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Open Knowledge Foundation: Frictionless Data Case Study: John Snow Labs

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-04-06 12:26

Open Knowledge International is working on the Frictionless Data project to remove the friction in working with data. We are doing this by developing a set of tools, standards, and best practices for publishing data. The heart of Frictionless Data is the Data Package standard, a containerization format for any kind of data based on existing practices for publishing open-source software.

We’re curious to learn about some of the common issues users face when working with data. In our Case Study series, we are highlighting projects and organisations who are working with the Frictionless Data specifications and tooling in interesting and innovative ways. For this case study, we interviewed Ida Lucente of John Snow Labs. More case studies can be found at

What does John Snow Labs do?

John Snow Labs accelerates data science and analytics teams, by providing clean, rich and current data sets for analysis. Our customers typically license between 50 and 500 data sets for a given project, so providing both data and metadata in a simple, standard format that is easily usable with a wide range of tools is important.

What are the challenges you face working with data?

Each data set we license is curated by a domain expert, which then goes through both an automated DataOps platform and a manual review process. This is done in order to deal with a string of data challenges. First, it’s often hard to find the right data sets for a given problem. Second, data files come in different formats, and include dirty and missing data. Data types are inconsistent across different files, making it hard to join multiple data sets in one analysis. Null values, dates, currencies, units and identifiers are represented differently. Datasets aren’t updated on a standard or public schedule, which often requires manual labor to know when they’ve been updated. And then, data sets from different sources have different licenses – we use over 100 data sources which means well over 100 different data licenses that we help our clients be compliant with.

How are you working with the specs?

The most popular data format in which we deliver data is the Data Package (see Each of our datasets is available, among other formats, as a pair of data.csv and datapackage.json files, complying with the specs at We currently provide over 900 data sets that leverage the Frictionless Data specs.

How did you hear about Frictionless Data?

Two years ago, when we were defining the product requirements and architecture, we researched six different standards for metadata definition over a few months. We found Frictionless Data as part of that research, and after careful consideration have decided to adopt it for all the datasets we curate. The Frictionless Data specifications were the simplest to implement, the simplest to explain to our customers, and enable immediate loading of data into the widest variety of analytical tools.

What else would you like to see developed?

Our data curation guidelines have added more specific requirements, that are underspecified in the standard. For example, there are guidelines for dataset naming, keywords, length of the description, field naming, identifier field naming and types, and some of the properties supported for each field. Adding these to the Frictionless Data standard would make it harder to comply with the standard, but would also raise the quality bar of standard datasets; so it may be best to add them as recommendation.

Another area where the standard is worth expanding is more explicit definition of the properties of each data type – in particular geospatial data, timestamp data, identifiers, currencies and units. We have found a need to extend the type system and properties for each field’s type, in order to enable consistent mapping of schemas to different analytics tools that our customers use (Hadoop, Spark, MySQL, ElasticSearch, etc). We recommend adding these to the standard.

What are the next things you are going to be working on yourself?

We are working with Open Knowledge International on open sourcing some of the libraries and tools we’re building. Internally, we are adding more automated validations, additional output file formats, and automated pipelines to load data into ElasticSearch and Kibana, to enable interactive data discovery & visualization.

What do you think are some other potential use cases?

The core use case is making data ready for analytics. There is a lot of Open Data out there, but a lot of effort is still required to make it usable. This single use case expands into as many variations as there are BI & data management tools, so we have many years of work ahead of us to address this one core use case.

Open Knowledge Foundation: OpenCon 2017 Srinagar celebrating International Open Data Day

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-04-06 09:08

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open Research theme.

The International Open Data Day at the University of Kashmir, India, was celebrated as a satellite event titled “OpenCon 2017 Srinagar: Celebrating International Open Data day” on 4th March 2017.


The event was organised for the first time in the valley with the aim of introducing scholars, researchers, students and the teaching community to the availability and benefits of Open Research Data. The concept of open data is not that much common among the research community, although the university promotes and stands for open access. Therefore the organisers emphasised the concept and importance of open data, especially for research and allied areas.

The overwhelming participation by the researchers, scholars, faculty members numbering to more than 150 revealed their keen interest in the theme and curiosity about the availability and use of open data sets in different setups.

The full day event was well divided into different sessions and started with the inaugural session where Dr. Ajaz H.Wani (Scientist-D, Department of Biotechnology) introduced the concept of open data by showcasing some examples of everyday data sets generated and populated in different sectors like Google maps and from the field of Biotechnology. Another address by Mr Ajaz ul Haq (Producer, Electronic Multimedia Research Centre) laid emphasis on the various dimensions of openness and highlighted the importance of understanding the difference between the terms open and free.

In the next session, “OpenCon Webcast: OpenData 101” by Ross Mounce was screened and it educated participants on the basics of open data, the legal and technical aspects of open data and the issue of privacy – why not all data should be opened. The participants and experts present established good network during lunch and exchanged ideas and shared experiences and concerns.

Dr Zahid Ashraf Wani (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) gave a presentation on the Registry of Research Data Repositories and highlighted the availability and usefulness of research data repositories in different subject areas.

Nadim Akhtar Khan (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) introduced the projects available through  Open Knowledge Labs. These include: CKAN, Frictionless Data, FutureTDM, Open Data for Development (OD4D), Open Budgets EU, Open Data Handbook, OpenSpending, OpenTrials, School of Data etc. The participants were also encouraged to use for understanding, creating and sharing data sets in real environments.

After the presentations, there was a panel discussion where panelists from different subject areas shared their experiences regarding the availability of research datasets in their respective domains and their observations regarding open data. Dr Abdul Majid Baba, (University librarian & Head, DLIS) emphasised the importance of open access in present research environment. Professor Bashir Ahmad Joo (Department of Management Studies) highlighted the importance of open data in Business and Finance and presented some good examples of open data in the banking sector for ready reference, utilisation and drawing inferences.

