OPLIN 4cast #421: Inside the Dark Side

January 21st, 2015

lizardThree months ago we posted a 4cast about the availability of cheap Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on the Internet, mentioning as well that OPLIN has a system in place to protect libraries from such attacks. Over the Christmas holidays, DDoS attacks on the Xbox Live and PlayStation networks got a lot of attention in the media, and shortly after that the “Lizard Squad” group that claimed credit for those attacks announced the availability of their own inexpensive DDoS service for hire. Now, thanks in large part to security researcher Brian Krebs, that service is falling apart and providing an interesting glimpse into the dark side of the Internet.

  • Lizard kids: A long trail of fail (Krebs on Security | Brian Krebs)  “The Lizard kids only ceased their attack against Sony’s Playstation and Microsoft’s Xbox Live networks last week after MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom offered the group $300,000 worth of vouchers for his service in exchange for ending the assault. And in a development probably that shocks no one, the gang’s members cynically told Dailydot that both attacks were just elaborate commercials for and a run-up to this DDoS-for-hire offering. The group is advertising the new ‘booter service’ via its Twitter account, which has some 132,000+ followers. Subscriptions range from $5.99 per month for the ability to knock a target offline for 100 seconds at a time, to $129.99 monthly for DDoS attacks lasting more than eight hours.”
  • A hacked DDoS-on-demand site offers a look into mind of “booter” users (Ars Technica | Sean Gallagher)  “Things have not gone all that well for LizardSquad since the launch of LizardStresser. Shortly after the service—which uses a botnet of hacked home and institutional routers—was launched, members of LizardSquad started getting arrested. Last week the LizardStresser server was hacked, and its database was dumped and posted to Mega by the former operator of the darknet ‘doxing’ site Doxbin. As a result, the usernames and passwords of LizardSquad’s ‘customers,’ along with logs of the Internet addresses that had been attacked by the router botnet, were laid bare for everyone to see.”
  • Xbox Live destroyers Lizard Squad facing backlash in underground hacker wars (Forbes | Thomas Fox-Brewster)  “Investigative journalist Brian Krebs broke the news that the Lizard Stresser Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) offering, which lets people pay for website takedowns and which the Christmas attacks were supposed to advertise, was breached and the customer database leaked. Forbes has obtained a copy of what appears to be a leaked Lizard Stresser database, though it differs from the one Krebs posted a screenshot of (incredibly, Lizard Squad has been making DMCA requests for links to the leaks to be taken down from Kim Dotcom’s Mega storage service). The link came courtesy of one of the more talkative dark web denizens who goes by the name of ‘nachash’, who once ran the controversial Doxbin site, where personal details of select individuals were posted on the anonymising Tor network.”
  • Lizard Squad’s LizardStresser hacked and customer details made public (The Guardian | Stuart Dredge)  “The news follows several arrests made as police investigate the original PlayStation Network and Xbox Live attacks. On 31 December, a 22 year-old man from Twickenham was arrested by the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) on suspicion of fraud by false representation and Computer Misuse Act offences, before being released on bail until 10 March. Then, on 16 January, an 18 year-old man was arrested in Southport on suspicion of unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised access with intent to commit further offences, and threats to kill.”

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OPLIN 4cast #420: Google Ventures in health tech

January 14th, 2015

Google Ventures logoThere’s an old saying: “Follow the money.” At the end of 2014, a lot of people were following the money invested by Google Ventures, an independent venture capital arm of Google, to try to spot future trends. The firm has been investing in startup companies since 2009, and currently manages about $1.5 billion in such investments. Apparently Google Ventures expects health technology to be the next big thing, because their investments shifted decisively in that direction in 2014. Bill Maris, the president of Google Ventures, gave quite a few interviews after that information was released and shared some interesting thoughts, some of them quoted below.

