Monday, March 26, 2007

Is Information Management, 'Intelligence Management'?

By Duane J. McCollum, MSIM Alum, Class of 2004, 2nd Cohort

Tobin Hensgen’s Friday, March 9, 2007 talk on “Information Disconnects” in Intelligence Organizations got me thinking about how similar the information management problems are in Intel Organizations (FBI, CIA, etc) and your garden-variety knowledge-worker company. (His talk was part of UW Institute for National Security Education and Research colloquium).

Tobin announced at the beginning of his lecture he was going to use the terms intelligence and information interchangeably--which was something I appreciated. About four years ago, I read a lot about military intelligence while working on a big defense program. It got me thinking that information management, as I normally thought about it, should go beyond definitions such as the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-130 defines as “the planning, budgeting, manipulating, and controlling of information throughout its life cycle”. [1] Perhaps it has to do more with managing information pull societies --that is, meeting, perhaps anticipating (to some extent), the intelligence needs and wants of people in terms of situational outcomes?

Consider that it seems most of us want, and expect, information to help us make decisions. Information is an active part in our decision making, not an inert artifact laying around to be discovered (of course, we often transform the latter into the former–but that’s another story). If I talk about being able to make informed decisions, it sure sounds like I am talking about using intelligence products.

If we see information management is a kind of intelligence management for an organization, then what does that mean? It means, perhaps, the goals of those Intel organizations Tobin talked about have something to teach us information professionals about our non-Intel organizations. (At best, we can learn some important things from studying what Intel is, how Intel organizations work, how they negotiate and manage meaning, and they moves their Intel/information products around).

[1] OMB CIRCULAR NO. A-130, "Management of Federal Information Resources" (Last accessed March 16, 2007).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Introducing the 2007/2008 Silverfish Staff!

After their decisive victories in the iSchool officer elections (with all candidates running unopposed), we are pleased to present the Guardians of the Silverfish for the 2007-2008 school year!

Michelle Wong – Editor-in-Chief: Michelle is one of the four Whitman College graduates who infiltrated the 2006 UW MLIS cohort. She once started a temporary (day-long) sorority just for an excuse to eat wine and cheese. She hopes to work as a children's librarian because kids make her laugh, and laughter is one of her favorite things about life. Also, working with children gives her an excuse to invest her money in picture books, toys, art supplies and games.

Jamie Hancock – Other-Editor-in-Chief: Jamie Hancock is one of two University of Oregon graduates on the new Silverfish staff. He traveled all the way to Spokane to watch his Ducks play in the NCAA Basketball Tournament this March. His second favorite team is the San Diego Padres. When Jamie is not watching or playing sports (i.e. iTeam volleyball), he likes to go to concerts at Neumo's or imbibe refreshments at other smoke-free environments in Capitol Hill. Jamie's permanent home page on his computer is From now on, he will run unopposed in all elections.

Jack Baur – Publicity Manager and Yet-Another-Editor: Jack Baur actually hates doing anything that could be considered "advertising," though he does like the idea being involved in a great student publication and convincing everyone around him to read it. He has secret designs on turning Silverfish into little more than a mouthpiece to advance his pro-comic book agenda. He may be the other U of O graduate on the staff, but he'll never tell… unless you ask him.

Nancy Lou – Web-Mistress and Editor-When-She-Wants-to-Be: Contrary to popular belief, Nancy Lou is not a hick. She is a somewhat recent migrant from suburban Maryland, where she attended the University of Maryland, and was spoiled by free Smithsonian museums and underage concerts in DC as a teenager. While a former member of the iSchool volleyball team, Nancy completely lacks hand-eye coordination, but, for the most part, manages to get around without injuring herself on a daily basis. Upon graduation, she hopes to work in a special library, while operating a cat sanctuary in her backyard.

So that's the team for the coming school year. They've already had one beer-fueled meeting and are developing all sorts of plans of how to make the Silverfish a true mouthpiece for the iSchool student body. They are busily working to draft a mission statement, outlining goals and plans, which will be made available for public comment by the end of this school year. In the coming year, expect community events (read: Happy Hours), regular articles such as "Absurd LC Subject Heading of the Week," a calendar collecting all the information about all the stuff that happens at the iSchool that you don't have time to go to, and much more. They also hope to widen the use of the Silverfish Blog, making it a forum for discussion within the iSchool community. As a team, the new Silverfish staff has got big enthusiasm and bigger plans for the coming year, and hopes to have you along for the ride!

Friday, March 23, 2007

I Serve at the Pleasure of the iSchoolers | Letter from the Editor

Greetings, iPeople,

Spring has arrived and with it the promise of less clothing. No more donning heavy winter coats--or at least not as often--and the cherry trees are going nuts with blossoms...Yay, and I do mean yay!

