Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Google Book Search bibliography

Librarian and Digital-Scholarship founder Charles W. Bailey Jr. has compiled a Google Book Search bibliography , with selected articles and other works useful in understanding Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. Where possible, links are provided to works that are freely available on the Internet, including e-prints in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories.

Organizations for the Blind file suit against Kindle program

The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind have announced that they've filed a discrimination lawsuit against Arizona State University, claiming that the University’s Amazon Kindle DX Pilot Program discriminates against the blind. Although the Kindle DX features text-to-speech technology that can read textbooks aloud to blind students, its menus are not accessible to the blind, making it impossible for a blind user to purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle store, select a book to read, activate the text-to-speech feature, and use the advanced reading functions available on the Kindle DX. In addition to ASU, five other institutions of higher education are deploying the Kindle DX as part of a pilot project to assess the role of electronic textbooks and reading devices in the classroom. The NFB and ACB have also filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, asking for investigations of these five institutions in the pilot program: Case Western Reserve University, the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, Pace University, Princeton University, and Reed College.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Petition to improve PACER

The ABA Journal and Legal Blog Watch both have stories about the online petition to improve PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records), the system operated by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to provide online access to case and docket information from the federal appellate, district and bankruptcy courts. The petition is the work of Erika V. Wayne, deputy law library director at Stanford Law School, and her law librarian colleagues. It asks the court to make three enhancements:

1. Digitally sign document put into PACER so they can be verified
2. Make it more accessible by lowering its cost and improving its Web interface
3. Provide free PACER access to Federal Depository libraries

You can read and sign the petition, as well as post your comments, here.

EU sets privacy guidelines for social networking sites

The Wall Street Journal reports that EU regulators have laid out operating guidelines for social networking websites - like Facebook and MySpace - to ensure they comply with privacy laws. The privacy guidelines include: social networking sites should offer privacy-friendly default settings; users should be advised that pictures of people should only be uploaded with the individual's consent; sites must set maximum periods to retain data on inactive users; and abandoned accounts must be deleted. Facebook and MySpace said they were studying the EU guidelines to assess how to respond.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Google's street view on campus

A Google Street View car and tricycle with panoramic cameras


eSchool News reports that Google street view is now sending tricycles with the Google 360 degree cameras around campuses to capture panoramic images of university campuses for Google Maps' street view feature. So far they've been seen at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of San Diego, and the California State University at San Diego.

Law School 4.0 suggests changing legal education

AmLawDaily has an article by Paul Lippe (founder of the Legal On Ramp) entitled "Welcome to the Future: Time for Law School 4.0", in which he argues that the legal education offered by law schools today is very disengaged from the professional practice of law and lags behind global competition.
He suggests six changes that would help modernize legal education:
-An accelerated curriculum, with no more than a year of case method, a year of clinical, and then a year of externship with subject area focus, along the lines of medical school.
--More practice orientation in teaching, with far more adjunct faculty who are active practitioners.
--Better use of technology (both connectivity, like video or Web conferencing, and Web 2.0 social networks) to connect schools and practitioners and clients.
--A much more empirical approach to practice, forcing much deeper inquiry, rather than just trotting out hypotheticals and issue-spotting--e.g., if choosing AAA arbitration is the right dispute resolution clause, do we know that a higher percentage of deals with no arbitration clause ended in a contentious dispute?
--A move back to mission-centered management.
--A lifetime (or at least ten years) of orientation for skills development for students/alums. d student experience, generate an income stream, and engender more alumni loyalty.

