Category Archives: Enterprise

Global Metrics for Access & Use of Social Media & Technologies

Global Digital Statistics 2014: Social, Digital & Mobile Around The World (January 2014)

Consider this slide deck from We Are Social a reference resource. I know many of the departments recruit students from other parts of the world. This is a great resource to give both a high level overview of how people around the world tend to use various types of technologies, as well as a comparison metrics at the level of individual countries, so you can plan appropriate and respectful strategies for approaching a specific community. Some folk also use this to plan for travel, so they have an idea what resources will be easy to access in a given location.

They also do a lovely job of providing their sources, which are worth repeating here.

* China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC): 32nd Statistical Report on Internet Development:
* Facebook: Newsroom: Key Facts:
* International Telecommunication Union (ITU): Statistics
* Internet World Stats:
* TenCent (China):
* US CIA: World Factbook: Internet Users:
* US Census:
* VKontakte (Russia):

On the other hand, sometimes, while searching for links for these, I found other resources that are at least as useful, if not more so. Then I would also stumble on special tools, apps and infographics! Enjoy!


Internet Census 2012:

Internet Security Census 2013:

OpenNet Initiative (Internet Censorship):

Social Bakers: Facebook Statistics:

W3Techs (Web Technology Surveys): Technologies: Languages Used:

Wikipedia: Global Internet Usage:
NOTE: This one has great graphs.

World Map of Social Networks:


US Census Mobile App (dwellr):

US Census: Data Visualization of the Week: Total Population and Population Missing Due to HIV/AIDS Epidemics: 2012; Selected Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa

US Census: Infographics Highlight the History and Measurement of Poverty:


#HCLDR Chat: What’s Emerging Tech Got To Do With Us?

Gear: Emerging Technologies

From social media to wearable technologies, from bioprinting to the quantified self movement, emerging technologies have the potential to change lives and clinical practice. At the same time, change isn’t always welcomed, and it is often difficult to determine which proposed changes bear the most value and the least risk. Even for those high value innovations, there have always been challenges with disseminating new ideas, testing and validating them, and promoting adoption of validated innovations.

These are some of the issues that have driven and continue to drive both the evolution of translational science and newer research methodologies such as systematic reviews and comparative effectiveness reviews.

Medical librarians have been intimately involved in aspects of evidence-based clinical practice, and the systematic review and comparative effectiveness review methodologies. They are also deeply engaged in providing information, expertise, and support to clinicians, patients, and administrators. They also support dissemination of innovation throughout an enterprise by acting as conduits, cheerleaders, or gatekeepers for new information, policies, and technologies.. But could they be doing more to help support proactive strategic decisionmaking with respect to emerging technologies?

The Deloitte 2013 Survey of Physicians showed significant lags with physician adoption of health information technologies. Another 2013 report, this one from Kaiser Permanente, begins with this:

“Electronic health records (EHRs) have been available for decades, and yet hospitals, doctors, and other caregivers have been slow to adopt them. This is true even though 74% of U.S. physician EHR adopters in 2011 said that using their systems enhanced overall patient care, and 85% reported being somewhat or very satisfied with their systems (Jamoom, Beatty, Bercovitz, Woodwell, Palso, & Rechtsteiner, 2012).”

With concerns about lags in adoption for proven technologies such as EHR which have been shown to have value for decades, how will the practice of healthcare accommodate the ever increasing pace of innovation in health IT? How will emerging technologies be identified and integrated into practice? Increasingly, patients are taking the initiative for solving personal healthcare challenges with areas such as the quantified self movement, the maker movement, personal genomics, and personalized medicine.

The Medical Library Association has initiated a large systematic review project to assess the level of evidence available to support the profession and practice of medical librarianship in several very important questions. Team #6 has been assigned to explore this topic: “The explosion of information, expanding of technology (especially mobile technology), and complexity of healthcare environment present medical librarians and medical libraries opportunities and challenges. To live up with the opportunities and challenges, what kinds of skill sets or information structure do medical librarians or medical libraries are required to have or acquire so as to be strong partners or contributors of continuing effectiveness to the changing environment?”

We would deeply value the thoughts and insights of healthcare professionals and leaders in helping to define these questions.

T1: What emerging technologies do you find most important and relevant in healthcare?

T2: What are appropriate roles for medical libraries and librarians with respect to emerging technologies?

T3: What issues concern you most about adoption of emerging technologies? What barriers to adoption are you aware of, or solutions for overcoming barriers to adoption?

Here is our current draft of emerging technologies that have been identified as being of interest.

