“The Apple II Age is a joy to read and an extraordinary achievement in computer history. A rigorous thinker and a bright and witty writer, Nooney offers a compelling account of the initial attempts to make computers inviting to the public. The Apple II Age, like the old microcomputer itself, is bound to intrigue both experts and newcomers to the subject.” ―JOANNE MCNEIL, author of ‘Lurking: How a Person Became a User’
Join us for an engrossing origin story for the personal computer—showing how the Apple II’s software helped a machine transcend from hobbyists’ plaything to essential home appliance.
6:00 PM — Reception 6:30 PM — Book Talk: The Apple II Age 7:30 PM — Book Signing
Please note that this event will be held in person at the Internet Archive.
If you want to understand how Apple Inc. became an industry behemoth, look no further than the 1977 Apple II. It was a versatile piece of hardware, but its most compelling story isn’t found in the feat of its engineering, the personalities of Apple’s founders, or the way it set the stage for the company’s multibillion-dollar future. Instead, historian Laine Nooney shows, what made the Apple II iconic was its software. The story of personal computing in the United States is not about the evolution of hackers—it’s about the rise of everyday users.
Recounting a constellation of software creation stories, Nooney offers a new understanding of how the hobbyists’ microcomputers of the 1970s became the personal computer we know today. From iconic software products like VisiCalc and The Print Shop to historic games like Mystery House and Snooper Troops to long-forgotten disk-cracking utilities, The Apple II Age offers an unprecedented look at the people, the industry, and the money that built the microcomputing milieu—and why so much of it converged around the pioneering Apple II.
Laine Nooney is assistant professor of media and information industries at New York University. Their research has been featured by outlets such as The Atlantic, Motherboard, and NPR. They live in New York City, where their hobbies include motorcycles, tugboats, and Texas hold ’em.
Book Talk: The Apple II Age May 11 @ 6pm IN-PERSON @ 300 Funston Ave., San Francisco Register now for the free, in-person event
After spending years researching the history of U.S. copyright law, Jessica Litman says she wants to make it easy for others to find her work.
The law professor’s book, Digital Copyright, first published in 2001 by Prometheus Books, is available free online (read now). After it went out of print in 2015, University of Michigan Press agreed to publish an open access edition of the book. Litman updated all the footnotes (some of which were broken links to web pages only available through preservation on Internet Archive) and made the updated book available under a CC-BY-ND license in 2017.
“I wanted the book to continue to be useful,” Litman said. “Free copies on the web make it easy to read.”
Geared for a general audience, the book chronicles how copyright laws were drafted, written, lobbied and enacted in Congress over time. Litman researched the legislative history of copyright law, including development of the 1976 Copyright Act, and spent two years in Washington, D.C., observing Congress leading up to the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.
“Copyright is very complicated. It can take years to agree on the text,” Litman said. “The laws that result from that process are predictable in disadvantaging the public interest because readers, listeners and viewers don’t sit at the bargaining table — or the people who create new technology because they don’t exist yet.”
Indeed, it’s in the interest of people crafting laws to erect entry barriers to anything new, Litman adds.
Initial response to her book was positive, said Litman, the John F. Nickoll Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. In 2006, she added an afterward with the release of a paperback edition of the book. As sales dwindled, the book went out of print. Still, Litman said there was demand and she wanted to make it broadly available to the public.
Taking advantage of the book contract’s termination clause, she wrote to the publisher to recapture rights to the book. Litman said she persuaded the University of Michigan Press to publish a revised online and print-on-demand edition with a new postscript under a Creative Commons CC-BY-ND license.
Many authors are not aware of this option and the nonprofit Authors Alliance, of which Litman was a founding member, helps provide resources to assist authors in the process of regaining their copyright.
Typically, publishers require authors to sign contracts giving up their copyright so the company can publish, distribute and make a return on the investment of the book. One of the challenges over time, explains Dave Hansen, Executive Director of the Alliance, is that a publisher may stop printing a book when sales drop below a certain threshold. Yet, there may be potential readers that the author still wants to reach, if he or she could reclaim the copyright.
Once the author has the rights back, there are low- or no-cost options to make it freely available. A copy can be donated to a collection at a library, such as the Internet Archive, for scanning and posting. Additionally, academic libraries are increasingly offering open access publishing services to reformat and post works online.
The Promise of Open
Today, Digital Copyright is being downloaded hundreds of times every month. Free copies of the book had been available on the web from the mid-2000, in a variety of open access archives including Michigan’s Deep Blue Repository. The book is also available for hard copy purchase from online booksellers as a print-on-demand book through University of Michigan Press’s Maize Books series.
Litman is among a growing number of academics who advocate for more open sharing of their research. On the University of Michigan Senate task force, Litman helped revise the university’s copyright policy to give the institution the right to archive all faculty scholarly work as a condition of transferring the copyright in the work to the faculty member who creates it. She also worked with the law school library to help its law journals rewrite their standard form contracts to allow open access publication.
Her advice to fellow authors: “Behave as if the law were more sensible than it is. Live in the world as you would like it to be, in hopes that the world will come around.”
Litman is an adviser for the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Copyright, a past trustee of the Copyright Society of the USA, a past chair of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Intellectual Property, and past member of the Future of Music Coalition’s advisory council.
She will discuss her open access publishing experience and her take on copyright law with Brewster Kahle at a free online book talk April 20. Register here.
How can public interest values shape the future of AI?
With the rise of generative artificial intelligence (AI), there has been increasing interest in how AI can be used in the description, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. While AI promises immense benefits, it also raises important ethical considerations.
WATCH SESSION RECORDING:
In this session, leaders from Internet Archive, Creative Commons and Wikimedia Foundation will discuss how public interest values can shape the development and deployment of AI in cultural heritage, including how to ensure that AI reflects diverse perspectives, promotes cultural understanding, and respects ethical principles such as privacy and consent.
Join us for a thought-provoking discussion on the future of AI in cultural heritage, and learn how we can work together to create a more equitable and responsible future.
When thinking about how to build a better internet—one that is focused on the public interest and promoting meaningful participation for everyone—libraries are key players. And to fulfill that role, libraries need to have policies that allow them to thrive online.
Just how to achieve that was the focus of a webinar sponsored by the Internet Archive and the Movement for a Better Internet on December 8, moderated by Chris Lewis, president and CEO of Public Knowledge.
“Libraries and the internet are both all about access and culture,” Bailey said. “They serve as democratizing forces in society, getting information to people and promoting robust and diverse participation in society.”
But libraries enjoy far higher societal trust in terms of providing access to reliable information, and the internet—and all who use it—could benefit from updated policies that support libraries operating more effectively in the digital space. Bailey said the library community and digital rights groups are worried about mandatory filtering proposals and publisher tactics that limit access to digital materials and lawful library functions like lending. “The seismic shift in the ecosystem is that publishers don’t sell ebooks to libraries, they only rent them on limited terms,” Bailey added.
To address these challenges, the report concludes that libraries must maintain four rights: to collect digital materials, preserve them over time, lend them to users, and cooperate with other libraries to share digital materials through standard library practices. Learn more about the report & findings in our previous post.
“The rights that libraries have always enjoyed offline, which align with the functions that they have played, need to be translated, protected, and clearly delineated online,” Bailey said.
Here’s how you can help libraries build a better information ecosystem in the 21st century:
READ & SHARE the report, “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet.”
Katherine Klosek, director of information policy for the Association of Research Libraries, said the library community is deeply concerned about the potential impact of mandatory filtering on removal of content, censoring, and erosion of fair use. There is clear alignment with the new report and the ARL advocacy agenda, particularly in regard to copyright, said Klosek, highlighting her association’s Know Your Copyrights resource for library leaders.
“A lot of the challenges that libraries and cultural heritage institutions face today is due to the fact that copyright laws haven’t kept pace with the evolution of how people like to share on the internet,” said panelist Brigitte Vézina of Creative Commons. “They’re outdated. They’re unfit for the internet and sometimes they are just unclear.”
