Monday, January 31, 2005

MPAA's Parent File Scan Tool

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has provided a free software tool to " . . . help consumers check whether their computers have peer-to-peer software and potentially infringing copies of motion pictures and other copyrighted materials." Some people think that this software will identify software, music and movies that infringe on copyright. Actually, this tool identifies most (if not all) of the installed peer-to-peer software, music and movies on a computer, but does not state which are illegal. It provides a list of what was found and it is up to the user to determine whether a file is a copyright infringement or not.

PDA-itis?

Well . . . not technically. The BBC has an interesting article about people damaging their thumbs by using their Blackberries too much. If you're not sure what a Blackberry is, it is a wireless device that can provide phone, email, Internet, organizer functions, and access to your library network. Apparently, the thumb is different from the other fingers of your hand, in that it is not supposed to be used as much. Repetitive use can damage it, causing osteoarthritis and repetitive strain injuries.

New MSN Search

Along with a new interface, MSN now has its own search engine. Until now, Microsoft used the Yahoo search engine. On the initial page, you can limit your search to the web, news, images, music, your desktop (if you download the MSN Toolbar), or Encarta. After your initial search, you have the ability to use the +SearchBuilder to refine the results. You can refine by:
  • simple Boolean or phrase
  • site/domain
  • web pages linked to a specific URL
  • country
  • language
  • how recently the page was updated
  • how popular the page is
  • how closely the result matches the search terms
The last three are especially interesting, as they are sliders. This search will come to Internet Explorer, too, so I expect to see it during the next Windows Update.

Usability Discussion List

Interested in usability testing for your web site? An Internet-based discussion list has been created for usability within libraries -- USABILITY4LIB. From the web site:
  • Share techniques of usability testing. Example – you designed some personas and you share how you used them when you designed an interlibrary loan page.
  • Share results of testing.
  • Share tools you use in your usability practice. Example - an intranet site to post results.
  • There are many elements of user-centered design. This listserv focuses on results and techniques of usability testing.
To subscribe, send a message to: listserv@listserv.nd.edu In the subject line, type: subscribe usability4lib

SBC To Acquire AT&T

Interesting . . . SBC has plans to acquire AT&T. Some of you may remember the divestiture of AT&T, which spun off the "Baby Bells," including Southwestern Bell. Now, the parent company of Southwestern Bell -- SBC -- is purchasing AT&T. AT&T brings its IP-based and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) networks, as well as its large corporate customers and AT&T Labs. SBC, on the other hand, brings a strong regional presence, including millions of phone and DSL lines. CNET.com has a good write-up on this. You can also find details on the SBC web site. An aside -- AT&T Wireless was sold earlier to Cingular. SBC owns 60% of Cingular and BellSouth owns the other 40%.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Some WebJunction Courses No Longer Free

The grant funding that has supported WebJunction will be coming to an end. One of the ways this service will be sustained is by charging for some of the courses available in the Learning Center. Any courses developed prior to November 1, 2004 will remain free to members. Courses developed after that time or non-WebJunction courses will be available for a fee of $25 per credit hour, with volume discounts available. (FYI -- I work for an OCLC network, which is the lead partner for the WebJunction service.)

Software Developers!

OCLC Research is sponsoring a contest for software developers. If you win, you will get $2,500, a trip to OCLC and the possibility of having your code incorporated into OCLC services. Here are the details:

OCLC is providing a set of bibliographic records extracted from WorldCat plus a set of services:

You may also use Open WorldCat, either by simply incorporating links to publicly accessible records or by enrolling in Open WorldCat's Partner Access program. Contact us if you wish to discuss enrolling in this program for the purposes of this contest.

Your mission is to write a program that does something interesting and innovative with the WorldCat data using at least one of the OCLC-provided services. You must submit a working prototype.

Part of your job is to convince us of why your program is interesting and why it will help libraries and/or library users; other than that, you're free to implement whatever strikes your fancy.

If you have ideas, but haven't taken the time to bring them to fruition, this might give you the incentive you need.

(FYI - I work for an OCLC network.)

