Which revolution?

It is really the combination of computing technologies with communication networks that has formed the basis for the digital revolution we are now living in. The internet and digital connections has taken us to a world where billions of people are connected, billions of emails are sent over this network every day and hundreds of millions of people search Google and other search engines for information spread across the plethora of web pages and institutional repositories around the world.

So thinking laterally is probably becoming an essential feature of every educators toolkit.  But what do I mean by this?  Well, I don’t have all the ideas, but thankfully my personal learning network and my information feeds keep me in touch with the possibilities.

So you know about the Internet Archive, right? My visit today tells me that there have been 484 billion web pages saved over time.

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

There are many options for how to use the Internet Archive (so do check these out).

Unique Search

Something I wanted to share from a while ago was Alan November’s post on the Wayback Machine, which he called The Essential unique search tool your students may have never Used.


The Wayback Machine is as basic a reference tool for the Internet Age as a dictionary. When was the last time you saw a student use it?

Alan tells the story of his conference presentation, and the reality check that he offers the audience in terms of digital identity and digital information stored or deleted?? on the web.

The Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to index the Web, runs the Wayback Machine. Since its launch in 1996, the Wayback Machine has saved more than 466 billion web pages and counting—including many pages their owners believed (or hoped?) were long gone.

As many students are recovering from their own sense of naiveté, I ask them a simple question: What happens when you’re reading an article online, and you come across a link and you click on it, but it’s dead? They’ll say, “Well, I just give up.” And I say, “Watch this: You just copy the link, and you paste it into the Wayback Machine, and presto—there’s the website.”

Students are shocked to learn that it’s so simple to recover lost links. This is like knowing there’s a dictionary when you’re learning to read. It is that basic and that important of a reference tool for the Internet Age.

Best get busy and share this information with your students and colleagues – many will not know!

But don’t stop there – use the Internet Archive to find other treasures!  Here’s another of piece of fun gaming information shared last year:-

Long before Oculus Rift and MMORPG games existed and way before high-quality graphic cards and roaring sound effects were around there was another type of game genre. DOS. And depending on your age (hello, early 1980s) you may have even played DOS games as a kid. Fortunately for those who like to wax nostalgic the Internet Archive has released nearly 2300 MS-DOS PC games that you can play directly from your browser. Hurray!

There are mountains of old favorites in the release. All DOS games are played through DosBox, which streams to your local computer. This makes it easy to search for a game and then click to play once it’s loaded.  All DOS games are emulated—command prompts and boot screens—and one important thing to keep in mind is that you can’t save gameplay. Because it’s running as a virtual machine (of sorts) once you close your browser tab/window the game is over and you’ll need to start from the beginning (boo).

So what we are seeing here is a way to look backwards, digitally, while we move forward.

How we think about our place in the world has been transformed through revolutions of ideas from big thinkers such as Galileo, Darwin and Freud. Philosopher Luciano Floridi, Oxford University believes that we are now into a new revolution in the mass age of information and data. Before you go deeply into any of his academic work, let’s put his thinking into context – with this cheesy video!

Image: Pre computer games flickr photo shared by Robin Hutton under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Small is an important [re]action in libraries

Seems the wheel keeps turning, when it’s powered by cultural and community interest.  I remember when I first moved to my suburb with a young family, over 20 years ago. Beecroft had it’s own children’s library, run and staffed entirely by volunteers. This was the greatest thing, and perfect for an age of literacy, knowledge, curiosity and excitement which was powered by the best in youth works in both fiction and non-fiction collections.

Beecroft Children’s Library was a vibrant and significant part of the Beecroft-Cheltenham community for over 50 years.  It was important for two reasons:

  • it was an important resource for the area’s youth, complementing the high quality schools the area is renowned for; and
  • it was a good example of volunteerism, with it’s fund-raising social activities a focal point for the community, as well as the volunteer staffing of the library.

In our connected era, the notion, purpose, and function of libraries are being challenged. In this context, it’s great to see the ways in which grass-roots action is positioning ‘volunteer’ libraries once again in new ways to meet new needs.

I love the the trend of teeny-weeny libraries in little playhouses. The Corner Library is the latest in a slew of “micro-libraries” cropping up at different locations across the United States. Currently situated in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this treehouse-sized book shop is the brainchild of artist Colin McMullan. A mini replica of the classic public library, it contains everything from books to ‘zines to newspapers to comics, all available to check out for free- all you need is access to the lock code. Browse the titles and learn more here!

In much the same way the Great British Phone Box seems to be living on as a tiny library. The red telephone box is a British design classic. And many of these iconic boxes, as well as more modern boxes are getting a new lease of life as part of our innovative Adopt a Kiosk programme. Sometimes this newley adopted phonebox becomes a micro-library.

Meanwhile, the Town of Clinton in New York’s Hudson Valley recently christened a bright red British telephone kiosk as “America’s Littlest Library.” The Book Booth, a branch of the Clinton Community Library houses about 100 books and is part of the library’s book exchange program. Staino in the Library Journal  explains how the library’s Friends’ group created the branch library from the classic British telephone booth. The idea came from Claudia Cooley, a library Friend, who was familiar with the recent British trend of transforming no longer used booths into art galleries, toilets, and, in one case, a pub. Cooley envisioned upcycling the booth, which had long stood outside a local café, as a way to bring together a community that does not have a town center.

The Occupy Wall Street library encouraged readers to set up People’s Libraries around the country: “if you’d like to open a branch of the People’s Library in your New York neighborhood, find a [Privately Owned Public Space], bring down some books and meet your neighbors. It all starts with a few books in a box.”

Wow – public spaces that people own adopted for ‘libraries by people’ is great!

GalleyCat also suggests that we explore free eBook collections at eBookNewser, Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive for ideas. Post your list on your blog, Facebook page, LibraryThing page, Twitter account, Goodreads page or Tumblr blog.

Seems to me that the small [re]action in libraries has a lot going for it!  It’s all part of the cultural voice crying out that LIBRARIES MATTER.

Still more free eBooks from the Internet Archive

A group of libraries led by the Internet Archive have announced a new, cooperative 80,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction.

According to the Internet Archive post/release, any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore (which we don’t yet have in Australia!), which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology.

Openlibrary.org is worth a visit, if only to see some of  1,000,000 free ebook titles available.

The World’s classic literature at your fingertips!

How about Down with skool!  A guide to school life for tiny pupils and their parents published in 1953. That’s one I have to check out – should be funny or perhaps frightening, depending on what’s inside!

But really – this sort of development is exciting. While the books are ‘old’ – they also include some quality literature. Lot’s of  good reading to while away the time, or expand the mind.