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Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications -- and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.
Library Patrons Are At Risk
One of the authors of this Boing Boing article, Alison Macrina, is an IT librarian at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts, a member of Boston's Radical Reference Collective, and an organizer working to bring privacy rights workshops to libraries throughout the northeast. Librarians know that patrons visit libraries for all kinds of online research needs, and therefore have a unique responsibility in helping keep that information safe. It's not just researchers who suffer; our collective memory, culture, and future are harmed when writers and researchers stop short of pursuing intellectual inquiry.
In addition to installing a number of privacy-protecting tools on public PCs at the Watertown library, Alison has been teaching patron computer classes about online privacy and organized a series of workshops for Massachusetts librarians to get up to speed on the ins and outs of digital surveillance.
Hennepin County Library is planning to shut down the KidLinks and TeenLinks websites. Tell the Hennepin County Commissioners to support children and teens by continuing to provide reading development through these outstanding online resources.
A piece called DIARY from the London Review of Books from Rebecca Solnit. It begins:
"In or around June 1995 human character changed again. Or rather, it began to undergo a metamorphosis that is still not complete, but is profound – and troubling, not least because it is hardly noted. When I think about, say, 1995, or whenever the last moment was before most of us were on the internet and had mobile phones, it seems like a hundred years ago. Letters came once a day, predictably, in the hands of the postal carrier. News came in three flavours – radio, television, print – and at appointed hours. Some of us even had a newspaper delivered every morning."
Google wants WebP to become the internet’s next dominant image file format. That’s not likely going to happen anytime soon — but WebP could still have a huge impact.
Recently, Netflix royally pissed off Verizon by calling out the ISP for slow streaming video. The two companies went back and forth for a while, with Verizon demanding that Netflix cut it out, and Netflix essentially saying "Ok, fine. But we might bring them back. You should serve your customers better." Now Google is offering an even more granular service called the "Video Quality Report," which will allow users to check out their YouTube streaming quality and compare to other providers in the area.
What we know as the World Wide Web — the main way by which most of us access the Internet — just turned 25 this year. Its existence has allowed for all kinds of learning and free expression, coding and making, rule-breaking and platform-making. One American researcher even links the Internet to a decline in religious affiliation.
An estimated 5 billion of us are expected to have Internet access in the next decade, but what will the Internet look like then? How easily will we be able to get, share and create with it?
The NYPL’s “Check Out the Internet” project will lend WiFi hotspots for up to one year at a time and plans to distribute the service through various educational initiatives already running across its neighborhood library branches—for example, Out of School Time programs, technology training classes, and courses in English for speakers of other languages.
The NYPL actually launched a mini version of the program last month, distributing 100 devices across four library branches. According to NYPL president Tony Marx, it’s still too early to draw any conclusions from the 100-household pilot, but they’ve already begun collecting data like how much time participants are spending online and whether they’re using the devices at home or elsewhere. This information will guide the larger roll-out aimed at 10,000 households with an anticipated cost of $1 million. The Knight Foundation grant will get the NYPL half of the way there, and the library is currently trying to fundraise for the rest.
More on the Chicago program and future endeavors in the article.
For the study, researchers identified the "10 costliest conditions in terms of public and private expenditure" -- which included diabetes, back pain, lung cancer and major depressive disorder -- and compared the content of Wikipedia articles about those conditions to peer-reviewed medical literature. Two randomly assigned investigators found that 90 percent of the articles contained false information, which could affect the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Now for those of you who are saying that it's not the doctors themselves checking Wikipedia, you'd be wrong. According to a pair of studies from 2009 and 2010, "70% of junior physicians use Wikipedia in a given week, while nearly 50% to 70% of practicing physicians use it as an information source in providing medical care."
Europe's highest court recently ruled that EU citizens have the right to be forgotten—by Google's search engines. Bob talks with Emily Bell, Director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, about the impact of this decision on freedom of information and internet privacy.
Individual page for story.
Story at NPR about a bill to get rid of the NTIS.
Related blog post: S. 2206 set to eliminate NTIS: fundamentally misunderstands the Internet