Mindmeister: MLA Emerging Technologies:

Please join us for the weekly #HCLDR chat on Tuesday September 3, 2013 at 8:30pm Eastern Time (North America). Hosted by: Patricia Anderson. Moderator: Lisa Fields


American Hospital Association. Adopting Technological Innovation in Hospitals: Who Pays and Who Benefits? (2006)

Anderson P. Maker Movement Meets Healthcare (2013)

Cain M, Mittman R. Diffusion of Innovation in Healthcare. (2002)

Coye MJ, Aubry WM, Yu W. The “Tipping Point” and Health Care Innovations: Advancing the Adoption of Beneficial Technologies (2003)

McCann, Erin. Docs still lag with health IT adoption, Deloitte study sheds light on health IT to-do list (May 2013).

Physician adoption of health information technology: Implications for medical practice leaders and business partners (2013)

Plsek P. Complexity and the Adoption of Innovation in Health Care. (2003)

Porter, Molly. Adoption of Electronic Health Records in the United States (February 2013).

Will It Work Here? A Decisionmaker’s Guide to Adopting Innovations. (AHRQ Publication No. 08-0051 (2008)


#CoolToys: Lifestreaming

Today’s Cool Toys Conversations group met to learn more about lifestreaming (not livestreaming, as some attendees thought). Britain Woodman was our fearless leader for the day, and folk were encouraged to also look at how Shawn Sieg lives the lifestreaming life. Here are a few highlights from the meeting.

What’s Lifestreaming?

“A lifestream is a time-ordered stream of documents that functions as a diary of your electronic life; every document you create and every document other people send you is stored in your lifestream.”
The Yale Lifestreams Project Page, Circa 1996:

Why Lifestream?

Other reasons discussed included adding value for others, transparency, making yourself and your personal brand more discoverable, ease of discovery for others as well as for yourself, as an external memory aid, simplifying your content production, searchability, safety (crime prevention), and more. One motivator for some is to connect various information streams to discover new insights, especially in the context of quantified-self and self-tracking for health. MakeUseOf posted about incentives that drive lifestreaming. There was an interesting conversation around Robert Scoble’s post on this back in 2009, but evidently the original post has disappeared or moved with the loss of Posterous.

The new billion-dollar opportunity: real-time-web curation. (Read the comments on this).

What is StoryTlr?


Storytlr is a very useful tool for aggregating and (partially) archiving your own content from various cloud-based services and social media streams into a personal space on your own server. It primarily archives the text in an SQL database format, with thumbnails for images, and links to the full images and videos. It does not archive the full images or videos. It also facilitates creating stories from your various media around a particular event or day. Storytlr is open source, with the source code on GitHub.

“You can import from 18 popular sources, easily post your own updates, pick from a range of styles and create compelling stories from your content.”

What if I don’t have my own server?

More Info About Lifestreaming & Lifelogging

Lifeloggers from Memoto on Vimeo.

Lifestream Blog: Lifelogging: Resources:


Lifelogging, An Inevitability (2007):

Karapanos, Evangelos, PhD. Blog
[NOTE: Fascinating entries such as "Supporting Diary Studies with Lifelogging" and "Lifelogging tools for patients suffering episodic memory impairment."]

Krynsky, Mark. Understanding the Value of Lifestreaming (2009):

Stanford Students Design for Lifelogging (2011):


How Lifelogging is Transforming the Way We Remember, Track Our Lives (2013)

I always feel like somebody’s watching me: The effect of wearable cameras (2013):

‘Life logging’ app Saga lets you share every single moment of your life (2013):

Logging our lives with wearable tech (2013):

Using a Smartphone’s Eyes and Ears to Log Your Every Move | MIT Technology Review (2013)

Archiving the History of Our Profession: MeSH 50th Anniversary

Medical Library

Many of you know that part of the reason for the decline in my online presence is that I’ve been hard at work for several months now on a few book chapters, the most recent pair about searching for information to support evidence-based practice in dentistry. The one I’ve trying so hard to finish right now is on searching PubMed. As part of this, I am trying to give a little bit of background on where PubMed comes from as part of trying to explain why certain features work the way they do now, sort of how evolution and early constraints shapes the later versions of the tool. For this, even though I rarely spend more than a sentence or two on any specific piece of history, I am searching for articles and content to validate dates of when I think things happened, and similar sorts of proof to support what I’m saying. God forbid I cite the evidence, eh? (Yes, that’s sarcasm, or irony, or something along those lines.

At one point last week I was searching for information about the origins of MeSH, and was delighted to discover a link on the MeSH homepage for their online exhibit about the 50th anniversary celebrations for MeSH.