Dr Mohammad Tariq Banday (Head of the Department of Electronics and Instrumentation Centre) highlighted the importance of open data for the researchers in the field of science. He emphasised that using and testing open data in local research environments will be more beneficial for quality research. He also talked about the importance of making more data open in subject areas like Electronics and how that will go a long way in strengthening the research domain. Dr Masood Rizvi (Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry) shared experiences in utilising research tools such as ResearchGate for sharing research datasets in open and its influence on establishing quality and the impact of individual research efforts at the global level.

Dr Sumeer Gul (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) emphasised on the importance of basic concepts underpinning open access and highlighted the importance of open access publishing and open archives/repositories for teaching and research community while Mrs Rosy Jan (Assistant Professor, Department of Library & Information Science) deliberated upon the role of libraries and information centres in promoting open access and open environment for research.

Dr Zahid Ashraf Wani also talked about the importance of open data for economically poor nations and its implications for building more vibrant research communities at the global level. The sharing of research data from poorer regions like ours can be boon in terms of potential collaboration globally and help the region to make most of the infrastructure facilities available in the developed world.

Nadim Akhtar Khan during the concluding remarks after the panel discussions called upon all the participants to make use of open data day deliberations as the basis for giving serious considerations towards understanding, using and sharing open data. The participants were asked to make use of Open Knowledge Labs for further strengthening their understanding of 0pen data and its use.

The feedback from participants about the event made our fatigued day fruitful because most of them became confident about experimenting with open data and creating small groups for discussions and experiences and issues sharing at the local level. We are confident that Open Data Day 2017 is the beginning towards embracing openness and will lead to a vibrant research culture with more transparency and reusing options of existing datasets. The most amazing part of the event was that the MLIS students of final semester showed their keen interest in the deliberations and were actively involved in the discussions.

Despite the fact that the preparations for ODD celebrations started late, the teamwork and tireless efforts of the teaching and non-teaching members of the Department of Library & Information Science, University of Kashmir made the event possible. Our special thanks go to the Honourable Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar for approving the event at such a short notice. Also, our gratitude goes to Director of EMMRC, for providing the auditorium and video coverage of the event.

We would fail in our duties if we won’t thank Lorraine Chuen of SPARC OPEN for providing us a very vibrant OpenCon Platform for organising this event and schedule our event using sched (Event management tool) that saved us lots of efforts and time. We are immensely thankful to SPARC and Open Knowledge Foundation for th mini-grant that was used for meeting different expenditures for holding the event successfully.

For the detailed schedule you can visit: or

HangingTogether: Best Practices for Web Archiving Metadata: Watch This Space!

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 17:11

Some of you may recall that back in 2015 we surveyed our OCLC Research Library Partners to determine their top challenges with web archiving, and the need for guidance on metadata practices emerged as #1. In response, early in 2016 we established a Web Archiving Metadata Working Group (WAM) to develop best practices for metadata. The group did extensive background research over the past year, and we’re now on a fast track to publish three reports in the next several months. In the meantime, you can read a substantial overview of the project in this article published last Friday in the online Journal of Western Archives.

The first two reports will underpin the best practices: one on tools available for capture of websites, with a focus on their metadata extraction capabilities; and a review of the literature on metadata needs of web archives users.

The best practice guidelines will be in the third report. In addition to defining and interpreting a set of data elements, the report will articulate differences between bibliographic and archival standards; contrast approaches to description of individual websites and collections; and include both a literature review focused on metadata issues and crosswalks to related standards.

WAM established several principles to underpin the best practices. They are intended to …

  • … address the needs of users of archived websites as determined by our literature review
  • … be community-neutral, standards-neutral, and output-neutral; in other words, applicable to any context in which metadata for archived websites is needed
  • … consist of a relatively lean set of data elements, with the scope of each defined (i.e., a data dictionary)
  • interpret each element for description of archived websites, which, unlike books or serials or published audiovisual media, have no conventions for representing elements such as creators, dates, or extent
  • … be upward-compatible with standards that have far deeper data element sets, including RDA, MARC, DACS, EAD, and MODS

We are in the process of finalizing the set of data elements and have adopted the following so far:

  • title
  • creator
  • contributor
  • date
  • description
  • extent
  • identifier
  • language
  • subject
  • genre

These may seem both obvious and straightforward, but most need definition and interpretation for the web context. One example: what types of date are both feasible to determine and important to include, and how can their meaning be made clear? Additional elements under consideration include geographic coverage, publisher, rights, access, source of description, URL, and collector (or should the latter be owner? or repository? or location?). We’ve eliminated from consideration several that don’t have specific applicability to websites, including audience and statement of responsibility.

We’ll be circulating the draft best practices widely across the library and archives community and are hoping to hear from many who are struggling to describe websites and collections. Our aim is to promulgate best practices that will encourage use of metadata that is both meaningful and useful to users of these resources.

Stay tuned!


About Jackie Dooley

Jackie Dooley leads OCLC Research projects to inform and improve archives and special collections practice.

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Evergreen ILS: Thank you PAILS/SPARK

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 16:09

We want to thank PAILS/SPARK for being kind enough to sponsor our luncheon today during the pre-conference! We could not make the conference work without community members like PAILS and their generosity is appreciated!

Open Knowledge Foundation: Youth Association for Development (YAD) Pakistan celebrates ODD17 in Pakistan

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 13:00

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open contracting and tracking public money flows theme.

It is important to acquire skills to intervene effectively in the democratic processes. The Youth Association for Development (YAD)-Pakistan celebrated the annual Open Data Day on March 4th, 2017 in Quetta, Pakistan.  The themes of the day were”Our Money Our Responsibility”, and “Open Data is Oil, Open Data is Soil”. We looked at the demand for an open budget, open tenders, open bids, open jobs, open procurement and open recruitment to make public institutions accountable to citizens and to keep the entire public data open with online access to each and every citizen to ensure transparency and accountability.

During the day, different speakers and facilitators delivered their speeches on open data and informed the participants that the government is endowed with the responsibility of prescribing regulations and procedures for public procurement and must make sure these are followed to the latter. This is important to improve governance, management, transparency, accountability and quality of public acquisition of goods, works and services.

