Storytelling for scientists only; self-erasing paper/ink; library news

I checked out the (Canada) National Science and Technology Week (October 16-25, 2009) website yesterday and found more events (in BC) than the last time I checked in late July/early August. Oddly, one of the events, Storytelling for scientists, is not open to the public. I’m quite disappointed that I’m not allowed to attend as I think it’s a very promising sign of what I hope will be better outreach. ( I got my refusal from someone at the Geological Survey of Canada, which is quite a coincidence since the Survey was recently mentioned here by Preston Manning while discussing his recent speech about science and innovation  in Canada.)

After scanning the science (nanotechnology) news for the last three years, it seems to me that Canadian scientists have been lamentably slow to find ways and means to discuss their work in ways that are engaging and meaningful to people who don’t have a vested interest in the sciences. Yes, there are events for children but I haven’t seen anything much for adults.

Michael Berger over at Nanowerk has written up a very good description of a new technique for creating self-erasing pictures. It caught me eye because of the pop culture reference to Mission Impossible and then there was this,

“While writing with light can be both rapid and accurate, photochromic ‘inks’ are not necessarily optimal for transforming light-intensity patterns into color variations, because they have relatively low extinction coefficients, are prone to photobleaching, and usually offer only two colors corresponding to the two states of photoisomerizing molecules,” explains Bartosz A. Grzybowski, a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and W. Burgess Chair in Physical Chemistry and Systems Engineering at Northwestern University.

I love the idea of ‘writing with light’ and, even better, the explanation of the technology has great clarity. (couldn’t resist the word play)

I have a longstanding interest and fascination with libraries and in light of the recent cuts to the library system here in BC (Canada) and my recent experiences at ISEA (International Symposium on Electronic Art), this item on the Shifted Librarian blog about the mobile devices, libraries, and policy session at the American Library Association (annual meeting?) caught my attention,

Question for Eli: when we talk about mobile devices, we mean digital content. is it a given we’re moving towards this licensing model for digital content, when libraries have traditionally purchased “things” and lending them under first sale doctrine? how do libraries maintain their rights under these threats of DMCA, etc.

Eli: this is really THE question for libraries in the 21st century; holding something of a copy that exists in 10,000 places in the world is worthless – that’s not the value; you have the whole world in your pocket
the rest of the world has skipped the 20th century and gone straight to the 21st; we no longer provide value by providing a copy of something that exists elsewhere
it’s what doesn’t exist anywhere else, which means creating it, which is usually letting your patrons create that
no longer bringing the world to your community, but bringing your community to the world and making it accessible
you’re (the library) the only one that cares about that content being out there
possible future where DRM triumphs & RIAA, etc. get everything they ever wanted and there’s no room for libraries
but could have an uprising against copyright and everything being free to everyone, although this is equally dangerous to libraries
will come down to digital ownership of rights
important not to forget that a major role of the library is to aggregate the buying power of the community and provide access
best thing we can do is produce and assist in the creation of new knowledge
don’t want to get involved in the DRM nightmare and find a value proposition that is meaningful to users in the networked 21st century

If you’re not familiar with the acronyms (I don’t know all of them either), DRM is Digital Rights Management, RIAA is Recording Industry Association of America, and (US) DMCA is Digital Millennium Copyright Act (I had to look up the last two).

This discussion provides an interesting contrast with the item about the cuts to the BC library system on the Think City website. Both are concerned with purchasing power and community access but one from the perspective of our mobile device future and one from the perspective of a 90-year old system that needs to be maintained.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *