People Interact

Blog about people-centered design by Lisa Chow and Sandra Sajonas.

Tag Archives: guest-post

Our Bookshelf: The DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network – Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

Even with the rise of e-readers and e-books, there are unresolved issues such as the use of digital rights management (DRM) files that affect the sharing of e-books. Here is a guest post by Greg Belvedere about Our Bookshelf: The DRM-free Ebook Lending Social Network.


Like many I have grown frustrated with the lack of convenient ways to share ebooks. Companies like Amazon claim to offer ways to do this, but they use DRM files and place so many restrictions on how you can share ebooks that few have taken advantage of them. On the other end of the spectrum sharing ebooks via Bit Torrent and other file sharing methods amounts to little more than piracy. Although very convenient, these file sharing methods do not respect the copyrights of authors and publishers. If these people can’t make a living we can’t expect them to keep producing quality ebooks.

In response to this problem I have found a way to make sharing ebooks as easy as sharing regular books, maybe easier. At the same time my method will respect copyright holders. I’m doing this by creating a DRM-free ebook lending social network. I have a clear concise explanation of how this will work on our website Our Bookshelf. In addition to this novel way of respecting copyright in a file sharing setting, I plan to build some interesting features into the site. I hope you will check it out and follow us on twitter @ourebookshelf and like our facebook page, so we can keep you updated and let you know when we launch the site.


Greg Belvedere is the founder of Our Bookshelf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network. He is also an adult librarian who works for Brookyn Public Library.

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Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab: Guest Post by Greg Belvedere

A recent post and conversations about hackerspaces led to this guest post by Greg Belvedere about the Fayetteville Free Library Fab Lab.


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On October 20th I attended Contact, a kind of un-conference for next generation p2p projects organized by writer and media critic Doug Rushkoff. While there I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion about hackerspaces in libraries. Lauren Smedley from the Fayetteville Free Library in upstate New York led the discussion.

I have heard a lot of people talk about rethinking the library as a space, but the hackerspace is the first of these ideas I have actually liked. The Fayetteville Fab Lab will be “a collection of commercially available machines and parts linked by software and processes developed for making things”. The idea behind this, Smedley explained to me, is that libraries are not just about information, they are also about access. She wants to make libraries places where people don’t just consume media, but also have access to tools to help them create things. At the heart of the Fab Lab is a device called the Makerbot, a relatively low cost 3D printer which can produce any object the user can imagine.

I had heard about Makerbots before, but I actually got to see one in action at the conference. It assembles a 3D object from plastic spools. It is undeniably neat, but I don’t know what kind of widespread practical uses patrons in a public library would find for it. In some ways it seems kind of gimmicky. I have heard it might be convenient to reproduce a broken part for a household appliance. Instead of ordering and waiting for an overpriced replacement part that might not even be available, or buying a new appliance, a patron could print out a new part that day. I think it has a lot of potential and uses will probably arise that nobody has thought of, but right now it might take people a while to catch up to this idea.

I was curious how librarians at FFL would assign usage of the equipment in the Fab Lab. When I asked Lauren this she did not really have the logistics worked out. I guess this can work in a quiet rural library, but I think if we tried something like this in Brooklyn we would need a well thought out system for assigning how long someone could use the Makerbot. Despite my reservations I was glad to see such a strong showing from a librarian. She ended up winning one of three $10,000 prizes given out at the conference for the best projects.


Greg Belvedere is the founder of Our Bookshelf, the DRM-Free ebook lending social network. He is also an adult librarian who works for Brookyn Public Library.

German Traces NYC – Guest Post by Jill Goldstein

German Traces NYC is an exciting new web project designed to reveal the German influence in New York City from 1840-1945. A mobile website guides you through locations in the city where, via podcasts and augmented reality, German traces are brought to life. German Traces NYC is designed to be a learning experience that investigates German cultural heritage in New York City. Using historical photographs and multimedia narratives, the history of the city’s German immigrants is brought to life. All content is published under a Creative Commons license.

German Traces NYC is the very first application of the GeoStoryteller platform, an open source platform that combines elements of Internet pages, mobile website, podcasts and augmented reality.

The project is a collaboration between the Goethe-Institut New York and Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science. The Goethe-Institut, the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institution operational worldwide, promotes the study of German abroad and encourages international cultural exchange. Additionally, it also fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics. Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science (SILS), builds upon Pratt Institute’s reputation as a world-renowned school of art and architecture. SILS encourages students to reinvent the role of libraries through the field of Cultural Informatics.

Join us on December 2 at 6pm at the Goethe-Institut New York, 72 Spring Street, 11th floor, for the launch of German Traces. Please rsvp by November 29 to burney@newyork.goethe.org. For more information on “German Traces NYC” please contact: Brigitte Doellgast, Library Director, Goethe-Institut New York, tel: 212.439.8700, e-mail doellgast@newyork.goethe.org or Jill Goldstein, Assistant for Marketing “German Traces NYC”, tel: 917.750.3502, email: germantraces@newyork.goethe.org


Jill Goldstein is the Assistant for Marketing and fellow Pratt alum.

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