Intersect Alert – 27 November 2022
How to Make the Most of E-Books, and Find Free Ones
Even if you still love printed books, the digital option lets you put an entire library in your bag, just in time for holiday travel and vacation.
100 Notable Books of 2022
An annual review from the New York Times.
Paramount Scraps Simon & Schuster Sale to Penguin Random House, Will Get $200M Kill Fee
The decision comes after a federal judge blocked the proposed merger on antitrust grounds.
How to Install a Little Free Library | Ask This Old House
In this video, This Old House host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva install Brookside Elementary School’s new library, with the help of several of the school children.
Libraries Are Launching Their Own Local Music Streaming Platforms
It's not Spotify, but some cities now host music platforms with their own local flavor.
Who owns the copyright for AI generated Thanksgiving recipes?
Prince Prints, Minted in Tints, and Article III’s Art Critic Stints
A major dispute over fair use recently had its moment before the Supreme Court in The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith. The arguments veered between passionate defenses of the arts (from both sides), delicate wordsmithing, and wild hypotheticals that could have come out of a law school final exam.
Experts Condemn The UK Online Safety Bill As Harmful To Privacy And Encryption
The bill is a deeply flawed censorship proposal that would allow U.K. residents to be thrown in jail for what they say online. It would also force online service providers to use government-approved software to search for user content that is deemed to be related to terrorism or child abuse. In the process, it will undermine our right to have a private conversation, and the technologies that protect that right, like end-to-end encryption.
FTC writing new internet rules to safeguard users’ search, health and location data
The Federal Trade Commission is working on new internet privacy rules affecting the gathering, analyzing and selling of people’s data rather than waiting for Congress to advance legislation governing commercial surveillance.
Intersect Alert – 19 November 2022
Libraries & Archives
Feds arrest Russians accused of running the largest pirated e-book library
Last month, the alleged masterminds behind Z-Library—an e-book pirate site that claims to be “the world’s largest library”—were arrested. According to a press release yesterday from the US Department of Justice, Russian nationals Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova have been charged with “criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for operating Z-Library.”
A Small Town Librarian Spoke Against Censorship. Then the Dark Money Came for Her.
Amanda Jones is a librarian. This summer, worried that her town might try to ban books, she spoke up at a public library board meeting about the importance of a diverse collection and preserving young people’s access to books with sexual health content and L.G.B.T.Q. themes. A few days later, she found herself accused online of advocating pornography in the children’s section. That was not unusual — fights about book banning have gotten ugly all over the country. But in response, Amanda did something that few others have done.
The value of owning more books than you can read
Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf. Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know. The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Why Meta’s latest large language model survived only three days online
Galactica was supposed to help scientists. Instead, it mindlessly spat out biased and incorrect nonsense.
Intel unveils real-time deepfake detector, claims 96% accuracy rate
On Monday, Intel introduced FakeCatcher, which it says is the first real-time detector of deepfakes — that is, synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. Intel claims the product has a 96% accuracy rate and works by analyzing the subtle “blood flow” in video pixels to return results in milliseconds.
Data: The New Cotton
The reader is encouraged to use this essay as an entry point into exploring and understanding how the interplay of race, capitalism, big data, and surveillance incentivizes and maintains the subjugation and exploitation of African Americans in the modern United States.
The 50 most banned books in America
During the 2021-2022 school year, more than 1,600 books were banned from school libraries. The bans affected 138 school districts in 32 states, according to a report from PEN America, an organization dedicated to protecting free expression in literature.
Is Mastodon Private and Secure? Let’s Take a Look
With so many users migrating to Mastodon as their micro-blogging service of choice, a lot of questions are being raised about the privacy and security of the platform.
Apple Is Tracking You Even When Its Own Privacy Settings Say It’s Not, New Research Says
Apple collects extremely detailed information on you with its own apps even when you turn off tracking, an apparent direct contradiction of Apple’s own description of how the privacy protection works.
The Myth of Online Privacy: Risks, Dangers, and Solutions
Privacy these days means something completely different than it did even a decade ago. And the only things we have to blame for this are the internet and ourselves. In the age of the internet, we're only as "private" as the tools we use allow us to be, which isn't much. While you rejoice in using a lot of free tools, know that you're actually paying with data.
Intersect Alert – 13 November 2022
Missouri Proposes New ‘Protection of Minors’ Rule for Libraries
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced a new proposed rule he says will protect minors in the state’s libraries. But librarians and freedom to read advocates fear the unwieldy new rule is another example of the ongoing, nationwide political attack on the freedom to read being waged under the guise of parental rights.
Michigan residents vote to defund public library again over LGBTQ books
Residents of a Western Michigan town voted for a second time to defund their only public library, putting it in jeopardy of closing permanently in a months-long battle between the library and community members outraged over books centered around LGBTQ issues and identities.
Book Banners are Weaponizing Legitimate Resources
The dangerous thing about this iteration of the book banning brigade is that they are using strategies and resources that weren’t around in decades earlier. While book banners in the 1990s and the 2020s both equate queer books/kids/teachers/etc. with pedophilia, they are finding this (mis)information and spreading it faster than they ever could in years past.
Court Blocks Penguin Random House, S&S Merger
A federal court has blocked Penguin Random House's acquisition of rival Big Five publisher Simon & Schuster. At press time, Judge Florence Y. Pan's opinion was not yet public as the parties still need to agree on redactions to protect confidential information, but in a brief two page order Pan enjoined the merger.
Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history
Twitter has played an important role in world events, used to record everything from the Arab Spring to the ongoing war in Ukraine. It's also captured our public conversations for years. But experts are worried that if Elon Musk tanks the company, these rich seams of media and conversation could be lost forever.
How to avoid falling for and spreading misinformation online
There’s a flood of real, misleading, and fake breaking news and information on social media. Proceed with caution.
Cybersecurity for Law Firms: Our Top Tips
In the digital era, cyber security is essential for law firms. Data breaches are becoming increasingly common, threatening the privacy of clients’ sensitive information and firms’ reputations. Consider data from ABA’s Cyber Security Report, which states that 25% of law firms have previously suffered a data breach.
OCLC and Clarivate Settle Lawsuit
An agreement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by OCLC in June 2022 against Clarivate and its subsidiaries in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio.
2023 Privacy Guide
The fundamental concept of privacy has changed dramatically as more individuals have shifted most of their data to online platforms. There are however a wide range of personal, professional, corporate and legal issues that present significant barriers to the goal of maintaining privacy on the internet.
Intersect Alert — 23 October 2022
Books and Reading, Libraries
Where is all the book data?
After the first lockdown in March 2020, I went looking for book sales data. I'm a data scientist and a literary scholar, and I wanted to know what books people were turning to in the early days of the pandemic for comfort, distraction, hope, guidance. How many copies of Emily St. John Mandel's pandemic novel Station Eleven were being sold in COVID-19 times compared to when the novel debuted in 2014? And what about Giovanni Boccaccio's much older—14th-century—plague stories, The Decameron? Were people clinging to or fleeing from pandemic tales during peak coronavirus panic? You might think, as I naively did, that a researcher would be able to find out exactly how many copies of a book were sold in certain months or years. But you, like me, would be wrong.
[Note: Includes publishing data, but also Seattle Public Library's open, anonymized circulation data.]
"Get Big Fast." How Amazon Accelerated the Commodification of Literature
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos came up with the slogan "Get Big Fast" because he knew size was crucial to exacting ever lower prices from suppliers. Publishers have tried to respond to Amazon's power by doing the exact same thing, accelerating their decades-long campaign of mergers and acquisitions to consolidate into an ever smaller number of bigger firms all trying to publish ever bigger books (like the memoirs of Barack and Michelle Obama, for which Penguin Random House advanced an astonishing $65 million).
A bias bounty for AI will help to catch unfair algorithms faster
AI systems are deployed all the time, but it can take months or even years until it becomes clear whether, and how, they're biased.
The stakes are often sky-high: unfair AI systems can cause innocent people to be arrested, and they can deny people housing, jobs, and basic services.
Today a group of AI and machine-learning experts are launching a new bias bounty competition, which they hope will speed the process of uncovering these kinds of embedded prejudice.
Artists say AI image generators are copying their style to make thousands of new images — and it's completely out of their control
OpenAI, a company founded by Elon Musk, just made its DALL-E image generator open to the public.
Artists say they work for years on their portfolios and people can now make copycat images in seconds.
But some AI companies argue that the new artworks are unique and can be copyrighted.
[Note: If you attended Internet Librarian, you heard keynote speaker and artist Louis Markoya speak about this issue.]
Rights holders got Google to remove 6 billion links from Search over 10 years
Over the past decade, Google has consistently documented its efforts to remove links from its search results to content that the tech giant considers pirated, and recently, the total number of Google takedowns since its reporting began has shot past 6 billion. It's a milestone that Torrent Freak suggested shows that, "[w]hile copyright infringement can't be eradicated entirely, Google is slowly but steadily presenting itself as a willing partner in the anti-piracy fight."
We're Publishing the Facebook Papers. Here's How Meta Became the Internet's Biggest Hub of Covid-19 Misinformation
Meta didn't choose to become a global distributor of medicinal snake oil and dangerous health advice. But it did decide it could tolerate it.
Is Alex Jones verdict the death of disinformation? Unlikely
A Connecticut jury's ruling this week ordering Alex Jones to pay $965 million to parents of Sandy Hook shooting victims he maligned was heartening for people disgusted by the muck of disinformation.
Just don't expect it to make conspiracy theories go away.
Countering an Authoritarian Overhaul of the Internet
At home and on the international stage, authoritarians are on a campaign to divide the open internet into a patchwork of repressive enclaves.
White House rallies industry support for Internet of Things labeling effort
White House officials convened industry leaders, policy experts and government leaders on Wednesday to discuss plans for security and privacy standards on connected devices.
The meeting focused on the implementation of the program with a focus on issues such as how to ensure labels match international standards, how to design a barcode to ensure consumers can find timely information about a product online and how to raise overall consumer awareness of IoT vulnerabilities.
Social listening tool for elections (free and open-source)
Maggie Farley / ICFJ – "Try this free social listening tool [beta] – or customize it for your newsroom. It's useful for tracking politicians or issues in the run-up to the elections, and following contested races afterward. Political Pulse US is a social-listening app supported by ICFJ that allows journalists to monitor and analyze what politicians are posting on social media across several platforms: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It will include YouTube, TikTok, Getter and Telegram in the near future. Political Pulse US, is free, open source and customizable and is developed by Sergio Spagnuolo of Nucleo Jornalismo. It can generate an automated daily newsletter highlighting noteworthy trends, topics and links shared. Sergio can help tailor it for your specific use case…"
You can see a deck explaining it here
[Note: The company, Núcleo, has other applications for tracking science, global conflict, and more.]
Every government website should have an RSS feed. This ensures there is an open, universal standard for syndicating government information.
Intersect Alert — 16 October 2022
The Supreme Court and social media platform liability
This sentence is sometimes referred to as the "26 words that created the internet,” because it freed websites that host third-party content from the impossible task of accurately screening everything posted by their users. For example, if your neighbor posts a tweet falsely alleging that you are embezzling money from your employer, you can sue your neighbor for defamation. But a suit against Twitter will go nowhere. As the text of Section 230 makes clear, it is your neighbor and not Twitter that bears the liability for the defamatory tweet.
But what about targeted recommendation decisions made by social media companies? For instance, a social media company will often recommend sports content to users who have a history of seeking out sports content. Are decisions about what content to recommend protected by Section 230? That question will soon be argued before the Supreme Court.
Meta is desperately trying to make the metaverse happen
Even if you are among the lucky few who can shell out a grand and a half for a virtual-reality headset, would you really want to?
That’s the question Meta seems to be grappling with. While the headset price jumped, nearly all the company’s other big moves are aimed at a common and simple baseline: making the metaverse something people actually want to use.
New right to read bill expands school library access, students' right to read
New legislation has been introduced that would expand access to school libraries and codify student First Amendment Rights. The Right to Read Act (S. 5064 and H.R. 9056), introduced by Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed and Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva, would put a certified school librarian in every public school library across the country.
The Supreme Court meets Andy Warhol, Prince and a case that could threaten creativity
You know all those famous Andy Warhol silk screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor and lots of other glitterati? Now one of the most famous of these, the Prince series, is at the heart of a case the Supreme Court will examine on Wednesday. And it is a case of enormous importance to all manner of artists.
The Chinese surveillance state proves that the idea of privacy is more "malleable” than you’d expect
The authors of "Surveillance State" discuss what the West misunderstands about Chinese state control and whether the invasive trajectory of surveillance tech can still be reversed.
Intersect Alert — 9 October 2022
The High Cost of Living Your Life Online
To be online is to be constantly exposed. While it may seem normal, it's a level of exposure we've never dealt with before as human beings. We're posting on Twitter, and people we've never met are responding with their thoughts and criticisms. People are looking at your latest Instagram selfie. They're literally swiping on your face. Messages are piling up. It can sometimes feel like the whole world has its eyes on you.
Being observed by so many people appears to have significant psychological effects. There are, of course, good things about this ability to connect with others. It was crucial during the height of the pandemic when we couldn't be close to our loved ones, for example. However, experts say there are also numerous downsides, and these may be more complex and persistent than we realize.
Who decides what is acceptable speech on social media platforms?
There are questions once again about the future of Twitter and what it should and should not allow online. Specifically, how far should the company go when it comes to permitting free speech? What should be taken down when it comes to misinformation? And does the company adequately guard against hatemongering speech?
New debunking site might be the winning tool in those frustrating Facebook fights
In a timely (and necessary) step towards broader news literacy, a new fact-checking site has launched to teach people how to better pinpoint misinformation. Called RumorGuard, it offers a one-stop shop for misinformation debunking and a glimpse into the fact-checking process, on top of a library of authoritative tools to help individuals spot, verify, and fight against rapidly spreading misinformation themselves.
Introducing the COVID-19 Web Archive
We are pleased to announce that the COVID-19 Web Archive is now available! As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in early 2020, librarians, archivists, and others with interest in preserving cultural heritage began documenting the personal, cultural, and societal impact of the global pandemic on their communities. These efforts included creating archival collections preserving physical, digital, and web-based records and information for use by students, scholars, and citizens.
Books and Reading, Publishing
Responding to Criticism, Publisher Reinstates Blocked Ebooks
After scrambling fall courses by withdrawing more than 1,380 ebooks, Wiley now says it will restore access to the course materials. Its short-term solution leaves many librarians unsatisfied.
The 'dangerous' books too powerful to read
Forty years on from the launch of Banned Books Week, censorship is once again on the rise. To launch a new BBC Culture series, John Self considers the long and ignoble global history of book-banning.
Publishing Is Weird: How My Book Became a Hit with Elderly People [video]
In which John [Green] explores how a tiny algorithmic quirk led to his book The Anthropocene Reviewed becoming a surprise hit among readers of large print editions. P.s. The Anthropocene Reviewed is available wherever books are sold in hardcover, audiobook (narrated by me), e-book, and large print edition (but not in regular paperback, because book publishing is weird).
5 of the Best Solutions for Monitoring Website Changes
One of the quickest ways to check a website for new updates is to add the site to your favorite RSS reader and let the tool notify you of any new content. However, an RSS reader can only check for updates within the confines of RSS-formatted code.
This limitation means RSS readers won't work on any static webpages or dynamic websites without RSS components. Fortunately, you can use third-party tools to monitor website changes and receive notifications for any new changes.
How to Use Reverse Video Search (& Why It's Useful)
Have you ever stumbled across an exciting video and wondered where it came from? If so, you'll be pleased to know that there are many ways to find a video source through reverse video searches.
The Most Visited Website in Every Country (That Isn't A Search Engine)
The World Wide Web has connected people and cultures from nearly every part of the globe. It's given us instant access to news and media from every country and the tools to translate content from one language to another. But while it has introduced new forms and ideas on a global scale, the web has not succeeded in fully homogenizing its international users.
The Free PACER Bill Will Save Money (Despite the CBO Score)
From Gabe Roth at Fix the Court: Hi, folks. I want to keep everyone apprised of what's going on with the Open Courts Act, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would modernize the federal judiciary's court records system and make access to documents free (instead of the current $0.10 per page, which gets expensive fast) aka the "free PACER" bill.
The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet's Time
An obscure software system synchronizes the network's clocks. Who will keep it running?
Intersect Alert – 29 August 2022
‘I am not upset. I’m enraged’: Administration asked school librarian to take down banned books display after one parent complained
A school librarian has gone viral on TikTok after claiming that her school’s administration asked her to take down a display on Banned Books Week at the request of a parent.
In a video with over 855,000 views, user Mia (@miarwilson3), a Texas-based librarian at a Belton ISD middle school, alleges that she was approached by her principal the day before school started. During this confrontation, he told her that she needed to take down a display that featured banned books in honor of Banned Books Week, held from Sept. 18 to 24.
Book bans are on the rise. What are the most banned books and why?
Banned books are not new, but they have gained new relevance in an escalating culture war that puts books centering racism, sexuality and gender identity at risk in public schools and libraries.
A dramatic uptick in challenged books over the past year, an escalation of censorship tactics, and the coordinated harassment of teachers and librarians has regularly put book banning efforts in news headlines.
Data Mining Resources 2022
Data mining and knowledge discovery is a quickly evolving field that is part of the portfolio of CI, BI and KM professionals, law librarians, research analysts, infopros, data scientists, data journalists and students in college and graduate programs. This expansive bibliography comprises a wealth of information, resources, tools, techniques and applications, as well as links to many open datasets. The subject matter includes data mining, data scrapping, data aggregation, big data and big analytics. The resources include: ebooks and glossaries, research papers, video tutorials and online training, APIs, open source web data extraction tools, datasets, bibliographies, case studies, scientific and academic papers and substantive articles, as well as training and certifications on data mining, and open source code.
NARA’s Digital Preservation Framework Goes Live as Linked Open Dataset
WASHINGTON, August 25, 2022 — “Beginning today, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is making its Digital Preservation Framework available as a Linked Open Dataset, a first for the agency. Aimed at sharing NARA’s research with digital preservation professionals around the world, the dataset expands access that was previously available only through GitHub. Linked Open Data is a method for publishing data in a machine-readable way that allows it to be connected and enriched through links to directly related resources published by other organizations. The Digital Preservation Framework describes best practices for the preservation of 684 file formats, some dating back to the first transfers of electronic records to NARA 50 years ago. Included in the data is an assessment of the risk level of a particular file type, with NARA’s award-winning Digital Preservation team’s suggestions for how to handle, for example, the file of a drawing made in a specific CAD (computer-aided design) software package from the early 1990s…”
WASHINGTON, August 25, 2022 — “Beginning today, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is making its Digital Preservation Framework available as a Linked Open Dataset, a first for the agency. Aimed at sharing NARA’s research with digital preservation professionals around the world, the dataset expands access that was previously available only through GitHub. Linked Open Data is a method for publishing data in a machine-readable way that allows it to be connected and enriched through links to directly related resources published by other organizations. The Digital Preservation Framework describes best practices for the preservation of 684 file formats, some dating back to the first transfers of electronic records to NARA 50 years ago. Included in the data is an assessment of the risk level of a particular file type, with NARA’s award-winning Digital Preservation team’s suggestions for how to handle, for example, the file of a drawing made in a specific CAD (computer-aided design) software package from the early 1990s…”
US government to make all research it funds open access on publication
Many federal policy changes are well known before they are announced. Hints in speeches, leaks, and early access to reporters at major publications all pave the way for the eventual confirmation. But on Thursday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) dropped a big one that seemed to take everyone by surprise. Starting in 2026, any scientific publication that receives federal funding will need to be openly accessible on the day it's published.
A new US data privacy bill aims to give you more control over information collected about you – and make businesses change how they handle data
Via LLRX – A new US data privacy bill aims to give you more control over information collected about you – and make businesses change how they handle data – With rare bipartisan support, the American Data and Privacy Protection Act moved out of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce by a vote of 53-2 on July 20, 2022. The bill still needs to pass the full House and the Senate, and negotiations are ongoing. Given the Biden administration’s responsible data practices strategy, White House support is likely if a version of the bill passes. Legal scholar and attorney Professor Anne Toomey McKenna, who studies and practices technology and data privacy law, has been closely following the act, known as ADPPA. McKenna contends that if passed this legislation will fundamentally alter U.S. data privacy law.
The surprising economics of digital lending
eBooks are books but not... you know, print books. While digital materials have expanded access for literary enthusiasts everywhere, libraries are paying the price.
That's because libraries don't buy eBooks for their collections. They license them. So then the question begs, what's the goldilocks price for digital lending? Well, publishers and librarians duke it out on today's episode.
Intersect Alert – 22 August 2022
The Propagandists’ Playbook How Conservative Elites Manipulate Search and Threaten Democracy
“The Propagandists’ Playbook peels back the layers of the right-wing media manipulation machine to reveal why its strategies are so effective and pervasive, while also humanizing the people whose worldviews and media practices conservatism embodies. Based on interviews and ethnographic observations of two Republican groups over the course of the 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race—including the author’s firsthand experience of the 2017 Unite the Right rally—the book considers how Google algorithms, YouTube playlists, pundits, and politicians can manipulate audiences, reaffirm beliefs, and expose audiences to more extremist ideas, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Francesca Tripodi argues that conservatives who embody the Christian worldview give authoritative weight to original texts and interrogate the media using the same tools taught to them in Bible study—for example, using Google to “fact check” the news. The result of this practice, tied to conservative marketing tactics, is more than a reaffirmation of existing beliefs: it is a radicalization of content and a changing of narratives adopted by the media. Tripodi also demonstrates the pervasiveness of white supremacy in the conservative media ecosystem, as well as its mainstream appeal, scope, and spread.”
Supporters, Opponents Weigh in on Internet Archive Copyright Battle
Is the Internet Archive's program to scan and lend copies of print library books under an untested legal theory known as controlled digital lending (CDL) wholesale piracy? Or is it a carefully considered and legal effort to preserve the mission of libraries in a digital world that is moving away from ownership to licensed access? With Summary Judgment motions now filed in a closely-watched lawsuit filed by four major publishers over the Internet Archive's scanning program, stakeholders on both sides of the case are weighing in with amicus briefs.
In rare move, school librarian fights back in court against conservative activists
A Louisiana school librarian is suing two men for defamation after they accused her of advocating to keep "pornographic" materials in the parish library's kids' section. It's a rare example of an educator taking legal action against conservatives who use extreme rhetoric in their battle against LGBTQ-themed books.
Announcing Author Interview Series with Library Students
You’ll notice a few new posts in our blog in the coming weeks. We’re excited to introduce conversations with select Litwin Books authors of recently released or upcoming publications. The Author Interview Series with Library Students enables prospective information professionals to meet with authors to discuss the research process and engage in a deep dive on important topics of the field from concept to publication. The students are from the dual degree program based in New York University (NYU), where they are earning master’s degrees in the Graduate School of Arts and Science and the Steinhardt School, and an MSLIS degree from the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University (LIU). Their degree programs at NYU include Archives and Public History, English and American Literature, Irish Studies, Near East Studies, Museum Studies, and Costume Studies.
Prague Municipal Library art installation where hundreds of books are stacked in a cylindrical tower
Via Twitter – “Artist Matej Kren’s “Idiom” at the Prague Municipal Library is an art installation where hundreds of books are stacked in a cylindrical tower. Mirrors placed at the bottom and the top give the exhibit the illusion of being infinite.” See also the accompanying vide0
GriddingMachine: A new database and software for sharing global datasets
Researchers are spending way too much time finding, reading, and processing public data. The ever increasing amount of data, various data formats, and different data layouts are increasing the time spent on handling data—before getting ready for scientific analysis. While the intention of sharing data is to facilitate their broad use and promote research, the increasing fragmentation makes it harder to find and access the data. Taking my personal experience as an example, I spent months to identify, download, and standardize the global datasets we use with the CliMA Land model, which came in a plethora of formats (e.g., NetCDF, GeoTIFF, CSV, and binary) that required different programming languages/packages to read them. Ordinarily, researchers would need to repeat this tedious work again and again.
Google’s Scans of Private Photos Led to False Accusations of Child Abuse
Internet users’ private messages, files, and photos of everyday people are increasingly being examined by tech companies, which check the data against government databases. While this is not a new practice, the public is being told this massive scanning should extend to nearly every reach of their online activity so that police can more productively investigate crimes related to child sexual abuse images, sometimes called CSAM.
Hiding OUT: A Case for Queer Experiences Informing Data Privacy Laws
Though scholars have suggested approaches to assuring queer privacy against government intrusion, I am positing that lawmakers should implement consumer data privacy laws that center queer experiences such that all people in America enjoy maximum privacy against the government and corporate intrusion. In fact, I encourage lawmakers and privacy advocates to employ queer experiences as an analytical tool to test whether an informational privacy law sufficiently protects people’s decisional privacy and other sensitive lifestyle choices. First, let’s explore the challenges of being queer in the United States. Then we will discuss how the internet has become the principal medium of affirmation, possibility, and refuge from the harsh realities of queer existence. Finally, we will recommend provisions that federal and state legislations should include to “queerify privacy” and maximally protect everyone’s constitutional zones of privacy, civil liberties, and civil and human rights.
High Court of Australia Finds Google Not a Publisher for Linking Articles
Today, the High Court of Australia ruled that Google is not a publisher of the websites it links to in the case, Google LLC v Defteros. The ruling overturns a previous ruling in which the Supreme Court of Victoria determined Google was a publisher for linking to newspaper articles.
Intersect Alert – 15 August 2022
Books and Reading
What We Gain from a Good Bookstore
“Will the day come where there are no more secondhand bookshops?” the poet, essayist, and bookseller Marius Kociejowski asks in his new memoir, “A Factotum in the Book Trade.” He suspects that such a day will not arrive, but, troublingly, he is unsure. In London, his adopted home town and a great hub of the antiquarian book trade, many of Kociejowski’s haunts—including his former employer, the famed Bertram Rota shop, a pioneer in the trade of first editions of modern books and “one of the last of the old establishments, dynastic and oxygenless, with a hierarchy that could be more or less described as Victorian”—have already fallen prey to rising rents and shifting winds. Kociejowski dislikes the fancy, well-appointed bookstores that have sometimes taken their place. “I want chaos; I want, above all, mystery,” he writes. The best bookstores, precisely because of the dustiness of their back shelves and even the crankiness of their guardians, promise that “somewhere, in one of their nooks and crannies, there awaits a book that will ever so subtly alter one’s existence.” With every shop that closes, a bit of that life-altering power is lost and the world leaches out “more of the serendipity which feeds the human spirit.”
Presidential Records Management: Preservation and Disposal
CRS in Focus – Presidential Records Management: Preservation and Disposal. Updated August 9, 2022 – “Presidential records provide an essential window into many of the most consequential actions and decisions of the American government. The Presidential Records Act (PRA; 44 U.S.C. §§2201-2209) sets forth requirements regarding the maintenance, access, and preservation of presidential and vice presidential information during and after a presidency. The PRA provides records maintenance requirements and permissions that vary depending on whether a presidency is in progress or has concluded.These matters may be of particular interest to Congress as it carries out its oversight activities and ensures presidential records are effectively collected and controlled during and after a presidency.This In Focus provides information on what constitutes a presidential record;the roles and responsibilities the PRA assigns to the President, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and Department of Justice (DOJ); and the PRA’s application to the preservation and disposal of presidential records during and after a presidency. It includes information on NARA’s ability to request a DOJ investigation.”
American Library Association (ALA) Condemns Proposed State Legislation Limiting Access to Information on Reproductive Health
“The Executive Board of the American Library Association (ALA) issued the following statement in response to proposed state legislation that would censor library materials or put at risk library workers who provide access to information, including information on abortion or any aspect of reproductive health care. ALA stands committed to the free, fair, and unrestricted exchange of ideas, and the right of library patrons to seek information free from observation or unwanted surveillance by the government or other third parties, in accordance with the law and the U.S. Constitution. ALA opposes policies and legislation that ban content, restrict access to information, or compromise library users’ right to seek information without the subject matter of their inquiries becoming known to others. Recently enacted state legislation prohibits abortion and imposes both criminal and legal penalties for performing illegal abortions or aiding and abetting the performance of an illegal abortion. The passage of this legislation and proposals to adopt similar legislation in other states has prompted concerns that provisions within those bills may be used to pursue criminal or civil charges against library workers for providing library users access to reproductive health information, including information about abortion. Some of these bills incentivize individuals to pursue civil action against individuals with the promise of financial gain. It is the professional responsibility of library workers to curate resources and provide assistance to library users seeking information without imposing their personal beliefs or engaging in viewpoint discrimination. They do so in compliance with state and federal laws and the U.S. Constitution, including those provisions that safeguard information access and patron privacy. Library workers do not provide medical or legal advice..”
Don’t look now, but the blockchain is gearing up to make book sales suck too
Pearson, publishers of textbooks and other academic tomes, is looking at the technology. Company CEO Andy Bird, speaking earlier this week, expressed interest in cracking down on the second-hand market. Which, admittedly, affects Pearson’s bottom line. But that’s how books work.
What's at stake as book publishing merger faces antitrust trial
Penguin Random House announced its bid to acquire Simon & Schuster in November 2020. The deal -- combining two of the top five book publishers in the United States -- normally would have taken effect by now. But the Justice Department is standing in the way, and an antitrust trial is set to begin on Monday.
Bipartisan Panelists Highlight “Desperate Need” to Counter Election Misinformation
Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a roundtable with state officials and election experts to examine the effects of the unprecedented rise in election lies following the 2020 presidential election. Ahead of the roundtable, the Committee released new findings from the Committee’s investigation into the dire problem of election subversion and misinformation. The Committee found that lies about elections endanger both our democratic system and the people who administer our elections. “Let’s be clear: The election lies pushed by former President Trump and his allies have inspired truly dangerous efforts to subvert elections. These schemes are not about fairness, election security, or the truth. They make it harder for Americans to cast their ballots, but easier for dishonest officials to overturn the results of elections they don’t like,” said Chairwoman Maloney during her opening statement. “Today’s report details a set of actions that Congress and the Administration can take to begin addressing this problem. This includes establishing a coordinated federal approach to protecting our elections.”
Google Will Start Letting You Know When You Can't Just Google It
If Google isn’t confident about the overall quality of search results when you search for something, it will now let you know at the top of the results page.
“This doesn’t mean that no helpful information is available, or that a particular result is low-quality,” Pandu Nayak, Google’s vice president of search, said in a blog post that the company published on Thursday. Rather, the warning, which Google calls a “content advisory,” will show up only when the site’s algorithms feel like giving you context about an entire set of results on a page, and despite the notice, you will still be able to see individual search results.
Intersect Alert — 31 July 2022
Welcome to the library of the 21st century
On a recent Monday morning, the citizens of Kanawha County, West Virginia, came to check out a new chapter in the life of an old institution. After more than two years and $32 million in renovations, downtown Charleston's public library reopened to the public – less a warehouse of books, and more a marketplaces of ideas.
Inside, visitors discovered a brand-new cafe, a tool-lending library, and an "idea lab" full of the latest technology. From podcasting booths to computerized sewing machines to augmented reality screens, the facility has been updated for the modern age.
[Warning: Library cliches are used liberally here, if only to debunk them.]
A major publishing lawsuit would cement surveillance into the future of libraries
Amid the inflection point of library digitization, publishing corporations want to reduce and redefine the role that libraries play in our society. Their suit [against the Internet Archive] seeks to halt loans of legally purchased and scanned books, cementing a future of extortionate and opaque licensing agreements and Netflix-like platforms to replace library cards with credit cards If successful, they will erode the public's last great venue to access information free from corporate or government surveillance. This dire threat to the privacy and safety of readers has gone largely unnoticed.
You Can't Stop Pirate Libraries
Shadow libraries exist in the space where intellectual property rights collide with the free-flowing exchange of knowledge and ideas. In some cases, these repositories of pirated books and journal articles serve as a blow against censorship, allowing those under repressive regimes to access otherwise verboten works. At other times, shadow libraries—a.k.a pirate libraries—function as a peer-to-peer lending economy, providing e-books and PDFs of research papers to people who can't or won't pay for access, as well as to people who might otherwise be paying customers.
Are the proprietors of these pirate libraries freedom fighters? Digital Robin Hoods? Criminals? That depends on your perspective, and it may also differ depending on the platform in question. But one thing is certain: These platforms are nearly impossible to eradicate. Even a greatly enhanced crackdown on them would be little more than a waste of time and resources.
Books and Publishing
How a Book is Made: Ink, Paper and a 200,000-Pound Printer
Have you ever wondered how a book becomes a book? Join us as we follow Marlon James's “Moon Witch, Spider King” through the printing process.
[A wonderful explanation in words and pictures.]
33 Problems With Media In One Chart
The graphic above is an attempt to catalog problems within the media ecosystem as a basis for discussion. Many of the problems are easy to understand once they're identified. However, in some cases, there is an interplay between these issues that is worth digging into.
Why none of my books are available on Audible
Cory Doctorow explains his history with Amazon and Audible.
The Default Tech Settings You Should Turn Off Right Away
Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft generally want us to leave some default settings on, purportedly to train their algorithms and catch bugs, which then make their products easier for us to use. But unnecessary data sharing isn't always in our best interest.
Incognito Mode Isn't As Incognito As You Might Think
You've seen the prompt: If you're using a shared or public computer, use incognito mode. It gives you a sense of security knowing that whatever sites you visit or passwords you type won't be saved to the device—like skulking around in an invisibility cloak. But of course, nothing you do online is invisible. Private browsing (aka incognito mode) is a great way to prevent your web browser from saving what you do. But to call it privacy-focused is a stretch, and while your browser or device doesn't log your movements in its history and cookies, that doesn't mean the sites you visit don't clock your behavior. Despite its name, you're not really incognito, and you may want to dial back your confidence in what these modes really do.
Intersect Alert — 24 July 2022
Books and Publishing
The Crypto Revolution Wants to Reimagine Books
What if you could own a stake in Harry Potter?
What if the book series functioned like a publicly traded company where individuals could "buy stock" in it, and as the franchise grows, those "stocks" become more valuable? If this were the case, someone who purchased just three percent of Harry Potter back when there was only one book would be a billionaire now.
Is your smartphone ruining your memory? A special report on the rise of 'digital amnesia'
'I can't remember anything' is a common complaint these days. But is it because we rely so heavily on our smartphones? And do the endless alerts and distractions stop us forming new memories?
Preservationists say Library of Congress makeover plan is 'vandalism'
A proposed change to the ornate Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress that critics say would remove the symbolic and functional heart of the 1897 Beaux-Arts masterpiece has landed the library on the D.C. Preservation League's 2022 list of Most Endangered Places.
The Library of Congress plans to remove the mahogany librarian's desk that rises some 16 feet in the middle of this spectacular, first-floor room and replace it with a circular window in the floor that will offer a view of its decorative dome to visitors looking up from the floor below.
New Interactive Map and Timeline Added to Chronicling America
Chronicling America users can now browse the collection's thousands of digitized historical newspapers using an interactive map and timeline recently launched by the Library of Congress. The new "Exploring Chronicling America Newspapers" application dynamically maps publication locations of over 3,000 digitized newspapers currently available in the Chronicling America online collection. Users can also interact with a timeline of publication dates for digitized newspapers available in Chronicling America, currently covering years between 1777-1963. Powered by the Esri ArcGIS Instant Apps platform, the map and timeline are updated weekly to include the latest additions to the collection. Users can also download the currently updated dataset underlying the new features to create their own custom data visualizations or analyses.
Books and Publishing, Open Access
MIT Press opens full list of 2022 monographs via Direct to Open
Thanks to the support of libraries participating in Direct to Open (D2O), the MIT Press will publish its full list of 2022 scholarly monographs and edited collections open access on the MIT Press Direct platform. Thirty-seven of the 80 works are already openly available to readers around the world. [MIT Press now has almost 3,500 books available in open access.]
GPO Catalogs the Video Hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol
GPO has cataloged the streaming videos of the eight hearings held by the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. The records can be retrieved in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) by this search in the expert mode: wau=House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol and wfm=vm. Future related hearings will also be cataloged.
How to Make Your Web Browser as Secure as Possible
Your web browser is your window to the outside world, but it goes two ways—it's also the window through which viruses, malware and other nasties can get access to your computer. With that in mind, it's vital that you take some time to lock down your browser of choice as much as possible from a security perspective, and we'll show you how to do it.
Your VPN may be snake oil. These three are trustworthy
Mullvad, Mozilla VPN and IVPN are worthy of your trust today. But a virtual private network may not actually be what you need to stay safe online.
Music Copyright Infringement Resource
This resource provides information about music copyright infringement cases from the mid-nineteenth century forward in the U.S. and, to an increasing extent, in foreign jurisdictions.
The 8 Best Online Communities for Introverts
Are you an introvert who's tired of the stigma associated with introversion? Well, even as an introvert, you don't have to experience certain things alone. You can find a community of similar individuals who understand your daily experiences.
Intersect Alert — 17 July 2022
The Important Role Libraries Play in Building a Creative and Innovative Society
As gateways to knowledge and culture, libraries play a fundamental role in society. Foundational in creating opportunities for learning, as well as supporting literacy and education, the resources and services each library offers all work towards helping to shape new ideas that are central to building a creative and innovative society.
Libraries also help ensure an authentic record of knowledge created and accumulated by past generations. If we were to exist in a world without libraries, it would be difficult to advance research and human knowledge, as well as preserve the world's cumulative knowledge and heritage for future generations.
The book ban movement has a chilling new tactic: harassing teachers on social media
Educators who stand up to conservative activists are being harassed and called “groomers” online, turning them into potential targets for real-world violence.
Intellectual Property, Libraries, Books and Publishing
A copyright lawsuit threatens to kill free access to Internet Archive's library of books
Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library and a massive repository of online artifacts, has been collecting mementos of the ever-expanding World Wide Web for over two decades, allowing users to revisit sites that have since been changed or deleted. But like the web, it too has evolved since its genesis, and in the aughts, it also began to offer a selection of ebooks that any internet user can check out with the creation of a free account.
That latter feature has gotten the organization in some trouble. Internet Archive was sued by a suite of four corporate publishers in 2020 over copyright controversies—with one side saying that what Internet Archive does is preservation, and the other saying that it’s piracy, since it freely distributes books as image files without compensating the author.
The Pirate Library Mirror wants to preserve all human knowledge… illegally
A new project has just launched with the goal of preserving all human knowledge. The problem? It's illegal.
Books and Publishing
Some Surprising Good News: Bookstores Are Booming and Becoming More Diverse
More than 300 bookstores have opened in the past couple of years — a revival that is meeting a demand for “real recommendations from real people.”
The "Great Publishing Resignation" Exposes the Failings of the Industry
The United States has been hit with the so-called "Great Resignation" since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Americans quit their jobs, chose to stay home, or looked for better opportunities elsewhere. Dubbed the “Great Publishing Resignation” by Twitter users, the phenomenon has just recently hit the publishing industry.
Report: Employees spend 89 days a year on wasted work
According to a new report by Wrike, work complexities have created gaps in information resulting from the surge in applications and data processed and the pace of work today. Just as CERN identified Dark Matter as the “invisible” content that makes up 95% of the mass of the universe, modern work complexities have generated a significant body of work that teams can’t immediately see, but that has a powerful influence on the projects in play around it.
This is called the Dark Matter of Work, and it lives in synchronous applications and unstructured work, as well as the gaps between systems and applications that aren’t integrated. The result of Dark Matter is a low level of visibility amongst employees and leaders that costs organizations millions of dollars in wasted time, delayed or canceled projects, and employee churn.
Travel Back in Time With Street View and Map Archives
Whether you're investigating the spread of urban sprawl, or you just want to know what your street looked like before the turn of the millennium, these are three key resources you should be using.
The Norwegian library with unreadable books
Some of the world's most celebrated authors have written manuscripts that won't be published for a century – why? Richard Fisher visits the Future Library in Oslo to find out.
Intersect Alert – 27 June 2022
Books and Reading
A new way to choose your next book
“Everyone knows you can sell books online,” said John Ingram, chairman of the Ingram Content Group, the largest book distributor and wholesaler in the United States. “The question is, how do you get content in front of people who might be interested in it?”
Many companies have tried. Two years ago, Ingram launched discovery website Bookfinity, which offers users customised recommendations after giving them a survey and assigning them a “reader type,” including beach reader, cool mom/dad and spiritual seeker.
Others include Booqsi, a platform that bills itself as a “community-focused, Amazon-free alternative to Goodreads”, and Copper, a new author-centric book discovery app designed to connect readers with writers. (So far, around 500 authors have signed up.)
OCLC Files Suit Against Clarivate for Using Its WorldCat Cataloging for a New Service
On June 13, 2022, OCLC filed suit against Clarivate PLC and its subsidiaries, Clarivate Analytics (US) LLP, Ex Libris, and ProQuest in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. Claims in the suit include tortious interference with contracts and prospective business relationships and conspiracy to interfere with contracts and business relationships. We are seeking both temporary and permanent injunctions to stop Clarivate and its subsidiaries from wrongfully encouraging libraries to violate their agreements with OCLC by contributing collaboratively created records from WorldCat® to Clarivate’s MetaDoor service. We are also asking the court to stop Clarivate and its subsidiaries from misappropriating records from WorldCat® to develop its MetaDoor service.
Publishers discriminate against women and Black authors—but readers don’t
It’s no secret that the book publishing world features plenty of discrimination.An analysis by the New York Times found that just 11% of fiction published in 2018 was written by people of color; in June 2020, a viral Twitter hashtag called #PublishingPaidMe revealed that many well-known Black authors had received book advances that paled in comparison to those of less experienced white authors. Women, meanwhile, are about as likely to make the New York Times bestseller list as men, but their books are typically priced lower and are less likely to receive reviews. Defenders of the status quo might argue that these practices simply reflect market realities: Perhaps readers are simply more interested in books by white, male authors. But a new study published in PLOS One suggests that’s not the case…“What our study shows is that there is an interest and an appetite” for books by Black and female authors, says Dana Weinberg, a professor of sociology at Queens College, who co-authored the study with Adam Kapelner, an assistant professor of mathematics. “So there’s really no justification for exclusion.
Brave Search passes 2.5 billion queries in its first year, and debuts Goggles feature that allows users to choose their own search rankings
Debuts Goggles feature that allows users to choose their own search rankings: “One year ago, we launched Brave Search to give everyone online a real choice over Big Tech: a privacy-protecting, unbiased alternative to Google and Bing, and a truly independent alternative to providers—such as DuckDuckGo or Startpage—that rely on Big Tech to run. Today, Brave Search is exiting its beta phase. It’s the default search engine for most new Brave browser users, and any user can search privately using Brave Search in their favorite browser by going to search.brave.com. It’s had rapid user growth, released a slew of innovative features, and challenged the Big Tech monopolies head on. All while staying true to core principles:
Independence: We serve results from our own built-from-scratch index of the Web
Privacy: We don’t track you, your searches, or your clicks
User-first: We put you first, not the advertising or data industries
Transparency: We don’t censor, bias, filter, or downrank results (unless legally required to)
Seamlessness: Brave can offer a best-in-class integration between the browser and search—from personalization to instant results as you type—without compromising privacy
To celebrate this one-year anniversary, we’d like to take a moment to highlight growth, give a sneak peek of Goggles, and review other innovative features of Brave Search…
The Open Secret of Google Search
Like many, I use Google to answer most of the mundane questions that pop up in my day-to-day life. And yet that first page of search results feels like it’s been surfacing fewer satisfying answers lately. I’m not alone; the frustration has become a persistent meme: that Google Search, what many consider an indispensable tool of modern life, is dead or dying. For the past few years, across various forums and social-media platforms, people have been claiming in viral posts that Google’s flagship product is broken. Search google dying on Twitter or Reddit and you can see people grousing about it going back to the mid 2010s. Lately, though, the criticisms have grown louder.
Reddit Has Hidden Search Tools
Reddit’s search might be terrible, but you can make it better. “Reddit is an invaluable internet community, but when it comes to search, it’s far from perfect. This network of communities is full of useful information, on-point memes, and interesting debates, but trying to find the specific content you’re looking for is far more difficult than it should be (so much so that many users have taken to simply Googling their issue and adding the word “Reddit.”) But Reddit’s search can be more accurate and useful, if you know how to unlock its potential. Yes, the Google method does work—especially if you add “site:reddit.com” to the begging of your query—but taking advantage of Reddit’s advanced search filters will make your on-site searches more productive, too. The tricks are similar to the ones you can use wit Google to yield better search results, so perhaps a refresher is in order…”
See also via How to Geek – How to Search Reddit More Effectively – Reddit is essentially a fusion of a wide variety of internet resources. It’s like a combination of social media and the BBS/Usenet/forum discussions that used to be prevalent in the early days of the internet (except all fused together into one mega directory). It’s an absolutely massive platform that includes discussion focused on everything from breaking news to incredible niche hobbies. Don’t get us wrong: There is a lot of dumb (and even awful/objectionable) content on Reddit, but there’s also home to a huge amount of helpful user-generated content. From identifying what plants are growing in the flower beds of your new home to figuring out what the obscure error code your 3D printer is throwing out means, there’s a good chance you can use Reddit to do it. In fact, the habit of leaning on Reddit for organic human-driven answers has become so widespread that people have taken to appending their Google search results with the word “reddit” to help filter regular Google search results…
Values - Inclusion
Long Island library board reverses ban on LGBTQ-related books, displays from children's sections
A library board on Long Island reversed a decision to ban all Pride-related books and displays from its children's sections after it was hit with swift backlash.
The Smithtown Library Board held an emergency meeting Thursday night to address the new ban, resulting in a reversal with a 4-2 vote.
Intersect Alert – 20 June 2022
Now China wants to censor online comments
On June 17, the internet regulator Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published a draft update on the responsibilities of platforms and content creators in managing online comments. One line stands out: all online comments would have to be pre-reviewed before being published. Users and observers are worried that the move could be used to further tighten freedom of expression in China.
Copyright "Small Claims" Quasi-Court Opens. Here's Why Many Defendants Will Opt Out.
A new quasi-court for copyright, with nationwide reach, began accepting cases this week. The “Copyright Claims Board” or “CCB,” housed within the Copyright Office in Washington DC, will rule on private copyright infringement lawsuits from around the country and award damages of up to $30,000 per case. Though it’s billed as an “efficient and user-friendly” alternative to federal litigation, the CCB is likely to disadvantage many people who are accused of copyright infringement, especially ordinary internet users, website owners, and small businesses. It also violates the Constitution in ways that harm everyone.
The 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation
European Commission: Major online platforms, emerging and specialised platforms, players in the advertising industry, fact-checkers, research and civil society organisations delivered a strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation following the Commission’s Guidance of May 2021. The strengthened Code of Practice on Disinformation has been signed and presented on the 16 June 2022 by 34 signatories who have joined the revision process of the 2018 Code. The new Code aims to achieve the objectives of the Commission’s Guidance presented in May 2021, by setting a broader range of commitments and measures to counter online disinformation. The 2022 Code of Practice is the result of the work carried out by the signatories. It is for the signatories to decide which commitments they sign up to and it is their responsibility to ensure the effectiveness of their commitments’ implementation. The Code is not endorsed by the Commission, while the Commission set out its expectations in the Guidance and considers that, as a whole, the Code fulfils these expectations. Signatories committed to take action in several domains, such as; demonetising the dissemination of disinformation; ensuring the transparency of political advertising; empowering users; enhancing the cooperation with fact-checkers; and providing researchers with better access to data. Recognising the importance to make the Code future-proof, signatories agreed to establish a framework for further collaboration through a permanent Task-force. The Code also comes with a strengthened monitoring framework based on qualitative reporting elements and service-level indicators measuring the effectiveness of its implementation. Signatories will set up a Transparency Centre, providing a clear overview to the public of the policies they put in place to implement their commitments, and will update it regularly with the relevant data…
The New York Public Library is giving away 500,000 books this summer
New Yorkers of all ages can now treat their shelves to a new book. The New York Public Library (NYPL) has announced that it will give away 500,000 books to city residents to keep as part of its “Summer at the Library Program.” Its goal is to help kids, teens and adults build their home libraries, as well as keep youth productive through the summer break. The books are available at any of the library’s 92 locations in Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island. Some locations will even offer Spanish, Chinese, and large print titles…
Google Is Sharing Our Data at a Startling Scale
It transmits our locations and browsing habits 70 billion times a day to advertisers amid trillions a year by other firms, a new report shows…Each time you open an app on your phone or browse the web, an auction for your eyeballs is taking place behind the scenes thanks to a thriving market for personal data. The size of that market has always been hard to pin down, but a new report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, which has aggressively campaigned for years in the U.S. and Europe to put limits on the trade of digital data, has now put a figure to it. The report, which the council shared with Bloomberg Opinion, says ad platforms transmit the location data and browsing habits of Americans and Europeans about 178 trillion times each year. According to the report, Google transmits the same kind of data more than 70 billion times daily, across both regions. It is hard for humans to conceptualize such numbers, even if machines calculate them comfortably everyday — but if the exhaust of our personal data could be seen in the same way pollution can, we’d be surrounded by an almost impenetrable haze that gets thicker the more we interact with our phones. Quantified another way: By way of online activity and location, a person in the U.S. is exposed 747 times each day to real-time bidding, according to the data. The council says its unnamed source has special access to a manager of an ad campaign run by Google. (The figure doesn’t include personal data transmitted by Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook or Amazon.com Inc.’s ad networks, meaning the true measure of all broadcast data is probably much larger.)..
Adobe plans to make Photoshop on the web free to everyone
Adobe has started testing a free-to-use version of Photoshop on the web and plans to open the service up to everyone as a way to introduce more users to the app.
The company is now testing the free version in Canada, where users are able to access Photoshop on the web through a free Adobe account. Adobe describes the service as “freemium” and eventually plans to gate off some features that will be exclusive to paying subscribers. Enough tools will be freely available to perform what Adobe considers to be Photoshop’s core functions.
Intersect Alert – 13 June 2022
The Free Learning List
Published by The School of Thought International, a 501c3 nonproﬁt and registered Australian Charity organization. The Internet’s Best Education Resources. “We’re attempting something quite ambitious: to save the world from itself by popularizing critical thinking, reason, and understanding. So far our non-profit’s creative commons resources have reached over 30 million people – so while this goal may be ambitious, it isn’t entirely unrealistic.“
Quitting Time: The pandemic is exacerbating attrition among library workers
Alex* can pinpoint the day she knew she was done with library work. “I was doing a lot of extra emotional support for people who didn’t have anybody else,” says the public librarian, who is disabled and has been working near a large Midwestern city for almost 20 years. She says the last two years have been particularly difficult. “There was a day when I realized nothing was ever enough,” says Alex, who is in the process of leaving the field. “They always asked for more. I was so worn down by it all.”
ABC to abolish 58 librarian and archivist jobs with journalists to do archival work
Archivists and librarians at the ABC [Australian Broadcasting Corporation] are in shock after management unveiled plans to abolish 58 positions and make journalists research and archive their own stories. Reporters and producers working on breaking news, news programs and daily programs like 7.30 will have to search for archival material themselves and will be expected to log the metadata of any new material into the system. Sources told Guardian Australia there are a further 17 contract positions in archives that will be abolished and that some of the archive staff affected are based outside the major capital cities. The research library staff will continue to help investigative programs like Four Corners and Background Briefing, but will not be available to assist daily news or ABC co-productions. Sound libraries will no longer add new commercial music releases to the music bank and producers must access music for programs themselves. “After thoroughly assessing and considering all aspects of this organisational change, we have determined that work being performed by some of our ABC archives team members is no longer required, has evolved, or can be combined with other roles that fit into our plans for the future state of ABC archives,” staff were told. The ABC section of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which held meetings for affected staff on Wednesday, said the move was “devastating news for many ABC staff and has come as a shock to teams across the country”
Hefty eBook fees causing crisis for library budgets
Irish libraries are grappling with an eBook crisis that’s eating up budgets with “huge and unsustainable” costs, and hitting librarians with onerous licensing agreements, disappearing titles, and price gouging.
