Google


Prometeus – The Media Revolution

In the grand tradition of EPIC 2014 and 2015, meet Prometeus, which I discovered courtesy the ACRLog.

It’s an interesting video, although the implication that Lessig is completely against copyright is a bit much.

Other than that, though, I’m still mulling.

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Since WordPress has decided to retire their “feed stats” section (“blog stats” is still, thankfully, intact), I’ve signed up for Feedburner (which is apparently now owned by Google) so that I can track…well, at least the new readers who stumble upon my feed. So, if you’re wondering why there’s a giant orange widget now at the top of the blog…that’s why. ūüôā

Of course, now that I’ve decided to sign up for an outside feed stats service, it’s just a matter of time until WordPress gets sick of all the whinging from¬†their bloggers and decides to bring back integrated “feed stats.”¬†

One of the nice side effects¬†of the move to¬†Feedburner¬†is that, as I had to integrate a new widget anyway, I did a little messing around with the sidebar and added a Flickr widget too.¬†There’s not a whole lot more on there than what I’ve already blogged about anyway, but I think it adds¬†a nice dash of color to the place.¬†

Tech dilettante in full effect here.¬†Be forewarned that this is my interpretation of the goings-on below, and that I’m just a Google account holder¬†who is trying to navigate this particular minefield as I go. That being said…

¬†Privacy International recently unrolled its “Privacy Ranking of Internet Service Companies,” and Google was the only one to receive their worst rating, “Comprehensive customer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy.”

This has generated a bunch of talk/chatter in the general blogosphere (see this snapshot of Techmeme at 4PM yesterday) and the biblioblogosphere (Library Stuff, Librarian in Black).

Google has responded to many of the concerns voiced in the (according to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land, not-well-thought-out) report. They’ve indicated that they will:

  • Anonymize their server log data (this doesn’t include the information of¬† those¬†of us who have¬†voluntarily signed up for a¬†personalized Google service)¬†
  • Consider cookie expiration (which, even though I have an idea of what that actually means…still sounds like rotten baked goods to me).

I had a mini-debate about this with one of my library school buddies about this, and he and Google have a similar argument: retaining and tracking information (in this¬†particular case, server logs)¬†about users adds value by allowing Google to refine their search quality. I don’t dispute this. What concerns me is that Google is that, beyond server logs,¬†they are storing data and building intricate, individualized profiles¬†without an easy way for the customer to find and have control over the data that has been stored about him/her.

To this end, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land brings up a John Battelle suggestion from 2006 that seems to be an excellent potential solution to all this hoo-ha: a Privacy Control Panel/Dashboard, so that users could see what data has been stored, where, and for how long.

As someone who was entranced by the potential shiny, happy utility of the services that Google offers and who¬†likely didn’t read the EULA as carefully as I should have, this would defnitely ease some of my concerns.

Magnum, A.L.

¬†The staff of American Libraries send up Magnum P.I., with hilarious results. See, librarians are funny! Thank goodness for YouTube and Flickr, or I’d have no visual evidence of it. ūüėČ

Also, several library blogs were hopping with April Fools’-related material. Many a librarian’s worst¬†fears were¬†realized when ALA TechSource announced that Google had bought OCLC, which Andrew Pace of Hectic Pace confirmed, as well as the Free Range librarian herself, Karen Schneider.

¬†Happy belated April Fools’ Day!

Today’s New York Times has a very interesting article, entitled “History, Digitized (and Abridged)” about pretty much what the title suggests. Casual searchers, novice, and sometimes even advanced, researchers, are increasingly turning to online-only sources for their information.

¬†However, though the article does touch on issues of funding (there isn’t a lot of it) and copyright (good luck digitizing anything that’s not in the public domain), it does skim over¬†(or omit altogether)¬†several issues that I believe are important:

  • ¬†Digitization only preserves¬†non-digital works indirectly, and there is currently no viable method for digitally preserving either non-digital or born-digital objects.