Browse or read with focus, it's all bueno. Where to start? A few ideas: the Jessamyn West of interview, stories on a Cambodian libraries internship and public libraries in India, a couple of things from alums, book reviews and all sorts of other writey stuff. Thanks to all the contributors and the crack 'fish staff.

What with everyone in charge serving at the pleasure of the president these days, it's surprising he doesn't look happier. Me, I'm pleased to report that I have enjoyed serving at the pleasure of you iSchoolers this academic year, and while this isn't the last 'fish, I wanted to welcome the recently elected 'fish officers for 2007-2008. This year I've been working with two of the new 'fish Big Cheeses--they've been a wellspring of good writing: James Hancock (he's got a new piece on how on-line gambling efforts are being thwarted--including his) & Jack Baur (a guy who writes a dang good weekly column, even if it is once a quarter). My hat's off to you, as well, Michelle Wong and Nancy Lou. Don't miss the nice piece Jack put together introducing the team in this issue. Congratulations to all. Here's to a fat and sassy '07-'08 'fish!

Send your contributions to Do it for the kids. And the portfolio. Muchas gracias, everyone!


The Staff of The Silverfish
Joyce Hansen
Editor, The Silverfish Blog, Feed & eNewsletter

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Shhh! A Superman of Illegal March Madness Activity Tells All | How Online Gambling Got the Boot

Party Poker no longer allows paying American customers at its virtual tables.

By Jamie Hancock, MLIS

For the last five years, I have been the mastermind of a criminal operation. My business has been largely successful because: 1) there is a high demand for these types of services and 2) I always conduct secret transactions with my clients. I’ve also been extremely lucky, in terms of profit and evading federal prosecution. However, if someone were to report my illegal activity, I have ways of dealing with them...

Fortunately, it has never come to that. This spring, I’m running a March Madness tournament pool for the sixth straight year. I’m using the CBS Bracket Manager to track the results of client picks for 64 games. With 24 participants at $15 a pop, I stand to make a pretty good bonus if I pick the right teams. In the second week of action, my Final Four predictions look strong, with Florida, Texas A&M, Kansas and Georgetown in the mix.

Still, I’m concerned for my livelihood and the financial security of my family and friends. On October 13, 2006, President George Bush signed the Safe Port Act. Attached to this legislation is the “Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA),” which prohibits the funding of illegal online gambling sites and services. In particular, it states “no person engaged in the business of betting or wagering may knowingly accept, in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling...any check...which is drawn by or on behalf of such other person...” Violation of this act could carry a stiff prison sentence. Luckily the government is incapable of monitoring check transactions to private persons for gambling purposes (which means my homegrown operation is in the clear, as long as nobody talks).

Congress believes that Internet gambling is a problem, but it wants to preserve the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.

The feds have bigger fish to fry. UIGEA primarily targets designated payment systems (i.e. PayPal, Google Checkout, WebMoney) in order to cut the money flow from gamblers to Internet gambling sites. On January 15, 2007, the FBI arrested Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, two founders of Neteller, an Internet payment services company. Even though Neteller is based on the Isle of Man, the company has allowed the transfer of billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds from American citizens to overseas gambling merchants. By its own account, Neteller provided services to at least 80% of online gaming companies. Both men were apprehended when they stepped on American soil and are awaiting a hearing on April 16th. Following their arrests, Neteller has cut off services to all U.S. citizens and the federal government has seized $55 million from customer accounts.

Like many other gambling websites, Bodog and Full Tilt Poker have not been deterred by the legislation. The former is housed in Antigua and the both companies hold gaming licenses from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission in Canada. Besides falling outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, these websites accept credit cards and money transfers (through Western Union or MoneyGram). On the other hand, some companies such as Party Poker have caved in to the restrictions of UIGEA and no longer accept U.S. players. But even Hollywood Poker, which has cut off U.S. business, still allows American celebrities like James Woods to continue playing poker games.

Halftime warmup for USC & Arkansas in the first round of NCAA March Madness (Spokane 2007).

While offshore companies currently remain unaffected, it is unknown how the Secretary of Treasury, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Attorney General plan to identify and block illegal transactions. These officials have until July 2007 (270-day period after the bill’s passage) to establish procedures for regulating money transfers to overseas gambling merchants. Critics of the bill say that it’s an immense technological challenge. The Automated Clearing House network (ACH), a processing system utilized by the Federal Reserve, can’t distinguish between a gambling transaction and a car payment; nor can any other kind of payment system. In simple terms, a bank that sends money to another bank account does not keep records on the person who holds the receiving account.

One option under consideration is to assign a merchant code to online gambling operators and forbid banks and payment systems from sending money to companies with this code (VISA created the 7995 code to prevent credit card use on gambling sites in 2001). This problem with this method is that it may block legitimate transactions unrelated to gambling. In addition, the U.S. law will not extend to overseas payment systems like Neteller (unless, of course, the CEO is caught on American soil).