The linguistics search engine that overturned the federal mask mandate
Using corpora to answer legal questions, a strategy often referred to as legal corpus linguistics, has grown increasingly popular in some legal circles within the past decade. It’s been used by judges on the Michigan Supreme Court and the Utah Supreme Court, and, this past March, was referenced by the US Supreme Court during oral arguments for the first time. “It’s been growing rapidly since 2018,” says Kevin Tobia, a professor at Georgetown Law. “And it’s only going to continue to grow.” It’s only going to continue to grow. A corpus is a vast database of written language that can include things like books, articles, speeches, and other texts, amounting to hundreds of millions of lines of text or more. Linguists usually use corpora for scholarly projects to break down how language is used and what words are used for…
Victory for Internet Users and Free Speech as SCOTUS Blocks Texas Online Speech Regulation Law
Today, in a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court blocked a Texas law that would bar social media companies from engaging in most forms of content moderation. Public Knowledge applauds the NetChoice v. Paxton ruling against Texas law HB20.
Intersect Alert – 28 May 2022
Uvalde librarian thought about canceling storytime. Instead, she made it a refuge.
Staff members at the Uvalde, Texas, library decided the community needed a safe space for children after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
If publishers have their way, libraries’ digital options will see major cuts
If a pending lawsuit by major American book publishers challenging its legal limits succeeds, controlled digital lending’s absence might be a lot more noticeable to a lot more people. It will be harder to borrow digital books and other materials from the growing number of libraries that practice controlled digital lending or some form of it.
OCLC releases more than 150 million WorldCat Entities as the foundation of a linked data infrastructure
OCLC has completed a project, funded in part by a grant from the Mellon Foundation, to develop a shared entity management infrastructure that supports linked data initiatives in the library community. As a result of this effort, OCLC has released millions of authoritative WorldCat Entities through a publicly searchable website and will continue to partner with libraries to develop the tools needed to fully incorporate linked data into library workflows and improve resource discovery through connections.
Barnes & Noble Being Sued in Virginia Beach Over GENDER QUEER, COURT OF MIST AND FURY
Virginia Beach (VA) schools voted to remove Gender Queer from shelves after a school board member complained about it and several others. Now a Virginia lawyer is stepping in to take the decision further: he’s filing a suit against the school and against the Barnes & Noble store in Virginia Beach.
How the internet gets people to plagiarize each other
Are you “hopping on a trend” or are you plagiarizing?
8 Nonfiction Books About Censorship
In my years of experience arguing with people on the internet about censorship (this is not a satisfying or recommended activity), one of the most important things I’ve learned is that nearly 100% of people think other people are trying to silence their points of view. Around 4% think that “their side” is trying to do the same.
How data brokers threaten your privacy
If you’ve started noticing the term “data broker” in the last few months, you’re not alone. While they’ve been a problem for a while, a recent John Oliver segment exploring how they work and a new ad from Apple highlighting the practice have both called attention to the issue, helping to bring this increasingly important practice out from the shadowy corners of the internet.
SCOTUS Refusal to Hear Prepublication Review Case Highlights Need for the Director of National Intelligence to Update Prepublication Rules, and More: FRINFORMSUM 5/26/2022
The Supreme Court made the unfortunate decision not to hear a case arguing that the government’s prepublication review requirements violate the First Amendment rights of former national security officials. The prepublication review system requires former intelligence and military officials to submit any fiction or nonfiction writing that relates to their government work to government censors for review to ensure no government secrets are disclosed. The logic may be palatable in theory, but in practice, the prepublication review process often holds up or prevents the publication of unclassified material, information that is already publicly available, and information that embarrasses the government.
Intersect Alert – 23 May 2022
What Does My Library Need to Know about Ebook Laws?
Mary Minow and guest author Kyle K. Courtney discuss the library ebooks landscape and state-level efforts to institutionalize fair licensing terms.
Texas librarians face harassment as they navigate book bans
As communities and school districts push for book bans, some Texas librarians are nearing their breaking point.
Texas A&M Weighs Sweeping Changes to Library
A plan to restructure Texas A&M’s 10 libraries would force librarians to relinquish tenure or move to another academic department to keep it. The university has yet to explain its rationale for the changes.
The Global Data Barometer is a collaborative project that aims to measure the state of data in relation to urgent societal issues.
The site seeks to appraise data availability, governance, capability and use around the world to help shape data infrastructures that limit risks and harms in climate action, company information, health and COVID-19, land, political integrity, public finance and public procurement.
Open Maps for Europe
Open Maps for Europe provides free to use maps from more than 40 European countries. The datasets are created using official map, geospatial and land information from official, national sources.
Science Education in an Age of Misinformation
Misinformation is a grave threat to science. In this report an international group of leading scientists and education researchers outlines the nature of that threat along with why it is important and how it can be addressed.
EFF to Supreme Court: Put Texas Social Media Law Back on Hold
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to halt enforcement of Texas’ constitutionally questionable social media law, which allows the state to dictate what speech platforms must publish and may lead to more, not less, censorship of user expression as platforms face a storm of lawsuits.
DPLA releases The Covid Archive as free ebook
Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce the publication of a free ebook, The Covid Archive: A finding aid to government documents related to the Covid19 Pandemic. The Covid Archive is a digital finding aid for the digital archive of government documents related to the response of U.S. federal and state governments to the Covid 19 pandemic. The creation of The Covid Archive was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The Private Sector Steps In to Protect Online Health Privacy, but Critics Say It Can’t Be Trusted
Although some privacy advocates hope the federal government might step in after years of work, time is running out for a congressional solution as the midterm elections in November approach. Enter the private sector. This year, a group of nonprofits and corporations released a report calling for a self-regulatory project to guard patients’ data when it’s outside the health care system, an approach that critics compare with the proverbial fox guarding the henhouse.
Intersect Alert – 15 May 2022
Librarians push back against book-banning
The American Library Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and more than two dozen other organizations formed a coalition to fight the far-right's record-breaking censorship barrage—wherein nearly 1,600 books were targeted for removal from public shelves and schools across the United States in 2021. The goal of Unite Against Book Bans—which also includes the Authors Guild and prominent publishers such as Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster—is "to empower individuals and communities to fight censorship and protect the freedom to read," according to the ALA.
Conservative parents take aim at library apps meant to expand access to books
Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.
Innovation is changing the role of law librarians and they’re ready for it
As AI and other innovative technologies continue to disrupt the practice of law, law librarians will continue to be at the forefront of adoption, training, and increasing productivity.
How J. Edgar Hoover Used the Power of Libraries for Evil
Once a revered political figure the public looked to for advice on everything from crime to child rearing, J. Edgar Hoover—the former director of the FBI from its inception in 1935 to his death in 1972—is now known as a bigot who abused his power to squash progressive causes and spy on political enemies. Before the creation of the FBI, he headed the Radical Division in the Justice Department, where he orchestrated the Palmer Raids against communist and socialist immigrant groups. Under his leadership, the FBI started its COINTELPRO program to dismantle left-wing activism, known for stunts like urging Martin Luther King Jr. to kill himself and attempting to blackmail him with evidence of extramarital affairs. One could be forgiven for imagining Hoover as an omniscient boogeyman, spying on activists out to ruin his American dream.
Meet the New Old Book Collectors
A growing cohort of young enthusiasts is helping to shape the future of an antique trade.
Welcome to Hotel Elsevier: you can check-out any time you like … not
This article summarizes our journey in trying to understand what data Elsevier collects; what data Elsevier has collected on us two specifically; and trying to get this data deleted.
In a Blow to Free Speech, Texas’ Social Media Law Allowed to Proceed Pending Appeal
A constitutionally problematic Texas law limiting social media companies exercising their First Amendment rights to curate the content they carry can go into effect after a federal appeals court lifted a lower court’s injunction blocking it.
EFF to Court: Fair Use is a Right Congress Cannot Cast Aside
Copyright law and free expression have always been in tension, with the courts protecting speech from overzealous copyright claims using legal doctrines such as fair use. But in 1998, Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and since then courts have interpreted its “anti-circumvention” provision to give rightsholders the unprecedented power to block even fair uses of their works, whenever that use requires bypassing an access control like encryption or DRM.
What Companies Can Do Now to Protect Digital Rights In A Post-Roe World
The increasing risk that the Supreme Court will overturn federal constitutional abortion protections has refocused attention on the role digital service providers of all kinds play in facilitating access to health information, education, and care—and the data they collect in return.
Thomson Reuters to Review Human Rights Impact of its Data Collection for ICE
EFF, along with many other organizations, has loudly sounded the alarm about data brokers and the myriad ways they can collect data on unsuspecting users, as well as the numerous dangers of public-private surveillance partnerships. One of the companies that has sometimes flown under the radar, however, is the Canada-based media conglomerate Thomson Reuters.
Public Knowledge Cheers Senate Confirmation of Alvaro Bedoya As FTC Commissioner
U.S. Senate voted to confirm Alvaro Bedoya as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. Mr. Bedoya has long been a powerful advocate for consumers and a trailblazing professor. Public Knowledge proudly welcomes this consumer champion to the FTC.
Intersect Alert – 8 May 2022
EveryLibrary is excited to launch the Banned Book Store as the most comprehensive list of currently banned and challenged books in the United States. Many of the book challenges come from individuals who have never read the books and who have been encouraged by national right wing organizations to present excerpts out of context to villainize and demonize librarians while building a case for horrific legislation that allows the government to bans books that don't agree with their current political ideologies.
2022 Library Systems Report
Events of the last year have reshaped the library technology industry. Previous rounds of acquisitions pale in comparison to the acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate, which has propelled the leading library technology provider into the broader commercial sector of scholarly communications. This deal signals that the gap in size among vendors is widening, as ProQuest businesses Ex Libris and Innovative Interfaces also join Clarivate.
Elsevier to Acquire Interfolio
Elsevier announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Interfolio. Interfolio has a series of products that fall into two related categories, one of which I call researcher career management and the other of which is the more familiar, impact assessment. While the price being paid was not revealed, Interfolio was acquired by a private equity firm in 2018 for a reported investment of $110 million (prior to adding several additional services into the Interfolio portfolio). Elsevier’s acquisition, if it succeeds, will further strengthen it as a provider of platforms and services to the university provost’s office and office of research, as well as research funders, an important consideration as it seeks to diversify its academic segment revenue basis beyond libraries. Ultimately, this acquisition would further increase the disparity in services in the increasingly direct competition between Elsevier and the new Clarivate, particularly if Elsevier can integrate it effectively.
The History Of Bookmobiles: Bookmobiles Are Here, And There And Everywhere, To Stay
First celebrated in 2010, the ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services (ODLOS) along with the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS) and Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) organized National Bookmobile Day. Recently rebranded, National Library Outreach Day “celebrates library outreach and the dedicated library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are.”
How GSA is remaking USA.gov
The revamped "federal front door" won't be a mere portal—users will be able to complete end-to-end government services on the USA.gov website.
Federal Agencies' Use of Open Source Data and Related Threat Products Prior to January 6, 2021
Federal agencies obtained and shared social media posts and other publicly available information—referred to in this report as “open source data”—on potential criminal activity prior to January 6, 2021. All 10 selected agencies— including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis who have lead roles in countering domestic terrorism and violent extremism—were aware of open source data about planned events on January 6, and seven were aware of potential violence planned for that day.
Internet Service Providers Drop California Net Neutrality Lawsuit, But Nationwide Rules Still Needed
Broadband providers suing California over its popular net neutrality law officially dropped their suit. Their action follows a refusal by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the court’s decision in ACA Connects v. Bonta, rejecting yet another attempt by broadband providers to overturn California’s net neutrality law. Earlier this year, the court issued its opinion and determined the California consumer protection law could go into effect. Public Knowledge and other consumer groups filed an amicus brief in this case last year.
National Intelligence Report Shows FBI Warrantlessly Searched Americans’ Data Millions Of Times Last Year
Eight years ago, prompted by the Snowden revelations (and Senator Ron Wyden’s persistent questions), then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper finally provided the public with some insight into the FBI’s warrantless searches of Americans’ data collected (supposedly inadvertently) by the NSA.
The EU's Copyright Directive Is Still About Filters, But EU’s Top Court Limits Its Use
The Court of Justice of the European Union has issued a long-awaited judgment on the compatibility of the EU Copyright Directive’s filtering requirements with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The ruling recognizes the tension between copyright filters and the right to freedom of expression, but falls short of banning upload filters altogether.
Just For Fun
The origins of "Birds Aren't Real"
It's spread to billboards, bumper stickers and popped up at halftime during the NCAA men's basketball national championship game. More than a million people have become followers of Birds Aren't Real, a movement that claims the birds you think you see flying in the sky are actually government surveillance drones. Thankfully, it's all pure satire. The "conspiracy theory" is intended to mirror some of the absurdity that's taken flight across the country.
Intersect Alert — 24 April 2022
Books and Reading, Libraries
New York Public Library makes banned books available for free
In response to the more than 1,500 books challenged to be removed from libraries in the last year, the New York Public Library launched an effort to make some banned books available for everyone — for free.
Related: The Brooklyn Public Library is giving eCards to teens nationwide to challenge book bans
Maryland Gives Up on Its Library E-book Law
Maryland's library e-book law is effectively dead. In a recent court filing, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said the state would present no new evidence in a legal challenge filed by the Association of American Publishers, allowing the court's recently issued preliminary injunction blocking the law to stand, and paving the way for it to be converted into a permanent injunction.
Librarians Can't Be Neutral in the War on Information
Lately, a number of factors have reenergized this debate. They include the rise of misinformation and disinformation, efforts by right-wing individuals and groups to censor library and school materials that they condemn for promoting critical race theory or other concepts of diversity and inclusion, and the opposing concerns expressed by some about the presence of materials seen as racist or hurtful to marginalized communities. How shall librarians address all of these swirling controversies? If the idea of librarian neutrality was ever tenable, is it now past its sell-by date? In this article, I argue that:
- In practice, librarians are not neutral; we make judgments all the time.
- Librarians cannot and should not be neutral; making judgments is part of our professional responsibility.
- We're in the midst of a war on information, in which librarians can’t be neutral and that requires new thinking and new professional guidance.
Research, Digital Preservation, Privacy
Web scraping is legal, US appeals court reaffirms
Good news for archivists, academics, researchers and journalists: Scraping publicly accessible data is legal, according to a U.S. appeals court ruling.
The landmark ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals is the latest in a long-running legal battle brought by LinkedIn aimed at stopping a rival company from web scraping personal information from users' public profiles. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court last year but was sent back to the Ninth Circuit for the original appeals court to re-review the case.
How to Bypass Blocked Sites and Internet Restrictions
It doesn't matter where in the world you live; there are times when you're going to come across blocked sites and a restricted internet.
If you come across an internet block, don't panic. Keep reading to find out more how to bypass barred sites and internet restrictions.
Why you should schedule all your emails
Email is already asynchronous, so why not use that to your advantage?
The giant archive hidden under the British countryside [video]
Deepstore doesn't let many people film in their massive facilities. So when the team at Laura Ashley invited me down into the mine to look at their archives, I jumped at the chance.
Government, Intellectual Property
The Pro Codes Act Is a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
When a pipeline bursts, journalists might want to investigate whether the pipeline complied with federal regulations. When a toy is recalled, parents want to know whether its maker followed child safety rules. When a fire breaks out, homeowners and communities want to know whether the building complied with fire safety regulations. Online access to safety regulations helps make that review – and accountability – possible. But a new dangerous and deceptive bill will undermine existing efforts to make that happen: the Pro Codes Act.
Counterpoint: Bill would protect copyrights on voluntary standards incorporated into government regulations
Intersect Alert — 10 April 2022
Preserving the Past in the Digital Age Is Still a Massive Headache
To understand the issues facing archivists today, I spoke with several experts on the subject: Charles Amirkhanian, long-time producer for Pacifica Radio station KPFA and co-founder (with Jim Newman), in 1993, of the new and experimental music organization Other Minds; Indian music scholar and performer Jody Cormack, archive assistant for the World Music Archives at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; and Robert Chehoski, manager of the Media Management Archive for Bay Area educational television station KQED and KQED FM.
Their stories, victories, and laments proved amazingly similar as they face the challenge of storing, editing, and cataloging vast collections of recorded material on disintegrating reel-to-reel magnetic audio and video tape, vinyl records, audio cassettes, VHS and Betamax video, and reels and reels of 16 mm film. And even as their efforts to preserve these materials makes progress, the state-of-the-art data storage program they are using today could be out of date in a month. Remember the days when 10K of RAM was considered a wonder? They also face the dilemma of determining what should be saved or lost; how to maintain funding and secure storage while weathering administrative changes.
Flickr deleted, and then undeleted, 5 million archival images
From century-old fairy tales to tomes about falling in love via telegraph wires, old books provide both archival value and endless entertainment. Any book published in the U.S. before 1926 is in the public domain, and just because a book has been collecting dust for a few centuries, doesn't mean it's boring.
BUT A FEW WEEKS AGO, POOF! The account disappeared. The deletion was swift and quiet, but users soon noticed. On a Flickr forum, fans of the Internet Archive Book Images account called the loss an unfathomable “destruction of knowledge.” One user wrote: the deletion “really impacted my life,” while another wrote “to find all these golden needles in the same haystack a second time again seems impossible.”
New Project Will Unlock Access to Government Publications on Microfiche
Government documents from microfiche are coming to archive.org based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive and its Federal Depository Library Program library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques.
Google Search's next phase: context is king
At its Search On event [in September], Google introduced several new features that, taken together, are its strongest attempts yet to get people to do more than type a few words into a search box. By leveraging its new Multitask Unified Model (MUM) machine learning technology in small ways, the company hopes to kick off a virtuous cycle: it will provide more detail and context-rich answers, and in return it hopes users will ask more detailed and context-rich questions. The end result, the company hopes, will be a richer and deeper search experience.
A Decade of Work Culminates in 1950 Census Release on April 1
From paper to magnetic tape to digital images, the 1950 Census records will debut publicly this week following 10 years of work by National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) staff.
The public will be able to access the records, which for the first time will include a name search function on launch day, beginning April 1—a milestone in the 72-year journey of the 17th decennial census.
NYC releases 9.3M historical birth, death, marriage records; here's what you can learn about your family history
The city Department of Records & Information Services launched a new online vital records platform that lets visitors search and view historical New York City records of birth (1866-1909), death (1862-1948), and marriage (1866-1949).
You're Still Being Tracked on the Internet, Just in a Different Way
The internet industry shuddered last year when Apple introduced privacy measures for the iPhone that threatened to upend online tracking and cripple digital advertising. Google pledged similar privacy actions.
But in less than a year, another type of internet tracking has started taking over. And it is having the unintended effect of reinforcing the power of some of tech's biggest titans.
5 Reasons Why Google Drive Is a Security Risk
Google Drive is a great cloud storage solution, but can you trust it with your private data?
Intersect Alert – 04 April 2022
Books and Reading
A Scientific Explanation for Your Urge to Sniff Old Books
Inside its dry and musty hull, the smell of old books contains great distances. You sense time travel, of course, but also the soaring aeronautics of ideas. Sometimes a great book sticks the landing, very often they don’t. And sometimes books fail to jump high enough.
In smelling old books, you can smell actual geographic distances, too. Imagine all the cardboard boxes necessary to crate up a roomful of books, the slow trundle of cargo to a new destination, the books aging along with their owner from move to move. Readers who find this smell intoxicating are ruefully aware of how insane, how flatly contradictory of convenience, loving this smell can be.
EPA Eliminating Its Web Archive
Via Patrice McDermott, Government Information Watch, [h/t Mike Ravnitzsky] – “Come July 2022, the EPA plans to retire the archive containing old news releases, policy changes, regulatory actions, and more. The Verge reports – ‘The archive was never built to be a permanent repository of content, and maintaining the outdated site was no longer “cost effective,” the EPA said to The Verge in an emailed statement. The EPA announced the retirement early this year, after finishing an overhaul of its main website in 2021, but says that the decision was years in the making. The agency maintains that it’s abiding by federal rules for records management and that not all webpages qualify as official records that need to be preserved.
Public.Resource.Org Can Keep Freeing the Law: Court Allows Posting Public Laws And Regulations Online
As part of its ongoing work to ensure that people can know and understand the laws they live under, Public.Resource.org, a nonprofit organization, on Thursday vindicated its ability to publicly post important laws online in standard formats, free of copy protections and cumbersome user interfaces.
The win for Public Resource—represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) with co-counsel Fenwick & West and David Halperin—in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reinforces the critical idea that our laws belong to all of us, and we should be able to find, read, and comment on them free of registration requirements, fees, and other roadblocks.
Internet Access / Libraries
Keeping Communities Connected : Library Broadband Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Libraries play a critical role in bridging the broadband connectivity gap. This role became even more apparent when the global COVID-19 pandemic forced work, school, and other daily tasks online. As the need for internet connectivity skyrocketed millions of Americans lost access as the institutions they relied on for connectivity, including library buildings, closed due to health concerns. This left a substantial gap in connectivity that needed to be addressed immediately. This paper examines how libraries rose to the challenge to provide internet access and technology to those who otherwise would lack such access. It documents both widespread practices and unique strategies employed by U.S. public libraries to keep Americans connected during this challenging time. It concludes that investments in library broadband, Wi-Fi, and related devices made during the pandemic not only helped to address immediate needs, but also lay the groundwork for economic recovery as the pandemic recedes.
The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, A Philosophy, A Warning – Book Review Interview
In The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is, Justin E. H. Smith, a philosopher and historian of science, argues that we’ve been much too narrow-minded in our understanding of the internet. In presenting a longue durée history, he challenges our assumptions about what the internet is and what we’re doing when we’re on it. Only by understanding the internet’s long history — by understanding the circumstances in which the internet’s many parts were conceived — can we, he claims, take back control of our lives and shape the internet in a way more conducive to human flourishing.
The Library Ends Late Fees, and the Treasures Roll In
Some items, checked out decades ago, arrived with apologetic notes. “Enclosed are books I have borrowed and kept in my house for 28-50 years! I am 75 years old now and these books have helped me through motherhood and my teaching career,” one patron wrote in an unsigned letter that accompanied a box of books dropped off at the New York Public Library’s main branch last fall. “I’m sorry for living with these books so long. They became family.”
Intersect Alert – 29 March 2022
Books and Reading
Nationwide effort to ban books challenges freedom of speech [viedo]
Advocates are sounding the alarm about a set of measures that they say target teaching and writing related to LGBTQ issues, race and freedom of speech. Around the country, efforts to ban specific books or even whole categories of books are on the rise. Jeffrey Brown has a conversation for our arts and culture series, "CANVAS."
Volunteers Rally to Archive Ukrainian Web Sites
As the war intensifies in Ukraine, volunteers from around the world are working to archive digital content at risk of destruction or manipulation. The Internet Archive is supporting several preservation efforts including the Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online (SUCHO) initiative launched in early March. “When we think about the internet, we think the data is always going to be there. But all this data exists on physical servers and they can get destroyed just like buildings and monuments,” said Quinn Dombrowski, academic technology specialist at Stanford University and co-founder of SUCHO. “A tremendous amount of effort and energy has gone into the development of these websites and digitized collections. The people of Ukraine put them together for a reason. They wanted to share their history, culture, language and literature with the world.
Schools nationwide are quietly removing books from their libraries
Meet the librarians fighting bans and scrambling to preserve children’s freedom to read..Slowly — over months of meetings, investigations and secret conversations with fearful librarians across her counties — she came to understand the disturbing reality. Administrators, afraid of attracting controversy, were quietly removing books from library shelves before they could be challenged. “There’s two battles going on at once,” Hull said, referring to parallel pushes from parents who want titles stricken and from school officials who are removing books preemptively. “And it’s been really difficult to fight both of those.
The Foilies 2022
Each year during Sunshine Week (March 13-19), The Foilies serve up tongue-in-cheek "awards" for government agencies and assorted institutions that stand in the way of access to information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and MuckRock combine forces to collect horror stories about Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and state-level public records requests from journalists and transparency advocates across the United States and beyond. Our goal is to identify the most surreal document redactions, the most aggravating copy fees, the most outrageous retaliation attempts, and all the other ridicule-worthy attacks on the public's right to know.
Russia is risking the creation of a “splinternet”—and it could be irreversible
more profound splits are on the cards—provoked by action on both sides. Russia has declared Meta (owner of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp) to be an “extremist organization” and is withdrawing from international governance bodies such as the Council of Europe and has been suspended from the European Broadcasting Union. If such moves were replicated with the internet’s governing bodies, the results could be seismic.
Afghanistan’s libraries go into blackout: ‘It is painful to see the distance between people and books grow’
“The lights are off, shelves are in disarray and dust has coated every single book,” says Zabihullah Ehsas, my longtime friend and mentor, describing the current state of Khushal Baba Ketabtun, a library we established together in 2012. Our efforts represented an attempt to address the shortage of Pashto books in Mazar-i-Sharif, the cultural and economic hub of northern Afghanistan.
Ukraine's libraries are offering bomb shelters, camouflage classes and, yes, books
Libraries are playing vital roles in supporting Ukraine's war effort from giving families shelters during Russian bombing raids to making camouflage nets for the military and countering disinformation.
Publishing Giants Are Fighting Libraries on E-Books
The Association of American Publishers filed suit to block a new Maryland law that aims to increase public libraries’ access to e-books, with support from a powerful copyright lobbying group…Libraries and schools worldwide have been increasingly lending out e-books and audiobooks, even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Over 500 million copies of digital books were circulated last year, according to digital reading platform OverDrive, an increase from 430 million the year before and 326 million in 2019. Back in 2016, the total had reached 200 million, which was up from just 15 million in 2010. Library patrons and students went digital to crack the covers of everything from Barack Obama’s memoir to young adult fiction to the latest issues of The Economist magazine—or its rival US Weekly, based on OverDrive’s lists of the most popular e-books. The Toronto Public Library alone circulated nearly 10 million titles last year, a new record, and the Los Angeles Public Library surpassed 8 million lends. Librarians have been warning that large publishers are squeezing licensing terms on digital works, pushing for libraries to merely rent digital works, rather than allowing them to own copies as they do physical books
Intersect Alert – 7 March 2022
Books and Reading
School boards battle librarians over book bans
[VIDEO] The decision to ban books with social justice themes and diverse characters has turned libraries into battlegrounds between school boards and educators.
Books and Reading
Ten new books to read this Women’s History Month [reading list]
Since 1987, Women’s History Month has been observed in the US annually each March as an opportunity to highlight the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. This month, we’re sharing some of the latest history titles covering a range of eras and regions but all charting the lives of women and the impact they made, whether noticed at the time or from the shadows.
Books and Reading / Publishing
Librarian's lament: Digital books are not fireproof
The disturbing trend of school boards and lawmakers banning books from libraries and public schools is accelerating across the country. In response, Jason Perlow made a strong case last week for what he calls a "Freedom Archive," a digital repository of banned books. Such an archive is the right antidote to book banning because, he contended, "You can't burn a digital book." The trouble is, you can.
Digital Preservation / Open Data
Howard University to digitize its archive of thousands of Black newspapers
…with the help of a $2 million grant announced Monday, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center will make available countless articles that captured in real-time the impact of historical events on Black people that have long been difficult, if not impossible, to access. By digitizing its extensive Black Press Archives, anyone will be able to access Howard’s collection of more than 2,000 newspapers from the United States, Africa and the African diaspora online.
Digital Preservation / Publishing
Inside a former S.F. church, a battle for the future of knowledge
Built in 1923 as a Christian Science church, it was bought in 2009 by the Internet Archive. The mission of the IA sounds both magnificent and impossible: “To provide universal access to all knowledge,” according to founder Brewster Kahle. […] The old church building in San Francisco’s Richmond District was chosen largely because the front of the church resembles the Internet Archive’s logo, which features the Library of Alexandria’s Greek columns.
Freedom of Information
The Federal Circuit Helps a Patent Troll Block Public Access to Court Records
For more than three years, EFF has been fighting for public access to court records in a patent case between Uniloc, one of the world’s most prolific patent trolls, and Apple, one of the world’s biggest tech companies. The district court has ruled three different times that the public has a strong presumption of access to these records and has ordered Uniloc, the party asking for secrecy, to make them public.
Last week, however, the Federal Circuit further delayed public access to the court records when it vacated the most recent ruling and sent the case back to the district court for further fact-finding regarding whether any of the materials should remain secret.
Government / Technology
Surgeon General Assails Tech Companies Over Misinformation on Covid-19
President Biden’s surgeon general on Thursday used his first formal advisory to the United States to deliver a broadside against tech and social media companies, which he accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation — especially about Covid-19.
International Outlook / Librarians
President of the Ukrainian Library Association to the World: “We Are at the Forefront of the Fight Against Fakes, Misinformation, and Cyber Threats!”
The president of the Ukrainian Library Association reached out to the world's library community after the Russian invasion began in February.
In the letter, Oksana Brui calls libraries a "strategic weapon" of this war.
International Outlook / Libraries
Lost for words: protecting libraries and archives in Ukraine
I haven’t heard from my colleagues in Ukraine’s library community since the 2 March.
I had spent the previous days exchanging emails with them about a tweet that had gone viral: “Bloody hell. Looking at a message from the Ukraine Library Association concerning the cancellation of their forthcoming conference. It basically says, ‘We will reschedule just as soon as we have finished vanquishing our invaders’. Ukrainian Librarians, I salute you.”
It seemed to capture the Ukrainian spirit of defiance in the face of overwhelming military power.
In one of their last emails, written to the sound of shelling and sirens, one of them mentioned that she was staying in Kyiv with a small group of colleagues to coordinate efforts to combat Russian disinformation during the invasion. Since then, silence.
International Outlook / Values
How to avoid falling for and spreading misinformation about Ukraine
Anyone with a phone and an Internet connection is able to watch the war in Ukraine unfold live online, or at least some version of it. Across social media, posts are flying up faster than most fact-checkers and moderators can handle, and they’re an unpredictable mix of true, fake, out of context and outright propaganda messages.
Librarians / Libraries
LIBRARIES ARE MORE POPULAR THAN EVER AND LIBRARY WORKERS DON’T EARN LIVABLE WAGES: THE STATE OF U.S. PUBLIC LIBRARIES
A new look at annual data provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services’s annual Public Libraries Survey by the website WordsRated, a non-commercial research organization focused on books, reading, and publishing, offers an expansive view of the state of U.S. public libraries since 1992 Among some of the key findings are that in-person library usage is down while the popularity of library use — thanks to digital access — is at its highest. Libraries rely less on government funding than they ever have before and, perhaps as a result, pay their workers less than a livable wage.
Victory! San Francisco Mayor Withdraws Harmful Measure Against Surveillance Oversight Law
San Francisco Mayor London Breed has pulled a harmful ballot initiative that threatened to gut the city’s landmark 2019 surveillance oversight ordinance. […] The mayor and the San Francisco Police Department recently used public fears of crime as justification to introduce the proposed ballot initiative, which would have created massive exceptions to the ordinance’s requirement that police get permission from democratically elected Supervisors before using or acquiring any new surveillance technology. Breed specifically wanted to allow police unilateral authority to access networks of surveillance cameras that they had previously used, without Board approval, to spy on protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Several members of the Board of Supervisors countered this initiative by offering their own ballot measure, which would have strengthened, rather than undermined, the surveillance oversight ordinance. Now that the mayor has pulled her ballot initiative, the Supervisors have done the same.
Intersect Alert – 31 January 2022
Books and Reading
Bookfeed.io – An RSS feed listing all newly released books from your favorite authors
Likas Mathis – “Bookfeed.io is a simple tool that allows you to specify a list of authors, and generates an RSS feed with each author’s most recently released book. I made this because I don’t want a recommendation algorithm to tell me what to read, I just want to know when my favorite authors release new books.”
Books and Reading
Weird Old Book Finder
“A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books | by Clive Thompson – A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books – To help ‘rewild your attention’ I built a book-finding app [Medium / paywall]
CBC Radio interview with this site’s creator. The interview is here (starts at 47:00) [h/t r/history]
Link to Weird Old Book Finder [No Paywall]
FCC Votes To Expand E-Rate Program to Tribal Libraries
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Report and Order to update the definition of “library” to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive support from the agency’s E-Rate program.
The E-Rate program requires, as a condition for participation, that a library be eligible for assistance from a state library administrative agency under the “Library Services and Technology Act” (LSTA). Prior to the 2018 amendment to the LSTA, some Tribal libraries were deemed ineligible by their state library administrative agencies for funding under the LSTA, which had the effect of making them ineligible for E-Rate funding.
Internet Users Score Major Victory as Appellate Court Upholds California Net Neutrality Rules
Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in ACA Connects v. Bonta, rejecting an attempt by broadband providers to overturn California’s net neutrality law. Public Knowledge and other consumer groups filed an amicus brief in this case last year.
Redditors reveal the most useful websites nobody seems to know about
It’s been thirty years since the first “website” on the World Wide Web (W3). In that time, the number of websites has grown exponentially, to a staggering 1.88 billion. With so many options out there, how do you find truly useful websites that are lesser-known? Well, you turn to the “front page of the internet,” Reddit, and the r/AskReddit subreddit.
What’s in a Name? The Future of Law Firm Library Departments
The American legal profession has had a uniform conception of a law firm’s library department and its role for several generations: great big rooms full of books and periodicals staffed by librarians responsible for making sure the firm had the most important volumes on hand for instant reference by the lawyers — or to track down what the lawyers needed if it was not on hand. The nomenclature was universal, and everyone knew the role of the department.
Massive open index of scholarly papers launches
An ambitious free index of more than 200 million scientific documents that catalogues publication sources, author information and research topics, has been launched.
The index, called OpenAlex after the ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt, also aims to chart connections between these data points to create a comprehensive, interlinked database of the global research system, say its founders. The database, which launched on 3 January, is a replacement for Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG), a free alternative to subscription-based platforms such as Scopus, Dimensions and Web of Science that was discontinued at the end of 2021.
How to Download Everything Amazon Knows About You (It's a Lot)
Here’s a fun thought experiment; picture the amount of personal data you think tech companies keep on you. Now, realize it’s actually way more than that (hmm, maybe this isn’t that fun). Even as privacy and security become more talked about in consumer tech, the companies behind our favorite products are collecting more and more of our data. How much? Well, if you want to know the information, say, Amazon has on you, there is a way to find out. And it’s a lot.
What is RSS and How to Use it Effectively
A reminder to continue to reference this article by Pete Weiss, What is RSS and How to Use it Effectively. RSS has changed over the years, but remains a significant application for researchers. Per recent postings on the subject here on beSpacific:
- io – An RSS feed listing all newly released books from your favorite authors
- 4 RSS readers every Linux user should try
- Chrome’s newest feature resurrects the ghost of Google Reader
Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S.
…Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an “unprecedented” 330 reports of book challenges, each of which can include multiple books, last fall. “It’s a pretty startling phenomenon here in the United States to see book bans back in style, to see efforts to press criminal charges against school librarians,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of the free-speech organization PEN America, even if efforts to press charges have so far failed. Such challenges have long been a staple of school board meetings, but it isn’t just their frequency that has changed, according to educators, librarians and free-speech advocates — it is also the tactics behind them and the venues where they play out. Conservative groups in particular, fueled by social media, are now pushing the challenges into statehouses, law enforcement and political races…
Intersect Alert – 24 January 2022
A bit about PURLs
Ed Summers, librarian, metadata expert, teacher, and computational expert, delivers an insighful lesson on the Persistent Uniform Resource Locator. PURLs were developed to make URLs more resilient and persistent over time. You could put a PURL into a catalog record and if the URL it pointed to needed to change you changed the redirect on the PURL server, and all the places that pointed to the PURL didn’t need to change. It was a beautifully simple idea, and has influenced other approaches like DOI and Handle. But this simplicity depends on a commitment to keeping the PURL up to date.
Academics want to preserve video games. Copyright laws make it complicated.
For decades, champions of the video game industry have touted gaming’s cultural impact as the equal of literature, film and music. Traditionally, the classic works from those mediums have been preserved for study by future generations, and amid gaming’s global rise in relevance, a group of video game scholars and advocates is pushing to preserve the game industry’s historic titles and legacy in a similar fashion. In the process, though, the would-be preservationists have found a number of challenges that include, ironically, legal opposition from video game companies and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade organization that lobbies on behalf of game publishers.
Copyright Shouldn’t Stand in the Way of Your Right to Repair
If you bought it, you own it and you can do what you want with it. That should be the end of the story—whether we’re talking about a car, a tractor, a smartphone, a computer, or really anything you buy.
Yet product manufacturers have chipped away for years at the very idea of ownership, using the growing presence of software on devices to make nonsense arguments about why your tinkering with the things you own violates their copyright. It’s gotten so bad that there’s a booming market for 40-year-old tractors that don’t rely on software. We’ve worked for years with advocates with the Repair Coalition, iFixit, U.S. PIRG, and countless others, to get lawmakers to make it crystal clear that people have the right to tinker with their own stuff.
Axios – “Librarians are using the hashtag #FReadom to fight book bans.”
#FReadom Fighters: How we started: “On November 4, 2021 a group of librarian #FReadom fighters organized a twitter takeover of the #Txlege. We highlighted positive books and invited families, authors, librarians, teens, and parents to join. We shared this Information https://bit.ly/FReadom
Where we are going: We are continuing actions to highlight the positive work of librarians, to speak up, and to provide resources for librarians, teachers or authors facing book challenges. We invite you to join us, check out resources on our website, and follow along on hashtag #FReadom.
Background: Representative Krause, Chairman of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, sent a letter to unnamed Texas school districts that has Incited a war on books. A war on knowledge. A war on access to information, a constitutionally protected first amendment right. Censorship from parents, community members, or politicians on information FOR ALL is still censorship…”
The public library is the latest place to pick up a coronavirus test. Librarians are overwhelmed.
…As public libraries in the District and across the nation have been pressed into service as coronavirus test distribution sites, librarians have become the latest front-line workers of the pandemic. Phones ring every few minutes with yet another call from someone asking about the library’s supply of free coronavirus tests, often asking medical questions library workers aren’t trained to answer. Patrons arrive in such large numbers to grab tests that the line sometimes backs up for blocks. And exhausted librarians also are getting sick with covid themselves. “The library has always been a community center, a place where the public can get something they wouldn’t have otherwise, like free Internet,” another D.C. children’s librarian said. “But it feels like we’ve become too good at our jobs. It becomes, ‘Oh, the library can handle it.’ We’re getting more and more tasks and responsibilities that just feel overwhelming.” “We care about our community, but we’re tired,” said another D.C. library staffer, who like all six D.C. library workers interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because library rules prohibit them from speaking to reporters without permission. Public libraries in D.C. started handing out coronavirus test kits months ago, beginning with PCR tests that patrons had to take home to use, then deposit in a dropbox at the library and wait for the results to come back from a lab. Just before Christmas, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced that select libraries would also offer at-home antigen test kits that patrons could use to get results in just 15 minutes. Demand for the at-home tests — which at times were hard to find in pharmacies — soared, especially as people sought to get tested before joining family and friends for the holidays. And librarians’ workload soared too…
HIGH PLAINS LIBRARY DISTRICT PROGRAMMING POLICY WELCOMES CENSORSHIP
“We need to remain neutral in all that we do.”
Those words emerged during a long board meeting in mid-November of the High Plains Library District (HPLD) in Colorado. The Board’s focus that evening was to reevaluate and update various library policies of the district, including the Programming Policy (beginning at page 111), which hadn’t been updated since April 2015.
Google deceived consumers about how it profits from their location data, attorneys general allege in lawsuits
Attorneys general from D.C. and three states sued Google on Monday, arguing that the search giant deceived consumers to gain access to their location data. The lawsuits, filed in the District of Columbia, Texas, Washington and Indiana, allege the company made misleading promises about its users’ ability to protect their privacy through Google account settings, dating to at least 2014. The suits seek to stop Google from engaging in these practices and to fine the company. The complaints also allege the company has deployed “dark patterns,” or design tricks that can subtly influence users’ decisions in ways that are advantageous for a business. The lawsuits say Google has designed its products to repeatedly nudge or pressure people to provide more and more location data, “inadvertently or out of frustration.” The suits allege this violates various state and D.C. consumer protection laws
Stop Google from storing your location and data history with these settings
This video teaches you how to provide some level of privacy respective to your google web and app activities and control over your online data, and what you want to share. It involves following a series of procedures and about 5 minutes on each device, but is well worth your time.
Fact-Checking, COVID-19 Misinformation, and the British Medical Journal
The increasing volume of misinformation and urgent calls for better moderation have made processes like fact-checking—the practice that aims to assess the accuracy of reporting—integral to the way social media companies deal with the dissemination of content. But, a valid question persists: who should check facts? This is particularly pertinent when one considers how such checks can shape perceptions, encourage biases, and undermine longstanding, authoritative voices. Social media fact-checks currently come in different shapes and sizes; for instance, Facebook outsources the role to third party organizations to label misinformation, while Twitter’s internal practices determine which post will be flagged as misleading, disputed, or unverified.
Intersect Alert – 17 January 2022
Cybersecurity Maturity – moving beyond ABC
Vishal Salvi, SVP & CISO at Infosys, explains the need for organizations to adopt a more sophisticated approach to cybersecurity, moving beyond the basics. In a second interview with Bill Mew, Digital Ethics Campaigner and CEO of CrisisTeam.co.uk, he highlights how collaboration, democratization and embedded security are becoming essential.
Freedom of Information
GPO ACHIEVES NINE BILLION RETRIEVALS OF GOVERNMENT INFORMATION
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) achieved the milestone of nine billion retrievals of Government information since the agency started publishing information online in 1994. Today, govinfo, as the online, trusted digital repository is known, serves as the one-stop site for authentic, published Government information. GPO’s site, www.govinfo.gov, which has been touted as the “Google for Government Documents,” gives the public access to Presidential addresses, Congressional debates dating back to 1873, Federal regulations, Federal court opinions, maps of explorations of the West, and much more.
It’s Copyright Week 2022: Ten Years Later, How Has SOPA/PIPA Shaped Online Copyright Enforcement?
Ten years ago, a diverse coalition of internet users, non-profit groups, and internet companies defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), bills that would have forced internet companies to blacklist and block websites accused of hosting copyright-infringing content. These were bills that would have made censorship very easy, all in the name of copyright enforcement. This collective action showed the world that the word of the few major companies who control film, music, and television can’t control internet policy for their own good.
ArXiv.org Reaches a Milestone and a Reckoning
What started in 1989 as an e-mail list for a few dozen string theorists has now grown to a collection of more than two million papers—and the central hub for physicists, astronomers, computer scientists, mathematicians and other researchers. On January 3 the preprint server arXiv.org crossed the milestone with a numerical analysis paper entitled “Affine Iterations and Wrapping Effect: Various Approaches.” (The Library of Alexandria, for comparison, is believed to have contained no more than hundreds of thousands of manuscripts.)
5 free privacy tools for protecting your personal data
Ideally, protecting your privacy shouldn’t require hours of time or gobs of money. Instead of having to meticulously manage all the personal data that’s floating around on the internet, you should be able to minimize data collection automatically or proactively. If you value privacy like I do, you’ll want to check out the following apps and tools. While some have premium versions for certain features, all of them are free to use
Save papers to read later
Found an interesting paper and don’t have time to read it right now? Today we are adding a reading list to your [Google] Scholar Library to help you save papers and read them later.
You can also use it to save papers you find off-campus but want to read on-campus where you have access to the full text, or papers you find on your smartphone but want to read on a larger screen.
Intersect Alert – 10 January 2022
Books and Reading
Libraries demand a new deal on ebooks
Public library patrons can’t get enough of free digital downloads these days; they’re snapping up ebooks and audiobooks at a record pace. But it’s not all good news for public libraries. They are often charged far more than consumers for digital books, and sometimes publishers won’t sell to libraries at all.
Now librarians are teaming up with Massachusetts lawmakers to demand a new deal. They’re calling for a law that would compel publishers to make all their digital products available to public libraries on “reasonable terms.”
Books and Reading
Three-in-ten Americans now read e-books
Americans are spreading their book consumption across several formats. The share of adults who have read print books in the past 12 months still outpaces the share using other forms, but 30% now say they have read an e-book in that time frame.
One year after the Jan. 6 riot, 81 percent of 2020 election misinformation publishers in the U.S. identified then by NewsGuard continue to spread false election claims
Of the 113 U.S. websites that NewsGuard found were spreading election misinformation in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 presidential vote and that are still active, 81 percent have continued to spread false claims about the election, including about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a NewsGuard analysis has found.
The golden age of public libraries dawns again
As the world enters 2022, public libraries are emerging as one of the bright spots — literally.
An abundance of new and newly renovated libraries have opened their doors in the past two years. In addition to being breathtakingly beautiful, many are exemplars of what great community spaces can and should be.
Indoors, they are filled with natural light. Books once packed together in dark corners are now on display on bright, welcoming shelves that could rival those in an Apple store. Some libraries have added outdoor patios and roof decks.
Remote Work Proves the Firm Library Is More Than a Physical Space
Old timers spoke to me of bygone times of larger staff sizes and law firm libraries that took up entire floors. There was a feeling of fighting a rearguard action, always losing ground, just trying to slow the loss of staff and print. An unsaid thought was, when the library finally winked out of existence, would librarians disappear too?
In a sense, the COVID-19 pandemic and our forced work-from-home experience has finally answered this question. For most firms, print and the physical library location was out of reach for at least a year, and yet in my career I’ve never seen as many job postings for law librarians as I have in the last 12 months. Correlation may not equal causation, but adding in a number a recent legal news articles on this trend along with many anecdotal stories from colleagues, I’m happy to say I think we can all feel confident that we stand on stable ground.
Why your local library might be hiring a social worker
Yanna McGraw works at the Central Library in downtown Indianapolis. A big part of her job is building relationships with visitors and helping answer their questions. But the information she provides is rarely about books.
Instead, McGraw answers queries about the workings of the Department of Child Services. Or she helps connect patrons with mental health resources. Sometimes she helps someone find a warm place to stay for the night. McGraw is the library's first full-time social worker — one of about a dozen employed by libraries across the Midwest.
Standing Up For Privacy In New York State
New York’s legislature is open for business in the new year, and we’re jumping in to renew our support for two crucial bills that protect New Yorkers’ privacy rights. While very different, both pieces of legislation would uphold a principle we hold dear: people should not worry that their everyday activities will fuel unnecessary surveillance.
“Worst in Show Awards” Livestreams Friday: EFF’s Cindy Cohn and Cory Doctorow Will Unveil Most Privacy-Defective, Least Secure Consumer Tech Products at CES
Las Vegas—On Friday, January 7, at 9:30 am PT, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Executive Director Cindy Cohn and EFF Special Advisor and sci-fi author Cory Doctorow will present the creepiest, most privacy-invasive, and unsecure consumer tech devices debuting at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
“massive over-payment of academic publishers has enabled them to buy surveillance technology covering the entire workflow that can be used not only to be combined with our private data and sold, but also to make algorithmic (aka ‘evidenceled’) employment decisions.”
Reading about this led me to this article: Jefferson D. Pooley, Surveillance publishing. It’s all about what publishers are doing to make money by collecting data on the habits of their readers….
Intersect Alert – 3 January 2022
Books and Reading
The most popular US library books of 2021
During the pandemic year of 2021, Americans read diverse titles and authors. Fiction books were the most popular overall, including The Vanishing Half, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Midnight Library, and The Four Winds. The most common checked-out non-fiction book was Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. For children’s books it was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Deep End by Jeff Kinney followed by books in the Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey. The data are a result of a Quartz survey of 36 public libraries in the largest cities across the US. Of those, 14 provided us data on their most popular books.
The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office opened a new page dedicated to providing AI researchers with sophisticated tools to bolster research projects.
A new section of resources intended for artificial intelligence researchers was launched last Friday by the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, with a goal of providing easy access to data sets and testbed environments for AI application training.
The AI Researchers Portal—a program within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy—is the latest page added to the NAIIO website. Announcing its launch on Twitter, officials described it as “a central connection to many federally-supported resources for America’s AI research community.”
Keeping the Wrong Secrets: How Washington Misses the Real Security Threat
The U.S. system for classifying secrets is based on the idea that the government has access to significant information that is not available, or at least not widely available, to private citizens or organizations. Over time, however, government intelligence sources have lost their advantage over private sources of intelligence. Thanks to new surveillance and monitoring technologies, including geolocation trackers, the Internet of Things, and commercial satellites, private information is now often better—sometimes much better—than the information held by governments.
Requires free registration to view.
January 1, 2022, is Public Domain Day: Works from 1926 are open to all, as is a cornucopia of recorded music: an estimated 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923!
On January 1, 2022, copyrighted works from 1926 will enter the US public domain, 1 where they will be free for all to copy, share, and build upon. The line-up this year is stunning. It includes books such as A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Felix Salten’s Bambi, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues, and Dorothy Parker’s Enough Rope. There are scores of silent films—including titles featuring Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, and Greta Garbo, famous Broadway songs, and well-known jazz standards. But that’s not all. In 2022 we get a bonus: an estimated 400,000 sound recordings from before 1923 2 will be entering the public domain too! (Please note that this site is only about US law; the copyright terms in other countries are different.)
We Can Save Local News Without Upending Copyright Law
Over the past few months, Public Knowledge has watched closely for developments about the Journalism Competition & Preservation Act (JCPA), a legislative proposal to allow publishers to collectively bargain for payment from Google and Facebook for linking to news stories. Public Knowledge has a long history of advocacy for a vital and healthy free press, but we have significant concerns about the JCPA. (For the full description of our concerns about the JCPA, you can read this post. For a description of better policy proposals Public Knowledge has supported to help local journalism, read this one.)
Some school librarians fed up with book bans are organizing and fighting back
Carolyn Foote was shocked and angry when hundreds of books about race, equality or sexuality in Texas school libraries were targeted by Republican lawmakers. She and other librarians focused on making their collections more reflective of the increasingly diverse community and their work was now under threat.
‘A For-Profit Company Is Trying to Privatize as Many Public Libraries as They Can’
Caleb Nichols is a librarian as well as a writer, poet and musician, currently course reserves coordinator at Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo. His eye-opening article, “Public/Private Partnerships Are Quietly Hollowing Out Our Public Libraries,” was published recently on Truthout.org.
Mobile libraries restart for the first time in Kabul since Taliban takeover
A mobile library bus went to a Kabul orphanage on Sunday and opened its doors for the first time since the Taliban took over the country, eliciting smiles from young book lovers.
The mobile library is one of five school buses set up by a local organisation called Charmaghz, established by Afghan Oxford University graduate Freshta Karim.
In recent years, hundreds of children used the mobile libraries daily as they crisscrossed the Afghan capital, as many schools lack their own library in Afghanistan.
However, the mobile libraries lost "almost all of our sponsors after the government was taken over by the Taliban in mid-August," said Ahmad Fahim Barakati, deputy head of the non-profit initiative.
Public Knowledge Applauds D.C. Circuit Court Ruling Affirming FCC Rules for Gigabit Wi-Fi
Today, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals largely affirmed the Federal Communications Commission’s April 2020 Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking creating the rules for Wi-Fi 6e, the first gigabit capacity Wi-Fi available in the United States, in the case, AT&T Services, Inc. v FCC. Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in support of the FCC, explaining to the court the importance of gigabit Wi-Fi to the public and the successful history of the FCC expanding unlicensed spectrum access without causing harmful interference.