  • Google Ventures shifts focus to health care (Wall Street Journal Digits blog | Alistair Barr)  “In the last three years, consumer startups went from Google Ventures’ top sector to one of the firm’s least favorite. Health and life-sciences companies received the smallest share in 2012 and the largest this year. Over that period, other venture investors maintained steady interest in these sectors. About 20% of VC money flowed to consumer-services companies, a similar share to health care startups, in the U.S. in each of the past three years according to Dow Jones VentureSource.”
  • For Google Ventures, 2014 yielded 16 exits and a strong focus on life sciences and health tech (VentureBeat | Kia Kokalitcheva)  “Among the year’s standout investments, Maris is particularly excited about Flatiron Health and One Medical. Flatiron Health, in which Google Ventures invested one of its biggest sums at $130 million, gathers and analyzes huge amounts of oncology data to help doctors better treat cancer patients. ‘One in five patients in the U.S. are part of the Flatiron network and they don’t even know it,’ Maris said. One Medical, a popular alternative to traditional doctors’ offices (and all the pain and hassle they entail), is a reimagining of the patient experience given today’s technology, as Maris describes it.”
  • Google Ventures, Microsoft and Vice does deals (Bloomberg View | Katie Brenner)  [Maris interview response] “Right now life sciences companies are becoming IT companies. And you can have a consumer Internet company that has no revenue, that just has users paying nothing for a product. And investors see that product as valuable because it attracts users. They know that ultimately someone will pay. We should think about life sciences startups in the same way. Some of our life sciences companies are building important tech that’s useful to lots of people. They should be valued the same way that tech companies are valued.”
  • The man investing Google’s billions says we shouldn’t be afraid to live forever (The Verge | Ben Popper)  [Maris interview response] “The acceleration we saw in computers from 1960 until now is an acceleration we’re going to see in the life sciences, and that’s why it’s a huge opportunity. And not just for making money. You make a great investment in the consumer internet, maybe you make a lot of money and create something useful, interesting, or fun. But in life sciences you have a chance to be part of something that lets people live longer and healthier and not lose the people they care about. That is really profound.”

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OPLIN 4cast #419: Electrosensitivity

January 7th, 2015

caduceus symbolAfter last week’s 4cast about jamming mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, it was interesting to read some recent articles about Green Bank, West Virginia, where the federal government does not allow Wi-Fi — or cell phone towers, or radio, or electromagnetic transmissions of any kind — because the transmissions interfere with the operation of a number of radio telescopes located there. The side effect of this ban has been an influx of people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS), and while the medical community disputes the existence of this “Wi-Fi allergy,” such people do have health problems that they sincerely believe are caused by modern technologies.

  • The town without Wi-Fi (Washingtonian | Michael J. Gaynor)  “A few years ago, one disturbed electrosensitive flew into a rage at the local library, decrying the ‘dumb hillbillies’ who surrounded her, as the story goes. She rampaged from the post office to the bank to the auto shop, belligerently screaming before police finally ticketed her and banned her from a couple of public places around town.”
  • “Electrosensitives” flock to Wi-Fi quiet zone as teens set up rogue hotspots (Ars Technica | Jon Brodkin)  “A number of studies have looked at the existence of electrosensitivty. A survey of their results found that people who claim to have this disorder can’t recognize the presence of electromagnetic fields, and studies that showed health effects were either flawed or could not be reproduced. The World Health Organization says that ‘well controlled and conducted double-blind studies have shown that symptoms were not correlated with EMF exposure.’”
  • Refugees of the modern world (Slate | Joseph Stromberg)  “As such, the best predictor for whether a hypersensitive person will experience symptoms isn’t the presence of radio frequency—it’s the belief that a device is turned on nearby. An elegant demonstration of this on a much larger scale took place in 2010, when residents of the town of Fourways, South Africa, successfully petitioned for a cell signal tower to be taken down because of the sickness caused by its radiation—even though it was later revealed that it hadn’t been switched on during the time of their complaints.”
  • Enter the Quiet Zone: Where cell service, Wi-Fi are banned (NPR All Tech Considered | Elise Hu)  “But keeping the noise down around here is getting harder these days. ‘If you think back to 1956 when this site was first built, there were issues with radio noise, but most of those issues came about through cars and spark plugs and power lines. And now we’re living in a society where everything is wireless,’ [telescope overseer Karen] O’Neil says.”

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OPLIN 4cast #418: Jamming hotspots, Episode 2

December 31st, 2014

Marriott logoA couple of months ago, we published a 4cast post about “Jamming hotspots” and the big fine the Marriott hotel chain had to pay the Federal Communications Commission after people complained that Marriott was blocking the mobile hotspots those people were trying to set up in convention centers, to bypass the (expensive) Marriott Wi-Fi. Well, the fine is not the end of the story. Marriott and the hotel industry had already formally asked the FCC to change their rules and allow them to block mobile hotspots, and that request has now drawn some significant opposition. As we noted before, all of this could be of interest to technicians responsible for maintaining library Wi-Fi networks.

