digital knowledge. digital culture. digital memory.


Fintel announces for Fiji WiMAX

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Here is an interesting announcement for all Fijians who love their bandwidth. There is no word on when FinTel will make this technology available although they plan to cover Suva first and then eventually over 300 islands.

Dec 4 - Alvarion Ltd. (NASDAQ:ALVR), the world's leading provider of wireless broadband solutions and specialized mobile networks, today announced that Fiji International Communications Limited (FINTEL), the country's international telecommunications provider, has selected BreezeMAX to offer WiMAX data services to the businesses and residents of the Fiji islands...

"We are pleased to be able to bring the '4G' services of WiMAX to the Fiji Islands," said Mr. Jone Wesele, Commercial & Business Development Manager of FINTEL.

Note: Wikipedia's article on 4G is a great way to get up to speed on wireless telephony acronyms and jargon.


Fiji news is truly wired

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As an avid follower of recent turmoil in Fiji one element is striking. For the first time in the history of Fiji, a major national event can be followed in detail online. Between the outstanding Fiji bloggers and the quality of Fijian news websites, supplemented by the websites of foreign media, I have been able to follow developments far better than television, radio, and newspapers combined. I have been particularly impressed with the timely, if not always accurate, information provided by both FijiLive and the Fiji Times website.

It is also interesting to note that the online community has been regularly updating related Wikipedia pages including the pages for Qarase and Bainimarama.

It is my deepest wish that Fiji will find a peaceful resolution to its current crisis followed by a rapid economic recovery.


Rotumans comment on the Internet

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At a recent PacINET meeting, Jasmine Ali distributed a short documentary exploring Rotumans' attitudes towards the Internet entitled, "A Buscuit View of the Internet". Thank you to Franck Martin of PICISOC fame for converting the video to DivX and making it available for download. Warning, this is still a 278 Mb download.

I hope that Jasmine and others can continue to explore both the positive and negative impact of the Internet on island life.


UNESCO to promote a free Internet at IGF

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The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is rapping up in Athens right now. One topic on the IGF agenda that should be on the minds of Pacific Islanders who value their freedom of speech and ability to express their embattled cultures online is the trend away from freedom of expression on the Internet.

This threat comes primarily in two forms, one is passive and systemic and the other is the result of active suppression. The passive threat is inherent in the technology and governance structure of the Internet and comes primarily in the form of English-centred technological standards and US-centred Internet governance structures, particularly in terms of ICANN. The active threat comes from governments, and even private interests, practicing censorship against their own citizens online.

UNESCO, a frequent patron of a variety of projects in the Pacific, ran three workshops addressing these and related issues at the IGF. Warning, the following quote contains copious NGO jargon.

On 31 October, UNESCO’s workshop, Towards a multilingual global Internet: Avoiding the risk of fragmentation (co-organized with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Egypt), will focus on efforts to ensure that the internet remains open and global, while allowing for the use of different scripts, notably in the creation of domain names in non-Latin languages. The issue is becoming ever more crucial with the increasing quantity of content in non-Latin scripts on the internet. The consequent need to use non-Latin scripts in naming websites must be reconciled with the need to maintain seamless communication across all parts of cyberspace to avoid breaking up cyberspace into disparate, incompatible script-based networks.

Also on 31 October, UNESCO and the Internet Governance Project (IGP), an interdisciplinary consortium of academics with expertise in international governance, internet policy, and information and communication technology (ICT), will organize the workshop on Content Filtering and Freedom of Expression. The event will bring together representatives of freedom of expression advocacy groups, academics and stakeholders such as internet service and equipment providers from different parts of the world. They will examine governmental content regulations, both through legislation and technical barriers such as filters. Participants will also explore ways for countries with different legal understandings of acceptable content to reconcile their differences while maximizing freedom.

On 1 November, the workshop on Openness in Cyberspace: The Challenges of Freedom of Expression will seek to define ways to ensure the free flow of information in an open and transparent internet. Issues to be examined will include: how to develop inclusive, participatory and open models in cyberspace; regulatory mechanisms on the national and international levels; reinforcing reliability of the internet; protecting privacy and individual rights; and promoting the openness that is indispensable for the creation of inclusive knowledge societies.
[UNESCO to address risks of internet fragmentation and freedom of expression in cyberspace at Internet Governance Forum, October 27, 2006, UNESCO Portal.]