Intersect Alert - 18 December 2021
AAP Sues to Block Maryland, New York Library E-book Laws
The Association of American Publishers filed suit December 9 to stop a new library e-book law in Maryland from taking effect on January 1, claiming that the law, which would require publishers who offer to license e-books to consumers in the state to also offer to license the works to libraries on "reasonable" terms, is unconstitutional and runs afoul of federal copyright law.
Assessing Heinonline as a Source of Scholarly Impact Metrics
After the February 2019 U.S. News & World Report announcement of a planned law school scholarly impact ranking based on HeinOnline data, law schools accelerated efforts to ensure that HeinOnline captured their faculty’s work product and citations to these publications as accurately and completely as possible. This study found that HeinOnline missed a significant rate of available citations (14.6 percent) in their ScholarCheck service, and it provides anecdotal data on some common HeinOnline citation-matching errors responsible for the missing citations.
The internet runs on free open-source software. Who pays to fix it?
Log4J, which has long been a critical piece of core internet infrastructure, was founded as a volunteer project and is still run largely for free, even though many million- and billion-dollar companies rely on it and profit from it every single day.
Sorry, but unless you manually change these settings, Google is still tracking you
If you are using any Google app, it's likely you're being tracked. Even if you turned off location history on your Google account, you're not completely in the clear yet. While disabling that setting sounds like a one-and-done solution, some Google apps are still storing your location data. Just opening the Google Maps app or using Google search on any platform logs your approximate location with a time stamp.
This Is Not the Privacy Bill You’re Looking For
Lawmakers looking for a starting place on privacy legislation should pass on The Uniform Law Commission’s Uniform Personal Data Protection Act (UPDPA). The Uniform Law Commission (ULC) seeks to write model legislation that can be adopted in state legislatures across the country to set national standards. Sadly, the ULC has fumbled its consumer privacy bill and created, in the UPDPA, a model bill that is weak, confusing, and toothless.
National Archives: Meadows may not have stored all Trump-era records 'properly'
Mark Meadows and the National Archives are in talks over potential records he did “not properly” turn over from his personal phone and email account, the presidential record-keeping agency confirmed.
The 50 Best Books of Literary Journalism of the 21st Century
From garbage recycling in a Mumbai settlement to shocking murders in France, these are incredible feats of reporting and storytelling.
Intersect Alert - 12 December 2021
Texas school district pulls 400 books from library shelves for review after legislator’s inquiry
The books featured on the legislator's list cover topics such as racial and gender equality, sexual orientation and abortion.
The American Prison System’s War on Reading
Across the United States, the agencies responsible for mass imprisonment are trying to severely limit incarcerated people’s access to the written word.
International ILL Toolkit
A crowd-sourced tool for global resource sharing initiated by OCLC SHARES.
What Happened to Amazon’s Bookstore?
A 2011 thriller was supposed to cost $15. One merchant listed it at $987, with a 17th-century publication date. That’s what happens in a marketplace where third-party sellers run wild.
Earth Will Soon Have a Black Box to Chronicle Humanity’s Downfall
Future generations will have access to a vault containing duplicates of seed samples from the world’s crop collections, a frozen Noah’s Ark of animal DNA to bring species back from extinction, and if a new initiative pans out as intended, a black box to record how it all went down.
EU - Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance in the Workplace
This report re-evaluates the literature about surveillance/monitoring in the standard workplace, in home working during the COVID 19 pandemic and in respect of digital platform work. doi:10.2760/5137
Data (and birds)
Which birds are the biggest jerks at the feeder?
A massive data analysis reveals the answer.
Just for Fun
Literary quotes referencing the exact time.
Intersect Alert - 5 December 2021
As Calls to Ban Books Intensify, Digital Librarians Offer Perspective
While efforts to ban books are not new, the solutions to counter censorship are—thanks to technology that is used to create access for all.
Who Owns a Recipe? A Plagiarism Claim Has Cookbook Authors Asking.
U.S. copyright law protects all kinds of creative material, but recipe creators are mostly powerless in an age and a business that are all about sharing.
Biden calls for intellectual property waivers on COVID vaccines
World Trade Organization negotiations over waivers are currently deadlocked amid opposition by some wealthy nations.
How to fix social media? Start with independent research.
This essay examines the challenges of managing social media and emphasizes the importance of independent research.
8 Privacy Settings You Should Change on LinkedIn Right Now
Just as you’d be wary about sharing more of your data with Facebook, you should also exercise restraint when sharing information with LinkedIn. If you haven’t been doing that so far, now is the time to change how LinkedIn uses your information.
Twitter bans sharing 'private' images and videos without consent
The policy doesn't apply to public figures for the most part, but there are exceptions.
You’re not paranoid to cover your webcam. But the cameras you can’t cover are scarier.
Plastic sliders won’t solve your privacy concerns.
The Internet Needs Fair Rules of the Road – and Competitive Drivers
Most people think of net neutrality as the province of the FCC, at least at the federal level. But that view loses sight of a prior problem: lack of competition in the ISP space.
Intersect Alert – 29 November 2021
Books and Reading
Librarians, Educators Warn of 'Organized' Book Banning Efforts
New headlines virtually every day tell the story: across the country, there is an unprecedented spike in attempts to ban books from schools and libraries. And while efforts to remove books from schools and library collections are not uncommon, librarians and freedom to read advocates warn that this current spike in challenges is different, as it appears to be part of a broader political strategy.
A system to organise projects
A system to organise projects – When we kept everything on paper, organised people had these things called filing cabinets. They stored all of their documents in them in a structured way so that they could find them again. Now those same people store all of their files in arbitrarily named folders on their company’s shared drive and wonder why they can’t find anything. Nobody can find anything any more – Thousands of emails. Hundreds of files. File structures created on a whim and six layers deep. Duplicated content, lost content. We thought search would save us from this nightmare, but we were wrong. It’s time to get organised – There are a couple of core concepts, and they’re so simple you’ll wonder why you haven’t thought of them before. It’s worth mentioning at this point that all of this is free, and it’s possible to implement it without any additional tools.
Coalition Against Stalkerware Celebrates Two Years of Work to Keep Technology Safe for All
Two years ago, in November 2019, the Coalition Against Stalkerware was founded by 10 organizations. Today, there are more than 40 members with experts working in different relevant areas including victim support and perpetrator work, digital rights advocacy, IT security, academia, security research and law enforcement.
Apple iOS privacy settings to change now
How to make your iPhone and iPad as private as possible
Privacy is a central part of Apple’s marketing campaigns and it sounds great in the company’s ads and product announcements. But actually making things as private as possible on Apple devices does require a bit of effort and time.
Research / Technology
The Best Dark Web Websites You Won't Find on Google
The dark web is a sub-section of the deep web. It is responsible for the deep web's bad reputation. There are black markets selling drugs and other substances, grisly images, and even new identities and online accounts for sale. Indeed, there are lots of reasons to avoid the dark web entirely.
Yet, at the same time, the dark web is well worth exploring. Amidst the chaos, you'll find some great websites.
The Father of Web3 Wants You to Trust Less
DO YOU EVER find yourself wondering, “What is Web3?” You’re not alone. The idea is having a moment, whether you’re measuring by VC funding, lobbying blitzes, or incomprehensible corporate announcements. But it can be hard to tell what all the hype is about.
Intersect Alert – 22 November 2021
Books and Reading
100 Notable Books of 2021
The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review
FCC votes to let people text ‘988’ to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline starting in July
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to expand access to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by letting people text 988 starting next year. Text message providers have to support the three-digit code by July 16th, 2022, which is when the code will go into effect. On that same date, people will also be able to dial 988 to access Lifeline following a 2020 FCC ruling. People in need of help before calling or texting 988 is an option can call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or get connected to a counselor through an online chat.
‘America’s Librarian’ knows why people turn to libraries in times of need
Nancy Pearl, possibly America’s best-known librarian and recommender of books, shares her thoughts on choosing what to read, and when to stop reading….
She also suggests what she calls a “four doorways” approach to assessing new titles based on story, character, setting, or language (the actual writing). She’d like to see books categorized by “four doorways” just as they are by the Dewey Decimal System.
Library Data Management Leads Research Out of a Digital Dark Age
University libraries aren’t what they used to be. Most are going far beyond print media collections and research article hosting services. The Sheridan Libraries have proven to be a vital partner in buttressing the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 global map, proving that libraries have emerged as primary stewards of data that continues to expand in scale and complexity, says Dr. Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at the Sheridan Libraries. The library provides software services and training, data storage and archiving, data management, technical support, and public-facing customer service, removing many burdens from researchers.
This library lets you borrow people instead of books. It just may help bridge our bitter divisions
This improbable meeting came courtesy of the Human Library, a nonprofit learning platform that allows people to borrow people instead of books. But not just any people. Every "human book" from this library represents a group that faces prejudice or stigmas because of their lifestyle, ethnicity, beliefs, or disability. A human book can be an alcoholic, for example, or a Muslim, or a homeless person, or someone who was sexually abused.
6 Ways to Make It Harder for Data Brokers to Collect Your Data
Data brokerage is the underground economy that powers online advertising today. They follow us so much everywhere online; it's hard to believe that this practice of buying and selling our data is even legal.
The real-world equivalent of this practice is someone stalking you 24/7, noting your every move, with little or no consequence. And while it initially appears as a harmless way to sell you more things, data brokerage has evolved to affect everything from your credit scores to insurance premiums.
Why you need to stop texting people your iPhone photos. Hint: It's about your privacy
Each time you take a photo on your smartphone, a bit of hidden information gets attached that could reveal where you live, work or hang out.
There are plenty of reasons why your iPhone keeps track of all your locations: Many of your phone apps depend on accurate location tracking to function, from directions in Google Maps to looking for a nearby restaurant on Yelp. That precise location awareness extends to the images you capture with your Photos app, too.
Anytime you snap a photo or record a video with your iPhone, it creates information related to the file -- including the creation date and your location -- and then stores this data, called metadata, within your media.
After COVID boom, ebook aggregators face licensing questions from Congress
A Democratic senator launched an investigation into how publishers license ebooks to libraries on Thursday, calling on nine major ebook aggregators to provide details on the licensing agreements they make with libraries.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), along with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), sent letters demanding that aggregators like Overdrive and EBSCO provide them with examples of standard ebook licensing agreements for every major publisher they work with, including Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster.
We’re Making the Facebook Papers Public
Independent experts from NYU, UMass Amherst, Columbia, Marquette, and the ACLU are partnering with Gizmodo to responsibly publish this historic leak.
In one of Silicon Valley’s largest leaks, a former Facebook product manager slipped financial regulators stacks of documents containing thousands of confidential memos, chat logs, and a veritable library of hidden research. The leak was designed to convince the feds that the gravity and scope of Facebook’s design flaws and misdeeds vastly exceed anything its executives ever divulged to their investors.
EFF’s New Series of How to Fix the Internet Podcast Tackles Toughest Issues in Tech
Troubled when Twitter takes down posts of people or organizations you follow? Concerned about protecting yourself and your community from surveillance? Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has got you, with the launch today of the first season of the How to Fix the Internet podcast, featuring conversations that can plot a pathway out of today’s tech dystopias.
The Department of Defense is issuing AI ethics guidelines for tech contractors
In 2018, when Google employees found out about their company’s involvement in Project Maven, a controversial US military effort to develop AI to analyze surveillance video, they weren’t happy. Thousands protested. “We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” they wrote in a letter to the company’s leadership. Around a dozen employees resigned. Google did not renew the contract in 2019.https://www.technologyreview.com/2021/11/16/1040190/department-of-defense-government-ai-ethics-military-project-maven/
Intersect Alert – 15 November 2021
Books and Reading
Fake news, misinformation, and disinformation: journalism today?
Fake, false, inaccurate, misleading, and deceptive. This rhetoric is all too familiar to the news consuming public today. But what is fake news and how does it differ from misinformation and disinformation?
The five books in this reading list explore communication challenges facing the media. Sample open chapters and discover how the industry can bridge the gaps between the public, journalism, and academia.
Books and Reading
Powell’s Books Survived Amazon. Can It Reinvent Itself After the Pandemic?
Over its half-century in the heart of Portland, Powell’s Books has survived an unending array of foundational threats — the oft-anticipated death of reading, the rise of Amazon, the supposedly irretrievable abandonment of the American downtown.
None of that provided preparation for the tumult of the past two years.
A quirky, old-school enterprise, Powell’s has retained its traditional aura in the digital era, while standing as a hero in a now-familiar tale of American urban rejuvenation. Its flagship store — a grand warren of books filling out a former car dealership — anchors a once dicey neighborhood whose warehouses have been traded in for glass-fronted condos and furniture boutiques.
Blind People Won the Right to Break Ebook DRM. In 3 Years, They'll Have to Do It Again
IT'S A CLICHÉ of digital life that "information wants to be free." The internet was supposed to make the dream a reality, breaking down barriers and connecting anyone to any bit of data, anywhere. But 32 years after the invention of the World Wide Web, people with print disabilities—the inability to read printed text due to blindness or other impairments—are still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled.
As Misinformation Grows, Scholars Debate How to Improve Open Access
While open-access science has made research available worldwide, some scholars worry that misinformation, fraud and politicization have become rampant in a system that rewards speed and sparkle.
New search engine – You.com – promises privacy
A new search engine, You.com – is now in beta: FAQ – “You.com never sells your data to advertisers or follows you around the internet. You.com gives you the option to choose between a customized search experience or an entirely private one. Our private mode offers the most private search experience of any search engine. In private mode, You.com never stores your queries, preferences or locations. That also means that localized queries (such as “best restaurants near me”) won’t work. In private mode, we only save whether the service is used at all, in order to prevent attacks and misuses of our servers. In private mode, while we do have to send anonymized query data to Microsoft, Yelp, weather services, and other apps, these queries come from the You.com IP address, so these partners won’t know who the query originated from. Even in standard mode, we strive to only store the minimal data to make your experience better…”
Reimagining public records validation using blockchain in Riverside County
This white paper discusses how blockchain technology can transform public records management. A cloud-based platform to seamlessly authenticate digital records can save costs, create faster turnaround time, and enhance customer service.
Library of Congress Changes Illegal Aliens Subject Heading
In a November 12 statement, the American Library Association praised news that the Library of Congress agreed to change two controversial subject headings.
Intersect Alert – 08 November 2021
Books and Reading
How bookstores are adjusting to supply-chain problems this holiday season
The A.V. Club asked a trio of booksellers how they’re preparing for this year's book-buying season, and which titles they think will be most popular. As with countless other industries, book publishing continues to experience major supply-chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a loss of sales and delays in getting books to readers. During this crucial time of year, bookstore owners don’t want to take any chances, and they’re doing what they can to plan ahead.
Books and Reading
The Library of Misremembered Books
In her new book Library of Misremembered Books, Marina Luz creates new book covers from the vague and hilarious ways in which people can’t recall the exact names of books.
Anyone who has worked in a bookstore knows only too well that moment when a customer approaches by saying, “So I don’t remember the title, or the author, but-.” And we’ve all been on the other side of the counter, trying to pinpoint something we can’t quite describe at a bookstore (“It’s a murder mystery, but also quite funny”), or at a video store (“Could be subtitled, but then again, now that I think about it, maybe it wasn’t”), or at a mechanic (“The car is kind of going gu-chunk, gu-chunk; except on hills, when it’s more of a clickety-tickety”). We are usually left not only without an answer, but also with the overwhelming sense that we have lost some small piece of our dignity in the attempt.
Senators Push To Study “Unstable” Patent Law, While Patent Trolls Cheer Them On
Led by a group of senators that spent much of 2019 trying to change U.S. patent law for the worse, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has agreed to study the “current state of patent jurisprudence.” The details of the study make it clear that its proposers believe in a narrative created by patent owners, that the 2014 Alice case has introduced “uncertainty” into patent law.
That would be Alice v. CLS Bank, the Supreme Court case that made it clear you can’t get a patent on an abstract idea just by adding in generic computer language.
International Outlook / Privacy
Brazil’s Fake News Bill: Perils and Flaws of Expanding Existent Data Retention Obligations
Following a series of public hearings in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies after the Senate's approval of the so-called Fake News bill (draft bill 2630), Congressman Orlando Silva released a revised text of the proposal. As we said in our first post, the new text contains both good and bad news for user privacy compared to previous versions. One piece of bad news is the expansion of existing data retention mandates.
USDA Seeks to Truly Help Bring Robust, Affordable Broadband to Tribal and Rural Communities
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announced more than $1 billion in funding to promote meaningful broadband access in rural, Tribal, and socially vulnerable communities. This program has the potential to deliver robust, affordable broadband to rural and Tribal communities that is essential to their civic, economic, and educational livelihoods. The program will offer eligible recipients a mix of grants, grants and loans combined, and just loans to deploy truly robust broadband networks (capable of 100/100 Mbps upload/download broadband speeds) to eligible communities. Much of what is in the ReConnect program is consistent with Public Knowledge’s advocacy on the infrastructure bill pending before Congress, so we are excited to see the USDA’s RUS step up to deliver meaningful broadband access to rural and tribal communities.
How behavioral science could get people back into public libraries
Behavioral science really asks, how do people make decisions in conditions of complexity?” says Katharine Meyer, a doctoral candidate in education policy, and a research affiliate for Nudge. “Everybody wants their kid to do well and have every opportunity to explore their interests,” she says—but some families face more constraints than others, like time, attention, and finances. Ideas42, a behavioral science nonprofit, helped gather focus groups of ordinary library users who reported the hassles they felt hindered them from easy library use, like that it was hard to keep track of fines, that reminders were too late or not received, that they didn’t know text message alerts were an option, and that they couldn’t make it to the library during regular hours. Using the information gleaned from their responses, the partnership decided to focus on improving three areas: returning books on time, library card sign-ups, and engagement with the library collections. The library card—or lack thereof—is really the first barrier to access. There was an online application for sign-up, but users then had to come into the library to activate the card, and the team noticed a drop-off in between. In spring 2017, during the first pilot period, they tested different behavioral science concepts to try to eliminate hassle factors and improve clarity…
Op-Ed: Book banning in 2021? Why my book has been removed from school shelves
Amid the Virginia governor’s race, in which conservatives are furiously campaigning to activate their base, a proposed book ban in Virginia Beach schools is playing out a familiar piece of political theater: whipping up moral panic over public education while stoking racial fears. In fact, banning books from schools has become a favorite tactic in the runup to elections around the country.
FCC vs. FTC: A Primer on Broadband Privacy Oversight
The Federal Trade Commission recently published its report on the privacy practices of the six major Internet Service Providers and three advertising affiliates associated with the major ISPs. The FTC observed that: Many of the ISPs… amass large pools of sensitive consumer data. Many of the ISPs… gather and use data in ways consumers do not expect and could cause them harm. Although many of the ISPs… purport to offer consumers choices, these choices are often illusory. Many ISPs can be at least as privacy-intrusive as large advertising platforms.
5 Powerful Free Apps to Make Screenshots Look Better and Search Their Text
From beautifying screenshots with simple tricks to making their text searchable, these free tools will help you take better screenshots, then manage and edit them. Taking a screenshot is almost second nature to content creators, social media managers, designers, marketers, product managers, and developers. It serves many uses, such as simple annotations, quick demonstrations, and saving something for posterity. Given how useful the humble screenshot is, these free apps unlock its true potential.
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021
This list marks 20 years since we began compiling an annual selection of the year’s most important technologies. Some, such as mRNA vaccines, are already changing our lives, while others are still a few years off. Below, you’ll find a brief description along with a link to a feature article that probes each technology in detail. We hope you’ll enjoy and explore—taken together, we believe this list represents a glimpse into our collective future…
Intersect Alert — 31 October 2021
Forged in War: How a Century of War Created Today's Information Society
If you attended Internet Librarian last week, you got to hear Professor of Librarianship David Lankes give a rousing keynote about the history of information technology and policy back to World War I and how it points to a role for librarians to make a better society in the future. If you missed it (or if you just want to hear more from Lankes), you can watch a presentation he made to the Military Librarians Community earlier this month. You'll learn how bat poo led to the iPhone, how the "internet of 1914" led to net neutrality, how military technology led our information technology.
I Set Out to Build the Next Library of Alexandria. Now I Wonder: Will There Be Libraries in 25 Years?
When I [Brewster Kahle] started the Internet Archive 25 years ago, I focused our non-profit library on digital collections: preserving web pages, archiving television news, and digitizing books. The Internet Archive was seen as innovative and unusual. Now all libraries are increasingly electronic, and necessarily so. To fight disinformation, to serve readers during the pandemic, and to be relevant to 21st-century learners, libraries must become digital.
But just as the Web increased people's access to information exponentially, an opposite trend has evolved. Global media corporations—emboldened by the expansive copyright laws they helped craft and the emerging technology that reaches right into our reading devices—are exerting absolute control over digital information. These two conflicting forces—towards unfettered availability and completely walled access to information—have defined the last 25 years of the Internet. How we handle this ongoing clash will define our civic discourse in the next 25 years. If we fail to forge the right path, publishers' business models could eliminate one of the great tools for democratizing society: our independent libraries.
Intellectual Property, Libraries, Technology
The Library Technology Market's Failure to Support Controlled Digital Lending
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) enables libraries to lend the digitized version of a print copy of a work under controlled conditions, such that simultaneous circulation is limited to the number of legally acquired copies of the work. CDL as a mechanism for interlibrary loan (ILL) is a logical extension of libraries' resource sharing practices, aligning with the sharing of print books that libraries have engaged in for decades. CDL offers transformative opportunities to patrons and libraries, offering greater choice in how to share and use materials (in digital or physical format), and the ability to facilitate access to collections that libraries would otherwise be unable to lend physically.
Giant, free index to world's research papers released online
In a project that could unlock the world's research papers for easier computerized analysis, an American technologist has released online a gigantic index of the words and short phrases contained in more than 100 million journal articles — including many paywalled papers.
A World Ordered Only By Search
For now, here is a rather long and meandering, but certainly not comprehensive, discussion of models and metaphors for ordering knowledge, memory, the ubiquity of search, the habits and assumptions of medieval reading, and how information loses its body. I won't claim this post is tightly argued. Rather, it's an exercise in thinking about how media order and represent the world to us and how this ordering and representation interacts with our experience of the self. [How metaphors like floppy disks and filing cabinets and texts divorced from their media affect how we deal with information.]
Laptops alone can't bridge the digital divide
The failures of One Laptop per Child have much to teach us about fixing educational inequities.
An uber-optimistic view of the future
Azeem Azhar's new book "Exponential Age" predicts stupendous technology growth will lead to an age of abundance. The reality is more complicated.
Is This Really Big Tech's 'Big Tobacco' Moment? Only Congress Can Make It So
Big Tech and Big Tobacco: it's an analogy that has been made a lot lately (also here, and here) due to the emergence of a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, with thousands of pages of research showing Facebook is aware of some of its platforms' worst impacts on teens, political polarization, and ethnic genocide. But the analogy goes back to at least 2018, in an interview with Salesforce's Marc Benioff (it's a theme he has repeated since). It had also become a rallying cry for some academics (and Public Knowledge used the analogy earlier this year, too).
So is it true? Does the analogy hold up? And if it does, what do we do about it now?
Why people tend to give up on creative projects too early
"Almost all good writing comes with terrible first efforts," Anne Lamott declares in her beloved book for scribblers, Bird by Bird. "You need to start somewhere."
The same is true of any creative project. Yet it's easy to forget this rule of thumb when you're in the midst of brainstorming a new design or coming up with a business proposal, aware that the undertaking thus far isn't looking very promising. Under those circumstances, it can seem reasonable—nay, wise—to simply give up.
Intersect Alert — 24 October 2021
'The fact-checking process can help you sleep better at night': Tips from PolitiFact on bulletproofing your stories
Corrections hurt, and most professional journalists can probably name at least one they've had to make — sometimes a tiny detail in a large, time-intensive story. Luckily, there are editing and fact-checking practices you can put in place to bulletproof your stories, captions and graphics before publication. [Good advice for reference librarians, too.]
What Is Google Socratic and How Does It Work?
There was a time that if we wanted to learn about new things, we'd have to go to our nearest library and borrow a book. These days, students are lucky to have a wealth of information, simply in the palm of their hands.
However, not everything on the internet comes from reliable sources. There are also plenty of websites with old, outdated, or wrong information. Thankfully, Google Socratic can help sift through bad apples and ensure students get the right resources. But, what is Google Socratic?
Turns Out It's Not the Technology, It's the People
Universal Access to All Knowledge has been the dream for millennia, from the Library of Alexandria on forward. The idea is that if you're curious enough to want to know something, that you can get access to that information. That was the promise of the printing press or Andrew Carnegie's public libraries — fueling so much citizenship and democracy in the United States. The Internet was the opportunity to really make this dream come true. [25th anniversary of the Internet Archive.]
Hacks and data breaches are all too common. Here's what to do if you're affected
Too many people find out they've been affected only after the damage has already been done. If you're vigilant — and lucky — you might be able to stop a hack before it happens. And if you find yourself the victim of a hack or data breach, or think you might be, here's our guide to the steps you should take immediately.
In unpredictable times, a data strategy is key
More than 18 months after the 2020 coronavirus pandemic struck, it's clear that the ability to make quick decisions based on high-quality data has become essential for business success. In an increasingly competitive and constantly shifting landscape, companies must be agile enough to tackle persistent challenges, ranging from cost-cutting and supply chain issues to product development and market shifts. Critical to thriving post-pandemic, say technology leaders and experts, is developing a long-term data strategy. That provides a strong foundation and clear vision which supports the organization's ability to manage, access, analyze, and act on its data at scale to guide strategic business decisions.
Harvard, a Media Company
Harvard Business School is a bigger media company than Forbes.
Though best known as a home for higher learning, America's most prestigious scholarly institution is sneakily, surreptitiously also a publisher par excellence with financials to match.
Since its founding in 1922, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) has become a defining voice in the media landscape, bolstering the authority and reputation of its parent organization, while simultaneously bringing in hundreds of millions in revenue.
People Aren't Meant to Talk This Much
It's long past time to question a fundamental premise of online life: What if people shouldn't be able to say so much, and to so many, so often?
We're Thinking About Facebook Wrong
"Facebook's no good, very bad week gave us a chance to think, 'What if it didn't exist?' ... But I do think it's important to engage in a thoughtful way with the existence of Facebook, the impact of Facebook. Hence this very long educational video." Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers explains in this 22-minute video.
Why Is It So Hard to Figure Out What to Do When You Lose Your Account?
People lose a lot when they lose their account. For example, being kicked off Amazon could mean losing access to your books, music, pictures, or anything else you have only licensed, not bought, from that company. But the loss can have serious financial consequences for people who rely on the major social media platforms for their livelihoods, the way video makers rely on YouTube or many artists rely on Facebook or Twitter for promotion.
Frances Haugen is the exception, not the rule
Last week, the congressional spotlight was again on Facebook, as former product manager Frances Haugen testified before a Senate subcommittee that the social media company continues to put profit ahead of user security. Many praised Haugen for her articulate accounting of the company's practices and for releasing thousands of pages of proprietary Facebook documents to federal regulators, Congress and the press.
Yet in taking a stand, Haugen took on major legal risk. Because protections for technology-sector employees who blow the whistle on digital harms are limited, Facebook has the right, in theory, to sue Haugen for disclosing confidential information.
Intersect Alert — 10 October 2021
The Zeroth Law of Library Science
If I were to map out the kinds of guiding ethical principles, universal maxims, and categorical imperatives which best define how I believe everyone should try to exercise whatever degree of free will we possess, bleeding-heart that I am, the list would go something like this.
[Librarian John Hubbard goes on to discuss his own three ethical principles, Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, and Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science and comes up with the zeroth law of library science. If you read one article from this week's Intersect Alert, make it this one.]
Books and Reading
Empowering Libraries to Lend Out Ebooks
Recently, Sen. Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Eshoo (D-CA) recently sent a letter to the five major publishing companies asking them for information about their ebook licensing practices with regard to libraries. Although the publishers have yet to respond, we are glad to see members of Congress investigating the issue. Ebooks, unlike paper books, are not owned by the libraries; in fact, publishing companies force libraries, and schools, to pay exorbitant fees to allow them to provide ebooks to their patrons.
The great book shortage of 2021, explained
If there's a particular book you've got your eye on for the holidays, it's best to order it now. The problems with the supply chain are coming for books, too.
It's Not Misinformation. It's Amplified Propaganda
In fact, we have a very old word for persuasive communication with an agenda: propaganda. That term, however, comes with historical baggage. It presumes that governments, authority figures, institutions, and mass media are forcing ideas on regular people from the top down. But more and more, the opposite is happening. Far from being merely a target, the public has become an active participant in creating and selectively amplifying narratives that shape realities. Perhaps the best word for this emergent bottom-up dynamic is one that doesn't exist quite yet: ampliganda, the shaping of perception through amplification. It can originate from an online nobody or an onscreen celebrity. No single person or organization bears responsibility for its transmission. And it is having a profound effect on democracy and society.
Times Are Changing: COVID-19 and Library Late Fees
Libraries have been collecting fines since at least the late 1800s, originally using them to generate revenue for the library and also, in an example of strict father morality, to punish those who cannot adhere to arbitrary timelines. When researching for this article, I was surprised to learn that research on going fine-free has been published since as far back as the 1970s. Similar to other movements involved with equality and equity, it took several decades — and in this case, a global pandemic — to put the idea across the finish line.
Why Every Future Librarian Should Take Learning Cataloging Seriously
In the past, I had been hesitant to declare a strong career interest in metadata and cataloging (I even wrote about my desire for an interdisciplinary library school curriculum for HLS before). But after a great summer internship in an academic library's technical services department, I not only confirmed my personal career interest in cataloging, but I also learned a lot about the value of a well-cataloged collection and the importance of understanding fundamentals about how library catalogs work.
Celebrating the Librarians of SFF [science fiction and fantasy]
Across fantasy and science fiction (with the occasional stop in horror), there are any number of amazing fictional libraries we'd love to visit—especially to meet up with the guardians of the stacks! After all, what's a fantasy story without an awe-inspiring tower full of potentially curséd books? Or a sci-fi adventure without the cumulative knowledge of civilization stored somewhere to guide our heroes on their quest?
We decided it was time for an overdue celebration of the keepers of knowledge, from experts in Egyptology to far-future book-lovers fighting tyrannical governments to sword-wielding barbarians, we have a librarian for every occasion.
Intersect Alert - 25 September 2021
A History of Library Hand
Before HTML/XML, database design and informatics were necessary skills to have or understand to work in libraries, there was a crucial requirement to obtain a job: mastery of library hand. Library hand, a specific style of handwriting, was once a highly-sought and praised manner of lettering and spacing and a requirement for many eager to enter the field.
Utah librarians talk about 9/11, the Patriot Act, and how they became privacy warriors
“There was a lot of panic,” said one librarian — then libraries changed rules to protect patrons’ privacy.
Recent Steps Toward Improved Access to Federal Legislation
During recent virtual meetings, representatives of several government entities showed how they had used time during the pandemic to increase the public’s access to legislative information.
The ‘Pirate Bay of Science’ Adds 2 Million New Journal Articles
Sci-Hub, a website dedicated to free access of scientific articles, has updated for the first time in a year.
The Book Biz Tries to Avoid Supply Chain Disruptions
Concerns have risen to such a level that the two biggest trade wholesalers, Ingram and Bookazine, have reached out to their accounts to urge them to take a range of actions to try to mitigate problems, informing them of steps they should take to be better positioned to meet the needs of the fall and holiday. Top of the recommendation list from both Ingram and Bookazine is for accounts to order as early as possible.
Google Privacy Settings to Change Now
There’s probably a little bit of Google in every part of your life. The company hosts a sprawling network of tools and apps we use for everything — from school assignments and work emails, to watching how-to videos and making calls. The good news is that Google has tried to collect its most important privacy settings into one place, which means you can protect your data in Gmail and Google-owned YouTube at the same time.
How to Hide your House from Nosy People on Google Maps
Ask Google Street View (and its competitors) to blur your house from their photos.
Your Car Knows Too Much About You.
Modern cars collect a lot of data on their drivers. That could be a privacy nightmare.
The Battle for Digital Privacy Is Reshaping the Internet
As Apple and Google enact privacy changes, businesses are grappling with the fallout, Madison Avenue is fighting back and Facebook has cried foul.
The Trail Ink Left Behind
Back in the 1960s, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) began what is now known as the International Ink Library. The idea was simple: collect samples of pen ink from around the world for use in criminal forensics. Today, there’s a digital database of ink types.
The Search Engine of 1896
In 1896 Paul Otlet set up a bibliographic query service by mail.
Intersect Alert - 11 September 2021
Abolitionist Library Workers Want Library Access for All. That Begins with Getting Cops Out.
Library staff work to remove the need for police officers within libraries and focus on de-escalating training.
Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential
Through a process called “controlled digital lending” (CDL), libraries can amplify what they do best by meeting communities where they are - both physically and digitally.
2021 Update to Choosing Law Librarianship: Thoughts for People Contemplating a Career Move
This article began over 20 years ago as an email response to a library paraprofessional who wondered whether it would be worthwhile to go to library school. It discusses many factors, from salary to how you feel about your daily work to how you are regarded in your community.
The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books
Increasingly, books are something that libraries do not own but borrow from the corporations that do.
Geofence Warrants Threaten Civil Liberties and Free Speech Rights in Kenosha and Nationwide
Geofence warrants require companies to provide information on every electronic device in a geographical area during a given time period. The warrants reach broadly and require location data for long periods of time.
8 Easy Ways to Stay Anonymous Online
Is it even possible to take control of your own personal privacy online? Ultimately, the only way to stay truly anonymous online is...not to go online at all. That's not a real option for most of us, though. Here's a rundown of what you can do to minimize spying, targeted ads, and ID theft as you explore the online world.
How Often Are Books And Bookshelves Seen On Television News?
How often are books and bookshelves seen on television news? The timeline below used AI to scan every second of news programming across BBC News London, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News since the start of last year to count how many seconds per day a book was visible somewhere onscreen.
The rightwing US textbooks that teach slavery as ‘black immigration’
Guardian analysis finds that private schools, especially Christian schools, use textbooks that tell of a version of history that is racially biased and inaccurate.
Companies Need More Workers. Why Do They Reject Millions of Résumés?
Automated-hiring systems are excluding many people from job discussions at a time when additional employees are desperately needed.
Library of Congress Releases Data for Free Download and Discovery
This MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging Records) release surpasses previous releases and adds more than 200,000 new records to the existing 25 million record database.
State Sovereign Immunity Study
At the request of Congress, the Copyright Office undertook a public study to determine the extent to which copyright owners are experiencing infringement by states without adequate remedies under state law.
Here’s how the American History Museum, the National Postal Museum and more are reflecting on the tragedy…reminders of September 11, 2001, are scattered throughout the Smithsonian Institution’s collections.
Intersect Alert – 31 August 2021
How to navigate covid news without spiraling
As the pandemic changes so quickly, there’s a better way to think about getting and sharing the information you need.
By early August, dreams of hot vax summer had faded as the delta variant drove a surge in US covid cases. Just when many thought it couldn’t get worse, outlets reported a new strain they called “delta plus.” That name turned out to be misleading—delta hadn’t become extra threatening, and variants of the virus will naturally evolve. But never mind: news spread anyway, and so did the memes and panicked social media posts.
Overeager “mutant porn” stories are just a small subset of covid-19 news coverage, but they represent a larger problem I’ve wrestled with throughout my own work covering the pandemic: good covid-19 reporting is hard to do. As a reader of news, I’ve also been on the other side like everyone else: muddied or misleading news coverage can cause chaos and confusion when the best information is shifting regularly.
The Federal Circuit Has Another Chance to Get it Right on Software Copyright
When it comes to software, it seems that no matter how many times a company loses on a clearly wrong copyright claim, it will soldier on—especially if it can find a path to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit is supposed to be almost entirely focused on patent cases, but a party can make sure its copyright claims are heard there too by simply including patent claims early in the litigation, and then dropping them later. In SAS v. WPL, that tactic means that a legal theory on software copyrightability that has lost in three courts across two countries will get yet another hearing. Hopefully, it will be the last, and the Federal Circuit will see this relentless opportunism for what it is.
Intellectual Property, Open Access
Free public domain audiobooks
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain, and then we release the audio files back onto the net for free. All our audio is in the public domain, so you may use it for whatever purpose you wish. Please note: Our readers are free to choose the books they wish to record. LibriVox sees itself as a library of audiobooks. Because the books we read are in the public domain, our readers and listeners should be aware that many of them are very old, and may contain language or express notions that are antiquated at best, offending at worst.
Our Fundamental Principles:
Librivox is a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project
Librivox donates its recordings to the public domain
Librivox is powered by volunteers
Librivox maintains a loose and open structure
Librivox welcomes all volunteers from across the globe, in all languages…
How Data Brokers Sell Access to the Backbone of the Internet
ISPs are quietly distributing "netflow" data that can, among other things, trace traffic through VPNs.
There's something of an open secret in the cybersecurity world: internet service providers quietly give away detailed information about which computer is communicating with another to private businesses, which then sells access to that data to a range of third parties, according to multiple sources in the threat intelligence industry.
The information, known as netflow data, is a useful tool for digital investigators. They can use it to identify servers being used by hackers, or to follow data as it is stolen. But the sale of this information still makes some people nervous because they are concerned about whose hands it may fall into.
Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge
The vision statement of the Wikimedia Foundation states, “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.” Libraries need not see Wikipedia as competition; rather, failing to leverage its omnipresence in the online world constitutes a missed opportunity. As a senior program officer at OCLC, Proffitt has encouraged collaboration between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions, leading to increased visibility and user engagement at participating organizations. Here, she brings onboard a raft of contributors from the worlds of academia, archives, libraries, and members of the volunteer Wikipedia community who together point towards connecting these various communities of knowledge. This book will inspire libraries to get involved in the Wikipedia community through programs and activities such as
contributing content and helping to bridge important gaps in Wikipedia;
ensuring that library content is connected through the world’s biggest encyclopedia;
working with the Wikipedia education community; and
engaging with Wikipedians as allies in a quest to expand access to knowledge.
An open database of 29,928,647 free scholarly articles. We harvest Open Access content from over 50,000 publishers and repositories, and make it easy to find, track, and use.. Get started: research – OA researchers can use Unpaywall to answer research questions about the current and historical state of open access. There are several popular ways to access the data for research: you can use the REST API, the R API wrapper, the Simple Query Tool, or download the whole dataset. A particularly easy way to get started with research is to use Dimensions, Scopus, or Web of Science, which all have Unpaywall data integrated into their databases. That’s the approach used by this recent paper. You might also check out the the canonical reference paper for the dataset, which gives a good overview of the data as a whole. Of course, this is just a very quick overview…if you have any questions, or want to use Unpaywall in a way that’s not described here, please drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help!
Vaccine Passport Missteps We Should Not Repeat
Vaccine mandates are becoming increasingly urgent from public health officials and various governments. As they roll out, we must protect users of vaccine passports and those who do not want to use—or cannot use—a digitally scannable means to prove vaccination. We cannot let the tools used to fight for public health be subverted into systems to perpetuate inequity or as cover for unrelated, unnecessary data collection.
Over the past year, EFF has been tracking vaccine passport proposals and how they have been implemented. We have objections—especially when rolled out by opportunistic tech companies that are already creating digital inequity and mismanaging user data. We hope we can stop them from transforming into another layer of user tracking.
Don’t stick a fork in books yet
I just came across an excellent write-up called How to Fork a Book: The Radical Transformation of Publishing. “Forking” is a term borrowed from open source software, whose license allows anyone to make their own modified versions that diverge from the original, taking it in another direction, like a fork in a path.
Well, nowadays there are open source books. Forking turns them from fixed, unchanging artifacts into living works that grow and develop over their lifespans or even give birth, their very authorships blurring.
Google’s “About This Result” Panel Offers Insight into your Search Results
Have you ever been puzzled by the results from a Google search? Found yourself wondering how Google connected those results to the words you typed, especially if you didn’t get exactly what you were expecting to find? Fortunately, the newly enhanced About This Result panel offers some contextual insight into your search results.
To view the About this Result panel, click on the three dots next to most Google search results as shown below. This will open a new panel that provides information about the source website, a list of your search terms that appear in the results, and any related terms that Google added to your search. Note that in the example below, I searched for “sources of tribal law.” Google automatically added in “Native American, court, and legal” as related terms. In this instance, that was a pretty helpful addition.
In the data decade, data can be both an advantage and a burden
Study reveals businesses are struggling to reconcile conflicting data realities caused by overwhelmed technology, people, and processes.
In 2016, Dell Technologies commissioned our first Digital Transformation Index (DT Index) study to assess the digital maturity of businesses around the globe. We have since commissioned the study every two years to track businesses’ digital maturity.
Sam Grocott is Senior Vice President of Business Unit Marketing at Dell Technologies.
Our third installment of the DT Index, launched in 2020 (the year of the pandemic), revealed that “data overload/unable to extract insights from data” was the third highest-ranking barrier to transformation, up from 11th place in 2016. That is a huge jump from the bottom to close to the top of the ranking of barriers to digital transformation.
Intersect Alert – 24 August 2021
Books and Reading, Social Media
How Extortion Scams and Review Bombing Trolls Turned Goodreads Into Many Authors’ Worst Nightmare
Since its launch in 2007, Goodreads has evolved into the world’s largest online book community. The social networking site now has millions of users who rate and review books, find recommendations for new ones and track their reading. But over time, Goodreads has also become a hunting ground for scammers and trolls looking to con smaller authors, take down books with spammed ratings, cyberstalk users or worse. With over 120 million members worldwide, Goodreads is far and away the most popular—and influential—digital book database. When the site was purchased by Amazon for $150 million in 2013, The Atlantic reported that: “When all is said and done, in the world of books, Goodreads is just about as influential as Facebook.” With few serious competitors, Goodreads’ influence has only grown. According to Erin Stein, an editor and publisher with experience heading Macmillan Children’s Group’s Imprint and working for Little, Brown and Company, the publishing industry views Goodreads as a “necessary evil.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in our country, millions of Americans cannot connect to the internet because they can’t afford to, preventing them from going to school, working, accessing government benefits and connecting with friends and family. To remedy this problem, Congress created the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB), which offers low-income consumers a $50 discount on their internet bills. Unfortunately, because of a shortcoming in the National Verifier, the database used to verify consumer eligibility for the program, many of those in need do not access this important benefit, ultimately keeping the digital divide open.
Internet Users, Public Policy
More Americans now say government should take steps to restrict false information online than in 2018
Amid rising concerns over misinformation online – including surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, especially vaccines – Americans are now a bit more open to the idea of the U.S. government taking steps to restrict false information online. And a majority of the public continues to favor technology companies taking such action, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Roughly half of U.S. adults (48%) now say the government should take steps to restrict false information, even if it means losing some freedom to access and publish content, according to the survey of 11,178 adults conducted July 26-Aug. 8, 2021. That is up from 39% in 2018. At the same time, the share of adults who say freedom of information should be protected – even if it means some misinformation is published online – has decreased from 58% to 50%…
9 unique library jobs that have nothing to do with books
When you walk into your local public library, you expect to receive help from a reference librarian, a circulation desk librarian, or perhaps a children’s librarian, depending on your needs.
However, many libraries are starting to employ people in new, non-librarian roles to better meet the changing needs of the communities they serve. The below nine cutting-edge jobs within libraries showcase the evolving role of this uniquely flexible public institution, an institution whose value as social infrastructure only seems to grow as crisis after crisis rocks society.
As Taliban violence forces schools in Afghanistan to close, mobile libraries give hope to girls
For 11-year-old Husna, books are her only source of happiness. Her school in Wat village, 3km from the Spin Boldak district in Afghanistan that is now under Taliban control, is closed for summer holidays until September. But no one knows for sure when it will reopen, due to the clashes between Afghan nationalist forces and the Islamist group that have ensued since troops from the United States began withdrawing in May.
Now, Husna’s only ray of hope is the mobile library run by the Pen Path Civil Society, a non-governmental organisation whose motorcycle-riding volunteers travel across areas ravaged by fighting to distribute books and stationery to children.
How to Keep Exercising Your Innovation Muscle — During a Pandemic
With so many businesses setting their sights on just getting through the pandemic, the idea of investing in innovation might seem a little impractical. But as Bill Gates has written, global innovation will be the key to stopping Covid-19. What’s more, innovation will be the key to surviving for many companies during these tough times, especially over the long term.
Intersect Alert – 16 August 2021
Truth or Fiction
“TruthOrFiction.com is a non-partisan website where Internet users can quickly and easily get information about eRumors, fake news, disinformation, warnings, offers, requests for help, myths, hoaxes, virus warnings, and humorous or inspirational stories that are circulated by email. TruthOrFiction.com is designed to be of value to the ordinary user of the Internet who wants to make sure that a email, post or story contains information, not misinformation. Our focus tends to be on stories that are the most widely-circulated via social media. Every story on TruthOrFiction.com has either been personally researched by the TruthOrFiction.com staff or, in some cases, is known to be a classic rumor or urban legend that has stood the test of time. As much as possible, the sources of our information are included in the stories ..”
Crowdsourcing COVID-19: A Brief Analysis of Librarian Posts on Reddit
The Chandos Digital Information Review recently published a book chapter (free, open access) entitled Crowdsourcing COVID-19: A Brief Analysis of Librarian Posts on Reddit by Daniella Smith of the University of North Texas:
"Initially, COVID-19 was mistaken for a cold. As time passed, the entire world was infected. It became evident that social distancing was needed to counteract the virus’s spread when the infection rate increased. Although social distancing was a viable option for many professions, it impeded the services offered by libraries. Libraries are cultural institutions that facilitate the social and educational health of their communities. Many citizens rely on libraries to obtain resources critical to their well-being. As such, libraries continued to offer their much-needed services, and librarians worldwide sought to implement the best-known practices to survive the COVID-19 disaster. This study explores how librarians responded to COVID-19 by examining their posts to the Reddit social media network. Popular discussion topics, questions posed by librarians, and the strategies used to cope with the pandemic are presented."
It is part of a book called Libraries, Digital Information, and COVID by Chandos Publishing.
These Finders Are Keepers
Curbed – Archivists, librarians, and staff check back in. “It’s easy to convince yourself, after a year in virtual space, that most of the world’s knowledge is either online or can be acquired with a couple of Amazon clicks. Spend five minutes with Julie Golia — curator of history, social sciences, and government information at the New York Public Library — and you’ll realize how wildly wrong that is. “One thing that historians learned this year is that digitization can never replace the archives,” she says. A single collection (out of many at the NYPL) “will have tens of thousands of pieces of material.” Billions of pages are a long way from being scanned. But also, their physicality is information: what was filed next to what, who’s next to whom, which pages are most worn from handling. “That’s information that digitization wipes away.”…
An Inflection Point for Libraries
Publishers Weekly – “With billions in federal funding at stake, library leaders must see this moment for what it is: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly transform the future of libraries…With the delta variant currently surging among the unvaccinated, ensuring the safety of our library workers and our communities remains our top priority. But with any luck (and a lot of hard work) vaccination levels will rise sharply in the coming months, and we will finally turn the tide against Covid-19. And I urge ALA leadership to start now in preparing the association’s members, vendors, publishers, and affiliates to arrive in Washington, D.C., in 2022 with a powerful rallying cry: libraries have proven we are essential, and we must be funded like we are essential.” [PW columnist Sari Feldman is an ALA policy fellow, the former executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Cleveland, and a past president of both the Public Library Association (2009–2010) and the American Library Association (2015–2016).]
How DuckDuckGo makes money selling search, not privacy
TechRepublic: “…As much as we may resist the idea of being tracked online, we’re often told it’s necessary to give us personalized results. DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg disagrees:
It’s actually a big myth that search engines need to track your personal search history to make money or deliver quality search results. Almost all of the money search engines make (including Google) is based on the keywords you type in, without knowing anything about you, including your search history or the seemingly endless amounts of additional data points they have collected about registered and non-registered users alike. In fact, search advertisers buy search ads by bidding on keywords, not people….This keyword-based advertising is our primary business model…”
Can technology help authors write a book?
“Every year around the world a whopping 2.2 million books are published, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), which monitors the number. The figure includes both fiction and non-fiction titles. For most of these authors the writing process is relatively unchanged since Twain’s heyday in the late 19th Century. Plot outlines and ideas are written down to be deciphered, developed and refined over time. These days, however, technology is increasingly making the life of an author a little easier. For Michael Green, a US data scientist turned novelist, the need to use technology to simplify and streamline the writing process came when he was in the middle of writing his first book..”
The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts
Young TikTok users are sharing their passion for books with millions – bringing titles they love to life online and reshaping the publishing world, all in under a minute
In August 2020, Kate Wilson, a 16-year-old from Shrewsbury, posted on the social media video platform TikTok a series of quotes from books she had read, “that say I love you, without actually saying I love you”. Set to a melancholy soundtrack, the short video plays out as Wilson, an A-level student, holds up copies of the books with the quotes superimposed over them. “You have been the last dream of my soul,” from A Tale of Two Cities. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same,” from Wuthering Heights. “Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own,” from Jane Eyre. It has been viewed more than 1.2m times.
Facebook’s Attack on Research is Everyone’s Problem
EFF: “Facebook recently banned the accounts of several New York University (NYU) researchers who run Ad Observer, an accountability project that tracks paid disinformation, from its platform. This has major implications: not just for transparency, but for user autonomy and the fight for interoperable software. Ad Observer is a free/open source browser extension used to collect Facebook ads for independent scrutiny. Facebook has long opposed the project, but its latest decision to attack Laura Edelson and her team is a powerful new blow to transparency. Worse, Facebook has spun this bullying as defending user privacy. This “privacywashing” is a dangerous practice that muddies the waters about where real privacy threats come from. And to make matters worse, the company has been gilding such excuses with legally indefensible claims about the enforceability of its terms of service. Taken as a whole, Facebook’s sordid war on Ad Observer and accountability is a perfect illustration of how the company warps the narrative around user rights. Facebook is framing the conflict as one between transparency and privacy, implying that a user’s choice to share information about their own experience on the platform is an unacceptable security risk. This is disingenuous and wrong. This story is a parable about the need for data autonomy, protection, and transparency—and how Competitive Compatibility (AKA “comcom” or “adversarial interoperability”) should play a role in securing them…”
Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, August 8, 2021
Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: How to Defend Yourself Against NSO Spyware Like Pegasus; NIST revises flagship cyber resiliency guidance; Researchers Say They’ve Found a ‘Master Face’ to Bypass Face Rec Tech; and Department of Labor Focuses on Cybersecurity for Benefit Plans.
“Review-it provides anonymous resource reviews (electronic, print, software, other) to the law library committee. This is a crowd sourced review tool that shares feedback on legal resource tools to the community at large as a benefit in saving time and individual analysis. Have a tool you would like to review? Or are you seeking feedback on a tool? Want to share or seek feedback on how your library is handling a common issue? We will share vendor related feedback and analytics to help inform purchasing decisions.”
Intersect Alert – 9 August 2021
7 U.S. LIBRARIES AND COLLECTIONS NAMED AFTER TRAILBLAZING WOMEN
Most libraries and library collections all over the world are named after men, so I wanted to highlight some of the libraries and library collections based in the U.S. — mostly at universities — that are named after trailblazing women. They definitely deserve more attention.
Among the women are several PhDs, a major donor to literary causes, and correspondences on important topics in history. Read on to find out more!