MeSH 50th Anniversary

Unfortunately, it was a dead link, which surprised me. When did the history of MeSH and the 50th anniversary celebration become “grey literature”, or rather simply lost? Well, last week. I sent a quick email off to Customer Service at NLM on July 31st, and received a reply the following day. To my complete surprise, the reply stated that the link was to old content that had been deleted from the site, and the link to the content should have also been deleted. “The link was meant to be removed but we have the contents as pdf files.” True to their words, they promptly deleted the link from the page.

MeSH 50th Anniversary

I asked why, and was told it is part of their policy to keep web content fresh and lively, as is true of so many other organizations.

web content policy (currency OR current OR lively OR fresh or “up to date”)
Web content policies

Alright, yes, that is a good idea in general, and it is official policy, and there are good reasons for it, but … but … but … how on earth is someone supposed to know that such content ever existed, or that it was preserved as PDFs? How would someone discover that it existed to even ask for a copy? Don’t we want copies of information of interest about the history and origins and evolution of our profession? MeSH is so inextricably intertwined with medical librarianship that it seems to me essential to preserve not only this information but also ready access to it, DISCOVERABLE access.

I understand that the persons involved are simply doing their job the best they can and as they have been instructed to do it. I am not blaming them (which is why I am not giving any names). I see this as a symptom of a broader problem at a higher level. Policies of that sort are usually developed by and for the workflows of “webmasters, IT staff, and those program officials responsible for web content.” Personally, I find it shocking, perhaps even distressing, that a library, especially a library the caliber of the National Library of Medicine would choose to honor a well-intended policy that diminishes access to useful public information rather attempt to inform policy makers of the impact and to try to inject some insight and perspective into the policy reformation process. But that is my perspective, and possibly only mine.

The official guidelines from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) do include policies that allow for the retention of information as well as for the disposal of information, or, as they put it, “records that have been destroyed.” Those NARA guidelines focus on trust, risk, mitigating risk, and responsibility. The guidelines include answers to such questions as “Does managing agency web sites as Federal records mean that I must keep all page changes for a long time?” That was a particularly interesting answer, also.

Q: Does managing agency web sites as Federal records mean that I must keep all page changes for a long time?
A: No. As MANAGING WEB RECORDS and SCHEDULING WEB RECORDS discuss in greater detail, your agency business needs, including the risks to the agency programs and mission should the information not be available, are the major factors in determining how long you need to keep those pages. Your web site schedule specifies the length of time you need to keep pages.

There are some very useful thoughts and considerations in these documents, even though they were drafted in January 2005 and have not been thoroughly updated since them. [ASIDE: There was an addendum issued in 2010 on "recent web technologies" including blogs and wikis, which expires October 31, 2013, so hopefully we'll soon see something more in keeping with the current state of web technologies and trends.] The part that most interested me right now was how they archive content (they recommend “spiders” and “web snapshots”), and how they determine what content should be archived.

NARA Guidance on Scheduling Web Records: How are retention periods for web site-related records determined?

“[T]he agency needs to assess how long the information will be needed to satisfy business needs and mitigate risk, taking into account Government accountability and the protection of legal rights. If specific web content is available in places other than the web, consider whether the existence of the information in other records affects the retention needs for the web records. In the case of information unique to the web site, the web version is the only recordkeeping copy.” NARA Guidance on Scheduling Web Records.

Note especially, “the case of information unique to the web site.” The question becomes how valuable and relevant that information is over time, how worth preservation. There is other information about the history of MeSH. There is the valuable but brief introduction from NLM, duplicated in the MeSH Preface, and a 2006 variant of the same text.

NLM: History of MeSH:

As part of the 50th anniversary celebration, there is an online copy of the first volume of MeSH, which I discovered only through a brief blogpost from the NNLM Southeastern/Atlantic Region.

Regarding web-searchable content of the actual 50th celebration itself, we are primarily reduced to the video from the presentation (lacking the transcript, and not located in YouTube for sharing or embedding); an announcement in the NLM Technical Bulletin; and myriad blogposts referencing the now defunct website.

Robert Braude. MeSH at 50 – 50th Anniversary of Medical Subject Headings (The impact of the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) vocabulary on access to biomedical information.)

50th Anniversary Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) Event. November 02, 2010 [posted]. NLM Technical Bulletin 2010 NOVEMBER–DECEMBER No. 377.

I did search in Google for the actual title of Dr. Braude’s presentation (“MeSH at 50 or Should It Now Join AARP”), and found one hit, from a chemical industry page evidently created by scraping the web through a spider and still online.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 1.52.30 PM

Oh. Dear. He did such a splendid presentation, and now we can’t even find out that he had done it.

