Do Filters Work?

I just read Andy Woodworth’s post about filters, and was reminded about something. A couple days ago, I visited my church’s website while in the library. We filter both public and staff computers … and guess what I found (see the image above)? My church’s website was blocked, because 8e6 (our filtering provider) thinks it’s a porn site. Wow – my church is apparently much wilder than I thought!

  • OK – first off, my church isn’t really all that wild. Probably much the opposite!
  • Second – it’s most likely filtered because of overblocking. Some web filters block whole webhosting services because of content. For example, if the webhoster hosts 20 “naughty” sites and 2 “nice” sites, all 22 sites will be labeled “naughty” (until someone tells the filtering company they’re wrong – then they usually correct the problem).

Do filters work?
Honestly, yes and no. Yeah, sure – most of the “usual sites” can be blocked (but not all – filters don’t catch everything). And no – the example above is a great example of a filter in action, unfortunately.

Another complaint
I’m also going to complain about the Safelibraryproject website, and the ALA page they quote (from the Office of Intellectual Freedom). Because both sites seem to be putting a bit of spin on their ideas, to prove their points. Plus, there are some glaring problems on each page. Here’s what I mean:

Let’s start with Safe Library Project:

  • Just being picky here – guys, please get a proofreader! Your About page is labeled “Abou” – which would be forgivable if it weren’t for some other errors on the “Abou” page that could have easily been caught by proofing your content. Errors like these:
    • “Most all pornography commercial websites is hardcore” I think you meant “are” …
    • “the overwhelming amount of Internet porn is be soft-core” I think you meant “is” …
    • “This in not accurate” You are correct – not accurate at all!
  • Enough grammar cop stuff. How about this? “Most all pornography commercial websites is hardcore and therefore can be charged by prosecutors as obscene.” – ok. Can you prove that, with citations?
  •  “The seemingly endless number of free porn sites depicting actual or simulated sex and other lascivious depictions are also hardcore and can be charged as obscene.” Again, ok … “seemingly endless” … proof? With citations? “can be charged as obscene” … again – proof?
  • “Does ALA really think the American public is so uninformed…” The information you quote wasn’t really meant for the “American public.” It was meant for libraries creating public PC and Internet Access policies.
  • “The ALA site also strongly suggests that Internet filters are inadequate” – well, yeah – there’s a reason for that. See my example above.
I have no issue with their viewpoint (though I don’t agree). Viewpoints differ, and you have to have two sides for a debate. But if you make broad statements like they do, you should back them up with facts. Or you’re just blowing smoke.
And now for ALA. Go to the page Safe Library Project quotes (you have to copy/paste the link text, since for some odd reason they didn’t actually make it a link). I think some improvements are in order here, too. For example:
  • The paragraph Safe Library Project quotes is an odd one, to me anyway. For example … “In the millions of Web sites available on the Internet” – way more than “millions” now.
  • “there are some—often loosely called “pornography” – Loosely? What? Where did that statement come from?
  • “A very small fraction of those sexually explicit materials is actual obscenity or child pornography” – ok. That’s also pretty broad statement. Can you prove that, with citations?
  • This info hasn’t been updated for 10-11 years. A LOT has changed on the web in 11 years. Maybe time for a rewrite?
  • The “Related Files” link at the bottom of the page is a broken link. That makes ALA look a bit shabby IMHO.
So – phooey on the spin. Do you filter? Does it work? Do people complain? Is it as bad as the Safe Library Project people think? I don’t think so – what about you?

Video Creation at the Library

The video in this post is just me, playing around with a greenscreen for the first time (and playing around with the new Final Cut Pro X – nice app!). So in the video, first you’ll see me with a green background. Then I replace the green color with black, and then I replace it with a silly image.

Yay – I figured out how to use our greenscreen!

Towards the end of the video, I show off the beginnings of my library’s video studio (and I have to say – I really need to work on my video narration skills. I can do it pretty well when I do a little prep work, but not so much when it’s off-the-cuff. Yikes!).

So, our video studio. It’s really just some office space we weren’t using anymore. We cleaned it out (it had turned into storage), painted one wall with a bucket of chroma key greenscreen paint, and set up a couple of computers in the room:

  • Computer #1: A PC that we use for creating screencasts. We use Techsmith’s Camtasia.
  • Computer #2: an Apple iMac with Final Cut Pro, iMovie, GarageBand, etc on it. We use it for video editing, and for creating our HUSH podcast series.