They also mentioned the importance of monitoring procurement of public sector agencies/organisations and to keep a record that is open to everyone, as it is done in some developed nations where they have revolutionised their economies through e-procurement systems. For some time now, there has been the need within the government to develop an e-Procurement system for Pakistan. The growth of Public and Private sector are equally important for a stable economy. However, there is a need for both sectors to be on the same page to revitalise the essence of an Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) system as an integral part of an overall strategic procurement plan. The plan should include but not limited to strategic sourcing or supplier rationalisation, automation of the manual procurement system, and participation in one or more marketplaces.

To support the development, implementation and operation of e-procurement systems, governments should take several different business approaches; the above choices of business models are associated with the amount of risk and cost a government is willing to undertake when implementing its e-GP system. The systems should also contain valuable information for monitoring and auditing government purchases, confidential information of vendors, procurement initiatives, responses to bids and payment information. It is important to note that e-procurement systems fundamentally provide a service to support the exchange information and therefore remain independent of the procurement process itself. A certain level of security is required to ensure the integrity, transparency and privacy of c processes, and also facilitate the marginalised citizens to become the agents of social action and social change of through open data.

Our speakers mentioned that the public sector, and especially the health department in Baluchistan [ one of Pakistan’s four provinces] are facing several issues with no clear mechanism for data and open data because the health sector is managed quite poorly in Baluchistan. This is because while the national doctor to patient ratio (1:1000) or the national nurse to patient ratio (1:50) in Pakistan is quite dim, it is even worse in Baluchistan. For example, 11 million kids died before reaching the age of five in Baluchistan. Maternal mortality rate is alarming with 785/100,000 live births while infant mortality rate is 97/1000 live births.

In rural areas of Baluchistan, health services are at lower ebb and the state of hospitals, RHCs, BHUs are also not encouraging. This is backed by the Health Management Information System. However, due to the unavailability open data on the situation, the health sector is facing complaints from stakeholders including donor agencies that some EPI managers and DHOs were found compiling and submitting fake agenda on health condition in their respective district.

Also, due to the unavailability of data on the health sector of Baluchistan, the province is facing several problems including monitoring, tracking, evaluation, tracing the data which is mostly not open because the data is only in hard format and not available and accessible to the public/citizens, policy, planning and diseases controlling, prevention and care. There is the need to build the capacities of the health department so they can develop critical provincial databases that cover all health sectors, health providers, health facilities with their identification code, routine operation and budget planning for practising in an evidence-based manner.

We also discuss the need for government to take the necessary steps to introduce openness, transparency and accountability in their entire departments and must also engage to help achieve practices of citizen participation as well as, responsive and accountable states. This will eventually lead to greater access to state services and resources; greater realisation of rights; enhancement state responsiveness and accountability.

The event concluded with thanks to Chief Executive Officer of YAD Atta ul Haq Khaderza. 

In the Library, With the Lead Pipe: Spring Reading

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 13:00

It’s time for spring cleaning, and your editors here at In the Library with the Lead Pipe are cleaning out our bookmarks, bedside reading piles, and saved articles folders. We’re revisiting some great recent reads in the process. Here’s a selection of things we’ve been reading and that we think you might enjoy, too. Feel free to add your own spring reading recommendations in the comments.


Annie recommends:

On ‘Diversity’ as Anti-Racism in Library and Information Studies: A Critique” by David James Hudson

I feel like this is the article on “diversity” that everyone should read. Hudson looks at the literature that talks about diversity as the primary discursive mode of anti-racism in LIS and pushes us to think deeper on these issues. His article is also published in the very first issue of the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, which he states is a “potential site of critical exchange from which to articulate a sustained critique of race in and through our field.”

Considerations on Mainstreaming Intersectionality” by Rita Kaur Dhamoon*

I read this article in preparation for a presentation that I did at ACRL, and I feel it gives a really good overview of how theorists have applied and built upon the theory of intersectionality. Dhamoon goes on to detail five considerations ”when operationalizing an intersectional-type research paradigm.” As Lead Pipe publishes more articles that discuss identity, structural inequities, and relationships of power and difference, I find that taking an intersectional approach would help people understand the complexities of these relationships.

*I realize that this is a paywalled article, but if you want to read more of her writing that is published in an OA journal, check out “A Feminist Approach to Decolonizing Anti-Racism: Rethinking Transnationalism, Intersectionality, and Settler Colonialism.”


Bethany recommends:

Democracy & Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education by John Dewey

Right now I’m reading up on cultivating shared physical spaces because I am at a campus where four academic institutions reside collectively. I haven’t read the entire book, but I’ve found some great nuggets of insight so far. My favorite quote to date is: “Whether we permit chance environments to do the work, or whether we design environments for the purpose makes a great difference” (p. 22).

Learning Spaces: Creating Opportunities for Knowledge Creation in Academic Life by Maggi Savin-Baden

This book gets to the heart of what I believe academics work to nurture in higher education. I’ve been reading through it to develop a solid literature review for an upcoming article I’m planning to write. I appreciate the correlation the author makes between learning spaces and their ability to transform individuals’ perspectives. According to Savin-Baden, “Learning spaces are often places of transition, and sometimes transformation, where the individual experiences some kind of shift or reorientation in their life world” (p. 8).


Amy recommends:

Gendered Labor and Library Instruction Coordinators: The Undervaluing of Feminized Work” by Veronica Arellano Douglas and Joanna Gadsby

This paper from a presentation at ACRL 2017 explores the ways in which the feminization of librarianship has influenced institutional organization structures, resulting in the proliferation of coordinator positions with responsibilities that tend more toward administrative and relational work than do other higher-level roles like managers and supervisors. This paper may be speaking specifically about instruction coordinators in academic libraries, but I see a lot here that speaks to my position in a public library, where a large part of my job is program coordination. The authors have me reflecting in particular on the amount of relationship maintenance I do in my work.