Another unresolved issue is the bill’s impact on Internet service providers (ISPs) and search engines located in the U.S. Depending on how far the federal government extends its reach, officials may ask ISPs to remove sites and block hyperlinks that permit money transfers to illegal gambling companies. Or perhaps the U.S. will order Google, Yahoo! and other search engines to block certain links or advertisements. Although gambling sites can sidestep these obstacles by changing their website addresses, this kind of regulation would restrict certain information from reaching American citizens.

Not surprisingly, the international community has not been supportive of the U.S. efforts to crack down on Internet gambling. The European Internal Union Market Commissioner said he has no intentions to push forth legislation that complements UIGEA. In January, the World Trade Organization (WTO) sided with Antigua in its trade dispute with the U.S. The appellate body claims that the U.S. is violating its treaty obligations. Under GATS (General Agreement on Trades in Services), all services inside Antigua and the U.S. are open to free trade. A final ruling is due from the WTO in March 2007.

One of the reasons the WTO objects to the UIGEA is that the U.S. applies the prohibition of Internet gambling inconsistently. According to the bill, a bet or wager is “means the staking or risking by any person of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, or a game subject to chance...” Under this definition, sports gambling, online poker, online blackjack, and other casino games are illegal. Exempt from the ban are horseracing, lotteries, tribal gaming, and fantasy sports that offer cash prizes. It’s curious that the law makes a distinction between betting on individual teams/players/games versus fantasy teams. Somehow, legislators concluded that a fantasy team is less real and therefore more acceptable than other forms of betting. And why is it more permissible to bet on a bunch of horses than the San Diego Chargers?

The UIGEA is intended to curb Internet gaming fraud and gambling addiction, prevent ease of access to children, and eliminate fronts for money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing. There is no question that the online gambling industry is well established in America. Half of the $12 billion sent to offshore casinos every year comes from American citizens. Young people, not to mention problem gamblers, have 24-hour access to gambling sites at home. Placing bets with credit cards (instead of chips at a real blackjack or roulette table) also distorts perceptions of cash value. But Title VIII of the Safe Port Act will not effectively alter the gambling habits of Americans. Internet gambling companies can find technological loopholes to combat federal legislation. As long as there is one safe harbor overseas, online sports wagers and casino bets will not go away. Gambling is intrinsically tied to all sporting events and the last decade has seen tremendous growth in the popularity of poker.

In all fairness to the politicians, a legitimate businessman like myself should be respected and not admonished. Just because I let my 11 year-old cousin participate in the March Madness contest (and he picks Duke to win every year) does not mean I’m being irresponsible. I am offering him an opportunity to win a great deal of money and someday he will be victorious. Until then, I’m going to keep taking his money.

(By the way, $200 out the total $360 in my tournament pool is being donated to charity).

Editor’s Note: As far as we know, Jamie has never gone Up The River for spearheading this annual wagering wingding.

Paperbacks, The Arty Kind

Rachel Whiteread. (British, born 1963). Untitled (Paperbacks). 1997. Plaster and steel, Overall 14' 9 1/8" x 15' 9" x 20' 8 3/4" (450 x 480 x 632 cm). Gift of Agnes Gund and Committee on Painting and Sculpture Funds. © 2007 Rachel Whiteread

Email from Amy Donahue, MLIS, 3/20/07: "I've been in New York City and...I'm attaching a couple of pictures that I just took this weekend of an installment that I saw at the Museum of Modern Art. It's kind of cool, if it can make it in? :)? Thanks, and good luck with all of this!? The Silverfish rules."

You bet your sweet artist in residence it can make it in! Thanks, Amy! Below is more info on the piece and the artist. The show runs until April 6--you still have time to jet there and back in time for class Monday.

Publication excerpt
The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 346

Untitled (Paperbacks) is a room-sized installation that feels empty but isn't quite: on all four walls hang rows of long white objects that look like shelves but are not, for they are plaster, not wood, and their surfaces are uneven, and vacant. These regularly spaced tiers suggest a library without books, yet books were here, and their traces remain. Whiteread made these objects by casting shelves of paperbacks, whose slightly differing sizes account for the plaster's uneven surfaces. Look closely, too, and you may see a residue of paper embedded in the casts, the edges of the pages caught as the plaster dried.