“As with other agency records, most web records do not warrant permanent retention and should be scheduled for disposal in accordance with the guidance provided above. In instances where NARA determines that a site or portions of a site has long-term historical value, NARA will work with the creating agency to develop procedures to preserve the records and provide for their transfer to the National Archives.” NARA Guidance on Scheduling Web Records.

Was the MeSH 50th Anniversary content archived with NARA? I don’t know. I don’t know how to find out. I did have an idea for how to find what was missing. If I can’t find the government’s information from the actual government, if I can’t trust the government to keep available the information I need or want from them, I look in the Internet Archive. The Archive is not a government organization. They are “a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library.” What happens when the Archive runs out of money, I don’t know. I will say the idea scares me.

Meanwhile, I was able to find an archived copy of the main page before the link was deleted. NLM: MeSH:

Why couldn’t I find this in Google? Because the Archive is part of what is known as the Internet’s “Deep Web.” The Deep Web is, according to Wikipedia, “The Deep Web (also called the Deepnet, the Invisible Web, the Darknet, the Undernet or the hidden Web) is World Wide Web content that is not part of the Surface Web, which is indexed by standard search engines.” Most websites that require you to perform a search to get to their content would be considered part of the Deep Web, especially if the search results do not generate a persistent URL. If the results do generate a permanent URL, then it is possible (although challenging) to create a resource that maps those links to the deep content of the site in a space which is searchable by Google.

That’s what I’m going to do now, for the web pages for the MeSH 50th anniversary. I’m doing this because I want to be able to find it again, more easily than it was for me this time. I’m doing this because Robert Braude said important things about MeSH and how it got here, because he gave faces and lively personalities to the people behind this famously dull and detailed masterwork, because he (and the rest of the 50th celebration site) gave a context that I have never seen anywhere else. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from Braude’s presentation.

“When I received the invitation to speak today on the history of MeSH, I was truly shocked. I wondered how the History of Medicine Division dredged up my name but then I realized — I was NOW history.”

* * *

“Rather I choose to focus on the antecedents of MeSH, the fertile soil prepared by so many from which MeSH grew. These antecedents, shrouded in the dim mist of history, are, I think, of more interest. Revealing them, I believe, will give us a stronger sense of how far back the chain of MeSH development goes.”

* * *

(Quoting Janet Doe) “It is, moreover, economically unsound for all of our individual libraries to be trying to do for themselves what can only be adequately done by experts drudging away tirelessly for years on a fully representative collection of material.”

* * *

“Why MeSH; what were the forces shaping the effort to create such a resource?”

* * *

“Stan Jablonski, esteemed author of the Illustrated dictionary of eponymic syndromes and diseases and their synonyms and the Dictionary of medical acronyms & abbreviations was there, towering above us all physically as well as intellectually. Coffee breaks with Stan were a treat and an education. And I will never forget having to turn in my used pencils at the end of the day to Gus Gillespie since funds were just as tight then as they are now.”

* * *

“One of the problems with the constant changes to MeSH was searching backwards in time, for one needed to know what heading had been previously used.”

* * *

“The issue raised by Claudius Mayer was that there was no way a single authority list for cataloging monographs and indexing the periodical literature could be developed. Wrong Claudius, Dr. Rogers did it with MeSH.”

Here are the links to the Archive’s copy of the MeSH 50th Anniersary pages that have been lost to Google search.

Celebrating MeSH: 50 years of Medical Subject Headings

50 Years of Medical Subject Headings:
Past, Present, and Future Impact on Biomedical Information
Robert M. Braude, MLS, PhD, AHIP, FMLA, FACMI
Thursday, November 18, 2010

Faces of MeSH:

Milestones in MeSH:

History of MeSH:

Publications about MeSH

Hashtags for Twitter Cancer Communities

Top ten hashtags associated with #cancer

Librarians have been geeking out, or grossing out, over hashtags since they first appeared. Some of the conversation has been about concerns over ‘allowing’ the public to define their own metadata, while much of it has been the flip side of trying to engage the public in generating metadata for library online collections, and thus enriching access and awareness for those collections.

Naturally, the general public simply move forward with creating new hashtags for their own purposes, largely unaware of the conversations and concerns of professionals in the area of metadata. This is as it should be. The idea of a Folksonomy, a.k.a. folk taxonomy, as originated by Thomas Vanderwal centers around the social aspect — real people, real folk, coming up with language that means something to them to describe content that matters to them with ideas that matter to them. Meaning.

I could go on about this for a long time, but today I need to focus on a particular aspect of this dynamic — a shift from folk+taxonomy to folk+ontology. Folkology? Folk ontology? Folktology? A little bit of digging leads me to folktology (non-scholarly) or tagontology (scholarly) as preferred terms for this, both of which are used roughly the same amount.

