Wednesday 22 December 2010

RECOP from Public Resource

From Carl Malamud and Law.Gov (which recently won a million dollar grant from Google for the effort to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to everyone) comes an announcement that in 2011 his project  will begin providing a weekly release of the Report of Current Opinions (RECOP). This will  initially consist of HTML of all slip and final opinions of the appellate and supreme courts of the 50 states and the federal government. The feed will include full star pagination.  It will be treated as an open source project, and will be available for reuse without restriction under a Creative Commons License.
The data is being obtained through an agreement with Fastcase, one of the leading legal information publishers.

Friday 17 December 2010

George Pike on cybervigilanteism

Barco Law Library Director Prof. George Pike was quoted in an online article on on The Rise of Cybervigilantism. The article addresses online attacks and counterattacks associated with WikiLeaks, including attacks by Wikileaks supporters on MasterCard and Paypal for declining to accept donations for Wikileaks. In the article, Prof. Pike discusses differences between legal protest and illegal protest activities, and whether such attacks might been as civil disobedience or vigilantism.

Thursday 16 December 2010

GPO publications available in Google's eBookstore

The Federal Eye blog at the Washington Post reports that hundreds of federal publications from the GPO are available for download through Google's new eBookstore. Plans are for about 1,800 government publications to be available for download and purchase according to the GPO. Currently GPO has about 100 titles in the catalog and will continue to add titles in the next several months, which will include the first volume of the Public Papers of President Barack Obama and the Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year 2012.
And if you are interested in the GPO, you can also subscribe to the GPO's YouTube Channel.

Obama administration calls for 'Bill of Rights' for web privacy

The Wall Street Journal technology blog reports that the Obama administration has recommended the creation of a Privacy Policy Office to develop a "bill of rights" for the internet for US citizens.  The office would also coordinate internet privacy issues globally.  The "bill of rights" would be a framework used to protect citizens from online personal information-gathering and would help the personal data-gathering industry develop codes of conduct that could be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. These policy recommendations were part of a report released by the Dept. of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force titled Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework (88 page pdf). The Privacy and Information Security Law Blog has posted a summary of the key proposals in the report.

George Pike discusses Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Track proposal

On Tuesday, December 9, Professor and library Director George Pike was a guest panelist on The American Entrepreneur, a radio talk show on Pittsburgh radio station WMNY, Money Talk AM 1360, hosted by Ron Morris. Professor Pike spoke on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Track proposal, released last week. In addition to Prof. Pike and Mr. Morris, the other panelists included John M. Simpson of the public interest group Consumer Watchdog, and Al Polanec, co-principal of Blue Archer, a Pittsburgh web design and marketing company. The broadcast is available online for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

New Books for the Barco Commons Collection

Every year at the end of the first semester we ask our law school faculty for recommendations of books that we can add to our Commons Collection, recreational reading located in the Fawcett Student Commons on the 4th floor of the Barco Law Library.  The list of this year's New Books in the Commons Collection is now available online.

Monday 13 December 2010

TrueSerials resource comparison tool

Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki, Executive Director of NELLCO, just tweeted about a cool online resource from TrueSerials called the Resource Comparison.  It lets you compare the content of  up to 4 databases, choosing from a dropdown menu.  For example, you can compare the content of HeinOnline, Legal Trac, and LexisNexis Academic.  Once you choose the databases you want to compare you will get a table showing all the duplicate content in the databases, the content scope and currency.  You can also limit the search to full-text availability.

Online shopping resources

OK, the relationship of this information to legal research is, erm,  tenuous at best.  But many of us are thinking about shopping these days... so this is in the nature of a public service.  :-)  LLRX has a story and guide about ShoppingBots and Online Shopping Resources 2011, providing a "comprehensive listing of shoppingbot and online shopping resources and sites on the Internet."  The list is also available in pdf format. A shoppingbot, in case you are unfamiliar with the term, is a program that searches the Web for the best price for a particular item you wish to purchase; and there are many of them to try. The article on LLRX also provides some tips on virtual shopping to help ensure you have a positive online shopping experience.

