Monday 30 April 2012

The Digital Campus 2012

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a Special Report on the Digital Campus 2012. The report looks at the current status of technology in higher education, and includes articles about open education, designing online courses, and how one professor at Virginia Tech, John Boyer, teaches a megaclass of 2,670 students using technology.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Preservation Week in law libraries

+Margaret Maes, director of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA)is highlighting projects undertaken by LIPA member during Preservation Week. The first story comes from the University of Arizona, where the Cracchiolo Law Library has established a digital projects initiative to provide online access to content from the Law Library's Special Collections. The focus has been on Law College publications (such as alumni magazines and course catalogs) and Arizona pre-statehood materials (including territorial session laws and legislative journals, among others). Many of the Law College’s own development publications, while widely distributed when first printed, are now available only through the library’s Special Collections; and although some of the Arizona pre-statehood materials can be found in subscription databases, most are not freely available to the public. By making these materials available online, the Law Library hopes to encourage use of Special Collections resources while preserving the physical items. The Law Library staff have digitized approximately 24,000 pages in-house, spanning 71 magazines, 39 newspapers, and 51 volumes. Of this, nearly half (12,000 pages) is currently available to the public on the Law library website. The Law Library’s most recent efforts involve digitizing Law College newspapers issued between 1966 and 1993, some of which are in poor condition, and transferring material to a digital repository to facilitate search and access.

Lexis teams with Overdrive for eBook lending

LexisNexis has announced an e-book library application for law firms developed in partnership with digital content distributor OverDrive. Until now, legal professionals could only buy Lexis' 1,100 e-books individually. The new Digital Library product gives firms customizable software from which lawyers can check out titles, and for librarians to establish lending policies. "About a year and a half ago, we started introducing our e-books into the market in a piloted way," noted Lexis' Susan Slisz, vice president of research. Customers asked for administrative tools, leading Lexis to find OverDrive, she said. "We looked at that and said it's kind of what we need. We worked with [OverDrive] to create a custom solution for law firms." Slisz said other features are planned. "Our e-books have links today into In the very short future we're going to have links into Lexis Advance," she said. An automatic update feature for e-books is also planned, and a version for law school books is under way, she added. Digital Library is priced based on the number of users and content.

Friday 20 April 2012

TRAC reports

TRAC has released two new reports this week, using the data they collect from the Justice Deaprtment.
There is a new report on a prosecutorial discretion initiative by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). TRAC's findings are based on case-by-case data, obtained from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). TRAC is hosting a free webinar next Thursday to discuss the report. 
A second report is on White Collar Crime Prosecutions, showing that these prosecutions are down over 40 percent since August 2011.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Pittsburgh "literary lab"

Pop City has an interesting story today about "Cyberpunk Apocalypse", a Pittsburgh writers' project.  The project is moving from Lawrenceville to the North Side.  According to the article, the Cyberpunk Apocalypse is "a multifaceted writers’ project based around a close quarters residency program. Our mission is to aid and abet writers and comic artists in Pittsburgh.a one of a kind project--the only zine residency program in the US, and the only residency program that puts zinesters, novelists, and comic artists on equal footing. We’ve grown organically, and consider ourselves a kind of literary laboratory--a place to experiment in a changing world."

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Following the money

Two online databases are helping to track money going to politicians and how it affects their voting records. SOPAtrack was originally developed as the Stop Online Piracy Act was being rushed through Congress last fall without public debate. Eventually the bill was tabled because of the interest aroused by this website and others. Now Sopatrack is continuing the same scrutiny of other Congressional bills. Maplight has similar data, and presents it in a variety of formats, so that you can track money going from interest groups to legislators to influence voting on bills in Congress.

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

ABA database has trove of law school graduate info

The ABA Journal has a story about an analysis of law school data that was done by the National Law Journal using an online ABA database. The result reveals the number of 2010 grads in jobs paid for by their law schools, the number whose jobs are short-term or temporary, and the number working in different size firms. They also report that Above the Law has dubbed the University of Michigan "the Most Honest Law School" because of the transparency of its reporting on graduates. It reported that 27 graduates over the 2009-2011 3 year period had non-legal jobs, including bar owner, acotr, sheep farmer, polo coach and professional poker player.

ideas for "mixing the web with everyday things"

Technology Review reports on a new device called a "Ninja Block" that is the latest step in "democratizing computing".  Ninja Blocks contain sensors with the ability to sense their environment: acceleration, temperature, current, humidity, motion, distance, sound, light and even capture video. Consumers can program them to do a variety of tasks that would utilize these abilities. The Ninja Block is connected to the "Ninja Cloud" which connects the sensor device to social media, so that sensed events can be tweeted, emailed, etc. Without writing a line of code, Ninja Cloud allows you to control your Ninja Blocks with simple “if this then that” style tasks. The example given by the Ninja Blocks website is that with a Ninja Block you would be able to take a picture of your front yard and save it to Dropbox when movement is detected.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

DOJ files antitrust suit against publishers, Apple

Publishers Weekly reports that the US Department of Justice has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and publishers Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, HarperCollins and Macmillan, charging them with colluding to raise e-book prices. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, states that "by the end of 2009... the Publisher Defendants had concluded that unilateral efforts to move Ama zon away from its practice of offering low retail prices would not work, and they thereafter conspired to raise retail e-book prices and to otherwise limit competition in the sale of e-books. To effectuate their conspiracy,the Publisher Defendants teamed up with Defendant Apple, whichshared the same goal of restraining retail price competition in the sale of e-books."

Monday 9 April 2012

It's official: law school applications down

The ABA Journal reports that there has been a >15% drop in law school applicants since last year, according to data from the Law School Admission Council. This comes after an 11% drop in applicants in 2011 compared to 2010. The ABA story quotes the Chicago Tribune as saying “Demand for legal education, as measured by the number of applicants, has experienced double-digit percentage declines for the second year in a row. If demand continues to decline, schools have to consider cutting class sizes or tuition, or both.”

Wednesday 4 April 2012

1940 Census data available

The Census Bureau in 1940 conducted a survey of  the nation's 33 million homes and 7 million farms. On April 2, the 72 years of confidentiality expired, and the National Archives website buckled under the load as the 1940 census records were released and 1.9 million users hit the archives servers in the first four hours the data went public. At one point, the Archives said, its computers were receiving 100,000 requests per second. The data, available via the Census bureau's website, comprises more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps and other sociological minutiae.  The 1940 census was the first Census that looked deeper into the details of much of American life. 

tiny tech

The Apartment Therapy blog is geared towards young hipsters living in expensive places where space is at a premium. So not your average Pitt Law librarian.  However, today they have a very appealing blog post, "12 Tech Helpers for Teeny, Tiny Offices", about how to maximize your technocapability in a small space. Even if your home isn't cramped you might be interested in these spacesaving tips.