Contact me

These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

MindMup, Daedalus Touch and my so-called career

It's the end of the year - and also, the launching of my new career - so I am once again looking at my software tools. I ran across two today that I probably don't need, but I found very well done.

The first is an open source mind map application, run from within a browser. It has a wonderfully clear and intuitive design. Things tend to do about what you think they'll do. It's called MindMup. I've used it on my laptop and on my iPad. The interface automatically adjusts to the device it's running on. The desktop version has sensible keyboard commands (Enter to make a sibling, tab to make a child), a good set of features (links are live, everything can be dragged around, expanded or collapsed), runs quickly, and saves to Google Drive or Dropbox. It will print, export PNG, PDF, HTML, or Freemind (and a few others).

Here's my first map:

You can see that the collapsed topics (Articles, for instance) have a stacked-card look. There's a lot to be said for free, platform-agnostic tools that work in a sane and simple fashion. And you can also see how I'm sizing up my work in 2014. (I'll be taking over the ebook blog from Chris Harris for American Libraries, co-editing Public Libraries' Perspectives column, writing a bunch of articles, working on a book, doing consulting, and giving some attention to keynotes and continuing education workshops. So far, it's all coming together pretty quickly, with tremendously interesting and exciting opportunities.)

The second program is iPad only. It's a text editor called Daedulus Touch. Another clean, minimalist writing app, it has a marvelously clever user interface metaphor: a pile of papers. You can start a stack, and add pieces of paper to it. You can also shuffle the papers around, just by swiping. Or jump to another stack. There's been a lot of talk after Apple's iOS7 update about the idea of skeuomorphism - where the notepad app looks like a legal pad with torn edges, for instance. With Daedulus touch, the design is modern and clean, but the use is deeply familiar to anyone who smears things around on a desk. While I don't know if I'll actually use it (I've settled on Simplenote for shorter things, and WriteRoom for longer), Daedulus Touch is free today from the Apple Store, and I recognize quality when I see it.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Again

That's the headline of the December 14, 2013 Denver Post. "Again" in a font size larger than the masthead, with the subheading: "Student gunman dead after targeting teacher: girl, 15, critical." The full story is here.

It happens I was driving south on University, just north of Arapahoe High School yesterday just exactly as this was happening. I was passed by a mobile command unit, and saw all the red lights congregating a few blocks ahead of me, so turned around and avoided it. I didn't find out what had happened until later.

The shooter, an 18 year old student, is said to have posted on Facebook, "the Republican Party: Health Care: Let 'em die. Climate change: Let 'em die. Gun violence: Let 'em die. Women's Rights: Let 'em die. More War: Let 'em Die. Is this really the side you want to be on?"

(Addition: the shooter was apparently seeking a specific teacher, "whom students described as a librarian at the school.")

Suzanne sent me this link to a Bill Moyer's site: "Guns in America after Newtown." It includes the following facts:
  • Number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newton (that have been reported by the media): 11,437
  • Estimated real number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newtown (using most recent CDC estimates for yearly data): 33,173
  • Total gun deaths in 2010 (the latest year for which there are CDC records): 31,672
  • Number of those who were children or teens: 2,694
  • Number of school shootings since Newtown: 27
  • Number of guns in the US: 310,000,000
  • Number of guns per person: About one gun for every American
  • Countries with more guns per person: None
  • Runner up: Yemen, with about 11 guns for every 20 Yemenis
  • Total spent by the NRA (2011): $231,071,589
  • Total spent by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the largest gun control organization (2011):$2,844,489
  • Number of licensed firearms dealers in the US: 134,997
  • Number of grocery stores in the US: 37,053
So here's an idea. How about every gun shop and gun owner in America is required to have gun insurance? Kind of like how you have to have automobile insurance -- and note that you only have to pay if you own or sell a gun. The purpose? To cover all of those costs associated with the burials of children who shoot each other, medical treatment for collateral victims, and maybe even some of the public costs associated with emergency response. Since gun owners clearly believe more guns are the answer to every question, and since surely they wouldn't want the rest of us to pay for the consequences of that surplus of weapons, I'm confident that the NRA would stand beyond this. Heck, they'd probably sell you the insurance. I don't know if insurance is more profitable than selling the gun in the first place, but it never hurts to diversify the revenue stream. Guns are the gift that just keeps on giving.

Finally, here's another link, from the Public Library Quarterly, Volume 32, Issue 4, 2013, "Can I Bring My Gun? A Fifty-State Survey of Firearm Laws Impacting Policies Prohibiting Handguns in Public Libraries." It happens that the Castle Rock town council will soon be considering whether to approve open carry in all government buildings, like contentious planning meetings and the like. It's so good to know that our elected leaders are keeping their ear to the ground, and looking out for us.