If copyright laws are not balanced and don’t contain enough exceptions, the repercussions go beyond the walls of the library, Vézina said. Limiting educational use of content impacts the public’s ability to access their fundamental right to cultural heritage, partake in creative endeavors, and infringes free expression. Indeed, solving the world’s biggest problems such as climate change and health issues, requires access to knowledge and fostering collaboration, Vézina added. Equitable access is key to ensuring that everyone can participate in solving these grand challenges.
As to how library rights affect the rights of authors and creators, the panelists were clear that balance was needed. “Author rights and library rights are not oppositional…they have worked together for centuries,” Bailey said. Libraries buy books, whether they are popular or not, which supports authors and allows future authors access to the resources they need to become readers and then writers. The key is finding compensation strategies and policies that actually benefit artists, rather than just enriching the platforms that control access.
“Building a better internet that is focused on public interest values is going to require making sure libraries function and thrive online,” said Bailey. To move the positive rights agenda for libraries forward, Bailey encouraged anyone interested to download, read and share the free, openly-licensed report here; get involved in the Library Week of Action planned in early 2023 and join the Movement for a Better Internet.
In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. SARAH LAMDAN brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.
What do libraries have to do with building a better internet? How would securing certain digital rights for these traditional public interest institutions help make the internet work better for everyone?
Join Public Knowledge President CHRIS LEWIS as he facilitates a conversation on these issues and the emerging Movement for a Better Internet with library and internet policy experts LILA BAILEY (Internet Archive), KATHERINE KLOSEK (Association of Research Libraries) and BRIGITTE VÉZINA (Creative Commons).
They will discuss Internet Archive’s forthcoming report “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet” along with ongoing copyright reform projects from Creative Commons and ARL.
Today’s copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright—and its violation—a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and libraries is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries—and their history is essential to understanding today’s battles. THE COPYRIGHT WARS—the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today—tells this important story.
At a recent webinar hosted by the Internet Archive, leaders from the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) shared how its massive open access digital collection documenting life on the planet is an invaluable resource of use to scientists and ordinary citizens.
“The BHL is a global consortium of the leading natural history museums, botanical gardens, and research institutions — big and small— from all over the world. Working together and in partnership with the Internet Archive, these libraries have digitized more than 60 million pages of scientific literature available to the public”, said Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries and moderator of the event.
Watch session recording:
Established in 2006 with a commitment to inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge, BHL has 19 members and 22 affiliates, plus 100 worldwide partners contributing data. The BHL has content dating back nearly 600 years alongside current literature that, when liberated from the print page, holds immense promise for advancing science and solving today’s pressing problems of climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
Martin Kalfatovic, BHL program director and associate director of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, noted in his presentation that Charles Darwin and colleagues famously said “the cultivation of natural science cannot be efficiently carried on without reference to an extensive library.”
“Today, the Biodiversity Heritage Library is creating this global, accessible open library of literature that will help scientists, taxonomists, environmentalists—a host of people working with our planet—to actually have ready access to these collections,” Kalfatovic said. BHL’s mission is to improve research methodology by working with its partner libraries and the broader biodiversity and bioinformatics community. Each month, BHL draws about 142,000 visitors and 12 million users overall.
Most of the BHL’s materials are from collections in the global north, primarily in large, well-funded institutions. Digitizing these collections helps level the playing field, providing researchers in all parts of the world equal access to vital content.
The vast collection includes species descriptions, distribution records, climate records, history of scientific discovery, information on extinct species, and records of scientific distributions of where species live. To date, BHL has made over 176,000 titles and 281,000 volumes available. Through a partnership with the Global Names Architecture project, more than 243 million instances of taxonomic (Latin) names have been found in BHL content.
Kalfatovic underscored the value of BHL content in understanding the environment in the wake of recent troubling news from the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the impact of the earth’s warming.
“The outlook for the planet is challenging,” he said. “By unlocking this historic data, we can find out where we’ve been over time to find out more about where we need to be in the future.”