LA County Library Wins PR Award, $10,000 Grant
The Los Angeles County library system was one of seven national winners announced Monday of a $10,000 grant recognizing excellence in library public relations and strategic communication.
LA County Library won the American Library Association’s John Cotton Dana Library Award for its Park and Connect Free Outdoor Wi-Fi Program. The program allows Wi-Fi to be accessible outside 32 libraries in their parking lots, helping to address a digital divide amidst the pandemic.
Major U.K. science funder to require grantees to make papers immediately free to all
The United Kingdom currently has one of the highest rates of open-access publication in the world, with many researchers posting their research papers on websites that make them publicly available for free. But the country’s leading funding agency today announced a new policy that will push open access even further by mandating that all research it funds must be freely available for anyone to read upon publication.
The Ethics of Data: Anonymity Vs Analytics
We are living in unprecedented times. We walk around with powerful computers in our pockets that can track our every move. We regularly offer up our location and vital information on what we buy, watch, and read to digital global powerhouses such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
This data is, of course, used to provide us with product and service suggestions designed to improve our lives. The technology now known as “big data” is a battleground for surveillance. Many feel we are living in a Big Brother world, where our every physical and online movement, purchase, and personal message is stored to create a picture of us that may or may not be accurate.
The age of big data is now firmly upon us, and we therefore face collective societal challenges on how our data is handled and used to target and track us. Data ethics is an emergent theme and one that poses complex questions for those of us who work in the identity and knowledge sector.
What is the difference between current awareness and horizon scanning?
Legal professionals are busy people. They are concerned with doing the best they can for their clients and making sure that their business runs smoothly. Trend spotting or horizon scanning isn’t necessarily at the top of their daily “to do” lists but if they want to grow the firm effectively, everyone - from trainee to managing partner - needs to anticipate future events.
The best way information people can help to do this is to first understand how everything fits together. We need to look at the difference between current awareness and horizon scanning - and put them both into a wider strategic context. When we present our management teams with evidence that they need automated current awareness, we should also be dazzling them with future information possibilities.
Combating Foreign Disinformation on Social Media
How are state adversaries using disinformation on social media to advance their interests? What does the Joint Force—and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in particular—need to be prepared to do in response? Drawing on a host of different primary and secondary sources and more than 150 original interviews from across the U.S. government, the joint force, industry, civil society, and subject-matter experts from nine countries around the world, researchers examined how China, Russia, and North Korea have used disinformation on social media and what the United States and its allies and partners are doing in response. The authors found that disinformation campaigns on social media may be more nuanced than they are commonly portrayed. Still, much of the response to disinformation remains ad hoc and uncoordinated. Disinformation campaigns on social media will likely increase over the coming decade, but it remains unclear who has the competitive edge in this race; disinformation techniques and countermeasures are evolving at the same time. This overview of a multi-volume series presents recommendations to better prepare for this new age of communications warfare.
Not a single federal agency received an ‘A’ in a new Senate cybersecurity report card
On Tuesday, members from the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released a bipartisan report [PDF] that states that seven out of the eight federal agencies they reviewed still have not met the basic cybersecurity standards needed to protect the sensitive data they stored and maintained. The report was led by US Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) and is a follow-up to Portman’s bipartisan 2019 report on federal agency cybersecurity, which found that none of the eight agencies met basic cybersecurity standards and protocols to secure the personal identification information of Americans as well as equipment and programs on the agency’s networks. The eight departments under the magnifying glass are the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Education, and the Social Security Administration. Most of them had made just “minimal improvements” since 2019 and only the Department of Homeland Security was found to have an “effective” cybersecurity system in place in 2020…
Intersect Alert – 1 August 2021
Controlled digital lending – is it ‘piracy’?
Copyright lawyer Michael Wolfe argues that the future of our libraries does not hinge on the outcome of an American court case
The National Library is sending books removed from its collections to the Internet Archive, a charitable library in the United States, to see them digitised and preserved in ways the public purse cannot afford. Is this a scandal? Is this piracy?
THE BEST PLACES TO FIND LIBRARY JOBS
I preface this BookRiot article with my recommendation for the very best way to find Library Jobs in all sectors – INALJ The nexus of information professionals and information potential / Library and LIS jobs [Many thanks to the indefatigable Naomi House]
The search for library jobs is a complicated but alluring endeavor. The profession itself is often romanticized and misunderstood. Outdated perceptions and difficult certification processes mean that would-be librarians are often working very hard towards their goals while fielding condescending comments about how nice it must be to get paid to read all day. Despite this, library jobs are purportedly in high demand. Where does a professional even start? Below, I’ve gathered some information that will help highly certified candidates and curious novices alike begin to search for the library jobs of their dreams.
Office workers to bosses: I’ll quit if I have to go full-time back to the office
Fortune: “Offices are opening back up and employers are nudging their workers to return into offices. This is the case for Hannah, a designer who has spent the last year working from a small island in Spain and is now being asked to return to London to spend time in her Mayfair office. “If they asked me to go back full time right now, I guess would try it, but based on the two days I spent in the office last week, I honestly don’t think I could. I was knackered and I did significantly less work,” she said. From Beijing to Boston, employers face a big fight on their hands in trying to get staff back into the office Monday to Friday. In what’s turning into the biggest workplace dilemma in well over a generation, employees are increasingly prepared to walk away from a job if management insists on a mandatory return to the workplace when offices fully reopen in the coming weeks and months. According to a survey of 2,700 office workers across nine countries carried out by the polling firm Ipsos, more than a third of all office workers would quit if they were forced to go back into the office full time. The study interviewed workers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China and Australia…”
48 Advocacy Groups Call on the FTC to Ban Amazon Surveillance
The open letter uses Amazon as a case study to argue that corporate surveillance technologies cause immense harm and fall under the FTC's authority to ban.
On Thursday, a coalition of 48 civil rights and advocacy groups organized by Athena asked the Federal Trade Commission to exercise its rulemaking authority by banning corporate facial surveillance technology, banning continuous corporate surveillance of public spaces, and protecting the public from data abuse.
White House Issues Memorandum on Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems
On July 28, 2021, President Biden signed a National Security Memorandum entitled “Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems” (the “Memorandum”). The Memorandum formally establishes an Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity Initiative and directs the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), in collaboration with other agencies, to develop and issue cybersecurity performance goals for critical infrastructure. The Memorandum follows recent high-profile attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure, including ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods.https://www.natlawreview.com/article/white-house-issues-memorandum-improving-cybersecurity-critical-infrastructure
Upcoming US Law Webinars – August 2021
Next month, the Law Library of Congress will present a webinar on federal statutes. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and how to trace federal statutes from their publication in the U.S. Code to their origins as bills. Participants will also learn about the difference between public and private laws, how to conduct research using free online resources, and other useful tips and tricks.
Also in August, Law Library staff will host a webinar discussing Congress.gov. The presentation will feature some of Congress.gov’s functions, as well as recent updates to the site. More information about the content of both webinars and registration links can be found below.
Disentangling Disinformation: Not as Easy as it Looks
Body bags claiming that “disinformation kills” line the streets today in front of Facebook’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. A group of protesters, affiliated with “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” (an organization that is, confusingly, not affiliated with Facebook or its Oversight Board), is urging Facebook’s shareholders to ban so-called misinformation “superspreaders”—that is, a specific number of accounts that have been deemed responsible for the majority of disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Finally, could Google’s chickens be coming home to roost?
Google is telling anybody who will listen that the APIs and functionalities built into its Google Cloud platform will remain stable over time and will not fall victim to arbitrary decisions by the company, a fiction designed to avoid discussion of the company’s longstanding disregard for its users, which has led it, over the years, to ruthlessly eliminate countless services that had large user bases.
Intersect Alert – 25 July 2021
Data Literacy in Government: How Are Agencies Enhancing Data Skills?
The federal government is vast, and the challenge of understanding its oceans of data grows daily. Rather than hiring thousands of new experts, agencies are moving to train existing employees on how to handle the new frontier.
Privacy, Social Media
The Privacy Debate Reveals How Big Tech's "Transparency and User Control" Arguments Fall Flat
If you've been following the Capitol Hill hearings about algorithms and automated decision-making, then you’ve probably heard technology companies talk about how they offer or want to offer "transparency and user control" to consumers. Companies like Facebook and Twitter propose sharing information on how their algorithms work with the public, as well as enabling users to tweak these algorithms to change their experience on digital platforms. They argue that users are less susceptible to manipulation if they can control how a digital platform's algorithm delivers content to them. While this seems persuasive, this kind of regulatory regime poses significant dangers. It cannot address harms like discrimination, loss of economic opportunity for content creators, or radicalization of users. Luckily, we've already had this conversation on privacy — and can choose not to make the same mistakes twice.
EFF Sues U.S. Postal Service For Records About Covert Social Media Spying Program
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service and its inspection agency seeking records about a covert program to secretly comb through online posts of social media users before street protests, raising concerns about chilling the privacy and expressive activity of internet users.
Internet Futures: Spotlight on the technologies which may shape the Internet of the future
This report shines a light on the innovative, emerging Internet technologies that could shape our Internet in the future. We have selected a sample of technologies based on the responses we received to our call for inputs, and the discussions we had with thought leaders in both academia and industry. We will however continue to identify other important Internet technologies as they emerge and in sectors beyond those considered in this report.
The True Cost of Acquisitions: An Archivist's Toolbox
I drew parallels between this sort of technological maintenance labor that the authors described, and the day-to-day tasks performed by library and archives workers, especially within and in support of special or research collections. Coincidentally, I read this article while involved in two projects where I developed calculator tools that can measure the impact of a single acquisition in terms of staff capacity and associated supplies, transportation and labor costs. These calculators give evidence to the lasting impact acquisitions, both large and small, can have over an entire department. In addition, they offer a way forward for institutions to take informed steps towards more sustainable collection development.
Libraries, Digital Preservation, International Outlook
Future of 600,000 books being culled by [New Zealand] National Library saved by digital library
The books are overseas publications with an average publication date of 1965-1969 and are rarely accessed, a press release stated.
The Internet Archive has agreed to have the collection available for people around the world to borrow digitally within two years and is paying for packaging, transport and digitisation costs.
Google tries to answer publishers' questions on visibility concerns in Google News
Danny Sullivan, public liaison for Google Search, explained some frequently asked publisher related questions around Google News. The post covers where news appears in Google, how a site becomes eligible to appear in Google News, how to know if your site is showing in news, how to improve visibility for your site and some more tips.
Intersect Alert – 18 July 2021
Library of Congress Looks to AI to Help Users Sift Through Its Collection
The Library of Congress expects that artificial intelligence can help people search through its troves of digital information to glean new insights about the U.S.'s history.
It's not just bad behavior – why social media design makes it hard to have constructive disagreements online
There's no shortage of research about the psychology of arguing online, from text versus voice to how anyone can become a troll and advice about how to argue well. But there's another factor that’s often overlooked: the design of social media itself.
Right or Left, You Should Be Worried About Big Tech Censorship
Conservatives are being censored
So is everyone else
The Tower of Babel: How Public Interest Internet is Trying to Save Messaging and Banish Big Social Media
So, the proliferation of messaging services isn’t new. What is new is the interoperability environment. Companies like Google and Facebook - who once supported interoperable protocols, even using the same chat protocol - now spurn them. Even upstarts like Signal try to dissuade developers from building their own, unofficial clients.
Finding a way to splice together all these services might make a lot of internet users happy, but it won’t thrill investors or tempt a giant tech company to buy your startup. The only form of recognition guaranteed to anyone who tries to untangle this knot is legal threats - lots of legal threats.
How Fear of Government Surveillance Influences Our Behavior
If surveillance doesn't make us act differently, explain this:
The psychology department's coffee room at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom offers coffee and tea on the honor system: users put their money in a box. The department decided to rotate different price list signs as part of a research study. One week a picture of flowers was featured at the top of the list; the next week a photocopied picture of human eyes aimed directly at patrons reading the sign.
On the weeks in which the eyes were displayed, people paid nearly three times as much for their caffeine fix as weeks when the flowers were shown.
Books and Reading
Forgotten Novels of the 19th Century
If you've spent much time reading 19th-century novels, you've probably run across characters doing the same thing — that is, reading novels.
In Barchester Towers, Eleanor sits "in the window to get the advantage of the last daylight for her novel." Anna Karenina waits for her husband "in front of the fireplace with her English novel." And in Jane Eyre, Georgiana falls "asleep on the sofa over the perusal of a novel."
What novels were they reading? While Eleanor might have been reading Jane Eyre and Anna might have been perusing Barchester Towers, it's more likely that they were reading some of the thousands of other novels published in that century. Novels were the binge-watched television, the hit podcasts of the era — immersive, addictive, commercial — and they were produced and consumed in huge numbers.
Citizen Archivist Contributions Push Catalog Enhancements Past 2 Million
The National Archives Catalog recently surpassed two million pages of records enhanced with tags, transcriptions, and comments, thanks to the record-breaking efforts of citizen archivists, as well as agency employees working from home.
Who did that website belong to?
You may already be familiar with WHOIS, the directory of website registrants. Under ICANN rules, you have to have contact info registered for a domain, and that contact info used to be public.
Sadly, that changed in 2018 and much of the information is now redacted. But! A tool called WHOIS History Search came to the rescue.
Intersect Alert – 11 July 2021
A Deeper Look: Censorship beyond Books
Just as books are sometimes challenged and banned in libraries, schools, universities, and public institutions, other library materials, resources, and services have been challenged, canceled, or dismantled. People's perception of offensive content is not limited to the written word. Censorship beyond books can happen anywhere—in private and public institutions, large school districts and small public libraries, rural universities, state prisons, and urban government buildings. The variety of resources and services challenged is just as broad, including films, videos, music, magazines, newspapers, games, internet access, databases, programs, use of meeting rooms, exhibits, displays, artwork, reading lists, and online resources.
A Glowing Shrine to the Printed Word
A mighty wall of books impresses in the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library [formerly the Mid-Manhattan Branch of New York Public Library], a transformed branch that bursts with new services and technology.
Identity Theft 101: Tips to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
The scary part is that most of us willingly make our personal information available online, and it is easy for cybercriminals to steal it. Considering that we all use technology and the internet nowadays, this could happen to anyone. On the up-side, though, identity theft can be prevented with some basic knowledge, planning, and awareness.
Don't be that employee: How to avoid ransomware attacks at work
Ransomware, which locks down a target's computers and data, can infect a network a few different ways, including through employee accounts. Click the wrong link, open the wrong attachment or log into the wrong website, and you could put your company in a perilous position.
YouTube's recommender AI still a horror show, finds major crowdsourced study
For years YouTube’s video-recommending algorithm has stood accused of fuelling a grab bag of societal ills by feeding users an AI-amplified diet of hate speech, political extremism and/or conspiracy junk/disinformation for the profiteering motive of trying to keep billions of eyeballs stuck to its ad inventory.
And while YouTube's tech giant parent Google has, sporadically, responded to negative publicity flaring up around the algorithm’s antisocial recommendations — announcing a few policy tweaks
or limiting/purging the odd hateful account
— it's not clear how far the platform’s penchant for promoting horribly unhealthy clickbait has actually been rebooted.
The suspicion remains nowhere near far enough.
Books and Reading
Beyond Goodreads: Four tools that help readers track their books
But increasingly, there are websites and apps beyond Goodreads for analyzing your reading habits. Whether you want to boost your reading speed, keep track of your growing personal library or find just the right book to fit your mood, here are four reading tools to consider.
Oldest book of English literature in the world available to browse online for the first time
The Exeter Book is one of the four most significant verse manuscripts to survive from the Anglo-Saxon period and contains the vast majority of all surviving Old English poetry. Its origins are a mystery.
The new website and digital technology gives a fascinating glimpse into the production of the book, allowing people to explore doodles of people and even an angel.
Intersect Alert – 04 July 2021
The Internet Is Rotting
Too much has been lost already. The glue that holds humanity’s knowledge together is coming undone. [The article covers many issues, such as link rot, content drift, and content loss.]
Google is starting to warn users when it doesn't have a reliable answer
Google is testing a new feature to notify people when they search for a topic that may have unreliable results. The move is a notable step by the world's most popular search engine to give people more context about breaking information that's popular online — like suspected UFO sightings or developing news stories — that are actively evolving.
The new prompt warns users that the results they are seeing are changing quickly, and reads, in part, "If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources." Google confirmed to Recode that it started testing the feature about a week ago. Currently, the company says the notice is only showing up in a small percentage of searches, which tend to be about developing trending topics.
How to find the documents behind big legal cases
Earlier this year, I spent a month covering the trial for a dispute between Apple and Epic. The case was one of the biggest antitrust suits in recent memory, and it brought to light revelations about both companies and the larger tech industry, often in the form of legal filings. I (and other reporters) try to pick out the most relevant details from these filings for readers. But sometimes, the documents are worth checking out in their own right. A site called CourtListener makes that easier than it might sound — if you know how to look.
Library of Congress Adds 'A Century of Lawmaking' to Congress.gov
The Library of Congress announced today that U.S. congressional records dating back to the days of printing presses and the telegraph are now easily accessible on mobile devices. With this latest update of Congress.gov — the official website for U.S. federal legislative information — the Library has transitioned over 33,000 bills and resolutions crafted by Congress between 1799 and 1873 (the 6th to 42nd U.S. Congresses) to a modern, user-friendly web format.
Books and Reading / Libraries
How to Read E-Books for Free Without Pirating Them
Your local library has hundreds of e-book selections, and they're free to read.
Books and Reading
So, Gutenberg Didn't Actually Invent Printing As We Know It
The universal acclaim is, in fact, not so universal—and Gutenberg himself is a, but not the, source of printing. Rather, key innovations in what would become revolutionary printing technology began in east Asia, with work done by Chinese nobles, Korean Buddhists, and the descendants of Genghis Khan—and, in a truth [Margaret Leslie] Davis acknowledges briefly, their work began several centuries before Johannes Gutenberg was even born.
TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice
"BookTok" has sent old books back to the top of bestseller lists and helped launch the careers of new authors. Videos with the BookTok hashtag have been viewed a collective 12.6 billion times.
The Library of Congress is a surprising lesson in digital government. That's good news for democracy
One of the country's oldest cultural institutions is now writing the book on how to adapt to a brave new world. Only a few years after being labeled a digital laggard, the Library of Congress is bringing its hundreds of millions of documents' worth of history to citizens across the country in ever more innovative ways. The success story is one that other government agencies, from the federal level to the local, should consider.
Intersect Alert – 20 June 2021
Why more public libraries are doubling as food distribution hubs
In the summer of 2021, public libraries everywhere will offer free meals to families with children in their local communities. What might look like a new role for libraries builds on their long tradition of serving as innovation spaces, community centers and sanctuaries for people who are homeless or mentally ill.
The Importance of Onboarding Within the Academic Library
Onboarding is a continuous process of bringing a person into the culture of your institution. Where orientation is usually a one- or two-day event that introduces a new employee to the university or college, it is also a way to make new people feel welcomed. I think of orientation as being the foundation of a person’s onboarding.
UK libraries and museums unite to save ‘astonishing’ lost library from private buyers
Friends of the National Libraries launch ‘once in a generation’ effort to raise £15m to buy the Honresfield library, packed with works by Brontë sisters, Jane Austen and Walter Scott.
How do you quantify the value of a public library? Here’s what one report finds
The study highlight the importance of public libraries to children, even in an era with widespread access to the internet and smartphones. Libraries are entrenched in American life, the authors note. Local governments spend over 12 billion dollars annually funding the operation of roughly 9,261 library systems with 15,427 branches. More than 50% of Americans visit public libraries each year and over 2 billion items are checked out annually.
A Media Empire for the (Public) Library? OverDrive Acquires Kanopy
During the pandemic, streaming media and in particular video has exploded. And there is growing demand for video services offered through libraries. The significance of this market for licensed streaming media services was cemented last week when OverDrive acquired Kanopy. These companies, both owned by private equity, have made strong inroads in the public library market, but they have struggled for related reasons in the academic sector.
DuckDuckGo’s Quest to Prove Online Privacy Is Possible
The company best known for its search engine is launching a new set of tools aimed at creating an “easy button” for protecting your data online.
In Leak Investigation, Tech Giants Are Caught Between Courts and Customers
Companies regularly comply with government information requests because they are legally required to do so. The subpoenas can be vague, so Apple, Google and others are often unclear on the nature or subject of an investigation. They can challenge some of the subpoenas if they are too broad or if they relate to a corporate client. In the first six months of 2020, Apple challenged 238 demands from the government for its customers’ account data, or 4 percent of such requests.
Intersect Alert – 12 June 2021
Maryland Passes Law Requiring Publishers to License Ebooks to Libraries Under “Reasonable Terms”
House Bill 518/(SB432) became law in Maryland on June 1. The law—which the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates both passed unanimously in April—requires publishers to offer electronic "literary product" licenses to Maryland libraries “on reasonable terms,” and prohibits publishers from instituting embargo periods during which ebook and electronic audiobook licenses are available for sale to the public but not to libraries. When the law takes effect in January 2022, the state will view violations as “an unfair, abusive, or deceptive trade practice subject to certain enforcement.”
‘If publishers become afraid, we’re in trouble’: publishing’s cancel culture debate boils over
the debate over what should be published has reached a fever pitch. Publishing staff who feel uncomfortable about working on certain titles are speaking out more often and more loudly, through open letters and on social media. In April, more than 200 employees at S&S in the US asked their employer to pull out of a seven-figure book deal with former vice president Mike Pence.
Law Librarians Name Casetext Compose New Product Of The Year
A first-of-its-kind tool introduced last year to automate the drafting of litigation briefs has been named new product of the year for 2021 by the American Association of Law Libraries. The product, Compose, introduced in February 2020 by legal research company Casetext, helps attorneys automate the creation of the first draft of a litigation brief. Casetext says it can cut brief-writing time by 76%.
Ohio sues Google, seeks to declare the internet company a public utility
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a lawsuit asking a court to declare Google a public utility that should be regulated as such.
If Not Overturned, a Bad Copyright Decision Will Lead Many Americans to Lose Internet Access
In going after internet service providers (ISPs) for the actions of just a few of their users, Sony Music, other major record labels, and music publishing companies have found a way to cut people off of the internet based on mere accusations of copyright infringement. When these music companies sued Cox Communications, an ISP, the court got the law wrong.
Apple Inc. v. Corellium: Another Case Where Fair Use Is Not a Defense to Section 1201
The District Court’s recent ruling in Apple Inc. v. Corellium, LLC highlights an interesting tension in copyright law. A company can still violate copyright law even if a court has already found that it’s not infringing any copyright.
Privacy tech industry explodes
As COVID-19 pushed consumers online in droves, companies — from Fortune 500 firms to the corner coffee shop — had to grapple with how to legally handle personal data. The privacy-tech companies who know how to do it have been raking in the cash. "Data is on its way to becoming a fairly regulated business, even though we don't have a national law yet," said Jules Polonetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum. "If you're a restaurant or even a school — and all of a sudden you're covered by one of these laws — you now have to assess and document that you're in compliance."
Maryland and Montana Pass the Nation’s First Laws Restricting Law Enforcement Access to Genetic Genealogy Databases
Maryland and Montana passed laws requiring judicial authorization to search consumer DNA databases in criminal investigations. These are welcome and important restrictions on forensic genetic genealogy searching (FGGS)—a law enforcement technique that has become increasingly common and impacts the genetic privacy of millions of Americans.
Zoom privacy risks: Here's what information others may be able to see from your video chats
From built-in attention-tracking features to exploitable software bugs and issues with "Zoom-bombing" Zoom's security practices have drawn scrutiny from users worldwide over the past year. In March 2020, New York's Attorney General Letitia James sent Zoom a letter outlining privacy vulnerability concerns. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also cautioned users working from home about the software's onboard privacy features.
Intersect Alert – 6 June 2021
Intellectual Property / Internet Access
If Not Overturned, a Bad Copyright Decision Will Lead Many Americans to Lose Internet Access
In going after internet service providers (ISPs) for the actions of just a few of their users, Sony Music, other major record labels, and music publishing companies have found a way to cut people off of the internet based on mere accusations of copyright infringement. When these music companies sued Cox Communications, an ISP, the court got the law wrong. It effectively decided that the only way for an ISP to avoid being liable for infringement by its users is to terminate a household or business’s account after a small number of accusations—perhaps only two. The court also allowed a damages formula that can lead to nearly unlimited damages, with no relationship to any actual harm suffered. If not overturned, this decision will lead to an untold number of people losing vital internet access as ISPs start to cut off more and more customers to avoid massive damages.
PayPal Shuts Down Long-Time Tor Supporter with No Recourse
Larry Brandt, a long-time supporter of internet freedom, used his nearly 20-year-old PayPal account to put his money where his mouth is. His primary use of the payment system was to fund servers to run Tor nodes, routing internet traffic in order to safeguard privacy and avoid country-level censorship. Now Brandt’s PayPal account has been shut down, leaving many questions unanswered and showing how financial censorship can hurt the cause of internet freedom around the world.
Maryland Is First State to Expand Equitable Access to E-books through Libraries
In a win for libraries and their users, Maryland is the first in the nation to enact a state law ensuring that libraries can license e-books and audiobooks under the same terms available to consumers.
The new law (Maryland House Bill 518) requires that publishers offer reasonable terms to public libraries when negotiating licenses for digital content. As the president of the Maryland Library Association testified, while the bill specifically names public libraries, academic and university libraries will also benefit from improved terms and business practices.
‘If publishers become afraid, we’re in trouble’: publishing’s cancel culture debate boils over
In the 1960s, Simon & Schuster’s co-founder Max Schuster was facing a dilemma. Albert Speer, Hitler’s chief architect and armaments minister, had written a memoir providing new insights into the workings of Nazi leadership. As Michael Korda, Schuster’s editor-in-chief, recounted in his memoir Another Life, Schuster knew it would be a huge success. “There is only one problem,” he said, “and it’s this: I do not want to see Albert Speer’s name and mine on the same book.”
In the liberal industry of publishing, the tension that exists between profit and morality is nothing new, whether it’s Schuster turning down Speer (the book was finally published by Macmillan), or the UK government introducing legislation to prevent criminals making money from writing about their crimes.
Google and MIT prove social media can slow the spread of fake news
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has been battling a whole other threat: what U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has called a “pandemic of misinformation.” Misleading propaganda and other fake news is easily shareable on social networks, which is threatening public health. As many as one in four adults has claimed they will not get the vaccine. And so while we finally have enough doses to reach herd immunity in the United States, too many people are worried about the vaccines (or skeptical that COVID-19 is even a dangerous disease) to reach that threshold.
AI still sucks at moderating hate speech
For all of the recent advances in language AI technology, it still struggles with one of the most basic applications. In a new study, scientists tested four of the best AI systems for detecting hate speech and found that all of them struggled in different ways to distinguish toxic and innocuous sentences.
The results are not surprising—creating AI that understands the nuances of natural language is hard. But the way the researchers diagnosed the problem is important. They developed 29 different tests targeting different aspects of hate speech to more precisely pinpoint exactly where each system fails. This makes it easier to understand how to overcome a system’s weaknesses and is already helping one commercial service improve its AI.
Why the ransomware crisis suddenly feels so relentless
Just weeks after a major American oil pipeline was struck by hackers, a cyberattack hit the world’s largest meat supplier. What next? Will these criminals target hospitals and schools? Will they start going after US cities, governments—and even the military?
In fact, all of these have been hit by ransomware already. While the onslaught we’ve seen in the last month feels new, hackers holding services hostage and demanding payments has been a huge business for years. Dozens of American cities have been disrupted by ransomware, while hospitals were hit by attacks even during the depths of the pandemic. And in 2019, the US military was targeted. But that doesn’t mean what we’re seeing now is just a matter of awareness. So what’s different now?
Intersect Alert – 31 May 2021
Stephen Hawking’s archive will be digitized and made freely available
A treasure trove of archive papers and personal objects – from Hawking’s seminal works on theoretical physics to scripts from episodes of The Simpsons – are to be divided between two of the UK’s leading cultural institutions following a landmark Acceptance in Lieu (AIL) agreement on behalf of the nation. The £4.2m AIL agreement between HMRC, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Cambridge University Library, Science Museum Group, and the Hawking Estate, will see around 10,000 pages of Hawking’s scientific and other papers remain in Cambridge, while objects including his wheelchairs, speech synthesisers, and personal memorabilia from his former Cambridge office will be housed at the Science Museum. Under the terms of the historic agreement, Professor Hawking’s extensive Cambridge archive will be cared for and made available to current and future generations of scientists hoping to continue his ground-breaking work in theoretical physics, and will provide future biographers and science historians with an extraordinary gateway and insight into Hawking’s life and work.
Books and Reading
Physical Books vs. Audiobooks: Which Is Better?
MakeUseOf: “The physical feel of a book in your hands is great, but is it better than hearing the story read to you? For a book lover, few things compare to the joy of a new book. We live in a time when you can get the same book in audio format and as a physical copy. But does one medium stand above the rest? What’s the best way to consume a book? Let’s compare the pros and cons of audiobooks and physical copies and determine if one stands out as the better option to use…”
What the ephemerality of the Web means for your hyperlinks
Columbia Journalism Review: “Hyperlinks are a powerful tool for journalists and their readers. Diving deep into the context of an article is just a click away. But hyperlinks are a double-edged sword; for all of the internet’s boundlessness, what’s found on the Web can also be modified, moved, or entirely vanished. The fragility of the Web poses an issue for any area of work or interest that is reliant on written records. Loss of reference material, negative SEO impacts, and malicious hijacking of valuable outlinks are among the adverse effects of a broken URL. More fundamentally, it leaves articles from decades past as shells of their former selves, cut off from their original sourcing and context. And the problem goes beyond journalism. In a 2014 study, for example, researchers (including some on this team) found that nearly half of all hyperlinks in Supreme Court opinions led to content that had either changed since its original publication or disappeared from the internet. Hosts control URLs. When they delete a URL’s content, intentionally or not, readers find an unreachable website. This often irreversible decay of Web content is commonly known as linkrot. It is similar to the related problem of content drift, or the typically unannounced changes––retractions, additions, replacement––to the content at a particular URL.
Library Learning Analytics
“The advent of and increasing interest in learning analytics among researchers, practitioners, and administrators alike has academic librarians questioning what roles—if any—they can play in this sociotechnical movement. Briefly, learning analytics attempts to use data mining and analysis practices, including statistical algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, to investigate students’ educational, social, and physical behaviors associated with or indicative of successful learning outcomes. Some cutting-edge approaches to learning analytics even use similar data to evaluate and intervene in professional situations (for example, with faculty, librarians, and advisers). Since student behaviors do not exist in a vacuum, learning analytics also examines, inter alia, the physical and digital resources, educational experiences, and interventions provided by an institution’s faculty and staff to determine what effect, if any, they have on learning.While learning analytics is a fairly new field of study, the academic literature seems to have taken notable interest. Scopus was used to test if this was true. A phrasal search of “learning analytics” in Scopus targeted on anywhere in the document between the years of 2010 (the inception of the field) and 2020 (the last full year of data) returned 12,690 results…”
The FBI will feed compromised passwords to Have I Been Pwned
Engadget: “Have I Been Pwned, the website that gives you a way to check which of your login details have been compromised by data breaches, is working with the FBI to grow its database. The partnership will give the website access to fresh passwords as they become compromised, depending on what the feds are investigating at the moment. Troy Hunt, the website’s creator, has announced the partnership, explaining that the FBI reached out to ask if there’s a way to provide the agency with an “avenue to feed compromised passwords into HIBP and surface them via the Pwned Passwords feature.”
US Government Hides Some Of Its Darkest Secrets At Department Of Energy
The Department of Energy controls many ‘black projects’ that live outside of the limelight that is intrinsic to the DoD and the intel community. “…the fact that there is a wholly separate cabinet-level department of the U.S. government that is arguably even more opaque in terms of secrecy and oversight than the Department of Defense. Over the last few years, allegations of secret, exotic technologies have reinvigorated claims that the DOD may be concealing scientific breakthroughs from the American public. However, if the U.S. government, or some faction within it, hypothetically came across a groundbreaking development in energy production or applied physics, a very strong case could be made that such a revolution would likely be housed deep within the Department of Energy (DOE) rather than DOD…One of the main tasks of DOE today is to develop, test, and maintain the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile. While the DOD develops, operates, and maintains the systems that deliver those nuclear weapons, the DOE is the department actually tasked with the development and acquisition of nuclear warhead technologies. DOE handles all functions not related to warhead delivery: storing and securing nuclear warheads that are not deployed onboard DOD systems, securing the materials that are used in nuclear weapons, and dismantling older nuclear weapons which have been removed from the national stockpile. To facilitate cooperation between the two, the Nuclear Weapons Council was established in 1986. This council consists of senior level officials from both the DOE and the DOD who coordinate on interagency activities related to the maintenance of the U.S. nuclear stockpile….”
Chile’s New “Who Defends Your Data?” Report Shows ISPs’ Race to Champion User Privacy
Derechos Digitales’ fourth ¿Quien Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends Your Data?) report on Chilean ISPs' data privacy practices launched today, showing that companies must keep improving their commitments to user rights if they want to hold their leading positions. Although Claro (América Móvil) remains at the forefront as in 2019’s report, Movistar (Telefónica) and GTD have made progress in all the evaluated categories. WOM lost points and ended in a tie with Entel in the second position, while VTR lagged behind.
Publishers grapple with an invisible foe as huge organised fraud hits scientific journals
‘As with many hidden criminal syndicates, you don’t always know what’s happening,’ says Retraction Watch’s Ivan Oransky about paper mills. They are the biggest organised fraud perpetrated on scientific journals ever, eroding scientists’ trust in the publishing system – and in each other.
Google revives RSS – Sort of
TechCrunch: “Chrome, at least in its experimental Canary version on Android (and only for users in the U.S.), is getting an interesting update in the coming weeks that brings back RSS, the once-popular format for getting updates from all the sites you love in Google Reader and similar services. In Chrome, users will soon see a “Follow” feature for sites that support RSS and the browser’s New Tab page will get what is essentially a (very) basic RSS reader — I guess you could almost call it a “Google Reader.” Now we’re not talking about a full-blown RSS reader here. The New Tab page will show you updates from the sites you follow in chronological order, but it doesn’t look like you can easily switch between feeds, for example. It’s a start, though…”
How a largely untested AI algorithm crept into hundreds of hospitals
Fast Company: “In the midst of the [pandemic] uncertainty, Epic, a private electronic health record giant and a key purveyor of American health data, accelerated the deployment of a clinical prediction tool called the Deterioration Index. Built with a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning and in use at some hospitals prior to the pandemic, the index is designed to help physicians decide when to move a patient into or out of intensive care, and is influenced by factors like breathing rate and blood potassium level. Epic had been tinkering with the index for years but expanded its use during the pandemic. At hundreds of hospitals, including those in which we both work, a Deterioration Index score is prominently displayed on the chart of every patient admitted to the hospital. The Deterioration Index is poised to upend a key cultural practice in medicine: triage. Loosely speaking, triage is an act of determining how sick a patient is at any given moment to prioritize treatment and limited resources. In the past, physicians have performed this task by rapidly interpreting a patient’s vital signs, physical exam findings, test results, and other data points, using heuristics learned through years of on-the-job medical training.
Intersect Alert – 24 May 2021
U.S. Media Index database shows news consumers who owns what
Harvard University – Nieman Lab: “If you ever wanted to track down who owns a news outlet, it’s now much easier to do it. The U.S. Media Index database by the Future of Media Project has done the grueling work of compiling that information for us. The databases includes three indices: The U.S. Mainstream Media Index details the 176 parent companies of daily news outlets; the index of emerging nonprofit media and donors lists 231 nonprofit news outlets and who funds them; and an index of the seven owners of daily newspapers is categorized by state. The first index, for example, focuses on listing traditional news outlets, like newspapers, magazines, digital news outlets, television channels and stations, and public radio. It excludes podcasts, bloggers, Substack or Medium columnists, and talk radio. The database was produced by The Future of Media Project, which is hosted at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard. In partnership with the Harvard Business School, the Future of Media Project focuses on “research and identifying implementable solutions to rebalance truth, privacy and power in the media industry.” “At a time when sources of information have proliferated at an extraordinary pace, a map or index seemed necessary,” the title page says. “Our empirical claim is that radical transparency in U.S. media ownership will improve trust in newsrooms by empowering people to understand their media landscape and, in turn, deter them from feeling duped.”..
Amazon Publishing, DPLA Ink Deal to Lend E-books in Libraries
Publishers Weekly: “The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) today announced that it has signed a much-anticipated agreement with Amazon Publishing to make all of the roughly 10,000 Amazon Publishing e-books and digital audiobooks available to libraries, the first time that digital content from Amazon Publishing will be made available to libraries. In a release today, DPLA officials said that lending will begin sometime this summer, with Amazon Publishing content to be made available for license via the DPLA Exchange, the DPLA’s not-for-profit, “library-centered” platform, and accessible to readers via the SimplyE app, a free, open source library e-reader app developed by the New York Public Library and used by DPLA. Library users will not have to go through their Amazon accounts to access Amazon Publishing titles via the DPLA, and DPLA officials confirmed that, as with other publishers DPLA works with, Amazon will not receive any patron data. The executed, long awaited deal comes nearly six months after Amazon Publishing and the DPLA confirmed that they were in talks to make Amazon Publishing titles available to libraries for the first time. The deal represents a major step forward for the digital library market. Not only is Amazon Publishing finally making its digital content available to libraries, the deal gives libraries a range of models through which it can license the content, offering libraries the kind of flexibility librarians have long asked for from the major publishers.
Readers Would Be Harmed by Further Book Mergers
The publishing industry is growing increasingly concentrated as publishing house giants continue to merge. This hurts both authors and readers, in more ways than one. In a concentrated industry, prices are higher for readers, and payments are lower for authors as the publishing middleman takes a heftier cut. The book industry has been moving to a model that is harmful in other ways as well—libraries are being locked out of ebooks, and technical restrictions from ebook platforms keep readers locked in and prevent them from getting better deals elsewhere.
Research / Values
Diverse Sources Database
NPR – Find experts from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the media – the Diverse Sources Database.
AI and data science jobs are hot. Here’s what employers want
ZDNet – “Up to 10,000 jobs in AI and data science open each month, and the trend is only growing – but candidates often lack the right skills. If you’re considering a career change, it might be a good time to start looking for a good coding course. While many industries remain severely affected by the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, there is one sector that is actively recruiting: jobs in AI are booming, and the trend is showing no sign of abating. A new report carried out by research agency Ipsos Mori into the current state of the UK’s AI labor market found that close to 110,500 job opening were posted in the past year for roles related to AI and data science. That’s more than double the number of vacancies registered in 2014, and a 16% increase from 2019, marking the highest year to date for AI jobs posted on the market. Every month for the past three years, between 8,000 and 10,000 roles were posted online, ranging from data analysts and software developers to research and development or even university positions such as lecturers and professors in AI and data science. Sectors where demand is the highest, found the report, are the education and financial industries…”
The untold story of how Florence Nightingale used data viz to save lives
Fast Company – “Florence Nightingale is well known as the founder of modern nursing. But after seeing the terrible conditions facing soldiers she treated during the Crimean War, she became a fierce public health advocate. And she harnessed new ways of showing data to do so. Nightingale was a lifelong information designer. As a child, she cataloged her seashell collection, and that was just the beginning. According to data designer RJ Andrews, Nightingale was always recording facts and figures. “She was mathematically literate as a foundation,” Andrews explains. Her ability to compose eye-catching, understandable, and persuasive charts that depicted things such as soldier mortality rates grabbed the attention of the queen and Parliament and pushed officials to require more sanitary treatment conditions, saving lives in the process. This lesser-known aspect of Nightingale’s life is part of a new book series currently seeking funding on Kickstarter called Information Graphic Visionaries. The collection of three books, edited by Andrews, tells the forgotten data-visualization stories of major historical figures. It includes Emma Willard, the 19th-century higher education advocate who created detailed maps; Étienne-Jules Marey, a French scientist who literally wrote the book on data visualization; and Florence Nightingale. Originally, Andrews had just planned to publish the book on Nightingale, but when he delayed the release date due to the pandemic, he saw an opportunity to tell a bigger story “celebrating spectacular creators who showed us how to better see the world.”…
Help Bring Dark Patterns To Light
On social media, shopping sites, and even childrens’ apps, companies are using deceptive user experience design techniques to trick us into giving away our data, sharing our phone numbers and contact lists, and submitting to fees and subscriptions. Everyday, we’re exploited for profit through “dark patterns”: design tactics used in websites and apps to manipulate you into doing things you probably would not do otherwise.
So today, we’re joining Consumer Reports, Access Now, PEN America, and Harry Brignull (founder of DarkPatterns.org), in announcing the Dark Patterns Tip Line.
Just for Fun
The Sifter – Search the World of Food
A Tool for Food History Research – “The Sifter is a free website for searching and comparing authors, their works and the details of their works regarding food and related topics around the world and throughout history. Browse and search through thousands of historical cookbooks and manuscripts dating back to the Middle Ages! We have just updated the site to Version 1.2, which has numerous upgrades. Click here for a full list of changes. New! 504 medieval French and German recipes and their details were added from CoReMa (Univ. of Graz) ..”
Intersect Alert – 16 May 2021
How copyright filters lead to wage-theft
Last week, "Marina" – a piano teacher who publishes free lessons her Piano Keys Youtube channel – celebrated her fifth anniversary by announcing that she was quitting Youtube because her meager wages were being stolen by fraudsters.
Governor Newsom’s Budget Proposes Historic Investment in Public Fiber Broadband
This morning, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced his plans for the state’s multi-billion dollar surplus and federal recovery dollars, including a massive, welcome $7 billion investment in public broadband infrastructure. It's a plan that would give California one of the largest public broadband fiber networks in the country. The proposal now heads to the legislature to be ratified by June 15 by a simple majority. Here are the details:
EFF to Ninth Circuit: Don’t Block California’s Pathbreaking Net Neutrality Law
Partnering with the ACLU and numerous other public interest advocates, businesses and educators, EFF has filed an amicus brief urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a district court’s decision not to block enforcement of SB 822, a law that ensures that Californians have fair access to all internet content and services.
The Over-the-Top Library with a Secret Treasure
It would be understandable if, after taking in the ornate reading rooms and grand hallways of the St. Louis Central Library, you deemed your thirst for literary splendor sated. However, tucked into one of those walls is an elegant but easily missed double door underneath a broken pediment leading to a true treasure trove filled with items that would fetch eye-popping sums at auction.
President Biden Revokes Unconstitutional Executive Order Retaliating Against Online Platforms
President Joe Biden on Friday rescinded a dangerous and unconstitutional Executive Order issued by President Trump that threatened internet users’ ability to obtain truthful information online and retaliated against services that fact-checked the former president. The Executive Order called on multiple federal agencies to punish private online social media services for content moderation decisions that President Trump did not like.
National Archives Wants to Use AI to Improve ‘Unsophisticated Search’ and Create ‘Self-Describing Records’
The National Archives and Records Administration wants to automate its records management processes to limit manual metadata tagging while improving the search function.
Language models like GPT-3 could herald a new type of search engine
The way we search online hasn’t changed in decades. A new idea from Google researchers could make it more like talking to a human expert
Q&A: April M. Hathcock (2012), Dr. Antonia Olivas (2002), Lalitha Nataraj (2005), Sofia Leung, and Jorge López-McKnight of Knowledge Justice are interviewed by Mimosa Shah (2020)
This interview was conducted via email with Sofia Leung and Jorge López-McKnight, co-editors of the recently published Knowledge Justice: Disrupting Library and Information Studies through Critical Race Theory, an anthology of essays focused on challenging the foundational principles, values, and assumptions of library and information sciences (LIS) in the United States. Sofia and Jorge opened up the conversation to include several authors who contributed to this anthology: April M. Hathcock, Dr. Antonia (Toni) Olivas, and Lalitha (Lali) Nataraj.
Intersect Alert — 25 April 2021
How Do We Exit the Post-Truth Era? Why fact-checking alone won't save us from fake news
Of course, few people outside of journalism know about traditional fact-checking. Even within the industry, the practice has become increasingly rare over the past decade of media layoffs and budget cuts. But it's the approach I'm most familiar with: behind-the-scenes and meticulous, with a touch of pretentiousness. This standard was established by Time and The New Yorker in the early 1900s, when magazines were most concerned with protecting themselves from public criticism and libel lawsuits. (Back then, fact-checking was a woman's job. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, writers such as gonzo journalist Tom Wolfe saw The New Yorker's fact-checking department as "a cabal of women and middling editors all collaborating to henpeck and emasculate the prose of the Great Writer.")
How do audiences decide what news to trust? Fairness and accuracy aren't the only things that matter
A new Reuters Institute report finds that editorial standards and journalistic practices may be less important for trust in news than audience impressions about brand reputations and the look and feel of how information is presented.
The Returns to Public Library Investment
Local governments spend over 12 billion dollars annually funding the operation of 15,000 public libraries in the United States. This funding supports widespread library use: more than 50% of Americans visit public libraries each year. But despite extensive public investment in libraries, surprisingly little research quantifies the effects of public libraries on communities and children. We use data on the near-universe of U.S. public libraries to study the effects of capital spending shocks on library resources, patron usage, student achievement, and local housing prices.
The Library's Furniture
Physical library buildings were once–and in many institutions still are–viewed as "warehouses for books." However, they're starting to become warehouses for furniture. It's a specific type of furniture clustered in our spaces, that of the institutional–with its vague eye towards some idea of design trendiness, a nod to durability, and even technofunctionality. They are specific, sturdy, and contain multitudes.
[The article goes on to discuss what library furniture says about the library, including its hidden dark side.]
Upwork examines the impact of remote work on socialization
The post-pandemic landscape will include plenty of options for professionals to interact outside the home, a new report finds.
5 uses for Google Maps beyond navigation
Google Maps made a name for itself helping people travel from one place to another, but it can be useful even when you know exactly how to get where you're going.
This has just become a big week for AI regulation
Today the EU released its long-awaited set of AI regulations, an early draft of which leaked last week. The regulations are wide ranging, with restrictions on mass surveillance and the use of AI to manipulate people.
But a statement of intent from the US Federal Trade Commission, outlined in a short blog post by staff lawyer Elisa Jillson on April 19, may have more teeth in the immediate future. According to the post, the FTC plans to go after companies using and selling biased algorithms.
Intersect Alert — 18 April 2021
Technology, Social Media, Privacy
What Would A 'Feminist Internet' Look Like?
Charlotte Jee of the MIT Technology Review [subscription required] speaks with NPR's Michel Martin about some of the ideas to make the internet more welcoming to women.
Social Media, International Outlook
Revealed: the Facebook loophole that lets world leaders deceive and harass their citizens
Facebook has repeatedly allowed world leaders and politicians to use its platform to deceive the public or harass opponents despite being alerted to evidence of the wrongdoing.
Libraries and Pandemics: Past and Present
The 1918 influenza pandemic had a profound impact on how librarians do their work, transforming libraries into centers of community care.
Data Brokers Are a Threat to Democracy
You've probably never heard of Acxiom, but it likely knows you: The Arkansas firm claims to have data on 2.5 billion people around the world. And in the US, if someone's interested in that information, there are virtually no restrictions on their ability to buy and then use it.
Enter the data brokerage industry, the multibillion dollar economy of selling consumers' and citizens' intimate details. Much of the privacy discourse has rightly pointed fingers at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok, which collect users' information directly. But a far broader ecosystem of buying up, licensing, selling, and sharing data exists around those platforms. Data brokerage firms are middlemen of surveillance capitalism—purchasing, aggregating, and repackaging data from a variety of other companies, all with the aim of selling or further distributing it.
Books and Reading
Reading in the Age of Distrust
The ability to read analytically and deeply should be one of the most important takeaways from college. But are educators equipping students with the skills they need for today?
Reuters puts its website behind a paywall
Reuters will begin charging for access to its website as it tries to capture a slice of the digital subscription business.
The company, one of the largest news organizations in the world, announced the new paywall on Thursday, as well as a redesigned website aimed at a "professional" audience wanting business, financial and general news.
What Taylor Swift's Re-recordings Symbolize For Music Ownership
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is releasing the first of her re-recorded albums, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)," on April 9. Ahead of the highly anticipated release, there has been controversy surrounding the handling of Swift's master recordings by her former label, Big Machine Label Group, which has sold these masters to media company Ithaca Holdings instead of Swift. Particularly, "Fearless (Taylor's Version)" can reestablish the handling of artist contracts and music ownership, reshaping the framework of the music industry. Through this great feat, Swift will finally gain control over her entire life's work of master recordings.
[This is a fascinating development for music copyrights.]
Intersect Alert — 11 April 2021
The Effect of COVID-19 on Law Libraries: Are These Changes Temporary or a Sign of the Future?
Due to the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the traditional roles of the library were altered spontaneously. These sudden changes, coupled with the reality that libraries often struggle for relevance in an ever-changing legal education landscape, force one to ask the existential question: what will come from this crisis and what will academic law libraries look like on the other side? This Article examines the responses from academic law libraries to COVID-19-related changes and emphasizes the need for strong communication skills and effective crisis management strategies from our library leaders, and also discusses which of the changes necessitated by the pandemic should be temporary and which of the changes speak to the future of academic law libraries.
The Fight for Britain's Libraries
During the pandemic, library workers have been deemed 'essential' and many forced to continue work – but government cuts have led to 1,000 closures in a decade, the real measure of how these services are valued.
Are You Confused by Scientific Jargon? So Are Scientists
Specialized terminology isn't unique to the ivory tower — just ask a baker about torting or an arborist about bracts, for example. But it's pervasive in academia, and now a team of researchers has analyzed jargon in a set of over 21,000 scientific manuscripts. They found that papers containing higher proportions of jargon in their titles and abstracts were cited less frequently by other researchers.
GPO and Libraries Set Goal to Make Every U.S. Government Document Accessible
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) is undertaking a massive effort to capture and make publicly accessible every U.S. Government document through the National Collection of U.S. Government Public Information (National Collection). GPO will do this by digitizing documents and making them accessible on govinfo and the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), as well as partnering with Federal depository libraries who serve as stewards for all tangible materials. The National Collection includes all public information products of the U.S. Government. To achieve its vision, GPO will identify, acquire, catalog, disseminate, digitize, make accessible, authenticate, and preserve all Government publications.
Organizations Call on President Biden to Rescind President Trump's Executive Order that Punished Online Social Media for Fact-Checking
President Joe Biden should rescind a dangerous and unconstitutional Executive Order issued by President Trump that continues to threaten internet users' ability to obtain accurate and truthful information online, six organizations wrote in a letter sent to the president on Wednesday.
What you need to know about the Facebook data leak
The personal data of 533 million Facebook users in more than 106 countries was found to be freely available online last weekend. The data trove, uncovered by security researcher Alon Gal, includes phone numbers, email addresses, hometowns, full names, and birth dates.
Google Won. So Did Tech.
On Monday, the Supreme Court said it was kosher to copy someone else's computer code in some cases. That handed Google a win in a decade-long court battle with Oracle over the guts of the Android smartphone system.
I'll explain why the technology industry was relieved by the decision, and the ways it might be relevant for artists, writers and archivists. I also want us to ponder this: Why are thorny legal questions seemingly inescapable in technology right now?
The Spy Who Came In from the Carrel
In 1942, Dr. Adele Kibre — dark-haired, wicked-eyed, a medievalist by training — began work as an overseas agent for the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications. This Committee was a branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS): the wartime predecessor to the CIA, which sought to acquire documents in Europe that the Allies could use to develop intelligence and plan covert operations. Kibre, a scholar, was now also a spy.
