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District Dispatch: The Email Privacy Act’s time is now!

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-02-03 19:56

As reported in District Dispatch less than a month ago, ALA President Julie Todaro called on both Chambers of Congress to immediately pass H.R. 387, the Email Privacy Act. This critical and long overdue legislation had just been reintroduced after unanimously passing the House last year before stalling in the Senate. If approved in the current Congress, the bill finally will extend full 4th Amendment privacy protection to all Americans’ emails, texts, tweets, cloud-stored photos and files, and other electronic communications. Now is the time to start making that a reality.

On Monday, February 6, the entire House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 387 using a special procedure that will protect it from amendments and expedite the process. That procedure (known as a suspension of the rules) also requires that it receive support from two-thirds of the Representatives voting, not as a simple majority. The bill should have no trouble clearing that hurdle. Given how many Members of Congress and their staffs are brand new—and how important this vote is—we cannot afford to sit back and watch.

No matter where you live, now is the time to bring the 4th Amendment fully into the 21st century by calling, emailing, and/or texting your Member of Congress through the ALA Action Center.

Help us send the Email Privacy Act to the Senate with another unanimous vote in the House. With the crucial vote on H.R. 387 set for Monday, we have no time to lose. Contact your Representative now.

Coalition Letter to Chairman and Ranking Member of House Judiciary Committee urging support of HR 387, the Email privacy Act, to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of January 30, 2017

The post The Email Privacy Act’s time is now! appeared first on District Dispatch.

LITA: Top Five Pop Up Tech Toys for Teens

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-02-03 15:10

After-school can be a challenging time for a teen librarian. The teens stream in, bubbling with energy after a long day of sitting in a desk. They’re enthusiastic to be around their peers in a new setting. If left to fester, this energy can yield behavioral issues—especially in the winter months, when cabin fever combined with an inability to blow off some steam outside leave teens feeling restless and bored.

One of my favorite methods to direct teens’ energy towards productive, library appropriate behaviors  is to come prepared with an activity. I find it ideal to bring something into the space, rather than utilize something that’s already there, because the novelty of the activity generates more interest. While board games, coloring, and small crafts remain go-tos, it’s especially fun to bring in some tech toys.

Here are some of my favorites, ordered roughly in old tech to new tech.

1. Record Player. 

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/vintage-music-sound-retro-96857/)

What’s cooler than going old school? …Okay, don’t actually answer that. But despite growing up with thousands of songs in a pocket-sized gadget, teens are consistently eager to backtrack to ye olde method of selecting a single record, setting it up, and enjoying the improved acoustics. Plus, it creates a cozy cafe feeling in the space.

If your library has a record collection or archive, this is a great way to promote that resource. Don’t have the top 40 music the teens typically listen to? No problem. The record player naturally invites a more diverse music selection, be it oldies or indie or beyond.

2. Cameras and accessories.

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-gray-polaroid-supercolor-printer-121797/)

Whether it’s selfies or artsy shots—or artsy selfies!—picture taking is a very common interest among teens. Most teens like to do this on their own phones, but the library could tap into that interest by getting some fun cameras and add-ons.

Think Polaroids or disposable cameras, which create photos you can use to decorate your teen space or give the teens to take home. Think phone camera accessories, like fish eye or macro lenses that can be passed around or used on a library phone or tablet. These are great for a teen department’s social media account or any kind of library marketing.

Think, too, of the ridiculous, fun, and ridiculously fun filters on Snapchat. If your library has an account, consider playing around with the filters to do things like face swaps with book covers or teen-led book talks with silly voice edits. The possibilities are endless, but I’m going to stop there for now and save the larger Snapchat conversation for another post.

3. Old, broken devices.

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/vintage-music-antique-radio-9295/)

Two of my favorite things are recycling and learning new skills, so this one’s a home run in my book. Invite patrons to donate their old devices, like radios, cameras, and phones, even the broken ones—especially the broken ones! Bring them to your teen space with some basic tools and invite them to see if they can get the devices up and running again, if they can take it all apart and put it back together to learn how it works, or if they can Macgyver something new out of the parts.

This is a great way to work on STEM skills while having fun. If this goes over well with your community, you can think about expanding it into a larger, on-going program, complete with adult mentors.

Credit to YouMedia for inspiring me on this one.

4. Virtual Reality Goggles.

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/sea-landscape-nature-sky-123318/)

I wasn’t sure how I felt about these when I first heard about them, but man, did the teens have a blast when we brought out a pair! We used a haunted asylum game and a roller coaster game. Though only one person can use it at a time, the others had a great time watching their friend get scared by something we couldn’t see, walking into a chair, or laughing at their friend putting their arms up in the air as if they were on a real ride.

With an app full of games to choose from, it’s easy to use this multiple times without it getting old. I recommend limiting each person’s use to a couple of minutes at a time, because the effects can really throw your brain off after sustained use. However, that makes it all the easier to advocate for sharing and taking turns.

5. STEM toys.

(https://www.pexels.com/photo/alone-anime-art-artistic-262272/)

Between makerspaces and STEM programs, it’s likely your library has a coding tool or a programmable robot. It may be tucked away in your makerspace, or it may belong to your children’s department, but why not borrow it for the afternoon and bring it to your teen space? Your teens may not know the library has these, in which case, this is an easy way to promote things you already have. For your teens who have more experience with tech toys, it’s fun to revisit an old favorite, teach a friend how it works, or challenge them to try to do something new with it.

Bringing these toys into the space breathes new life into your tech, and it can help the teens connect to new areas of the library.

 

What are your favorite tech toys for teens? What’s your experience with using tech in a pop-up setting?