Sunday 12 December 2010

In the wake of WikiLeaks, Pentagon bans removable storage devices

Wired Magazine reports that the U.S. military has issued a directive banning the use of removable media such as USB sticks, CDs, and DVDs on any computer systems or servers.  This comes in the wake of the leak of thousands of diplomatic cables to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks by a 22 year old Army intelligence analyst. According to the Wired story, soldiers are now strictly prohibited from using CDs, DVDs, USB drives and other removable media, at the risk of being court martialed, due to the perceived threat to national security.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Atlantic Monthly: How to Think About WikiLeaks

The online Atlantic has a blogpost by editor Alexis Madrigal called "How to Think About WikiLeaks". Despite the title, the post doesn't tell you what to think about WikiLeaks - rather, it recognizes the importance of how the WikiLeaks situation plays out, and the difficulty of forming an opinion. And so what the Atlantic is doing is helping us figure out HOW to think about WikiLeaks by gathering the thoughts of many eloquent thinkers/writers. As Mr. Madrigal says, "Writers pulling at the knot of press freedom, liberty, nationalism, secrecy and security that sits at the center of the debate have produced dozens of fantastic pieces. We're collecting the very best here. This page will be updated often."

Update: Jonathan Zittrain has an article posted on  Technology Review titled "Everything You Need to Know about Wikileaks."

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Mega datasets

The MIT Technology Review has gathered together 70 databases that contain large datasets of various types of information about the world we live in: social science data, climate data, financial data, urban data, scientific data, traffic data, and others. It includes familiar datasets like Wikipedia, the Wayback Machine, and Google Maps as well as lesser knowns like the Global Urban Observatory, the National Household Travel Survey, and Gapminder World, which contains multiple datasets on diverse socio-economic indicators.
A good resource for empirical researchers to bookmark.

Legislation introduced for Wi-Fi in federal buildings

Sens. Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Mark Warner (Va.) have introduced legislation that would require all public federal buildings to install WiFi base stations in order to free up cell phone networks. The Federal Wi-Net Act  (6 page pdf) (S. 3995) doesn't say anything about free access, but it would "direct the Administrator of the General Services Administration to installWi-Fi hotspots and wireless neutral host systems in all Federal buildingsin order to improve in-building wireless communications coverage andcommercial network capacity by offloading wireless traffic onto wirelinebroadband networks".

ps  If you look at the pdf, note the certification that is now appended to indicate that it is authoritative and the Signature properties.

Future of Interface Design on LawLibCon

This week on Law Library Conversations: a discussion of the Future of Interface Design for legal information products. The show will feature Jason Wilson, Vice President Jones McClure Publishing; Ed Walters, CEO, Fastcase; and Tom Boone, Reference Librarian, Loyola Law School. The online, one hour broadcast is on Fri Dec 10 at 3:00 pm Eastern time. The show is hosted and supported by CALI.   You can register here.

Friday 3 December 2010

Report on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

The Department of Defense has posted the Nov. 30, 2010  "Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'" (264 page pdf) on the DOD website.

Sundown for GPO Access

LLRX has some excellent information about the migration of information from GPO Access to FDsys. The GPO Access website is set to ‘sundown’ in late December, as all of the data has been migrated onto the FDsys platform. FDSys offers greater functionality than GPO Access, including the ability to search across multiple collections with keyword searches and more sophisticated search options..  The information on LLRX is from a recent presentation by Ashley Dahlen - Outreach Librarian at the U.S. Government Printing Office.  It includes a video of her presentation, a link to her comprehensive handout (10 page pdf) and a downloadable powerpoint presentation with lots of useful information including a table comparing GPO Access with FDsys. She also reminds us that Federal Depository Libraries like Barco should start planning for the following:
 Replacing uses of the GPO Access name and logo to the FDsys branding.
 Updating screenshots of GPO Access pages to reflect the FDsys pages.
 Ordering the new promotional brochures.