The public dialogue on these subjects needs to begin in Fiji and other South Pacific nations. Let us not allow others to set our fate.

Note on author's short term bias: I am currently in the Cook Islands working on a challenging library technology project that is sponsored by UNESCO.


Fijian languge support available for OpenOffice

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Fijian language support is now availble for the popular free alternative to Microsoft Office. Fijian was added to the suite of languages supported by OpenOffice by a team of USP staff and studenets including, Dr. William Blanke, Dr. Paul Geraghty, Mere Bavoro, Aloesi Cagica, and Rajneel Totaram. OpenOffice is available for download directly from USP's Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) site.

You will need to following to get working in Fijian:

For those who are not familiar with OpenOffice, it is a freely available open source office software suite that includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, a light-wieght database, and more. While OpenOffice has its own file formats, it can also read and write Microsoft Office files. OpenOffice is also available for a variety of non-Windows platforms and has built in support for creating PDF files. The OpenOffice project is sponsored by Sun Microsystems.


Preserving blogs for posterity

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Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about the importance of preserving semi-formal Pacific scholarship [Gaps in the collection of Pacific scholarship]. This is the so called lost literature that is ripe for harvesting by institutional repository programs. And I singled out the University of Hawaii and the University of the South Pacific as logical homes for such repositories.

In the light of this I was interested to read about the recent program at the National Library of Scotland to collect blog posts and other digital material of prominent citizens.

The National Library of Scotland is to create an archive of the blogs, journals and e-mails of leading Scots, which curators claim are the manuscripts of the 21st century, writes Karin Goodwin.

The scheme, which has been awarded £1.8m by the Scottish executive, will be launched over the next two years. The library’s "digital repository" is expected to quickly outstrip its physical collection of books and papers.

The websites and blogs of leading cultural figures, including writers such as JK Rowling and Alasdair Gray, will become prime exhibits.

Digital curators will also save digital source material such as personal e-mails, which they believe will be used as primary research material by academics and biographers.
[National Library to store blogs, The Sunday Times, September 10, 2006]

This is a welcome development. Certainly emails are the personal letters of the 21st century, although I would describe blogs as the diaries and journals of the 21st century rather than the manuscripts.

A related initiative at the British Library took place earlier this month known as the "One Day in History" project.

The details of a day in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Britons will reportedly be recorded and compiled into a digital time capsule that will be stored permanently at the British Library.

The "One Day in History" project, described as a "blog for the national record," will feature British celebrities such as actors Stephen Fry and Derek Jacobi, and the writer Bill Bryson contributing to the compilation, along with any Briton with access to the Internet who wants to participate.
[British Library to store 'blog' of lives of Britons: report, AFP, October 14, 2006]

This gives me another good idea for a Fiji blog project!


Save Vocea appointed to ICANN

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Congratulations to local boy Save Vocea on his appointment to the US dominated Internet naming regulator ICANN. By this and similar appointments ICANN hopes to cast itself as a truly international organization.

ICANN is pleased to announce the following new staff appointment joining the Global Partnership's regional liaison network. This appointment demonstrates ICANN's continued commitment to build on existing outreach and support the increasing international participation in ICANN and efficiency of the ICANN multi- stakeholder environment.

Savenaca Vocea: ICANN Global Partnership -- Australasia/Pacific Islands Liaison

Save joins ICANN from the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), where he served since 2002. He performed both Liaison (Pacific) and Policy Development Manager role. He facilitated the process of APNICs policy development and project manage implementation of these policies. He presents and participates in the Pacific islands telco/internet fora liaising with industry stakeholder groups. He is organizing committee member to the Pacific Network Operators Group (PacNOG). He is also committee member to APRICOT and SANOG.

Prior to APNIC, Save was Manager at Pacific Islands Telecommunications Association (PITA) collaborating industry initiatives and member activities with regional and international stakeholders to foster ICT development in the Pacific.