In social media, one of the greatest strengths has been the power to create community where none existed before, to connect and empower those who may otherwise be isolated. The most prominent examples of this in healthcare have been the emerging communities around chronic conditions (such as diabetes), marginalized communities (such as facial difference and transgendered), and conditions that create isolation as part of the lifestyle or treatment of the condition (such as mobility disorders, many types of cancer, and any condition expected to be fatal).

Taking cancers as an example, there is the immediate problem of the ambiguity of language. In the image at the head of this post, the hashtag #cancer is shown to be most often associated with the Zodiac, not with healthcare. This makes that term itself less useful for healthcare uses.

Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project 07082013
Symplur: The Healthcare Hashtag Project:

In the Symplur Healthcare Hashtag Project, a crowdsourced collection of hashtags in health, there are over 2500 hashtags total, with over 100 (n=133 07/08/2013) related to cancer. These range from disease tags, to events, to scheduled chats, and more. When people enter a new tag, they cannot do so anonymously, and the tags are reviewed before being added to the database. The tag donor is also asked to define the tag category at time of submission. Non-event tags must be able to show that they are used by multiple people. All of this makes the quality of the collection superior to most hashtag databases on the web. (I often wish there was something similar for science hashtags, or information technology hashtags, etc. I also often wish that the project content was routinely archived for posterity through a neutral organization, such as a library, but that is another conversation to have.)

The problem? Not one of those 133 hashtags on cancer is the hashtag #cancer. Of course, it would be really messy to try to separate the zodiac hashtags from the health hashtags, so I can understand why it has been avoided. However, this problem of the commonly used hashtag being missing from the database occurs fairly regularly. It is a not unexpected problem with crowdsourced information collections. Here’s another example. According to Symplur, the preferred hashtag for ovarian cancer is #ovariancancer. If you actually prowl around Twitter, there is an enormous variety of tags used, with the most common being #ovca. The #ovca content is not currently being captured, tracked, or archived in the project database. I just this morning submitted the #ovca tag when I noticed it was lacking. Hopefully, it may be active by the time this post goes live, but the content in it would be sparse and would lack history.

Here are the top, ie. most common, cancer hashtags, according to Symplur.

#BCSM; #BladderCancer; #BowelCancer; #BrainCancer; #BreastCancer; #CancerChat; #CancerFreeMe; #CancerSurvivors; #CervicalCancer; #Chemo; #ChildhoodCancer; #ColonCancer; #Leukemia; #LiverCancer; #LungCancer; #Lyphoma; #Melanoma; #Mesothelioma; #OralCancer; #OvarianCancer; #PancreaticCancer; #PediatricCancer; #ProstateCancer; #SkinCancer; #TesticularCancer; #XMRV
Symplur: The Healthcare Hashtag Project:

You’ll notice a wide variety of types of tags, with a general approach tending toward long tags that include the full words. In actual practice on Twitter, this is the reverse of standard practice, in which tags are kept short to minimize the number of characters used. Many of these tags, like #OvarianCancer, have shorter alternatives that are also used heavily (ie. #ovca). For breast cancer, both forms appear in the Symplur list: #BreastCancer and #BCSM. #BrCa, however, was missing, just like #OvCa. I submitted it, also.

You see the problem? Problems, actually. Part of it is discovery of the terms used, part of it is the actual terms used, and part of it is the community working to ‘manage’ creation, use, and adoption of the terms. Enter @SubatomicDoc, a.k.a. Dr. Matthew Katz. Matthew is a radiation oncologist who has been active in a couple different Twitter cancer communities, most notably #BCSM (which he adopted) and #LCSM (which he initiated). #BCSM stands for breast cancer social media, and #LCSM stands for lung cancer social media. The process of coming up with a better hashtag for lung cancer, gathering a community around it, and developing traction and adoption, got him thinking. What about other cancers?

Matthew sent me a direct message last week about this. He’d been thinking, and had created a rough draft of what he is calling a folksonomy, but which is really more of an ontology, uh, folktology or tag-ontology. We went back and forth several times, thinking about metadata design, automated sorting in computers, common usage, structuring subconcepts, distinguishing proposed tags from currently used tags in other domains, and various other ideas of how to best structure these in a way that would be useful, practical, and true to the concepts and communities. Matthew released the initial draft at the ASCO site last week, with a substantial model integrating proposed and existing Twitter hashtags around cancer experiences and communities.