Intersect Alert — 04 April 2021
A Computer Scientist Who Tackles Inequality Through Algorithms
Today, Abebe uses the tools of theoretical computer science to help design algorithms and artificial intelligence systems that address real-world problems. She has modeled the role played by income shocks, like losing a job or government benefits, in leading people into poverty, and she’s looked at ways of optimizing the allocation of government financial assistance. She’s also working with the Ethiopian government to better account for the needs of a diverse population by improving the algorithm the country uses to match high school students with colleges.
Deepfake "Amazon workers" are sowing confusion on Twitter. That’s not the problem
The accounts are likely just parodies, not part of a sinister corporate strategy, but they illustrate the kind of thing that could happen someday.
The fight against fake-paper factories that churn out sham science
Some publishers say they are battling industrialized cheating. A Nature analysis examines the 'paper mill' problem — and how editors are trying to cope.
If You Care About Privacy, It's Time to Try a New Web Browser
By the end of this column, I hope to persuade you to at least try something else: a new type of internet navigator called a private browser.
How Strong is Your Password? Use These 4 Tools to Find Out
If you are worried about your password security, use the top password strength checkers listed below to calm your worried mind. These online tools will help you validate the strength of your passwords and keep digital burglars at bay.
Dark patterns, the tricks websites use to make you say yes, explained
This is an example of a dark pattern: design that manipulates or heavily influences users to make certain choices.
Dissemin detects papers behind paywalls and helps their authors to upload them in one click to an open repository.
The Louvre Launches Online Collection, New Website, & More
Two new digital tools have just gone live to bring the richness of the Louvre collections to the world's fingertips — a platform that for the first time ever brings together all of the museum's artworks in one place and a new and improved website that is more user-friendly, attractive and immersive.
Intersect Alert – 28 March 2021
The Intersect Alert had technical difficulties last week, so this issue covers two weeks.
Ebook Sales Model Brings Together High-Profile Players
Sixteen major university presses have signed with a Berlin-based scholarly publishing house, De Gruyter, as part of a new initiative to broker ebook sales between presses and university libraries. The idea behind the University Press Library initiative is for the institutions to sell digital collections of their entire front lists of new titles to university libraries. Under this plan, a library could purchase Stanford University Press’s entire 2021 collection in digital format, for example.
A traveling Black women's library finds a home
OlaRonke Akinmowo launched the Free Black Women's Library on a Brooklyn, New York, stoop years ago. Now, the social art project is getting a permanent home.
How Crying on TikTok Sells Books
But videos made mostly by women in their teens and 20s have come to dominate a growing niche under the hashtag #BookTok, where users recommend books, record time lapses of themselves reading, or sob openly into the camera after an emotionally crushing ending. These videos are starting to sell a lot of books, and many of the creators are just as surprised as everyone else.
Total Cost of Stewardship: Responsible Collection Building in Archives and Special Collections
Developed by the OCLC Research Library Partnership’s (RLP) Collection Building and Operational Impacts Working Group, Total Cost of Stewardship is a framework that proposes a holistic approach to understanding the resources needed to responsibly acquire and steward archives and special collections. The Total Cost of Stewardship Framework responds to the ongoing challenge of descriptive backlogs in archives and special collections by connecting collection development decisions with stewardship responsibilities.
The Librarian Reserve Corps: fighting COVID-19 with mediated information
Librarians have always been at the forefront of information needs and have provided critical assistance to patrons, public officials, and decision makers during uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception and has created an urgent, unprecedented demand for access to knowledge that is accurate, reliable, and timely.
How Books Can Address Economic Inequality
Publishers Weekly talked with a variety of publishers about acquiring and publishing books on economic inequality, what’s in the market now, and plans for the topic going forward.
Even with Changes, the Revised PACT Act Will Lead to More Online Censorship
Despite the PACT Act’s good intentions, EFF could not support the original version because it created a censorship regime by conditioning the legal protections of 47 U.S.C. § 230 (“Section 230”) on a platform’s ability to remove user-generated content that others claimed was unlawful. It also placed a number of other burdensome obligations on online services.
Police warn students to avoid SciHub website
The City of London police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit says using the Sci-Hub website could "pose a threat" to students' personal data.
Twitter, Trump, and Tough Decisions: EU Freedom of Expression and the Digital Services Act
The suspension of the social media accounts of former U.S. President Donald Trump by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and others sparked a lot of controversy not only in the U.S, but also in Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel considered the move, which is not unprecedented, "problematic."
Your Face Is Not Your Own
Aecause of advances in artificial intelligence. A.I. software can analyze countless photos of people’s faces and learn to make impressive predictions about which images are of the same person; the more faces it inspects, the better it gets. Clearview is deploying this approach using billions of photos from the public internet. By testing legal and ethical limits around the collection and use of those images, it has become the front-runner in the field.
Additional Regulations Approved for the California Consumer Privacy Act
The California Attorney General recently published new regulations that implement the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), a law that takes some important steps to empower consumer choice. What stands out the most in the new regulations is the explicit prohibitions around deceitful user interfaces (Section 999.315h) when the user exercises their CCPA right to opt-out from sale of their personal information.
Using FOIA logs to develop news stories
In the fiscal year 2020, federal agencies received a total of 790,772 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. There are also tens of thousands of state and local agencies taking in and processing public record requests on a daily basis. Since most agencies keep a log of requests received, FOIA-minded reporters can find interesting story ideas by asking for and digging through the history of what other people are looking to obtain.
Sacramento Might be Undergoing a Broadband Policy Reboot
When it comes to broadband policy, much of the attention on California understandably has been focused on its legal win on S.B. 822, its landmark net neutrality law. That court case is likely to head to the 9th Circuit next, and we are optimistic that the state will prevail. But while that law continues its journey through the courts, there are nearly a dozen bills covering broadband policy in California—many proposing massive, positive changes to reinvent how broadband access is delivered to people, and to achieve 100% access with an emphasis on fiber to the home.
California universities and Elsevier make up, ink big open-access deal
Two years after a high-profile falling out, the University of California (UC) system and the academic publishing giant Elsevier have patched up differences and agreed on what will be the largest deal for open-access publishing in scholarly journals in North America. The deal is also the world’s first such contract that includes Elsevier’s highly selective flagship journals Cell and The Lancet.
Free as in Climbing: Rock Climber’s Open Data Project Threatened by Bogus Copyright Claims
Rock climbers have a tradition of sharing “beta”—helpful information about a route—with other climbers. Giving beta is both useful and a form of community-building within this popular sport. Given that strong tradition of sharing, we were disappointed to learn that the owners of an important community website, MountainProject.com, were abusing copyright to try to shut down another site OpenBeta.io. The good news is that OpenBeta’s creator is not backing down
World’s Largest American Sign Language Database Makes ASL Even More Accessible
Since launching in February 2021, in conjunction with a published paper highlighting the ways the database has expanded, ASL-LEX 2.0—now the largest interactive ASL database in the world—makes learning about the fundamentals of ASL easier and more accessible.
Facebook is making a bracelet that lets you control computers with your brain
Facebook says it has created a wristband that translates motor signals from your brain so you can move a digital object just by thinking about it. The wristband, which looks like a clunky iPod on a strap, uses sensors to detect movements you intend to make.
Just for Fun
Why NFTs are suddenly selling for millions of dollars
NFTs have caught the attention of tech investors (Mark Cuban), the high-brow art world (Christie’s auction house), and major corporations (Nike) alike. And everyone from Lindsey Lohan to the rock band Kings of Leon is flooding the market with high-priced virtual creations of their own. But what exactly is an NFT? What makes them so valuable? And what might the future hold for these digital assets? This article looks at those questions.
Intersect Alert – 13 March 2021
Amazon withholds its ebooks from libraries because it prefers you pay it instead
Amazon is withholding ebook and audiobook versions of works it publishes through its in-house publishing arms from US libraries, according to a new report from The Washington Post. In fact, Amazon is the only major publisher that’s doing this, the report states. It’s doing so because the company thinks the terms involved with selling digital versions of books to libraries, which in turn make them available to local residents for free through ebook lending platforms like Libby, are unfavorable.
Search Scholarly Materials Preserved in the Internet Archive
Looking for a research paper but can’t find a copy in your library’s catalog or popular search engines? Give Internet Archive Scholar a try! We might have a PDF from a “vanished” Open Access publisher in our web archive, an author’s pre-publication manuscript from their archived faculty webpage, or a digitized microfilm version of an older publication.
The MIT Press launches Direct to Open
The MIT Press has announced the launch of Direct to Open (D2O). A first-of-its-kind sustainable framework for open-access monographs, D2O moves professional and scholarly books from a solely market-based, purchase model where individuals and libraries buy single e-books to a collaborative, library-supported open-access model.
What the pandemic means for paywalls
A year ago this month, major publications across the United States partially or completely lowered their paywalls. The idea was that information about the outbreak of covid-19 had life-saving potential, and so it should be available to everyone, not just to subscribers—a fraction of news readers who tend to be the wealthiest and most highly-educated. Lowering paywalls was ethically sound. But it now raises important questions for media outlets: How long can they afford to keep their journalism free? And how will they determine which reporting is “essential” to the public?
Congress Proposes Bold Plan to End the Digital Divide
An updated version of the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act has been introduced. It remains a bold federal program that will tackle broadband access in the same scale and scope the United States once did for water and electricity.
Celebrating Sunshine in Government!
Sunshine Week, an annual initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of unnecessary and excessive secrecy, begins March 14, 2021. One year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of Sunshine Week events across the country, you are invited to join the National Archives on March 15 as they celebrate in conversation with Senior U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth as well as a panel discussion of the U.S. transparency landscape.
Cancellation, Culture, and Copyright
Horton has probably heard that on March 2nd Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to cease publication of six books that contain “portray[als of] people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” This produced the cycle of controversy and performative contrarianism that has become as familiar as the list of places Sam won’t eat green eggs and ham. What separates this incident from more recent cancellations is that this time it has turned (at least in part) into a discussion of copyright terms and ownership of works written by those now long dead.
Just for Fun
New Technique Reveals Centuries of Secrets in Locked Letters
M.I.T. researchers have devised a virtual-reality technique that lets them read old letters that were mailed not in envelopes but in the writing paper itself after being folded into elaborate enclosures.
Intersect Alert – 7 March 2021
Libraries oppose censorship. So they're getting creative when it comes to offensive kids' books
The American Library Association vehemently opposes literary censorship. Rather than remove the offending books from their collections, librarians have come up with creative solutions to educate young readers, so while they may still delve into Laura Ingalls Wilder's pioneer adventures or Seuss' zany world of anthropomorphic animals, they'll come away knowing what's wrong with those stories -- and which books get diverse stories right.
Senators Andy Levin & Jack Reed Introduce Legislation to Modernize Library Infrastructure
The Build America’s Libraries Act authorizes a $5 billion fund to modernize American library infrastructure and ensure that all Americans have access to high-tech, state-of-the-art library facilities.
Policy Commons: Discovering and Saving Rare and Endangered Policy Documents
Policy touches every aspect of our lives, yet most policy publications are not formally published. In the jargon of information professionals, it is published as “grey literature” because it lives beyond the information pale that is managed by publishers, librarians, and bookdealers. In November 2020, a new tool, Policy Commons (policycommons.net), was launched to make it easier to track down hard-to-find—and often endangered—policy content.
The $450 question: Should journals pay peer reviewers?
Researchers at a scholarly publishing conference debated a provocative question: Should peer reviewers be paid? The issue has drawn greater attention as peer reviewers have become harder to recruit. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, producing a blizzard of submissions, journals were reporting “reviewer fatigue”: In 2013, journal editors had to invite an average of 1.9 reviewers to get one completed review; by 2017, the number had risen to 2.4, according to a report by Publons, a company that tracks peer reviewers’ work.
Persistent Identifiers and the Next Generation of Legal Scholarship
The world of scholarly communications has seen distinct growth regarding the use of persistent identifiers in the effort to preserve, disseminate, analyze, and help locate academic content. A persistent identifier is a unique string of letters, numbers, and/or symbols associated with digital content that will never change over time. Persistent identifiers exist in different forms and for different functions, and this article discusses the importance and relevance to legal scholarship of two of the most pervasive persistent identifiers in scholarly communications - the digital object identifier (DOI) and the ORCID identifier (ORCID iD).
Lizard People in the Library
As “research it yourself” becomes a rallying cry for promoters of outlandish conspiracy theories with real-world consequences, educators need to think hard about what’s missing from their information literacy efforts.
To protect free speech, protect the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Allegations of online bias and political censorship simmered throughout the last presidential election, culminating with the de-platforming of a sitting president. While this has led to an animated debate over Section 230, the law governing online content moderation, another law governing online content is quietly moving forward in Congress with little public attention. That law, Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, addresses questions of copyright and fair use.
How to build data literacy in your company
Data literacy — the ability of a company’s employees to understand and work with data to the appropriate degree — can be a stepping stone or a stumbling block when it comes to building a data-driven company. A recent Gartner survey of chief data officers found that poor data literacy is one of the top three barriers in building strong data and analytics teams, while a data literacy survey by Accenture of more than 9,000 employees in a variety of roles found that only 21% were confident in their data literacy skills.
People Literally Don’t Know When to Shut Up—or Keep Talking—Science Confirms
Adam Mastroianni and his colleagues found that only 2 percent of conversations ended at the time both parties desired, and only 30 percent of them finished when one of the pair wanted them to. In about half of the conversations, both people wanted to talk less, but their cutoff point was usually different.
Intersect Alert — 28 February 2021
Librarians, Internet Users
The Librarian War Against QAnon
Setting aside the fact that the people most likely to share misinformation haven't been in a classroom for decades, most students in the past 50 years have received instruction under various names: media literacy, digital literacy, news literacy, information literacy, civic literacy, critical thinking, and the umbrella concept of meta-literacy. This curriculum is constantly being reinvented to meet perceived crises of confidence, largely driven by the emergence of new technologies.
But the present moment demands serious inquiry into why decades of trying to make information literacy a universal educational outcome hasn't prevented a significant portion of the population from embracing disinformation while rejecting credible journalistic institutions.
Intellectual Property, Social Media
What we can learn from the Facebook-Australia news debacle
Democracies around the world are all mired in one crisis or another, which is why measures of their health are trending in the wrong direction. Many look at the decline of the news industry as one contributing factor. No wonder, then, that figuring out how to pay for journalism is an urgent issue, and some governments are pushing ahead with ambitious plans. Big ideas for ways to funnel billions of dollars back into newsrooms are rare, but it's time to take a gamble on more than one.
Such an idea rose to the world's attention this week: an Australian law that would compel search and social media platforms to pay news organizations for linking to their content. Google has decided to comply with the law and is doing deals with major companies such as News Corp, Nine, and Seven West Media. But Facebook took the other route—rather than pay for news to appear on its platform, the social media giant blocked Australian users from accessing and sharing news entirely.
Books and Reading, Values
Black and Hispanic people more 'engaged' with books than most Americans are: New report from Panorama Project
Major publishers have favored well-off whites in hiring and other HR matters. Consider all the low-paying or unpaid internships, not to mention a bit of an Ivy League bias at certain houses. The industry, yes, has made some progress. But a new report from the Panorama Project suggests in effect that publishing could benefit from much more, if it wants to tap the minority market to the max.
Black and Hispanic people actually "engage" more with books than does the general population, says Dr. Rachel Noorda at Portland State University, a coauthor of "Immersive Media and Books 2020: Consumer Behavior and Experience with Multiple Media Forms.
What is an "algorithm"? It depends whom you ask
Describing a decision-making system as an "algorithm" is often a way to deflect accountability for human decisions. For many, the term implies a set of rules based objectively on empirical evidence or data. It also suggests a system that is highly complex—perhaps so complex that a human would struggle to understand its inner workings or anticipate its behavior when deployed.
But is this characterization accurate? Not always.
The importance of technology competence when communicating electronically
I'm sure that by now you've already seen the now infamous cat filter court hearing video. If not, Google it and watch it. I'll wait.
Now that you're back, let's talk about how you can avoid replicating that unfortunate predicament. The short answer? By maintaining technology competence when using electronic methods to communicate with clients and colleagues.
Over roughly three weeks, students in John E. Arnold's Product Design class immersed themselves in the [alien] Methanians' delightfully detailed sci-fi universe, all in an effort to rethink the rules of engineering here on Earth. The set-up was elaborate: Arnold's case study, crafted with help from the MIT Science Fiction Society, included fake scientific briefs, physiological and psychological evaluations, environmental reports, and market analyses.
Fictional though these materials were, the assignment was real, and difficult. Designs had to be optimized for Methanians, buildable using Earth materials and methods, and realistically functional within Arcturus's parameters. By plunging students into an unfamiliar world that would upend the most basic assumptions about how machines function and who uses them, Arnold hoped to cultivate imagination as well as technical expertise, and to challenge the then prevailing idea that creativity was innate and couldn't be developed.
A Trippy Visualization Charts the Internet's Growth Since 1997
The original Opte [Internet map] was a still image, but the 2021 version is a 10K video with extensive companion stills, using BGP data from University of Oregon's Route Views project to map the global internet from 1997 to today. Lyon worked on the visualization for months and relied on a number of applications, tools, and scripts to produce it. One is a software package called Large Graph Layout, originally designed to render images of proteins, that attempts hundreds and hundreds of different visual layouts until it finds the most efficient, representative solution. Think of it as a sort of web of best fit, depicting all of the internet's sprawling, interconnected data routes. The closer to the center a network is, the bigger and more interconnected it is.
Intersect Alert – 18 February 2021
The Intersect Alert is back after a short hiatus. This issue is a little longer than usual.
Where Are We: The Latest on Library Reopening Strategies
In the messy middle of the pandemic, library leaders share how things have changed since March 2020, their takeways, and continuing challenges
Emerging Roles for Libraries in Bibliometric and Research Impact Analysis
Library support for bibliometrics and research impact (BRI) analysis is a growing area of library investment and service. Not just in the provision of services to researchers, but for the institutions themselves, which increasingly need to quantify research impact for a spectrum of internally and externally motivated purposes, such as strategic decision support, benchmarking, reputation analysis, support for funding requests, and to better understand research performance.
Legal Research Reports: Most Viewed Reports of the Decade
Millions of views later, we are recapping our most popular reports of these past 10 years. Here are our top-ten most viewed reports in this past decade with their summaries:
Why 2021 Is Setting Up to Be a Pivotal Year for Digital Content in Libraries
As with virtually every aspect of library activity today, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the digital content market. A year ago, tensions were flaring as many of the major publishers imposed new restrictions on library e-book lending—most prominently, Macmillan’s controversial embargo on new release e-books in libraries. But when the pandemic hit last March, things changed.
To Cite or Not to Cite: Is That Still a Question?
Some states still restrict the citation of unpublished opinions, and the rules among the federal circuits vary slightly as well. This article looks at the history of case publication, the controversy over unpublished opinions, and the current rules related to the citation of unpublished cases.
Hedge fund Alden to buy Tribune Publishing in deal valued at $630 million
Tribune Publishing, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, has agreed to be acquired by Alden Global Capital in a deal valued at $630 million.
Why media literacy is just the first step to extinguishing toxic misinformation
To fight propaganda and inaccurate information, lean into critical-thinking skills, says the CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company.
Principles to Protect Free Expression on the Internet
Section 230 of the Communications Act has been dubbed the “twenty six words” that created the interactive free expression of the internet.
Modernizing the “High Speed Handoff” between the Legislative and Executive: An Interview with Treasury’s Adam Goldberg and Justin Marsico
This interview with Adam Goldberg and Justin Marsico looks at their work furthering data standardization across the federal government, progress toward innovation and transformation at the U.S. Treasury Department, and modernization in the warrant generation process. They discuss the future state they’d create (if only they had a magic wand) — some sort of automatic interface between the legislative and the executive — and the real-life, incremental steps necessary to actually get there.
Lawsuit Saves Trump White House Records
The National Security Archive et. al. v. Donald J. Trump et. al. lawsuit, filed December 1, 2020 to prevent a possible bonfire of records in the Rose Garden, achieved a formal litigation hold on White House records that lasted all the way through the transition and Inauguration Day, the preservation of controversial WhatsApp messages, and a formal change in White House records policy.
Congressional Twitter Accounts Lib Guide
Many Senators and Representatives are active on Twitter, often issuing statements there rather than posting official press releases to their websites. This list is intended to help users identify and quickly access the Twitter accounts of those in the current 117th Congress.
Indonesia’s Proposed Online Intermediary Regulation May be the Most Repressive Yet
Indonesia is the latest government to propose a legal framework to coerce social media platforms, apps, and other online service providers to accept local jurisdiction over their content and users’ data policies and practices. And in many ways, its proposal is the most invasive of human rights.
Turkey’s Free Speech Clampdown Hits Twitter, Clubhouse -- But Most of All, The Turkish People
EFF has been tracking the Turkish government’s crackdown on tech platforms and its continuing efforts to force them to comply with draconian rules on content control and access to users’ data. As of now, the Turkish government has now managed to coerce Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok into appointing a legal representative to comply with the legislation via threats to their bottom line: prohibiting Turkish taxpayers from placing ads and making payments to them if they fail to appoint a legal representative.
If open is the answer, what is the question?
This presentation outlines three key lessons from research into scholarly communications and explores how these relate to the scholarly communications landscape in India – particularly, the emerging Science Technology and Innovation Policy, and the Open Science Framework it proposes.
These are the world’s most sustainable fonts
You probably haven’t thought about whether some websites can be more sustainable than others, but in fact, web design choices can affect how much energy the site uses. Times New Roman and Arial are standard default typefaces—and therefore, the most sustainable typefaces on the web.
Intersect Alert — Addendum to 22 November 2020
In the issue of 22 November, there was a story entitled "Proposal to install spyware in university libraries to protect copyrights shocks academics." Since that article was published, others have said that it gives a misleading impression of the presentation by Corey Roach.
Statement from CISO Corey Roach
I support all individuals' right to privacy. My presentation at the October Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI) webinar in no way advocated for the use of spyware or the violation of user privacy. My presentation encouraged publishers to modernize their content distribution by utilizing user behavior analysis (UBA) to determine if material is being accessed by a ‘bot’ attempting to steal content. UBA does not violate user privacy, but instead uses metrics such as how quickly a user types or how randomly they move their mouse to tell if the user is a human or a computer. Furthermore, I advocated for any logs or analyses to be retained by libraries rather than publishers. Libraries have long been the stewards of patron privacy.
Chief Information Security Officer
The University of Utah
User Behavior Access Controls at a Library Proxy Server are Okay
The "spyware" moniker is quite scary. It is what made me want to seek out the recording from the webinar and hear the context around that proposal. My understanding (after watching the presentation) is that the proposal is not nearly as concerning. Although there is one problematic area—the correlation of patron identity with requested URLs—overall, what is described is a sound and common practice for securing web applications. To the extent that it is necessary to determine a user’s identity before allowing access to licensed content (an unfortunate necessity because of the state of scholarly publishing), this is an acceptable proposal.
Cooking Up a Conspiracy About Security
[I don't have a subscription to this site, but some of you might.]
Intersect Alert — 29 November 2020
Lockdown has affected your memory – here's why
Many of us have found ourselves in an isolated routine during the pandemic – and it turns out, that's not very good for your memories.
Microsoft productivity score feature criticised as workplace surveillance
Microsoft has been criticised for enabling "workplace surveillance" after privacy campaigners warned that the company's “productivity score” feature allows managers to use Microsoft 365 to track their employees' activity at an individual level.
Consumer Bureau to Decide Who Owns Your Financial Data
A [U.S.] federal agency is gearing up to make wide-ranging policy changes on consumers' access to their financial data.
Will Trump Burn the Evidence?
[R]ecords that were never kept, were later destroyed, or are being destroyed right now chronicle the day-to-day doings of one of the most consequential Presidencies in American history and might well include evidence of crimes, violations of the Constitution, and human-rights abuses. It took a very long time to establish rules governing the fate of Presidential records. Trump does not mind breaking rules and, in the course of a long life, has regularly done so with impunity. The Presidential Records Act isn't easily enforceable. The Trump Presidency nearly destroyed the United States. Will what went on in the darker corners of his White House ever be known?
Books and Reading
Reading for pleasure can help reduce pandemic stress, increase empathy: experts
According to Dr. Robin Bright with the University of Lethbridge, outlets such as reading a novel could boost one's emotional well-being.
"Reading for pleasure has tremendous benefits, and there's a great deal of research to support that," she explained. "It's interesting to note that reading also helps to decrease stress levels and anxiety, and has been shown to increase a sense of empathy as well."
The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in an Age of Intelligent Machines
In the two-and-a-half years since the [MIT] Task Force [on the Work of the Future] set to work, autonomous vehicles, robotics, and AI have advanced remarkably. But the world has not been turned on its head by automation, nor has the labor market. Despite massive private investment, technology deadlines have been pushed back, part of a normal evolution as breathless promises turn into pilot trials, business plans, and early deployments — the diligent, if prosaic, work of making real technologies work in real settings to meet the demands of hard-nosed customers and managers.
Yet, if our research did not confirm the dystopian vision of robots ushering workers off of factory floors or artificial intelligence rendering superfluous human expertise and judgment, it did uncover something equally pernicious: Amidst a technological ecosystem delivering rising productivity, and an economy generating plenty of jobs (at least until the COVID-19 crisis), we found a labor market in which the fruits are so unequally distributed, so skewed towards the top, that the majority of workers have tasted only a tiny morsel of a vast harvest.
AMP It Up: As Its Antitrust Critics Grow Louder, Google Dials Back One of Its Most Controversial Policies
AMP, or "accelerated mobile pages," is basically an HTML framework that allows web pages to load faster. Originally developed and still functionally controlled by Google, web publishers can build in AMP code to their web pages. Then Google stores a cached version of the page on its servers and pre-downloads it to your device for faster display after an end user—that's you!—first clicks on a link.
However, the faster loading times come at a cost, as outlined by the News Media Alliance in a recent white paper. AMP pages keep users on Google's web ecosystem, allowing Google to continue extracting data from users who otherwise would have moved on to a full third-party site, "further reinforcing Google's dominance of the Web."
The History of CTRL + ALT + DELETE
In 2013, Bill Gates admitted ctrl+alt+del was a mistake and blamed IBM. Here's the story of how the key combination became famous in the first place.
Intersect Alert — 22 November 2020
3 reasons for information exhaustion – and what to do about it
All this information may leave many of us feeling as though we have no energy to engage.
As a philosopher who studies knowledge-sharing practices, I call this experience “epistemic exhaustion.” The term "epistemic" comes from the Greek word episteme, often translated as “knowledge.” So epistemic exhaustion is more of a knowledge-related exhaustion.
It is not knowledge itself that tires out many of us. Rather, it is the process of trying to gain or share knowledge under challenging circumstances.
Information Overload Helps Fake News Spread, and Social Media Knows It
We prefer information from people we trust, our in-group. We pay attention to and are more likely to share information about risks—for Andy, the risk of losing his job. We search for and remember things that fit well with what we already know and understand. These biases are products of our evolutionary past, and for tens of thousands of years, they served us well. People who behaved in accordance with them—for example, by staying away from the overgrown pond bank where someone said there was a viper—were more likely to survive than those who did not.
Modern technologies are amplifying these biases in harmful ways, however.
Social media promised to connect us, but made us isolated and tribal instead
I'm a psychiatrist who studies anxiety and stress, and I often write about how our politics and culture are mired in fear and tribalism. My co-author is a digital marketing expert who brings expertise to the technological-psychological aspect of this discussion. With the nation on edge, we believe it's critical to look at how easily our society is being manipulated into tribalism in the age of social media. Even after the exhausting election cycle is over, the division persists, if not widening, and conspiracy theories continue to emerge, grow, and divide on the social media. Based on our knowledge of stress, fear, and social media, we offer you some ways to weather the next few days, and protect yourself against the current divisive environment.
Don't Blame Section 230 for Big Tech's Failures. Blame Big Tech
Next time you hear someone blame Section 230 for a problem with social media platforms, ask yourself two questions: first, was this problem actually caused by Section 230? Second, would weakening Section 230 solve the problem? Politicians and commentators on both sides of the aisle frequently blame Section 230 for big tech companies' failures, but their reform proposals wouldn't actually address the problems they attribute to Big Tech. If lawmakers are concerned about large social media platforms' outsized influence on the world of online speech, they ought to confront the lack of meaningful competition among those platforms and the ways in which those platforms fail to let users control or even see how they're using our data. Undermining Section 230 won't fix Twitter and Facebook; in fact, it risks making matters worse by further insulating big players from competition and disruption.
Freedom of Information, International Outlook
‘Extremely aggressive' internet censorship spreads in the world's democracies
The largest collection of public internet censorship data ever compiled shows that even citizens of the world's freest countries are not safe from internet censorship.
Proposal to install spyware in university libraries to protect copyrights shocks academics
A recent proposal recommending the deployment of surveillance software in order to monitor those accessing academic material has drawn fire from digital rights advocates and scientists.
The plan was outlined on October 22 during a virtual webinar hosted by a consortium of the world's leading publishers of scientific journals, featuring security experts discussing the threats posed by cyber-criminals and digital piracy to academic research.
Despite COVID Concerns, Library Measures Do Well at Polls in 2020
While the nation is on tenterhooks waiting for votes to be tallied in the general election, a number of critical library ballot measures were decided on election day—and the wins far outnumbered the losses.
Intersect Alert — 15 November 2020
The Potential Role Of Open Data In Mitigating The COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges And Opportunities
Here, we describe several use cases whereby open data have already been used globally in the COVID-19 response. We highlight major challenges to using these data and provide recommendations on how to foster a robust open data ecosystem to ensure that open data can be leveraged in both this pandemic and future public health emergencies.
Six Reasons Why Google Maps Is the Creepiest App On Your Phone
Google Maps knows everything. Not just about every street, and every cafe, bar and shop on that street, but the people who go to them. With 1 billion monthly active users, the app is embedded in people's lives – directing them on their commute, to their friends' and families' homes, to doctor's appointments and on their travels abroad.
The fact that Google Maps has the power to follow your every step doesn't automatically mean it's misusing that power. But they could, which is an issue in and of itself, especially since Google's headquarters are in the US, where privacy legislation is looser than in Europe and intelligence agencies have a history of surveilling private citizens (I see you, NSA).
The Election Misinformation War Has Only Just Begun
Media organizations and social media platforms approached preparing for the 2020 presidential election as if they were going to war. Informed by COVID-19 misinformation conspiracies, demands from both sides of the political aisle to adjust their content moderation policies, and at least four years of orchestrated political misinformation campaigns, our mainstream media and social media networks had plenty of time to build a defense against election misinformation. Multiple civil society groups prepared comprehensive trackers and scorecards and roadmaps to help in this endeavor, often scouting for potential weaknesses and providing policy “armor” for the media and platforms to quickly and effectively respond to misinformation. If the fight against misinformation is a war, then the bad actors waging it conveniently drew the media an invasion map for this election.
How have we fared so far?
Libraries, Intellectual Property
How Controlled Digital Lending Makes an Entire College Library Available to Everyone Everywhere
Books have been circulating for thousands of years and have changed with new technologies and resources. The trends and demands of the digital world — where consumers access materials in electronic forms — means that many books that were published before the digital age are not available online or for e-readers. Librarians across the country are working on fixing this problem.
It's a curious problem because most recently published books have easily made the transition to digital because they were written and edited and printed electronically. Likewise, many books before the early 20th Century are likewise already digitized by non-profits and libraries because they are out of copyright.
Books and Reading
Best e-readers for digital-book lovers
With so many models to choose from, it's hard to believe there are only two major players in this space. Don't worry, we'll help you find just the right model.
Intersect Alert – 08 November 2020
How claims of voter fraud were supercharged by bad science
Messy data and misrepresentations are rife in voting studies. Here's how those mistakes have helped drive one of the most damaging conspiracy theories in politics.
To Learn the Truth, Read My Wikipedia Entry on Sichuan Peppers
Then, while reading lazy half-truths about Sichuan pepper at my kitchen counter, it was as if I received some librarian version of the bat signal, a single round peppercorn outlined against the night sky. Here, I was needed. Here, I could do something.
It was easy to begin. The barrier to entry for editing Wikipedia is low, and I already had a Wikipedia account.
'There Are Tons of Brown Faces Missing': Publishers Step Up Diversity Efforts
The push in book publishing for more authors and workers of color hasn't abated, and companies are increasingly making lasting changes to the way they do business.
Biden may have trouble unearthing Trump's national security secrets
From tearing up documents and hiding transcripts of calls with foreign leaders to using encrypted messaging apps and personal email accounts for government business, the Trump White House's skirting of records preservation rules could limit the incoming Biden administration's visibility into highly sensitive foreign policy and national security secrets.
Federal Register Prepares for Electoral College Duties
The Archivist of the United States is required by law to perform certain functions relating to the Electoral College. The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) is the entity within the National Archives that, on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, coordinates certain functions of the Electoral College between the states and Congress.
Why social media can't keep moderating content in the shadows
Online platforms aren't transparent about their decisions which leaves them open to claims of censorship and masks the true costs of misinformation.
Twitter and the Federal Reserve: How the U.S. central bank is (and is not) surviving social media
This paper seeks to connect these two discussions about the Fed's efforts to increase its communications and the president's use of Twitter to attack the Fed's monetary policy decisions by focusing on how the Fed uses Twitter, a relatively new and surprisingly powerful medium on which officials communicate directly with citizens, reporters break news, and ordinary people across the globe engage in direct conversation with each other. While other scholars have assessed the impact of Twitter on interest rates, and central bank communications have become a growing area of other scholarly concern, this is the first effort of which we are aware to document how the Fed uses Twitter and how Twitter users especially President Trump engage the Fed.
Intersect Alert – 30 October 2020
National Library of New Zealand Agrees to Pause Book-Culling Project
A group formed to help retain books slated for axing on the National Library’s shelves says it has had a verbal agreement from the library to pause the cull until after this weekend’s election. However, the library has not confirmed whether it has totally paused the project, instead saying the work to review lists of books was continuing. Michael Pringle, from the group of concerned Wellington historians and academics dubbed Book Guardians Aotearoa, said it was made clear at a meeting held on Tuesday that there was “no public support” for what the library was doing.
New Foreign Legal Gazette Collection Database
The Law Library of Congress has developed a guide to our collection of foreign legal gazettes. Gazettes are generally the first place that a ruling body will publish its laws, making them an invaluable resource for foreign legal research. The Law Library has been collecting foreign legal gazettes since the mid-19th century. We are one of the last libraries to systematically acquire these titles from as many jurisdictions as possible. Presently, we collect from about 175 national jurisdictions and approximately 100 subnational jurisdictions.
Maps are a critical weapon in our fight against COVID-19. We can be smarter about how we use them
It’s surprising how little we have applied geography in shaping our knowledge of what determines health. We should start now.
Charlotte removes the name of a white supremacist North Carolina governor from a branch library
The public library system in Charlotte, North Carolina, is renaming one of its branches that was named after a former state governor with ties to a white supremacy group. Library officials conducted an audit of its 20 branches last year to identify items on display that represented racism and injustice. The results of that audit found 10 items that needed to be removed from public display along with the name change of one of the branches -- The Morrison Regional Library.
Battle Lines Drawn Over Font Copyright Protection
A decades-long, quietly simmering battle over the copyrightable of fonts is poised to flare into all-out war in light of recent and largely unreported developments at the Copyright Office. The issue on the table is whether and to what extent fonts are subject to copyright protection. After years of registering digitized fonts, the Copyright Office seems to have reversed course, taking the position that font software—at least in one of its most common forms—does not qualify for copyright protection.
Pandemic Amplifies Trouble With Restrictive Licensing and e-Textbooks
Students who can’t afford to buy textbooks have long relied on reserve copies at their campus libraries. As the global pandemic shuttered colleges and universities, it also cut off access to these print learning materials. Many students and faculty members asked the next logical question: Why can’t the library just provide a digital copy? It’s not so simple. Many publishers will only sell e-books directly to students – not libraries – and licensing fees have been jacked up. The industry claims that selling digital copies to libraries will cannibalize the e-book market.
Defending Fair Use in the Omegaverse
Copyright law is supposed to promote creativity, not stamp out criticism. Too often, copyright owners forget that – especially when they have a convenient takedown tool like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). EFF is happy to remind them – as we did this month on behalf of Internet creator Lindsay Ellis.
Antitrust Suit Against Google is a Watershed Moment
The antitrust lawsuit against Google filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and eleven state attorneys general has the potential to be the most important competition case against a technology company since the DOJ’s 1998 suit against Microsoft. The complaint is broad, covering Google’s power over search generally, along with search advertising. Instead of asking for money damages, the complaint asks for Google to be restructured and its illegal behavior restricted.
Trump administration buries dozens of clean energy studies
In all, the Energy Department has blocked reports for more than 40 clean energy studies. The department has replaced them with mere presentations, buried them in scientific journals that are not accessible to the public, or left them paralyzed within the agency, according to emails and documents obtained by InvestigateWest, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees at the Energy Department and its national labs.
Proceed with caution: Why curtailing Section 230 immunity is not the solution to social media regulation
Controversy surrounding the ethical and legal responsibility technology companies have to moderate third-person user-generated content has been firmly rooted in American political consciousness since Twitter’s decision to label and fact-check President Donald Trump’s tweets in May 2020. Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship coupled with Twitter’s and Facebook’s policies of labeling posts have complicated an already strained relationship between the administration and technology sector. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants internet service providers protection from civil liability for hosting content while authorizing those same providers to moderate, in good faith, content the providers deem objectionable, lies at the heart of this tension. In essence, the point of contention is whether the immunity provision is in any way conditioned upon “good faith” moderation.
Intersect Alert - 24 October 2020
Increased ebook lending popularity leaves publishers worried, librarians still dissatisfied
After many libraries had to close their physical branches for a time, Overdrive reports library ebook checkouts are up by 52% over the same period last year. Ebook and media checkout service Hoopla Digital says that 439 new libraries in the US and Canada have joined the service since March, boosting their membership by 20%. And of course this worries publishers, who fear that these easy book checkouts are cutting into their book sales. Meanwhile, librarians are still unhappy that they’re having to pay several times cover price for ebooks that expire and must be bought again after a low number of checkouts.
The socially distanced library: staying connected in a pandemic
The concept of a socially distanced library would be considered the ultimate antithesis of the modern-day library. The past two decades have witnessed the evolution of the library from a mostly traditional space of quiet study and research into a bustling collaborative, social space and technology center.
Why Open Access Is Necessary for Makers
After the world went into lockdown for COVID-19, Makers were suddenly confined to their workshops. Rather than idly wait it out, many of them decided to put their tools and skills to use, developing low-cost, rapid production methods for much-needed PPE and DIY ventilators in an effort to address the worldwide shortage.
State of the Facts 2020: COVID-19
Few Americans find it easy to find information on COVID-19 and are split on what information to trust and how to use it to make decisions.
Reps. Eshoo and Griffith Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Limit Presidential Powers to Shut Down Internet
Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-VA) announced the Preventing Unwarranted Communications Shutdowns Act, a bipartisan bill to limit presidential powers to control or shut down communications networks, including the internet.
How does Google’s monopoly hurt you? Try these searches.
Without us even realizing it, the internet’s most-used website has been getting worse. On too many queries, Google is more interested in making search lucrative than a better product for us.
EU Parliament Paves the Way for an Ambitious Internet Bill
The European Union has made the first step towards a significant overhaul of its core platform regulation, the e-Commerce Directive. In order to inspire the European Commission, which is currently preparing a proposal for a Digital Services Act Package, the EU Parliament has voted on three related Reports (IMCO, JURI, and LIBE reports), which address the legal responsibilities of platforms regarding user content, include measures to keep users safe online, and set out special rules for very large platforms that dominate users’ lives.
The DOJ says Google monopolizes search. Here’s how.
The US Department of Justice and attorneys general from 11 Republican-led states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, alleging that the company maintains an illegal monopoly on online search and advertising. The lawsuit follows a 16-month investigation, and repeated promises from President Trump to hold Big Tech to account amid unproven allegations of anti-conservative bias. But reports suggest the department was put under pressure by Attorney General William Barr to file the charges before the presidential election.
Copyright in Code: Supreme Court Hears Landmark Software Case in Google v. Oracle
In what observers have hailed as the “copyright case of the century,” an eight-member Supreme Court heard arguments on October 7, 2020, in Google LLC v. Oracle America Inc., a long-running intellectual-property dispute between the two tech giants. Along with the billions of dollars at stake between the parties, the Court’s decision in Google v. Oracle could have far-reaching implications for software companies, the broader technology industry, and other copyright-intensive industries.
Trump Issues Order Giving Him More Leeway to Hire and Fire Federal Workers
President Trump signed an executive order that could substantially expand his ability to hire and fire tens of thousands of federal workers during a second term. The order, described by one prominent federal union leader as “the most profound undermining of the Civil Service in our lifetimes,” would allow federal agencies to go through their employee rosters and reclassify certain workers in a way that would strip them of job protections that now cover most federal employees.
Intersect Alert - 18 October 2020
A Reset for Library E-books
The library e-book market has long been a source of tension, marked by access restrictions and high prices. But in mid-March, when the reality of the pandemic became apparent, everything changed. As libraries closed their doors and began shifting their print budgets to digital, dozens of publishers began slashing library e-book and digital audio prices and easing restrictions.
Step Inside the Museum of Obsolete Library Science
There's a popular misconception that librarians as a profession are conservative. Not politically conservative, but literally conservative—wanting to keep old stuff. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth—we are often on the cutting edge of using new technologies, and always looking for the most efficient, up-to-date way to help our patrons. However, the dirty little secret is that sometimes the old stuff, while no longer useful, is actually cool.
Rare copy of Shakespeare's First Folio sells for record $10M
A rare copy of Shakespeare's First Folio sold for almost $10 million, becoming the most expensive work of literature ever to appear at auction, according to Christie's. The collection of 36 plays, published shortly after the playwright's death, is one of only five complete copies still in private hands.
Textbooks in Short Supply Amid COVID Quarantines
Librarians are quarantining print materials for several days between loans to stop the spread of COVID-19. For students who rely on the library to access textbooks, that’s a problem.
7 ways to avoid misinformation about the election
As Election Day approaches, you may be more likely to see online disinformation that’s aimed at influencing your vote. This guide helps you identify it.
How to beat bad ballot design and make sure your vote counts
Every year we seem to have one or two big, horrible problems with ballots that make the news. But even if your county ends up being that county, you don’t have to let the ballot trip you up. Now that you’ve figured out where, when and how to vote, watch out for these common pitfalls as you fill out your ballot.
Mail-In Voter Fraud: Anatomy of a Disinformation Campaign
Working paper shows Disinformation Campaign Surrounding the Risk of Voter Fraud Associated with Mail-in Ballots Follows an Elite-Driven, Mass Media Model; Social Media Plays a Secondary Role in 2020.
“It’s been really, really bad”: How Hispanic voters are being targeted by disinformation
Hispanic communities are key to some of the most critical swing districts in the election— and they’re being bombarded by online propaganda.
How to Deal with a Crisis of Misinformation
False news is on the rise. We can fight the spread with a simple exercise: Slow down and be skeptical.
Access to the Law
Education Groups Drop Their Lawsuit Against Public.Resource.Org, Give Up Their Quest to Paywall the Law
Open and equitable access to the law got a bit closer when three organizations dropped their lawsuit demanding the right to keep the law behind paywalls.
National Archives and Museum of Indian Arts & Culture Share New Online Education Tool Expanding Access to Treaties between the U.S. and Native Nations
NARA collaborated to launch the Indigenous Digital Archive’s Treaties Portal. This website provides public access to digital copies of NARA’s series of ratified Indian Treaties.
Intersect Alert - 10 October 2020
The next generation discovery citation indexes — a review of the landscape in 2020
Everyone knows of the three large incumbent cross disciplinary citation indexes — Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar. But new challengers using new techniques are emerging.
Bookstores Need More than Hope. They Need Sales. And Soon.
Over more than six months of extreme disruption, the nation’s independent bookstores have steadily grown their businesses beyond their four walls. A PW survey of three dozen indies nationwide found most offering some combination of online sales, curbside pickup, home delivery, outdoor browsing, and in-store shopping. The diversity of sales channels reflects a substantial expansion of retail customer service as they navigate evolving market conditions caused by Covid-19 and climate change.
Google is giving data to police based on search keywords, court docs show
Court records in an arson case show that Google gave away data on people who searched for a specific address.
Public records requests fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic
With most government employees still working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, the disclosure of public records by many federal agencies and local government offices nationwide has worsened or even ground to a halt.
Supreme Court puzzles over the nature of software in landmark Google v. Oracle case
From grocery stores to restaurant menus to QWERTY keyboards, the nation's most esteemed jurists applied metaphor after metaphor to try to understand whether Google's decision a decade ago to re-use software initially created by Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems violated copyright law.
Evaluating the fake news problem at the scale of the information ecosystem
“Fake news,” broadly defined as false or misleading information masquerading as legitimate news, is frequently asserted to be pervasive online with serious consequences for democracy. However, news consumption of any sort is heavily outweighed by other forms of media consumption, comprising at most 14.2% of Americans’ daily media diets. Second, to the extent that Americans do consume news, it is overwhelmingly from television. Third, fake news comprises only 0.15% of Americans’ daily media diet. Our results suggest that the origins of public misinformedness and polarization are more likely to lie in the content of ordinary news or the avoidance of news altogether as they are in overt fakery.
7 Powerful Search Engines for Social Networks
Most social networks have their own search engines built in, but they're fundamentally limited by the fact they can only search their own database. And how you are supposed to know whether Aunt Mary is on Facebook, Twitter, or one of the other myriad options? The solution? Use a network-agnostic social search engine. They can search all of the most common networks, as well as lots of the niche, smaller ones.
How Congress is Moving to Close the Digital Divide
Digital equity is multifaceted and requires legislation and regulation that approaches the issue in this way. It is an intersectional problem that spans the rural/urban divide and impacts every sector of our economy, from education to health care.
EFF and ACLU Ask Ninth Circuit to Overturn Government’s Censorship of Twitter’s Transparency Report
Citing national security concerns, the government is attempting to infringe on Twitter's First Amendment right to inform the public about secret government surveillance orders. For more than six years, Twitter has been fighting in court to share information about law enforcement orders it received in 2014. Now, Twitter has brought that fight to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. EFF, along with the ACLU, filed an amicus brief last week to underscore the First Amendment rights at stake.
Intersect Alert - 4 October 2020
NARA Releases 5-Year Social Media Strategy
The National Archives and Records Administration released a new social media strategy with a focus on creating more engaging digital content and increasing participation by staff in the spectrum of online platforms.
Publishers Worry as Ebooks Fly off Libraries' Virtual Shelves
Checkouts of digital books from a popular service are up 52 percent since March. Publishers say their easy availability hurts sales.
American classics among most ‘challenged’ books of the decade in US
Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Harper Lee might be three of America’s most beloved authors, but they have all made it on to a list of the country’s 100 most frequently banned and challenged books of the last decade.
Foreign Actors Likely to Use Online Journals to Spread Disinformation Regarding 2020 Elections
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued a public service announcement regarding the potential threat posed by foreign-backed online journals that spread disinformation regarding the 2020 elections.
The Electoral College: It’s a Process, Not a Place
The Electoral College is how we refer to the process by which the United States elects the President, even though that term does not appear in the U.S. Constitution. In this process, the States (which includes the District of Columbia just for this process) elect the President and Vice President. The Constitution of the United States and Federal law place certain Presidential election responsibilities on State executives.
Campaign to investigate the academic ebook market (UK)
Ebooks are becoming increasingly unaffordable, unsustainable and inaccessible for academic libraries to purchase. Urgent action is needed now. This letter calls on the UK Government to investigate the practices of the academic ebook publishing industry.
Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, Scopus, Dimensions, Web of Science, and OpenCitations’ COCI: a multidisciplinary comparison of coverage via citations
New sources of citation data have recently become available, such as Microsoft Academic, Dimensions, and the OpenCitations Index of CrossRef open DOI-to-DOI citations (COCI). Although these have been compared to the Web of Science (WoS), Scopus, or Google Scholar, there is no systematic evidence of their differences across subject categories. This paper investigates.
The Online Content Policy Modernization Act Is an Unconstitutional Mess
EFF is standing with a huge coalition of organizations to urge Congress to oppose the Online Content Policy Modernization Act (OCPMA, S. 4632). Introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the OCPMA is yet another misguided attack on Internet speech that would make it harder for online platforms to take common-sense moderation measures like removing spam or correcting disinformation, including disinformation about the upcoming election.
Broad Coalition Urges Court Not to Block California’s Net Neutrality Law
After the federal government rolled back net neutrality protections for consumers in 2017, California passed a bill that does what FCC wouldn’t: bar telecoms from blocking and throttling Internet content and imposing paid prioritization schemes. But industry is claiming that the California law is preempted by federal law.
Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump
Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that President Trump was the largest driver of the “infodemic.”
Intersect Alert - 26 July 2020
Coronavirus Threatens the Luster of Superstar Cities
So even as the Covid-19 death toll rises in the nation’s most dense urban cores, economists still mostly expect them to bounce back, once there is a vaccine, a treatment or a successful strategy to contain the virus’s spread. “I end up being optimistic,” said the Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. “Because the downside of a nonurban world is so terrible that we are going to spend whatever it takes to prevent that.”
And yet there is a lingering sense that this time might be different.
The pandemic threatens the assets that make America’s most successful cities so dynamic — not only their bars, museums and theaters, but also their dense networks of innovative businesses and highly skilled workers, jumping among employers, bumping into one another, sharing ideas, powering innovation and lifting productivity.
Library of Congress Wants To Try Adding Humans to Automated Processes
The Library of Congress has automated its metadata tagging but wants to reintroduce humans to the process to ensure a level of accuracy and ethics.
Archives, Digital Preservation
UNCG launches effort to document local Black Lives Matter protests
For educators, researchers, and archivists, the surge of local and national activism has posed several important questions: Who is documenting this activism? How are we preserving the voices of Black activists? How will this story be told in the future?
In response to these questions, UNC Greensboro has launched the Triad Black Lives Matter Protest Collection to document the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality protests, and race relations in the Triad region of North Carolina.
'There's no way we can save it all': National Archives says audio-visual records will be lost
The National Archives of Australia is preparing to lose large sections of its 117,000 hours of magnetic tape archives, including a prioritisation process to ensure archives relating to Indigenous languages and culture aren't lost.
Most Americans say social media companies have too much power, influence in politics
A majority of Americans think social media companies have too much power and influence in politics, and roughly half think major technology companies should be regulated more than they are now, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that comes as four major tech executives prepare to testify before Congress about their firms’ role in the economy and society.
It’s too late to stop QAnon with fact checks and account bans
Twitter and Facebook won't be able to deal with the 'omniconspiracy' without ‘rethinking the entire information ecosystem’
Open-access Plan S to allow publishing in any journal
Funders will override policies of subscription journals that don’t let scientists share accepted manuscripts under open licence.
New Vatican Library website aims to serve scholars, entice curious
The Vatican Library has revamped its website to serve scholars better and facilitate navigation for the curious.
Citizen science at heart of new study showing COVID-19 seismic noise reduction
Research published in the journal Science, using a mix of professional and Raspberry Shake citizen seismic data, finds that lockdown measures to slow the spread of the virus COVID-19 reduced seismic noise by 50% worldwide.