Galen Charlton: Continuing the lesson

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-02-03 13:39

The other day, school librarian and author Jennifer Iacopelli tweeted about her experience helping a student whose English paper had been vandalized by some boys. After she had left the Google Doc open in the library computer lab when she went home, they had inserted some “inappropriate” stuff. When she and her mom went to work on it later that evening, mom saw the insertions, was appalled, and grounded the student. Iacopelli, using security camera footage from the library’s computer lab, was able to demonstrate that the boys were responsible, with the result that the grounding was lifted and the boys suspended.

This story has gotten retweeted 1,300 times as of this writing and earned Iacopelli a mention as a “badass librarian” in HuffPo.

Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that there isn’t much to complain about regarding the outcome: justice was served, and mayhap the boys in question will think thrice before attacking the reputation of another or vandalizing their work.

Nonetheless, I do not count this as an unqualified feel-good story.

I have questions.

Was there no session management software running on the lab computers that would have closed off access to the document when she left at the end of the class period? If not, the school should consider installing some. On the other hand, I don’t want to hang too much on this pin; it’s possible that some was running but that a timeout hadn’t been reached before the boys got to the computer.

How long is security camera footage from the library computer lab retained? Based on the story, it sounds like it is kept at least 24 hours. Who, besides Iacopelli, can access it? Are there procedures in place to control access to it?

More fundamentally: is there a limit to how far student use of computers in that lab is monitored? Again, I do not fault the outcome in this case—but neither am I comfortable with Iacopelli’s embrace of surveillance.

Let’s consider some of the lessons learned. The victim learned that adults in a position of authority can go to bat for her and seek and acquire justice; maybe she will be inspired to help others in a similar position in the future. She may have learned a bit about version control.

She also learned that surveillance can protect her.

And well, yes. It can.

But I hope that the teaching continues—and not the hard way. Because there are other lessons to learn.

Surveillance can harm her. It can cause injustice, against her and others. Security camera footage sometimes doesn’t catch the truth. Logs can be falsified. Innocent actions can be misconstrued.

Her thoughts are her own.

And truly badass librarians will protect that.

LibUX: How do you reasonably gut-check the timeframe of a project?

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-02-03 11:06

I saw yesterday in a listserv an RFP (that’s “request for proposal”) for a redesign with a short — and I mean short — delivery time. Not including the incredibly involved proposal process — and maybe that’s a topic for another day, but I am adamantly against responding to RFPs — these folks were looking for a website in four months.

Unless you're looking for a small palette swap, or you're paying a shit ton of money, you're totally misguided. https://t.co/hIbijwNkW2

— Michael Schofield (@schoeyfield) February 2, 2017

So, in slack, a friend noted that

I have no idea how people make up these timeframes. I’m curious what timeframe is considered reasonable for a project like this? For smaller sites (like our Special Collections) we’ve done in house, we took about 6 months and created something pretty good, though not great. But for our main site that we’re gutting and rebuilding, rearchitecturing, rewriting, etc. – we’re now in year 3. Estimating time on these often unpredictable projects can sometimes feel like throwing darts blindfolded.

This is a super interesting and nuanced topic with a lot of right answers. I have thoughts. Quick aside, consider that the angle I’m approaching this with is as someone who’s part of an in-house web team for the work week, often in addition to being an external contractor for part of one.

The reality is that this is an every-industry kind of a problem, namely because it boils down to the fact there’s just not a lot of really good advice about how to shop for web work. Part of the role of someone being part of an in-house team, or any web-worker, is to help teach the client.

You need end-goals

Timeframes — and budgets — require definitive end-goals with metrics for success. Redesigns that are essentially just palette-swaps are totally legit services, but everyone needs to understand these are suited only for projects where end-goals include nothing but a change in scenery.

Without defined end-goals and success metrics, we put ourselves in a position for scope creep, where projects spiral out of hand.

You need to define what your minimum viable product is, and release it

It benefits projects to iterate as quickly as possible toward a minimum viable product, a 1.0., understanding that the MVP is by and large not the end-product you envision.

Given the nature of the web, the original end-goals for a three year long redesign have probably shifted, or been forgotten, and it’s well into scope creep. Rather, such a long project is indicative of a team looking for perfection.

It’s more important to release something quickly that’s good than release something never that’s perfect.

The reason is two-part.

  1. You immediately start getting user feedback, which will impact design decisions. I don’t agree that user feedback of a prototype that’s not in production is as valuable as feedback of something that is. The use-cases are different. The responses are honest.
  2. This commitment to release an MVP shapes the philosophy for how the team goes about building this thing. Accept that the product or service experience you’re aiming for is 2.0, not 1.0. Knowing that user feedback will impact your design decisions should force your hand into creating modular components and modular content. This makes it easier t oadapt and iterate, which also helps future proof the project for the long term.
How you might gut-check this stuff

So, with that said, here is how I gut check timeframes for new projects. I stress “new projects,” here, because often we might turn around things with existing design systems much more quickly, e.g., a new microsite for a permanent art installation. This isn’t making anything new, but puzzling together things that already exist.

I lump design frameworks like Bootstrap in here. You can cut loads of time — and cost — using tools like this to rapidly develop. When time’s short or budget’s tight, these aren’t bad options.

Major caveat: the process I want to share is only for gut-checking. If you kind of know you need a simple custom web design, and you know the technical requirements that go into that, you can reasonably estimate your timeframe with the assumption that your timeframe will certainly be fine-tuned as you go. Don’t commit to this timeframe until then.

Keep in mind:

  • just say no to anything with a turnaround time of 3 months or less. Or, charge much, much higher. You might be able to turnaround work in this time but — to me — the stress of the timeline just isn’t worth it. Pro-tip: whatever your definition of “rush”, here, I as a contractor will quadruple my price for rushed projects. You quickly discover that the stakeholders’ need to meet such-and-such deadline isn’t real.
  • That said, the stakeholders’ deadline probably isn’t real. Ask: “what would be so bad about adding three months to this deadline?” Probably nothing major.

Okay. So, where was I?