Matthew S. Katz, MD. Hashtag Folksonomy for Cancer Communities on Twitter. ASCO Connection: 03 Jul 2013 9:08 AM

Since then there has been a lot of reaction, with people asking for MORE. Frankly, that is not a reaction I think either of us expected. There are refinements and extensions evolving from the communities. It is becoming a richer and broader conversation. I’d like to see more medical librarians engage with this. I am no metadata specialist, and would love to see someone get interested who is more expert than I am with metadata.

One of the extensions that was proposed through Twitter conversations around this is the idea of secondary tags to connect common cancer issues with specific cancer communities. I’d roughed out a list of some of those issues for my book chapter for online cancer resources and search strategies, back in the MLA Guide.

CAM, biopsy, staging, caregiving, home care, chemotherapy, cancer medications, side effects, clinical trials, fatigue, new diagnosis, nutrition, diet, pain, prevention, lifestyle, second opinions, sexuality, survival, and talking about cancer to different audiences.
MLA Guide: Free Samples: Sample Chapters: Volume Two: Diseases and Disorders: Part IV: Cancers, by P. F. Anderson

One of the ideas Matthew is talking about is how to come up with a strategy for creating new hashtags that would open this up to others, what are the criteria or best practices for creating new hashtags. I did some thinking on this for my Enriching Scholarship workshop on Twitter Hashtags for Science.

Twitter Hashtags

Twitter hashtags mindmap:

I should make a separate post about the model I developed for thinking through best practices of creating new hashtags, but I’ll just put a placeholder here. The acronym is LUDDITE, which stands for:


LUDDITE Model for Hashtag Creation

These overlap in many key points with Matthew’s criteria in his ASCO post, however he includes critical points of working specifically for cancer and healthcare communities.

“It is disease-based;
It helps patients with similar diagnoses learn and share rather than be isolated by the cancer experience;
It is designed to make information more easily accessible;
It is unique enough to be distinguished from other topics online;
Brevity is key to allow more content/conversation, especially with Twitter.”

So, that’s as far as we’ve gotten, but we’d love YOU to join the conversation and thoughts around this. Please put comments about the hashtag model at Matthew’s post, and comments about the process here. Thank you so much!

UPDATE July 15, 2013.

An important followup post from Matthew (@subatomicdoc) is now up.

Cancer Hashtags: High Time or Half-Baked?
Matthew S. Katz, MD
15 Jul 2013 10:09 AM

Should Our Neighbors To the North Start to Scare Me? Canadian Government Tells Librarians, “Shut Up”

Library Charge Card Ripped Out

Yesterday, a Twitter friend sent me some rather shocking news.

National Post (Canada): Federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’ under new code of conduct that stresses ‘duty of loyalty’ to the government:

According to the article, the new code of ethics is from the Canadian government agency known as Bibliothèque et Archives Canada | Library and Archives Canada.

Bibliothèque et Archives Canada | Library and Archives Canada:

Naturally, the first thing I did was to try to actually find a copy of the worrisome document. I tried browsing, and I tried searching within the site. I went to Google and did a search within the domain. Nothing worked. I found Codes of Conduct for other professions, archived from various publications, possible documents from several decades ago, but nothing BAC/LAC had authored recently.

A broader search brought up other articles expressing concern.

InfoDocket: Canada: “Federal Librarians Fear Being ‘Muzzled’ by Code of Conduct”

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter: New Lack of Freedom for Archivists and Librarians in Canada:

Canadian Library Association: CLA Govt Library & IM Professionals Network: Library and Archives Canada Code of Conduct:

Canada’s federal librarians fear being ‘muzzled’. By Margaret Munro.

Several of these included embedded copies of the document from Scribd, where it was posted by Margaret Munro, a science journalist.

LAC Code of Conduct Values and Ethics.

The document made it clear that it was shared only on the staff intranet. Personally, I find that worrisome for any governmental agency. The document also discourages engagement with social media, EVEN WHEN CLOSED ACCESS. The document fails to describe appropriate ways in which to engage positively with social media, instead focusing on censures. Here are the relevant paragraphs.

3.2.2 Duty of loyalty. With the current proliferation of social media, public servants need to pay particular attention to their participation in these forums. For example, in a blog with access limited to certain friends, personal opinions about a new departmental or Government of Canada program intended to be expressed to a limited audience can, through no fault of the public servant, become public and the author identified. The public servant could be subject to disciplinary measures, as the simple act of limiting access to the blog does not negate a public servant’s duty of loyalty to the elected government. Only authorized spokespersons can issue statements or make comments about LAC’s position on a given subject. If you are asked for LAC’s position, you must refer the inquiries, through your manager, to the authorized LAC spokesperson.