MARC Records for Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg produces freely available electronic versions of primarily printed materials that are either in the public domain or for which the owners have provided permission. Most of these files are text files, but there also are HTML, MP3, RTF, TeX, and XML files available for some materials. You can search or browse their catalog of approximately 15,000 documents. Some libraries have started providing these materials to their patrons. However, this usually meant creating a MARC record for each title. Project Gutenberg is now testing the use of MARC records with their files. In an email message through PACS-L, Michael Hart is asking for about 100 libraries to help him determine whether the provision of MARC records would increase the visibility and use of these electronic materials. You can choose the titles you wish and also customize the MARC records to your standards. If you are interested in helping with this study, contact Michael Hart directly -- hart@pobox.com.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Blind Users Hearing Color

At Cornell, they are working on a software program that lets blind people "read" graphic materials like maps. They use sound to represent color -- specifically the 88 keys of a piano. In addition to the music, the program can read xy coordinates. They have applied to the National Science Foundation for funding to continue this research.

Cell Phone Viruses

The New York Times ran an article about cell phone viruses. Although not the first of its kind, the Velasco worm passes to other phones using radio frequency. Basically, it finds a cell phone using Bluetooth, jumps to the Bluetooth phone and asks the user if they want to install Velasco. If the user says yes, it will install and then try to find another Bluetooth phone. This worm is not malicious, but you can see what the possibilities might be for other viruses or worms.

Orphaned Works and Copyright

From beSpecific:
SUMMARY: "The Copyright Office seeks to examine the issues raised by 'orphan works,'' i.e., copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or even impossible to locate. Concerns have been raised that the uncertainty surrounding ownership of such works might needlessly discourage subsequent creators and users from incorporating such works in new creative efforts or making such works available to the public. This notice requests written comments from all interested parties. Specifically, the Office is seeking comments on whether there are compelling concerns raised by orphan works that merit a legislative, regulatory or other solution, and what type of solution could effectively address these concerns without conflicting with the legitimate interests of authors and right holders." [Federal Register, January 26, 2005...thanks Heidi]
If you are or will be digitizing parts of your collections, you might want to comment. Right now, the copyright is in effect whether there is an owner or not. This makes it very difficult to ask permission to scan or otherwise digitize specific works; basically you have to wait until the work is in the public domain.

Information . . . or . . . Advertising

The Associated Press has publicized some of the results of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Among other interesting tidbits, Pew found that only 18% of Internet users can tell if a search engine result is a paid listing or the actual result of their search. Only 38% of Internet users know that there are paid listings displayed on the results pages. Of the 38%, not even half say they can always tell the difference.

Library of Congress Posts 9-11 Project

As part of American Memory, the American Folklife Center has brought together recordings of people's immediate reactions to the 9-11 disaster. The September 11, 2001 Documentary Project is provided through the Library of Congress. Based on a similar project done after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an email was sent on September 12th to folklorists. The collection consists of more than 400 sound and video recordings and more than 400 graphic materials. You can search the collection (using simple Boolean and phrase), browse by title and subject, or browse by format (audio, photograph/drawing, video, written narrative).

Nofollow Value for Web Pages

From SearchEngineWatch: If you have a web page that invites others to participate (e.g., comments or guest books), you may not want your site to be associated with the links that others are providing. Particularly if you are spammed through your comments, your ranking within search engines may decrease. Google has created a "nofollow" value for the rel attribute. The rel attribute can only be used with the <a> and <link> elements. In most cases, you'll be using it with the <a> element. The rel attribute specifies what type of link it is. The HTML standard does not include a list of values that could be used with rel. Google has decided to try to use "nofollow" as one of the values. You may have a link that looks like: <a href="libtechtx.blogspot.com" rel="nofollow"> This would mean that when a search engine indexes your site, it will skip those links with the nofollow value, because you did not place that link there -- someone else did. Both Yahoo and MSN are implementing this value in the search engines crawls. Ask Jeeves is considering it. Some of the blogging software is also implementing it. So, why bother? Part of the reason would be to be sure your site shows up as high as possible within search engine results. Another would be to decrease spam to your site. After all, if the search engines aren't indexing the nofollow links, then the spammers are not getting the visibility they want. (Sorry you've seen this post so many times -- I had to figure out how to incorporate HTML tags within the post.)