  • Hotels ask FCC for permission to block guests’ personal Wi-Fi hotspots (PC World | Grant Gross)  “Back in August, Marriott, business partner Ryman Hospitality Properties and trade group the American Hotel and Lodging Association asked the FCC to clarify [pdf] when hotels can block outside Wi-Fi hotspots in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services. In that petition, the hotel group asked the agency to ‘declare that the operator of a Wi-Fi network does not violate [U.S. law] by using FCC-authorized equipment to monitor and mitigate threats to the security and reliability of its network,’ even when taking action causes interference to mobile devices. The comment period for the petition ended Friday, so now it’s up to the FCC to either agree to Marriott’s petition or disregard it.”
  • Google, Cisco, Microsoft, others weigh in on Marriott’s Wi-Fi network management petition (FierceWirelessTech | Monica Alleven)  “To support their argument, the hotel industry petitioners referred to a number of network management practices at more than 20 public and private universities, many of which use various techniques to ensure network performance. ‘In every single policy cited, the university reserves the right to limit use of its own network,’ Google said in its filing. For instance, Duke University places restrictions on users of excessive bandwidth on its network; Georgetown prohibits the use of its proprietary network for illegally sharing music or consuming excessive amounts of storage. But these types of practices are targeting the university’s own network. ‘None of the schools prohibit students, faculty or guests from accessing other networks not managed by the university itself, as petitioners seek permission to do,’ Google said in the filing.”
  • Google, wireless industry not down with Marriott’s Wi-Fi blocking plan (Re/code | Amy Schatz)  “The wireless industry’s trade group, CTIA, noted that wireless phones or other gadgets that use Wi-Fi have ‘equal rights to use unlicensed spectrum; no single entity may intentionally prevent others from using that spectrum.’ ‘The public is best served by increasing the potential for these networks, not allowing an individual Wi-Fi network manager unilaterally to shut them down,’ CTIA told the FCC. Wi-Fi networks run on unlicensed airwaves, which means that anyone can use them.”
  • Why Google Inc & Microsoft Corporation are fighting Marriott International Inc (Insider Monkey | Solon Harmony B. Dolor)  “In the first place, why should Marriott block people from using their own smartphones (or tablets and dedicated mobile Wi-Fi devices) as Wi-Fi hotspots just so they can turn around and charge $14.95 per day (nearly $20 if you get the ‘enhanced’ Wi-Fi connection option) for internet connectivity? However, it can be safely assumed too that Google Inc and Microsoft Corporation are willing to take on Marriott International Inc because they see that this could be precedent to help them fight other businesses or organizations that plan to do the same. In essence, they are against deterrents to people going online because they want people to continue to use their services.”

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OPLIN 4cast #417: Battling giants

December 24th, 2014

Rock'em Sock'em RobotsHere’s something a little different for you. We’ve noticed quite a few stories lately about big tech companies getting into disputes with big countries and organizations – and we’re not talking about Sony and North Korea, which was more of a sneak attack than a confrontation. Taking these disputes as the theme of this week’s 4cast, we’re highlighting four different stories from one source (Ars Technica) about some big battles currently going on. Depending on how these disputes are resolved, it’s possible that one or both of the parties involved will change their ways, which might also affect us small folk. For now, though, it’s just interesting to watch from the sidelines.

  • Hollywood v. Goliath: Inside the aggressive studio effort to bring Google to heel (Ars Technica | Joe Mullin)  “Attorneys at Sony were on a short list of top Hollywood lawyers frequently updated about the MPAA’s ‘Attorney General Project,’ along with those at Disney, Warner Brothers, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal, and Paramount. The e-mails show a staggering level of access to, and influence over, elected officials. The MPAA’s single-minded obsession: altering search results and other products (such as ‘autocompleted’ search queries) from Google, a company the movie studios began referring to as ‘Goliath’ in around February 2014. The studios’ goal was to quickly get pirated content off the Web; unhappy about the state of Google’s voluntary compliance with their demands and frustrated in their efforts at passing new federal law such as SOPA and PIPA, the MPAA has turned instead to state law enforcement.”
  • Microsoft tells US: The world’s servers are not yours for the taking (Ars Technica | David Kravets)  “The appeal is of a July court decision demanding that Microsoft hand over e-mail stored on an overseas server as part of a US drug trafficking investigation. Microsoft, which often stores e-mail on servers closest to the account holder, said the e-mail is protected by ‘Irish and European privacy laws.’ But a US judge didn’t agree. ‘It is a question of control, not a question of the location of that information,’ US District Judge Loretta Preska ruled. The order from the New York judge was stayed pending appeal.”
  • In wake of restrictive data law in Russia, Google pulls its engineers (Ars Technica | Cyrus Farivar)  “The move comes a few months after Russia passed a new law, taking effect in September 2016, that will require data held on Russian citizens to be kept in-country. The Kremlin and the Russian data protection authority known by its local acronym Roskomnadzor have used the law as a way to exert more pressure on Russian companies and foreign companies doing business in Russia, like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Many Russia observers note that this law is likely to drive tech companies out of the country.”
  • The predictable result of Spain’s “Google tax”: No more Google News (Ars Technica | Joe Mullin)  “The Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport published a response (Spanish) calling the Google News closure a ‘business decision’ and emphasizing that the newspapers’ websites were still available directly, as well as through Google’s regular search. The Spanish ‘Google tax’ effort followed shortly after German publishers gave up their effort to get an 11 percent cut of gross revenue from Google News. Technically, there’s still a ‘Google tax’ in effect in Germany, but it was up to individual publishers to try to collect, and they have generally given up on such efforts.”