3.4.1 Access and use of electronic networks. LAC employees must bear in mind that social media are public forums and that posts on these media are at risk of being made widely available. Public confidence can easily be damaged by remarks that embarrass, criticize or otherwise comment on the actions of the Government, LAC, co-workers or other members of the public service. This is true whether such remarks are made from the LAC network or from an employee’s personal account. Employees should refer to Treasury Board’s Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0.

Right there, with that, they’ve made it legally impossible for government librarians in Canada to participate in Twitter chats, as I do several times a week. They’ve made it impossible to answer reference questions received through social media unless taken offline and with the permission of your boss. But it gets scarier.

LAC Employee: An individual employed at LAC, including managers and executives, indeterminate and term employees, individuals on leave without pay, students participating in student employment programs, as well as casual, seasonal and part-time workers. Although they are not public servants, individuals on incoming Interchange Canada assignments as well as volunteers and contractors are all expected to comply with the requirements of the LAC Code of Conduct.

OK, so, this makes it sound as if I’d be held liable by this policy if I was “hired” as a guest speaker or contractor to advise other medical librarians in Canada and the hiring was done through the government. And I’d probably recommend to our grad students that they not take internships in Canadian government libraries.

Don’t think you could just quit your job, and then speak freely. The muzzle applies for a year after employment ends for some positions, and longer for others.

I won’t say we haven’t had similar concerns for US Librarians, but most of them were not as broad in scope or all encompassing as this is. And the units of USA government who have created social media guidelines seem to have done a better job than this. But all of that is a topic for another post. For today, read this document carefully and pray you don’t ever have to follow anything like this; watch conversations in your own enterprises and governments, and try to keep this from happening wherever you are.

Creative Commons Licensing: Why and When?

Creative Commons: New License Chooser

I was just asked about whether or not to use Creative Commons licensing for slide decks put in Slideshare. Part of the conversation included the phrase “I want to block embeds”, which was pretty shocking to me. This type of conversation has tended to crop up for me most often with small business owners. Now, I’m working in academia. It’s a little different. So I can provide my thoughts on Creative Commons licensing pros and cons, but truly, it might be different for you. I have to respect the opinions of my friends who refuse to use CC licensing because of fear of loss of income, even when the very idea seem utterly baffling and contrary to me.

From my point of view, the number one benefit to Creative Commons licensing is that it protects your ideas, your brand, your creation. I used to have copyrighted websites. What I found happened was that the copyright seemed almost like a red flag to a bull, a taunt, as if I was saying, “This is mine, not yours, nyah, nyah, nyah.” People not only stole the content, but went through a fair amount of work to do so, and edited out anything that implied I ever had any authorship. Pretty hurtful. When I shared it more openly and freely, people used it, but kept my name with it. They asked me for permission. I got free stuff that folks made with mine. I even get comments on Twitter along the lines of, “Hey, we’re watching one of your presentations for my class in Canada!” I don’t know about who it is or how they are using it, but folk know it is my ideas. This has given me a reputation that I could never have built without other people sharing my ideas for me.

Red Magma: Something for Nothing:

Here’s an interesting example as a case study.

CASE STUDY: Beth Kanter

Beth Kanter is the author of Beth’s Blog: Nonprofits and Social Media, and a consultant who both applies social media to nonprofits and advises and consults with nonprofits. Beth has written and published books, is a frequent invited speaker and keynote, and has quite a prominent presence with concommitant prestige (About Beth). Now, even though small businesses are for profit, from my perspective small businesses and academia both have a great deal in common with nonprofit motives, sensibilities, strategies, and processes.

Beth has a licensing statement that applies to her entire blog: “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.” Would Beth have the recognition that she does if she had chosen to NOT make her content Creative Commons? I don’t think so, not at all. Making your content available encourages people to re-use and cite your work. Face it, for each person who likes what you’ve done and re-uses it, this is free advertising. And it pays off, it really does.

Here is a great post Beth wrote back in 2009 about “setting your content free.”

Kanter, Beth. What happens when you set your content free with creative commons licensing?

Now, before you read any further, go to her blog and read the comments on that post. An active conversation ensued including tools, ROI (return on investment), expressions of gratitude, with many comments from her fans in notable places from Public Library of Science to

OK, now what happened next? Someone seemed to have copied the entire post and put a copy in their blog.

Spreading Science. The benefits of Creative Commons licenses.

I know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of, “Whoa! I bet she was upset about THAT!” or “Hey! That’s not fair!” Also worth noting is that when I did my Google search that brought me these two links, Google ranked the Spreading Science post higher than Beth’s original. Now, how do you feel about that?