Save is well known to the Oceania telecom/Internet and international community and brings a wealth of experience which will be invaluable to ICANN. ICANN wishes Save every success.
[ICANN Announces New Staff Appointments, 9 October 2006]
ICANN's apparent lack of independence from the US government has been a point of discussion in the press recently. Fellow Canadian Michael Geist recently published an editorial entitled, "ICANN sacrifices privacy for shot at independence",
the U.S. government has undone five years of policy work that the Internet community has undertaken by requiring ICANN to enforce current WHOIS policies. As discontent over the WHOIS issue mounted late last week, ICANN CEO Paul Twomey offered a strained interpretation of the clause, suggesting that he did not believe that it restricted future WHOIS reforms.
[Ottawa Citizen, 10 October 2006]
Computerworld New Zealand has the following comment on the recent decision to extend the US Department of Commerce's control over ICANN,
The US Department of Commerce will retain ICANN oversight for three more years, although there will be a review in 18 months of ICANN’s progress towards becoming a more stable, transparent and accountable organisation, the government agency says. A spokesman for ICANN says that at this 18-month review a decision could be taken to give ICANN total autonomy.
[US govt retains ICANN oversight, Computerworld New Zealand, 11 October 2006]


Using the Internet critically - Wikipedia

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Just is it is crucial to take rumors heard through Fiji's coconut wireless with a grain of salt, it is crucial that Fijians critically evaluate information found via the Internet. Recognize the Internet for what it is - the largest self publishing and communications medium in human history, plus much more. When else in history could I publish my own ideas for pennies and have them be read around the world in dozens of countries?

This capability is the fruit of the Information Age; but we must be cautious, as there are also dangers. The same digital commons that lets me share my thoughts, ideas, and creativity with the world also brings misinformation, fraud, spam, malicious software, and other evils to my virtual door step.

To give just one example, for many of us, when we wanted simple factual information, we used to head down to the library in our town or school and check the Encyclopedia Britannica (now online). Britannica was a reliable source of information because it had built up a reputation over decades for reliable fact checking and a fairly predictable British/American colonial editorial slant. You always knew how far you could trust Britannica. Now, as more people find checking the Internet to be their preferred avenue of information search and retrieval, it is common to surf to the Wikipedia to carry out the same sort of research that was once the domain of Britannica.

However, too few Internet users understand what they are doing when they consult Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not have an editorial committee of prominent academics, nor a small army of proof readers and fact checkers, nor professional writers like Britannica. Wikipedia has hundreds of thousands of Internet contributors - people like you and I - some very clever software, and a band of editors who are focused more on stoping digital vandalism than ensuring the quality of Wikipedia entries. Anyone can add to it or change it - it is quite literally, the people's encyclopedia, or at least the encyclopedia of the techno-literate.

Robert McHenry, a former editor of Britannica published a scathing criticism of Wikipedia in 2004 that clarifies many of the key distinctions between Wikipedia and encyclopedias born of an earlier age. Here is a sample of his critique,

As of November 2004, according to the project's own counts, nearly 30,000 contributors had written about 1.1 million articles in 109 different languages, though some of these language versions of Wikipedia remained quite small. The Manx Gaelic version, for example, had only 3 articles, the Guarani 10, and the Klingon (yes, from the Star Trek series) 48. The largest, the English language version, contained over 382,000 pages that were thought 'probably' to be encyclopedic articles.
[Robert McHenry, The Faith-Based Encyclopedia, 2004.]

The bulk of McHenry's argument against Wikipedia is that low expectations and lack of editorial control result in inaccuracies. While it seems like common sense that Wikipedia would stand head and shoulders above most other traditional encyclopedias when it comes to the volume and magnitude of errors and innaquracies, a Nature Special Report found otherwise. Despite this, Wikipedia remains a remarkable acheivement. It is the greatest example to date of the power of massively collaborative publishing.

Wikipedia, according to their home page, now boasts over 1.4 million English articles, over 100,000 articles in eleven other languages, plus lesser coverage in dozens of other languages. Despite the validity of McHenry's concerns, one significant strength of the Wikipedia model is its power to capture new topics and ideas as they occur in the world around us. To provide an illustration, at the time of writing this, there is already a page on Duane Morrison, who took six students hostage at a Colorado high school before killing one student then himself one day ago. A search for Duane Morrison at Britannica Online today, yields one false drop about popular music in 1995.

Recently, a criticism of Wikipedia has been raised that is much more subtle and possibly more important than McHenry's common-sense no-fact-checkers-equals-more-errors critique. Jaron Lanier holds up Wikipedia as the foremost example of what he calls digital Maoism or the new online collectivism or even, an online fetish site for foolish collectivism,

...the problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous...