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OPLIN 4cast #416: Facebook at Work

December 17th, 2014

Facebook @workA few weeks ago, The Financial Times reported that Facebook plans to build a version of Facebook for workplace communication, called simply “Facebook at Work.” While the FT report garnered a lot of attention, this news was leaked as long ago as last June and is now just being reported with Facebook’s blessing. The many reactions to the news in the technology media gravitated toward two different opinions: Facebook at Work could either have a big impact on the workplace of the future, or it could be a miserable failure.

  • How ‘Facebook at Work’ could alter the social enterprise landscape (CIO | Matt Kapko)  “Social media has slowly percolated into business life, but for the most part it remains a separate function and utility during working hours. No company has successfully made the leap from consumer to enterprise and combined the two together at any scale even remotely similar to Facebook’s 1.35 billion monthly users. Facebook at Work will reportedly look and operate like the traditional version of Facebook, but it will allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate on documents in a space that’s separate from their personal identities and activities.”
  • ‘Facebook at Work’ could target Google and LinkedIn (MarketWatch | Quentin Fottrell)  “With only 322 million users, LinkedIn is still a minnow compared to Facebook’s Leviathan. Facebook is also a fun social network where people have learned about their own personal brand and how to present themselves online for job hunters who investigate their digital footprint, and could usurp LinkedIn much in the same way a more intuitive iPhone replaced the BlackBerry for both work and play….”
  • Facebook developing ‘Facebook at Work’ service, says report (Wired | Issie Lapowsky)  “The Financial Times reports that although users of Facebook at Work will be able to keep their personal accounts separate, the site will include Facebook staples, including groups and News Feed. And yet, it may be a challenge for Facebook, a company intent on tapping user data for advertising purposes, to convince businesses that their internal documents and conversations will remain confidential on the site.”
  • Facebook at Work? Not so fast. (Re/Code | Kurt Wagner)  “Even though the new product will be separate, Facebook’s tools aren’t associated with many workplace environments. In the financial services industry, for example, the use of Facebook and even personal email accounts is forbidden for both security and productivity reasons. Facebook will need to convince businesses it can be trusted with sensitive information that’s passed around company discussion boards. That’ll be a challenge as Facebook’s trove of user data often rubs people the wrong way — they’ve made a business out of our personal information, after all.”

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OPLIN 4cast #415: Encryption by default

December 10th, 2014

keyIt seems like every day brings news of another major Internet hack, some so huge and cunning that they are blamed on government-sponsored “armies” of hackers. According to one recent report, 82% of U.S. companies were hit last year by at least one online attack, and though libraries may think nobody would bother to attack them, they, too, are increasingly coming under attack. And there is also almost daily news of surveillance of Internet traffic (sometimes in preparation for a hack). No doubt about it, the Internet has become scary. Last month, to combat this trend, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) recommended that most Internet traffic be encrypted by default, rather than using encryption only in special circumstances.

