Another anniversary of this blog has crept up on me. The exploded library is now in its Terrible Twos. A lot has happened in this time, both with my blog and in my life. This isn’t the time for a full retrospective, because change is afoot again. I have started work on a new blog. It’s not quite ready – I want to get the domain mapping worked out before I link to it.
The exploded library will remain, and continue to be updated – more or less as frequently as ever.
I have recently drafted some posts which just don’t seem to have any place on the exploded library. They didn’t seem to be belong, so I didn’t post them. The new blog is where I can put this sort of stuff. The new blog will be a bridge between the more public exploded library and the much more personal LJ that I keep. I’ll still write about things relevant to a law librarian and that stuff will go into the exploded library. My other rants and musings about politics, art, nature and some more local and personal things will go in the new blog.
Maybe I’ll be spreading myself too thinly and then I’ll lose enthusiasm for this new project and fold everything back into the exploded library. I can live the possibility that this may happen. This is something that I feel that I need to do now. Life’s too short to be writing unposted blog entries, so I’m making a home for these orphans that they need now.
It probably won’t surprise anyone who’s been reading this blog that I’m not particularly zealous about posting in my blog very frequently. Once or twice a week is fine with me, not to mention the occasional hiatus. As a reader of blogs, I manage to pay more attention to the ones which are updated less frequently. Because of my current busy life, I usually only check bloglines a couple of times a week. A blog that is updated too often scares me off. When I have limited time, I’d rather look at the blogs with a small number of unread posts, not the ones with 20 or more unread posts. Why? Those large numbers are overwhelming and then blogging seem like a chore. I also wonder if a blog that is updated less frequently might contain more things that the author really wanted to say. That’s how it is with me.
What an interesting development in the debate as to whether Australia should adopt the Australia-US FTA. The FTA has already been ratified by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. For a while it seemed depressingly certain that Mark Latham’s Labor Party (ALP) would capitulate to the Howard Government and the Bush Administration, passing the FTA against the will of the party’s Left, and its traditional supporters of unions and artists. Now it is now quite likely that the FTA debate won’t be resolved until after the next election and may become a real election issue in Australia. The development is Labor’s announcement that it will only support the FTA on two conditions, and that the Government has immediately rejected one of those conditions.
It is ironic that there is a chance that the FTA is being delayed by an Intellectual Property issue. I have been very concerned about the FTA’s adverse effect on Australian copyright laws (see this rather damning critique by Kim Weatherall) since the agreement was first reached. Those concerns have largely been overshadowed by some of the other ways in which this agreement is such a bad deal for Australia. It is infuriating that the copyright issue seems to get more attention in the US than in Australia.
The IP laws being debated now are patent laws. One of Mark Latham’s conditions for passing the FTA is that Australia’s patent laws must be changed, making it an offence for companies to lodge spurious patent claims. The concern is that without this change, American drug companies would be able to use “evergreening” tactics to delay drugs from becoming generic (and cheaper).
It is laughable that by refusing to budge on this issue, John Howard is acting as if he is the staunch defender of Australia’s IP laws. As reported in the Melbourne Age, he said “We are not willing just to provide a political fix for our opponents. We are not willing to turn the patent law of this country on its head.” Never mind that he is very happy to turn Australia’s copyright law on its head by supporting significant changes to implement the FTA.
Maybe John Howard is opposing these patent law amendments so that he can keep the FTA issue alive until the election, so that he can say that the ALP is divided and Anti-American about this issue.
I would be very surprised if either leaders back down now. Mark Latham is already in enough trouble with the ALP Left that he cannot afford to snatch back this bone which he has thrown them.
I for one am very glad that the FTA is currently a victim of this brinkmanship between John Howard and Mark Latham. This gladness is likely to be short-lived, because it is still very likely that the FTA will be passed, after the election if nothing else. But every day that we aren’t living under these laws is a good day. There is always the remote chance that Howard’s gambit of making the FTA an election issue will backfire on him. People don’t like being made criminals for doing common, socially non-controversial actions which most people don’t believe to be wrong.
On the weekend, the New York Times published this interesting article, Spaces for Social Study. Unfortunately, the NYT requires registration to read and then after 7 days, the article will be archived and can only be read for a fee. So read it now, before that happens.
It's about the renovation of the Teachers College library at Columbia University. Here are a few snippets.
"Gone is the notion that it is solely a physical repository for information and a place of quiet individual study where librarians patrol the stacks, shushing errant blabbermouths. Instead, the campus library has become an intellectual gathering place."
'We asked people on campus, 'What would make you go to the library,' given that you can get a lot of things you want to work with in your dorm room,'' Mr. Natriello [the library's interim director] says. ''What folks said was that coming to the library was much more of a social academic experience.''