Intersect Alert - 19 July 2020
Government, Open Data
Covid-19 data is a public good. The US government must start treating it like one
Earlier this week as a pandemic raged across the United States, residents were cut off from the only publicly available source of aggregated data on the nation’s intensive care and hospital bed capacity. When the Trump administration stripped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of control over coronavirus data, it also took that information away from the public.
Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack From the Inside
Several people involved in the events that took down Twitter this week spoke with The Times, giving the first account of what happened as a pursuit of Bitcoin spun out of control.
The Increasingly Essential Role Of The Law Librarian
Robots are not coming for law librarians’ jobs.
Hundreds of hyperpartisan sites are masquerading as local news. This map shows if there’s one near you
The growth of partisan media masquerading as state and local reporting is a troubling trend we’ve seen emerge amid the financial declines of local news organizations. But what do these outlets mean for journalism in American communities?
Using previous research and news reports as a guide, we’ve mapped the locations of more than 400 partisan media outlets — often funded and operated by government officials, political candidates, PACs, and political party operatives — and found, somewhat unsurprisingly, that these outlets are emerging most often in swing states, raising a concern about the ability of such organizations to fill community information needs while prioritizing the electoral value of an audience.
Biased algorithms on platforms like YouTube hurt people looking for information on health
I’m a professor of information systems, and my own research has examined how social media platforms such as YouTube widen such health literacy disparities by steering users toward questionable content.
Gazetteer Catalogs Ocean Features
The GEBCO Undersea Feature Names Gazetteer, hosted online by the International Hydrographic Organization’s Data Center for Digital Bathymetry (IHO DCDB), co-located with NCEI, allows the public to search for, view, and download information about more than 3,800 undersea features. The public can find information including geographic location, feature dimensions, the discoverer, and the origin of the name. The tool simplifies tracking so that if a place has already secured a name or has been christened by a discoverer, duplication in naming is less likely. The Gazetteer also reduces misidentification.
EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities
The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs' offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally.
CBP does end run around warrants, simply buys license plate-reader data
US Customs and Border Protection can track everyone's cars all over the country thanks to massive troves of automated license plate scanner data, a new report reveals—and CBP didn't need to get a single warrant to do it. Instead, the agency did just what hundreds of other businesses and investigators do: straight-up purchase access to commercial databases.
EU Court Again Rules That NSA Spying Makes U.S. Companies Inadequate for Privacy
The European Union’s highest court today made clear—once again—that the US government’s mass surveillance programs are incompatible with the privacy rights of EU citizens. The judgment was made in the latest case involving Austrian privacy advocate and EFF Pioneer Award winner Max Schrems. It invalidated the “Privacy Shield,” the data protection deal that secured the transatlantic data flow, and narrowed the ability of companies to transfer data using individual agreements (Standard Contractual Clauses, or SCCs).
What Did People Use Before Google to Search the Web?
Not just nostalgia, but a good reminder from five experts that there are different paradigms for searching the web. Web search has changed before and could change again.
Intersect Alert 12 July 2020
There are so many coronavirus myths that even Snopes can't keep up
But since then, Snopes, which delves into everything from bizarre urban legends to intricate government policies, has been overwhelmed with so many covid-19-related questions that the website can’t keep up. The company has done something that seems counterintuitive: It has scaled back operations by publishing fewer stories. There have been no furloughs or layoffs; but Snopes is encouraging employees, whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic, to take time off if needed.
It’s a predicament other fact-checkers and journalists are facing: As the novel coronavirus has swept the globe, so has misinformation about the virus. The World Health Organization has referred to the abundance of articles, commentary and social media postings about this one topic — some accurate, some not — as an “infodemic” which “makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
Opinion: Zuckerberg Never Fails to Disappoint
Every week, it seems that the giant social network makes news, typically of the kind that makes the company look bad, and typically by declining to get out of the way of the history that is being made.
Just last week, after hundreds of advertisers joined a boycott of Facebook, its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, cavalierly shrugged off the effort by a group of concerned civil rights groups and told his employees that, “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”
He said this as the company’s second in charge, the chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, was reportedly going around trying to persuade those marketers to do just that.
How misinformation spreads on Twitter
We examined millions of Twitter posts for events, such as mass shootings, that result in a large, international online response. A single tweet contains more than 150 data variables including the time the tweet was posted, the tweet text, the Twitter handle, locations, and more. The hashtags and emojis can also be extracted from the “full text” of the tweets. The hashtags and emojis can also be extracted from the “full text” of the tweets. For the emojis, we mainly focus on the “yellow face” emojis, which can be sorted into different emotion categories: happiness, surprise, sadness, disgust, fear, anger, and neutral (Figure 1). These categories are based on a psychology theory developed by Paul Ekman and Wallace V. Fesen that correlates facial expressions to six primary emotions that are expressed. The other emojis can be sorted into bundles that may pertain to a specific topic, like a mask or a syringe that is associated with medical-related tweets.
What a Better Social Network Would Look Like
Tuesday evening, New York Times writer Charlie Warzel casually tweeted a version of this question to his followers, not expecting much of a response. “Odd question but: what are your most far-fetched utopian ideas for fixing social media platforms?” he asked. “The stuff that’s likely never ever gonna happen.”
More than 1,000 replies later, the thread was packed with provocative proposals, which together show that there is not only a tremendous appetite for change but a constellation of bright ideas for what that change could be.
The New Head of Simon & Schuster on Facts, Diversity, and the Future of Publishing
On Monday, Simon & Schuster announced that Dana Canedy, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes and a former reporter for the New York Times, will become its senior vice-president and the publisher of its flagship imprint. Canedy won a Pulitzer two decades ago, at the Times, for her work on the series “How Race is Lived in America.” Canedy also published a book, “A Journal For Jordan,” in 2008, about the death of her fiancé while he was serving in Iraq. She will become the first Black person to take over a major publishing imprint. Simon & Schuster, which is owned by ViacomCBS, is one of the largest publishers in the country, but it is also up for sale as changes and mergers continue to roil the book world.
I spoke by phone with Canedy on Wednesday, three weeks before she begins her new job. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the different types of diversity she hopes to usher in, the ways in which the publishing industry differs from journalism, and whether she would publish President Trump’s memoirs.
Alexa, are you listening? An exploration of smart voice assistant use and privacy in libraries
Smart voice assistants have expanded from personal use in the home to applications in public services and educational spaces. The library and information science (LIS) trade literature suggests that libraries are part of this trend, however there is a dearth of empirical studies that explore how libraries are implementing smart voice assistants in their services, and how these libraries are mitigating the potential patron data privacy issues posed by these technologies. This study contributes to this gap byreporting on the results of a national survey that documents how libraries are integrating voice assistant technologies (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google home) into their services, programming, and check-out programs. The survey also surfaces some of the key privacy concerns of library workers in regard to implementing voice assistants in library services.
Internet Access, International Outlook
China's Great Firewall descends on Hong Kong internet users
At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong.
Unveiling expanded police powers as part of a contentious new national security law, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech and force internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms.
Research, International Outlook
Finding the 'invisible' millions who are not on maps
Known as the "Wikipedia for maps", anyone can download OpenStreetMap and edit it too.
"It's an amazing situation where anyone could wreck it, anyone can add to it, but what we've ended up with is a map that is the most up-to-date in some places."
According to Mr Gayton, it is the most complete and accurate map for many parts of the world, especially in rural Africa, where underinvestment means, outside of cities, there are often blank pages where millions live.
Open Access, Libraries, Publishing
Research Libraries Tell Publishers To Drop Their Awful Lawsuit Against The Internet Archive
I've seen a lot of people -- including those who are supporting the publishers' legal attack on the Internet Archive -- insist that they "support libraries," but that the Internet Archive's Open Library and National Emergency Library are "not libraries." First off, they're wrong. But, more importantly, it's good to see actual librarians now coming out in support of the Internet Archive as well. The Association of Research Libraries has put out a statement asking publishers to drop this counter productive lawsuit, especially since the Internet Archive has shut down the National Emergency Library.
Opposing view (in part): http://kcoyle.blogspot.com/2020/04/ceci-nest-pas-une-bibliotheque.html
The Whole Earth on CD-ROM in HyperCard in Your Browser
Time to show your age. Remember CD-ROMs * ? Remember the Whole Earth Catalog ** ? Remember Hypercard *** ? The wizards at the Internet Archive have made it possible to relive all three on the web.
* Ask your parents.
** It was a kind of Sears Catalog **** for hippies and their younger friends.
*** "The Web-Before-The-Web version of hyperlinks and document reading" invented by Apple Computer.
**** The Sears Catalog was like Amazon in book form.
Intersect Alert 5 July 2020
Millions track the pandemic on Johns Hopkins's dashboard. Those who built it say some miss the real story
Since launching in January, the university's Coronavirus Resource Center has exploded in scope and popularity, garnering millions of page views and popping up in news coverage and daily conversation. Through numbers, the tracker has told the story of what the virus is doing while the story is still unfolding, offering a nearly real-time picture of its silent march across the globe.
But even as data has jumped to the forefront of international discussions about the virus, the Johns Hopkins team wrestles with doubts about whether the numbers can truly capture the scope of the pandemic, and whether the public and policymakers are failing to absorb the big picture. They know what they are producing is not a high-resolution snapshot of the pandemic but a constantly shifting Etch a Sketch of the trail of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
International Outlook, Books and Reading
Hong Kong security law: Pro-democracy books pulled from libraries
Books by pro-democracy figures have been removed from public libraries in Hong Kong in the wake of a controversial new security law.
The works will be reviewed to see if they violate the new law, the authority which runs the libraries said.
The legislation targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments of up to life in prison.
Covid-19 Shows That Scientific Journals Need to Open Up
One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it.
This response to a global pandemic is heartening and may well speed that pandemic to its end. But after that, what happens with scientific communication? Will everything go back behind the journal paywalls?
You Purged Racists From Your Website? Great, Now Get to Work
Truth needs an advocate and it should come in the form of an enormous flock of librarians descending on Silicon Valley to create the internet we deserve, an information ecosystem that serves the people.The blessing and curse of social media is that it must remain open so we can reap the most benefits; but openness must be tempered with the strong and consistent curation and moderation that these librarians could provide, so that everyone's voice is protected and amplified.
Due Process for Content Moderation Doesn't Mean "Only Do Things I Agree With"
There's a common theme in many proposals to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the idea that companies need to just follow their terms of service consistently and fairly.
Of course, I agree. Who doesn’t? As I detailed in a paper in 2018, I believe that dominant platforms should give their users due process rights, including at times explanations of content moderation decisions, which would include an explanation of why particular pieces of content violate a platform’s terms of service, and responses to objections that platforms are behaving arbitrarily or inconsistently.
Internet Access, Libraries
Millions of Americans Depend on Libraries for Internet. Now They're Closed
Libraries are still just about the only place in America anyone can go and sit and use a computer and the internet without buying anything. All over the country, library closures during the pandemic have highlighted just how many people have no dependable source of internet on their own.
Books and Reading
As libraries go digital, paper books still have a lot to offer us
Librarians like me face challenges in maintaining traditional means of accessing and delivering information to our users while embracing innovative media.
We appreciate the value of both analogue (print books, manuscripts, maps, globes) and digital resources like Google Maps, databases and digital archives. One format captures the history of institutions in general, and of libraries, in particular. The other allows for more equitable and experimental access. Yet, being an advocate for print can be a thankless task.
Students and their professors rely increasingly on libraries’ e-resources. As libraries closed during the pandemic, they were replaced with digital spaces. Yet, what is lost when entire libraries go online?
Libraries Are Updating for Today's Digital Needs. Congress Needs to Clear the Way
Libraries have been connected to the system of copyright laws just as long. Book publishers are still required to deposit copies of their books for the use of the Library of Congress. Under copyright's first sale doctrine, libraries do not need special permission (i.e. a license) to lend out books to the public. Anyone who owns a copy of a book is free to dispose of it however they want, including by lending it out. Copyright grants to authors the right to make and distribute new copies, but not the right to control how those copies are used once purchasers (including libraries) get a hold of them. For hundreds of years, this system has nicely balanced the rights of authors with the right of people to freely use their physical property as they please.
This balance, however, has been challenged by the rise of the digital distribution of content, and people's need to access copyrighted content on all kinds of devices.
Archivists, Stop Wasting Your Ref-ing Time!
One of the most laborious yet necessary tasks of an archivist is the generation of catalogue references. This was once the bane of my life. But I now have a technological solution, which anyone can download and use for free.
The New York Public Library’s Beloved Lions, Patience and Fortitude, Wear Masks to Remind New Yorkers to Stay Safe
As the Library system prepares to begin reopening its physical locations on July 13, the lions who guard the 42nd Street library are setting an example (they’re also way more than six feet apart)
Intersect Alert 27 June 2020
How Libraries Are Supporting The Black Lives Matter Movement
NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Boston librarian Stacy Collins about how libraries are taking up issues of policing and Black Lives Matters.
Coronavirus Tests the Limits of America’s Public Libraries
With school closures and job loss, communities will need libraries more than ever. But constraints after COVID-19 mean they’ll have to rethink their role.
People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19 — and that's bad
People are getting creative when it comes to staying safe from COVID-19 and it has prompted at least one Michigan library to issue a public warning: Stop microwaving books.
UK bookshops see sales soar
Almost 4m books were sold in the UK in the first six days after bookshops reopened last week – a jump of over 30% on the same week last year as desperate readers returned to browse the aisles for the first time in three months.
California Agency Blocks Release of Police Use of Force and Surveillance Training, Claiming Copyright
Under a California law that went into effect on January 1, 2020, all law enforcement training materials must be “conspicuously” published on the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) website. However, if you visit POST’s Open Data hub and try to download the officer training materials relating to face recognition technology or automated license plate readers (ALPRs), or the California Peace Officers Association’s course on use of force, you will receive a message that the course presenter claims copyright.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Should Belong to the People
The US government has the authority under existing law to break patent monopolies.
Knowledge Mismanagement – How the Virus Won
Invisible outbreaks sprang up everywhere. The United States ignored the warning signs. The New York Times analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control.
Pandenomics: How open data is guiding public policy
Publicly available data sets are helping governments chart a course through the public health crisis and toward economic recovery.
Coronavirus Researchers Are Dismantling Science’s Ivory Tower—One Study at a Time
Homebound scientists were looking for ways to help battle the pandemic. I put out a call on Twitter, and the Covid-19 Dispersed Volunteer Network was born.
A new US bill would ban the police use of facial recognition
US Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition technology by federal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, it would make it illegal for any federal agency or official to “acquire, possess, access, or use” biometric surveillance technology in the US.
The Phone Settings You Need to Know Before Protesting
You can stand strong against police requests to unlock and search your device—they’ll need a warrant for that—but you also don’t have to make things easy for them. When you’re heading out to protest, consider these settings.
Demographic report on protests shows how much info our phones give away
On the weekend of May 29, thousands of people marched, sang, grieved, and chanted, demanding an end to police brutality and the defunding of police departments in the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. They marched empowered by their number and the assumed anonymity of the crowd. And they did so completely unaware that a tech company was using location data harvested from their cellphones to predict their race, age, and gender and where they lived.
Crisis of Credibility in Secrecy Policy
Obsolete secrecy procedures and growing political abuse have left the national security classification system in a state of disarray and dysfunction. Most government agencies “still rely on antiquated information security management practices,” according to a new annual report from the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).
Baseball and cybersecurity: Stealing insights from America’s pastime
Whether you have played, watched, hated, or never heard of baseball, lessons from the sport can be applied to many things in life—including cybersecurity.
Intersect Alert 20 June 2020
Libraries Are Dealing With New Demand For Books And Services During The Pandemic
Across the country, libraries have seen demand skyrocket for their electronic offerings, but librarians say they continue to worry about the digital divide and equality in access — not to mention the complicated questions that must be answered before they can reopen for physical lending.
Libraries are needed more than ever. But many aren't sure how to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic
Amid all the talk of the country reopening, libraries across the nation are struggling to reopen their doors to communities that have come to rely on them not just for books, videos and reading hours, but also for an array of social services, from literacy programs, U.S. citizenship classes, housing and tax assistance and public bathrooms for the homeless.
How COVID-19 is Changing Research Culture
The research world has moved faster than many would have suspected possible in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In five months, a volume of work has been generated that even the most intensive of emergent fields have taken years to create. The report How COVID-19 is Changing Research Culture investigates the research landscape trends and cultural changes in response to COVID-19. The report includes analysis of publication trends, geographic focal points of research, and collaboration patterns.
The pandemic threw a wrench in the 2020 Census. Advocates are trying to limit the damage.
Given the unrelenting crush of news ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests, it can be hard to remember this is a census year, or why that matters. But the 2020 Census will have a huge influence on the next decade in the U.S., on everything from how many state representatives will sit in the House of Representatives, to where hospitals and schools are built, to even how we respond to the next outbreak or pandemic.
Free Expression, Harmful Speech and Censorship in a Digital World
According to a poll from Gallup and the Knight Foundation, 80% of Americans don’t trust big tech companies to make the right decisions about what content appears on their sites.
Contact tracing without Big Brother
Smartphone-based systems can alert people who’ve been near a disease carrier without revealing who it was.
The Bigot in the Machine
Vast quantities of information are collected, sorted, shared, combined, and acted on by proprietary black boxes. These systems use machine learning to build models and make predictions from data sets that may be out of date, incomplete, and biased.
Intersect Alert 14 June 2020
Libraries Respond: Black Lives Matter
The librarian profession suffers from a persistent lack of racial and ethnic diversity that shows few signs of improving. In 2018, just 6.8 percent of librarians identified as Black or African American (Department for Professional Employees). Many people are feeling helpless, but there are many ways we can center the voices and experiences of Black library workers, the Black community, support the broader Black Lives Matter movement, fight against police violence, and help the cause of racial justice.
MIT, guided by open access principles, ends Elsevier negotiations
Standing by its commitment to provide equitable and open access to scholarship, MIT has ended negotiations with Elsevier for a new journals contract. Elsevier was not able to present a proposal that aligned with the principles of the MIT Framework for Publisher Contracts.
Academic Libraries will Change in Significant Ways
With discussions now occurring about reopening campuses, academic libraries face a paradigm shift. Librarians will be returning to a “new normal” -- one where in-person classes and service interactions may be impossible or no longer preferred, where collections in physical format may be a barrier to access, and where collaborative study is shunned in favor of social distancing in buildings that can only safely house half the people they used to.
Libraries Strive to Stay ‘Community Living Rooms’ as They Reopen
Safely lending books is just the beginning. Libraries are figuring out everything from how to remain welcoming spaces to how to respond to changing reader behavior.
Publishers Sue Internet Archive for Copyright Infringement
The online library loosened restrictions on its collection of scanned books at the end of March in response to the pandemic
Medical Device Repair Again Threatened With Copyright Claims
Hundreds of volunteers came together to create the Medical Device Repair Database posted to the repair information website iFixit, providing medical practitioners and technicians an easy-to-use, annotated, and indexed resource to help them keep devices in good repair. Steris Corporation contacted iFixit to demand that their products’ documentation be taken down on copyright grounds.
IBM has said the company will stop developing or selling facial recognition software due to concerns the technology is used to promote racism. In a letter to Congress, IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna said the tech giant opposes any technology used “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.”
You Have a First Amendment Right to Record the Police
Recordings of police officers, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals who are themselves interacting with officers, or by members of the press, are an invaluable tool in the fight for police accountability. This blog post provides some practical tips to record the police legally and safely, and explains some of the legal nuances of recording the police.
Protecting Privacy in the 2020 Census
In 2018 the Census Bureau discovered that results of the 2010 census could be processed and matched with external sources in such a way as to reveal confidential personal information, in violation of the law. In order to prevent this potential privacy violation, the Census Bureau proposes to use an approach called Differential Privacy.
The Internet’s most important—and misunderstood—law, explained
Section 230 is the legal foundation of social media, and it's under attack.
Intersect Alert 6 June 2020
Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in U.S. for tracking 'private' internet use
Google was sued in a proposed class action accusing the internet search company of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by pervasively tracking their internet use through browsers set in “private” mode.
Surveillance Self-Defense: Attending Protests in the Age of COVID-19
In the wake of nationwide protests against the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we urge protestors to stay safe, both physically and digitally. Our Surveillance Self Defense (SSD) Guide on attending a protest offers practical tips on how to maintain your privacy and minimize your digital footprint while taking to the streets.
Ben Franklin, FISA and the Public’s Confidence in the Integrity of Government
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” This is a line regularly quoted by privacy advocates seeking to sunset the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s (“FISA”) secret wiretap provisions. In the aftermath of Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, these same advocates make a strong case that FISA powers have been abused. But with a rejuvenating terror threat from the Middle East and aggressive efforts by our global rivals, blinding the intelligence community makes little sense.
Congress and Law Enforcement Reform: Constitutional Authority
Nationwide protests in response to the publication of video footage of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd leading to his death have generated renewed interest in the issue of reforming the policing practices of state and local officials. Several existing federal laws seek to prevent and redress constitutional violations by state and local law enforcement officials. However, because the Constitution generally grants states the authority to regulate issues of local concern—which includes policing and criminal law—Congress is limited in its ability to legislate on matters related to state and local law enforcement—limits that may inform any new laws Congress seeks to enact on this evolving issue.
Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship
On May 28, 2020, President Trump issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship (EO), expressing the executive branch’s views on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. Section 230, under certain circumstances, immunizes online content providers from liability for merely hosting others’ content. The EO stakes out a position in existing interpretive disputes about the law’s meaning and instructs federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice, to take certain actions to implement this understanding.
The Executive Order Targeting Social Media Gets the FTC, Its Job, and the Law Wrong
The inaptly named Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship seeks to insert the federal government into private Internet speech in several ways. In particular, Sections 4 and 5 seek to address possible deceptive practices, but end up being unnecessary at best and legally untenable at worst. These provisions are motivated in part by concerns that the dominant platforms do not adequately inform users about their standards for moderating content, and that their own free speech rhetoric often doesn’t match their practices. But the EO’s provisions either don’t help, or introduce new and even more dangerous problems.
How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance
In the week after George Floyd’s murder, hundreds of thousands of people joined protests across the US and around the globe, demanding education, attention, and justice. But one of the key tools for organizing these protests is a surprising one: it’s not encrypted, doesn’t rely on signing in to a social network, and wasn’t even designed for this purpose. It’s Google Docs.
Hamid Khan has been a community organizer in Los Angeles for over 35 years, with a consistent focus on police violence and human rights. He talked to us on April 3, 2020, for a forthcoming podcast episode about artificial intelligence and policing. As the world turns its attention to police brutality and institutional racism, we thought our conversation with him about how he believes technology enables racism in policing should be published now.
Libraries Respond: COVID-19 Survey Results (May 2020)
As a follow up to PLA’s March 2020 Public Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Survey, a new American Library Association (ALA) survey of U.S. libraries documents a shift in services to support students, faculty, and communities at large during the crisis and phased preparations for the months ahead. More than 3,800 K-12 school, college and university, public, and other libraries from all 50 states responded to the survey between May 12–18, 2020.
Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over National Emergency Library
A group of publishers sued Internet Archive saying that the nonprofit group’s trove of free electronic copies of books was robbing authors and publishers of revenue at a moment when it was desperately needed. Internet Archive has made more than 1.3 million books available free online, which were scanned and available to one borrower at a time for a period of 14 days. Then in March, the group said it would lift all restrictions on its book lending until the end of the public health crisis, creating what it called “a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners.” But many publishers and authors have called it something different: theft.
What Happens to Powell’s Books When You Can’t Browse the Aisles?
The enormous independent bookstore in Portland, Ore., became an unlikely tourist attraction. Now that it’s shut, Emily Powell, the chief executive, is having to rethink the books business.
Intersect Alert 27 April 2020
What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis
"A greater portion of the world’s work, organizing, and care-giving is moving onto digital platforms and tools that facilitate connection and productivity: video conferencing, messaging apps, healthcare and educational platforms, and more. It’s important to be aware of the ways these tools may impact your digital privacy and security during the COVID-19 crisis. Here are a few things you should know in order to make informed decisions about what works best for you and your communities, and ways you can use security and privacy best practices to protect yourself and others.
Misinformation During a Pandemic
BFI Working Paper: "We study the effects of news coverage of the novel coronavirus by the two most widely-viewed cable news shows in the United States — Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, both on Fox News — on viewers’ behavior and downstream health outcomes. Carlson warned viewers about the threat posed by the coronavirus from early February, while Hannity originally dismissed the risks associated with the virus before gradually adjusting his position starting late February. We first validate these differences in content with independent coding of show transcripts. In line with the differences in content, we present novel survey evidence that Hannity’s viewers changed behavior in response to the virus later than other Fox News viewers, while Carlson’s viewers changed behavior earlier. We then turn to the effects on the pandemic itself, examining health outcomes across counties. First, we document that greater viewership of Hannity relative to Tucker Carlson Tonight is strongly associated with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic. The relationship is stable across an expansive set of robustness tests."
Supreme Court Rules that Georgia Can't Copyright Annotated Code
"Georgia lost a close U.S. Supreme Court case over the state’s ability to copyright its annotated legal code, in a ruling heralded by public access advocates over dissent that lamented its disruptive impact on states’ existing business arrangements." https://news.bloomberglaw.com/us-law-week/georgia-loses-legal-code-copyright-clash-at-supreme-court
US Census Covid-19 Data Hub
"The U.S. Census Bureau released a new resource page on census.gov to help federal agencies, businesses and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the Census Bureau’s resource pages created during natural disasters, this resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses. It features a new interactive data hub that centralizes data previously released from the American Community Survey and the County Business Patterns program to facilitate users’ access to data useful in pandemic-related decision-making. The data hub, released as a beta version, will be updated periodically as the situation changes and as feedback is received from users." https://www.census.gov/topics/preparedness/events/pandemics/covid-19.html
CBO’s Current Projections of Output, Employment, and Interest Rates and a Preliminary Look at Federal Deficits for 2020 and 2021
CBO has developed preliminary projections of key economic variables through the end of calendar year 2021, based on information about the economy that was available through yesterday and including the effects of an economic boost from legislation recently enacted in response to the pandemic. In addition, CBO has developed a preliminary assessment of federal budget deficits and debt for fiscal years 2020 and 2021. CBO will provide a comprehensive analysis of that legislation and updated baseline budget projections later this year
Free online course features COVID-19 insights from Johns Hopkins experts
"Johns Hopkins University has launched a free online course for the general public about COVID-19 featuring experts from across the university—including those on the front lines of research and treatment—sharing the latest insights and evidence about the disease, its spread, and ways to stay healthy."
This study on “accidents involving flowers” is the most beautiful thing I’ve read during the pandemic
"It’s not often I find the text of an academic article to be riveting and even beautiful. Here, I was hooked: 'Virtually no research has addressed response to accidents involving flowers,' ecologists Scott Armbruster and Nathan Muchhala write. 'Yet flowering stalks are often subject to accidental collapse, as when a scape blows down in the wind or coarse litter falls onto a stem ...”'Great Darwin’s ghost! This is a scientific oversight. Armbruster and Muchhala wanted to know what happens when a flower is put in peril. Their research here also speaks to the message: Life yearns for more."
Celebrate the Library of Congress' 220th Birthday with the LOC Collections App
In addition to providing an easy, accessible way to search and explore the Library’s growing digital collections, LOC Collections allows users to curate personal galleries of items in the Library’s collections for their own reference and for sharing with others. Items currently featured on the app include audio recordings, books, videos, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, notated music, periodicals, photos, prints, and drawings."
‘We may need to quarantine our books' when libraries reopen, New York Public Library CEO says
"To reduce the spread of novel coronavirus, Americans may continue social distancing for many more months — but such precautions could last even longer for books kept at the nation’s libraries, said Tony Marx, the chief executive of the New York Public Library, the largest public library system in the U.S. Concerned that the disease can survive on surfaces like paper and transmit from one book borrower to the next, libraries once they reopen may impose a quarantine period on books that lasts as long as scientists determine the coronavirus can survive on the materials, said Marx, whose library system serves more than 17 million people each year."
Get Lost in the Stacks of These Stunning Libraries You Can Virtually Tour
"There's nothing better than getting lost in a stack of books—bonus if it's amidst impressive architecture. Given that it’s currently National Library Week, there is no better time to visit (albeit virtually) some of the most impressive libraries in the world. Below, House Beautiful has rounded up a list of virtual tours of libraries in places like England, Austria, New York, Massachusetts, Mexico, Portugal, and Prague, and we cannot wait to bask in the joy that these magnificent libraries have to offer. Happy library hopping, bibliophiles!"
Librarians Under Pandemic Duress: Layoffs, Napkin Masks, and Fear of Retaliation
"As the pandemic lurches forward, more and more libraries are doing something unexpected during a period of time when the digital services they provide are vital: they’re laying off workers or pushing them into alternate emergency jobs for which they’re untrained or unqualified. Librarians in Hennepin County, Minnesota, were told they could be assigned to work in hotel-based homeless shelters, while other systems nationwide like Cuyahoga County, Ohio, laid off or furloughed hundreds of their employees."
Free Virtual Science Science Bootcamp for Librarians
"The New England Science Bootcamp for Librarians will host a FREE virtual conference on June 11, 2020, from 9a – 4p (US Eastern Time). Topics may include: Vaccine research & manufacture Virology Making Health Devices in non-industrial settings IRB and human subjects research in the shifting landscape The schedule of topics will be finalized and sent to all registrants soon."
How Virus Surveillance And Civil Liberties Could Collide
"Because U.S. health agencies and big technology companies are still developing the public-private partnerships necessary to enable digital contact tracing, it remains to be seen whether app-based monitoring or drone usage will be challenged in court as a violation of Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure. But considering the rash of constitutional litigation already filed by churches and other groups over social distancing orders, legal experts say it’s only a matter of time before public health surveillance is tested in court." https://www.law360.com/access-to-justice/articles/1267269/how-virus-surveillance-and-civil-liberties-could-collide
Digitizing 18th Century Editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica
“The National Library of Scotland has released a dataset that digitizes the first eight editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which publishers issued between 1768 and 1860. The dataset contains over 155,000 image and XML file pairings and nearly 167 million words." https://data.nls.uk/data/digitised-collections/encyclopaedia-britannica/
Intersect Alert - 20 April 2020
Navigating the ‘infodemic’: how people in six countries access and rate news and information about coronavirus
"In this report, we use survey data collected in late March and early April 2020 to document and understand how people in six countries (Argentina, Germany, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US) accessed news and information about COVID-19 in the early stages of the global pandemic, how they rate the trustworthiness of the different sources and platforms they rely on, how much misinformation they say they encounter, and their knowledge of and responses to the coronavirus crisis." https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/infodemic-how-people-six-countries-access-and-rate-news-and-information-about-coronavirus
Hootsuite's Digital 2020
"A comprehensive look at the state of the internet, mobile devices, social media, and ecommerce." https://hootsuite.com/resources/digital-2020
Why games like Animal Crossing are the new social media of the coronavirus era
"Gentle, comforting games like Nintendo’s latest hit are perfect escapist entertainment, but they’re also helping us to connect in these strange times. These games are more than escapist entertainment, though; they’re helping to reshape how we connect in a future where social distancing might become the norm. Video games are letting people chat, connect, and meet new people. In the past month alone, graduations, wedding ceremonies, protests, and virtual meetups with pals were coordinated on lush pixelated screens. Meanwhile, students in San Antonio and the Bronx have re-created their high schools in Minecraft, and Final Fantasyplayers organized a digital memorial march when one of their own died of the coronavirus. While the pandemic and ensuing lockdown have dramatically changed the way we live our lives, video games offer a way for us to safely indulge in our basic human need to connect."
Verizon introduces open-source, big data coronavirus search engine
"As we struggle to get a grip on exactly how COVID-19 makes us ill and what we can do about it, researchers have created over 50,000 articles. That's a lot of information! So, how do you make sense of it all? Verizon Media is doing it by using Vespa. This is an open-source, big data processing program to create a coronavirus academic research search engine: CORD-19 Search." https://www.zdnet.com/article/verizon-introduces-open-source-big-data-coronavirus-search-engine/
Havard Business Review Makes Coronavirus Coverage Free for All Readers
Topics include an inverview with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on how Estonia’s e-Government is weathering the pandemic, leveraging AI to battle COVID-19, unemployment trends, developing public service leaders, and how to prepare for the next pandemic (starting now).
Stanford Library's Covid-19 Memo Database
"The COVID-19 crisis has generated a complex web of legal, business, and operational challenges that affect the entire economy. Law firms, auditors, and business advisors have responded with thousands of memoranda addressing a broad range of topics spanning areas as diverse as tax, antitrust, employment, and contract law. The COVID-19 Memo Database aggregates 4,199 memoranda in a searchable format designed to help users quickly identify relevant information. These memoranda were generated by leading U.S. law firms, the four major audit firms, and a leading insurance broker. For a more detailed description of the criteria used for inclusion in the database, please see the explanatory note below." https://covidmemo.law.stanford.edu/
COVID19 Spanish Language Resources
"In light of the rapidly mounting and evolving breadth of information related to COVID19, there is a need for reliable sources perhaps now more than ever. Seeing the various questions posed by the LatinX community, Nora Franco, NNLM PSR Consumer Health Librarian, responded by creating a resource guide with CDC Resources for Spanish speaking communities and those who support them. Additionally, the NNLM Greater Midwest Region worked with the Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health to create a video addressing the concerns and misinformation surrounding COVID19."
Open Innovation in Medical Technology Will Save Lives<.h3>
"Experts from the world’s top engineering programs have come together to share knowledge about medical technology, hoping to make life-saving treatments more widely available. Importantly, they’re ensuring that patents, copyrights, and other legal restrictions don’t get between that knowledge and the people who need it most." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/open-innovation-medical-technology-will-save-lives
A Quick Guide to Reading Data & Understanding Scholarly Research
A 2018 study estimates that every year, over 3 million articles are published in peer-reviewed, English-language journals. Regardless of their backgrounds in research analysis, professionals and policymakers in every field must increasingly make use of these articles and the key data they provide to guide their evidence-based decision making. With so many articles, and so much data, it can be hard to determine the accuracy and validity of different work. This quick, three-step guide is designed to help policymakers, advocates, and others interested in data-driven work ensure sources are trustworthy and robust. https://sunlightfoundation.com/2020/04/15/a-quick-guide-to-reading-data-understanding-scholarly-research/
The Pandemic's First Wave
"Behind every data point on a curve or chart is a name and story of the earliest victims" https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/12/coronavirus-first-1000-deaths/?arc404=true
How Apple And Google Are Going To Enable Contact Tracing
"This post is a technical translation of the contact tracing specification Apple and Google recently released, aimed at folks that are interested in understanding the implications for security, privacy, and usage." https://joekent.nyc/google-apple-contact-tracing
How to Cover Your Tracks Every Time You Go Online
"Venture online nowadays and your presence is immediately logged and tracked in all manner of ways. Sometimes this can be helpful—like when you want to see new movies similar to ones you've watched in the past—but very often it feels invasive and difficult to control. Here we're going to show you how to cover some of those tracks, or not to leave any in the first place. This isn't quite the same as going completely invisible online or encrypting every single thing you do. But it should help you sweep up most records of your online activity that you'd rather disappear." https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-cover-your-tracks-browsing-web-online/
Securely Collaborate and Communicate Remotely: A How-To for Lawyers
"Communicating and collaborating effectively and confidentially has always been an important part of practicing law. After all, the better you communicate with your fellow lawyers, staff, and clients about their cases, the more streamlined your work processes will be. But when faced with the uncertainty of current events, setting up a remote office that enables you to keep your colleagues and clients in the loop isn’t just a good idea, it’s necessary to keep your law firm up and running. The good news is that today’s lawyers have more choices than ever when it comes to sharing updates and collaborating with clients remotely. The key is to carefully and thoughtfully choose digital communication tools that are conducive to efficient online collaboration, while also sufficiently protecting client confidentiality." https://www.llrx.com/2020/04/securely-collaborate-and-communicate-remotely-a-how-to-for-lawyers/
Privacy-Protective Contact Tracing Depends on More Than an API
"During this pandemic, protecting users’ privacy requires a two-step solution. First, Apple and Google must take immediate and decisive action with respect to any applications who plan on using their API. In the meantime, policymakers should fill in the gaps in existing law and create an environment of transparency and accountability. If this does not occur, it won’t matter what privacy protections Apple and Google built into their API. Even if these applications don’t turn into dystopian surveillance devices, the threat that they could means less people will use them, thereby limiting the API’s effectiveness as a tool in the fight against the coronavirus. Apple and Google should ensure that applications built using their API contain strong guardrails and accountability measures — for all our sakes." https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/privacy-protective-contact-tracing-depends-on-more-than-an-api/
Telling Police Where People With COVID-19 Live Erodes Public Health
"In some areas of the United States, local governments are sharing the names and addresses of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 with police and other first responders. This is intended to keep police, EMTs, and firefighters safe should they find themselves headed to a call at the residence of someone who has tested positive for the virus. However, this information fails to protect first responders from unidentified, asymptomatic, and pre-symptomatic cases. It may also discourage people from getting tested, contribute to stigmatization of infected people, reduce the quality of policing in vulnerable communities, and incentivize police to avoid calls for help because of fear of contracting the virus" https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/telling-police-where-people-covid-19-live-erodes-public-health
The Judge Will See You On Zoom, But The Public Is Mostly Left Out
"Monitoring court hearings has become difficult, in some cases even impossible, for dozens of court watch programs scattered throughout cities and towns in the country. They rely on volunteers to sit in open court and take notes in the interest of transparency and accountability. But they said their access has been slowed or halted as virtually every system in the country suspended or reduced public court and moved online during the pandemic."
SCOTUS to Break Tradition Hold Oral Arguments by Teleconference
"The Court will hear oral arguments by telephone conference on May 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 in a limited number of previously postponed cases. In keeping with public health guidance in response to COVID-19, the Justices and counsel will all participate remotely. The Court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available."
Remote Courts Worldwide
"As the coronavirus pandemic spreads and courts around the world are closing, this website is designed to help the global community of justice workers - judges, lawyers, court officials, litigants, court technologists - to share their experiences of 'remote' alternatives to traditional court hearings." https://remotecourts.org/
Yes, Section 215 Expired. Now What?
"On March 15, 2020, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—a surveillance law with a rich history of government overreach and abuse—expired. Along with two other PATRIOT Act provisions, Section 215 lapsed after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a broader set of reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/yes-section-215-expired-now-what
Freedom of Association in the Wake of Coronavirus
"At least 42 U.S. states have issued emergency orders directing residents to “stay at home,” with many states prohibiting gatherings of various sizes to control the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19). Mandatory social distancing measures have prompted constitutional questions, including whether gathering bans, which restrict in-person communication, comport with the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of speech and assembly. There have already been a few legal challenges to COVID-19– related orders litigated on these grounds.This post discusses the legal standards that those courts applied as well as background First Amendment principles that are likely to continue to inform judicial review of free speech–related challenges to gathering bans." https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/LSB/LSB10451
Millions of Essential Workers Are Being Left Out of COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protections, Thanks to OSHA
"Even as the federal worker-safety agency has been inundated with complaints, it has rolled back safety standards and virtually eliminated non-health care workplaces from government protection. https://www.propublica.org/article/millions-of-essential-workers-are-being-left-out-of-covid-19-workplace-safety-protections-thanks-to-osha#943906
Attorney General Barr Refuses to Release 9/11 Documents to Families of the Victims
"Months after President Donald Trump promised to open FBI files to help families of the 9/11 victims in a civil lawsuit against the Saudi government, the Justice Department has doubled down on its claim that the information is a state secret." https://www.propublica.org/article/attorney-general-barr-refuses-to-release-9-11-documents-to-families-of-the-victims#942900
What does diversity in LIS outreach mean to you?
"At the start of this year, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) began ramping up our outreach to Library and Information Science (LIS) students and increase diversity in the LIS pipeline. The efforts align with National Library of Medicine (NLM) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) priority areas for the network, and include outreach to this population as well as identifying, producing, and highlighting health sciences library champions. This marks the first focus on increasing diversity to LIS students and programs" https://news.nnlm.gov/bhic/2020/04/what-does-diversity-in-lis-outreach-mean-to-you/
Libraries Brace for Budget Cuts
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, library budgets were hit hard. Cuts were widespread and ran deep. Staff, collections, equipment and facilities at even the wealthiest institutions were affected. While tough economic times call for all areas of an institution to tighten belts, libraries seemed to be particularly adversely impacted by the recession. Library budgets as a percentage of total institutional spending shrank, and in some places they never fully recovered. Now, librarians are preparing for another wave of cuts, this time prompted by the economic contraction tied to the global pandemic. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/04/17/college-librarians-prepare-looming-budget-cuts-and-journal-subscriptions-could-be
Machine learning could check if you’re social distancing properly at work
Andrew Ng’s startup Landing AI has created a new workplace monitoring tool that issues an alert when anyone is less than the desired distance from a colleague. Six feet apart: On Thursday, the startup released a blog post with a new demo video showing off a new social distancing detector. On the left is a feed of people walking around on the street. On the right, a bird’s-eye diagram represents each one as a dot and turns them bright red when they move too close to someone else. The company says the tool is meant to be used in work settings like factory floors and was developed in response to the request of its customers (which include Foxconn). It also says the tool can easily be integrated into existing security camera systems, but that it is still exploring how to notify people when they break social distancing. One possible method is an alarm that sounds when workers pass too close to one another. A report could also be generated overnight to help managers rearrange the workspace, the company says. https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/17/1000092/ai-machine-learning-watches-social-distancing-at-work/
Innovative Launches Free Webinar Series
" Innovative, a ProQuest company and leading global provider of library software, is pleased to announce a series of webinars to offer product best practices, training, and insights for libraries. The series is entitled "Quick Hits Webinars" as a reference to the popular Quick Hits Theater at the annual Innovative User Group (IUG) conference which was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. Topics covered in the webinar series are short, helpful sessions of about 45 minutes for Sierra and Polaris customers, as well as broader topics applicable to all customers such as Product and Support updates." https://librarytechnology.org/pr/25067
Will international companies take on Chinese censorship after the pandemic?
"As China struggles with coronavirus, will there be any change in the attempts it makes to get international companies to censor their content before operating within its borders?" https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2020/04/businesstakeonchinesecensorship/
Intersect Alert - 13 April 2020
We dug into the COVID-19 data in Florida. Here’s how to see what’s happening in your state.
"In late March, with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Florida climbing, my editor and I sat down with the data and tried to make sense of it. Our goal was to get a clear picture of the epidemic in Florida — and determine where it might be headed. It wasn’t obvious. We knew the overall number of confirmed cases in Florida lagged far behind states like New York and New Jersey. But we also knew it was growing at an alarmingly fast rate. We could have drawn from an existing model like the tool developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. But were less interested in looking at projections and more interested in evaluating the curve as it actually existed in Florida." https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/2020/04/09/we-dug-coronavirus-data-florida-here-s-how-you-can-see-what-s-happening-your-state
Types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation
"In this factsheet we identify some of the main types, sources, and claims of COVID-19 misinformation seen so far. We analyse a sample of 225 pieces of misinformation rated false or misleading by fact-checkers and published in English between January and the end of March 2020, drawn from a collection of fact-checks maintained by First
Microsoft Releases Remote Work Trend Report; 2.7 Billion Microsoft Teams Meeting Minutes on One Day
"As I write this, millions of people around the world are adjusting to full-time remote work and learning. Working remotely full-time can challenge us as humans because we are hardwired for connection. Here at Microsoft, we did a study a couple years back that asked 14,000 people in seven countries to name the form of communication that makes them happiest. No surprise, in-person meetings ranked number one over email, chat, or texting across all generations. In a moment where meeting face-to-face is impossible, how do we continue to connect to one another? Over the past weeks, we’ve been inspired by the ways our customers are connecting during meetings in Microsoft Teams. We’ve seen bosses show up to meetings as virtual potato heads and team stand-ups turn delightfully silly. From teams of workers sharing shift updates to students and teachers connecting in virtual classrooms and CEOs conducting town hall Q&As with thousands of employees, we’re all finding new ways to come together when we have to work and learn apart. This idea is reflected in the sheer number of meetings happening in Microsoft Teams each day. We’ve seen a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in one day,1 a 200 percent increase from 900 million on March 16. And as students and teachers turn to Teams for distance learning, there are 183,000 tenants in 175 countries using Teams for Education."
Virtual Programs at the National Archives
Even though our research rooms, museums, and Presidential Libraries are closed due to the ongoing health crisis, many of our resources are available online. Our staff put together a selection of activities accessible from home.
Caselaw Access Project Links Case Citations
"The Caselaw Access Project is taking its first steps to create links to case citations in our collection of 6.7 million cases.
We also created a cites_to field in the Caselaw Access Project API. This new field shows which cases an opinion cites to."
Library workers fight for safer working conditions amid coronavirus pandemic
"Despite the American Library Association recommending in a statement March 17 that libraries close to the public, many librarians and support staff are still being asked to travel to work or risk being laid off, organizers say, even though many services could be delivered remotely. Libraries in states across the country, including in New York, Iowa, Florida, California and Minnesota, have started offering curbside pickups to reduce contact between workers and patrons. Organizers believe this puts librarians at an unnecessary risk."
Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks
"Every day, millions of people around the world type their health symptoms into Google. We can use these searches to help detect unknown Covid-19 outbreaks, particularly in parts of the world with poor testing infrastructure. To see the potential information lying in plain sight in Google data, consider searches for “I can’t smell.” There is now strong evidence that anosmia, or loss of smell, is a symptom of Covid-19, with some estimates suggesting that 30-60 percent of people with the disease experience this symptom. In the United States, in the week ending this past Saturday, searches for “I can’t smell” were highest in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan — four of the states with the highest prevalence of Covid-19."
WhatsApp is limiting message forwarding to combat coronavirus misinformation
"WhatsApp has said it will implement new limits on message forwarding amid growing concerns that it is being used to spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. From today, messages identified as “highly forwarded” can be forwarded to only a single person as opposed to five, the company, which is owned by Facebook, said in a blog post. The idea is to slow the spread of viral information, giving truth a chance to catch up with falsehoods. WhatsApp is private and end-to-end encrypted, which is a boon for security but makes it a particularly potent breeding ground for misinformation, as there’s no way to see the content of messages."
How open data and civic participation helped Taiwan slow Covid
"In a JAMA article from early March, a group of researchers report that the Taiwan government integrated national health and travel databases to help identify cases, made patient travel histories available to hospitals and clinics, used online reporting of travel history and symptoms to help classify infectious risk, and even monitored people in quarantine via cell phone. Some of these efforts would no doubt raise flags in Europe or North America, but Taiwan’s approach to data hasn’t all been top-down. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Jaron Lanier and E. Glen Weyl of Microsoft explain that, by making some Covid-related data publicly accessible, Taiwan empowered its civic tech community to create dozens of tools, including a popular map of mask availability. Lanier and Weyl argue that this bottom-up response has “been central to the country’s success”:
By communicating challenges faced by the government, rather than projecting an aura of invincibility, it encouraged a range of decentralized actors to contribute to solutions and build on official information."
The Challenge of Proximity Apps For COVID-19 Contact Tracing
"Around the world, a diverse and growing chorus is calling for the use of smartphone proximity technology to fight COVID-19. In particular, public health experts and others argue that smartphones could provide a solution to an urgent need for rapid, widespread contact tracing—that is, tracking who infected people come in contact with as they move through the world. Proponents of this approach point out that many people already own smartphones, which are frequently used to track users’ movements and interactions in the physical world." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/04/challenge-proximity-apps-covid-19-contact-tracing
How to Protect Privacy When Aggregating Location Data to Fight COVID-19
As governments, the private sector, NGOs, and others mobilize to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen calls to use location information—typically drawn from GPS and cell tower data—to inform public health efforts. Among the proposed uses of location data, one of the most widely discussed is analyzing aggregated data about which locations people are visiting, whether they are traveling less, and other collective measurements of individuals’ movement. This analysis might be used to inform judgments about the effectiveness of shelter-in-place orders and other social distancing measures. Projects making use of aggregated location data have graded residents of each state on their social distancing and visualized the travel patterns of people on returning from spring break. Most recently, Google announced that it would publish ongoing “COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports,” which draw on the company’s store of location data to report on changes at a community level in people’s travel to various locations such as grocery stores, parks, and mass transit stations.
We need mass surveillance to fight covid-19—but it doesn’t have to be creepy
"The Australian National University (ANU), at which I work, is moving quickly in response to covid-19. Our classes have gone online, and we have sent our staff home; we are all navigating a new world of digital intermediation and distance. For the students who remain in the residence halls, locked in a country that has closed its borders and to which airlines no longer fly, it is an ever-changing situation. Keeping them safe is a big priority; there is social distancing, and increased cleaning and temporal staggering of access to services. There are rules and prescriptions and the looming reality of daily temperature checks. And apparently there is a contact log in which I will now feature, and which could be turned over to the local health services at a later point."
Apple and Google are building coronavirus tracking into iOS and Android
"Apple and Google are jointly building software into iPhone and Android devices to help track the spread of coronavirus by telling users if they contacted an infected person and are potentially sick themselves. The new project is slated for release in May."
‘We need an army’: Hiring of coronavirus trackers seen as key to curbing disease spread
"Combined with more widespread testing, contact tracing is seen as an essential part of the strategy for keeping the coronavirus in check after the first wave recedes and the economy reopens. But the work is highly labor-intensive, and public health departments across the U.S. have been woefully underfunded for years."
Twitter Removes Privacy Option, and Shows Why We Need Strong Privacy Laws
"Twitter greeted its users with a confusing notification this week. “The control you have over what information Twitter shares with its business partners has changed,” it said. The changes will “help Twitter continue operating as a free service,” it assured. But at what cost?"
Sharing Our Common Culture in Uncommon Times
"We are in an unprecedented time. People are being told to stay home as much as possible. Some of us are lucky enough to have jobs that can be done remotely, schools are closed and kids are home, and healthcare, grocery, or other essential workers are looking for respite where they can safely find it. All of which means that, for now, for many of us, the Internet is not only our town square, but also our school, art gallery, museum, and library."
America’s digital divide is even more urgent during the pandemic
"From Zoom calls with middle school teachers to ordering grocery delivery online, much of daily life during the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States is now digital. But for the millions of Americans who live in its sparsely populated rural regions, easy and affordable options for high-speed internet simply don’t exist." https://qz.com/1836040/americas-digital-divide-is-more-urgent-during-a-pandemic/
‘No longer a luxury’: As life moves online, the offline fall behind
"When Amy Olsen wants to have a video chat with her family, she has to drive four miles to the parking lot of the Lowell, Vermont, town clerk to use the free Wi-Fi. None of Lowell’s 879 or so residents have access to direct broadband service, according to BroadbandNow, a company that helps people find and compare internet service providers. The closest anyone there can get is “fixed wireless,” which uses outdoor directional antennas to broadcast radio signals to residential Wi-Fi gateways. But for that, you need to live close enough to an antenna. Ms. Olsen doesn’t."
California Legislator Introduces Fiber Broadband for All Bill
"Senator Lena Gonzalez has introduced legislation (SB 1130), which would allow the California state government to actively promote the transition of the state’s legacy communications infrastructure into a multi-gigabit fiber network that is competitive, affordable, and available to all residents lacking high-speed access. It does so by reforming the current California Advanced Services Fund (CASF): raising the fund's minimum standards of what constitutes being “served” by broadband, requiring that any broadband network funded by the state to be high-capacity, and holding companies subject to open-access rules that promote competition. The legislation would put California on par with its international competitors, end the digital divide for Californians, and prevent a repeat of the lack of connectivity challenges residents have faced as they engage in social distancing, remote education, and working from home."
Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information in the Time of COVID-19
"In principle, the COVID-19 outbreak could provide a compelling new justification for expediting the processing of certain Freedom of Information Act requests related to the pandemic. But it is more likely to slow down the handling of most requests as agency employees work remotely and other concerns are understandably prioritized." https://fas.org/blogs/secrecy/2020/03/foia-covid/
Pentagon Asks to Keep Future Spending Secret
"The Department of Defense is quietly asking Congress to rescind the requirement to produce an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) database. Preparation of the unclassified FYDP, which provides estimates of defense spending for the next five years, has been required by law since 1989 (10 USC 221) and has become an integral part of the defense budget process. But the Pentagon said that it should no longer have to offer such information in an unclassified format, according to a DoD legislative proposal for the pending FY 2021 national defense authorization act."
Pentagon denies it seeks to hide future budget information
The Pentagon is pushing back on reports that it seeks to classify previously public information about its future spending plans, with the department insisting that the transparency of this information that is public as part of the regular budget rollout process will not change. The Future Years Defense Program provides spending projections for how the Department of Defense plans to invest its money over the coming five-year period. While the numbers are not locked in and regularly change year by year, the projections can provide valuable information to the public and industry about what the department views as priorities and where programs might be going.
Office Hours: Narrative Inquiry
"What’s your story? That question could lead to better understanding professional learning experiences (PLEs) for librarians and the experiences of the community we serve. Each of us can tell a unique story. For librarians, we all have different learning needs, varying personal relationships to learning and a unique set of experiences, workplace environments and career objectives that inform our perspective and approach. One of the best ways to gain first-hand knowledge of both librarian experience and the specific stories of our community is through narrative inquiry (NI)."
Work notes: “Free” for COVID-19 and resource management
"During crisis, it’s important to hold your values steady–though it should be said the distance between an organization’s articulated versus lived values is expansive and on full display in this moment. For my work, this means being even more deliberate and thoughtful about resource management. Collecting for a master’s comprehensive is a challenge under the best circumstances, and the first weeks of working from home saw a deluge of offers from vendors as the library moved dozens of physical reserves online or worked to find suitable alternatives for teaching faculty and students. It’s tempting to turn it all on and forget about it, but that isn’t how crisis management, content management, or library ecosystems function."
SUNY, UNC Chapel Hill Step Away From the “Big Deal” with Elsevier
Both The State University of New York and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill will not renew their bundled journal subscription deal with publisher Elsevier. http://slcny.libguides.com/slc/elsevier2020update https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/04/10/unc-chapel-hill-cancels-big-deal-elsevier
Intersect Alert - 7 April 2020
Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls
"Whether you are on Zoom because your employer or school requires it or you just downloaded it to stay in touch with friends and family, people have rushed to the video chat platform in the wake of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders—and journalists, researchers, and regulators have noticed its many security and privacy problems. Zoom has responded with a surprisingly good plan for next steps, but talk is cheap. Zoom will have to follow through on its security and privacy promises if it wants to regain users’ trust. In the meantime, take these steps to harden your Zoom privacy settings and protect your meetings from “Zoombombing” trolls."
A Feature on Zoom Secretly Displayed Data From People’s LinkedIn Profiles
"For Americans sheltering at home during the coronavirus pandemic, the Zoom videoconferencing platform has become a lifeline, enabling millions of people to easily keep in touch with family members, friends, students, teachers and work colleagues."
Library of Congress Coronavirus Resource Guide
"This is intended as a guide to laws, regulations and executive actions in the United States, at both the federal and the state level, and in various countries with respect to the new coronavirus and its spread. We are also including links to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that provide information to Congress about the novel coronavirus. In addition, we provide links to relevant federal agency websites. We intend to update this guide on at least a weekly basis for the immediate future." https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2020/03/coronavirus-resource-guide/
COVID-19, Copyright and Library Superpowers Part I
"If you work in any of the higher ed institutions that are preparing to move online – maybe your copyright world has exploded in a range of questions on fair use, e-reserves, online access, scanning, digitization, and more! I am sure many of you, especially in the library community, are working towards the best solution for students, faculty, staff, and patrons in this time of crisis. To help you navigate this process, over the next few posts (working as I go) I will offer reminders of all the super awesome legal tools libraries have for copyright as “stewards of access” in our communities."
The hunt for a coronavirus cure is showing how science can change for the better
"While cities are locked down and borders are closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak, science is becoming more open. This openness is already making a difference to scientists’ response to the virus and has the potential to change the world. But it’s not as simple as making every research finding available to anyone for any purpose. Without care and responsibility, there is a danger that open science can be misused or contribute to the spread of misinformation.
U.S. Government: Update Chrome 80 Now, Multiple Security Concerns Confirmed
"The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has advised users to update Google Chrome as new high-rated security vulnerabilities have been found."
Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks
"Every day, millions of people around the world type their health symptoms into Google. We can use these searches to help detect unknown Covid-19 outbreaks, particularly in parts of the world with poor testing infrastructure."
Film Treasures, Streaming Courtesy of the Library of Congress
"The biggest library in the world, The Library of Congress has an extraordinary trove of online offerings — more than 7,000 videos — that includes hundreds of old (and really old) movies. With one click, you can watch Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show parade down Fifth Avenue in 1902; click again to giggle at Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse in a 1916 cartoon. And while the library is temporarily closed to the public, its virtual doors remain open. It remains one of my favorite places to get lost in."
Online classes to take in April:
"Preserve This" April Classes
Event Information: Scientific Literacy, Citizenship, and History: Analyzing Primary Sources from the Library of Congress
Medical Librarian Association Webinars and Classes
Intersect Alert – 29 March 2020
Note: It seems as if the coronavirus is all we're thinking about now. I hope this selection of news (mostly) about coronavirus and information is useful for you.
How Librarians Continue Their Work Digitally Even as Coronavirus Closes Libraries
Libraries are temporarily closing their doors due to coronavirus—like so many other institutions in the wake of a growing pandemic. (Here is a frequently updated list of closures and other news.)
And like schools and colleges, they are trying to move operations online as much as they can.
But what does it mean for librarians to serve patrons without a library?
Intellectual Property, Books and Reading
Internet Archive offers 1.4 million copyrighted books for free online
Massive online library project is venturing into uncharted legal waters.
"The Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation’s displaced learners," the Internet Archive wrote in a Tuesday post. "This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later."
The copyright implications of book scanning have long been a contentious subject.
COVID-19 Pushes Up Internet Use 70% And Streaming More Than 12%, First Figures Reveal
The first internet streaming and usage figures are coming in as the coronavirus pandemic places a quarter of the world’s population under lockdown. As millions of people go online for entertainment and more, total internet hits have surged by between 50% and 70%, according to preliminary statistics. Streaming has also jumped by at least 12%, estimates show.
Libraries, Books and Reading, Publishing
Publisher Macmillan Backs Off Policy Restricting E-Book Sales To Libraries
Publishing house Macmillan is backing off a controversial policy restricting e-book sales to libraries, announcing in a letter to librarians, authors, illustrators and agents on Tuesday that "There are times in life when differences should be put aside."
Books and Reading
Readers stuck at home need books — and community. Here’s how to access them
If there’s a silver lining to the sudden need to hunker down as the novel coronavirus upends normal life, it’s that maybe — finally — you’ll have time to read. Provided you have enough books.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to access new reading material without leaving the house, and to stay engaged with the bookish community even as libraries and bookstores shutter their doors. Here’s a guide.
The Fate of the News in the Age of the Coronavirus
The shift to paywalls has been a boon for quality journalism. Instead of chasing trends on search engines and social media, subscription-based publications can focus on producing journalism worth paying for, which has meant investments in original reporting of all kinds. A small club of élite publications has now found a sustainable way to support its journalism, through readers instead of advertisers. The Times and the Post, in particular, have thrived in the Trump era. So have subscription-driven startups, such as The Information, which covers the tech industry and charges three hundred and ninety-nine dollars a year. Meanwhile, many of the free-to-read outlets still dependent on ad revenue—including former darlings of the digital-media revolution, such as BuzzFeed, Vice, HuffPost, Mic, Mashable, and the titles under Vox Media—have labored to find viable business models.
Check out these virtual tours of museums around the world
Our much-loved museums and art galleries may be closing their doors due to the current outbreak, but don’t despair. Tech-savvy curators are getting creative with how the public can access their collections, and many are catering to an online audience with insanely good virtual tours.
Top-tier institutions around the world have vast online archives, meaning you can take a digital stroll through art history wearing just your pants (or even less if you really want).
Want to Keep America Home? Give Everyone Free Basic Broadband
Medical experts agree that the most important thing we can do to support the efforts against the COVID-19 outbreak is a medical protocol known by the acronym STHH, or “Stay the Heck Home.” To keep Americans home, we need everyone to have broadband. It’s really that simple. Without telework, the economy would shut down completely. We would lose half a school year without distance education. But the value of everyone having a residential broadband connection goes well beyond that in the current crisis. Want to keep people off the streets to flatten the curve? Make it possible for them to shop online? Want them to access forms to receive government aid during this economic crisis? Cut down on physical doctor appointments to avoid infecting others? Fill out the 2020 Census so we don’t need armies of Census Takers going door-to-door? That all takes broadband.
Freedom of Information
The California Public Records Act Is an Essential Right, Even During a State of Emergency
As Californians shelter-at-home up and down the state, the journalists and citizen watchdogs who file California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests know that trade-offs must be made. We know that local agencies may be understaffed at this time and that they may be slow to respond to our letters. They may need to restrict our ability to inspect records in person at City Hall, and public records lawsuits may stall as courts restrict hearing dates.
But where we draw the line is when government agencies announce they will suspend the public records request process altogether, a move telegraphed by several agencies in a recent Los Angeles Times story.
Privacy, Social Media
The Right to Anonymity is Vital to Free Expression: Now and Always
“There are myriad reasons why individuals may wish to use a name other than the one they were born with. They may be concerned about threats to their lives or livelihoods, or they may risk political or economic retribution. They may wish to prevent discrimination or they may use a name that’s easier to pronounce or spell in a given culture.”
These words, from a blog post we published nine years ago during my first year at EFF, remain as true as ever. Whether we’re talking about whistleblowers, victims of domestic violence, queer and trans youth who aren’t out to their local communities, or human rights workers, secure anonymity is critical for these individuals, even life-saving.
The History of the URL
On the 11th of January 1982 twenty-two computer scientists met to discuss an issue with ‘computer mail’ (now known as email). Attendees included the guy who would create Sun Microsystems, the guy who made Zork, the NTP guy, and the guy who convinced the government to pay for Unix. The problem was simple: there were 455 hosts on the ARPANET and the situation was getting out of control.
Intersect Alert – 22 March 2020
Note: It seems as if the coronavirus is all we're thinking about now. I hope this selection of news (mostly) about coronavirus and information is useful for you.
COVID-19: How the enterprise is adapting to disruption
As many organizations across the globe employ significant measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as cancelling major conferences, enforcing employee travel bans and telecommuting, the C-suite is reminded that it's always a good idea to have updated business continuity and disaster recovery plans at the ready.
Companies must plan and prepare for risks that may be involved with business continuity interruptions such as cancelled business travel plans, ill employees, and possible data loss.
So We're Working From Home. Can the Internet Handle It?
As millions of people across the United States shift to working and learning from home this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they will test internet networks with one of the biggest mass behavior changes that the nation has experienced.
That is set to strain the internet's underlying infrastructure, with the burden likely to be particularly felt in two areas: the home networks that people have set up in their residences, and the home internet services from Comcast, Charter and Verizon that those home networks rely on.
New to remote work? These tools will make your transition to working from home easier
As the coronavirus outbreak continues (even appearing in newsrooms), organizations are asking employees to work from home when they can.
For some, this may mean discovering gaps in your toolstacks. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tools that might help you address different needs your team may have in staying connected and effective at work.
The Coronavirus Crisis Is Showing Us How to Live Online
I expected my first week of social distancing to feel, well, distant. But I’ve been more connected than ever. My inboxes are full of invitations to digital events — Zoom art classes, Skype book clubs, Periscope jam sessions. Strangers and subject-matter experts are sharing relevant and timely information about the virus on social media, and organizing ways to help struggling people and small businesses. On my feeds, trolls are few and far between, and misinformation is quickly being fact-checked.
Social Media, Technology
Coronavirus Disrupts Social Media's First Line of Defense
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all announced this week that thousands of content moderators are being sent home — leaving more of our feeds in the hands of machines.
Here's how social media can combat the coronavirus ‘infodemic’
In the middle of a massive and growing coronavirus shutdown, social media is more important than ever. With soft quarantines in place, Facebook, Twitter, and other services are taking on an entirely new valence as the foundation for our everyday lives—a crucial conduit between families, friends, and coworkers, as well as much-needed entertainment. As we become more isolated physically, social media and the web will also have to shoulder the world’s information needs as more and more people seek timely and local information.
Over 24,000 coronavirus research papers are now available in one place
Today researchers collaborating across several organizations released the Covid-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), which includes over 24,000 research papers from peer-reviewed journals as well as sources like bioRxiv and medRxiv (websites where scientists can post non-peer-reviewed preprint papers). The research covers SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name for the coronavirus), Covid-19 (the scientific name for the disease), and the coronavirus group. It represents the most extensive collection of scientific literature related to the ongoing pandemic and will continue to update in real time as more research is released.
The database is now available on AI2's Semantic Scholar website.
LitCovid is a curated literature hub for tracking up-to-date scientific information about the 2019 novel Coronavirus. It is the most comprehensive resource on the subject, providing a central access to 1528 (and growing) relevant articles in PubMed. The articles are updated daily and are further categorized by different research topics and geographic locations for improved access. You can read more at Chen et al. Nature (2020) and download our data here.
Open-source project spins up 3D-printed ventilator validation prototype in just one week
In a great example of what can happen when smart, technically-oriented people come together in a time of need, an open-source hardware project started by a group including Irish entrepreneur Colin Keogh and Breeze Automation CEO and co-founder Gui Calavanti has produced a prototype ventilator using 3D-printed parts and readily available, inexpensive material. The ventilator prototype was designed and produced in just seven days, after the project spun up on Facebook and attracted participation from over 300 engineers, medical professionals and researchers.
Why You Should Use Two Browsers for Your Daily Browsing
Most people choose and use one browser for all Web activities. Even though it’s convenient, it makes it easier for you to be tracked and identified. Using one browser allows organizations to follow you from site to site and get your personal information from websites you are logged into when you browse to other sites.
A security practice that is becoming more widespread for people who are concerned about privacy is using browser compartmentalization.
Intersect Alert – 15 March 2020
Major Publishers Take Down Paywalls for Coronavirus Coverage
Midterm elections, massive snowstorms and now coronavirus. Those are the coverage areas so important to the public that publications have been willing to make articles about these things free to read.
U.S.-based media organizations have been tasked with bending to the quick-moving whims of coronavirus all week as more cases of the virus are discovered in the U.S., working to give guidelines to journalists on best reporting practices as they repackage and create new products to address the widespread pandemic.
Q&A: When misinformation spreads faster than the virus itself, trusted sources are key
In an era where the news and social media cycles are spinning faster than ever, it's very tempting for the public to constantly search for new information, said University of Washington professor Carl Bergstrom, an infectious disease biologist who tracks the spread of misinformation.
But, trusting social media, online rumors, news reports and even official channels without carefully considering the evidence behind their claims can lead to confusion and misinformation— something he’s seen proliferate as coronavirus cases grow.
Social Media, Technology
How Facebook uses machine learning to detect fake accounts
In 2019, Facebook took down on average close to 2 billion fake accounts per quarter. Fraudsters use these fake accounts to spread spam, phishing links, or malware. It’s a lucrative business that can be devastating for any innocent users that it snares.
Facebook is now releasing details about the machine-learning system it uses to tackle this challenge.
The EARN IT Bill Is the Government's Plan to Scan Every Message Online
Imagine an Internet where the law required every message sent to be read by government-approved scanning software. Companies that handle such messages wouldn’t be allowed to securely encrypt them, or they’d lose legal protections that allow them to operate.
That's what the Senate Judiciary Committee has proposed and hopes to pass into law. The so-called EARN IT bill, sponsored by Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), will strip Section 230 protections away from any website that doesn’t follow a list of "best practices," meaning those sites can be sued into bankruptcy. The "best practices" list will be created by a government commission, headed by Attorney General Barr, who has made it very clear he would like to ban encryption, and guarantee law enforcement "legal access" to any digital message.
Information studies prof works to address mental illness among librarians
One study found that more than half of academic librarians surveyed reported having a diagnosed mental illness. But these mental illnesses are scarcely discussed in the library community, said Abigail Phillips, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies.
There is an “emotional labor” that comes with being a librarian, Phillips said. Libraries are a refuge for stressed community members, the homeless and the mentally ill, she said, and librarians must constantly face these challenges.
Who Should Decide What Books Are Allowed In Prison?
Tafolla was released from Danville Correctional Center in 2018. Not long after, in January 2019, officials at the Illinois prison censored Illegal and about 200 other books, removing them from the library of a college-in-prison program. Officials were concerned about "racially motivated" material, according to documents obtained by Illinois Public Media.
Experts say this is just one example of the kind of arbitrary book censorship that incarcerated people face nationwide — censorship that can make it harder to get an education behind bars.
Librarian of Congress Seeks Input on Register of Copyrights
The public will have the opportunity to provide input to the Library of Congress on expertise needed by the next Register of Copyrights, the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, announced today.
Beginning today, March 2, a form to solicit this feedback is online and open to the public. The form will be posted through Friday, March 20.
Technology, International Issues
Europe Wants a 'Right to Repair' Smartphones and Gadgets
The bloc announced an ambitious plan on Wednesday that would require manufacturers of electronic products, from smartphones to tumble driers, to offer more repairs, upgrades and ways to reuse existing goods, instead of encouraging consumers to buy new ones.
The "right to repair," part of a wide-ranging policy package known as the Green Deal that was introduced this month, is the latest example of the European Union’s ambitions to promote more sustainable economic growth and to prevent waste. It extends standards brought in last year that put “right to repair” obligations on the manufacturers of some large appliances.
The Scientific Paper Is Outdated
Contemporary science faces several interrelated crises. Competition for tenure-track jobs is getting stiffer every year, thanks to an ever-increasing supply of talented, young Ph.D. students; not enough is being done to prepare doctoral students for jobs outside of academe; candidates for junior faculty positions must submit so many research papers that journals, editors, and reviewers can’t keep up; and too many published results aren't reproducible. All of that is inseparable from the decline in mental health of graduate students, driven largely by feelings of loneliness and isolation.
To deal with those issues, we should look at the axis around which the whole academic enterprise spins — the publication process, specifically of papers, which are the gold standard of scientific productivity. We must unbind the sharing of scientific knowledge from the traditional journal format and explore radically creative new ways to communicate with our colleagues. Software is one obvious solution.
Intersect Alert – 8 March 2020
The best, and the worst, of the coronavirus dashboards
If you’ve been on the web to learn more about the latest pandemic, chances are you’ve stumbled upon at least one or two coronavirus dashboards. These are the landing pages for interactive maps and visuals that show where the virus has spread, as well as numbers on the latest in infection rates and deaths, breakdowns of what countries are suffering from new cases and what regions are likely seeing new outbreaks, and much more.
Not all dashboards are created equal, nor do all people have access to the same dashboards (for instance, US sanctions prevent Iranians from accessing the one run by Johns Hopkins University). Some present data you won’t find elsewhere. Some are easier to navigate than others. Some are simply much more stunning to look at.
Libraries Could Preserve Ebooks Forever, But Greedy Publishers Won’t Let Them
But why can only one person borrow one copy of an ebook at a time? Why are the waits so damn interminable? Well, it might not surprise you at all to learn that ebook lending is controversial in certain circles: circles of people who like to make money selling ebooks. Publishers impose rules on libraries that limit how many people can check out an ebook, and for how long a library can even offer that ebook on its shelves, because free, easily available ebooks could potentially damage their bottom lines. Libraries are handcuffed by two-year ebook licenses that cost way more than you and I pay to own an ebook outright forever.
Why You Should Dox Yourself (Sort Of)
When your home address or the name of your child’s school starts circulating on social media amid an onslaught of threats, the absurdity of distinguishing between harassment “online” and “in the real world” becomes crystal clear. Doxing, or dropping docs, is the public posting of private information, and it’s more than just online nastiness—it’s outright abuse. Someone who has your address can locate you or your family. Someone with your cellphone number or email can bombard you with messages that disrupt your ability to communicate with your support network. And someone with your name, birthday, and Social Security number is one step closer to being able to hack into your accounts or steal your identity.
For the past 18 months, I’ve been traveling the country to equip writers and journalists with strategies and resources to defend against online abuse.
Some Election-Related Websites Still Run on Vulnerable Software Older Than Many High Schoolers
These aging systems reflect a larger problem: A ProPublica investigation found that at least 50 election-related websites in counties and towns voting on Super Tuesday — accounting for nearly 2 million voters — were particularly vulnerable to cyberattack. The sites, where people can find out how to register to vote, where to cast ballots and who won the election, had security issues such as outdated software, poor encryption and systems encumbered with unneeded computer programs. None of the localities contacted by ProPublica said that their sites had been disrupted by cyberattacks.
The census goes digital – 3 things to know
[C]ollecting data online carries some significant risks that are new to the census and may undermine the accuracy of the count and the public’s trust in the process.
Ninth Circuit: Private Social Media Platforms Are Not Bound by the First Amendment
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held in Prager University v. Google that YouTube is not a government actor bound by First Amendment limits simply because it hosts a forum for public speech. Rather, as EFF argued in an amicus brief, YouTube is a private entity whose editorial decisions cannot be challenged under the First Amendment, because YouTube itself has First Amendment rights to manage its platform as it sees fit.
How Much Data Is Too Much Data? — Federating Data in the Age of Connectivity
It is projected that every day humans produce approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. With this insane amount of new data, surely some of it must be redundant, right? For data science, analytics, and machine learning, this increase in the amount of data available leads to previously unthinkable new avenues for research. But while more and more data is being harvested for a variety of reasons, could better curation of the data we have already collected lead to better outcomes for research?
Representation Beyond Books
[A]lthough buying diverse books is critical, representation in libraries means much more. Diversity in staffing can also help create a library that is truly for all. . . . Employing staff members who look like and speak the languages of their minority community members makes the library and staff more approachable.
The Archive Of Contemporary Music — And Its 3 Million Recordings — Is Leaving NY
Located in New York, the Archive of Contemporary Music (ARC) has a collection of popular music that rivals that of the Library of Congress, housing more than three million recordings. The archive is independent and gets no money from state or local governments and because of rising rents, it's being forced to vacate its longtime Manhattan headquarters. News of its predicament brought offers from all over the country, and the archive has just announced that it will be moving to two different locations outside of the city.
Love Zombies? Thank the Public Domain
With more than 3.1 million views to date, “Night of the Living Dead” is among the most popular feature films on the Internet Archive. The 1968 movie is also generally acknowledged as one of the landmark films of the horror genre, as well as the work that single handedly created the modern conception of the zombie. But none of that would have been possible without a mistake—one that landed the film firmly in the public domain.
Intersect Alert – 29 February 2020
AI & Machine Learning
Digital Transformation: Exploring AI
Have you seen the administration’s 2020 Federal Data Strategy? It emphasizes the need for federal agencies to leverage our data as strategic assets. Action 8 of the plan specifically speaks to improving data in order to support artificial intelligence (AI) research in federal agencies. Good data is a critical building block for AI. As you would expect from the National Archives and Records Administration, we have focused on standards from the beginning of our existence.
How to know if artificial intelligence is about to destroy civilization
Could we wake up one morning dumbstruck that a super-powerful AI has emerged, with disastrous consequences? Books like Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom and Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark, as well as more recent articles, argue that malevolent superintelligence is an existential risk for humanity. But one can speculate endlessly. It’s better to ask a more concrete, empirical question: What would alert us that superintelligence is indeed around the corner?
The Lost 110 Words of Our Constitution
The U.S. Constitution is famously short—a mere 7,591 words, including its 27 amendments. That makes it all the more remarkable that 110 of those words have been, in effect, lost to the ages. These forgotten words form Section 2 of the 14th Amendment, which was designed to guard against the infringement of voting rights. The lost provision is simple: States that deny their citizens the right to vote will have reduced representation in the House of Representatives.
Chief FOIA Officers Council’s Technology Committee Releases Best Practices and Recommendations
In response to a recommendation by the 2016-2018 term of the FOIA Advisory Committee, the Archivist of the United States directed that the cross-agency Council establish a technology subcommittee in partnership with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) Council, to study the use and deployment of technology in agency FOIA programs and identify best practices and recommendations that can be implemented across agencies. In September 2018, the Council established the Technology Subcommittee (later renamed the Technology Committee). Members hail from five Cabinet-level agencies and six independent agencies and met throughout Fiscal Year 2019.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): A Legal Overview
Originally enacted in 1966, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) establishes a three-part system that requires federal agencies to disclose a large swath of government information to the public. First, FOIA directs agencies to publish substantive and procedural rules, along with certain other important government materials, in the Federal Register. Second, on a proactive basis, agencies must electronically disclose a separate set of information that consists of, among other things, final adjudicative opinions and certain “frequently requested” records. And lastly, FOIA requires agencies to disclose all covered records not made available pursuant to the aforementioned affirmative disclosure provisions to individuals, corporations, and others upon request.
Apple, Tell Us More About Your App Store Takedowns
EFF and 10 human rights organizations called out Apple for enabling China's censorship and surveillance regime through overly broad content restrictions on the App Store in China, and for its decision to move iCloud backups and encryption keys to within China. In a letter to Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president and App Store lead, the groups asked for more transparency about App Store takedowns and to meet with Apple executives to discuss the company's decisions and ways Apple can rectify harms against Apple users most affected by the removals.
Empty Promises Won’t Save the .ORG Takeover
The Internet Society’s (ISOC) November announcement that it intended to sell the Public Interest Registry (PIR, the organization that oversees the .ORG domain name registry) to a private equity firm sent shockwaves through the global NGO sector. The announcement came just after a change to the .ORG registry agreement—the agreement that outlines how the registry operator must run the domain—that gives PIR significantly more power to raise registration fees and implement new measures to censor organizations’ speech.
Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain
The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before. nFor the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge.
The first three dimensions—length, height, and depth—are included on all topographical maps. The “fourth dimension,” or time, is also available on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography (Swisstopo). In the “Journey Through Time,” a timeline displays 175 years of the country’s cartographic history, advancing in increments of 5-10 years. Over the course of two minutes, Switzerland is drawn and redrawn with increasing precision: inky shapes take on hard edges, blues and browns appear after the turn of the century, and in 2016, the letters drop their serifs.
EFF Files Comments Criticizing Proposed CCPA Regulations
EFF joined a coalition of privacy advocates in filing comments with the California Attorney General regarding its ongoing rulemaking process for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA was passed in 2018, and took effect on January 1, 2020. Later this year, the Attorney General (AG) will finalize regulations that dictate how exactly the law will be enforced.
Firefox enables network privacy feature for users in US
Mozilla has begun enabling a Firefox privacy feature for everyone in the US that should make it harder for ISPs or others to track you online. The technology, called DNS over HTTPS -- DOH for short -- protects a crucial internet addressing technology with encryption.
Intersect Alert – 23 February 2020
Reevaluating the DMCA 22 Years Later: Let’s Think of the Users
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is 22 years old this year and the Senate Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is marking that occasion with a series of hearings reviewing the law and inviting ideas for “reform.” In EFF’s letter to the Committee, we explained that Section 1201 of the DMCA has no redeeming value. It has caused a lot of damage to speech, competition, innovation, and fair use. However, the safe harbors of Section 512 of the DMCA have allowed the Internet to be an open and free platform for lawful speech.
Open access journals get a boost from librarians—much to Elsevier’s dismay
A quiet revolution is sweeping the $20 billion academic publishing market and its main operator Elsevier, partly driven by an unlikely group of rebels: cash-strapped librarians.
Law Libraries and the Future of Public Access to Born-Digital Government Information
As government publications have shifted from print to electronic, mechanisms for guaranteeing the public’s right to access government information have not kept pace. Because legal resources are among the publications most at risk of loss, law libraries should participate in efforts to ensure that born-digital government information remains freely available to all.
Public Library of Science, University of California Announce Transformational OA Agreement
On February 19, the nonprofit, open access (OA) publisher Public Library of Science (PLOS) and the University of California (UC) announced a transformational agreement that will make UC researchers’ path to publication in PLOS journals easier. Under the two-year pilot, which will be implemented this spring, UC Libraries will automatically pay the first $1,000 of any article processing charge (APC) for UC researchers choosing to publish in a PLOS journal. Authors who do not have research funding available to pay the APC can request funding for the full amount, which will be paid by UC Libraries—eliminating APCs as a barrier.
American Library Association’s $2 Million Shortfall Prompts Demands for Transparency, Reform
ALA announced a significant budget shortfall during their annual meeting, raising serious concerns.
Classification Systems vs. Taxonomies
Is a taxonomy the same as a classification scheme or system? Or, to put it another way, is a classification system, such as the Dewey Decimal System, a kind of taxonomy? Both of these kinds of knowledge organization systems have the feature of arranging topical terms in a hierarchy of multiple levels, without having related-term relationships or necessarily synonyms/nonpreferred terms, which are features of thesauri. So, it appears as if the only difference is that classification systems have some kind of notation or alphanumeric code associated with each term, and taxonomies do not. The differences, however, are greater than that.
Join us on a Presidential Libraries Road Trip!
In celebration of Presidents Day, the US National Archives features a series of Citizen Archivist tagging and transcription missions using Catalog records from each Presidential Library: a Presidential Libraries Road Trip!
Why Amazon Knows So Much About You
An Amazon super-user tracks the company’s rise as a data collector
Gillibrand Proposes Federal Data Protection Agency
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on February 12 introduced the Data Protection Act of 2020, new legislation that would create the Data Protection Agency (DPA), an independent federal agency that “would serve as a ‘referee’ to define, arbitrate, and enforce rules to defend the protection of [U.S. citizens’] personal data,” she announced in a post on Medium.
AI & Machine Learning
Machine Learning + Libraries Summit Event Summary
On Friday, September 20, 2019, the Library of Congress hosted the Machine Learning + Libraries Summit. This one-day conference convened 75 cultural heritage professionals (roughly 50 from outside the Library of Congress and 25 staff from within) to discuss the on-the-ground applications of machine learning technologies in libraries, museums, and universities. Hosting this conference was part of a larger effort to learn about machine learning and the role it could play in helping the Library of Congress reach its strategic goals, such as enhancing discoverability of the Library’s collections, building connections between users and the Library’s digital holdings, and leveraging technology to serve creative communities and the general public.
The messy, secretive reality behind OpenAI’s bid to save the world
The AI moonshot was founded in the spirit of transparency. This is the inside story of how competitive pressure eroded that idealism.
ACUS, Stanford Law School, and NYU School of Law Announce Report on Artificial Intelligence in Federal Agencies
The report, entitled Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies, examines the growing role that machine learning and other AI technologies are playing in federal agency adjudication, enforcement, and other regulatory activities. Based on a wide-ranging survey of federal agency activities and interviews with federal officials, the report maps current uses of AI technologies in federal agencies, highlights promising uses, and addresses challenges in assuring accountability, transparency, and non-discrimination.
The European Union’s newly released white paper containing guidelines for regulating AI acknowledges the potential for artificial intelligence to “lead to breaches of fundamental rights,” such as bias, suppression of dissent, and lack of privacy.
Google AI no longer uses gender binary tags on images of people
Google’s image-labeling AI tool will no longer label pictures with gender tags like “man” and “woman,” according to an email seen by Business Insider. In the email, Google cites its ethical rules on AI as the basis for the change.
EFF Calls For Disclosure of Secret Financing Details Behind $1.1 Billion .ORG Sale, Asks FTC To Scrutinize Deal
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) Education Fund today called on ICANN and private equity firm Ethos Capital to make public secret details—hidden costs, loan servicing fees, and inducements to insiders—about financing the $1.1 billion sale of the .ORG domain registry.
Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who’s looking
Google’s corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information,” but it also bends it to its will. From Argentina to the United Kingdom to Iran, the world’s borders look different depending on where you’re viewing them from. That’s because Google — and other online mapmakers — simply change them.
Fighting Disinformation Online: Building the Database of Web Tools
Today's information ecosystem brings access to seemingly infinite amounts of information instantaneously. It also contributes to the rapid spread of misinformation and disinformation to millions of people. In response to this challenge and as part of the RAND Corporation's Truth Decay initiative, RAND researchers worked to identify and characterize the universe of online tools targeted at online disinformation, focusing on those tools created by nonprofit or civil society organizations. This report summarizes the data collected by the RAND team in 2018 and 2019 and serves as a companion to the already published web database.
Intersect Alert February 9, 2020
While the country was riveted by the President’s impeachment trial, a Washington rumor was quietly bubbling about a potential executive order that, if implemented, would profoundly affect the future of federal architecture. RECORD has obtained what appears to be a preliminary draft of the order, under which the White House would require rewriting the Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, issued in 1962, to ensure that “the classical architectural style shall be the preferred and default style” for new and upgraded federal buildings. Entitled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again,” the draft order argues that the founding fathers embraced the classical models of “democratic Athens” and “republican Rome” for the capital’s early buildings because the style symbolized the new nation’s “self-governing ideals” (never mind, of course, that it was the prevailing style of the day). The draft decries the quality of architecture under the General Service Administration’s (GSA) Design Excellence Program for its failure to re-integrate “our national values into Federal buildings” which too often have been “influenced by Brutalism and Deconstructivism.” The draft document specifically cites the U.S. Federal Building in San Francisco (2007, by Morphosis), the U.S. Courthouse in Austin, Texas (2012, by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects), and the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Miami (2007, by Arquitectonica) for having “little aesthetic appeal.”..
Should the public pay a dime for access to court records?
The federal judiciary charges 10 cents per page to pull up court files from its online record repository. The fees can add up quickly, and users must consider whether each click to view a public record is worth the cost.
But a lawsuit in court Monday in Washington challenges the government’s paywall to search online for case documents through the service known as PACER, an acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records.
“The best policy is to make PACER free,” a group of retired federal judges told the court.
Congress Must Stop the Graham-Blumenthal Anti-Security Bill
Border Agency Gets OK to Hide Previously Public Info from FOIA, and Much More
The Trump administration has designated Customs and Border Protection (CBP) a “security agency”, a move that puts CBP in the same category as the Secret Service and the FBI, among others. And the new designation grants CBP increased leeway in withholding information from the public.
A January 31, 2020 memo from CBP Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, which was obtained by The Nation’s Ken Klippenstein, states, “I am pleased to announce CBP has been designated as a Security Agency under Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) official Data Release Policy, effective immediately. Previously, only frontline law enforcement, investigative, or intelligence positions held this designation. This policy change now protects all CBP employee names from subsequent responses to Freedom of Information Act requests or other public disclosures for CGP employee data.”
How Academic Science Gave Its Soul to the Publishing Industry
America’s globally preeminent university research enterprise is constructed on two bedrock principles of self-governance. The first is autonomy: academic scientists should be left free to determine their own research agendas. The second is internal accountability: the quality of academic science is best assessed by academic scientists. The commitment to scientific self-governance carries with it a policy requirement as well: support for research will mostly have to come from the federal government; companies will never make the necessary investments in undirected research because they cannot capture the economic benefits for themselves.
Content Ownership Is King: That’s Why Movie, TV & Music Libraries Are In Such High Demand
Netflix and all of its new mega streaming challengers bring consumers more movie and television choice and experiences than ever before. At the same time, streaming of songs accelerates consumer engagement of music and returns the music industry to its past glories.
Content, of course, sits in the center of it all - in all forms of media. Content is king like never before, and content creators and ownership have never been in higher demand because of it. Ownership means control, after all. Ownership drives new engagement possibilities. Ownership drives new monetization opportunities. And, if you don’t already own the content you need - or the creators you need to produce it - just go out and acquire it and them.
New Bill Goes After “Drag Queen Story Hour” at Local Libraries
Public library employees in Missouri could face a fine or jail time for providing “age-inappropriate sexual material” under a bill proposed by a state lawmaker.
The bill, known as the “Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act,” has drawn criticism by library and freedom-of-speech groups since it was introduced last month by State Representative Ben Baker, a Republican.
The bill proposes that libraries create a parental review panel that would evaluate whether content provided by the library is “age-inappropriate sexual material.” The panels would be made up of five residents who are not library employees.
Intersect Alert February 2, 2020
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issued a public apology for having displayed an altered photograph at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.
Copyright, Fair Use, and Competition in Oracle v. Google
The ongoing Oracle v. Google case is headed to the Supreme Court, and Public Knowledge submitted an amicus brief in support of Google. Oracle sued Google in 2010, accusing the tech giant of copying over 11000 lines of code from Oracle’s Java programming language application programming interface (API). Google deployed the code in Android, now the most popular mobile operating system in the world. Public Knowledge believes this case should be resolved on copyrightability grounds, not the fair use doctrine.
Many Reports to Congress May Go Online
Many of the hundreds or thousands of reports that are submitted to Congress by executive branch agencies each year may be published online pursuant to a provision in the new Consolidated Appropriations Act (HR 1158, section 8092).
Confronting Foreign Threats to Basic Research
Foreign scientists working in the U.S. are a vital part of the U.S. scientific research enterprise, a new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel said, and this country could hardly do without them. Yet in some cases they pose a challenge to the integrity of U.S. research programs. But some foreign scientists — often, but not only, from China — violate U.S. norms of scientific ethics by improperly sharing sensitive research information and technology without authorization.
Artificial intelligence, geopolitics, and information integrity
Much has been written, and rightly so, about the potential that artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create and promote misinformation. But there is a less well-recognized but equally important application for AI in helping to detect misinformation and limit its spread. This dual role will be particularly important in geopolitics, which is closely tied to how governments shape and react to public opinion both within and beyond their borders. And it is important for another reason as well: While nation-state interest in information is certainly not new, the incorporation of AI into the information ecosystem is set to accelerate as machine learning and related technologies experience continued advances.
New Bill Would Make Needed Steps Toward Curbing Mass Surveillance
The Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act is a Strong Bill That Builds on Previous Surveillance Reforms
Sens. Ron Wyden (D–Oregon) and Steve Daines (R–Montana) along with Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D–California), Warren Davidson (R–Ohio), and Pramila Jayapal (D–Washington) introduced the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act (SAPRA), H.R 5675. This bipartisan legislation includes significant reforms to the government’s foreign intelligence surveillance authorities, including Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act allows the government to obtain a secret court order requiring third parties, such as telephone providers, Internet providers, and financial institutions, to hand over business records or any other “tangible thing” deemed “relevant” to an international terrorism, counterespionage, or foreign intelligence investigation. If Congress does not act, Section 215 is set to expire on March 15.
Intersect Alert January 26, 2020
"We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of copyright law and policy, addressing what's at stake and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation"
"What if a single parking ticket carried a fine of up to a year's salary? What if there were no way to know consistently how much the fine would be before you got it? And what if any one of thousands of private citizens could decide to write you a ticket? What would happen? People would start avoiding public parking and stay home more often. Business would decline. The number of false or unfair tickets would rise. Everyone would lose confidence in the system—and in the law—as parking became a huge gamble.""Something very close to this scenario is a reality in copyright law. Copyright holders who sue for infringement can ask for "statutory damages." That means letting a jury decide how big of a penalty the defendant will have to pay—anywhere from $200 to $150,000 per copyrighted work, without requiring any evidence of actual financial losses or illicit profits. That's a big problem for anyone who uses works in lawful but non-traditional ways. Musicians, bloggers, video creators, software developers, and others gamble with these massive damages whenever their art or technology touches another’s work. They risk unpredictable, potentially devastating penalties if a copyright holder objects and a court disagrees with their well-intentioned efforts."
Discovering millions of datasets on the web
"Across the web, there are millions of datasets about nearly any subject that interests you. If you’re looking to buy a puppy, you could find datasets compiling complaints of puppy buyers or studies on puppy cognition. Or if you like skiing, you could find data on revenue of ski resorts or injury rates and participation numbers. Dataset Search has indexed almost 25 million of these datasets, giving you a single place to search for datasets and find links to where the data is. Over the past year, people have tried it out and provided feedback, and now Dataset Search is officially out of beta."
Maps of Every Single Street in Any City
"Andrei Kashcha’s City Roads tool will draw you a map of just the roads in any city around the world."
How to Be a Better Web Searcher: Secrets from Google Scientists
"Researchers who study how we use search engines share common mistakes, misperceptions and advice."
"In a cheery, sunshine-filled fourth-grade classroom in California, the teacher explained the assignment: write a short report about the history of the Belgian Congo at the end of the 19th century, when Belgium colonized this region of Africa. One of us (Russell) was there to help the students with their online research methods."
"I watched in dismay as a young student slowly typed her query into a smartphone. This was not going to end well. She was trying to find out which city was the capital of the Belgian Congo during this time period. She reasonably searched [ capital Belgian Congo ] and in less than a second she discovered that the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is Kinshasa, a port town on the Congo River. She happily copied the answer into her worksheet."
"But the student did not realize that the Democratic Republic of Congo is a completely different country than the Belgian Congo, which used to occupy the same area. The capital of that former country was Boma until 1926, when it was moved to Léopoldville (which was later renamed Kinshasa). Knowing which city was the capital during which time period is complicated in the Congo, so I was not terribly surprised by the girl’s mistake."
"The deep problem here is that she blindly accepted the answer offered by the search engine as correct. She did not realize that there is a deeper history here."
Small Libraries, Big Impact: How the NNLM Can Help Small & Rural Libraries Support the Health Information Needs in Their Communities
"This webinar will introduce the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) members to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM), the outreach arm of the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Presenters will provide attendees with a step-by-step guide on how they can leverage NNLM to support the health information needs of rural and small communities by introducing several trusted NLM consumer health information resources and showing ARSL Members how they can take advantage of NNLM funding opportunities, training, resources, and partnerships. Attendees will also learn about NNLM’s partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) All of Us Research Program and talk about opportunities for ARLS members to leverage this partnership to support access to quality health information in their own communities."
In U.S. Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019
- Library most frequented by young adults, women and low-income households
- Average U.S. adult attended five movies and five live sporting events
- Age and income among key factors in frequency of activities
Intersect Alert January 12, 2020
Australia’s fires have pumped out more emissions than 100 nations combined
Climate change is driving climate change.
"The wildfires raging along Australia’s eastern coast have already pumped around 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further fueling the climate change that’s already intensifying the nation’s fires."
"Differences in the way healthy and cognitively impaired individuals used their smartphones were enough to tell them apart."
"How they did it: Apple researchers monitored the app usage of 113 adults between the ages of 60 and 75 over 12 weeks. Thirty-one of them had clinically diagnosed cognitive impairment; 82 were healthy. For every session—from the moment users unlocked their phones to the moment they locked them again—the researchers logged the sequences of apps used and categorized the sessions into different types. The data was used to train a machine-learning model."
Via EFF - "You may have heard from a lot of businesses telling you that they’ve updated their privacy policies because of a new law called the California Consumer Privacy Act. But what’s actually changed for you?"
"EFF has spent the past year defending this law in the California legislature, but we realize that not everyone has been following it as closely as we have. So here are answers to ten frequently asked questions we’ve heard about the CCPA."
“The 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group was created to explore the use of 3D technologies to expand access to the Library’s collections. In Fall 2019, the working group launched a pilot in which a limited selection of items from the online collections were 3D scanned and the 3D models made publicly available. In the blog post below, I share what it was like to be trained to build 3D models alongside other Library staff, how we collaborated as a cross-functional working group, and lay out the potential uses of the models we created as part of the LOC 3D pilot project.
Library’s 3D models go live!
Ask anyone what is held in the Library of Congress collections and they will give you the obvious answer: books. Lots and lots of books. Up until last month, I would’ve said the same thing. Since joining the Library of Congress 3D Digital Modeling, Imaging, and Printing Working Group, however, I’ve discovered that the world’s largest library in fact houses many three-dimensional objects ranging from casts of President’s hands to banjos to medieval vellum manuscripts. What’s more—you can now see some of them online as 3D objects! The core purpose of the 3D Working Group chaired by Educational Resource Specialist Stephen Wesson is to explore ways to bring these physical artifacts to life online for users. I was lucky enough to come aboard just as the group launched a pilot project to create and display 3D models of objects held in our collections. To this end, 13 staff from all across the Library’s service units became certified in photogrammetry, a process that combines photography and the use of software to create digital, web-viewable 3D models…”
Books and Reading
Dictionaries and the Law
“The law is a profession built on words, so it is no surprise that dictionaries repre-sent a key component of our professional literature. From John Rastell’s Termes de la Ley in the sixteenth century to Bryan A. Garner’s most recent edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, dictionaries have helped lawyers and judges grapple with words and phrases that are often challenging and obscure. For law students, dictionaries—general or law-specific, online or in print—can help with the daunting task of learning a new professional language with old roots, often in Latin and French..”
Intersect Alert January 5, 2020
"Tens of thousands of Australians are fleeing their homes as hundreds of fires rage across the continent’s southeast coast. And yes, climate change is almost certainly to blame for the extent of the disaster."
This NASA satellite image shows the extent of Australia’s devastating wildfires
"The context: Some of the worst wildfires in decades have been burning across Australia in recent months, exacerbated by hot, dry, windy conditions and rising global temperatures. Almost 15 million acres of land have burned so far, compared with two million acres in California in 2018. But to get a visual sense of the sheer scale of the fires, it’s worth looking at them from space. This NASA image, taken on Saturday, shows smoke billowing from country's east coast."
Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues January 5, 2020
Via LLRX - "Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: The 5 Best Authenticator Apps for Protecting Your Accounts; Major US companies breached, robbed, and spied on by Chinese hackers; US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok over security worries; and 7 types of virus – a short glossary of contemporary cyberbadness."
Vox Populi – “Before there was the internet, there was la Bibliothèque nationale de France (the National Library of France) in Paris: an ever-expanding collection of books, manuscripts, maps and other cultural artifacts that has been operating continuously since the 15th century. The documentary Toute la mémoire du monde (All the Memory in the World), made by the influential and celebrated French filmmaker Alain Resnais in 1956, is an astounding tour of the institution before digitisation, when the world’s largest well of information wasn’t at our fingertips, but fastidiously collected and sorted behind library walls. Resnais focuses not only on the imposing scope of the library’s holdings, but also explores the vast enterprise of maintaining it for centuries to come, as well as the facility’s role as a bustling home for curiosity and enquiry. Through moody black-and-white cinematography of the library’s collection, architecture and meticulous processes, the film explores a place that, like human knowledge itself, is ‘destined to be forever a work in progress’. A dramatic score by Maurice Jarre – by turns pulsing, soaring and delicate – acts as a further guide through the labyrinth of the library, and the film itself.” Director: Alain Resnais
Bats Are Hanging Out in the Library. What Gives?
In Wales and Portugal, flying mammals have taken roost in unusual places.
"High above the Mondego River, in Portugal’s interior, a colony of common pipistrelles bats wings out of a library, soars over the cobbled university square, and disappears into the night. These are perhaps the most famous residents of the University of Coimbra. By day, they doze in the stacks of the European baroque Joanina Library, home to such ancient works as the first edition of Dionysius of Halicarnassus’s Roman Antiquities and Homer’s Opera Omnia. Come nightfall, they emerge to feed on flies and gnats and other pests within the library, before swooping out the windows in search of water. Every evening, the librarians here—some who claim they can even hear the bats “singing” late in the afternoon on days when the weather changes rapidly to rain—cover the library’s 18th-century tables with a heavy animal-skin fabric. Every morning, they wash away whatever droppings the bats have left behind."
"Bats have been in residence at the Joanina Library since at least the 19th century, perhaps longer: The librarians know this because they still hold the receipt for that protective fabric that was imported from Russia 200 years ago. Today, as then, the effect of these flittermice, combined with difficult-to-penetrate oak bookcases decorated meticulously in Chinese motifs, is an environment nearly free of destructive bookworms, so to speak."
“In legal technology, it was a decade of tumult and upheaval, bringing changes that will forever transform the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. Feisty startups took on established behemoths. The cloud dropped rain on legacy products. Mobile tech untethered lawyers. Clients demanded efficiency and transparency. Robots arrived to take over our jobs. “Alternative” became a label for new kinds of legal services providers. An expanding justice gap fueled efforts at ethics reform. Investment dollars began to pour in. Data got big. Every year, I write a year-end wrap-up of the most significant developments in legal technology. But as we reach the end of a decade, I decided to look back on the most significant developments of the past 10 years. Looking back, it may well have been the most tumultuous decade ever in changing how legal services are delivered. (Here are my prior years’ lists of the most important developments: For several years now, I’ve closed out the year with a round-up of the 10 most important legal developments 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013. In 2017, I bypassed the list to focus on a single overarching development, The Year of Women in Legal Tech.)…”
Intersect Alert December 22, 2019
The Year We Fought to Get Net Neutrality Back: 2019 Year in Review
“Ever since the FCC repealed net neutrality protections in 2017, we’ve been fighting to return as many protections to as many Americans as possible. In 2019, the battles in the courts and Congress both kept those committed to a free and open Internet very busy.”
Smart Home Tech, Police, and Your Privacy: Year in Review 2019
“If 2019 confirmed anything, it is that we should not trust the microphones and cameras that large corporations sell us to put inside and near our homes. Thanks to the due diligence of reporters, public records requesters, and privacy researchers and activists, consumers have been learning more and more about how these “smart” home technologies can be hacked, exploited, or utilized by the police and other law enforcement agencies.”
2020 Open Educational Resources (OER) Sources and Tools
Via LLRX – 2020 Open Educational Resources (OER) Sources and Tools – “This is a comprehensive listing of Open Educational Resources (OER) sources and tools available in the United States and around the world, by Marcus P. Zillman. His guide includes references to: search engines, directories, initiatives, books, E-books, E-textbooks, free online seminars and webinars, subject guides, open and distance learning, open access papers and research, as well as related costs and metrics to identify and choose reliable, subject matter expert sources for free and open continuing education and research on the internet.”
FRB launches new Twitter account highlighting research published in Board’s working papers and notes series
“The Federal Reserve Board on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 – launched a new Twitter account aimed at increasing access to the research done by the more than 400 economists and other research staff at the Board. The new account—@FedResearch—will highlight research published in the Board’s working papers and notes series, other staff articles, and conferences. Staff members at the Board conduct research on a wide variety of topics in economics and finance. The Board’s Finance and Economics Discussion Series and its International Finance Discussion Papers—along with the FEDS Notes series—offer a venue for Board staff to publish their work to stimulate discussion. The papers and notes reflect the views of the individual authors and do not communicate policy positions of the Board or the Federal Reserve System. The Board’s @FederalReserve Twitter account will continue to provide official news and information about the Board…”
IMLS Receives $10 Million Increase in FY2020
Congressional appropriators needed overtime to complete the FY2020 budget, but the result brought good news for libraries: a $10 million increase for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), including $6.2 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)–the largest increase in LSTA funding in 12 years. The final federal spending bill also includes increases for other library programs. The budget bill now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it.
For the third year in a row, American Library Association (ALA) advocates called, emailed, tweeted, and met with their members of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at home. ALA President Wanda Kay Brown said in a December 19 statement, “This is your win!”