  • Q&A: Internet encryption as the new normal (Dark Reading | Kelly Jackson Higgins)  “The Internet Architecture Board (IAB), which oversees the Internet’s architecture, protocols, and standards efforts, officially called last month for encryption to be deployed throughout the protocol stack as a way to lock down the privacy and security of information exchange. It was a bold and important statement from the IAB, and it likely will be the general blueprint for new protocol efforts by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which creates the protocol specifications that run the Internet and devices and systems connected to it.”
  • IAB statement on Internet confidentiality (IETF mail archive | Russ Housley)  “The IAB urges protocol designers to design for confidential operation by default. We strongly encourage developers to include encryption in their implementations, and to make them encrypted by default. We similarly encourage network and service operators to deploy encryption where it is not yet deployed, and we urge firewall policy administrators to permit encrypted traffic. We believe that each of these changes will help restore the trust users must have in the Internet.”
  • IAB urges designers to make encryption the default (Threatpost | Dennis Fisher)  “The statement by the IAB is a direct response to the events of the last couple of years and the revelations by Edward Snowden of the NSA’s massive surveillance on the Internet. Internet companies and technology vendors have responded to the NSA revelations by increasing their use of encryption, especially on links between data centers. But the Internet itself was not designed with security in mind. Rather, openness and interoperability were the main goals of the network’s designers. The IAB believes that ubiquitous encryption can help address the shortcomings of the original design and protect users from attackers and surveillance.”
  • Internet Society commends Internet Architecture Board recommendation on encryption-by-default for the Internet (The Internet Society)  “Like the IAB, the ISOC Board of Trustees recognizes that implementing this aspiration raises a number of practical issues and technical challenges. In addition to network management, intrusion detection, and spam prevention, we expect there will be economic and policy challenges. As the organizational home for the IETF, the Internet Society will take an active role in facilitating and participating in the conversations required to address these challenges going forward.”

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OPLIN 4cast #414: Image search research

December 3rd, 2014

search iconHow many times have you had a library patron say, “I once read a really good book, it had a red cover with a bicycle on the front [or some other cover description] — can you find that for me again?” That kind of request to basically find a described image (the book cover) doesn’t just happen in libraries anymore. As the content of the Internet continues to shift from text to graphics, accurately searching for images based on a general description becomes more and more important to some of the biggest Internet companies. In the past couple of weeks, researchers at both Google and Yahoo (owner of Flickr) have posted some interesting news about their recent work to improve image searching.

  • A picture is worth a thousand (coherent) words: Building a natural description of images (Google Research Blog | Oriol Vinyals, Alexander Toshev, Samy Bengio, and Dumitru Erhan)  “But accurately describing a complex scene requires a deeper representation of what’s going on in the scene, capturing how the various objects relate to one another and translating it all into natural-sounding language. Many efforts to construct computer-generated natural descriptions of images propose combining current state-of-the-art techniques in both computer vision and natural language processing to form a complete image description approach. But what if we instead merged recent computer vision and language models into a single jointly trained system, taking an image and directly producing a human readable sequence of words to describe it?”
  • Image search, analysis emerge as powerful tools, privacy threat (eWeek | Mike Elgan)  “In a nutshell, these systems identify objects in a photograph—say, a boy, a dog, a ball, a tree, a park, a bird, some clouds and so on—then use sophisticated artificial intelligence to understand that the boy is throwing the ball for the dog to chase in a park and that the bird isn’t involved in the main action of the photo. Combine this technology with face recognition and anyone with access (which will be everyone) will be able to search the Web for people doing things or involved with or associated with some activity.”
  • Science powering product: Yahoo Weather (Yahoo Labs | David A. Shamma, Jia Li, Lyndon Kennedy, and Bart Thomée)  “But even more difficult than finding a stunning photo that accurately reflects the weather in a given location is the challenge of finding what the Flickr community believes is an interesting weather photo. A little while before we set out to surface our one million photos, we made an observation about how people designate photos on Flickr as ‘favorites.’ Something as simple as favorites and likes on social network sites are rich social signals that can be used to surface themes of images.”
  • Finding an image with an image and other feats of computer vision (Ars Technica | Megan Geuss)  “Yahoo’s efforts to make photo search better has a simple mantra: ‘more relevant photos for users, not just the most popular photos,’ as Li put it. To that extent, Flickr tries to improve general search while also improving search relevance within a person’s likely-massive online photo album. Shamma noted that batch upload and the gigabytes and terabytes of storage offered to customers at relatively cheap prices have changed how we photograph things. Accordingly, storage and recall of photographs has to adapt to fit the morphing definition of photography. ‘The practice of photography is changing very quickly, using photos for communication has been growing,’ Shamma said.”

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OPLIN 4cast #413: Wayfinding cues for the blind

November 26th, 2014

blind symbolThis may not have much to do with library technology — not yet, anyway — but it’s a cool story nonetheless. Libraries have always been involved with efforts to open the world of books to those who have vision impairment, of course, but it seems like new technologies that could be useful are often around for years before someone adapts them for the blind. Wearable technology, like Google Glass, easily could have become another example of new technologies ignoring the visually impaired; but now Microsoft is testing some wearable technology that has the potential to significantly enrich the lives of the blind.