  1. If you measure the duration of a project by percentage, so that 100% completion is version 1.0, then dedicate 50% to discovery. Front-loading the discovery process pays off in dividends in terms of the quality and satisfaction of the product that follows. This means: gather your research, do more research, sketch, sprint, test, workshop, sticky note things, brainstorm. In all reality, you probably need a fraction of that time – but we’re gut-checking timeframes here. No one gets angry if you beat your deadline, right? Be liberal.
  2. Whether this project requires custom development or technical implementation, allow 30% of your timeframe. When you bust this down to hours, allow for things to go wrong. This means if you think a new WordPress theme will take you reasonably 20 hours, allow for 40. If you aren’t used to a development workflow, or you haven’t quite developed that feel for how long something will take, a quick and rough trick for determining hours required for implementation is to break the needs of the project into individual features that require 5 hours each.
  3. Your final 20% is committed to beta testing, having people who need to use your product or service actually use it in the wild, or populate it with content. This is where you discover your deal-breaking bugs.

The second bullet is the crux. Let’s say the actual implementation time of a redesign includes but is not limited to coding and componentizing the design systemwriting modular and performance scriptswriting markup and piecing these all together into templates and pages. If this takes 120 hours, then your project totals 400 hours.

Let’s be realistic in higher-ed and say that with all the other demands, one can only dedicate 20 hours per week to this project. Then, protracted over weeks, you’re looking at a deadline 20 weeks out for an individual. This timeframe contracts with each person added to the implementation of the project. That part’s key: a team with 10 stakeholders and 2 implementors is governed by the workload of the implementors.

I think 5 months for a simple custom web design is reasonable for a single developer, but it assumes some ideal conditions. The catch is that you don’t know the technical needs of your project until you’re well into your discovery phase.

Anyway, plan accordingly.

Eric Hellman: How to enable/disable privacy protection in Google Analytics (it's easy to get wrong!)

planet code4lib - Fri, 2017-02-03 03:39
In my survey last year of ARL library web services, I found that 72% of them used Google Analytics. So it's not surprising that a common response to my article about leaking catalog searches to Amazon was to wonder whether the same thing is happening with Google Analytics.

The short answer is "It Depends". It might be OK to use Google Analytics on a library search facility, if the following things are true:
  1. The library trusts Google on user privacy. (Many do.)
  2. Google is acting in good faith to protect user privacy and is not acting under legal compulsion to act otherwise. (We don't really know.)
  3. Google Analytics is correctly doing what their documentation says they are doing and not being circumvented by the rest of Google. (They're not.)
  4. The library has implemented Google Analytics correctly to enable user privacy.
There's an entire blog post to write about each of the first three conditions, but I have only so many hours in a day.  Given that many libraries have decided that the benefits using of Google Analytics outweigh the privacy risks, the rest of this post concerns only this last condition. Of the 72% of ARL libraries that use Google Analytics, I find that only 19% of them have implemented Google Analytics with privacy-protection features enabled.

So, if you care about library privacy but can't do without Google Analytics, read on!

Google Analytics has a lot of configuration options, which is why webmasters love it. For the purposes of user privacy, however, there are just two configuration options to pay attention to, the "IP Anonymization" option and the "Display Features" option.

IP Anonymization says to Google Analytics "please don't remember the exact IP address of my users". According to Google, enabling this mode masks the least significant bits of the user's IP address before the IP address is used or saved. Since many users can be identified by their IP address, this prevents anyone from discovering the search history for a given IP address. But remember, Google is still sent the IP address, and we have to trust that Google will obscure the IP address as advertised, and not save it in some log somewhere. Even with the masked IP address, it may still be possible to identify a user, particularly if a library serves a small number of geographically dispersed users.

"Display Features" says to Google to that you don't care about user privacy, and it's OK to track your users all to hell so that you can get access to "demographic" information. To understand what's happening, it's important to understand the difference between "first-party" and "third-party" cookies, and how they implicate privacy differently.

Out of the box, Google Analytics uses "first party" cookies to track users. So if you deploy Google Analytics on your "library.example.edu" server, the tracking cookie will be attached to the library.example.edu hostname. Google Analytics will have considerable difficulty connecting user number 1234 on the library.example.edu domain with user number 5678 on the "sci-hub.info" domain, because the user ids are chosen randomly for each hostname. But if you turn on Display Features, Google will connect the two user ids via a third party tracking cookie from its Doubleclick advertising service. This enables both you and Google to know more about your users. Anyone with access to Google's data will be able to connect the catalog searches saved for user number 1234 to that user's searches on any website that uses Google advertising or any site that has Display Features turned on.

IP Anonymization and Display Features can be configured in Google Analytics in three ways, depending on how it's being configured. The instructions here apply to the "Universal Analytics" script. You can tell a site uses Universal Analytics because the pages execute a javascript named "analytics.js". An older "classic" version of Google Analytics uses a script named "ga.js"; its configuration is similar to that of Universal. More complex websites may use Google Tag Manager to deploy and configure Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is usually deployed on a web page by inserting a script element that looks like this:

<script>
    (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){
    (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
    m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)
    })(window,document,'script','https://www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');
    ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
    ga('send', 'pageview');
</script>IP Anonymization and Display Features are turned on with extra lines in the script:
    ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
    ga('require', 'displayfeatures');  // starts tracking users across sites
    ga('set', 'anonymizeIp', true); // makes it harder to identify the user from logs
    ga('send', 'pageview');The Google Analytics Admin allows you to turn on cross site user tracking, though the privacy impact of what you're doing is not made clear . In the "Data Collection" item of the Tracking info pane, look at the toggle switches for "Remarketing" and "Advertising Reporting Features" if these are switched to "ON", then you've enabled cross site tracking and your users can expect no privacy.

Turning on IP anonymization is not quite as easy and turning on cross-site tracking. You have to add it explicitly in your script or turn it on in Google tag manager (where you won't find it unless you know what to look for!).