A core belief of the wiki world is that whatever problems exist in the wiki will be incrementally corrected as the process unfolds. This is analogous to the claims of Hyper-Libertarians who put infinite faith in a free market, or the Hyper-Lefties who are somehow able to sit through consensus decision-making processes. In all these cases, it seems to me that empirical evidence has yielded mixed results. Sometimes loosely structured collective activities yield continuous improvements and sometimes they don't.
[Digital Maoism, The Edge, May 2006]

Lanier's argument is interesting and has sparked a great deal of discussion, but I am not going to take sides here. My point is not that Wikipedia is either good or bad. My point is that searching for information online requires critical thinking and good information about the sources of information themselves in order to succeed. As a nation that has not yet acheived widespread access to computers and the Internet, Fiji is only taking its first steps into the digital world. Fijian ICT and Education policy makers must not forget that Information Literacy is every bit as important as technical computing skills.

And the next time you are looking for important information online, here is a novel idea: ask a librarian. (USP staff and students can go here.)


I am making a public appearance - "Working in IT in Canada"

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Being a celeb is tough - fighting the never ending battle to sate the bottomless appetite of my fan-base with public appearances, etc... Ok, I am not famous (but I can dream) and my only true fans are my wife and kids, but I am making a public appearance this Wednesday night. I will be doing another presentation for the South Pacific Computer Society at USP in Suva on Wednesday night at 7pm.

The topic is essentially, how to look for a job in IT in Canada. There are a large number of Fijian citizens with the necessary credentials to work in Canada, but what is the best way to find that great overseas job? The particulars of the presentation are below, but I would especially like to invite any of you Fiji bloggers to drop by and say hi. You do not need to be a SPCS member to attend and admission is free.

Title: Adapting an IT career in a new environment
Speaker: Chris Hammond-Thrasher (CISSP), USP Library Systems Manager
Venue: SO24 Lecture room, SSED building, USP, Laucala Campus
Time: 7pm - 8pm
Date: Wednesday, 4th of October 2006
Free and all welcome


A Fiji blogs feed - one step further

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Fiji blogs feed
One of the key partner technologies to blogs is syndication. Syndication, in this sense, refers to publishing your blog (or any other web resource) in one of several standardized formats that can be read and processed by other computers. Syndicating your blog is commonly referred to as publishing a feed.It would be fair to ask, why on earth would I want to do this? The argument is twofold,

  1. More readers - This allows your readers to access your blog through the increasingly popular channel of feed readers like reddit, Google Reader, or right inside of Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird. One key difference between surfing the web and using a feed reader is that your posts will arrive like new email in the feed reader of every one of you subscribers - you do not have to hope that they will surf to your site of their own accord.
  2. More readers - This allows your content and links to your blog to be gathered, processed, and used in new ways. One exciting example is through aggregators. Aggregators bring content together from diverse sources. One interesting example is the Fiji News feed that I put together.
I am indebted to fellow Fiji blogger Vakaisavosa who has suggested a number of additions to my original list of active Fiji blogs. I have gone through my list, plus those of Vakaisavosa's suggested additions that met my criteria of recent activity and Fijiness, and pulled together all available feeds into one aggregated Fiji blogs feed using Kick RSS. This feed will let you watch almost all Fiji blogs from a single feed.

This brings me to my final point - I notice that several Fiji bloggers conspicuously lack feeds to their blogs. Turn on those feeds, my friends, so that Fiji's diverse voices can be heard even louder!


Fiji blogs!

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One of the most popular ways for individuals to participate in digital culture and collaborate online is through weblogs (or just blogs) - and Fijians are no exception.

The following is a list of active blogs about Fiji or by Fiji residents. Notice how diverse these blogs are in style and topic - they range from personal diaries, to blogs sharing photos with overseas relatives, to promotional blogs, to self-published journalism.



Benefiting from the global digital commons

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Google Books beta
The developing cultural and financial economies of the South Pacific, while lagging behind developed nations in terms of information infrastructure, are in a unique position to take advantage of many of the fruits of the information age. One can see this taking place in numerous forms - mobile phone adoption out paces copper telephony across the region, satellite television is common where cable TV delivery is almost non-existent, and digital content delivered via the Internet has gone some way to narrowing the information gap between the Pacific region and the developed world.

One area where this final point has a great deal of promise is within the domain of libraries. Generally speaking, the geography of the South Pacific region has always been a significant barrier to the development of library collections in the region. It is a fact that the total cost of acquiring a book in the South Pacific is significantly higher than in countries with local publishing industries and markets. However, as more and more digital content becomes available online, the total cost of delivering that content to library users in the South Pacific becomes closer to the total cost of delivery to users of a North American, European, or Australian library.