Possible Emerging Technology Fund for Texas

Governor Rick Perry spoke to the legislators yesterday, identifying his priorities for the current session. Within that speech, he mentioned an Emerging Technology fund:
Providing $300 million for a new Emerging Technology fund that will provide world-class research institutions, cutting edge technologies, and the miracle of modern science and also keep Texas competitive with other states seeking to tap the $3 trillion in revenues that emerging technologies are expected to generate over the next decade.
It will be interesting to see if this becomes law and, if it does, what this exactly means.

Updating Windows

By the middle of this year, the Windows update service will check to see whether you have a legal copy of Windows or not. If not, you will be prompted to purchase a legal copy of Windows at a discounted price. According to CNET, Microsoft has been testing this tool using voluntary users. As of February 7th, use of this verification tool will be mandatory in China, Norway, and the Czech Republic. It will soon be mandatory for the rest of us. By taking part in this program, called the Windows Genuine Advantage, you have the opportunity to download free or reduced price software if you validate your software. You can take part in this program now, if you wish. A demonstration is available on the Advantage web page, showing you how to validate your software. Once you are validated, you shouldn't need to do it again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Firefox Co-Creator

Some things continue to astound me. One of the co-creators of Firefox, the open source version of Netscape, was 17 when he started working on the first versions of Firefox. Blake Ross took an internship with Netscape when he was 15. He and David Hyatt worked on the creation of Firefox. Currently, he is a sophomore computer science major at Stanford University and is working on Firefox version 2. Read more about Blake in this AP report.

RSS Feeds from your Catalog

SIRSI is the first automation to include RSS feeds from the catalog. It is part of their Enterprise Portal Solution. Actually, they also provide feeds from within SingleSearch, MuseGlobal, and Google results. A post at the Shifted Librarian actually explains this better than I can. Why is this important? Let's say that I'm interested in anything you purchase having to do with Texas history. If you have an RSS feed enabled, I could create a search strategy (or you could help me) and then I could subscribe to that feed. Whenever you purchased material that fell within that search, I am immediately notified via your automation system. If you do this over multiple libraries (as with SIRSI's MuseGlobal product), then I will know when any of them receive material matching my criteria. Think about creating an RSS feed using the Library of Texas. Decide which libraries you want to search, create your search strategy and subscribe to the feed. I'll know when materials appear in the libraries I chose. (FYI -- this capability is not there yet . . . just suppose . . .)

Searching for Video

Google just rolled out a beta version of Google Video. According to Google, it currently searches the text of shows on PBS, Fox, C-SPAN, ABC, NBC, KQED, and KRON (the last two are San Francisco stations). Since it is in beta, it searches just a small number of stations and programs. I searched for Johnny Carson and saw programming from this afternoon. You are actually searching text from the closed captioning. If you've ever watched the closed captioned text during a program, you will know that sometimes the words look garbled. In addition to the spoken text, you also see audio cues. It isn't perfected yet, but it has possibilities. At this point, you cannot see the video itself -- you see a still picture. It looks, however, like Google is also investigating the addition of video. Yahoo has also introduced a beta version of their video search. Different than Google, they currently search avi, mpeg, Quicktime, Windows Media, and Real formats. In addition to searching these Internet-based formats, CNET.com states that they are or will be searching the closed captioned text from the BBC and Bloomberg.

UNT and LoC Digitization Award

A little late, but since this is important . . . The Library of Congress has provided awards to 8 institutions and their partners to preserve at-risk, born-digital materials of cultural and historical value. Some of the projects include "the birth of the 'dot com' era, satellite mapping, public television programs, historical aerial photography, and opinion polls and voting records." Of the eight institutions, the University of North Texas is partnering with the California Digital Library, the lead institution, and New York University. Here's a summary of their project:
This award is for the collection of Web-based materials produced by local, state, regional and federal government agencies and other organizations that try to educate the public and influence government. The archives that will be built, using tools developed to capture and preserve these materials, will focus on local political activities and movements, such as the California gubernatorial recall election of 2003.
Great job, UNT, and good luck!