To check if cross-site tracking has been turned on in your institution's Google Analytics, use the procedures I described in my article on How to check if your library is leaking catalog searches to Amazon.  First, clear the cookies for your website, then load your site and look at the "Sources" tab in Chrome developer tools. If there's a resource from "stats.g.doubleclick.net", then your website is asking google to track your users across sites. If your institution is a library, you should not be telling Google to track your users across sites.

Bottom line: if you use Google Analytics, always remember that Google is fundamentally an advertising company and it will seldom guide you towards protecting your users' privacy.

LITA: New Checklists to Support Library Patron Privacy

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 19:33

LITA’s Patron Privacy Interest Group has partnered with the ALA IFC’s Privacy Subcommittee to create new checklists to support library patron privacy policies.

The checklists cover:

  • data exchange between networked devices and services
  • e-book lending and digital content vendors
  • library management systems/integrated library systems
  • library websites, OPACs, and discovery services
  • public access computers and networks
  • students in K-12 schools.

Read the complete announcement at: http://www.ala.org/news/member-news/2017/02/lita-offers-patron-privacy-checklists-support-library-bill-rights

Find the Checklists at: http://www.ala.org/lita/advocacy

Thank you to Sarah Houghton and Mike Robinson for leading this effort.

Andromeda Yelton: my statement at the ALA Midwinter Town Hall

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 19:02

(American Libraries has helpfully provided an unedited transcript of the ALA Council town hall meeting this past Midwinter, which lets me turn my remarks there into a blog post here. You can also watch the video; I start around 24:45. I encourage you to read or watch the whole thing, though; it’s interesting throughout with a variety of viewpoints represented. I am also extremely gratified by this press release, issued after the Town Hall, which speaks to these issues.)

As I was looking at the statements that came out at ALA after the election, I found that they had a lot to say about funding, and that’s important because that’s how we pay our people and collect materials and keep the lights on.

But my concern was that they seemed to talk only about funding, and I found myself wondering — if they come for copyright, will we say that’s okay as long as we’ve been bought off? If they come for net neutrality, will we say that’s okay, as long as we’ve been bought off? When they come for the NEH and the NEA, the artists who make the content that we collect and preserve, are we going to say that’s okay, as long as we get bought off? When they come for free speech — and five bills were introduced in five states just, I think, on Friday, to criminalize protest — will we say that’s okay, as long as we’ve been bought off?

I look at how people I know react and the past actions of the current administration. The fact that every trans person I know was in a panic to get their documents in order before last Friday because they don’t think they will be able to in the next four years. The fact that we have a President who will mock disabled people just because they are disabled and disagreeing with him. The fact that we have a literal white supremacist in the White House who co-wrote the inauguration speech. The fact that one of the architects of Gamergate, which has been harassing women in technology for years, is now a White House staffer. The fact that we have many high-level people in the administration who support conversion therapy, which drives gay and lesbian teenagers to suicide at unbelievable rates. Trans people and people of color and disabled people and women and gays and lesbians are us, they are our staff, they are our patrons.

Funding matters, but so do our values, and so do our people. Funding is important, but so is our soul. And when I look at our messaging, I wonder, do we have a soul? Can it be bought? Or are there lines we do not cross?

Thank you.


Andrew Pace: Seeking Certainty

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 17:57

“Uncertain times” is a phrase you hear a lot these days. It was actually in the title of the ALA Town Hall that took place in Atlanta last month (ALA Town Hall: Library Advocacy and Core Values in Uncertain Times). Political turmoil, uncertainty, divisiveness, and vitriol have so many of us feeling a bit unhinged. When I feel rudderless, adrift, even completely lost at sea, I tend to seek a safer port. I’ve exercised this method personally, geographically, and professionally and it has always served me well. For example, the stability and solid foundation provided by my family gives me solace when times seem dark. Professionally, I seek refuge in the like-mindedness of librarians and the mission of libraries.

Have you ever encountered a profession more earnest than librarianship? When I feel despair, I recall how lucky I am to be a member of the best profession around. We’ve all made jokes about the value of the degree, we’ve all suffered fools and the bewildered expressions of strangers who ask our line of work, but never once have I questioned my decision to become a librarian.

Now some of you might be saying, “Really? Even now? Even in the wake of controversial press releases, reduced numbers attending conferences, dismaying Executive Orders, protests, and conflict?” I say “Especially now.” Once again, my profession has not let me down. You got it wrong, Publisher’s Weekly. Where you see despair, I see thousands of professionals coming together to solve common problems. I see shared understanding, shared values, and a professional organization that strives to support its membership with a solid pragmatic, strategic, and financial platform.

Debating educational requirements for the next Executive Director, I see democracy at work. Thank you, ALA Council and  Steven Bell.

I see passion, civility, and earnest devotion to core values in a Town Hall. Thank you, American Libraries and the ALA Membership.

I see introspection and activism come alive among my IT brethren. Thank you, Ruth Kitchin Tillman.

I see false dichotomies challenged and the professional and the political trying to find a symbiotic relationship. Thank you, John Overholt.

I see unwavering support for the ALA Code of Ethics. Thank you Andromeda Yelton and Sara Houghton and Andy Woodworth.

I see our professional Bill of Rights defended with practical advice and actions surrounding patron privacy. Thank you, LITA.

I see the ALA stepping up, reminding us about our core values, and even preparing for a fight. Thank you ALA and Julie Todaro.(full disclosure: I am a member of the ALA Executive Board that helped release this statement).

And then I need only thank the thousands and thousands of librarians and library workers who have never diverted from their mission, their core values, and their day-in day-out devotion to serving library users. When I need certainty, librarianship is my rudder, librarians are my life preserver, library workers my oarsmen. And libraries are my port in the storm.