If you happen to have an especially fragile “cultural heritage object,” making a digital copy of that object is not a viable preservation method at this time. There are many organizations in the information profession that are working to make this a reality (especially the preservation of born-digital objects), but it’s not a reality now, and it’s troubling that it’s mentioned several times in the article as if it were a currently¬†feasible option.

  • Google’s motivation to digitize “the world’s knowledge” is far from¬†clear.

Google’s great for a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. I have a Gmail account, I use Google’s aggregator for my RSS feeds, etc. etc. However, the idea of a private enterprise wooing non-profit institutions into mass digitizations of their collections, with the condition that no other search engine can index the results,¬†makes me a bit uneasy, and I’m not the only one. Brewster Kahle of the non-profit¬†Internet Archive¬†and the related Open Content Alliance, which is currently undertaking¬†an open-content project similar to Google’s,¬†feels the same way. (Shocking that a potential “rival” would disagree with Google’s motivations, I know. :))

  • Google¬†is currently being sued for copyright infringement by¬†the Association of American Publishers¬†and the Authors Guild.

I’m not sure how, despite constant mentions of¬†both the Google Book Search Project¬†and the hurdles copyright¬†creates for anyone undertaking a project like this,¬†the author failed to mention the¬†copyright infringement lawsuits that Google’s currently in the middle of. Seems like a fairly egregious oversight to me.

Now that I’m done kvetching about the important points that I think the article missed, I want to make myself clear:

¬†I¬†am not saying that I think libraries should clutch their print-based resources to their bosoms for dear life and run screaming from “teh intarweb.” Far from it. Also, despite my misgivings about Google’s motivations, they, unlike most libraries,¬†have the deep pockets to withstand lawsuits that, with the current copyright laws, were practically inevitable.

¬†This brings me to my last point: the chronic under-funding of cultural heritage institutions. I’m a bit out of steam by now, so I don’t have a lot of my own thoughts to add…other than to say that it’s a bit depressing since I’ll be out on the job market in a few months and have already seen multiple archival jobs that require a graduate degree and pay less than what I know I could make in a clerical job that requires no post-secondary degree. Disheartening, to say the least.

EPIC 2015

My decision to blog about EPIC 2015 has more to do with:

1) The fact that I enjoy watching it.

2) I wouldn’t have known about it had it not been for another library school student, so let’s hear it for networking and recreational professional development!

3) I am darn near completely out of other ideas to post about right now. I’m tapped out, folks.

Also,¬†I haven’t gotten to use the word “dystopia”¬†in my blog¬†yet, and this gives me a chance to.

This video, created by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, is a sequel to EPIC 2014, and provides a slightly less dystopian (or, depending on your viewpoint, possibly utopian) vision of the future of information than its predecessor. It’s a vague description, but any attempt I make to describe it further will probably do it a disservice. And, as I said, tapped out. However, one last stab at it:

Web 2.0, information literacy, the potential hegemony of¬†organizations like Google and Amazon, the democratizing effects of the internet…it’s all there, and a lot more. Enjoy!

It’s news to me, but apparently Google has been publishing a “Librarian Newsletter” since December 2005. The newsletter has included articles by several Google engineers and “Library Partnership team members,” but interspersed in there are several by librarians who are (as far as I am able to deduce) unaffiliated with Google:

“Beyond Algorithms: A Librarian’s Guide to Websites You Can Trust” by Karen Schenider, aka The Free Range Librarian and director of the Librarian’s Internet Index (LII).

“Libraries and Google/Google Book Search: No Competition!” by Walt Crawford, a senior analyst at RLG.

Google has also recently launched a “Google for Educators” website. They’ve included a teacher’s guide to their major products (Google Earth, Blogger, Picasa). This includes a brief description of the product, general descriptions for how it might be used in the classroom, as well as several lesson plans for each.

The “Librarian Center” is sparse at best…it lists conferences that Google representatives will be attending, stories and videos of librarians who have had success using Google’s products, etc. Not awful, but definitely not earth-shatteringly useful.

The “Google For Educators” site seems to be far more fleshed out. In fact, there seems to be a marked difference in the amount of detail provided to educators vs. librarians on how Google products could be used in our respective daily professional lives.

Veeery interesting.