ISSNs and Personal Websites

I had an interesting set of exchanges today on the topic of the ISSN. I noted a few days ago that Steve’s site had an ISSN or international standard serial number – scroll down lower left to see it. Wanting all that Steve has, I applied for my own. This morning I received a nice email which stated:

Thank you for your application. At the moment, we are no longer assigning ISSN to weblogs, but the situation is under review. The question of whether weblogs will be able to be assigned ISSN is under discussion in the international ISSN Network. The question hinges on the scope of the ISSN but also on the very real consideration of the limited staff resources of ISSN centres worldwide.

In further emailing I learned that the global ISSN system is run out of Paris; that last October they put the halt on listing new personal web pages, web logs or blogs under ISSN; that the ISBN system relating to books does not apply; and that there are global meetings in Paris from time to time on the ISSN system. Very neato.

The person with whom I was having this conversation then went to the effort of called me at work after tracking me to my house. Apparently there are only two staff at the National Library of Canada who administer the ISSN system in the country and they have been overwhelmed by requests for blog registrations particularly – but apparently inadvertantly – after this posting by a Joe Clark who Steve (of the now coveted ISSN) knows as an web accessability writer.  I suggested that I might help the National Library of Canada and its application crunch by way of a post to this old ‘osphere.

There is an answer, however, to the nerd who want another registration number in their life. While my helpful friend in the National Library of Canada ISSN office, who will go unnamed (even though there is a 50% chance of you guessing which one it was) indicated that ISSNs for web blogs get you little but are a real headache, the good folk at CIPO will take 50 bucks on line for a one-time registration of Canadian personal web sites under the Copyright Act. While copyright is inherent in that it arises with the act of writing, registration provides proof of the fact of your writing as of the time registered. This still allows you to grant Creative Commons licenses at all that as they are licenses granted under copyright interest to your own works.   Plus you are paying so can expect you are providing for the resources you are using. 

Consider the lot of the poor ISSN registration worker. The ISSN has now registered over 755,000 serial titles worldwide and grows at an annual rate of about 50,000 new listings.  As a reult,  even though the Guardian recently pointed out that of the 4 million things called blogs, only 50,000 are updated daily, the scale of blogs to periodic serials is clearly daunting and, for two librarians kind enought to pick up the phone, overwhelming.    Let them be, oh bloggers, let them be!    Then lobby Paul Martin for more funding for the National Library.