Weeknote 6, 2023

§1 The Magic of Small Databases

Weeks ago, I did some searching for an appropriate platform to share several hundred PDFs online. There are surprisingly very few options out there. And Tom Chitchlow feels the same way. He recently wrote this:

The Magic of Small Databases: Notes on personal libraries, collections and small indexes on the web: Publishing documents to the web is a well-served use case but publishing small indexes, databases and collections to the web is still an incredibly frustrating and under-served use case. Here I outline why I think it matters and a variety of approaches to solving it.

It’s too bad there’s no mention of Open Semantic Search because I personally would like to know more about this particular suite of tools.

§2 Browse the BBC In Our Time archive by Dewey decimal code

In 1996, I was part a team of librarians at the Metro Toronto Library responsible for a site called Expanding Universe: a classified search tool for amateur astronomy.

According to Worldcat, it was/is a “Site which organizes Web sites according to the Dewey classification schedule. Site compiled and created by Wayne Daniels, Jeanne Enright, Patrick Gliddon and Mita Sen-Roy.”

I was responsible for the design of the site. Please remember, this was 1996.

Why am I bringing this up?

Well, this week Matt Webb used GPT-3 to categorize almost 1000 episodes of the BBC Radio program In our Time and place each one in within the Dewey Decimal Classification System.


§3 When U.S. copyright needed to be renewed, only 25% of books published from 1923 and 1964 were kept out of the public domain

From a Motherboard article that I learned of from BeSpaciafic

That’s why the New York Public Library (NYPL) has been reviewing the U.S. Copyright Office’s official registration and renewals records for creative works whose copyrights haven’t been renewed, and have thus been overlooked as part of the public domain. 

The books in question were published between 1923 and 1964, before changes to U.S. copyright law removed the requirement for rights holders to renew their copyrights. According to Greg Cram, associate general counsel and director of information policy at NYPL, an initial overview of books published in that period shows that around 65 to 75 percent of rights holders opted not to renew their copyrights. 

“That’s sort of a staggering figure,” Cram told Motherboard. “That’s 25 to 35 percent of books that were renewed, while the rest were not. That’s interesting for me as we think about copyright policy going forward.” 

Librarians Are Finding Thousands Of Books No Longer Protected By Copyright Law, Motherboard, Claire Woodcock, February 9, 2023

§4 Identity politics for librarians

You don’t get to pretend to be a champion for free speech, pointing to it as an issue that must be fought for, as an issue that can’t wait… while also referring to book bans as “identity politics for librarians.”

Free Speech Enthusiast Matt Yglesias Refers to Book Bans as “Identity Politics for Librarians”

I already regret giving this man the attention that he clearly sold his soul for.

§5 Wandering Bard For Hire

Wandering Bard-BILINGUAL Elk Point , AB