The same is also true for innovative online library services. One fascinating and occasionally controversial (see here and here) example is Google Books. Through digitizing the collections of a number of major libraries in the US and Europe (Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford Universities, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library), Google Books has provided no-cost full-text searching and a visual peak inside of millions of books to Internet users around the world.

Recently, Google Books added a new feature that explicitly ties the service back to libraries in 30 countries - Find Libraries.

Each result includes a "Find Libraries" link to help readers find libraries that hold the book -- ideally a library nearby, or if need be, a library far away. For example, after reading Martin Gardner's book Fads and Fallacies, I wanted to follow up on Immanuel Velikovsky's books about scientific explanations for biblical miracles. Clicking on the "Find Libraries" link for Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision, I found that a copy was available in the University of Sao Paulo library.
[Bruno Fonseca, Finding the wealth in your library (and everyone else's), Official Google Blog, 24/8/2006]
Shortly thereafter, John Blyberg of the Ann Arbor District Library posed the question, if Google Books can incorporate library holdings into their search results, "They [Google Books] should have no problem with me incorporating Google Books into our hit-list. Right?" John reports that Google did briefly object, but ultimately allowed him to roll Google Book page previews into his catalogue results at Try a keyword search for "frommers pacific" and click on the Look inside this book @ Google Books to see this in action.

The combined public and private sectors of the entire South Pacific could not put together an endeavor as colossal as Google Books, yet the beauty of the information age is that we in the Pacific get to be full beneficiaries of Google's investment.


Computer security in the South Pacific

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To do my bit to rectify the low level of computer security awareness in Fiji I made a presentation to the South Pacific Computer Society entitled "How Hackers Do It". It was a live demonstration of the life cycle of a computer break-in using freely available and well documented tools such as:

It was a fast paced presentation that was a lot of fun for the gathered audience - and the presenter as well! I will post the slides as soon as they are online.

Post script: whois a hacker tool? Ok, it isn't really, but a whois query is the best way to find out your target's DNS server address and the email addresses of two improtant users - the administrative and technical contacts.

Update: My slides are now available.


Techie digression: Amazon XML to MARC

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Here is a clever little tool that is marginally related to my earlier post about Amazon selling MARC records to libraries along with their book purchases. Charles Ledvina of the Outagamie Waupaca Library System in the US has put together a couple of tools that transform Amazon's XML bibliographic record into fairly decent MARC.

The first, is a web application that takes Amazon's unique identifier, the ASIN, and returns MARC. Here is a link to the MARC equivalent of Amazons record for the 2006 Lonely Planet Fiji.
This Wikipedia page explains how to grab a book's ASIN out of Amazon's URLs.

The second is only for true web geeks - a greasemonkey script that does the same.

Important note: Charles warns readers of the NGC4LIB mailing list, "beware of the subject headings".



Gaps in the collection of Pacific scholarship

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Institutional Repositories
The term institutional repository has been common in university circles for the past few years. I first heard the term at a conference in Canada in 2001 where Clifford Lynch, now the Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, was the keynote speaker. Lynch later published a manifesto for institutional repositories in an ARL report where he defined the term,

A university-based institutional repository is a set of services that a university offers to the members of its community for the management and dissemination of digital materials created by the institution and its community members. It is most essentially an organizational commitment to the stewardship of these digital materials, including long-term preservation where appropriate, as well as organization and access or distribution.
[Clifford Lynch, Institutional repositories: essential infrastructure for scholarship in the digital age, ARL Bimonthly Report 226, February 2003]
Essentially, academic institutions that establish digital repositories have made an important realization; they recognize that while they may do an excellent job at collecting, preserving, and providing access to digital information that they produce through formal publication - normally the institution's library handles this - publication covers only a small fraction of the intellectual productivity of the institution. Who is collecting the countless unpublished conference papers, presentations, faculty created research and collaboration websites, banks of research data, blog postings, and other lost literature, both digital and analogue, that typically dwarf the volume of formal publications? The answer at many academic institutions is either no one, or even worse, an uncoordinated multitude.

