Information Retrieval

The Echo Chamber Revisited

In 2004, we spoke with law professor Cass Sunstein about the echo chamber effect, the phenomenon by which the explosion of information streams allows us to cherry-pick our media diet so we encounter only news that reinforces our worldview (while evading facts and opinions that contradict it). And so, seven years later are we on a path to ever more intellectual isolation? Eli Pariser, Lee Rainie, Clay Shirky, Joseph Turow and Ethan Zuckerman weigh in. If you do not want to listen to the piece you can read the transcript.

How the Modern Web Environment is Reinventing the Theory of Cataloguing

Panizzi, Lubetzky, and Google: How the Modern Web Environment is Reinventing the Theory of Cataloguing: This paper uses cataloguing theory to interpret the partial results of an exploratory study of university students using Web search engines and Web-based OPACs. The participants expressed frustration with the OPAC; while they sensed that it was "organized," they were unable to exploit that organization and attributed their failure to the inadequacy of their own skills. In the Google searches, on the other hand, students were getting the support traditionally advocated in catalogue design. Google gave them starting points: resources that broadly addressed their requirements, enabling them to get a greater sense of the knowledge structure that would help them to increase their precision in subsequent searches. While current OPACs apparently fail to provide these starting points, the effectiveness of Google is consistent with the aims of cataloguing as expressed in the theories of Anthony Panizzi and Seymour Lubetzky

Scrapers Dig Deep for Data on Web

'Scrapers' Dig Deep for Data on Web
The market for personal data about Internet users is booming, and in the vanguard is the practice of "scraping." Firms offer to harvest online conversations and collect personal details from social-networking sites, résumé sites and online forums where people might discuss their lives.

The Guardian: Yahoo! to sell Delicious

The Guardian reports that Yahoo! is rumored to be preparing to sell Delicious to StumbleUpon. From the story:
At the same time of the December announcement the handful of engineers who were developing the Delicious system are understood to have either been sacked or redeployed inside Yahoo, leaving only support staff.
Services like Pinboard and Opera Link exist as potential replacements among other offerings online.

This Data Isn’t Dull. It Improves Lives.

The private sector can often reformat government information in ways that help consumers, workers and companies.

Full article in the NYT

Mendeley Offers $10,001 for Best New Research Tool

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed
March 8, 2011, 4:32 pm
By Ben Wieder

The developers of Mendeley, a research-management tool that has more than a million users, want to put more than 70 million academic papers, reader recommendations, and social-networking tags to new and innovative uses. The company announced Tuesday its “Binary Battle,” a contest for outside developers to build applications drawing from Mendeley’s collected information, with a $10,001 grand prize for the best new application.

Steven Rosenbaum and the Curation Nation

What if instead of relying on search engines to get our information, we relied on each other - friends, experts, journalists - to deliver us information by way of carefully curated websites? Steven Rosenbaum, CEO of Magnify.net and author of Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators tells Bob that our curated content future may have already arrived. If player does not show above or you want to download MP3 or read transcript that is here.

Digital Age is Slow to Arrive in Rural America

As the world embraces its digital age — two billion people now use the Internet regularly — the line delineating two Americas has become more broadly drawn. There are those who have reliable, fast access to the Internet, and those, like about half of the 27,867 people here in Clarke County, AL who do not. For many here, where the median household income is $27,388, the existing cellphone and Internet options are too expensive.

The above is from an article in the the NY Times about the lack of connectivity in most of rural America. Length piece, but this portion about the library is of particular interest:

Gina Wilson, director of the Thomasville Library, oversees 11 terminals with lightning-fast Internet access. They attract the usual array of children and the unemployed during the day, as well as college students who take classes online. At night, people stop by after work to check their e-mail or scroll through Facebook.

Mrs. Wilson noticed that after hours, people would pull into the parking lot, open their laptops and try to use the library’s wireless signal. So she started leaving it on all night, and soon will post a sign on the door with the password (which, if you are in Thomasville and need to get online, is “guest.”)

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