Congress appropriated $252 million for IMLS, including a $6.2 million increase dedicated to LSTA. Highlights from the $195.4 million for LSTA include:
$166.8 million for LSTA Grants to States ($160.8 million in FY2019)
$5.3 million for LSTA Native American Library Services ($5.1 million in FY2019)
$10 million for LSTA Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grants ($10 million in FY2019)
$13.4 million for LSTA National Leadership for Libraries ($13.4 million in FY2019)
The biggest technology failures of 2019
What would the holidays be without the Grinch? And what would MIT Technology Review be without our annual list of the year's sorriest tech fails?
This year’s list includes the deadly, the dishonest, and the simply daft.
Merchant Marine Records Document Maritime Service
“SAINT LOUIS, December 16, 2019 — The public now has access to previously unavailable information concerning former merchant mariners and their maritime service through Merchant Marine Licensing Files, made available by the National Archives at St. Louis.”
“The public can access these records in two ways: through a request made via an offsite reference request (with reproduction provided for a fee), or via onsite viewing at the National Archives at St. Louis Research Room. The collection opened to the public on December 2, 2019.”
Intersect Alert December 8, 2019
How do I protect my online privacy from 'surveillance capitalism'?
“Chris wants to better protect his privacy. What can he easily do besides de-Googling his online life?”
“On Monday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published a 17,000-word report on this topic. Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance, by Bennett Cyphers and Gennie Gebhart, covers both online privacy problems and the growth of real-word surveillance.”
The laws protecting our data are too weak
“The latest in a long line of privacy scandals happened last week, after Google was found to have been pulling unredacted data from one of America’s largest healthcare providers to use in one of its projects. Despite assurances that it won’t use this information to supplant its ad business, that’s not the issue here. How was Google able to acquire this knowledge in the first place? Professor Sandra Wachter is an expert in law, data and AI at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute. She says that every time your data is collected, “you leave something of yourself behind.” She added that anyone can use your online behavior to “infer very sensitive things about you,” like your ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and health status. It’s bad enough when the companies use those inferences for targeted ads. But it gets a lot worse when they gain access to very private data. For instance, would you feel comfortable if Google started displaying ads for fertility treatments in your emails after a trip to the doctor? Or if your healthcare provider could access your browser history without your knowledge to determine how suitable you are for insurance…”
Books and Reading
Financial Times Best Books of 2019
“This site is paywalled, but if you have online access – do visit the Financial Times Best Books of 2019 – the extensive subject matter annotated list includes: economics, health, history, art, mysteries, thrillers, fiction, non-fiction, technology, sport, poetry, science, art, gardens, and more – well done.”
Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show
Annual survey shows sharp cuts to local authority funding have led to the loss of 17% of branches, alongside sharp staff and funding shortfalls
Libraries in the archive: snapshots of reading in Britain 1930s-1990s
The news that Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010 has prompted us to look back at images of libraries in the Guardian and Observer archives. These are a few highlights, with snippets from their original captions and related headlines.
ProQuest to Acquire Innovative Interfaces
“In a move that further consolidates the library technology industry, Ex Libris announced on December 5 that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Innovative Interfaces from its private equity investors.”
“Since December 2015, Ex Libris has been owned by ProQuest. In addition to its role as a major content provider to libraries, ProQuest is now responsible for a growing portfolio of library technology products, including major systems for resource management, content discovery, materials acquisition, reading list integration, and research services. While ProQuest faces major competition for each of its product categories, this move substantially strengthens its position in the sector and broadens its scope to include public libraries.”
“Ex Libris is a wholly owned business of ProQuest, which is in turn owned by Cambridge Information Group (CIG) and Atairos. The acquisition of Innovative comes on the heels of Atairos’ new major investment in ProQuest. With the infusion of new capital, it is also not surprising to see the company expand through acquisitions and product developments.”
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 25th, 2019
What Tweets and Emojis Did to the Novel
"Until the 2010s, if you were reading, it generally meant you weren’t doing it online. Though change had been in the offing, this was the decade that irreversibly altered how we consume text — when the smartphone transformed from a marvel to a staple. Suddenly, the sharpest cultural and political analysis came in the form of a distracted boyfriend meme. Racists deployed a playful cartoon frog to sugar their messages. From the Arab Spring onward, the best reporters were often panicked bystanders with Twitter accounts.
It would seem as if few times in history could be less hospitable to literature. Not even 20 years ago we mostly read about things in lag, on thin slices of tree, whereas now we do — well, this, whatever this is. Yet instead of technology superannuating literature once and for all, it seems to have created a new space in our minds for it.
Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web
"Sir Tim Berners-Lee has launched a global action plan to save the web from political manipulation, fake news, privacy violations and other malign forces that threaten to plunge the world into a “digital dystopia”.
The Contract for the Web requires endorsing governments, companies and individuals to make concrete commitments to protect the web from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity."
The flat-Earth conspiracy is spreading around the globe. Does it hide a darker core?
"People in every pocket of this spherical planet are rejecting science and spreading the word that the Earth is flat. There's no clear study indicating how many people have been convinced -- and flat Earthers like Weiss will tell you without evidence there are millions more in the closet anyway, including Hollywood A-listers and commercial airline pilots -- but online communities have hundreds of thousands of followers and YouTube is inundated with flat-Earth content creators, whose productions reach millions."
Victory: Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Police Can’t Force You to Tell Them Your Password
"The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a forceful opinion today holding that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being forced to disclose the passcode to their devices to the police. In a 4-3 decision in Commonwealth v. Davis, the court found that disclosing a password is “testimony” protected by the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination."
About Face: Ending Government Use of Face Surveillance
"Many forms of biometric data collection raise a wealth of privacy, security, and ethical concerns. Face surveillance ups the ante. We expose our faces to public view every time we go outside. Paired with the growing ubiquity of surveillance cameras in our public, face surveillance technology allows for the covert and automated collection of information related to when and where we worship or receive medical care, and who we associate with professionally or socially."
The Council of Europe Shouldn’t Throw Out Our Privacy Rights Just to Speed Up Police Access
"Foreign police often want to investigate a crime by gathering potential evidence from Internet companies located in another country. What if police in Poland want to get a user’s data from an ISP in Germany, Philippines, Japan—or vice versa? Can they do this? Under what rules, and with what kind of oversight?"
It’s not the first time Iran has shut down the internet, but this time, it’s different "
This time, the shutdown is different. Iran is cut almost completely off of the grid, and according to numerous groups in the internet outage measurement community, the method Iran used to carry out this specific shutdown diverges from a “typical” blanket shutdown and its comprehensive nature makes it harder to circumvent. That makes what is already an inherently disproportionate interference with Iranians’ human rights even more harmful and dangerous. "
A Lehigh University-Led Partnership Releases Open Web Database of 160,000 Pages Of High-Resolution, Full-Color Manuscripts Dating to the Ninth Century
"Scholars and aficionados can now search, download and study 160,000 pages of high-resolution, full-color manuscripts dating to the ninth century, thanks to library partnerships.
From tattoos to video games to Game of Thrones, medieval iconography has long inspired fascination, imitation and veneration. Now, thousands of original medieval manuscript and early modern images are available for free online, for scholars and aficionados to search, download and study."
10,000 Yiddish Books Now Fully Searchable Online
"fter years of work by a small team of linguists, computer programmers, and volunteer editors, visitors to the Yiddish Book Center’s website can now search millions of pages of digitized Yiddish books with the aid of a newly launched computer program. The program, Jochre, allows users to search for a specific word or phrase and instantly find every mention of it in more than 10,000 Yiddish books. Previously the books, which have been available online in PDF form for a decade, were only searchable by title and author name. It’s no exaggeration, note Yiddish scholars, to say that the software will revolutionize their field."
Federal Research: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Public Access to Research Results (GAO Report)
"The 19 agencies that GAO reviewed have made progress implementing their plans to increase public access to federally funded research results (publications and data), as called for in a 2013 Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) memorandum. However, some agencies have not fully implemented some aspects of their plans, in particular those related to data access and mechanisms to ensure researchers comply with public access requirements."
Carnegie Mellon University Announces a Transformative Agreement with Elsevier
"Under the terms of the agreement, which is the first of its kind between Elsevier and a university in the United States, Carnegie Mellon scholars will have access to all Elsevier academic journals. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, articles with a corresponding CMU author published through Elsevier also will be open access."
Changes to Department of Labor and Healthcare.gov websites foreshadowed formal LGBTQ policy shifts
"Our newest report is a deep dive into how federal web messaging related to the LGBTQ community has evolved under the Trump administration. The report noted a reduction in information specific to the LGBTQ community and changes in language usage related to freighted terms like “gender” and “sex,”” as well as a marked increase in the use of terms related to “religious freedom” on HHS.gov.
Some of the most notable changes we observed were related to federal prohibitions on discrimination, particularly against transgender people, which came amid an ongoing flurry of rulemaking related to anti-discrimination protections at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. Each of the rulemaking efforts ties into one of the Trump administration’s central policy themes — initiatives designed to protect “religious freedom” — and each has significant implications for the rights of the LGBTQ community."
Librarianship at the Crossroads of ICE Surveillance
"Information capitalism, the system where information, a historically, largely free and ubiquitous product of basic communication, is commodified by private owners for profit, is entrenched in our society. Information brokers have consolidated and swallowed up huge amounts of data, in a system that leaves data purchase, consumption, and use largely unregulated and unchecked. This article focuses on librarian ethics in the era of information capitalism, focusing specifically on an especially insidious arena of data ownership: surveillance capitalism and big data policing. While librarians value privacy and intellectual freedom, librarians increasingly rely on products that sell personal data to law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Librarians should consider how buying and using these products in their libraries comports with our privacy practices and ethical standards. "
Transparency vs. Good Government
"It is usually taken for granted that transparency is a prerequisite to good government. The idea seems obvious. “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing,” said President Obama in 2009. “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” But in practice, that is not always true. Demands for transparency can sometimes be used to undermine the values of an open society, and current events compel a more nuanced understanding of the concept."
No Love for White Gloves, or: the Cotton Menace
There is a unique joy in watching a video or reading a news story with images of a librarian handling a rare book. Rare books, unlike many museum objects, are still used today in the same way that they would have been when they were new centuries ago – they’re held and opened, and their pages are turned. It would make sense that these historical objects should be handled with white gloves to keep them clean, right?
WRONG! Well, mostly. But we’ll get to that part later."
A Lehigh University-Led Partnership Releases Open Web Database of 160,000 Pages Of High-Resolution, Full-Color Manuscripts Dating to the Ninth Century
"Scholars and aficionados can now search, download and study 160,000 pages of high-resolution, full-color manuscripts dating to the ninth century, thanks to library partnerships.
From tattoos to video games to Game of Thrones, medieval iconography has long inspired fascination, imitation and veneration. Now, thousands of original medieval manuscript and early modern images are available for free online, for scholars and aficionados to search, download and study.
Silicon Valley Archives Update
"Many communities have contributed to Silicon Valley, and in many ways. Unfortunately, their lives and work are not always represented in the archival collections that have been amassed to date. It will be a major priority of the SVA to address areas of under-representation in the archival record. Achieving this goal will require a series of efforts focused on identifying and working with groups that until now have not been represented in terms of race, gender identity, immigration, and so forth. Our second initiative therefore is a project focused on the multiple histories of African Americans in Silicon Valley."
This is the first global map of Saturn’s moon Titan
"Old data acquired by NASA’s Cassini mission has given us our most complete look yet at the mysterious moon. The new map, in Nature Astronomy, offers new insights into how the moon’s methane cycle has shaped the surface."
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 18, 2019
Pew: Americans and Privacy: Concerned, Confused and Feeling Lack of Control Over Their Personal Information
"A majority of Americans believe their online and offline activities are being tracked and monitored by companies and the government with some regularity. It is such a common condition of modern life that roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults say they do not think it is possible to go through daily life without having data collected about them by companies or the government." <https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2019/11/Pew-Research-Center_PI_2019.11.15_Americans-and-Privacy_FINAL.pdf
Who Stole My Face? The Risks Of Law Enforcement Use Of Facial Recognition Software "Last week, RIT philosophy professor and expert on the ethical and privacy implications of technology, Evan Selinger, spoke to a group of lawyers in Rochester, New York, about the dangers presented by facial recognition software. The presentation, “Who Stole My Face? The Privacy Implications of Facial Recognition Technology,” was hosted by the committee that I chair for the Monroe County Bar Association, the Technology and Law Practice Committee, and was the brainchild of committee member Aleksander Nikolic, a Rochester IP attorney."
Google almost made 100,000 chest X-rays public — until it realized personal data could be exposed
"Two days before Google was set to publicly post more than 100,000 images of human chest X-rays, the tech giant got a call from the National Institutes of Health, which had provided the images: Some of them still contained details that could be used to identify the patients, a potential privacy and legal violation. Google abruptly canceled its project with NIH, according to emails reviewed by The Washington Post and an interview with a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the 2017 incident, which has never been reported, highlights the potential pitfalls of the tech giant’s incursions into the world of sensitive health data."
Video: The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University Hosts Conversation with Edward Snowden
"On October 29, 2019, Knight First Amendment Institute’s Jameel Jaffer and The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson Sorkin spoke to Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked top-secret documents about the National Security Agency to the press in 2013. Snowden spoke via Skype about the rise of mass surveillance, his thoughts on the recent whistleblower case and how we should protect our privacy. The event at The Forum was open to the public and well attended. "
The Dark Psychology of Social Networks
"Facebook’s early mission was “to make the world more open and connected”—and in the first days of social media, many people assumed that a huge global increase in connectivity would be good for democracy. As social media has aged, however, optimism has faded and the list of known or suspected harms has grown: Online political discussions (often among anonymous strangers) are experienced as angrier and less civil than those in real life; networks of partisans co-create worldviews that can become more and more extreme; disinformation campaigns flourish; violent ideologies lure recruits." https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/12/social-media-democracy/600763/
The Internet Dream Became a Nightmare. What Will Become of It Now?
"As the technology critic Evgeny Morozov noted in his trenchant 2013 book, “To Save Everything, Click Here,” the distance between the quotidian reality of the internet and the utopian set of notions we projected onto it had become so vast that quotation marks ought to separate the idealized version from the real thing. “The internet” was going to empower the masses, overthrow hierarchies, build a virtual world that was far superior to the terrestrial one that bound us. But the actual internet was never capable of any of that, and once it fell into the hands of plutocrats and dictators, all the gauzy rhetoric around it only served their interests."
The New PubMed is Here
"An updated version of PubMed is now available at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ (see Figure 1). The new PubMed will become the default in spring 2020 and will ultimately replace the legacy version." https://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/nd19/nd19_pubmed_new.html
Springer Nature First Publisher to Implement Seamlessaccess.Org Service. "For a scientist working on their university’s campus, accessing a paywalled journal article is painless and invisible, if their institution subscribes. The article automatically appears because the publisher recognizes that the request came from the university’s internet address. But many researchers gripe that the minute they step off campus and try to access the same article—through a home internet provider, a coffee shop’s WiFi, or a cellphone—they often face a frustrating experience. Even though many universities allow remote users to gain access by logging in through an online portal, many articles don’t clearly flag that possibility, and following the steps can be cumbersome."
Huntington Acquires Two Major Collections of Slavery and Abolition Materials
"The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens announced today that it has acquired two collections related to abolition and slavery in 19th-century America, including an exceptionally rare account book from the Underground Railroad.
The first group of materials includes the papers of Zachariah Taylor Shugart (1805–1881), a Quaker abolitionist who operated an Underground Railroad stop at his farm in Cass County, Michigan. The centerpiece of the collection is an account ledger which contains the names of 137 men and women who passed through Shugart's farm while trying to reach freedom in Canada; these names are recorded amid everyday details of Shugart's business life, including the number of minks he trapped and the debts he was owed.
The second collection is the archive of some 2,000 letters and accounts documenting the history of the Dickinson & Shrewsbury saltworks, a major operation founded in 1808 in what is now Kanawha County, West Virginia. The records shed light on an industry that was not plantation-based but still relied heavily on slave labor. . .The two collections, which were purchased recently at auction, are currently being cataloged and will be made available to scholars in the near future. Some materials, including Shugart's ledger, will be digitized."
Just Launched: Independent Documentary Filmmakers from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Web Archive "Chinese independent filmmakers from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have long been crucial to bringing attention to social and political developments in their areas, but due to the sensitive nature of their work, their web presences are at risk of disappearing at any time. Created to capture and preserve these ephemeral primary source materials, the archive contains websites, blogs, and video feeds belonging to notable filmmakers from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, all made available for future research and access."
Old dogs, new tricks: 10,000 pets needed for science "Can old dogs teach us new tricks? Scientists are looking for 10,000 pets for the largest-ever study of aging in canines. They hope to shed light on human longevity too. The project will collect a pile of pooch data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information on food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process." https://apnews.com/4bee7e617c2b44b397e79f4a16523877
New Landscapes on the Road of Open Science: 6 key issues to address for research data management in the Netherlands
"The road to Open Science is not a short one. As the chairman of the Executive Board of the European Open Science Cloud, Karel Luyben, is keen to point out, it will take at least 10 or 15 years of travel until we reach a point where Open Science is simply absorbed into ordinary, everyday science. Within the Netherlands, and for research data in particular, we have made many strides towards that final point. We have knowledge networks such as LCRDM, a suite of archives covered by the Research Data Netherlands umbrella, and the groundbreaking work done by the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences. But there is still much travel to be done; many new landscapes to be traversed. Data sharing is still far from being the norm."
Wikiview is a Powerful Photo Browser for Exploring Wikimedia Commons
"Wikimedia Commons has millions of public domain and freely-licensed photos available to the world, and now there’s a powerful new tool that helps you dive into the ocean of imagery for exploring or locating exactly what you’re looking for. It’s called wikiview, and it’s a graph-based visual image navigator." https://petapixel.com/2019/11/07/wikiview-is-a-powerful-photo-browser-for-exploring-wikimedia-commons/
C-SPAN Provides Near Real-Time Keyword Searchable Video of Today’s U.S. House Impeachment Hearing with Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch
"C-SPAN and the C-SPAN Video Library are providing near real-time searchable video (using text transcripts generated from the closed-captioning) of today’s U.S. House Impeachment Hearing with former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch."
New Report: Spoken Word Audio Share in the U.S. Up 20% Since 2014; Audiobook Listening Hits All-Time High
"The share of time spent listening to spoken word audio has increased 20% since 2014, while time spent with music across the same period decreased 5%. This shift is led by a dramatic increase in spoken word audio consumption on mobile devices across age groups, and increases in spoken word share among those ages 13-34. These findings are part of The Spoken Word Audio Report from NPR and Edison Research."
A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges
"Using data from the expanded College Scorecard, this report ranks 4,500 colleges and universities by return on investment. A First Try at ROI: Ranking 4,500 Colleges finds that bachelor’s degrees from private colleges, on average, have higher ROI than degrees from public colleges 40 years after enrollment. Community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest returns in the short term, 10 years after enrollment, though returns from bachelor’s degrees eventually overtake those of most two-year credentials."
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 11, 2019
Freedom of Information
A Constitutional Right to Public Information "In the wake of the 2013 United States Supreme Court decision of McBurney v. Young (569 U.S. 221), this Article calls for policymakers at the federal and state levels to ensure governmental records remain open and accessible to the public. It urges policymakers to call not only for strengthening of the Freedom of Information Act and the various state public records law, but to pursue an amendment to the United States Constitution providing a right to public information. This Article proposes a draft of such an amendment: The right to public information, being a necessary and vital part of democracy, shall be a fundamental right of the people. The right of the people to inspect and/or copy records of government, and to be provided notice of and attend public meetings of government, shall not unreasonably be restricted. Evidence from the House’s impeachment inquiry, including testimony from Ambassador William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires for Ukraine under the Trump administration, speaks to a pattern and practice of bypassing official record-keeping procedures at the State Department. In discussing a June 28 State-organized phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, Ambassador Taylor testified that, not only did the Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland exclude most of the regular interagency participants from the call, but that “Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelenskyy to the call.” This is a direct violation of the State Department’s obligation under the Federal Records Act to document agency policies, decisions, and essential transactions." https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3472464
Archive, CREW, Historians Sue Pompeo and the State Department over Failure to Create Records, and More: FRINFORMSUM 11/8/2019 "The National Security Archive, together with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR), recently sued Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of State for violating the Federal Records Act by failing to create and preserve essential State Department records." https://unredacted.com/2019/11/08/archive-crew-historians-sue-pompeo-and-the-state-department-over-failure-to-create-records-and-more-frinformsum-11-8-2019/
Homeland Security will soon have biometric data on nearly 260 million people "The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects to have face, fingerprint, and iris scans of at least 259 million people in its biometrics database by 2022, according to a recent presentation from the agency’s Office of Procurement Operations reviewed by Quartz. That’s about 40 million more than the agency’s 2017 projections, which estimated 220 million unique identities by 2022, according to previous figures cited by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based privacy rights nonprofit." https://qz.com/1744400/dhs-expected-to-have-biometrics-on-260-million-people-by-2022/ ;
Leaked documents show Facebook leveraged user data to fight rivals and help friends "A cache of leaked Facebook documents shows how the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, oversaw plans to consolidate the social network's power and control competitors by treating its users' data as a bargaining chip. . . This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015. About 1,200 pages are marked as 'highly confidential.' Taken together, they show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users' data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over the companies it partnered with. In some cases, Facebook would reward partners by giving them preferential access to certain types of user data while denying the same access to rival companies." https://www.nbcnews.com/news/all/leaked-documents-show-facebook-leveraged-user-data-fight-rivals-help-n1076986?cid=sm_npd_nn_tw_ma
A detective has been granted access to an entire private DNA database "A Florida detective was granted a warrant to access and search the nearly one million people’s genetic information held by consumer DNA site GEDmatch, even if users had opted out of appearing in police search results, according to the New York Times. The warrant, signed by a judge in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in July, has generated new leads in the case but no arrests, Orlando police detective Michael Fields told the paper. It seems to be the first time a judge has granted this sort of warrant, choosing to overrule a company’s DNA privacy policies." https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614684/a-detective-has-been-given-access-to-private-consumer-dna-data-for-the-first-time/
;What Federal Legislators Can Learn From California’s New Ballot Initiative "On January 1, 2020, the nation’s strictest privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), will take effect. The law empowers consumers to (1) be informed about what personal information a company has collected about them; (2) delete that data; and (3) opt out of companies selling that data to third parties. On top of this, there’s an additional ballot initiative that’s been introduced that could further strengthen California’s privacy protections." https://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/what-federal-legislators-can-learn-from-californias-new-ballot-initiative/
GPO has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958
“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958 and made them available on govinfo, GPO’s one-stop site to authentic, published Government information. Through these digitization efforts, the public can access records of Congressional Hearings for free. These include the transcripts from meetings or sessions of a Senate, House, joint, or special committee of Congress, in which elected officials obtained information and opinions on proposed legislation, conducted an investigation, or evaluated the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law. This project is part of a multi-year effort to digitize a collection of nearly 15,000 Congressional Hearings from Kansas State University Libraries, which serves the Nation as a Federal Depository Library. The digitized documents include many historical sessions. As part of this project, GPO plans to digitize nearly six million pages, of which approximately 230,000 pages have been completed."
Are facilities near you polluting the air? A new database could help "In California, 35 local air districts are tasked with controlling air pollution from so-called “stationary sources.” These facilities include oil refineries, power plants, manufacturers and gas stations. They contribute substantially to the emissions of certain pollutants, such as fine particulate matter that can lodge deep inside lung tissue and cause serious and long-term health problems." https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/2019/10/15/are-facilities-near-you-polluting-air-new-database-could-help
We R Native: a health resource for Native youth, by Native youth
We R Native is a comprehensive health resource for Native youth, by Native youth, providing content and stories about the topics that matter most to them. We R Native promote holistic health and positive growth in our local communities and nation at large. The site provides articles, blogs, videos, and social support on topics related to culture, mind, body, spirit, relationships, impact, and more.
Israel: Microsoft Implementing AI in Creating Archive Of David Ben-Gurion’s Handwritten Works "As a part of a joint initiative between Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Microsoft, the historical handwritten and printed works of the school's namesake, former prime minister David Ben-Gurion, will be easily searchable and available to researchers with a plan to create an all-ecompassing archive of the work using artificial intelligence (AI). Ben-Gurion kept meticulous records of the events that shaped the formation and early days of the Jewish state." https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Microsoft-implementing-AI-in-creating-archive-of-Ben-Gurions-handwritten-works-607013
EBSCO Information Services releases PsycTHERAPY database
"EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) introduces PsycTHERAPY, a unique streaming video database of therapy demonstrations to support clinical and counseling psychology education. Produced by the American Psychological Association (APA), the PsycTHERAPY library offers more than 500 therapy demonstrations using the latest psychotherapy techniques. PsycTHERAPY provides clinicians, counselors, and trainees with the opportunity to observe candid psychotherapy videos. This collection includes proven methods showcasing common obstacles faced during therapy sessions. Videos are accompanied by corresponding transcripts, making it easy to search interactions within demonstrations." https://librarytechnology.org/pr/24690
Open contracting in practice: protecting digital rights and responsible emerging tech
"For anyone who thinks about urban infrastructure, the term is commonly understood to include communication and transportation systems, roadways, water, power, public buildings, and public spaces. Increasingly, cities are buying technologies to connect urban infrastructure to cloud-based computing and data collection systems. In any scenario where cities are buying products from third parties to update essential infrastructure, city decision makers are either making direct no-bid agreements with private companies or going through public procurement processes to craft contracts for public-private collaborations. In order for residents to know how city governments are connecting urban infrastructure and using it for mass data collection, city governments have to commit to open and transparent contracting and public advocates must ensure that city officials are going through processes with strong accountability mechanisms to make these agreements." https://sunlightfoundation.com/2019/11/07/open-contracting-in-practice-protecting-digital-rights-and-responsible-emerging-tech/
What is the Distant Reader and why should I care?
"The Distant Reader is a tool for reading. The Distant Reader takes an arbitrary amount of unstructured data (text) as input, and it outputs sets of structured data for analysis — reading. Given a corpus of any size, the Distant Reader will analyze the corpus, and it will output a myriad of reports enabling you to use & understand the corpus. The Distant Reader is intended to supplement the traditional reading process. The Distant Reader empowers one to use & understand large amounts of textual information both quickly & easily. For example, the Distant Reader can consume the entire issue of a scholarly journal, the complete works of a given author, or the content found at the other end of an arbitrarily long list of URLs. Thus, the Distant Reader is akin to a book’s table-of-contents or back-of-the-book index but at scale. It simplifies the process of identifying trends & anomalies in a corpus, and then it enables a person to further investigate those trends & anomalies. The Distant Reader is designed to 'read' everything from a single item to a corpus of thousand’s of items. It is intended for the undergraduate student who wants to read the whole of their course work in a given class, the graduate student who needs to read hundreds (thousands) of items for their thesis or dissertation, the scientist who wants to review the literature, or the humanist who wants to characterize a genre." http://sites.nd.edu/emorgan/2019/11/reader/
The AI hiring industry is under scrutiny—but it’ll be hard to fix
"The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate HireVue, an AI tool that helps companies figure out which workers to hire."
How Does Query Intent Classification Work?
"If I am shopping online for a shovel, there’s a big difference in my search results if I’m search for a garden shovel in the summer or a snow shovel in the winter. How does the search engine know what I mean? Query intent classification starts with a set of training data, which is a list of queries from users and important context like the user’s location and date it was when they clicked on a particular type of shovel. This data gets fed into your neural network for analysis and deep learning. Then the next time a similar user with a similar history and similar location starts a search, the system will automatically boost the intended results. This is one way neural networks help avoid hand-constructing rules, complex algorithms, potential human error, and overall headaches."
The computing power needed to train AI is now rising seven times faster than ever before "In 2018, OpenAI found that the amount of computational power used to train the largest AI models had doubled every 3.4 months since 2012. The San Francisco-based for-profit AI research lab has now added new data to its analysis. This shows how the post-2012 doubling compares with the historic doubling time since the beginning of the field. From 1959 to 2012, the amount of power required doubled every two years, following Moore’s Law. This means the doubling time today is more than seven times the previous rate." https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614700/the-computing-power-needed-to-train-ai-is-now-rising-seven-times-faster-than-ever-before/
Freedom House Publishes “Freedom on the Net 2019” Report
"Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, tilting the technology toward digital authoritarianism. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, according to Freedom on the Net 2019, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, released today by Freedom House."
The UK’s election will put Facebook’s political ad policies to the test
"As in the last UK election, just two years ago, targeted ads on social media will play a big role as the major parties try to convince wavering voters or shore up their own support. This time around, however, Facebook has a clearer (and more controversial) stance on what it will and won’t allow on its platform. Specifically, it’ll be the first major election where its policy of letting politicians lie in ads is put to the test, a stance that has come under increasing pressure since Twitter said it would ban political ads last week."
Getting ready for Open Data Day 2020 on Saturday 7th March
"Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Open Data Day! Open Data Day is the annual event where we gather to reach out to new people and build new solutions to issues in our communities using open data. Over the last decade, this event has evolved from a small group of people in a few cities trying to convince their governments about the value of open data, to a full-grown community of practitioners and activists around the world working on putting data to use for their communities." https://blog.okfn.org/2019/11/08/getting-ready-for-open-data-day-2020-on-saturday-7th-march/
Watch: The Modernization of the Library of Congress is Focus of U.S. Senate Hearing '
"Three years ago, during my confirmation hearing in this very room, we discussed the many challenges and opportunities presented by technology at the Library of Congress. I am pleased today to tell you that we have significantly improved the Library’s IT. The Library is a different organization than it was just a short time ago. Over the last few years, we have stabilized and optimized our core IT infrastructure. We have streamlined and strengthened our IT management and governance. And we have centralized and professionalized our IT workforce. Altogether, that hard work has allowed us to close as implemented nearly 95% of the IT recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2015, and we will keep working until we close 100%."
Affordances: Science Fiction About Algorithmic Bias and Technological Resistance
"Future Tense Fiction, a joint project of ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination and Slate, has just published Affordances, a new science fiction story by EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow. It's a tale of algorithmic bias, facial recognition, and technological self-determination that touches on many of EFF’s key fights."
Publishers Should be Making E-Book Licensing Better, Not Worse "Macmillan, one of the “Big Five” publishers, is imposing new limits on libraries’ access to ebooks—and libraries and their users are fighting back." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/11/publishers-should-be-making-e-book-licensing-better-not-worse
Intersect Alert for the Week of November 4, 2019
Connecting the world is seen as a humanitarian mission for some technology evangelists – but ensuring a free and open web is a harder problem to solve. "Fifty years after the first computers were laced into an internet, and 30 years since the World Wide Web was built on top of this “network of networks”, the free and open online world envisioned by early pioneers is under attack. In the last few years, partial cuts and even total blackouts have been reported in India, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq." https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191025-the-fight-to-keep-the-internet-free-and-open-for-everyone In the Debate Over Online Speech and Security, Let’s Get to the Science A debate is raging, in Congress and the media, over whether or not we need new regulations to try to shape how Internet platforms operate. Too often, however, the discussion is based on rhetoric and anecdote, rather than empirical research. The recently introduced National Commission on Online Platforms and Homeland Security Act is intended to change that, and we’re pleased to support its goals. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/10/debate-over-online-speech-and-security-lets-get-science
Private Companies, Government Surveillance Software and Human Rights "It's old news that governments around the world are misusing private company-sold digital surveillance software track and target people for human rights abuses. Recently, Amnesty International reported finding that two prominent Moroccan human rights defenders had been targeted using Israeli-based NSO Group’s software. Just this week WhatsApp sued NSO group for using spyware, noting in the legal Complaint that NSO group counts the Kingdom of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Mexico as customers and that WhatsApp had found targets with telephone numbers from each of those countries. Thanks to advocacy and research by EFF as well as our friends at Citizen Lab, Amnesty International, Privacy International, and others, there is now widespread understanding of the problem. But companies and activists and governments are still struggling to find solutions. All the while private companies based in the UK and Germany (FinFisher), Italy (Hacking Team), and Israel (NSO Group) continue to profit by selling “lawful interception software” to governments and law enforcement organizations in countries with unquestionably poor human rights records." https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2019/10/applying-human-rights-framework-sale-government-surveillance-software Website privacy options aren’t much of a choice since they’re hard to find and use "You’ve probably encountered a pair of shoes that won’t stop following you around the internet, appearing in advertisements on different sites for weeks. Today, the vast majority of advertising is targeted – that is, you see an ad because an advertiser thinks that you, specifically, might be interested in what they have to offer. You may have visited a store page for a pair of shoes, or maybe there’s something in your internet browsing history that places you in their target demographic." https://theconversation.com/website-privacy-options-arent-much-of-a-choice-since-theyre-hard-to-find-and-use-124631
Where Research Meets Profits "Like many academics, William Cunningham, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, shares his own articles -- published and soon-to-be -- on his website. And like most academics, he does so in the interest of science, not personal profit. So Cunningham and hundreds of his colleagues were recently irked by a takedown notice he received from the American Psychological Association, telling him that the articles he had published through the organization and then posted on his website were in violation of copyright law. The notice triggered a chain of responses -- including a warning from his website platform, WordPress, that multiple such violations put the future of his entire website at risk. And because the APA had previously issued similar takedown notices, the threat of losing his website seemed real to Cunningham." http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/10/23/what-happened-when-professor-was-accused-sharing-his-own-work-his-website US Copyright Office Launches Learning Engine Video Series "The Learning Engine series of videos introduces the Copyright Office and copyright concepts to viewers who are new to these topics or who want to learn more." https://www.copyright.gov/learning-engine/?loclr=eanco
Research Tools: New Digital Resources Launch Online for Study of Human Rights (Global Access to the PEN International and English PEN Records) "Thousands of digitized records reflecting major historical events of the 20th century related to PEN International, a global writers' organization, are available online beginning this month. A project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and completed by the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has resulted in a new online finding aid for researchers, as well as access to teaching guides and nearly 5,000 digitized records." https://www.hrc.utexas.edu/press/releases/2019/pen-international.html 10 Little-Known Corners of the Deep Web You Might Actually Like "The dark web doesn’t have a great reputation. Dodgy online marketplaces, criminal gangs, terrorist groups—it sounds like the type of place that only the most troubled members of society would want to hang out. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, that type of content exists. But there are also plenty of dark web websites that you might actually like." https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/little-known-corners-deep-web-might-actually-like/
Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost: Preservation in the Age of Shared Print and Withdrawal Projects "This paper’s review of current issues in shared print retention and preservation identifies such shared issues as the cataloging and validation, retention and withdrawal of holdings, loss rates, current condition of holdings, recommendations for the number of copies to retain, and storage environments. Library institutions require a communitywide dialogue assessing practical retention concerns. We hope that our recommendations and discussion will serve as a call to action for further study and greater interest in strong cooperation at both institutional and repository levels, including collaborative action for multiple levels of collection assessments." https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/23612
Intersect Alert October 27, 2019
Don’t Let Science Publisher Elsevier Hold Knowledge for Ransom
It’s Open Access Week and we’re joining SPARC and dozens of other organizations this week to discuss the importance of open access to scientific research publications.
An academic publisher should widely disseminate the knowledge produced by scholars, not hold it for ransom. But ransoming scientific research back to the academic community is essentially the business model of the world’s largest publisher of scientific journals: Elsevier.
Open Access Resources for Legal Research
Via Lyonette Louis-Jacques, The University of Chicago | D’Angelo Law Library – “In honor of International Open Access Week, our library created an “Open Access Resources for Legal Research” LibGuide. These are some representative free law sources. The focus is on U.S. law, but there’s a foreign and international law section.”
Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan E-books
Publishers Weekly – The nation’s top digital-circulating library has said it will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers’ two-month embargo begins next month – “With Macmillan’s controversial embargo on new release library e-books set to begin in just two weeks, PW has learned that the King County (WA) Library System has decided it will no longer purchase embargoed e-book titles from the publisher. “Despite months of discussion and advocacy, Macmillan continues its position to embargo multiple copies of e-books,” writes King County Library executive director Lisa Rosenblum, in a note sent to fellow library directors (and shared with PW). ”Therefore, effective November 1st, KCLS will no longer purchase e-books from Macmillan. Instead we will divert our e-book funds to those publishers who are willing to sell to us.” The King County Library System, headquartered in Issaquah, Washington, is one of the nation’s busiest and best library systems, circulating more than 21 million items every year. It has earned a coveted five star rating from Library Journal. And for five years running, King County has been the top digital-circulating public library system in the country, logging more than 4.8 million checkouts of e-books and digital audio in 2018. In her note, Rosenblum acknowledged differing opinions among public library staff around the country on whether to boycott Macmillan e-books, and said King County’s decision was ultimately driven by two reasons: one “pragmatic” and the other “principled.”
Diversifying your Children’s Lit Section on Purpose
This is not a new topic, but certainly one that deserves more attention. Having worked in public school libraries and now monitoring a small children’s literature collection at my community college campus library, this section always makes me smile. While working on collection development, the children’s lit section is my favorite one to review. “We Need Diverse Books” has successfully transitioned from a hashtag response to a full movement and organization, dedicated to encouraging the publication of books that serve and reflect the lives of young people - all young people.
50 Fictional Librarians, Ranked
“Here at Literary Hub, we love librarians. I mean, really everything about them—their knowledge, their kindness, their demon-slaying abilities. If you love them too, then you probably feel a little jolt of extra excitement whenever they show up in pop culture. Or, okay, maybe you aren’t a total nerd, but here you are looking at my ranking of fictional librarians, so I think it’s a fair bet that you are. (Don’t worry—it’s a good thing.) Either way, now that you’re here, please enjoy this totally unscientific, clearly incomplete, undoubtedly age-biased ranking of the best fictional librarians from film, literature, television, and the internet. Feel free to add on ad infinitum in the comments; that’s what comments are for.”
Alexa and Google Home abused to eavesdrop and phish passwords
ars technica – Amazon- and Google-approved apps turned both voice-controlled devices into “smart spies”. – “By now, the privacy threats posed by Amazon Alexa and Google Home are common knowledge. Workers for both companies routinely listen to audio of users—recordings of which can be kept forever—and the sounds the devices capture can be used in criminal trials. Now, there’s a new concern: malicious apps developed by third parties and hosted by Amazon or Google. The threat isn’t just theoretical. Whitehat hackers at Germany’s Security Research Labs developed eight apps—four Alexa “skills” and four Google Home “actions”—that all passed Amazon or Google security-vetting processes. The skills or actions posed as simple apps for checking horoscopes, with the exception of one, which masqueraded as a random-number generator. Behind the scenes, these “smart spies,” as the researchers call them, surreptitiously eavesdropped on users and phished for their passwords…”
Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids
UK Guardian: “Bark and similar tech companies are now monitoring the emails and documents of millions of American students, across thousands of school districts, looking for signs of suicidal thoughts, bullying or plans for a school shooting. The new school surveillance technology doesn’t turn off when the school day is over: anything students type in official school email accounts, chats or documents is monitored 24 hours a day, whether students are in their classrooms or their bedrooms. Tech companies are also working with schools to monitor students’ web searches and internet usage, and, in some cases, to track what they are writing on public social media accounts. Parents and students are still largely unaware of the scope and intensity of school surveillance, privacy experts say, even as the market for these technologies has grown rapidly, fueled by fears of school shootings, particularly in the wake of the Parkland shooting in February 2018, which left 17 people dead. Digital surveillance is just one part of a booming, nearly $3bn-a-year school security industry in the United States, where Republican lawmakers have blocked any substantial gun control legislation for a quarter century…”
Intersect Alert October 13, 2019
Why Libraries Are Eliminating Late Fees for Overdue Books [CityLab]
“Chicago libraries will no longer collect late fees starting this month, becoming the largest public library system in the U.S. to do away with overdue fines. The city is also erasing all currently outstanding fees, which is good news to the more than 343,000 cardholders whose borrowing privileges have been revoked for accruing at least $10 in unpaid fines.”
“Chicago is one of a growing number of cities trying to make access to libraries more equitable. Its own data revealed that one in three cardholders in the public library’s south district, where many of the communities are of color and living in poverty, cannot check out books. That’s compared to one in six people in the wealthier north district. It’s likely that many who have unpaid fines fail to pay them because they don’t have the disposable income to do so.”
News from the Law Library of Congress Chatbot
In Custodia Legis – “Have you tried the Law Library of Congress Chatbot lately? The chatbot provides answers to frequently asked legal reference questions through Facebook Messenger. You can interact with it by clicking through a series of menu options or you can type in a natural language question. The chatbot debuted in October 2017, and since that time we have been able to learn from user interactions with the chatbot and make revisions to improve the user experience. For example, the chatbot’s natural language abilities have substantially improved since its debut. When the chatbot was released, slight variations from questions the chatbot anticipated, such as deviations in sentence structure, would likely cause the chatbot to return the default response. With the benefit of additional development time, the chatbot’s vocabulary is much more robust and can accommodate variations in sentence structure. Give it a try and let us know what you think. If you would like to try your hand at building your own chatbot, click here for more information…”
‘Ultimate gift to future generations’: plan to laser map all land on Earth
UK Guardian – Project to record cultural, geological and environmental treasures at risk from climate crisis – “A project to produce detailed maps of all the land on Earth through laser scanning has been revealed by researchers who say action is needed now to preserve a record of the world’s cultural, environmental and geological treasures. Prof Chris Fisher, an archaeologist from Colorado State University, said he founded the Earth Archive as a response to the climate crisis. “We are going to lose a significant amount of both cultural patrimony – so archaeological sites and landscapes – but also ecological patrimony – plants and animals, entire landscapes, geology, hydrology,” Fisher told the Guardian. “We really have a limit time to record those things before the Earth fundamentally changes.”
The main technology Fisher hopes to use is aircraft-based Lidar, a scanning technique in which laser pulses are directed at the Earth’s surface from an instrument attached to an aircraft. The time it takes for the pulses to bounce back is measured, allowing researchers to work out the distance to the object or surface they strike. Combined with location data, the approach allows scientists to build 3D maps of an area…”
One Weird Law That Interferes With Security Research, Remix Culture, and Even Car Repair
How can a single, ill-conceived law wreak havoc in so many ways? It prevents you from making remix videos. It blocks computer security research. It keeps those with print disabilities from reading ebooks. It makes it illegal to repair people's cars. It makes it harder to compete with tech companies by designing interoperable products. It's even been used in an attempt to block third-party ink cartridges for printers.
It's hard to believe, but these are just some of the consequences of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which gives legal teeth to "access controls" (like DRM). Courts have mostly interpreted the law as abandoning the traditional limitations on copyright's scope, such as fair use, in favor of a strict regime that penalizes any bypassing of access controls (such as DRM) on a copyrighted work regardless of your noninfringing purpose, regardless of the fact that you own that copy of the work.
Since software can be copyrighted, companies have increasingly argued that you cannot even look at the code that controls a device you own, which would mean that you're not allowed to understand the technology on which you rely — let alone learn how to tinker with it or spot vulnerabilities or undisclosed features that violate your privacy, for instance.
Digital Preservation Framework Released For Public Comment
“Today NARA is releasing the entirety of our digital preservation framework for public comment. This digital preservation framework consists of our approach to determining risks faced by electronic files, and our plans for preserving different types of file formats. The public is encouraged to join the discussion, September 16 through November 1, 2019, on GitHub.”
Intersect Alert October 6, 2019
600 Years of Grape Harvests Document 20th Century Climate Change
“Climate change isn’t just captured by thermometers—grapes can also do the trick. By mining archival records of grape harvest dates going back to 1354, scientists have reconstructed a 664-year record of temperature traced by fruit ripening. The records, from the Burgundy region of France, represent the longest series of grape harvest dates assembled up until now and reveal strong evidence of climate change in the past few decades. Science with Grapes As far back as the 19th century, scientists have been using records of grape harvest dates to track climatic changes. “Wine harvest is a really great proxy for summer warmth,” said Benjamin Cook, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York not involved in the research. “The warmer the summer is, the faster the grapes develop, so the earlier the harvest happens…”
Today's Document from NARA's Tumblr
“Today’s Document started as a small feature on the Archives.gov website several years ago, as a way to highlight interesting documents in our holdings—both the well-known and the obscure—and to observe historical events (usually the significant events but sometimes just the curious ones). Today’s Document is now a popular feature and has inspired a new mobile App and even an independent tribute site. Over the years we have received suggestions and requests for new documents and started this blog as a way to collect and discuss those ideas. We’ll select the most highly rated documents and use them to populate future dates…”
Ancient scrolls charred by Vesuvius could be read once again
"When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD79 it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, their inhabitants and their prized possessions – among them a fine library of scrolls that were carbonised by the searing heat of ash and gas."
"But scientists say there may still be hope that the fragile documents can once more be read thanks to an innovative approach involving high-energy x-rays and artificial intelligence."
Down with Dewey
Melvil Dewey is a library icon. So why did librarians remove Dewey’s name from one of their most prestigious awards.
“In June, the American Library Association stripped a familiar name from one of its top leadership honors: the Melvil Dewey Medal. As you may recall from grade school, Dewey was the man behind the Dewey Decimal Classification system, the schema of numbers and subject areas used at libraries around the world to categorize books. Founder of the nation’s first library school, co-founder of the ALA itself, and onetime director of the New York State Library, he’s usually revered as a library icon, his name perhaps the one most strongly associated with the institution. So what drove librarians to erase it from their own award? As it turns out, despite the wholesome associations Dewey has accrued in the public imagination since his death in 1931, the man was no saint…What does this shift portend for Dewey’s intellectual contributions? The DDC might be the world’s most widely used library classification system, but like the man himself, it’s not without controversy. Critics say the subjects are heavily Eurocentric and favorable to Christianity. The 200s of the DDC, for example, are devoted to the subject of religion. But the subcategories are nearly all focused on Christianity, with one section for “other religions.”
This is how you kick facial recognition out of your town
"Bans on the technology have mostly focused on law enforcement, but there’s a growing movement to get it out of school, parks, and private businesses too."
"In San Francisco, a cop can’t use facial recognition technology on a person arrested. But a landlord can use it on a tenant, and a school district can use it on students."
"This is where we find ourselves, smack in the middle of an era when cameras on the corner can automatically recognize passersby, whether they like it or not. The question of who should be able to use this technology, and who shouldn’t, remains largely unanswered in the US. So far, American backlash against facial recognition has been directed mainly at law enforcement. San Francisco and Oakland, as well as Somerville, Massachusetts, have all banned police from using the technology in the past year because the algorithms aren’t accurate for people of color and women. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has even called for a moratorium on police use."
"Private companies and property owners have had no such restrictions, and facial recognition is increasingly cropping up in apartment buildings, hotels, and more. Privacy advocates worry that constant surveillance will lead to discrimination and have a chilling effect on free speech—and the American public isn’t very comfortable with it either. According to a recent survey by Pew Research, people in the US actually feel better about cops using facial recognition than they do about private businesses."
"Anyone waiting for a quick federal ban to take shape, either for law enforcement or private industry, is likely to be disappointed, says AI policy expert Mutale Nkonde, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center. “From a federal perspective, anything that seems to undermine business or innovation is not going to be favored,” she says. In theory, bans in cities that have so far been aimed at cops could widen to include private interests. States could then take them up, which might finally spur action in Washington. But it’s going to take a while, if it happens at all."
"In the meantime, there is growing momentum toward curtailing private surveillance, using an array of tactics. From going toe to toe with big corporate interests to leaning on legal theory about what constitutes civil rights in America, here are three main approaches currently in play that could one day drastically change how facial recognition is used in our lives."
Intersect Alert September 29, 2019
GPO Produces U.S. Code with New Digital Publishing Technology
"GPO has taken a major step forward in the modernization of its publishing systems by beginning to publish the 2018 main edition of the United States Code through XPub, the agency’s new digital technology for XML-based publishing. With the implementation of XPub, GPO will be able to simultaneously publish all legislative documents in a variety of print and digital formats in a more timely manner. The 2018 Main Edition of the U.S. Code is the first, large-scale production job that GPO has published using the new composition system."
The Misadventure of Copyrighting State Law
"Abstract- Many states have asserted copyright over their own official state legal texts, limiting access to those materials and attempting to monetize them. This Article aims to provide helpful analysis for state officials deciding whether to pursue such policies and for courts reviewing challenges to such practices. Prior scholarship in this area has focused on the issue of whether such copyright assertions can be valid under federal law given the inherent conflicts they pose to due process and democratic ideals. This Article aims to expand this dialogue in a couple of ways — first, by situating the controversy within the broader arc of legal history, and second, by focusing on matters of present-day practicalities and economics. In so doing, the thrust of this Article is to go beyond arguing that states must surrender their copyright claims over state legal materials and to concentrate instead on providing reasons why states should see it in their own interest and the interest of their citizens to renounce such claims. The policy arguments this Article sets out — including with regard to business behavior, political engagement, and fiscal responsibility — end up providing not merely reasons for states to abstain from aggressive copyright claiming, but also reasons for reviewing courts to deny such claims, including by way of fair use analysis."
The Oldest Continuously Operating Library in the World is in this Egyptian Monastery
"One of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world still in operation, the Monastery of Saint Catherine in Sinai is home to almost 2,000 years of history — and many more years of legend: tradition claims, for example, that the main altar of the monastery is built on the spot where the Burning Bush first addressed Moses."
"But the monastery, declared a world heritage site by UNESCO, also holds other places of honor. For example, it accommodates the oldest continuously operating active library in the world."
The World’s Most-Surveilled Cities
"Cities in China are under the heaviest CCTV surveillance in the world, according to a new analysis by Comparitech. However, some residents living in cities across the US, UK, UAE, Australia, and India will also find themselves surrounded by a large number of watchful eyes, as our look at the number of public CCTV cameras in 120 cities worldwide found."
"Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras serve many purposes, ranging from crime prevention to traffic monitoring to observing industrial operations in environments not suitable for humans. The digital age has boosted the prevalence of CCTV surveillance. Cameras are getting better and cheaper, while live video streams can be remotely accessed, stored on the internet, and passed around. The adoption of face recognition technology makes it possible for both public and private entities to instantly check the identity of anyone who passes by a CCTV camera."
This AI Reads Privacy Policies so You Don’t Have to — and It’s Actually Pretty Good
"Don’t you absolutely hate how dense and confusing privacy policies are? Considering they’re full of gotchas and intentionally obscure legalese, it’s no surprise that hardly anyone bothers to even read them — we’ve simply accepted we’re giving up our data, and with it, our sense of privacy."
"But thanks to this new policy-reading AI, things won’t have to be this way for much longer. Guard is a recurrent neural network-based app that reads and analyzes privacy terms, so you don’t have to. While it can’t yet examine policies on request, the AI has rated the privacy terms of a slew of popular services like Netflix, Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder."
30-Second Privacy Fixes: 5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Data
"These days, the products we use have an annoying way of spying on us—from inside our cars, our homes, and our offices. That smartphone game you play in the waiting room at the doctor's office, the mobile app that gives you a weather forecast, the photo you share with online friends—all have the ability to reveal intimate details about your life."
"According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, 60 percent of Americans now bar mobile apps from accessing the camera, GPS data, and contact list on their phones. And half protect their online accounts with two-factor authentication."
Thanks For Helping Us Defend the California Consumer Privacy Act
"The California Consumer Privacy Act will go into effect on January 1, 2020—having fended off a year of targeted efforts by technology giants who wanted to gut the bill. Most recently, industry tried to weaken its important privacy protections in the last days of the legislative session."
"Californians made history last year when, after 600,000 people signed petitions in support of a ballot initiative, the California State Legislature answered their constituents’ call for a new data privacy law. It’s been a long fight to defend the CCPA against a raft of amendments that would have weakened this law and the protections it enshrines for Californians. Big technology companies backed a number of bills that each would have weakened the CCPA’s protections. Taken together, this package would have significantly undermined this historic law."