Jonathan Rochkind: never bash again, just ruby

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 17:52

Sometimes I have a little automation task so simple that I think, oh, I’ll just use a bash script for this.

I almost always regret the decision, as it tends to grow more complicated, and I start fighting with bash and realize that I don’t know bash very well, and why do I want to spend time knowing bash well anyway, and some things are painful to do in bash even if you do know bash more, should have just used a ruby script from the start.

I always forget this again, and repeat. Doh.

One thing that drives me to bash for simple cases, is when your task does consist of a series of shell commands, getting a reasonably behaving script (esp with regard to output and error handling) can be a pain with just backticks or system in a ruby script.

tty-command gem to the rescue!  I haven’t used it yet, but it’s API looks exactly what I need to never accidentally start with bash again, with no added pain from starting with ruby.  I will definitely try to remember this next time I think “It’s so simple, just use a bash script”, maybe I can use a ruby script with tty-command instead.

tty-command is one gem in @piotrmurach’s  TTY toolkit. 


Filed under: General

LibUX: The challenge facing libraries in an era of fake news

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 15:23

@prarieskygal: Related to the assignment on fake news: http://theconversation.com/the-challenge-facing-libraries-in-an-era-of-fake-news-70828

In recognition of a dynamic and often unpredictable information landscape and a rapidly changing higher education environment in which students are often creators of new knowledge rather than just consumers of information, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) launched its Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, the first revision to the ACRL’s standards for information literacy in over 15 years.

The framework recognizes that information literacy is too nuanced to be conceived of as a treasure hunt in which information resources neatly divide into binary categories of “good” and “bad.”

Notably, the first of the framework’s six subsections is titled “Authority Is Constructed and Contextual” and calls for librarians to approach the notions of authority and credibility as dependent on the context in which the information is used rather than as absolutes.

This new approach asks students to put in the time and effort required to determine the credibility and appropriateness of each information source for the use to which they intend to put it.

For students this is far more challenging than either a) simply accepting authority without question or b) rejecting all authority as an anachronism in a post-truth world. Formally adopted in June 2016, the framework represents a way forward for information literacy.

State Library of Denmark: Automated improvement of search in low quality OCR using Word2Vec

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 12:50

This abstract has been accepted for Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2nd Conference, http://dhn2017.eu/

In the Danish Newspaper Archive[1] you can search and view 26 million newspaper pages. The search engine[2] uses OCR (optical character recognition) from scanned pages but often the software converting the scanned images to text makes reading errors. As a result the search engine will miss matching words due to OCR error. Since many of our newspapers are old and the scans/microfilms is also low quality, the resulting OCR constitutes a substantial problem. In addition, the OCR converter performs poorly with old font types such as fraktur.

One way to find OCR errors is by using the unsupervised Word2Vec[3] learning algorithm. This algorithm identifies words that appear in similar contexts. For a corpus with perfect spelling the algorithm will detect similar words synonyms, conjugations, declensions etc. In the case of a corpus with OCR errors the Word2Vec algorithm will find the misspellings of a given word either from bad OCR or in some cases journalists. A given word appears in similar contexts despite its misspellings and is identified by its context. For this to work the Word2Vec algorithm requires a huge corpus and for the newspapers we had 140GB of raw text.

Given the words returned by Word2Vec we use a Danish dictionary to remove the same word in different grammatical forms. The remaining words are filtered by a similarity measure using an extended version of Levenshtein distance taking the length of the word and an idempotent normalization taking frequent one and two character OCR errors into account.

Example: Let’s say you use the Word2Vec to find words for banana and it returns: hanana, bananas, apple, orange. Remove bananas using the (English) dictionary since this is not an OCR error. For the three remaining words only hanana is close to banana and it is thus the only misspelling of banana found in this example. The Word2Vec algorithm does not know how a words is spelled/misspelled, it only uses the semantic and syntactic context.

This method is not an automatic OCR error corrector and cannot output the corrected OCR. But when searching it will appear as if you are searching in an OCR corrected text corpus. Single word searches on the full corpus gives an increase from 3% to 20% in the number of results returned. Preliminary tests on the full corpus shows only relative few false positives among the additional results returned, thus increasing recall substantially without a decline in precision.

The advantage of this approach is a quick win with minimum impact on a search engine [2] based on low quality OCR. The algorithm generates a text file with synonyms that can be used by the search engine. Not only single words but also phrase search with highlighting works out of the box. An OCR correction demo[4] using Word2Vec on the Danish newspaper corpus is available on the Labs[5] pages of The State And University Library, Denmark.

[1] Mediestream, The Danish digitized newspaper archive.
http://www2.statsbiblioteket.dk/mediestream/avis

[2] SOLR or Elasticsearch etc.

[3] Mikolov et al., Efficient Estimation of Word Representations in Vector Space
https://arxiv.org/abs/1301.3781

[4] OCR error detection demo (change word parameter in URL)
http://labs.statsbiblioteket.dk/dsc/ocr_fixer.jsp?word=statsminister

[5] Labs for State And University Library, Denmark
http://www.statsbiblioteket.dk/sblabs/

 


Open Knowledge Foundation: A look back at the work of Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland in 2016

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 10:30

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland team.

We are the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland (OKF DE), the German chapter of OKI. We advocate for open knowledge, open data, transparency, and civic participation and consider ourselves an active part of German and European civil society.

Our goals

* we provide technical tools that inform citizens about the potential and chances of open data and empower citizens to become active

* we organize educational events and projects and author publications in the domain of science, research, and public relations

* we offer trainings on open data and related technical tools

* we organize groups that discuss sustainable strategies and applications for the usage and advancement of open knowledge

* we build our community and connect relevant individuals with one another

Currently, we have 25 employees (16,5 FTE, 14 female/11 male) and 8 board members (6 male/2 female) in our team. We are pursuing the concept of “Open Salaries.” We have a simple formula to calculate salaries and we share this with the whole team.  Our salaries are based on the public services salaries (TVÖD 12/S1 – Project Assistant, TVÖD 13/S2 – Project Manager, TVÖD 13/S3 – Project Lead and CEO).

