Alan Harnum

Netsweeper at Toronto Public Library - An Update

For full background, please see this post and the posts linked from it. I first sent an “official” suggestion to Toronto Public Library in May 2017 that they review their use of the Netsweeper filtering software because of their documented use in overseas censorship of the Internet and pursuit of that as an area of business. My own awareness of the Citizen Lab research into Netsweeper began with various September 2016 media stories such as this one regarding their use in Bahrain. Read more...

Again, For World Poetry Day

For UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 2018, three more found poems from the same project as last year - writing found poetry from library search term feeds. Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn Drag Race Tell no one, magnificent obsession watercolor; ragdoll sex in search of excellence, the rules do not apply. The exiled commander-in-chief evicted testimony, true witness, the fiery cross heading toward omega. Heading towards omega, floor traders finance floor traders. Read more...

My Introductory Remarks for the Designing Inclusive Retail Experiences Design Challenge

I was invited this week to give a quick introduction to inclusive design concepts to the (currently occurring, as of this writing) “Designing Inclusive Retail Experiences” BIG IDeA Challenge sponsored by Telus. This was a great way to end my work week and while some of what I said is verbatim from our definition of inclusive design, there is also some personal reflection that I think is worth capturing here. Read more...

Two New Poems Published

I’ve had two new poems published in the latest issue of FreezeRay, a journal of pop culture poetry. One of them is about the John Wick movies, which I’m a little obsessed with (please send good name for John Wick-themed chapbook if you have one).

Migration to Hugo

A quick note to say I have migrated this site from GitHub Pages built-in Jekyll support to the Hugo static site generator, whose major advantages over basic Jekyll are (to my mind): Very fast recompilation, even of very large sites (not that my site is very large) Built in LiveReload when running locally in server mode, very useful for iterating on writing and design This article by Sara Soueidan was the original spur and is a useful introduction to Hugo. Read more...

Multimodal Design Patterns for Inclusion & Accessibility

Update: A transcript of my talk is now available. Below are my slides from a talk delivered at the 2017 Guelph Accessibility Conference. Much of the talk was a reflection on things we’ve learned working on various projects recently at Inclusive Design Research Centre and as part of the Fluid Project. I am grateful to my colleagues who helped me refine and sharpen my thoughts on this topic. Read more...

Netsweeper - Response from Toronto Public Library, Possible Alternatives

Two small updates here to yesterday’s post on Netsweeper usage by public libraries in the GTA… First, I received a reply to my inquiry to Toronto Public Library from Alex Hocevar (Director, Digital Services & Emerging Technologies). With permission, I quote it below as the library’s official response to the concerns I raised (the substance was the same as what was in yesterday’s post): Thanks for your email and for the link to the Citizen Lab research. Read more...

Who Uses Netsweeper? - A Non-Comprehensive Survey of GTA Public Libraries

I have been meaning for some months to write an update to my previous posts on the use of the Netsweeper filtering software by public libraries: Netsweeper at Toronto Public Library - Waiting on An Answer Netsweeper and the Ethics of Library Technology Use For refreshers on the Netsweeper story in general: Tender Confirmed, Rights At Risk: Verifying Netsweeper in Bahrain Canadian tech company Netsweeper helped Bahrain censor websites, says report (CBC) The Canadian Government Has Funded a Notorious Censorship Company for a Decade (Motherboard) Ontario firm Netsweeper helping Bahrain censor websites, researchers find (Toronto Star) Summarizing, Netsweeper is a Waterloo-based company that makes internet filtering software. Read more...

For World Poetry Day

For UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 2017, three poems from an ongoing project of mine to compose found poetry by listening to the live stream of Toronto Public Library searches. Each poem is the product of a single listening session and the order of the search terms has not been rearranged, though not all search terms from a listening session are included - the composition process is a selective choice of search terms as they are heard, followed by restructuring of the text through punctuation. Read more...

Netsweeper and the Ethics of Library Technology Use

A number of questions arise per my previous post on the Netsweeper issue at Toronto Public Library and generally, some of them specific to the Netsweeper issue, and some of them more general. I’ll lay out some of them below — they’re not the only issues, but they’re the ones on my mind at this time. Is Netsweeper Usage Congruent with Library Values? Overseas conduct of tech companies in countries with differing levels of legal and practical support for freedom of speech can be a complicated issue; I would not advocate that libraries should cease to do business with a company simply because it operates overseas in countries where active repression of free speech occurs and follows the laws of the jurisdictions where it operates, as this strikes me as both extreme and impractical. Read more...

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