  • Microsoft’s bone-conducting headset guides the blind with audio cues (Endgadget | Mariella Moon)  “Microsoft, for one, is currently testing a new headset (developed with help from UK charity Guide Dogs) that uses 3D soundscape technology to guide its users with audio cues along the way. That bone-conducting headset can’t work alone, though: it needs to be connected to a smartphone, as well as to receive information from Bluetooth and WiFi beacons placed in intervals throughout the roads users take.”
  • Independence Day: A new pilot program sets people with sight loss free to experience cities like never before (Microsoft/Stories | Jennifer Warnick)  “Microsoft designers worked incredibly closely with Guide Dogs — its employees, mobility experts and users like Bottom and Brewell — to genuinely understand the challenges of traveling to and fro with vision loss. The engineers and designers from Microsoft and mobility experts and users from Guide Dogs spent countless hours in the field together. In rain and wind, they patiently tried various half-baked ideas, experimented with different approaches to hardware and software, and gave essential feedback to help shape the technology every step of the way.”
  • Blind Microsoft director offers bold new vision w/ help from father of multi-touch (Daily Tech | Jason Mick)  “After all, dogs can’t tell you where the closest spot to grab a bite to eat is. A smartphone might tell you that. But even they fall short. A local public transit authority might offer vision impaired auditory clues, for example, and/or release a well-integrated smartphone app that tells riders exactly what bus is arriving when. But many city services lack these kind of accessibility efforts. And even those that have them, may be unable to save a vision impaired person from getting on the wrong bus, if the scheduled bus on the route is running late, and a different route is running early.”
  • Microsoft had to blindfold me so I could hear the future (The Verge | Tom Warren)  “The real magic of this system is the 3D audio technology that gives you a real sense of direction. One feature on the headset allows you to push a button and hear a list of nearby places of interest. They’re processed through the headset dependant on the direction you’re facing so that when a store is read aloud you’ll be able to hear the direction of where it’s located. That might be in the rear left or out in front, but the audio gives you a clear sense of where that store is along a route through just sound alone.”

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OPLIN 4cast #412: Old, but not forgotten

November 19th, 2014

quill penA couple of weeks ago, a paper was published on arXiv.org, hosted by the Cornell University Library, regarding a study of how often older scholarly papers that have been digitized and put online are cited in new scholarly papers. The paper (“On the shoulders of giants,” first link below) presents data indicating that citing older papers is becoming more common recently, as more of them are available online. The paper itself cites older studies, including one of OhioLINK database usage, and briefly discusses some library tools for assessing the usefulness of older journals. You could argue that this study supports the value of libraries purchasing databases of journal articles, but you should keep in mind that the authors of the paper work for Google.

  • On the shoulders of giants: The growing impact of older articles [pdf] (arXiv.org | Alex Verstak et al.)  “For most fields, retrospective digitization as well as inclusion in a broad-based search service with relevance ranking occurred in the second half of the period of study. As mentioned earlier, this is also the period that saw a larger growth in the fraction of older citations. Now that finding and reading relevant older articles is about as easy as finding and reading recently published articles, significant advances aren’t getting lost on the shelves and are influencing work worldwide for years after.”
  • Older papers are increasingly remembered—and cited (Science | John Bohannon)  “For a study to mark Google Scholar’s 10th anniversary celebration, its researchers analyzed scientific papers published between 1990 and 2013. They divided the papers into nine broad research areas and 261 subject categories. Then they compared the publication dates of the papers cited in all those papers. (Google Scholar is universally acknowledged to index more scientific documents than anyone else, but as usual, the researchers are keeping the size of their data set secret.)”
  • The extraordinary growing impact of the history of science (Medium | The Physics arXiv Blog)  “There are one or two interesting wrinkles in the data. These trends appeared in 231 out of 261 subject areas. But many of the subject areas that experienced a decline in older citations were part of two broader areas: chemical and materials sciences, and engineering. Consequently, these broad disciplines show almost no increase in old citations.”
  • Digitization is increasing the accessibility of old scientific papers, and of history (SelfAwarePatterns | Mike Smith)  “Will this make history more relevant for everyone? I think it will make history more accessible. But history has always been relevant. I wish I could say it will make people more likely to check history, but I have to admit that I doubt it. Despite the incredible amount of information available at people’s finger tips these days, I can’t say that I’ve noticed that, in general, they are really any more informed than they were before the internet.”

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