactly, to draw the line. Three separate incidents in the last week have me thinking about the issue more closely. First, at my own institution, there was an incident involving a party posting on Facebook that ultimately resulted in a Student Government officer being impeached and going home for the rest of the semester, perhaps never to return. Do a Google search and you can find out a little more. Many have said that the SGA officer, though wrong, was unfairly raked over the coals even after she apologized, raising the question of how much is enough, especially when the whole incident will live on the Internet perhaps for many years to come.

Another, similar incident, was first brought to my attention by Bitch, Ph.D. and then elaborated on by Janet at Adventures in Ethics and Science. A law student who administered an online bulletin board for other law students recently had a job rescinded because he refused to curb the harassment of female law students on the board. While many feel he deserved to lose a job over the incident, some have questioned how much one's off-work statements and actions should affect your job.

A similar incident occurred with a Millersville University student who was denied her teaching certificate because of a single MySpace photo captioned "Drunken Pirate."

While I definitely feel that when blogging or posting online, one has to be aware that everything can be seen by current and future employers, I think employers should be a little more thoughtful about how they consider such postings. If one finds pictures of a future employee online showing him or her drunk, does that automatically eliminate them from consideration? Shouldn't one balance that with other information? Many people get drunk on occasion and increasingly, those incidents are documented and posted, often because they want to share the rare occurrence with friends. If an employer is concerned, maybe they should call references or ask the future employee directly.

Some may respond to such incidents by only venturing online under a pseudonym or not venturing online at all, but I think increasingly, people want an online presence that's going to include many facets of their lives and personalities. And I think eventually, employers may have to learn to sift through information about people they find online more thoughtfully.

My suggestion for the student at my own institution whose mistake lives online in the student newspaper and Facebook: control your online presence, create a blog highlighting your accomplishments, write positively and move that presence above the other one. Sure, future employers may find the old mistake living in the Internet archive, but if everything else they find is positive, it's going to be greatly minimized and maybe not even an issue.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Workshop Model

Up until this academic year, I used to hold workshops every week. The topics ranged from the practical (burning dvds and cds) to the esoteric (the philosophy of open source software). At first, the sessions were well attended. At their peak, I had as many as 25 people attending. Most of the people coming to my workshops were staff but there were always a handful of faculty. I wanted to reach more faculty, so I started gearing topics specifically to faculty, focusing on curriculum or classroom issues. Attendance dropped dramatically until one day, I was offering a workshop on podcasting and no one showed up, not even the people who'd signed up. I retooled my strategy and began covering a topic every week and offering one-on-one assistance for those interested in the topic. I got a flood of responses and scheduled one or two sessions, but the logistics soon became impossible to manage. And certain topics were more popular than others. Then, I scheduled targeted workshops, only two, at the request of specific faculty. At each of those, I had about 6 people, a good turnout in my mind. Still, 6 faculty out of 150 is not a good percentage.

I've become disenchanted with workshops.

But workshops can be an efficient way to convey information. There are two main reasons I've held workshops--to provide instruction on things that I've been asked about and to introduce ideas that may be useful to faculty. That first reason is an openly selfish attempt to reduce my own workload. Providing instruction on Blackboard, for example, may head off a certain amount of questions and requests for one-on-one tutorials. Imagine, if you will, if instead of having a class full of students all taking Introduction to Literature, you had to meet with each one of them individually according to their schedule and teach them. Each meeting with each student would go over the same material. That is, essentially, what I do at times.

There's a saying that often gets invoked when discussing the lack of faculty interest in workshops: "just in time and just for me." It's getting more and more difficult to provide that kind of support as more and more people want it. One way to meet this need without going crazy is to provide online tutorials and faqs and other documentation and that's something I've done something with. I believe a fair amount of it gets used, but I need more. And the software changes and so I still have to keep up with it.

And what I really want to do is to get away from spending so much time on the how to and spend more time discussing the why. Why use a blog at all? In what ways can it be effective? What aspects of Blackboard can be used to support student learning? How might I use video or audio effectively in my class? I know that knowing how to is an important first step to getting to these questions, but I also think too many people think that if they know how to, they'll figure out the rest later. Increasingly, there's nothing to the how to and there's a lot to figuring out the best way to use the various tools. I know a lot of people think about and figure out these things on their own and don't need me to help them think through such issues. I'm still struggling with how to reach those that do.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Destruction of Human Life

"Mr. Bush said his veto threat would apply to any measures that 'allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.'"

And the war is funded how? And the soldiers who died? Are they aliens? Non-human? And the civilians who die every day in that war? Not human?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

More on the HD-DVD code

I've posted an update on the hd-dvd code incident on my other blog and my thoughts about why educators (really, everyone) should be paying attention.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Breaking the code

Remember what I said yesterday about content owners making it harder for people like me to circumvent copy protections and DRM in order to legally copy something for fair use purposes? Okay maybe you didn't get that far. For those who don't know, the new blu-ray and hd-dvd's have stronger copy protection. The minute they came out, however, hackers cracked the protection scheme and have posted instructions all over the internet. A couple of weeks ago, Google received a takedown notice for the key that allows someone to copy hd-dvds. The key itself is contained in the takedown notice so now the whole internet has this key. This morning as I was perusing my feeds, which include a collection of technorati tags such as "dmca" and "copyright," I noticed this key is everywhere. A search on technorati reveals probably hundreds of blogs posting this key. Can they issue takedown notices for all of them? Is it really worth it? Maybe they should give up? I find the whole thing amusing.
Update: There's now a t-shirt.