2005 Technology Predictions

I don't know about you, but I've seen many articles predicting how technology will change over the next year. After a while, I just tune them out. Walt Crawford, however, has pulled together a number of them in his Midwinter issue of Cites and Insights (pages 1-6). Some of the interesting predictions I saw include: * Patrons wanting to use Flash and USB drives on public access workstations. * Worms will spread to handheld devices like PDAs and cell phones. * Support of CD burning on public access workstations so patrons can download large files. * Libraries should incorporate instant messaging (IM) into communication with patrons. * Wireless access should be offered at the library. * Use blogs and RSS to enhance communication to your constituency. * Open access will continue to find its niche. There are many others in this article. These are just a few I saw that might be immediately relevant.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Texas Library Association Volunteers

Just a heads up. The Texas Library Association is looking for volunteers for the 2005 conference in Austin. As one of the co-chairs for the Internet Room, if you have two hours during the conference, let me know. I'm looking for a few good volunteers with smiling faces and a little technical knowledge (yes . . . just a little technical knowledge!).

RSS 1.1

RSS is difficult enough because of its name -- who except technical people know what RSS is? (If you don't know, check this out.) In addition to the challenge of the name, there are competing standards -- RSS 0.92, 1.0, 2.0, and Atom. Now there is RSS 1.1. This is actually an update of RSS 1.0 and incorporates more RDF features and, of course, fixes outstanding bugs.

GovTrack.us

beSpecific has cited a new tool for tracking legislation -- GovTrack.us. You can track bills, issues or committees, representatives, or topics. You can also get updates via email.

Security and Wireless Hotspots

Wireless access points are all around you -- from libraries to coffee houses to restaurants to airports. If you are using any of these hotspots, is your data secure? When you log into a site, can someone take your login and password? This article from Security Pipeline gives some good pointers for ways you can check on security with these connections.

Search Google with 32 Words

beSpecific noted that Google Search has increased the number of words you can use in a query -- from 10 to 32. According to ResearchBuzz, though, Google News still has the 10-word limit.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Browsing Your Neighbor's Collections

LISNews.com has a short article about Macintosh software called Delicious Library that focuses on cataloging books, movies, and games. The idea is that people would "catalog" their own collections of books or music and then share it with others. You would be able to browse other's personal libraries. Similar to the software that is written in someone's garage, this has been written in a coffee house in Seattle. I find their selling points interesting. Although we already have most of them in our current automation software, it is enlightening to find a list of what these young, non-librarian developers think is cool in such a system:
  • Scanning the barcode to retrieve basic bibliographic information
  • Links to recommendations (maybe via Amazon?)
  • Dragging books/CDs/games from virtual shelves into email or IM
  • Copying bibliographic information onto iPod
  • Import/export using tab-delimited or XML files
  • Speak a title and it is highlighted
  • Provide your own ratings
  • Organize virtual collections any way you want
  • Scan barcodes using wireless
  • Check-out materials and provide due date
  • Search bibliographic information by keyword
  • Print information in compact format
  • Interactions between Amazon and your collection
  • Browse dust jackets and covers
Caveat: In the list above, I use the term "bibliographic information" pretty loosely. I'm not sure what or how much is provided or allowed in the software. Interesting list. I see a desire to easily move the information to other formats so it can be shared with friends (email, IM, iPod), to easily interact with popular existing web sites (e.g., Amazon), and to customize the collection in personal ways (personal recommendations, custom organization). What do you see?

ALA Search Uses Google

The American Library Association web site went through a large overhaul in 2004. The result was not stellar. The URLs were too long, the organization not intuitive, and all old links were broken. ALA has worked on the site since -- and it is better than it was. However, according to the PLA blog, they just implemented Google as their search engine. Now that they have a high-quality search engine, it should be easier to find information. Although I'm not sure which Google product they are using, here's information on both of them.

Change in Domain Transfer

In July 2004, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) changed to procedure for moving a domain from one registrar to another. Many people, including me, were under the impression that this changed the owner of the domain. It doesn't -- it can change the registrar for the domain. The old policy stated that both registrars (the registrar losing the domain and the registrar gaining the domain) had to be in agreement before the domain could be transferred. Apparently, some registrars were sending fake renewal notices to domain owners, causing them to inadvertently change registrars. In order to curb this practice, ICANN created a new policy. After November 12, 2004, the gaining registrar must obtain express authorization from the Registered Name Holder or the Administrative Contact. The losing registrar does not have to give consent. If they do not respond within five calendar days, the transfer is approved. WebReference has a good article covering this subject and it is easier to understand than the ICANN document. What is really interesting is that a major domain -- panix.com -- was moved from one registrar to another without their knowledge. You can read their overview of the incident, but basically, the panix.com domain was moved to a registrar in Australia, the DNS records were moved to the United Kingdom and panix.com email servers were re-directed to Canada. As you read above, this is not supposed to be able to happen. At this point, no one really knows what has happened. When I find out more, I'll let you know. In the meantime, if you are a domain owner or the administrative contact, please read communications you receive from your registrar -- don't let your domain be hijacked!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Desktop Search Engines