Crowdsourcing lessons

The Nieman Journalism Lab website (the NLJ at Harvard "is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age") has an interesting article about lessons to be learned from the Guardian's successful use of crowdsourcing. "Crowdsourcing" is the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies on the internet. The Guardian used it after the UK Telegram had broken the story about politicians' expense accounts. The Guardian put all the raw public records of expense accounts up on their website - and invited the public to sort through them. The impressive result was the scale of the Guardian’s project — 170,000 documents reviewed in the first 80 hours, thanks to a visitor participation rate of 56 percent.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Discovery and keyword searches

Lexology has an article about the increasing importance of constructing proper keyword search phrases in order to produce email and electronically stored information in the discovery phase of litigation. Citing William A. Gross Const. Associates, Inc. v. American Mfrs. Mut. Ins. Co.256 F.R.D. 134S.D.N.Y., 2009 WL 724954, they report that the judge in the case found himself in “the uncomfortable position of having to craft a keyword search methodology for the parties” ; the written opinion expressed frustration with this “latest example of lawyers designing keyword searches in the dark, by the seat of the pants, without adequate . . . discussion with those who wrote the emails.” He concluded that lawyers should not rely on their own non-scientific guesses about what keyword searches will yield the most appropriate universe of ESI. Instead, lawyers should consult with the individuals who wrote the emails, as well as qualified search designers. "
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Kindle confusion

Last week Brigham Young University library announced that it will no longer lend books on Kindles, until Amazon clarifies its policies on library use of the popular ebook reader. Today there's a report on Slashdot about DRM and the Kindle. They point to a blogpost from geardiary where it seems that Amazon limits the number of times you can download a book you buy. What's worse, nobody in Amazon's Customer Service seems to actually know what the "policy" is, or if it really exists.

Friday, 19 June 2009

filesharing benefits society

Michael Geist has a blogpost about "File Sharing and Copyright", (46 page pdf) a new paper published by Harvard Business School by economists Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf. Their study data indicates that file sharing has not discouraged creativity, empirical research in file sharing documents that consumer welfare increased substantially due to the new technology.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Iranians using the internet

Computerworld has an interesting article about how Iranians are using Internet services like Facebook and Twitter even though the Iranian government has blocked access to them from inside Iran.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Any ideas for the G 20?

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have launched a new website for the G-20 Summit scheduled for September. They are also holding "brainstorming sessions" this week and next at 3 locations.
As they say on their website, "we'd like everyone's best ideas to make this summit a success. To that end, we're holding a series of brainstorming sessions across the county in the coming days." Anyone who wants to participate can attend these events:
Friday, June 19
12 Noon to 1:30 PM
Point Park University, DowntownBallroom, Lawrence Hall
Tuesday, June 23
12 Noon to 1:30 PM
Robert Morris University, Moon Township International Suite, Sewall Center
And at Pitt:
Tuesday, June 23
5:30 PM to 7:00 PM
University of Pittsburgh, Oakland Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall

If you can’t attend a session, you can alsosend your ideas online.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Facebook privacy

The blog Lawyerist has an excellent post today that describes the essential steps you can take on Facebook to "protect your identity, your privacy, and your reputation online".  Just follow a series of easy steps to tailor your privacy settings to your personal and professional needs. 

Google squared

Pandia Search World reports on Google Squared, a Google project that is still being worked on in the Google labs. Google Squared is a search tool that helps you quickly build a collection of facts from the Web for any topic you specify. ith Google Squared you can search Google and have the results presented in a highly structured way. This experimental search tool is especially useful when the information you need requires complex, time consuming searches. You type in your search terms and Google Squared builds a table of data, including photos from Google images. Check it out.

Data infrastructure

The New York Times Sunday magazine section yesterday featured articles about Infrastructure. It contained a fascinating article about data infrastructure, called "Data Center Overload", with photographs of some data repositories: large, powerful, energy-intensive, always-on and out-of-sight data centers that run enormously scaled software applications with millions of users.
In the same magazine there was an article by Virginia Heffernan entitled "The Great Crash" describing what happened when her laptop recently crashed. She lost everything. She even sent it to Drive Savers, a data-recovery court of last resort, with no success. She reports that "the dull wooziness of having no data is hard to describe. I’d call mine flulike symptoms. The world seemed like a far-off place; I felt disassociated from it, in exile. There seemed to be nothing to me: no photos, no music, no letters, no journals, no documents."