Why ‘Rock Star Librarian’ is an Oxymoron” by Allie Jane Bruce

The team of contributors at Reading While White always gets me thinking about a perspective I’ve thus far missed in my own reading and critical evaluation, but this piece particularly resonates—especially as invitations to publisher events at ALA Annual begin to trickle in. This editorial is in response to the Wall Street Journal’s March 5 article about “rock star” librarians, and more specifically in response to the outcry against that article by youth-focused librarians. Critics of the original WSJ article claimed youth librarianship is grossly misrepresented by the article’s inclusion of only white men as their “rock stars,” but Bruce’s response digs deeper to explore ways that those very same youth-focused librarians may be contributing to and shoring up a system that continually underrepresents us.


Sofia recommends:

Critical Directions for Archival Approaches to Social Justice” by Richardo L. Punzalan and Michelle Caswell

A colleague of mine, Michelle Baildon, recommended this really thoughtful article to me. Punzalan and Caswell examine the relationship between archives and social justice and suggest further explorations to move the archival field forward. They also make an argument for the fact that social justice has long been a part of archival work and that it is clear that social justice should be a central tenet of the archival field. I read it recently to help prepare for a workshop I’ll be co-teaching using materials from our archives. The students will also be reading it to provide a framing for the workshop, which is for a class on activism. I’m excited for our class discussion on this article!

Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed

I love Sara Ahmed’s work, particularly On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life, so when I saw that she just came out with a new book, I had to get it. If you aren’t familiar with her work, check out her blog Feminist Killjoys, which she wrote in conjunction with Living a Feminist Life. This book really resonated with a lot of things I’ve been thinking about and struggling with, as her work always does for me. She’s already struggled through the same issues and is generously sharing her wisdom and hope. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a quote from bell hooks saying “everyone should read this book.”


Ryan recommends:

Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?” by Mike Caulfield

This article has been passed around quite a bit by some librarians and other instructors I follow, and with good reason. Caulfield makes a persuasive case that, while useful starting points, information literacy acronyms like CRAAP and RADCAB are insufficient. Then he demonstrates a few types of domain knowledge and technical skills that could add up to a robust digital literacy. He argues that in addition to emphasizing the abstract values reinforced by various acronyms, instructors would better serve students by explaining the various ideologies one might encounter in the world of research, then giving them models, processes, and specific tools that help people act on abstract values. Not only did I learn some specific skills and tricks—I knew of Wolfram Alpha but never thought to use it how Caulfield suggests—the challenges he lays out have remained on my mind as I’ve been thinking about how to work with faculty on information literacy. His post provides an abstract appeal and some workable models, a combination I can’t help but appreciate.    

Rhetorical Listening: Identification, Gender, Whiteness by Krista Ratcliffe

We read this rather quickly in a pedagogy class I took last semester, and it’s a layered enough book that I’m still re-reading it as I can make the time. Ratcliffe’s arguments persuasively situate listening within rhetorical traditions, feminist theory, and critical race theory. What I keep coming back to is her emphasis on an ethics of accountability and the need to listen both to the claims people make and the cultural logics within which people make those claims. Her chapters focus on different tactics for listening, including for public debates, scholarly debates, and within classrooms—all places potentially quite relevant for librarians. Instead of trying to recapitulate her book in a paragraph, I’ll quote her motivation for writing the book: she was struck by the complications of her “own standpoint as a white feminist who had an abhorrence of racism and who had considered how racism works in the lives of non-white people but who had never really been taught nor had taken it upon herself to learn how racism functions in relation to whiteness and/or white people beyond the narrative that begins, ‘Once upon a time, white people were racists’” (p. 35). If that starting point resonates with you, this book will amply reward your reading with both specific tactics for listening and the inviting introductions she provides to a host of other thinkers.


Ian recommends:

@jacobsberg Twitter feed by Jacob Berg

My reading routine for the past few months has been especially bifurcated. Mornings are dominated by a wide variety of political news, much of which comes through my Twitter feed, especially @jacobsberg’s seemingly endless stream of links to articles and posts mostly having to do with perpetual catastrophe of U.S. national politics. This daily breakfast diet usually does not put me in an optimal mood for a day’s librarianship (or maybe it does—thanks, Jake!).

Things Left Unsaid” by Veronica Arellano Douglas & “Seeking a diverse candidate pool” by Angela Pashia

Speaking of librarianship, my mood has been lifted recently by these two posts about the academic library hiring process (which I’ve shared with colleagues working on this issue at MPOW) [both of these posts cite Lead Pipe articles, but that’s honestly not the reason I’m plugging them!]. Both Douglas and Pashia describe the institutionalized oppressions that continue to structure and define much of our profession, but they also offer determination, hope, and advice about how to create, in Douglas’s words, “a feminist, inclusive practice of librarianship.”

Vinyl Records and Analog Culture in the Digital Age: Pressing Matters by Paul E. Winters & Vinyl: The Analogue Record in the Digital Age by Dominik Bartmanski and Ian Woodward

Over those same last few months my days usually conclude with readings in the history of music recording and record collecting. These two books in particular have impressed me. The studies share a fascination with (and participation in) the recent “vinyl revival,” of which I’ve been a half-hearted participant. Although the books provide very thoughtful and theoretically informed discussions of the place of vinyl records in their cultural and social contexts, the cumulative effect of their analyses was (for me) to demystify the vinyl record and reduce its fetish value. I’m more fascinated by the practice of collecting (regardless of format) and the ways that collecting creates communities of knowledge and structures knowledge, and these studies shed light on this phenomenon as well.


Evergreen ILS: Evergreen Conference Thanks Emerald Data

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 12:22

Today the pre-conference begins for the International Evergreen Conference 2017 in Covington, Kentucky. Every year it feels like the pre-conference gets just a bit bigger and this year is no exception. In the early years of the conference we didn’t even worry about registration for it as it was a relatively few handful of developers that showed up for a hackfest. Over the years we have added more and more including community meetings and now two different tracks of three hour workshops and presentations. Along with all of this is a need for community support to make it happen. So, we want to thank both our wonderful volunteers and a sponsor that helped make this happen this year – Emerald Data. Emerald Data provides support services for Evergreen and has been a long time community member so we appreciate their support and involvement in our community.

