N2H2\'s Weak AI

Jonathan Wallace has written another critical look at N2H2 called N2H2\'s Weak AI. It takes a detailed look at the company\'s claims of \"robust\", \"state of the art\" artificial intelligence. Can N2H2\'s software (or anyone) tell the difference between a prurient story and a scholarly essay about sexuality? He interviewed experts in AI and took a look both at the company\'s claims for its products and at their actual performance.

In the first article in this series profiling censorware vendor N2H2 Inc. of Seattle, he concluded that the company, which is unprofitable, running out of cash and facing NASDAQ delisting, must leverage its technology to survive. N2H2 is a tech company, and it has nothing else to sell.

Topic: 

Library book returned after 24 years

Someone writes \"Librarians are always hearing wild, wonderful and flimsy excuses for the late return of books.
But former student Mohamed Bokreta could only write of his \"juvenile and youthful wicked whims\" after returning a book to South Thames College in London after 24 years...

Full Story \"

He went on to say :\"I am seeking both apologies and pardon from my dear friends, the respected college principal and his brave librarian staff\".

I just returned one about 11 years over due I found when I moved, ouch.

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Library turtle retires - paper calls it a libraria

Steven Bell writes \"On 9/3/01 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported a story about a surburan Public Library, in Abington Township, that held a retirement party for its library pet, a turtle called Eltrut. This would be a fairly standard story, but the Inquirer actually identified the turtle as a librarian. As if our public image wasn\'t bad enough, and the public didn\'t already think that everyone who worked in the library was a librarian, now the Inquirer refers to the library pet as a librarian. The story is found
Here \".

E-Book Encryption and Customer Expectations

An interesting article on a wildly popular program for decrypting Microsoft e-books, and why publishers\' insistance on overly strict copyright control may doom the e-book as a popular medium:

It\'s easy to load a small library of electronic books into your laptop or handheld organizer and carry it with you on the bus or to the beach. But try to make backup copies of those same e-books or loan one to a friend, and you\'ll run smack into the digital equivalent of an electrified fence. The problem is that once a literary work has been liberated from the printed page, it\'s potentially vulnerable to unlimited digital piracy—a danger that makes most e-book publishers insist on strict software controls to prevent anyone but the purchaser from opening an e-book file . . . Until software makers and publishers can figure out how to protect their e-books without treating all readers like thieves, in other words, the summer of beach-blanket e-books may never materialize.

More from Technology Review.

Post-Boycott Scientific Publishing: The First Wave

Here\'s a press release from BioMed Central with information on the first free, peer-review scientific journals to emerge in the wake of the Public Library of Science boycott:

Today BioMed Central announces the first group of research journals to be launched in a new publishing initiative. This initiative is designed to allow groups of researchers to publish online journals representing their community and to offer free access to the research articles within these new journals. The journals will use BioMed Central\'s established publishing infrastructure, comprising an online submission system, electronic tools for peer-review, and the ability to publish accepted articles in both PDF and HTML formats. The peer-reviewed research articles in these journals will be indexed in the National Library of Medicine\'s bibliographic database, PubMed (widely used by researchers, clinicians and the general public) and deposited without delay in PubMed Central, the electronic repository of complete publications. . .

More. Thanks to the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog.

Goblet of Fire wins Best Novel Hugo

Slashdotters are discussing the 2001 Hugo awards, which include J.K. Rowling\'s latest tome Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as Best Novel. Although Hugo awards often go to \"hard\" science fiction, fantasy is of course also a part of speculative fiction (sf). It\'s nice to see a novel that\'s accessible to both sf fans and children (and no comments from the peanut gallery, please, about the two groups being identical).

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Students losing part-time home when main library locks doors

Wayne Risher from the Memphis, TN
Commercial
Appeal
news writes: \"Like it or not,
libraries
are
day cares, hangouts and meeting spots, as well as
places for bookish pursuits. \"

The Central Library will be closing for two months to
move to a new building. Parents and kids are having to
find other \"day care\" options. Day care centers have
noticed a slight increase in enrollment.

\"A couple of parents have told me they\'re signing up
because the library is closing,\" said Thomas. \"I think
we\'re going to get a lot.\"
Full Story

Anti-theft device needed for library books

This from Japan reporting that the Tottori
Prefectural Library was found to have lost 6400
volumes since it opened in 1990. In recent months
several libraries have reported losses. They are
considering installing a Book Detection
System.

The Asahi Shimbun reports:
\"The prefecture\'s administrative surveillance team
was brought in, with the governor\'s strict orders to get to
the bottom of the matter. Governor Yoshihiro Katayama
apologized in public for his own ``supervisory
oversight,\'\' and served a written warning to the chief
librarian.\"

Full Story

Price of access - Local libraries weigh use of Web filters, free speech

This article reports on the state of filtering in the
Eastern Shores Library System in Sheboygan County
WI. They say they will stop accepting e-rate grants
rather than add filters. They are trying other popular
monitoring techniques such as placing terminals near
reference desks and using time limits.

ANNE DAVIS of the Journal Sentinel writes:
\"Placement of the terminals was a key factor in the
library board\'s decision not to install filters, she
added.\"
Full Story

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The Web Can Shrink a Big World

From ALICE DuBOIS
at the New York Times
- A nice
synopsis in of internet search techniques, tools and
tips. With advice from librarian, Ms. Osofsky, from the
NYPL.

\"People think with the Internet, you push a button and
get an answer,\" says Marcia Osofsky, a librarian at the
New York Public Library telephone reference desk.\"

Full Story

Topic: 

Last Longing Look at 5 Public Libraries

Baltimore citizens said a sad goodbye Saturday to five city libraries shuttered by budget cuts:

Yesterday, the last day in the lives of five city libraries, played to a small but sad audience.
As Carla D. Hayden, director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, made a farewell tour to thank librarians in all five branches she chose for closure, many people paid their last respects to beloved neighborhood beacons in all corners of Baltimore, from Pimlico to Fells Point.