Institutional repositories seek to address this problem by creating a managed repository for such lost literature. They typically offer some of the following services:
  • Automated harvesting of digital objects (where feasible)
  • Storage in preservable formats
  • Persistent identifiers
  • Search capabilities
  • Rights management
The commercial and open source software communities have responded to the institutional repository need with some very interesting products, including
Pacific Scholarship
Two of the go to universities when it comes to the broad area of Pacific scholarship are the University of Hawaii and the University of the South Pacific. While both of these institutions have mandates to collect Pacific scholarship, in the broadest sense, and both institutions are significant producers of Pacific scholarship, it is notable that neither have implemented an institutional repository programme.

It is true that both universities have fledgling digitization projects, and UH is even a participant in a regional initiative based on the DSpace software platform, but neither have embarked on an initiative to capture, preserve, and make accessible their lost literature. Institutional repository programmes would help both universities, and Pacific universities in general, to better meet their mandates regarding Pacific scholarship at the same time as preserving and providing access to a new wealth of thought and memory relevant to the Pacific region.


Government's role in copyright advocacy

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In many ways the South Pacific is virgin territory for the global copyright war - for that is how the active participants describe it. A war that has been raging in many countries around the world. A war that has seen the rights of large media companies winning out over those of users of culture with very few exceptions. In Fiji, to give an illustration, there is fairly current copyright legislation in place, the Copyright Act of 1999, but enforcement is currently spotty and public support for pirated culture is high. Some of the early shots have been fired as the few legitimate DVD vendors in Fiji have begun to complain openly about their numerous illegitimate and lower priced rivals [see "Increase in piracy worries operators" in the October 1, 2005 Fiji Times].

As in G8 countries, the battle to tip the balance of copyright in the South Pacific either towards the rights of users or the rights of copyright holders will be fought not only in the legislative arena, but also in terms of public opinion and funding for enforcement. Clearly, government has a crucial role to play in enforcement, but what should government's role be in swaying peoples' minds and hearts when it comes to copyright?

The Canadian Library Association recently passed a resolution decrying a public relations campaign put out by an industry group called Captain Copyright stating that,

[the Captain Copyright] website poses a threat to our shared information commons by providing biased copyright information to the Canadian public, particularly children and schoolteachers."
[quoted in CLA on Captain Copyright, Michael Geist]
It has now come to light that the ministry of Canadian Heritage has been approached to provide copyright education funding by the industry association running the Captain Copyright campaign. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, reports that it is currently unknown as to whether the funding request was accepted or denied. In the end, I must agree with Geist's final analysis,
With hundreds of thousands of dollars provided to copyright lobby groups and tens of thousands of dollars spent on one-sided copyright awareness campaigns, it is becoming increasingly clear that Canadian Heritage copyright funding must be subject to greater transparency and oversight. Taxpayer dollars should not be used for lobbying or one-sided marketing campaigns with decisions made hidden behind closed doors. If the government wants to spend our money on public copyright initiatives, it must develop open, independent processes that are available to all stakeholders."
[Captain Copyright and the Search for Taxpayer Funding, Michael Geist]
Copyright and Intellectual Property law in general will become hot topics in the South Pacific in the years to come. Pacific governments need to be wary to put forward copyright legislation and policy that balances the needs of the creators of culture and the users of culture in order encourage and extend the cultural marketplace of the region. They must not be swayed by the property fundamentalism, to borrow a phrase from Lawrence Lessig, that is advocated by foreign Big Media and repeat the mistakes of the Canadian government.


Amazon to sell MARC records

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Amazon has announced that they are now selling MARC records and other services to their library customers. Andrew Pace has the following observation,

"As if things weren’t strange enough, Amazon has announced that it will make MARC records available to libraries that purchase through its site. In collaboration with TLC, Marcive, and OCLC, Amazon has introduced Library Processing for Corporate Account customers. The service includes more MARC records, Mylar covers, labels, and more."
[Hectic Pace, 7.8.06]

This is another example of Amazon courting the substantial library market by adding value to items purchased by libraries. It is also notable that Amazon has not become a new competitor in the library service marketplace. They have used their dominance as a vendor of information objects to form partnerships with multiple library service vendors in order to further entrench Amazon's dominant position. This is smart business.


Protected by coconuts

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The main library located at the Laucala Campus of the University of the South Pacific plays an important role in the region. It functions as the national library of Fiji and is the de facto national library for a number of the smaller nations in the region. It is also the home of the superb Pacific Collection covering print, audio, and video materials by and about Pacific Islanders. The library is focused on serving USP students and lecturers but external borrowers can take advantage of the collection for a small fee.