OPLIN 4cast #33

This week’s 4cast:

1. AskCity Knows Your Town Better Than You Do

Ask.com has formally introduced AskCity, a new search service that finds local businesses and events, and simultaneously maps their locations – all in a single interface.

2. Google Answers Gets It Wrong

Google has announced that it will be discontinuing Google Answers, it’s pay-for-an-answer (and much-maligned-in-the-library-community) reference service. Is this a win for libraries? Not really – most commentators seem to now be championing Yahoo Answers, Google’s free competitor.

3. Library Books By Mail, By Gum!

The idea of libraries employing a Netflix-style delivery model has been gaining steam over the past year, and one library in Kansas is currently doing it. In Ohio, a similar Books by Mail service was discontinued in early 2006, but the Southeast Regional Library System (SERLS) is interested in relaunching the program on a statewide level. Interested libraries can contact Marion Cochran, SERLS Executive Director (cochranm AT oplin.org), for more information.

4. BitTorrent Wants to Grow Up & Stay Out of Trouble

BitTorrent is a popular file-sharing method that differs from older, lawsuit-plagued models (like Napster) in that users are connected to one another directly, rather than to a central server (a central server arranges the connections, but it doesn’t actually transfer any files). It also uses the combined bandwidth of all users to distribute files, which makes transfers faster and more stable. Although this protocol still enables plenty of illegal file sharing, BitTorrent is taking steps to legitimize itself by cutting deals with some of the same mainstream Hollywood players that it arguably hurts.

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