The library is open.

The Boyfriend and I arrived in DC Thursday night. We’re staying at the Holiday Inn on Thomas Circle. It is posh by our standards: we have two bathrooms, a fridge, a microwave, iron, blowdryer, coffeemaker, etc. I have been sick most of the last week with a stomach bug. I can finally eat again, but it’s not exactly enjoyable. Last night, we got in too late for the hotel restaurant, so we wandered about until we found something called Logan’s Tavern. Turned out to be a wine bar–zero beer on tap.

This morning we slept late–jet lag kept us awake until around 1:30 am, so we slept until 10:00. Then we hopped on one of the free shuttle buses (if anything from Gale is ever free) and went to the convention center, which seems like a particularly uninspired exmple of civic architecture. I had never received my all-important conference badge in the mail, so I had to go to “will call.” I was expecting it to take an hour. It took under ten minutes–a huge improvement over previous experiences! Kudos to ALA.

Then we went to the Renaissance, one of the main conference hotels. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated OCLC Symposium was being held at the other main conference hotel, the Grand Hyatt. I can’t believe my ability to end up at the wrong hotel for something every single conference. These were of course several blocks apart. So we hoofed it. Fortunately, the weather was so nice it was impossible to believe we were in the mid-Atlantic region. Sunny, breezy–not even slightly humid.

The subject of the OCLC Symposium was “Is the Library Open?” In part, it was a panel on some of the subjects in a forthcoming OCLC membership report on “Sharing, Privacy, and Trust in Our Networked World.”

Cathy De Rosa, Vice President, OCLC, started us off with some of the same questions the survey had asked. We all got one of those audience response gizmos when we entered. We were quickly able to see that our group was more paranoid/cynical/informed than the general public or most library directors. We don’t want anyone saving our search records with or without personally identifying data.

The first speaker was Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
Rotenberg detailed concerns about Google’s purchase of DoubleClick Inc. His main complaint about Google is they maintain too much info for too long, and they refuse to provide transparency. He feels we have the right to see the search algorithms that are used to describe us. He hopes that Google will respond to EPIC’s requests by developing into a better company. Coming up with new methods for online anonymity would be a great step.
Q: Is privacy a right? A: Yes. In particular, the First Amendment guarantees anonymity.

Next up: Siva Vaidhyanathan, currently NYU. Moving to UVA.

“What’s so bad about a surveillance society?” We need to delineate the virtues and vices of each instance, and the role of the state. Privacy and security are not a dichotomy. You don’t trade one for the other. Too much surveillance erodes privacy and generates a culture of mistrust–East Germany. No one can say what is enough, setting up the vice of unlimited funding. With data mining, when government uses corporate info. Corporations ask you not to conform–niches are where the money is. You are free to be a freak. Hazards include: false positives, insecure systems–data dumps, lack of transparency, lack of due process or appeals. False negatives. Data, and errors, persist.

Digital rights management=copyright as surveillance. RIAA is pressuring universities; trying to develop content-scanning bots.

Web 2.0–user-generated content is massive corporate data collection, for mining and profiling. We need “cosmopolitan librarianship”. Privacy is not a national issue, but global. Libraries are nodes in the global flow of information and culture.

“Technofundamentalism” seeks simple interventions that can’t address complex issues–filtering. Inventing something to fix problems that last invention created. Trust versus “trust systems”. Systems don’t create trust. Transparency creates trust.

Had to leave before hearing Mary Minow. Assume she was also excellent.