What is going on at the FCC? After repealing net neutrality rules last year (despite overwhelming public support for them), Ars Technica reports that if you want to have an FCC complaint against your service provider actually, you know, be addressed, you’ll have to pay $225.
The FCC says that new rules, voted in this week, simply “streamline” its complaint system, and insist that nothing has really changed—the "formal" complaint process had already cost $225, and you can still file an informal complaint for free, which the FCC will simply forward to your provider. But critics say the difference is that after your informal complaint is (almost certainly) summarily rejected by your provider, you'll have to pay the fee if you want the FCC involved.
In a letter made public this week, lawmakers Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) urged the FCC to reverse course. “Creating a rule that directs FCC staff to simply pass consumers' informal complaints on to the company, and then to advise consumers that they file a $225 formal complaint if not satisﬁed ignores the core mission of the FCC working in the public interest.”
Also, the Wall Street Journal this week reports that the FCC is finally looking to change its public comment system, after it failed dramatically during last year’s net neutrality debate. As Motherboard reports, the public comment period for the repeal was "the only real opportunity most Americans had to share their thoughts" on the repeal of net neutrality rules, but “not a single” comment was cited in the FCC’s final decision.
Meanwhile, Ars Technica also reports that the FCC this week declined to reconsider its decision to dismantle the FCC’s Lifeline program, which helps make broadband and phone service available to low-income Native Americans. The Library community is a strong supporter of the program.
Should "hate groups" be able to use the library meeting rooms? The Los Angeles Times had a report this week on the fallout from a recent ALA Library Bill of Rights update, which suggests that public libraries not exclude “religious, social, civic, partisan political or hate groups from discussing their activities” in library facilities. But in the comment section, a librarian blasts the piece for factual inaccuracies, and even suggests the piece be retracted. School Library Journal has a much more in-depth, accurate, and balanced piece on the debate. Indeed, this is an important discussion.
Over at the New York Times, this week’s “State of the Art” column looks at hobbyists in the age of social media, a topic many librarians are well aware of (maker’s movement, anyone?). Columnist Farhad Manjoo, who recently took up pottery as a hobby, describes how his experiences interacting with fellow pottery enthusiasts “helped restore [his] faith in the possibilities and the basic humanity of the internet.”
It's been five years since the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag first appeared online. The phrase originated in a Facebook post by activist Alicia Garza following the news of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Garza's friend Patrisse Cullors turned the phrase into a hashtag shortly thereafter. In the years since that hashtag has been used 30 million times on Twitter, appearing an average of 17,002 times per day, according to Pew Research’s report “Activism in the Social Media Age.”
Patrisse Cullors’s excellent memoir When They Call You a Terrorist is worth checking out.
Fast Company wades into the academic publishing debate with a piece by paleontologist Jon Tennant, who has a message for his fellow researchers: it’s time to take back control over who publishes your work.
Meanwhile, the backlash against expensive “big deal” style journal packages in Europe continues, with German consortium Project DEAL still at odds with Elsevier. “What we want is to bring an end to the pricing trend for academic journals that has the potential to prove disastrous for libraries,” reports Horst Hippler, the president of the German Rectors’ Conference. “Elsevier, however, is still not willing to offer a deal in the form of a nationwide agreement in Germany that responds to the needs of the academic community in line with the principles of open access and that is financially sustainable. ”
The internet played a crucial role in toppling the regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. But EFF reports that a new “cybercrime” bill there would establish a chilling new level of censorship.
By a 318-278 majority, the European Parliament voted on July 5 to reopen debate around a controversial digital copyright reform proposal which critics argued would break Internet culture. As TechCrunch reports, the proposal now goes back for more debate and revision, and is expected to face another vote in September.
One of the most controversial points of the EU copyright proposal is a provision, Article 13, that if adopted could force websites to filter their networks for potentially copyrighted content. Stephen LaPorte, a legal counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation, told Mashable why that’s a bad idea. “Algorithms that vet information will not do people's content justice,” he argues. "The laws need to reflect the way people actually use, or want to use, the internet. It needs to show how users are creators and not just consumers of content."
But does it have a good coffee bar? From Curbed, comes a look at an independent library opening in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a thoughtful piece explaining how book editors find their projects.
As of Monday, The Atlas of New Librarianship—the book described by PW columnist Brian Kenney as “[the librarian] profession’s Finnegans Wake” —is now available to download for free courtesy of its author, R. David Lankes, and MIT Press. Here’s an interview we did with Lankes a couple years ago about that book and his other publications.