Assuming our Board of Trustees votes our 2012 budget into existence next month, I’ll be able to buy some more video equipment next year! I plan to get a backdrop stand, some backdrops, and a lighting set. Most likely, I’ll also buy some microphones – especially some wireless mics. Take a good listen to the audio in my video – adequate, but not great. I used the internal mic on the video camera, which picked my voice up fine … it also picked up a bunch of room sound. That can be easily fixed with better mics!

That’s what we’re doing, anyway. How are you growing your organization’s video setup?

Article about Facebook Pages up at the NEKLS blog

I just wrote a blog post for the Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS) about Facebook Pages – titled Facebook Pages for Kansas Libraries.

Here’s how it starts:

“What if there was a way for your library to get the attention of 51% of your local community? For free? Would you do it? I’m guessing so.

Guess what? There IS a way to potentially do that – by using Facebook! Edison Research (they do market research studies, among other things) recently announced that 51% of Americans age 12+ are using Facebook. And this stat is rapidly growing. Some other interesting Facebook facts on the average Facebook user:

  • They have 130 friends
  • They make 8 friend requests per month
  • They spend 15 hours a month on using Facebook
  • They visit Facebook 40 times a month, and spend 23 minutes per visit
  • They are connected to 80 organizational Facebook Pages, Groups, and Events

Nice statistics, David – but what does this mean for Kansas Libraries and librarians?”

If you’re interested, go read the rest at the NEKLS blog!

And for more interesting reading on Facebook, check these books out (Amazon Affiliate links):

pic by afagen

Google Plus – Should you and your Library be there?

Google Plus is all the rage this week – invites have started spreading around (here’s a link to my Google Plus account – feel free to friend me!).

Some tech leaders have been making big claims about Google Plus, saying things like it will replace blogging, they’re moving from Facebook to Google Plus, it will take over Facebook or Twitter, etc.

Ok … Google Plus is only a week or so old. WAY too early to predict the demise of anything – especially of something like Facebook, with its 600 gazillion followers. Also remember that this is a third try for Google – Waves and Buzz both sorta fizzled out. let’s give it a good 6 months to a year to see if it survives.

On to the more important questions – should YOU be using Google Plus? Should your Library/organization?

You – this one’s easy. If you get an invite (or have an account already), by all means sign up and play around with it. Friend people, do some posting, try a video chat. Get familiar with the tool. Then either use it or not … that part really depends on you. But since it has some early potential in becoming another useful social media tool … why not at least play with it a bit?

Your library/organization – this one’s a bit more tricky. Or not – Google Plus isn’t supporting organizational accounts right now, according to this article from Search Engine Land. This article from ReelSEO goes one further, saying Google Plus will shut down an organizational account (though there are a couple out there [DLK – oops. Google found those, and they’re now 404-nothing found pages. You might check this out for some news orgs, from Moonflowerdragon in my comments] anyway).

So for the time being anyway, Google Plus is an individual-only network. That’s great, because it gives you time to play with the new tool, and gives Google time to see if it’s a winner (translation = profitable) for them.

Once that happens, and Google OKs organizational accounts – should you be there? The answer is … it depends. Are your users there? If so, then yes. Recent national stats claim that 51% of people age 12 and up are on Facebook – that’s 51% of your community, so it definitely makes sense for most libraries and organizations to have a Facebook presence.

But for other social networks, it really depends on your organization’s goals, and on where your customers tend to gather. If they start gathering in Google Plus, then yes – you should figure it out and be there for them.

If not? Maybe not so much. Time will tell!

And a question – are you playing with Google Plus? If so – what do you like/dislike about the service? Let me know in the comments!

Library Renewal: Zine and Song Debut

From the Library Renewal blog – The debut of our first video here at Library Renewal features our first brochure/zine and also features the debut of the first song made for Library Renewal. PS-We fixed the typo! Thanks for catching it! :)

You can get a copy of the zine as a thank you gift for your donation to Library Renewal by going here:

You can also see some higher quality images of pages from the brochure here:

The song is performed by Portland band, Lackethereof and we are grateful for their support here. Thanks, Danny!


Me again – make sure to find out more about Library Renewal by visiting our website (or by following us on Facebook or Twitter), signing up for the newsletter, etc. We are gearing up to do some pretty cool things, so stay tuned for that!