JJ Dearborn, BHL data manager, discussed how digitization transforms physical books into digital objects that can be shared with “anyone, at any time, anywhere.” She describes the Wikimedia ecosystem as “fertile ground for open access experimentation,” crediting the organization with giving BHL the ability to reach new audiences and transform its data into 5-star linked open data. “Dark data” that is locked up in legacy formats, JP2s, and OCR text are sources of valuable checklist, species occurrence, and event sampling data that the larger biodiversity community can use to improve humanity’s collective ability to monitor biodiversity loss and the destructive impacts of climate change, at scale.
The majority of the world’s data today is siloed, unstructured, and unused, Dearborn explained. This “dark data” “represents an untapped resource that could really transform human understanding if it could be truly utilized,” she said. “It might represent a gestalt leap for humanity.”
The event was the fifth in a series of six sessions highlighting how researchers in the humanities use the Internet Archive. The final session of the Library as Laboratory series will be a series of lightning talks on May 11 at 11am PT / 2pm ET—register now!
Laura Gibbs and Helen Nde share a passion for African folktales. They are both active researchers and bloggers on the subject who rely on the Internet Archive’s extensive collection in their work.
In the third of a series of webinars highlighting how researchers in the humanities use the Internet Archive, Gibbs and Nde spoke on March 30 about how they use the online library and contribute to its resources.
Gibbs was teaching at the University of Oklahoma in the spring of 2020 when the campus library shut down due to the pandemic. “That’s when I learned about controlled digital lending at the Internet Archive and that changed everything for me. I hadn’t realized how extensive the materials were,” said Gibbs, who was trained as a folklorist. She retired last May and began a project of cross-referencing her bookshelves of African and African-American folktales to see how many were available at the Internet Archive. Being able to check out one digital title at a time through controlled digital lending (CDL) opened up new possibilities for her research.
“It was just mind boggling to me and so exciting,” she said of discovering the online library. “I want to be a provocation to get other people to go read, do their own writing and thinking from books that we can all access. That’s what the Internet Archive has miraculously done.”
Gibbs said it has been very helpful to use the search function using the title of a book, name of an illustrator or some other kind of detail. With an account, the user can see the search results and borrow the digital book through CDL. “It’s all super easy to do. And if you’re like me and weren’t aware of the amazing resources available through controlled digital lending, now is the time to create your account at the Internet Archive,” Gibbs said.
Every day, Gibbs blogs about a different book and rewrites a 100-word “tiny-tale” synopsis. In less than a year, she compiled A Reader’s Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive, a curated bibliography of hundreds of folktale books that she has shared with the public through the Internet Archive. Some are in the public domain, but many are later works and only available for lending one copy at a time through CDL.
In her work, Nde explores mythological folklore from the African continent and is dedicated to preserving the storyteller traditions of African peoples, which is largely oral culture. Nde maintains the Mythological Africans website where she hosts storytelling sessions, modern lectures, and posts essays.
“[The Internet Archive] is an amazing resource of information online, which is readily available, and really goes to dispel the notion that there is no uniformity of folklore from the African continent,” Nde said. “Through Mythological Africans, I am able to share these stories and make these cultures come alive as much as possible.”
As an immigrant in the United States from Cameroon, Nde began to research the topic of African folklore because she was curious about exploring her background and identity. She said she found a community and a creative outlet for examining storytelling, poetry, dance and folktales. Nde said examining Gibb’s works gave her an opportunity to reconnect with some of the favorite books from her childhood. She’s also discovered reference books through the Internet Archive collection that have been helpful. Nde is active on social media (Twitter.com/mythicafricans) and has a YouTube channel on African mythology. She recently collaborated on a project with PBS highlighting the folklore behind an evil entity called the Adze, which can take the form of a firefly.
The presenters said when citing material from the Internet Archive, not only can they link to a source, a blog or an academic article, they can link to the specific page number in that source. This gives credit to the author and also access to that story for anybody who wants to read it for themselves.