Emerald’s Website:
Emerald’s Twitter: @emeralddata

#evgils17 #evgils

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Day 2017: round table on transparency and corruption in Albania

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-04-05 10:00

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Open contracting and tracking public money flows theme.

This blog has been reposted from

March 4th, 2017 was International Open Data Day. Actors engaged in opening data in different countries in the world developed events and presented initiatives promoting open data, mainly for the public sector. The Albanian Institute of Science (AIS), an organisation promoting open data for Albania, invited journalists, who cover justice-related issues, to attend a roundtable on transparency and corruption.

The event was opened by the presentation of the RedFlag Index initiative. This initiative uses open data to fight against inequality, misuse and corruption in municipality processes. Following two years of monitoring the tender procedures and contracting of 61 municipalities and the establishment of a database for every procurement procedure, such marking identifies automatically every procedure conducted without competition, and by setting appropriate deadlines for the bidders to prepare their bids.

The justice journalists at the meeting raised their concern about Tirana Judicial District Court not publishing its criminal cases and decisions thereof on its web. After 12 years of a practice of transparency established by this court, it suddenly decided to stop giving the public access to the court decisions. Such measure was taken following some complaints about the publication of decisions of a private and family character. The Court decided, on this occasion, to stop publishing even decisions of a public and criminal nature, and information necessary for transparency.

The journalists have already reported on this development, and expect the Court to issue a media release in the near future.

Albanian TV coverage from 

DPLA: Introduction to Upcoming DPLA + Ebooks Work

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-04 15:45

By DPLA Ebook Consultant Micah May and Ebook Program Manager Michelle Bickert

As part of its core mission of maximizing access to our shared culture, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is working to expand the discoverability, accessibility, and availability of ebooks for the general public. At DPLAfest 2015, many of you joined us as we began a deep exploration of the ebook space. Two years later, and with additional support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are taking elements of that work forward.

We are exploring how DPLA may be able to broaden access for users by helping libraries move to an open service architecture. What does maximizing access to ebooks look like? Facilitating discovery of free, open content; unlocking previously gated content through new licensing and/or access models; and facilitating better purchasing options for libraries.

Our vision is to

  • Help libraries find and serve more open content, including open textbooks and other open educational resources (OER).
  • Merge content from multiple paid sources on a single platform and consolidated user interface.
  • Curate content to drive discovery and use of more of libraries existing collection.
  • Experiment with new types and sources of content including local publishing.
  • Empower DPLA to work directly with publishers to secure new and better terms for libraries that will allow them to provide more access at a better value.

While we explore innovative methods to advance the library ebook ecosystem, we’re also making familiar content new again. We are developing a substantial, free, and open collection of widely-read and widely-held ebooks, with a goal of improving discoverability through metadata and curation. Interested in helping? Check out our survey on open content, and watch for a later post for more.

These efforts complement DPLA’s ongoing work in the ebook space as a partner on the Open eBooks initiative. During its first year, K-12 children in need across the United States and its territories downloaded over one million popular and award-winning ebooks for free, without holds.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing more about this ongoing exploration. If you’re joining us in Chicago for DPLAfest 2017, we have two full days of ebook discussions. We invite you to join the conversation. Stay tuned for more updates on DPLA + Ebooks.

HangingTogether: The Realities of Research Data Management: Part One Now Available!

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-04 14:54

Check out the new OCLC Research report A Tour of the Research Data Management (RDM) Service Space, the first in a four-part series exploring the realities of research data management. This report provides background on RDM’s emergence as an important new service area supporting 21st century scholarship, and offers a high-level description of the RDM service space as it stands today.

The Realities of Research Data Management, an OCLC Research project, explores the context and choices research universities face in building or acquiring RDM capacity. Findings are derived from detailed case studies of four research universities: University of Edinburgh, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Monash University, and Wageningen University and Research. Future reports will focus on scoping local RDM service offerings, the incentives for acquiring RDM capacity, and sourcing and scaling RDM services.

A Tour of the Research Data Management (RDM) Service Space begins the report series by providing background on the emergence of RDM as a key research support service on campus. The report goes on to describe the broad contours of the current RDM service space, identifying three major service categories: Education, Expertise, and Curation. This high-level view of the RDM service space will help organize subsequent reports’ discussion of the RDM service offerings at the four case study institutions.

RDM is both an opportunity and a challenge for many research universities. But research data management is not a discrete, well-defined service, and RDM solutions are not of the one-size-fits-all variety. Moving beyond recognition of RDM’s importance requires facing the realities of research data management. Each institution must shape its local RDM service offering by navigating several key inflection points: deciding to act, deciding what to do, and deciding how to do it. Future reports in this series will examine these decisions in the context of the choices made by the case study partners.

Stay tuned for more updates and outputs from The Realities of Research Data Management project!


About Brian Lavoie

Brian Lavoie is a Research Scientist in OCLC Research. He has worked on projects in many areas, such as digital preservation, cooperative print management, and data-mining of bibliographic resources. He was a co-founder of the working group that developed the PREMIS Data Dictionary for preservation metadata, and served as co-chair of a US National Science Foundation blue-ribbon task force on economically sustainable digital preservation. Brian's academic background is in economics; he has a Ph.D. in agricultural economics. Brian's current research interests include stewardship of the evolving scholarly record, analysis of collective collections, and the system-wide organization of library resources.

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Open Knowledge Foundation: Assessing the State of Infrastructural Development  in FCT: The Mixed Lessons

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-04 12:35

Open Knowledge International is a member of OD4D, a global network of leaders in the open data community, working together to develop open data solutions around the world. Here, the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) of Nigeria talks about their work on assessing the state of infrastructural development in three Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria. 