Our anticipated annual budget in 2016 of 1.2 million Euros remains relatively consistent compared to 2015 and is a result of our collective efforts to consolidate our programs and focus on fewer priorities. We are aiming for a mixed funding portfolio to avoid dependency on a few big funders. We are currently working on 19 grant-based projects to advance unlimited access to knowledge across different branches of society (politics, culture, economics, science).

Here’s a brief look back over our work and major projects in 2016:

Ask The Jobcentre! (original: Frag Das Jobcenter!)

Project: FragdenStaat.de

Project lead: Arne.Semsrott@okfn.de

The project FragdenStaat ( “Ask Your Government” in English) runs a campaign to demand wider transparency in public jobcentres in Germany. Jobcentres are powerful authorities: not only are they allowed to track unemployed persons who draw unemployment benefits, they also control the personal data of anyone sharing a household with those beneficiaries.

Internal directives and target agreements manage how jobcentres operate, for instance when and why they cover costs for health insurance, and when they penalise beneficiaries. To understand how jobcentres operate, FragdenStaat wants to request all internal directives and target agreements. Help us to request these documents! More information is available here.

Annual Youth Hackathon “Youth hacked” (orginial: “Jugend hackt”)

Project: Jugendhackt.de

Project lead: Maria.Reimer@okfn.de

“Youth Hacked” is a hackathon that brings together young, tech-savvy people to write code, tinker with hardware, and develop ideas that can change society. In mid-October participants between 12 and 18 years old travelled from all around Germany in order to attend the event. Those who couldn’t join physically were able to attend through livestream. It was a busy weekend: 24 projects were developed by 120 youngsters, supported by 42 mentors and volunteers and followed by about 700 visitors. More about the event can be read in this blogpost, and in this news article (both in German).

The “Youth Hacked” event celebrated a premier in Austria and Switzerland. In November, “Youth Hacked Austria” brought young people in Linz together, shortly followed by the first Youth Hacked event in Zurich, Switzerland. Furthermore, we are happy about a  collaboration with Goethe-Institut Ostasien. Together we teamed up and organised a workshop in Seoul titled “Vernetzte Welten” (engl. “Connected Worlds”).

Prototype fund: first round closes with 500+ submissions

Project: PrototypeFund.de

Project lead: Julia.kloiber@okfn.de; Cosmin.Cabuela@okfn.de

The Prototype Fund is a brand new project of Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. It is also the first public-funding programme around civic tech, data literacy, and data security which targets non-profit software projects. We support software developers, hackers and creatives to develop their ideas – from concept to the first pilot. Every project receives 30.000 Euros, including a mentorship programme and knowledge sharing within an interesting network.

Now the first round of a call for submissions is closed. During this round we received more than 500 submissions. This overwhelming interest is a strong message confirming the need for this project which in total will invest 1.2 million Euros into open source projects.

Within three years, 40 open source prototypes will be funded. Latest news are available on the webseite of the Prototype Fund. The project is supported by the BMBF, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

OGP Summit in Paris: We represented German civil society

For years Open Knowledge Foundation Germany has demanded that Germany join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and promote the values of open government.

32 European and Central -Asian countries had joined the partnership, but Germany was not among them. This changed in December 2016. Being mindful of recent political developments, we used the opportunity to represent German civil society during the OGP Summit in Paris which was held between December 7 and 9. Our participation included actions and debates such as:

Save the date: OKF DE Data Summit in 2017

Date & location: April 28-29, 2017 | Berlin

Conference with keynotes, workshops and barcamp/unconference

Topics: open data | digital volunteering | civic tech | mobility concepts | open administration | participation | transparency | freedom of information | connectivity | data for social good | data literacy

This year we are planning a data summit connecting the networks that developed through our project ‘Datenschule’ (engl. School of Data). Within two successful years of Code for Germany we developed many different projects and networks around Germany. Our educational program ‘Datenschule’ connects charitable, and non-profit organisations with our community. The goal is to enable NGOs using data as an information source for their socio-political work.

The data summit is intended to connect the members of our School of Data network even more. Over two days, open data and civic tech enthusiasts, representatives of policy, public administration, entrepreneurs, journalists and non-profit organisations can exchange experiences with one another. The data summit shall be a platform to develop new projects, to deepen data literacy through workshops, and to learn how digital tools can be employed in a modern data-driven society. Our goal: To provide a forum where participants can expand their networks, share experiences, get to know each other and exchange knowledge.

Note by the author

OKF DE is an independent not-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin, Germany in 2011 (under VR 30468 B, to be fully transparent). OKF DE is a pioneering and award-winning civil society organisation engaging in different aspects of the digital age. Their work is independent, non-partisan, interdisciplinary and non-commercial.

Open Knowledge Foundation: A look back at the work of Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland in 2016

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 10:30

This blog post is part of our on-going Network series featuring updates from chapters across the Open Knowledge Network and was written by the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland team.

We are the Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland (OKF DE), the German chapter of OKI. We advocate for open knowledge, open data, transparency, and civic participation and consider ourselves an active part of German and European civil society.

Our goals

* we provide technical tools that inform citizens about the potential and chances of open data and empower citizens to become active

* we organize educational events and projects and author publications in the domain of science, research, and public relations

* we offer trainings on open data and related technical tools

* we organize groups that discuss sustainable strategies and applications for the usage and advancement of open knowledge

* we build our community and connect relevant individuals with one another

Currently, we have 25 employees (16,5 FTE, 14 female/11 male) and 8 board members (6 male/2 female) in our team. We are pursuing the concept of “Open Salaries.” We have a simple formula to calculate salaries and we share this with the whole team.  Our salaries are based on the public services salaries (TVÖD 12/S1 – Project Assistant, TVÖD 13/S2 – Project Manager, TVÖD 13/S3 – Project Lead and CEO).