One woman from far outside the city made a pilgrimage to her past . . . \"This was my childhood library,\" she said. \"I\'m a librarian because of it. I could walk here.\"

More from the Baltimore Sun.

S.C. libraries removing a few Internet filters

Just the other day this article
here
appeared about South Carolina ordering filters on library
computers. Guess what? The order said libraries had to
filter all BUT 10% of their computers. So now some library systems
have to take filters OFF of at least one computer to
comply with
the order. JESSICA FLATHMANN from the Charlotte
Observer says: \"Area public libraries are removing
pornography-blocking software from some of their Internet
computers because of a new state law.\" Full Story

Topic: 

Mixed Feelings About A Legendary Library

Here\'s an entertaining commentary on the pros-and-cons of
Oxford University\'s somewhat archaic but venerable Bodleian Library:

I should mention that the library takes four to five hours to \"fetch\" a book from its stacks. Readers are advised to order what they need in the morning so they\'ll have it by afternoon. An all-morning wait should be enough to force a person into careful consideration. So why I ordered Universalis Arithmetica is a puzzler. This book is a ridiculously valuable first edition of a massively important work, true. Newton was still at Cambridge in 1707 when the Bodleian\'s edition was printed. . .

More from the National Post.

Topic: 

New Study Finds Few Students Turning to Libraries

Unsurpisingly, a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that the majority of students turn to the Web for assistance with their homework, bypassing libraries:

Seventy-one percent of middle school and high school students with Internet access said they relied on the electronic technology the most in completing a project, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. That compares to 24 percent who said they relied on libraries the most, according to the survey. . .

More from Reuters.

Topic: 

A New Model for Scientific Publishing?

The Public Library of Science will soon launch several free online journals. These titles are intended to showcase the work of scientists participating in a boycott of publishers that do not place articles in the public domain within six months of publication:

Thousands of scientists around the world will soon be boycotting academic journals that refuse to make their contents freely available on the web soon after publication. The boycott could mean scientists refusing to submit papers to journals and refusing to review the work of their peers for any journal that does not deposit research papers into an online public library of science.

The group behind the online library is planning its own online journals to give scientists who join the boycott a forum for their work. . .

More from BBC News.

Associated Press: Quoting = Copyright Violation

In breaking news, The Associated Press has apparently begun leaning on About.com authors to stop using quotations from AP articles to guide their readers to the complete text as it appears on other sites.

In a message sent to all contributors, an About.com moderator wrote:

\"I have some bad news to convey to everyone - AP and other news services
have decided to be quite strict in how they interpret their copyrights.
Before, it was always assumed to be OK if we just quoted a couple of
sentences from a news story and then provided a link - it was copying all or
most of a story which we had to avoid.
But not any more. Quoting even one sentence, if it conveys the gist of the entire story, isn\'t something that they want to permit now. They are serious about this. They have already been in contact with About over Guides who have done nothing more than quote the first couple of lines
on their sites, along with a link back to the full story.\"

About.com seems ready to knuckle-under D.M.C.A-style, and I can only imagine \'blogs will be the next target.

More information is available at Politech.

Bush Delays Release of Reagan Records Again

The Associated Press reports:

For the third time, the Bush administration has delayed release of 68,000 pages of Ronald Reagan\'s White House records, including vice presidential papers from President Bush\'s father. The papers were to have come out in January, 12 years after Reagan left office as provided under law. The White House delayed the release to June 21, then to the last day in August.

On Friday, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales sought a third extension, this time with no deadline, so the administration can review the records and consult representatives of former presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton . . . ``I think it\'s a scandal to hold them back,\'\' Anna Nelson, a historian at American University, said Friday. ``I think the whole point of the Presidential Records Act is to open documents. It goes against the spirit of the law.\'\'

More via the New York Times.

Copywrong

Salon has a Story on the U.S. Copyright Office report giving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act a passing grade.

\"Libraries could not exist without first sale. If they had to get permission or pay a fee every time they lent a copy of a book, they would have to stop lending. There would be no functional difference between a public library and a Barnes and Noble.


It\'s no secret that some big publishers have been waging commercial and legislative war on libraries for some years now. These publishers see every use of interlibrary loan as a lost sale. And the DMCA is a big ICBM in that war. These publishers would like nothing better than to be able to dictate the terms of use in libraries. And by moving all their content to digital streams, encrypted, tethered to specific devices and controlled by restrictive contracts, they can effectively squeeze libraries to death.\"

Topic: 

Regulating Minors\' Access to the Internet Can Backfire

Bob Cox passed along This One from SfGate that talks about the Child Internet Protection Act. This one comes down solidly against filtering, and says filters tend to block sites in a way ACLU representative Emily Whitfield describes as \"capricious.\" One interesting note in this story, the privately run Waldorf schools refuse to allow their under-12 students to use computers or television.

\"We\'re not concerned with online content. Instead, we believe that children should be free to develop their imaginations, and we feel the Internet provides prepackaged information that makes kids passive. Plus, we feel that physical activity leads to healthier minds. Sitting in front of a computer, pointing and clicking, is not a picture that we support as leading to later health.\"

Topic: 

Libraries ordered to filter Web in South Carolina

APRIL SIMUN from The State newspaper writes: \"The S.C. State Library board voted 5-0 Thursday to comply with a new state law requiring them to filter their own computers and to withhold money from local public libraries that don\'t filter.\" Full Story

And Annalee Newitz from the San Francisco Gate writes: \"...many experts and activists say our current methods for regulating kids\' access to the Internet, like blocking, are worse than useless.\" Full Story

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