If you haven't heard, companies are creating software that will search the information on your computer. Called a "desktop search engine," these are similar to the search functionality you find in Windows (Start - Search - For Files and Folders) except that it can search everything on your computer. "Everything" can include things like temporary files, cookies, email messages, email message attachments, your calendar entries, your browser's history, and PDF files. Slate did a good comparison of five of the programs that search your hard drive:

At the time of Slate's article, Yahoo Desktop Search engine was not yet available. It currently is available and is, of course, in beta. SearchEngineWatch.com has provided a review.

Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool

If you updated your Windows XP, 2000, or Server 2003 product within the last week, you might have noticed the addition of the Malicious Software Removal Tool that Microsoft is now providing. This software should find and remove specific malicious software, specifically Berbew, Blaster, Gaobot, DoomJuice, Mydoom, Nachi, Sasser, Zindos. If you download it via Windows Update, it runs in the background and then deletes itself. If you download the tool yourself, you can run it yourself whenever you wish. Windows Update should release an updated version of this tool every second Tuesday of the month.

Texas Lawsuit Filed Under CAN-SPAM

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit under the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003. Apparently, a very prolific spam operation has been working out of Texas. Ryan Samuel Pitylak, a University of Texas student, and another man from California are named in the complaint. Abbott is seeking restitution under three laws:
  • CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, a federal law which can carry penalties of $250 per violation, to a $2,000,000 maximum.
  • Texas Electronic Mail and Solicitation Act, a state law which can carry penalties of $10 per unlawful email message or $25,000 per day. (The operation has been in business since 2002.)
  • Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, a state law which can carry a penalty of up to $20,000 per violation.

Updated Metadata Best Practices Document

The Western States Dublin Core Metadata Best Practices document has been updated to version 2.0. If you are relatively new to creating and using Dublin Core metadata, this document provides you with some great ideas, explanations, and examples.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Opera Free to Higher Education

No, not the singing opera -- the web browser Opera. Although much less known than Internet Explorer or Netscape/Firefox, the Opera browser has been around for a long time and is known for its standards-compliant software. Anyone can download and use Opera at no charge. The catch is that there is an ad in this version. In order to use the software without seeing the ad, you can buy it for $39. Opera has just announced that institutions of higher education can use the $39 version at no charge. Read their press release and an overview of the program.

On Hold During Help Calls

Have you ever been put on hold while calling a help center? Have you ever heard the message "Calls may be monitored for quality assurance?" Guess what -- the entire call could be monitored. That includes the time you are on hold . . . while you are talking to a staff member . . . while you are grabbing a sandwich . . . while you are talking to yourself, filling out a form that includes your address and phone number. Some companies hire professional "eavesdroppers" to be sure their employees are courteous, giving out correct information and generally treating their customers in an approved manner. These call monitors, however, listen to the entire call -- even the time you are on hold. For more information on how this could work, check out the article in the New York Times.

Using Your Cell Phone as a Credit Card.

The New York Times has an interesting article about including credit card information within your cell phone. Not only would it save your credit card information, but it can be used as your credit card. I know that cell phones are increasingly providing more and more functionality. Not content with making phone calls and keeping address books, devices like the Treo 650 also include the ability to send text messages, access the web and your email, organizers, and cameras. In Asia, phones are already being made and used as credit cards. Vivotech is one such phone. You can see one way it works on their web site. Basically, at the time you would normally provide cash, write a check, or provide a credit card to pay for a purchase, you move your cell phone close to their access point. The transaction finishes, providing you with a digital receipt. Although not yet available in the United States, this is very popular in Asia. I'm pretty sure I won't be one of the first to buy one when it comes here, though. I'd be too afraid of losing the phone and then . . . it just makes me nervous.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Windows NT Support Going Away

Going away unless you have a custom support agreement, that is. Free support ended December 31, 2004. If you haven't upgraded yet, you can purchase a custom support agreement that will be good until 2006, after which you should have migrated to another operating system (i.e., Windows Server 2003). Online support is still available, but only until January 1, 2007. You can find more details about the Windows NT lifecycle on the Microsoft web site.

