When Your Data Wanders to Places You’ve Never Been

A FEW weeks ago, a friend received a flier in the mail inviting her to an event in Manhattan for patients with multiple sclerosis.

“What’s in it for you?” said the flier from MS LifeLines, a support network for patients and their families that is financed by two drug makers, Pfizer and EMD Serono. “Strategies for managing and understanding your symptoms. Information about available treatments for relapsing M.S.”

The thing is that my friend, who requested that I keep her name out of this column, does not have multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.

But last year, she did search online for information about various diseases, including M.S., on a number of consumer health sites. She also subscribed to an online recommendation engine where she looked up consumer reviews of local physicians.

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LISTen: An Program -- Episode #241

As aggravated circumstances have continued longer than expected, the engineer also took on duty as acting producer this week since we continue to be short-handed.

What Does Amazon Mean to You?

When you see the word "Amazon", what's the first thing that springs to mind – the world's biggest forest, the longest river or the largest internet retailer – and which do you consider most important?

From Guardian UK:

These questions have risen to the fore in an arcane, but hugely important, debate about how to redraw the boundaries of the internet. Brazil and Peru have lodged objections to a bid made by the US e-commerce giant for a prime new piece of cyberspace: ".amazon".

The Seattle-based company has applied for its brand to be a top-level domain name (currently .com), but the South American governments argue this would prevent the use of this internet address for environmental protection, the promotion of indigenous rights and other public interest uses.

A quick look at the National Digital Library Endowment Plan from

Note: For more details, see a longer FAQ at David Rothman's email is [email protected].

Q. Why a national digital library endowment?

A. U.S. public libraries now spend roughly $1.3 billion a year on books and other content in all formats, around 12 percent of operating expenditures. The figure in the 2010 fiscal year was $1.42 per capita in Mississippi and nationally just $4.22. As reported by the Economist, library sales are approximately 5 percent of those of U.S. book publishers (no wonder the ALA can get only so far in talks with the big publishing conglomerates).

Q. Why should the endowment focus on e-books and other digital content?

A. Costs and greater ease of sharing resources at a national level--while still compensating publishers fairly. Not to mention other possibilities such as reliable interbook links and extensive annotations. Librarians should curate annotations and other user content. The Amazon buyout of Goodreads is an example of the perils of libraries NOT updating their mission.

E-books can efficiently help libraries honor S. R. Ranganathan’s classic Five Laws of Library Science--such as “Books are for use” and “Every reader his book” (or her book). Even academic libraries at well-off universities have limited resources. As for the typical U.S. public library branch, it carries just 4,350 books, a fraction of Amazon's more than 1.7 million, according to the Economist.

The endowment would at least indirectly free up a bit more money for possible spending on paper books at the local level while still responding to readers’ burgeoning interest in e-books.

Q. How would the plan work?

Cut Off From Opportunity Without Equal Access to Internet

Internet use is now so ubiquitous in the U.S. that not having access or online literacy can create major hurdles. As part of the NewsHour's series on broadband technology and its effect on society, Hari Sreenivasan explores the so-called digital divide with Vicky Rideout of VJR Consulting and former FCC official Karen Kornbluh.

Full piece here.


LISTen: An Program -- Episode #236

This week's program starts off with a bite-sized edition of Tech for Techies led by the owner & engineer of Erie Looking Productions, Mike Kellat. News is also highlighted relative to Google Reader and its impending demise. The new comment line is mentioned as being 1-206-299-2120, extension 1580. For those willing to risk using a SIP client, sip:[email protected] is also usable addressing.

Related links:

Download here (MP3) (Ogg Vorbis) (Free Lossless Audio Codec), or subscribe to the podcast (MP3) to have episodes delivered to your media player. We suggest subscribing by way of a service like

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Google Reader To Disappear

On March 13th, Google announced that its Reader application would disappear on July 1, 2013. Dan Seifert wrote at The Verge about the matter where it was indicated that Google is doing this as part of a regular service reduction exercise and that Google clims usage of Google Reader has declined. Chris Ziegler later noted at The Verge that this has generated some backlash.

Debian developer Richard Hartmann noted that this shows some of the dangers of relying solely on cloud services. Work is underway to bring the self-hosted reader Newsblur into the JuJu Charm Store for easy deployment to the Amazon Web Services public access cloud to have your own personal web-based RSS reader. The personal cloud platform ownCloud is available with an RSS reader mode added to the latest version. Ars Technica writer Casey Johnston speculates this closure is an attempt to make RSS reading social by moving it into Google+ perhaps.

The situation continues to develop especially as librarians like Michael Sauers explain how to migrate from Google Reader back to Bloglines.

Massive Fiber-Optic Installation Lights Up Library Queries

Getting a glimpse into the curious minds of others has never been so beautiful – or so bright.


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