Our anticipated annual budget in 2016 of 1.2 million Euros remains relatively consistent compared to 2015 and is a result of our collective efforts to consolidate our programs and focus on fewer priorities. We are aiming for a mixed funding portfolio to avoid dependency on a few big funders. We are currently working on 19 grant-based projects to advance unlimited access to knowledge across different branches of society (politics, culture, economics, science).

Here’s a brief look back over our work and major projects in 2016:

Ask The Jobcentre! (original: Frag Das Jobcenter!)

Project: FragdenStaat.de

Project lead: Arne.Semsrott@okfn.de

The project FragdenStaat ( “Ask Your Government” in English) runs a campaign to demand wider transparency in public jobcentres in Germany. Jobcentres are powerful authorities: not only are they allowed to track unemployed persons who draw unemployment benefits, they also control the personal data of anyone sharing a household with those beneficiaries.

Internal directives and target agreements manage how jobcentres operate, for instance when and why they cover costs for health insurance, and when they penalise beneficiaries. To understand how jobcentres operate, FragdenStaat wants to request all internal directives and target agreements. Help us to request these documents! More information is available here.

Annual Youth Hackathon “Youth hacked” (orginial: “Jugend hackt”)

Project: Jugendhackt.de

Project lead: Maria.Reimer@okfn.de

“Youth Hacked” is a hackathon that brings together young, tech-savvy people to write code, tinker with hardware, and develop ideas that can change society. In mid-October participants between 12 and 18 years old travelled from all around Germany in order to attend the event. Those who couldn’t join physically were able to attend through livestream. It was a busy weekend: 24 projects were developed by 120 youngsters, supported by 42 mentors and volunteers and followed by about 700 visitors. More about the event can be read in this blogpost, and in this news article (both in German).

The “Youth Hacked” event celebrated a premier in Austria and Switzerland. In November, “Youth Hacked Austria” brought young people in Linz together, shortly followed by the first Youth Hacked event in Zurich, Switzerland. Furthermore, we are happy about a  collaboration with Goethe-Institut Ostasien. Together we teamed up and organised a workshop in Seoul titled “Vernetzte Welten” (engl. “Connected Worlds”).

Prototype fund: first round closes with 500+ submissions

Project: PrototypeFund.de

Project lead: Julia.kloiber@okfn.de; Cosmin.Cabuela@okfn.de

The Prototype Fund is a brand new project of Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. It is also the first public-funding programme around civic tech, data literacy, and data security which targets non-profit software projects. We support software developers, hackers and creatives to develop their ideas – from concept to the first pilot. Every project receives 30.000 Euros, including a mentorship programme and knowledge sharing within an interesting network.

Now the first round of a call for submissions is closed. During this round we received more than 500 submissions. This overwhelming interest is a strong message confirming the need for this project which in total will invest 1.2 million Euros into open source projects.

Within three years, 40 open source prototypes will be funded. Latest news are available on the webseite of the Prototype Fund. The project is supported by the BMBF, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

OGP Summit in Paris: We represented German civil society

For years Open Knowledge Foundation Germany has demanded that Germany join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and promote the values of open government.

32 European and Central -Asian countries had joined the partnership, but Germany was not among them. This changed in December 2016. Being mindful of recent political developments, we used the opportunity to represent German civil society during the OGP Summit in Paris which was held between December 7 and 9. Our participation included actions and debates such as:

Save the date: OKF DE Data Summit in 2017

Date & location: April 28-29, 2017 | Berlin

Conference with keynotes, workshops and barcamp/unconference

Topics: open data | digital volunteering | civic tech | mobility concepts | open administration | participation | transparency | freedom of information | connectivity | data for social good | data literacy

This year we are planning a data summit connecting the networks that developed through our project ‘Datenschule’ (engl. School of Data). Within two successful years of Code for Germany we developed many different projects and networks around Germany. Our educational program ‘Datenschule’ connects charitable, and non-profit organisations with our community. The goal is to enable NGOs using data as an information source for their socio-political work.

The data summit is intended to connect the members of our School of Data network even more. Over two days, open data and civic tech enthusiasts, representatives of policy, public administration, entrepreneurs, journalists and non-profit organisations can exchange experiences with one another. The data summit shall be a platform to develop new projects, to deepen data literacy through workshops, and to learn how digital tools can be employed in a modern data-driven society. Our goal: To provide a forum where participants can expand their networks, share experiences, get to know each other and exchange knowledge.

Note by the author

OKF DE is an independent not-for-profit organisation registered in Berlin, Germany in 2011 (under VR 30468 B, to be fully transparent). OKF DE is a pioneering and award-winning civil society organisation engaging in different aspects of the digital age. Their work is independent, non-partisan, interdisciplinary and non-commercial.

LibUX: The opportunity and danger around library vendors selling design services

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 04:00

An hour ago, Ingrid Lunden wrote in TechCrunch that “Salesforce acquires Sequence to build out its UX design services“, saying

 Salesforce has made another acquisition that underscores how the CRM and cloud software giant is looking to sell more services to its customers that complement the software they are already buying. It has acquired Sequence, a user experience design agency based out of San Francisco and New York that works with brands like Best Buy, PeetsApple, Google and many more.

It makes sense that there’s similar opportunities for vendors in the higher-ed and library space.

Although design and the user experience is now part of the vocabulary, inspiring job descriptions, departments, interest groups, and the like, the fact is that this kind of expertise in libraries is relatively shallow. I criticized in “How to talk about user experience” that across the board UX Librarians couldn’t even agree on a practical definition of what the user experience is, and this creates a vacuum that consultants — like me — or vendors can fill.

