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I could go in chronological order in this post, but that would require me to “bury the lead” and talk about Lawrence Lessig’s presentation in the middle of the post! Lessig is a rock star in my world and it seems only right that when writing about a copyright guru I “steal” his bio from his website!

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

For much of his career, Professor Lessig focused on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. He represented web site operator Eric Eldred in the ground-breaking case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. His current academic work addresses a kind of “corruption.”

He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries, for arguing “against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online.”

Professor Lessig is the author of Remix (2008), Code v2 (2007), Free Culture (2004), The Future of Ideas (2001) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999). He is on the board of the Creative Commons project, MAPLight, Free Press, Brave New Film Foundation, Change Congress, The American Academy, Berlin, Freedom House and He is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation and LiveJournal. He has served on the board of the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Public Library of Science, and Public Knowledge. He was also a columnist for Wired, Red Herring, and the Industry Standard.

Professor Lessig earned a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.”


Lessig opened by discussing how in the past copyright had a tiny role at the turn of the century as the law was technical and difficult and only applied to a small group of businesses. Then things changed, and now copyright reaches across the spectrum, the law is more technical and difficult to understand, but applies to so many daily transactions. We collide with copyright constantly in our lives. It all changes because the platform we use to get access to our culture has changed. The current paradigm is that if we don’t secure this money for professional creators of content they will not be incented to create this content. But where is the role of the amateur (all those remixers on YouTube) in keeping culture alive?

Educators and scientist rather than questioning copyright have embraced it over the last 20 years without enough skepticism Lessig says we should all feel entitled to question the legal system (as lawyers do) rather than just roll over! Scholarly journal costs are blocking access to knowledge except for the richest Universities.

Necessary evils are still evil and should be avoided. It should not take years and over $500,000 to re-clear the rights to the “Eyes on the Prize” series. Documentaries suffer under current laws. Items will turn to dust before some items can be transferred and preserved

What to do about this? Well, Lessig thinks changing the law is hopeless. So he likes to change the norms with project like Creative Commons. He said we all need to be radical militant activists on this issue!

The Google Book Search Project was his next talking point. He has concerns the settlement is pushing us toward a radically complex model that pushes books toward the same issues faced by film (documentaries in particular!) He quoted Drucker that “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

He wondered how to convey to lawyers that the current system is a failure that can’t work in the digital age? Copyright is essential, he is not a copyright abolitionist, he believes it needs reworking. He is a great speaker and if you ever get a chance to hear him, take it!

The e-books session was at capacity and also very engaging! Robin Schulze from Penn State discussed their program with the Sony Reader 505. (The new model, 700 series is more interactive, highlight underline, annotate) This reader has no backlight, long battery life, and is readable in daylight. Sony E ink is great for readability. Sony loaned the readers and the put them to use in English 30. Sony is a single use device on purpose to encourage immersive reading. Those running the study were struck by the reviews that commented on the coldness of the device. One described it as “The book John DeLorean would have designed.” The lack of interactivity and custom fonts made it hard to get everyone on the same page. It became obvious that everyone wanted consistent page numbers.

At the same time the students did not say it hindered their general comprehension. This discrepancy was hard for those conducting the pilot to reconcile! Students said the ebooks did not seem friendly or companionable. Need to change patterns of infant instruction in reading and need to include more interaction, Flash, and features that change/augment the reading experience! (Do what books can’t do now!)

Kindle was not interested in partnering with any of these schools!

Next I attend a Google Wave Demo. I’ve written and talked so much about Google Wave in the last few months and I still don’t have an account! Still, I can’t wait for an account for myself and accounts for all my friends and coworkers so we can start collaborating with this new tool! I do have some concerns that it will be a paradigm shift that will require some change in my processes!

The program “I’m Thin and Green” : Reducing the Desktop Carbon Footprint while Offering Anywhere, Anytime, Computing Services, was led by Richard Toeniskoetter of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff who described the school of 15,000 students on a mountain campus (between Sedona and the Grand Canyon) 7,000 additional students statewide (elevation 7000ft) as one that is epitomized by small class size.

They have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2020. They engage and educate the community both locally and globally and offer hands on sustainability learning opportunities to students. Both the Business and Engineering buildings are Gold LEED certified and the Applied Research and Design building is Platinum LEED certified.

Thin clients in use there use only 4 watts of power, with no need for UPCs as the data is all saved at data center. Hotdesking allows a session to follow you anywhere. Questions like offline usage (Network is down?) and licensing were important when considering this switch. Thin clients allow the applications in a lab to be changed at a moments notice, but do require the infrastructure to support this new model of computing. These clients are goof for about 80% of users, but not for those who heavily use multimedia. He said resistance to thin clients is natural and we should not force it where it does not fit. For those wanting more information he suggested reading an article by Karla Hignite in Business Officer, Oct 2009 on thin clients.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll end with the wild program “Bricks and Mortar Libraries in the 21st Century: An Oxymoron? This was a Point and Counter Point session between Suzanne Thorin and Richard Luce. Thorin said the library as place is dead and we need to move on. She said new discovery tools and resources are all digital. ILL is a scanning activity, only buying books on demand of faculty; we are moving our books off-site. Students use us as social study space with their laptops, still quiet spaces, often not using our services on those laptops. She described roving librarians, saying we have abandoned the reference desk and that our organizational structures are “a blast from the past”. She said we need to stop counting numbers of books and other things that don’t show what we do. She also said we should count how we impact student success and retention and scholarly publishing instead.

Then Richard Luce spoke saying that she had been talking about print v digital, not about the library as place. He said we came here today (to Educause) to interact with one another. The library is a place to be with one another. There is a social, community, role, with libraries becoming classrooms and laboratories. Library is the neutral/mutual location on the college/university campus.

This was a wild session with too much point and counter point to capture, but you get the idea. I think it is interesting that ZSR has made many of the transitions discussed, creating quiet study areas, cool new collaborative spaces, and doing more with instruction.

Finally, some quick stats! There are about 4000 attendees at Educause this year, over 6000 if you count all the vendors, and there are over 1000 people participating in the online Educause conference. Oh, and I’m the only person from WFU here!