Follow PLA From Home

If you haven't seen it yet, the Public Library Association is creating a blog for events that deal with public librarianship during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting (Boston, January 14-19). If you're unsure what this means, or what it might mean to you, at its heart they are creating a web page that will change many times a day. There are many attendees that will be writing about events at the Meeting as they happen. Their summaries and thoughts will be posted to this web page. This is a way for you to "see" what is happening at Midwinter, even if you aren't attending. You can subscribe to the RSS feed, or just remember to check back to see what's going on in Boston.

CAN SPAM Worked

Ever since the CAN SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act of 2003 became law, there have been questions as to whether it was strong enough to be effective. According to Wired News, the Federal Trade Commission just won a court order to shut down the illegal advertising of six companies. According to the article, the email messages:
  • did not include the phrase "sexually-explicit" in the subject line;
  • falsely promised free membership to their websites;
  • prevented recipients from stopping unwanted email messages.

All good news, but the best news is that FTC found these companies because people sent their names and complaints to them. If you have a complaint about a company, you can use the FTC's Consumer Complaint Form or email them directly at spam@uce.gov.

IBM Opens Patents to Open Source Developers

IBM is providing use of 500 of their US patents, as well as their counterparts in other countries, to open source developers at no charge. Although the names of the patents mean very little to me, there is a list available for those of you that are more savvy than I am. The patents cover the following areas:
  • Interfacing
  • Storage management
  • Multi-processing
  • Data processing programming
  • Human interfacing
  • Database and data handling
  • Image processing and video technology
  • Human language processing
  • Compression, encryption, and access control
  • Software development & object technology
  • Internet, eCommerce, and industry specific
  • Networking and network management

What an incredible wealth of information now available for use in development (open source development, of course). I will be interested in seeing what develops from this generosity.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Civil War Maps Available at LoC

The Library of Congress is posting 2,240 maps and charts and 76 atlases and sketchbooks for the years 1861-1865. The Virginia Historical Society and the Library of Virginia will also add similar items. The entire collection should be available by spring 2005. The AP article provides many examples of the types of maps already available. If you work with genealogists, you might want to look at the collection.

IT and Natural Disasters

Slashdot has an interesting article on how text messaging (SMS), email and the web were indispensible during and after the tsunami. A group of South Asian bloggers created a real-time web page with tsunami news and resources. The United Nations is looking at these technologies for use in early warning efforts.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Updated Study on Internet and Public Libraries

Five years ago, the School of Informatics at the University of Buffalo studied the effect of the Internet on public library usage and found that public library usage had not declined. They are about to update this study, using a larger sample size. Although they expect to see the same or similar results this time, it will be interesting to see how the numbers have changed.

Schools Have Not Integrated Technology

From an article at CNET.com, the US Department of Education has released a report on public schools (K-12) and technology integration. In the Executive Summary, you see this statement (the phrase in italics is mine):
It is the responsibility of this nation’s educational enterprise – including policymakers – to help secure our economic future by ensuring that our young people are adequately prepared to meet these challenges [mastery and application of new technologies]. Today, they are not. This report explores why – and recommends steps to ensure that they will be.
Thanks primarily to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, I think Texas had a head start on providing not only the technologies, but also the training to use them. Among the Action Steps of the report, you see "Improve Teacher Training." It includes:
  • improving teacher preparation in technology.
  • providing teachers opportunities to take online classes.
  • improving the quality & consistency of teacher education.
  • ensuring that teachers understand how to use data to personalize instruction.

Although important, it's what I don't see in this section that concerns me. Although it may be a minor point, it usually gets lost in any training project. Time. Time away from the school, away from the students, away from meetings to become proficient in using the technology, think about how it could be used and then make changes to the instruction being provided.

As librarians (school, public, academic, and special), I think we are very fortunate. There has been a lot of technology training in this state. While there may not have been as much time as we would have liked to incorporate it, we have a strong network (not the technical kind) we can rely on.