The next webinar in the series, Television as Data: Opening TV News for Deep Analysis and New Forms of Interactive Search, on April 13 will feature Roger MacDonald, Founder of the TV News Archive and Kalev Leetaru, Data Scientist at GDELT. Register now.
Join us on Tuesday, April 5 at 11am PT / 2pm ET for a book talk with John Markoff in conversation with journalist Steven Levy (Facebook: The Inside Story), on the occasion of Markoff’s new biography, WHOLE EARTH: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand.
For decades Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter John Markoff has chronicled how technology has shaped our society. In his latest book, WHOLE EARTH: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand (on-sale now), Markoff delivers the definitive biography of one of the most influential visionaries to inspire the technological, environmental, and cultural revolutions of the last six decades.
Today Stewart Brand is largely known as the creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, a compendium of tools, books, and other intriguing ephemera that became a counterculture bible for a generation of young Americans during the 1960s. He was labeled a “techno-utopian” and a “hippie prince”, but Markoff’s WHOLE EARTH shows that Brand’s life’s work is far more. In 1966, Brand asked a simple question—why we had not yet seen a photograph of the whole earth? The whole earth image became an optimistic symbol for environmentalists and replaced the 1950s’ mushroom cloud with the ideal of a unified planetary consciousness. But after the catalog, Brand went on to greatly influence the ‘70s environmental movement and the computing world of the ‘80s. Steve Jobs adopted Brand’s famous mantra, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” as his code to live by, and to this day Brand epitomizes what Markoff calls “that California state of mind.”
Brand has always had an “eerie knack for showing up first at the onset of some social movement or technological inflection point,” Markoff writes, “and then moving on just when everyone else catches up.” Brand’s uncanny ahead-of-the-curveness is what makes John Markoff his ideal biographer. Markoff has covered Silicon Valley since 1977, and his reporting has always been at the cutting edge of tech revolutions—he wrote the first account of the World Wide Web in 1993 and broke the story of Google’s self-driving car in 2010. Stewart Brand gave Markoff carte blanche access in interviews for the book, so Markoff gets a clearer story than has ever been set down before, ranging across Brand’s time with the Merry Pranksters and his generation-defining Whole Earth Catalog, to his fostering of the marriage of environmental consciousness with hacker capitalism and the rise of a new planetary culture.
Above all, John Markoff’s WHOLE EARTH reminds us how today, amid the growing backlash against Big Tech, Stewart Brand’s original technological optimism might offer a roadmap for Silicon Valley to find its way back to its early, most promising vision.
Purchase your copy of WHOLE EARTH: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand via the Booksmith, our local bookstore.
Memory institutions know the headaches of storing their ever-expanding physical collections: fire, flood, access & space over the long-term. But storing digital assets presents even more diverse challenges: attacks by hackers, deep fakes, censorship, and the unforeseeable cost of storing bits for centuries. Could a new approach—decentralized storage—offer some solutions? That was the focus of an Internet Archive webinar on February 24.
In the utopian version of decentralized storage, there would be collaborative, authenticated, co-hosted collections. Wendy Hanamura, Director of Partnerships at the Internet Archive, said this would make information less prone to censorship and less vulnerable to a security breach. “Taken together, resiliency, persistence, self-certification and interoperability — that is the promise of decentralized storage,” she said.
Librarians and archivists are a key part of creating a solution that is networked, said Jonathan Dotan, Founder of the Starling Lab, the first major research lab devoted to Web 3.0 technologies.
“As a community, if we can all come together to guarantee the integrity of information, we’re in a unique position to create a new foundation of digital trust,” Dotan said. “When we think about decentralization, it’s not a single destination. It’s an unfolding process in which we continually strive to bring more and more diverse nodes into our system. And the more diverse those notes are, the more that they’re going to be able to store and verify information.”
Other speakers at the webinar included Arkadiy Kukarkin, Decentralized Web Lead Engineer for the Internet Archive, and Dominick Marino, Senior Solutions Architect and Ecosystem lead at STORJ.