Businesses provide products — let’s be loose with the term: a neat tool, solid resources, some kind of interface — that customers need to do their job. What’s missing is the insight and expertise to use that product in a way designed to purpose, custom to the customer’s needs, environment, and goals.

Libraries buy things they don’t really know how to use. And even if user experience design is on their radar, or there are even service designers on staff, it’s likely that expertise doesn’t scale easily to the volume of resources libraries maintain. So, that’s the vendor opportunity.

The danger of that opportunity is to the libraries themselves. Ours is an industry pocked by ill-will because the lack of business acumen in most academic or public institutions has allowed for exploitation. Let’s be honest, this isn’t just a few bad eggs, it’s the trend.

There’s little to suggest that design services provided by these same companies won’t in the same way take advantage of the lack of expertise and serve contractual loopholes or antipatterns designed to better profit the vendor at the customer’s expense.

LibUX: LibUX is on Patreon so we can pay writers, speakers, dream-up new content, and make free tools. Our rewards rock.

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 02:52

Hey there. I’m Michael – and my website about the design and user experience of libraries is changing. I write — I hope — uniquely insightful and strategic articles on the regular, co-host Metric (a podcast) with Amanda L. Goodman, curate the Web for Libraries newsletter, workshop and teach full-blown courses, and commit a ton of time to making useful, thoughtful, free content.

Over the last couple of years, LibUX has played a small role pushing the conversation forward. Now, I would really love your help to inch it a little further.

Why? Well, I think public and academic libraries are the bedrock of education and democratic participation, aspiring to bridge demographic gaps, defend privacy, enrich community, and preserve knowledge — the whole shebang. But libraries and other non-profits have strategic problems, which compound existing budget, time, and talent constraints.

I’m pretty sure that the open web and an organizational commitment to the user experience is key.

What’s more, it’s important that this expertise is accessible for free. Design-thinking is interdisciplinary, but the world I come from — libraries and higher-ed — is constrained by budget and bureaucracy. User centricity shakes this up, but often those on the ground floor who would champion it won’t have access to expensive conferences or courses – especially if they don’t align with the job description.

I want to do so much more

This last year, I started changing things up first by inviting expert guest writers to really positive response, and then — starting this month! —  by organizing free webinars. These writers and speakers are volunteers. LibUX doesn’t make any money, but I benefit from being associated with it. It made me realize that

  • there is so much expertise I lack, which folks like you have
  • the conversation is better with you in it
  • but librarianship’s culture of guest-writing or presenting for exposure just doesn’t sit right.

I want to help produce more excellent content than I am able to make on my own, but I want LibUX to inspire a higher standard by adhering to that same standard.

I need your help to pay writers, presenters, and pay for services like GoToWebinar that all go in to improving the quality, experience, and ethic of our content. I am at the limits of what I can afford out of pocket, but LibUX is aching to grow.

So, if you or your organization has found something I’ve made useful — like the core content matrixBlueprint for Trello — consider being a patreon! I put a lot of thought into the rewards.

They cover everything from, you know, little things like twenty times more content than I usually write ($1), giveaways, exclusive access to pilot projects ($5), the bomb webinar archive with high-quality transcripts we’re starting ($10), sponsorship if you’ve got something to promote, or even me — your pal Michael — on retainer.

Consider subscribing. Your support goes a long way.

LibUX: Digital Technology as Affordance and Barrier in Higher Education

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 01:45

@stephenfrancoeur: This new book is written by colleagues of mine in CUNY.  Both are librarians who have  been conducted ethnographic research into the ways that CUNY students use technology. I’ve learned a lot from their presentations and articles over the years but am happy to see that their book is finally out. https://ushep.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2017/01/18/our-book-is-here/

DuraSpace News: NOW AVAILABLE: VIVO 1.9.2

planet code4lib - Thu, 2017-02-02 00:00

From Grahm Triggs, VIVO Tech Lead, on behalf of the VIVO team

Austin, TX  VIVO 1.9.2 is now available. This is a minor release that addresses an ORCID integration issue, and a problem with creating new items.

District Dispatch: Call for applications: Ready to Code Faculty Fellows

planet code4lib - Wed, 2017-02-01 21:17

The call for participation in OITP’s Ready to Code Phase II (RtC) is open now. In partnership with the University of Maryland’s iSchool and with support from Google, Inc., we are seeking full-time faculty members of ALA accredited graduate schools of Library and Information Science or graduate schools that provide school library certification programs in the U.S. to become RtC Faculty Fellows. LIS faculty applicants must be teaching technology/media course(s) in Fall 2017 tailored for pre-service library staff planning on working with children and teens.

Los Angeles Public Library Coder Time

Ready to Code Phase II: Embedding RtC Concepts in Library and Information Science Curricula, builds on one of the recommendations from the recently released Ready to Code: Connecting Youth to CS Opportunity through Libraries (pdf). Findings from Phase I highlight the need for pre-service librarians to have access to courses that prepare them with skills to design and implement youth learning programs infused with RtC core concepts (pdf). These concepts are integral to ensuring library programs provide youth with opportunity to develop computational thinking skills while inspiring them to explore the intersection of coding and computer science with their personal interests and passions. A cohort of RtC Faculty Fellows will work with the project team to address this challenge throughout 2017.

RtC Faculty Fellows will work with the RtC Phase II project team to develop, revise and pilot technology and media curricula that infuses existing courses with content and learning experiences grounded in RtC concepts. The resulting curricula will challenge future librarians working with children and teens to develop requisite teaching skills and pedagogical expertise to engage with children and teens through programs and experiences that foster computational thinking.

The RtC project team held a virtual information session last week, but if you missed it, the recording and slides (pdf) are now available. The application period closes February 28, 2017. More information, including the application, is available on the Libraries Ready to Code website.

 

The post Call for applications: Ready to Code Faculty Fellows appeared first on District Dispatch.

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