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Google stands to be the single repository for millions of the world's books. Advocates applaud the organization and the access a digital library can afford. But critics worry about monopoly and profit motives, and what it means for readers' privacy.
Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.
The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.
CDs, tapes, external drives, off site back up through Amazon S3; all of these are viable options for backing up precious data.
But what about paper?
Crazy? Well, not really. A programme called PaperBack will take files and render them as code on standard paper. Simply print and file. To recover files, scan the paper. Still, what's the advantage?
Well, one big one is that technology comes and goes. We had ZIP drives, tape drives, and all kinds of stuff before now that aren't used anymore. Meanwhile TWAIN, the standard protocol for scanners, has been around for almost two decades and isn't likely to go anywhere soon.
Sure, you wouldn't want to back up, say, your ILS database like this. But how about important circulation data? Passwords for those days when an act of god wipes your data centre from the face of the earth? You could send updates to rural areas with limited internet access. And in the end, it uses a medium that's been with us for thousands of years.
ROARMAP is the Registry of Open Access Repository Material Archiving Policies. A note out on SERIALST this morning mentioned that sometimes Open Access policies are adopted by institutions but not made known. Librarians and others concerned by this can log policies of their institutions with ROARMAP so that a broader picture of prevailing policies can be painted.
Wikipedia’s arbitration committee ruled to permanently block contributions and edits to Scientology articles from Internet addresses originating from the Church of Scientology’s headquarters.
The decision follows six months of debate among administrators of the user-edited encyclopedia, who found conflicts between Wikipedia editors who were Scientology enthusiasts and those who disliked the religion. Some 430 Scientology entries on Wikipedia resulted in constant battles over revisions between the two camps. User accounts were created for the sole purpose of deleting or adding information on Scientology, a practice seen as harmful to Wikipedia’s neutrality principles.
Tuesday was a unique day. As the 12th day of May and its second Tuesday, I had appointments to keep within civil society. While I was out and about interacting with other human beings in-person, Twitter launched a change. Download Squad reported that Twitter changed part of their core functioning. UX specialist Whitney Hess railed against the change. Gregory Pittman linked on Twitter to a blog post where Twitter explained that the change was due to engineering limitations related to system stability.
This presents a core problem in the Twitter debates. Twitter may be where people hang out. Is it structurally capable of handling the load, though? Are there reasonable assurances of consistent system behavior? Today's blog post dances around the problem of scalability somewhat by relegating it to being the 800 pound elephant in the room.
Twitter, at its core, is a fairly limited service. External bolt-ons like TwitPic, Twibes, and more were created to make the service do more than was ever intended originally. Re-tweets, "Follow Friday", and other such things are more limited now which practically prevents serendipitous discovery. Unless service was contracted by a library with Twitter, there could be no guaranteed service level which could potentially annoy patrons that might seek help via Twitter.
Twitter is not the only game in town for microblogging, though. In December 2008, LISTen talked to Evan Prodomou who is a principal designer of the Laconica software platform. Identi.ca is the flagship site for the Laconica service while others like TWiT Army and Dungeon Twitter also exist. Group functionality that Twibes provides Twitter is also integrated into Laconica itself. Twitpic, Twitterfeed, and more can now interact with Laconica-based sites just as easily as they can interact with Twitter.
It seems a technically superior choice to Twitter exists. With the weeping and gnashing of teeth observed Tuesday over changes in functionality, the question is raised as to what constitutes the bright line that has to be crossed before someone will switch services. At the least, you can control your own local Laconica installation far more readily than you can impact engineering decision-making at Twitter. With federation possible through the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, there is less of a need for the monolithic microblogging platform than before.
The biggest question seems to be, though, what the next move is for Twitter users.
On The Twitter Brouhaha by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Over the weekend, on a mailing list associated with new media transformations, there emerged a debate on the inherent utility of Google Book Search (GBS). Involving Paul Duguid of the Information School at UC Berkeley, Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land, Tim O’Reilly from O’Reilly Media, and Donald Waters of the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (as well as a few others not excerpted here), the debate drew out many of the tensions of GBS.
THIS is the end of the line for Encarta, the encyclopedia that Microsoft introduced in 1993 and still describes boastfully on its Web site as “the No. 1 best-selling encyclopedia software brand for the past eight years.” Microsoft recently announced that sales would soon cease and that the Encarta Web site, supported by advertising, would be shut down later this year.
It’s hard to look at the end of the Encarta experiment without the free and much larger Wikipedia springing immediately to mind. But Encarta arguably would have failed even without that competition. The Google-indexed Web forms a virtual encyclopedia that Encarta never had a chance of competing against.
Publicly-funded research doesn't seem so public when taxpayers must pay to read the results in a journal. A new law may help publishing companies preserve their business models, but will limit public access to the research.
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