I regularly use bookmarklets to speed up everyday tasks, such as:
- adding a blog to my Google Reader account
- bookmarking a page in delicious
- rendering a page more simply so I can focus on the text and not all the sidebars, banners, etc.
- saving a blog post in a “to be read later” location
- Subscribe (uses the official bookmarklet from Google Reader that lets you subscribe to a feed without having to leave the page with that feed; this bookmarklet is found in Google Reader >> Settings >> Goodies)
- Readability (uses the Readability bookmarklet to clean up web pages and make the main body of text much easier to read)
- Read Later (uses the Instapaper bookmarklet to save the page to my Instapaper account)
- Printliminator (uses the Printliminator bookmarklet to re-render the page you are viewing and let you select elements you want to remove before you print)
- MarkUp (uses the MarkUp.io bookmarklet to let you annotate web pages and share them with others)
- bit.ly (uses the bit.ly bookmarklet to generate shortened URLs for whatever page you are on)
I’m about a third of the way into Lewis Hyde’s latest book, Common as Air, which looks examines the idea of a “cultural commons” in America. In an early chapter, Hyde gives a thumbnail sketch of the idea of a commons as they once existed in England before the enclosures of the 18th and 19th centuries. Before most of the commons were lost to land grabs by private owners, there were a rich set of traditions and practices governing the use of the commons. One of the more interesting annual traditions was known as “beating the bounds,” which occurred around the Christian celebration of the Ascension. During the celebration, villages would march around the commons, looking for fences, hedges, and other illegal encumbrances and enclosures that had been secretly erected there; when they found such affronts to their shared space, they smashed and destroyed them.
I found myself unable to resist romanticizing the image of everyday people marching about, removing the barriers to places that were held in common. As a mark of my solidarity with efforts to promote open access to scholarly and creative commons and as an indicator of my interest in removing the technological wickets and tangles that keep our silos of licensed resources from working more in concert with one another, I am renaming this blog from “Stephen Francoeur’s Stuff” (a massively unimaginative name) to “Beating the Bounds.”
At lunchtime today, I just started reading Bound by Law? Tales from the Public Domain, a fantastic comic book by Keith Aoki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins. I haven’t finished it yet, but I already know that the next time I teach my 3-credit course, Information Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities, I’m going to have my students read it. It’s a great way to introduce folks to some rather thorny questions and legal concepts. By looking at the headaches that documentary filmmakers have to contend with as they decide what can and can’t make the cut in their films, the authors of Bound by Law? illustrate quickly and clearly the way that copyright law has increasingly become a burden on artistic expression.
The book’s publisher, Duke University Press, has thoughtfully made the full-text of the book freely online in various formats. If you want to grab the PDF for the book, you can do so below.