Whiteread specializes in the sculptural reversal that makes a solid object speak less of its own material presence than of objects that are no longer present, yet maintain a ghostly presence in their absence. The early work of this British artist comprised castings of everyday furniture—mattress, table, bathtub—in mediums from resin to concrete. She next addressed architecture, as in Untitled (Room) (1993), a plaster work also in the Museum's collection: here empty space becomes an opaque cube marked on its outside by the lines of a room's windows and door. Her more recent outdoor Holocaust memorial in Vienna is another room, once lined with books, which left their marks on the outside of a sealed block, symbolizing the lives and the culture lost to Nazi persecution. Untitled (Paperbacks), by contrast, is a library you can enter. Although there is nothing to read in it, it is filled with the knowledge, ideas, and memories contained in books, even if you must bring those associations with you into this serene, but haunted, place.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Volunteering @ Books To Prisoners | It's a Literary Thang

By Lisa Pirot, MLIS

It’s 6:30pm, Tuesday, February 27th. Suspiciously anxious iSchoolers are lurking furtively in a dark alley. What subversive, illicit shenanigans might they be up to? Why are they sneaking into a large, labyrinthine basement on a cold and dismal night? Even more importantly, it’s the end of the quarter…why aren’t they STUDYING?!

Fear not! These suspicious actions obscured legitimate and noble intentions. Enthusiastic info-heads representing iServe, the Information School’s service organization, were merely visiting Books To Prisoners (BTP) headquarters to lend a hand. They opened letters from prisoners all over the country requesting reading materials. They scoured the small library of donated materials for the best match.

With the characteristic skill and cunning that define the next generation of information professionals, Linda Marie Barton and Jamie Hancock scour BTP shelves for the perfect match to prisoner requests.

Finally, they filled out paperwork and compiled everything so it was ready to be packaged and shipped off to the eager reader. Requests ranged from “send me anything” to specific authors, titles, and/or subjects. Demand for BTP’s service is so high they were still answering letters written in November.

BTP volunteers Wendy Clark, Michelle Hudson, and Kathleen Loebig .

So if you are afraid of dark alleys, but love books and want to be a part of sharing them with an under-served population, keep your hyper-sensitive information receptors primed for news of future BTP visits and iServe events.

BTP is open every Monday and Tuesday night. Visit the website for more info:
 "Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities.  By sending books to prisoners, we hope to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement."

BTP opportunities abound, even if you’re a distance student:

  • There are Olympia, Portland and Bellingham BTP organizations. See the BTP website for contact information.
  • You don’t reside in these lovely locations, either? No excuses! You can help them with grant writing, entirely from home!
  • Or, this website may list a “books to prisoners” project/organization near you:

For other life-altering and exponentially mind-blowing service opportunities, sign up for the iServe listserv (spam-free guarantee!) here:

Sunday, March 4, 2007

SLA Summer Adventure Baltimore 2006 | A Taste of Special Libraries

By Melinda Snarr, MLIS

In the past, I’d only ever been lured to Baltimore by those crab cakes that make the city famous. However, (last) summer I was drawn there by an entirely different force: the Special Libraries Association’s Museum, Arts, and Humanities division’s programs at the annual conference.

The division presented topics like seeking grant funding for special libraries, digitizing collections, and managing organizational history and cultural assets. Like the one and only crab cake sandwich I ate during this trip, the MAHD programming was fantastic. Monday
MAHDness, the division’s open house at Camden Yards, was also a great opportunity to network in an informal setting. I made connections with museum librarians from around the country and engaged in interesting and timely conversations, including one with the librarian at the Historic New Orleans Collection about disaster planning and recovery.

While I was right to assume that I would gain a lot from the MAHD programs, I was pleasantly surprised by just how relevant so many other sessions were to my primary interests in museum librarianship, preservation, and archives. The Military Librarians, Education, News, Leadership and Management, and Information Technology Divisions presented a veritable feast: copyright in the digital age, website preservation, digital collections, digital archiving, collaboration tools, and more!

I left the convention center each evening feeling full from the insights, ideas, and controversies I encountered throughout the day. As such, I got my first real taste of the challenges and opportunities I’m likely to face after graduation. The perspectives of so many diverse practitioners, including the vendors, felt like beneficial supplements to my regular iSchool diet. Despite spending four long, busy days at the convention center, I still wasn’t able to sample everything I would have liked. Luckily, the wise people at SLA provide some excellent services for its hungry constituents: podcasts of several sessions and a conference blog.

As with any good smorgasbord, I left SLA sated after having sampled widely. In diversifying my palette, I expanded my intellectual and professional horizons so much more. At SLA, I learned about the diversity of work settings and job functions available through special libraries. Although I came for the Museum, Arts, and Humanities, I realized that there are many other equally interesting career possibilities to consider. Now that I’m back in Seattle, I’m remembering how good that crab cake sandwich was. More importantly, since whetting my appetite in Baltimore, I’ve become more committed to exploring the many opportunities that special libraries offer.

Snarr is the Archives & Preservation Club Co-Chair 2006-2007, and submitted this report on the conference experience for publication on the SLA-UW web site as a condition of receiving the Frost-Gershenfeld Travel Scholarship. Learn more about the UW SLA student chapter at