Scanning this report, I didn't see any mention of school librarians (although it was a quick scan, so I may have missed it). My guess is that, if you looked anywhere in the school for true technology integration, the library would be the place you would find it.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Survey Says . . . Parents Monitor Children's Internet Activities

From an article on The Conference Board: " . . . more than 95% of America's parents say they monitor their children's Internet activities." This is from their quarterly survey called the Consumer Internet Barometer. Does that number seem right to you? Although I can say that most kids' computers in homes I know are in a public area, I can't say that even half of those parents I know actually monitor their activities. Maybe I'm being cynical . . .

Ethics in Blogging

Recently, there has been quite a lot of discussion on subject of ethics (or the lack of ethics) in blogging. There have been some great posts on this issue, but I will point you to two that I think should stand for those of us blogging as librarians:

Can you still have fun with your blog under these guidelines? Definitely!

No Warrant Needed to Search Work Computers

You probably already know this, but it is always good to be reminded. A story in CNET.com states that an appeals court in the state of Washington has ruled that a search warrant is not needed in order for authorities to examine an employee's computer. All that is needed is the consent of the owner of the computer. If you work for a government agency, consent is assumed. Your computer and its contents can be examined at any time.

UN Documents Searchable

As of December 31, 2004, the United Nations made their Official Document System (ODS) available for public use. Comprehensive coverage goes back to 1993, but they are continally adding older materials. The English version of this database includes a simple and an advanced search. From some quick searches of this database, it looks like you can get the documents in their original form and also in PDF. Great resource for international history.

Monday, January 03, 2005

NC Court Case: Public Internet Privileges

On Mary Minow's blog, she references a court case in North Carolina. Apparently, a patron was viewing "unwelcome and unsolicited" nude images. The library immediately took away the patron's Internet use at all the library's branches. The North Carolina court found that, although libraries have a right to prohibit the display of visual depictions that constitute obscenity or child pornography, they do not have the right to take away the patron's due process. In other words, the patron should have had the right to formal notification of the charges, as well as the right to appeal. Bottom line: Be sure there is a process in place that safeguards the patron's constitutional rights.

The Google Foundation?

Yes. According to CNET, Google will put aside 1% of its equity and profits for the Foundation's use. Although no information has yet been provided concerning the types of projects they will support, I would think that libraries might fit some of their criteria. Right now, they are looking for an executive director (any volunteers from the library world?). My guess is that they will take most, if not all of this year, getting everything set up. Still . . . you might want to keep tabs on it.

Stanford Survey

The Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society studies the social consequences of the Internet. In this report, the major conclusion I've seen the media promote is that time used to access the Internet has displaced time that used to be used to do other things like watch television. Although interesting, didn't we know this already? However, there are some other tidbits that I think are more interesting (based on an article in the New York Times):
  • People are more inclined to communicate with family members using the telephone, not the Internet.
  • 14 minutes per day are spent dealing with computer problems (10 workdays per year!).
  • Women, on average, primarily use email, instant messaging and social networking
  • Men, on average, primarily browse, reading discussion groups and participate in chat rooms.
  • Younger people prefer more immediate forms of communication (instant messaging, text messaging); older people prefer email.

Blog Readership

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a memo concerning the state of blogging. For some of you, blogs and RSS might still be a little out of the mainstream. According to this survey, however, some of your users already write blogs and others read them. Some interesting statistics to consider:
  • 7% of US adults who use the Internet have created a blog or web-based diary (approximately 8 million people).
  • 27% of US adults who use the Internet read blogs (approximately 32 million people).
  • 38% of US adults who use the Internet know what a blog is. (Of course, this means that 62% don't!)

These statistics do not show that reading or writing blogs is mainstream. However, the Project found that from February to November 2004, the percentage of users reading blogs jumped 58%. That is, in February, it was 17%; in November, it was 27%.

You might already have bloggers within your patron base or within your constituent base. The survey states that bloggers are likely to be male, young, an Internet user, relatively well off, well-educated, and have broadband access. Although blog readers have similar characteristics, women, minorities, those between 30-49, and those with dial-up are increasing in number.

Overall, this is a very informative survey and isn't very long. I'd encourage you to read it to see where we might be heading.