This blog has been reposted from

We might not have had the opportunity to learn what we learnt, or visit some of the communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria that we visited. We may not have had the opportunity to listen to the communities, neither would the communities had the opportunity to tell us their stories concerning their development needs with confidence that we can solve them or help amplify their voices. We may not have had this wonderful opportunity if it was not provided by Open Knowledge International (OKI)  through the Africa Open Data Collaboration Fund which was aimed at building the capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) for Africa’s emerging data revolution. This opportunity would not have come at a better time than when the Women Environmental Programme (WEP) was preparing to launch herself into the data revolution declared by the United Nations for improved data for achieving and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals.

Although WEP already had experience from undertaking several research works, our encounter with, OKI opened our eyes to three important elements that had been missing in our works – technology, openness, and speed.

We recall our first Skype call with Katelyn Rogers and David Opoku of OKI before the commencement of the project, when David enquired on how WEP wanted to go about collecting data on the status of basic amenities and participation of citizens in budgeting processes in the three target Area Councils of FCT namely Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Gwagwalada and Kuje Area Councils. Our response to him was simple: “We are going to develop a structured questionnaire, print them in several copies for data collectors to take to the field and administer to the respondents. When the completed questionnaires are returned, we shall manually input them into the computer for analysis.” David waited patiently for our answer, after which he asked, “have you heard of Open Data Kit (ODK)? Or Kobo Toolbox?” Of course, our answer was a resounding ‘No’ as we had not used any of these tools, neither did we know how they work. “Alright, I will send you some links to these data collection tools to check them out and see if they may be useful to what you want to do,”  David said.

It took about two weeks of intensive reading and learning for WEP’s team when the links to the mobile data collection tools were shared. It was fulfilling to know that the Kobo Toolbox was going to save us the trouble of using paper questionnaire. By using Kobo Toolbox which collects and records data in real-time, the data collected in the field using mobile phones is sent immediately to the database.

Armed with this new tool and with technical guidance from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) who offered assistance on the design of the survey, and assistance from  Williams Ngwakwe of Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria who facilitated entry into communities, we were ready to invite data collectors for a 2-day training on the use of kobo toolbox and other basic research issues. Our work would have been incomplete if not for the support of NBS. The Statistician General Dr. Yemi Kale, assigned a dedicated team of staff to assist the project with the much needed technical expertise. The NBS team refined not only the survey instruments but the research methodology to meet globally accepted survey standards.  They also advised that we properly define what we meant by “communities” in the context of our survey which made us to base our choice of communities on the 2015 Revised Directory of Polling Units for FCT by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  

L-R: John Baaki of WEP, Williams Ngwakwe of Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria; Dr. Yemi Kale, Statistician General of the Federation, Evelyn Ugbe of WEP, and Florenece Oloeyede of NBS, pose for a photograph when WEP paid a courtesy visit on the Statistician General of the Federation at NBS headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.

The training of data collectors was held from 28-29 July, 2016 where  David of OKI provided training on the use of Kobo toolbox. Surprisingly, none of the data collectors had used this tool before the training as admitted by Ms Ogechi Amaram, one of the data collectors. Getting to know about the Kobo toolbox for the first time was an exciting experience by all the data collectors. It was however more exciting getting to know that the paper questionnaires that were shared during the training to the data collectors will be converted to a mobile form and that was what was to be used to collect data from the field.

Group picture on final day of data collection training with WEP and OKI trainers

Fully armed with the knowledge of Kobo Toolbox and in anticipation that accessing communities in the Federal Capital Territory will be easy, our pessimism was dampened when most communities were extremely difficult to access, as there were neither good access roads nor bridges to cross over streams and rivers to some of the communities. WEP staff and data collectors had a share experience of the challenges communities faced from lack of infrastructure. There were big rivers to be crossed, mountains to be ascended and descended before some communities could be accessed.

Apart from some communities in the City Center and Garki wards of AMAC which were easily accessed by vehicles, other communities were only accessed by means of motorcycles or ‘Okada’ as they are popularly called. Even with the Okada, there was no  guarantee that data collectors would ride to their destinations without having to come down from time to time and  assist push up the motorcycle over some rocks or through streams or rivers. Some data collectors who narrated their ordeal in the field described the pitiable situation of basic amenities in most communities they visited:

According to Ronald Icheen, who worked in AMAC, “I was surprised that we have communities existing like this under FCT. These communities really need help. I was so touched when I saw the situation people were living and wished I had the opportunity to do something.”

David Bangura told John Baaki, his supervisor on the second day of their field work in Kuje when he (the supervisor) saw him buying loaves of bread and asked what that was for, “I can’t stand the malnourished look of the children, I have to give them something.” According to Danjuma Mohammed, “in Rubochi and Gwargwada wards of Kuje Area Councils, apart from Rubochi and Gwargwada communities, no other community has a road.” Fidelyia Iwyenge who also worked in Kuje Area Council said that “in most of the communities we visited in Kuje, Chibiri, Kwaku, Kabi, Yenche, Gwargwada and Gudun Karya wards, there was no good road, no electricity, no potable water, no good schools, no standard primary health care facilities, and these were the things that the communities told us were there priority needs. In fact it was almost needless asking them questions about basic amenities in their communities as we could see the situation of things for ourselves.”

For Ogechi Amaram, “Shishida community in Tungan Maje ward of Gwagwalada Area Council was one of the marginalized communities we visited. It has no good access road, no electricity, no water, no school, no primary healthcare facility. ” For Kwalita community in Dobi ward, she said “although the community has a public primary school, it has no good access road, no electricity, and no primary healthcare facility.”

The analyzed result of the data gathered from the field has corroborated the experiences shared by the data collectors. The result shows that about 71% of communities surveyed had non-graded roads, 37% were not connected to the national grid, 73% were not served by public water supply, 33% had no health care facilities, 7% had no any educational institution, 75% had no waste management systems while 58% had no markets.

At this point we stopped to ask ourselves “is the country’s budget benefiting the rural communities in Nigeria? The question was informed by the fact that despite the enormous amounts of material and human resources available to the government, the majority of Nigerian population are still trapped in poverty.