Law school clinics avoid controversy

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a survey of law school clinics found that the clinical faculty sometimes feel pressured to avoid taking on cases that might displease donors or lawmakers. The survey of 300 law clinic faculty was conducted by Bridget McCormack, an associate dean at the University of Michigan Law School, and found that nearly 10 percent reported having been urged by their law school's dean to avoid a particular case, and nearly 15 percent report having been urged by their clinic's director to avoid one. She reported her findings last week at the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Between Cases

In the wake of Lexis's Aspire program, Westlaw has launched the "Between Cases" program at http://www.yourlegalcareercenter.com/. The program aims to help Legal professionals who "find themselves in transition" (as well as recent grads who have been deferred) by providing job search tools, legal education offerings from West LegalEdcenter, and information and resources for setting up a private practice. It also offers free Westlaw for those doing pro bono work.

UK hacker asks court to stop extradition to US

Technology Review has a report about Gary McKinnon, a British citizen who allegedly hacked into 97 US military computers at the Department of Defense and NASA. He claims that he hacked into the computers because he was looking for evidence of UFOs. He has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism, and his lawyers say that he could be at risk of psychosis or suicide if sent to the United States to face trial for computer fraud.

California shifts to e-textbooks

The Silicon Valley Mercury News has an article by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in which he announces a new digital textbooks initiative California. The plan will save money by phasing out 'antiquated, heavy, expensive textbooks' in favor of electronic books. Gov. Schwarzenegger says that internet activities such as Facebook, Twitter and downloading to iPods show that young people are the first to adopt new online technologies and that the internet is the best way to learn in classrooms. With the beginning of the new school year this August, math and science students in California's high schools will have access to online texts that have passed an academic standards review.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

bada BING!

Microsoft is taking on Google with their new search engine Bing, which greets you with "Live search is evolving. Welcome to Bing" on the home page. The home page also features a large graphic of a hiker walking through mountains. Besides that there is a simple search box, but there are also options to link to search pages for "images" "video" "shopping" "news" "maps" and "travel".
It is certainly worth checking out. WebProNews has an interesting story about Matt Cutts (the head of Google's Webspam team) Twittering about Bing yesterday.

GM bankruptcy proceedings audio

The US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York has announced a pilot project to make digital audio recordings of court proceedings relating to Chrysler LLC, 09-50002, and General Motors Corporation, 09-50026, publicly available online through the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. They add that we should "Please remember that these digital recordings are copies of court proceedings and are provided as a convenience to the public at the cost of $0.08 per audio file. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 753 (b) "no transcripts of the proceedings of the court shall be considered as official except those made from the records certified by the reporter or other individual designated to produce the record." A list of approved transcription companies can be found on the court's website."
Links to documents from the case are also available on the Court's website.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Netflix meets Facebook

That's how a new website called "Lendaround" describes itself. It's  a social networking site that enables friends to see each other's DVD libraries and arrange to lend or borrow movies, with Lendaround keeping track of where your movies have gone and for how long. Founder Tim Jackson got the idea for Lendaround after doing charity work in Africa.  He came home from being with people who had few material possessions and saw "all the stuff around my house." 
"My research shows that there are something like 2 billion DVDs sitting in U.S. households, gathering dust," he said.  Lendaround lets the user set up private networks of people you know who might want to share DVDs.  Lendaround helps  keep track of where the discs are, and sets up a mechanism that lets you print out a wrapper that you put around an envelope.  Then you mail the DVD, which weighs under an ounce,  for the price of a stamp. 

Report: library in Second Life

This month's First Monday has an interesting article that reports on one library's experience on setting up a presence in Second Life. The library discussed in this paper, Info Island DK, was located in the area known as the Information Archipelago which densely populated by libraries, schools and universities.  The author reports that "As a project, Info Island DK was successful in reaching the goals that had been set for this particular virtual library. As a virtual library, however, it was not widely adopted by library professionals and the general audience. This paper first examines how the Info Island DK project went about remediating in a 3–D virtual world the various services of the physical library and the net library. Next it attempts to uncover the main reasons for the relative non–adoption of the Danish virtual library."