Internet

OCLC Pulls a Qwikster with WorldCat Discovery

In 2015, OCLC announced that WorldCat Discovery Services would replace FirstSearch at the end of the calendar year. The Discovery interface, similar to Open WorldCat, features a revamped design, faceted results, and improved listings of related editions and formats. However, it lacks a few advanced search functions available via the FirstSearch version. In response to complaints about these missing options, the retirement date for FirstSearch was extended to 2016. This week it was announced that FirstSearch would continue into 2017, while work is done building a new platform to support full-featured searching. Since Worldcat Discovery will apparently also be enhanced with new capabilities, OCLC's prolonged development cycle and plans to maintain two product lines seem confounding.

Common Search: We are building a nonprofit search engine for the Web

Our mission is to build and operate a nonprofit search engine for the Web.
Why?

The Web is now a critical resource for humanity, of which search engines are the arbiters. They decide which websites get traffic, which companies survive, which ideas spread.

The Web is currently in danger because the only arbiters available to us are all profit-seeking companies.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with profit-seeking. It has been a tremendous driver for innovation, and will continue to be. What is wrong is not being able to choose an alternative.

This is why we are building a new kind of search engine: open, transparent and independent.

Just like an arbiter should be.

From Our mission - Common Search

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Data Is a Toxic Asset

We can be smarter than this. We need to regulate what corporations can do with our data at every stage: collection, storage, use, resale and disposal. We can make corporate executives personally liable so they know there's a downside to taking chances. We can make the business models that involve massively surveilling people the less compelling ones, simply by making certain business practices illegal.

From Data Is a Toxic Asset - Schneier on Security

Wikimedia Foundation director resigns after uproar over “Knowledge Engine”

Earlier this month, documents related to the grant were leaked to and published by The Signpost, Wikipedia's online newspaper. In a special report, The Signpost published the 13-page grant agreement and ran an article asserting that the "Knowledge Engine" would be, contrary to statements by Jimmy Wales and other board members, some type of generalized Internet search engine. "The presentation contrasts the ideals and motivations of commercial search engines—they 'highlight paid results, track users' internet habits, sell information to marketing firms'—with those of 'Wikipedia Search', which will be private, transparent, and globally representative," wrote The Signpost. "It repeatedly stressed that "no other search engines carry these ideals."

From Wikimedia Foundation director resigns after uproar over “Knowledge Engine” | Ars Technica

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The Plan to Give Every Cellphone User Free Data

“I felt conflicted, frankly,” said Steve Song, a telecommunications policy activist. “I do think it’s problematic to have one of the largest companies in the world managing a large chunk of the world’s personal data. It’s clearly an issue that we need to be thinking about, and we don’t want to—in the name of doing something good—unintentionally do something bad by creating a de facto monopoly. At the same time, I felt that it just didn’t seem ethical to say, ‘You should just turn this service off.’”

From The Plan to Give Every Cellphone User Free Data - The Atlantic

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Sci-Hub as necessary, effective civil disobedience

Besides saving lives by making 48 million research papers accessible to patients and doctors, Sci-Hub to me signifies that the scientific community (well, admittedly, a tiny proportion of it), is starting to lose its patience and becomes ready for more revolutionary reform options. A signal that the community starts to feel that it is running out of options for evolutionary change. To me, Sci-Hub signals that publisher behavior, collectively, over the last two decades has been such a gigantic affront to scholars that civil disobedience is a justifiable escalation. Personally, I would tend to hope that Sci-Hub (and potentially following, increasingly radical measures) would signal that time has run out and that the scientific community is now ready to shift gears and embark on a more effective strategy for infrastructure reform.
Although I realize that it’s probably wishful thinking.

From bjoern.brembs.blog » Sci-Hub as necessary, effective civil disobedience

IFLA issues Statement on Right to be Forgotten

IFLA urges library professionals to participate in policy discussions about the right to be forgotten, while both supporting the right to privacy for individual citizens and assisting individuals in their searches for information.  To this effect, library professionals should:

Raise awareness among policy makers to ensure that the right to be forgotten does not apply where retaining links in search engine results is necessary for historical, statistical and research purposes; for reasons of public interest; or for the exercise of the right of freedom of expression.

From IFLA issues Statement on Right to be Forgotten

Don't Panic Making Progress On The "Going Dark" Debate

We’re not being asked to choose between security and privacy. We’re being asked to choose between less security and more security.

This trade-off isn’t new. In the mid-1990s, cryptographers argued that escrowing encryption keys with central authorities would weaken security. In 2011, cybersecurity researcher Susan Landau published her excellent book Surveillance or Security?, which deftly parsed the details of this trade-off and concluded that security is far more important. Ubiquitous encryption protects us much more from bulk surveillance than from targeted surveillance. For a variety of technical reasons, computer security is extraordinarily weak.

If a sufficiently skilled, funded, and motivated attacker wants in to your computer, they’re in. If they’re not, it’s because you’re not high enough on their priority list to bother with. Widespread encryption forces the listener – whether a foreign government, criminal, or terrorist – to target. And this hurts repressive governments much more than it hurts terrorists and criminals.

From Don't Panic Making Progress On The "Going Dark" Debate [PDF]

The dark side of big data

For now, assume that all your digital data is accessible by a single instance, say your government. In this case you provide your government with incredible control over yourself and also your relatives. A mere measurement of how defiant you are could be dangerous for you, depending on where you live. Furthermore, someone gazing at your data is not required to remain inactive. One might try to manipulate your opinion by placing solely the content on (social) media platforms that you are supposed to see.

From The dark side of big data

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Simplifying Legalese For The Internet Age

The current User Agreement is too complicated, which allows large companies to take advantage of user ignorance. What can be done to change it?

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