We therefore sought to know the participation of communities in the budgeting process, as this ought to be the major process through which development comes to the communities, and we got the following responses: 17% of the respondents said the communities were involved in the Area Councils budgeting process while 39% of the respondents said their communities do not participate in the Area Council’s budgeting process. 44% of the respondents however did not know if their communities were involved in the Area Council’s budgeting process or not. We also sought to know if there has been any consultation with the communities by the Area Councils in connection with communities’ development as it relates to budgeting process of the Area Councils. 56% told our data collectors that there has never been any consultation of such in their communities. 27% of the respondents did not even know whether such consultations take place or not. Only 17% of the respondents said there has been a consultation between their communities and the Area councils in relation to the budgeting process.

This survey has offered a huge learning experience not only for staff of WEP but also for the data collectors. WEP has since adopted the use of Kobo toolbox as an organizational data collection tool and has applied this to one of our research works.

We hope that the result of this survey will inform development decisions by the Area Councils Executives and other relevant authorities towards improving living conditions in these communities. The result and the raw data which will be made open and accessible online as required by OKI to the general public can be used to carry out more analysis by concerned individuals and organizations to draw more insights into the situation of the communities.

Open Knowledge Foundation: Open Data Day Vientiane

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-04 08:05

This blog is part of the event report series on International Open Data Day 2017. On Saturday 4 March, groups from around the world organised over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. 44 events received additional support through the Open Knowledge International mini-grants scheme, funded by SPARC, the Open Contracting Program of Hivos, Article 19, Hewlett Foundation and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This event was supported through the mini-grants scheme under the Environment theme.

Upon realising the need for open data outreach and promotion within Laos, the East-West Management Institute’s Open Development Initiative (EWMI-ODI) collaborated with the Faculty of Forestry Science, National University of Laos to host a workshop on ‘open data for research’on Open Data Day 2017, as part of a process to build a community of open data enthusiasts among students, researchers, professors, and civil society professionals. Read more on how it all begun in Laos, the current nature of open data in the country and how EWMI-ODI spearheaded the 2017 open data celebration.

Some Background Information

In December 2007, a group of communication specialists working in the fields of agriculture and natural resource management convened a workshop to share experiences and craft a declaration called the Dongdok Statement on Access to Information for Development (Dongdok SAID). Some of the key areas of the statement focused on a commitment to sharing resources, information and promoting open access and open source systems. This marked the first time that individuals and organisations committed themselves to sharing resources openly and in an informal manner.

From this meeting a number of initiatives have evolved, most notably the Coalition for Lao Information Communication and Knowledge (CLICK), LaosFAB, Lao 44, and The Rights-LINK program (managed by Village Focus International). In addition, a number of initiatives that were just emerging at that time have become full-time services, including the LaosLink discussion group and the Lao Agriculture Database (LAD).

In 2009, the Lao DECIDE info platform was established as a data sharing platform of the Government of the Laos PDR to facilitate informed planning and decision-making by making key information from social, economic, environmental and agricultural sectors accessible . The initiative was a collaboration between the Governments of the Laos PDR and Switzerland. The platform was implemented with technical support from the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, Switzerland, in partnership with participating institutions, and receives financial support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This platform is accessible to registered users who are granted different levels of access and use permissions.

Many of these platforms are having an impact on national development by improving the capability of people working for donor agencies, research institutes and NGOs who have access to the platform. However, many of these data and resource repositories remain closed, if measured by the Open Definition. Although a majority of them are hosting public domain resources, they do not currently employ a structured archive to comply with international standard nor do they openly license their content. These make ingestion of these data and resources for publication on open data portals technically and legally challenging.

Open Data in Laos

Open Knowledge’s Global Open Data Index has not been able to rate Laos in their surveys due to the lack of ‘data availability online and in open format’. Similarly, the Open Data Barometer has not been able to rank Laos on the global map.

In 2016, the Open Data Inventory (ODIN), a rating that assesses the coverage and openness of official statistics, ranked Laos 141 out of 173 (with an overall score of 26%, 25% for coverage and 27% for openness). This reflects an improvement from 2015 (overall score of 21%, 34% for coverage and 8% for openness).

The country currently does not have Right to Information Law and has not signed on to be a member of the Open Government Partnership.

Fostering sustainable development with open data

The East-West Management Institute (EWMI) is rolling out a pioneering project, Open Development Initiative (ODI), an innovative online platform aggregating and sharing data to shed light on development trends in the Lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. It consists of a single unified open-source database supporting six websites, for each of the five Lower Mekong countries, and a regional site – Open Development Mekong (OD Mekong). This regional effort was built upon the flagship site of the Open Development Cambodia (ODC) initiative, which was launched in 2011 and has since been relied on by tens of thousands for objective and compelling data visualisations that illuminate the development and environmental challenges in Cambodia.

The Information and Library Division of the Faculty of Forestry Science, National University of Laos.

As part of the ODI’s expansion throughout the Mekong region, EWMI-ODI seek national and international partners to contribute to building a data and information ecosystem to support transparent sharing of development data and informed decisions on sustainable development in Laos. In sync with a partnership building effort, the project hosts outreach events in the different Lower Mekong countries to promote the platform and the benefits of objective cross-sectoral open data approach for sustainable development.

Realizing the need for open data outreach and promotions within Laos, in coordination with the International Open Data Day and in collaboration with the Faculty of Forestry Science, National University of Laos, EWMI-ODI hosted a workshop on ‘open data for research’ as part of a process to build a community of open data enthusiasts among students, researchers, professors, and civil society professionals. The workshop was attended by 17 participants including research division director of the faculty, professors, graduate students, members of civil society organisations working on information sharing, media, and data officers from private sector companies.

