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The +Ken Starks and Free Geeks of the world are making the difference, while the richest people in the world are profiteering with non free software and intentional waste that makes the problem worse. There's the real harm done by the upgrade train. I've got ten year old computers with gnu/linux that work great and I've given them away when I can but my efforts are insignificant next to Ken's. Most private citizens just don't have the time to make a difference, especially as the economy continues to falter.

Where's help from the state when it's needed? It would not be hard for cities to support this kind of work, especially when it keeps toxic waste out of the landfill. Instead we get state funded "computer education" programs that are usually Windows training classes and state budges continue to be wasted on expensive propitiatory software. How about municipal networks? Ha! those would be used by dirty bad pirates, or something.

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Librarians as Social Workers

This is a must-read post on metafilter from a librarian, which makes the "Digital Divide" viscerally clear, and explains the role of libraries in bridging that divide. I won't try to do it justice. Just read it.

Alas, as budget cuts push libraries to the brink, this librarian (a library science student) wonders if libraries will survive, and if they don't, who or what will fill their role:

"We need to do something which I'll admit is ill defined and perhaps impossible: we need to become the center of civic engagement in our communities. We're one of the few places left in our society where a great cross-section of people regularly interact, and also one of the few places that is free and non-commercial. Even museums, to bow and scrape to the master of Austerity, have begun to put branding on their exhibits, as if they were a sort of cultural NASCAR. We have amazing potential power, but without concerted effort I'm afraid it will be wasted. It will look better to save 10 dollars a year per person in taxes instead of funding community computer workshops, and childhood literacy programs, and community gardens. All the while we play desperate catch-up, trying to get a hold on ebooks, and licensing out endless sub-quality software for meeting room reservations and computer sign-ups and all this other rentier software capitalism instead of developing free and open source solutions and providing small systems with the expertise to use them. Our amazing power is squandered as we cut our staff, fail to attract skilled and diverse talent, and act as a band aid to the mounting social ills caused by slash and burn governance in the name of low taxes and some nebulous idea of freedom that seems to equate with living in a good society but not paying your share for it."

The irony is that I had just tweeted a link to another wonderful post by a librarian, which argued against all the angst, and just urged librarians to "Play the long game, go out there and do something awesome." It's also worth reading: And yes, there are amazing projects to turn libraries into makerspaces and other kinds of community resource, but let's not forget the trailing edge, made so vivid here, in our rush to the leading edge.

via +Max Ogden
I don't know the ins and outs of California's budget, but from what I understand it's not in very good shape. It seems like a remarkably foolish idea to reject a tax-increase like this, re...
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