LexisNexis acquires State Net

On Wednesday LexisNexis announced the acquisition of State Net, a database that tracks legislation and regulations in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia.  According to the press release, "State Net provides users access to information on individual legislative bills and their progress within twenty-four hours of public availability. It also enables subscribers to obtain current versions of bills and statutes, check the validity of statutes, track pending changes to statutes and regulations, and research historical summaries of legislative actions. State Net tools and content enable users to assess the impact of proposed legislation and regulations, influence proposed matters, and reduce compliance risk... This acquisition will enable LexisNexis to improve upon them with the addition of primary law content and integration into its offerings for the US legal, business, government and academic markets."  The website has conveniently formatted information about legislative calendars for the states and a variety of online tools for users.

hat tip: Law Librarian Blog

Adopt a Word from the Oxford English Dictionary

'Tis the Season of giving and generosity, and the Oxford English Dictionary is asking friends and admirers to open their hearts and Adopt-A-Word.  The Save the Words campaign has an excellent website where you can choose from  lots and lots of hopeful adoptees. You're sure to find a word you love, though some may misqueme* you.  According to the site, "Each year hundreds of words are dropped from the English language.  Old words, Wise words, hard-working words.  Words that once led meaningful lives but now lie unused, unloved and unwanted.  You can change all that Help save the words!" You can select a word randomly or choose a specific word that you want to adopt.  When you adopt your word (or words) you must pledge to "use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of my ability."

*misqueme: v. to displease

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Free OCLC webinar: Intro to Digital Preservation

OCLC is offering librarians a free 2-hour online webinar called "An Introduction to Digital Preservation" on Weds. Dec. 15 at 1 pm. From the description on the website: "Digital preservation is a phrase that is thrown about frequently in the archives and library world. And responsibility for saving our era from being known as the "Digital Dark Age" has fallen to us. But do you really understand what it means and is required to preserve digital objects? Join us for this 2-hour online webinar for an introduction to terms, concepts, and some methods for beginning your institution’s foray into this important and challenging area." You can register for the webinar here.

LexisNexis sells databases to ProQuest

Yesterday ProQuest announced that they have acquired some of LexisNexis's most popular databases. ProQuest, based in Ann Arbor, MI,  says it is excited to announce that it  is significantly expanding its service.  Though LexisNexis doesn't have any info on its website, a quote from the ProQuest press release says“As LexisNexis continues to transform its portfolio of products and services, we are very pleased to place this business unit with ProQuest as it is an excellent fit for them and their customers,” said Mike Simmons, senior vice president of Specialty Businesses at LexisNexis. “We look forward to working with ProQuest – including licensing back certain legislative content sets from ProQuest for our legal professional customers.”
ProQuest has acquired the following LexisNexis products:
LexisNexis Congressional (to be renamed ProQuest Congressional)
LexisNexis Statistical Insight (to be renamed ProQuest Statistical Insight)
LexisNexis DataSets (to be renamed ProQuest DataSets)
LexisNexis Statutes at Large (to be renamed ProQuest Statutes at Large)
LexisNexis Government Periodical Index (to be renamed ProQuest Government Periodical Index)
LexisNexis Primary Sources in US History (to be renamed ProQuest Primary Sources in US History)
Congressional Hearings Digital Collection
Congressional Record Permanent Digital Collection
Congressional Research Digital Collection
US Serial Set Digital Collection
US Serial Set Maps Collection
All CIS microform and print products
All statistical microform and print products
All UPA microform collections
LexisNexis is retaining these academic-oriented products:
LexisNexis Academic
LexisNexis Library Express
LexisNexis Scholastic
LexisNexis State Capital
LexisNexis for Development Professionals

OK law says executors control social media accounts after death

The ABA Journal reports that an Oklahoma law that went into effect Nov. 1 grants estate executors control over a dead person's social media accounts such as Facebook and MySpace.  This law assumes that a social network account is the property of the person who creates it and uses it, even though most social networking websites claim that information as their own when users sign up.