EWMI-ODI Laos Research Fellow Lamphay Inthakoun facilitating discussion in Lao language

When asked to identify challenges related to finding and using public data and information for research and planning, participants who consider themselves data users emphasised the following:

  • Data quality and differentiation between quality within government ministries and non-governmental institutions
  • Availability and accessibility of development data and information in Laos language also remain a challenge. Note that there are over 80 donor agencies and international non-governmental organisations working in Laos, but most of their materials and reports are in English and not available on their websites. As a result, people have a hard time accessing development-related information.
  • The supply of data does not meet the needs
  • If available, data is not in reusable formats, which requires resources for conversion
  • Limited data and published research in the Lao language  
  • Access to data is limited and the process for requesting permission to use government data can take a long time to get approved
  • Limited usability of data both from technical and legal perspectives

When asked to identify challenges related to opening up data, participants who consider themselves data providers raised the following questions:

  • Responsible data and the ethics related to releasing data: what data to open and for whom it should be open? 
  • Licensing issues: how to identify which data to use and evaluate the appropriateness of using open licensing?
  • How should the data be opened: should cloud applications be used or in-house servers maintained?

Following this discussion was a presentation of open data principles and use cases from notable open data initiatives in the region, highlighting how they have created positive development impacts through open data. Using open data principle and open licensing guideline, this presentation demonstrated how participants may find, assess usability, and contribute to existing data and information resources on the various platform. Discussion continued to answer the question of how open data can advance higher education research.

EWMI-ODI looks forward to collaborating with the international open data community to help guide discussion around responsible data sharing and best practices for opening up public data for development in the region. As a continuing effort to establish a local platform for Laos as part of the Open Development Mekong platform, we will be coordinating a series of meetings to open up discussions on how we can build effective data sharing partnerships with various stakeholders and offer some technical support for the use of this facility.

DuraSpace News: Balancing Community, Commitment, and Innovation–The 2017 DuraSpace Membership Campaign

planet code4lib - Tue, 2017-04-04 00:00

Austin, TX  The 2017 DuraSpace Membership Campaign gets underway this week. The campaign raises funds to support the continued advancement of DSpace, Fedora and VIVO open source software projects. DuraSpace proudly provides these applications for free for anyone to use.

District Dispatch: Reminder: next CopyTalk this Thursday

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 20:48

Don’t forget to join us this Thursday, April 6th, for a CopyTalk webinar with Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University. Kyle will be discussing his innovative copyright service model starting at 2 p.m Eastern.

From Lotus Head

Kyle Courtney of Harvard University’s Office for Scholarly Communication describes how library patrons, faculty, students and staff need more guidance than ever on copyright matters on issues such as fair use, open access, MOOCs, repositories and digitization. These questions are arriving at the library with greater frequency and Kyle believes a modern, 21st century library should be equipped to answer such questions.

The Copyright First Responders (CFR) program has developed the first decentralized model of copyright expertise in an academic setting, relying on a hub-and-spoke model to answer questions from the communities associated with certain libraries. The librarians — each with their own focus, specialty, degrees and training — are in the best position to be trained to answer copyright questions from their respective communities. Therefore, copyright training should be layered on top of that subject expertise and result in a systemic shift in copyright knowledge thought the academic setting – the library becomes the focus of copyright inquiry and policy. The presentation will reveal the examine the types of copyright questions received, note the thematic uniformity of large copyright questions, present success metrics on questions answered, lessons learned, and share best practices in creating a CFR program.

Day: Join us Thursday, April 6, for an hour-long free webinar
Time: 2 p.m. Eastern / 11 a.m. Pacific
Link: Go to and sign in as a guest. You’re in!

This program is brought to you by OITP’s copyright education subcommittee. An archive of previous webinars is available.

The post Reminder: next CopyTalk this Thursday appeared first on District Dispatch.

Eric Hellman: Copyrighted Clickstream Poetry to Stop ISP Click-Selling

planet code4lib - Mon, 2017-04-03 16:54
Congress won't let the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) protect users from Internet Service Provider (ISP) snooping-for-cash. My ISP could decide to sell a list of all the websites I visit to advertisers, and the FCC can't stop them. I wondered if there was some way I could use copyright law to prevent my ISP from selling copies of my clickstream.

So I invented "clickstream poetry". Here is my first clickstream poem, entitled My clicks are mine:
    "copyright": "2017 Eric Hellman",
    "license": "",
    "title": "My clicks are mine"
I wrote a python script that "performs" the poem for the benefit of anyone listening to my clickstream. The script requests the websites in the poem in a random order; the listener will see the website names requested, and this dataset comprises the "poem". I used a Creative Commons license that doesn't let anyone distribute copies of my poem for commercial purposes. If my ISP tries to sell a copy of my clickstream, they would be violating the license, and thus infringing my copyright to the poem. If you run the script to perform the poem (for non-commercial purposes, of course), your ISP would similarly be infringing my copyright if they try to sell your clickstream.

If I tried to sue an ISP for copyright infringement, they would likely argue that though my creation is original and used in its entirety, selling my clickstream is a "fair use". They would assert that advertising optimization (or whatever) is a "transformative use" and that it didn't affect the market for my poem. Who would pay anything for a stupid clickstream poem? How would a non-existent, hypothetical market for clickstream poetry be harmed by use in their big data algorithms?

That's why I'm offering commercial licenses to the clickstream poem My clicks are mine. This will demonstrate that a commercial market for clickstream poetry licenses exists. For only $10, you can use a copy of my poem for any purpose whatsoever, for a period of 24 hours. If an ad network wants to use my clickstream to optimize the ads they show me, more power to them, as long as they pay for a license. I imagine that, over the lifetime of my poem's copyright protection (into the 22nd century), clickstream poetry will become increasingly valuable because of uses that haven't been invented yet.

To acquire a commercial license to my poem, support my work at the Free Ebook Foundation, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, by making a donation. Or don't. I have no idea if a court would take my side against a big company (and against Congress). I'm told that judges are generally skeptical of clever "legal hacks" unless they are crafted by lawyers instead of engineers.

ISPs would probably figure out a legal or technical subterfuge around the copyright of my clickstream poem; but if they have to worry even a little, this effort will have been worth my time.

Update: I have now paid $35 to register my copyright to My clicks are mine.


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