Now, go read the comments on THIS post. Beth and Richard go back and forth discussing how he adapted her original post, and both of them are pretty happy about it. They discuss the difference between attribution, copying, mash-ups, and more. It ends with Beth giving Richard free permission to do the same in the future with other of her posts. Beth has a win/win here. A new friend and potential collaborator, increased prominence and respect, attention directed back to her blog, and an expanded conversation around issues she cares about. If anyone does read the copy before her original, it cites her name and links back to the original post, and they can see from her comments that she is quite a pleasant person who actually does what she tells others to do.

There are LOTS of examples like this. I could not begin to collect them all. Many thousands. I am less aware of significant examples showing bad things happening from CC licensing, but that may be a selection bias on my part.

So, now, what if you are still REALLY uncomfortable with sharing content, or worried that you will lose income because of it? Here are some tips for the transition.

1. Be selective.

You don’t have to share everything for free. Share samples or examples or portions. Free samples have always been a great way to boost sales, IF the sample is something people actually want.

2. Design content to both engage but also leave significant space for what’s off-screen.

There are very sound pedagogical reasons for designing slides with few words (cognitive load theory). There are also very sound economic reasons. You can show off your visual skills while still reserving your skills as a speaker and presenter.

3. Consider the type of content.

You might want to share a graphic that distills the gist of your thought, but reserve the book or presentations that unpack that graphic, that explain what it means and how to use it effectively. This could be phenomenally attractive to those that have already attended one of your sessions, because they GET it, but can still attract those who want to attend a session and haven’t yet.

4. Consider the source of the content.

If you are heavily using open content from other folk, there is often a requirement or expectation that you will “share alike.” This means that if you are using someone else’s CC-licensed content, it is at best courteous to place your content also under a CC-license, and at worst illegal if you don’t.

Also, a word to the wise? If you are using public content, for example, a collection of tweets from the public stream, and then you try to lock down what you’ve created with other people’s content, it makes you look greedy and selfish. This will not make you look good. Yes, there are ways to curate or repurpose public content in ways where the law will allow you to copyright the new collection, but it is still often seen as rude. Stop and think about just how much new value you’ve contributed, and if a closed license is going to pay off for you more than the bad will you risk creating. It’s probably not worth it.

5. Consider the filetype.

Slideshare makes a great example for this. Let’s say you want to share a slidedeck. If you allow downloads, and then load the PPT or PPTX file, other folk can not only download the file, but can edit it later. That means they could keep the entire slidedeck the same, take out your name, and insert theirs.

There is a Canadian med school faculty member who did that with one of mine. Yes, I’m offended, BUT, the important part is that mine is still listed first in search results, has more views, more blogs, etcetera. So I am ignoring him, so that his content doesn’t get the panache of negative spin from my feeding him attention through being upset.

Instead, I learned my lesson, and if I feel strongly that I don’t want this to happen, instead of loading the original editable file, I load a PDF. There are other reasons to load a PDF, also. The PDF tends to do a better job of preserving the original formatting and fonts. I like to use creative fonts, so in general loading a PDF instead of a source file is better for me. Similar strategies can apply to other types of documents as well.

6. Watermark your content in some fashion (think steganography).

You can edit your image to have your name and date on it. You can use special tools to include encrypted data in your image or video. These mark the image as originating with you even if someone else steals it. However, this is an extra step, more work, and for me it is a real hassle. It slows you down for getting content out. This strategy seems to be primarily of value to photographers and other visual artists.



5 Lesser-Known Benefits to Creative Commons
– Search Engine Benefit
– Greater Copyright Clarity
– More Likely to be Quoted
– Less Time Dealing with Infringement
– An Actual License

5: Want to work together? (or) Don’t Compete, Collaborate!

Abrahams, David W. How Creative Commons licensing benefits industry.

JISC: Creative Commons Licenses, Briefing Paper (PDF).
– Simple legally
– Easy sharing & reuse
– Flexibility
– Improved access
– Administrative simplicity

Merritt, Tom. Does Creative Commons free your content? C|NET October 13, 2005.
“But it’s a gamble, and it’s not for everyone. Some people are making good use of that gamble. Some are even making money. Some just get marginally famous. Some just want to contribute to the world. That’s the corny part that a lot of people don’t trust or believe. And they don’t have to. But it doesn’t make Creative Commons dangerous or useless.”

Caveats, Debates, & Warnings

The Future of Creative Commons: Examining defenses of the NC and ND clauses

Moxley, Joe. Contrary to arguments by hardcore open education advocates, Creative Commons NC ND is a valid license for academic authors.

No, you are not allowed to use ANY Flickr images:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License Chooser.