Miskatonic University Press

DIG: Hackfest.

conferences literature

I'm at Access 2009 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and today was the pre-conference Hackfest.

I brought three books with me to read:

Here's my Hackfest report Ellroy-style.

Charlottetown, 9/30/09

I wake up. I'm tired. I was up late. I was working. I was doing e-mail. I was editing Ruby. I was watching a Railscast. I was reading.

I get ready. I get dressed. I go down to the restaurant. "Continental breakfast." Read: cheap. Read: not very good. Read: bagels and muffins. Read: bad coffee.

I get food. I get bad coffee. I see people I know from other conference. I sit down. We talk. We eat. We leave. We meet Bess. We meet Gabriel. We meet Joy. We meet others. We get in cabs. We go to the university. We find the building.

Signs: "Hackfest." We follow. People point. We get to the room. There are people there. They have laptops. They sit. They mill around. They stand. They talk. "Haven't seen you since last year. How've you been?"

Vibe: GEEK.

Cory Doctorow giving a talk. No talks at Hackfest before. People uncertain. What's going on? Cory sitting in chair. Cory working on laptop. Cory gets up. Paper with notes scribbled on it. He talks about copyright. He talks about freedom. He talks about how copyright law could affect US.

He vibes geek. He vibes cool.

DIG: Everyone infringes copyright. There is copyright-infringing content everywhere. YouTube. Usenet. BitTorrent. Blogs. Everwhere. But there is free content too. Mass shutdown of a site because there are copyrighted materials on it takes down all free stuff with it. You don't care about copyright infringement because you don't infringe? Because it's greasy-haired teenagers swapping porn? Too bad, loser. Your site just disappeared because someone complained and your ISP shut you down without asking. BAAAAD.

DIG: All protocols can be used for piracy. HTTP. SMTP. NNTP. IRC. FTP. Companies say: build a pirate-proof protocol. Companies say: use that protocol. Cory says: That protocol will take away all privacy.

DIG: Real purpose of DRM is to keep people from putting their own code on a device. From using the device for their own purposes.

DIG: New copyright law in the works. ACTA. It says: copyright infringers go to jail. It sys: border guards can search your devices for copyright material.

DIG: "Librarians and archivists vastly underestimate the moral authority of librarians. You can't say anything bad about them without looking like an asshole." Cory says: Speak out. Use our image. Use our rep. Use our cred. Talk at work. Talk at government. Talk in public.

Cory stops. People clap. People interested. People inspired. People think: Stick it to them. People think: Hell yes. People think: Didn't see it that way.

Cory sits. People ask questions. Cory answers. People talk. People discuss. OCLC. WorldCat. Metadata. Book covers. Databases. Fair use. Fair dealing. Canadian law. American law. EFF.

Ten o'clock. Time's up. Cory pulls out laptop. He works. He types. He concentrates.

We talk about Hackfest ideas. We plan. We explain. We discuss. We vote. We split up into groups.

TABLE: Linked data.

TABLE: Optical character recognition correction done in browser in HTML editor.

TABLE: This.

TABLE: That.

TABLE: In other rooms.

I sit at linked data table. Declan sits. Bess sits. Lisa sits. Gabriel sits. Richard sits. Others sit. We introduce. I'm so-and-so. I work at this place. I'm interested in that.

Dan comes in. He vibes geek. He vibes cool. He sits down. He talks linked data. He talks Library of Congress.

Some people have things to work on. Some people don't. Some people start to work. Some people leave.

We browse. We hack. We talk. We IRC. We tweet. We dent. We search. We edit. We download. We install. We reinstall. We talk to Ed in IRC. We talk to Ross in IRC. We ask for help. We offer help. We explain. We get confused. We hack.

Vibe: GEEK.


I look at Ruby. I look at RDF. I find links. I read. I install Redland. I install Ruby bindings. I look at id.loc.gov. I look at subject authority records. I look at Cider. I download. I write. I hack.

Food comes. People say: Take a break. People say: Hey, it's nice outside. People say: Big blue room.

Cory comes back. He talks with Bess. They talk book covers. They talk Open Library. They talk OCLC. They talk metadata. They talk copyright. Cory talks encrypted disks. Cory talks Ubuntu. Cory talks publishing process. He vibes helpful. He vibes open. He vibes interested. He vibes LIBRARY. He leaves. He has to write a column. He has to write a story.

Afternoon. Quieter. Fewer people. People have gone. People are splitsville. We work. We hack. We install. We talk.

I work on Ruby. I work on RDF. I work on my script. I read the docs. I look for examples. I get errors. I fix errors. I begin to figure something out. I remember seeing Ed do it. Ed did it in four lines. I have fifty lines. I don't understand them all. I try this. I try that. I begin to figure it out.

I find an authority record. I load it in. I parse it. I have 14 statements. Fourteen triples. CRAZY. I want a broader term. I look for skos:broader. I find it. I know the predicate. I know the subject. I find the object. I find its URI. I load it. I load it as RDF. I parse it. I have 27 statements. Data links to data. Linked data. CRAZY.