I saw articles this morning talking about libraries in Baltimore staying open through the protests that have been taking place. While not directly related to our course per say, I found them interesting for the manner in which they discuss the library. They have been de facto places of refuge from the description the article gives, something which struck me as being a rare characteristic. In my perception such distinction was reserved for churches or similar religious buildings, but here we have libraries being held up as the same type of saving institution.
I would like to see these librarians acknowledged for their dedication to their institution and their community. The phrase above and beyond gets tossed around quite a bit, but truly it applies here to these folks.
I read this article in a recent issue of Forbes magazine. It discusses speaker manufacturer Jawbone and their foray into wearable technology. Their product line includes a wrist device that tracks the user producing information on steps taken and sleep patterns. Analyzing the collected data the company was able to determine it’s accuracy sufficient and started directing guidance to individual users to change their behavior patterns. The article goes on further to discuss the immense amount of resource put into studying behavior in an attempt at creating the most optimal design for the desired user behavior. In the previous post I was looking at the author railed on about the potential thought police/Big Brother effect of the government potentially using collected metadata to attempt to predict behavior, but big companies like Google are already doing this with the data freely given to them.
Here we have more news about the metadata political battle ongoing in Australia. I found it interesting that the cost for the program is described as $188 million to $319 million. This struck me because that is a huge gulf between already huge sums of money. Yet, again, no indication of how this data will be managed is given in detail other than to mention that passwords, PINs, et al will not be held by the telecommunication company which is tasked with retention of this data for a period of two years. In response it describes a campaign designed to attempt to flood the attorney general’s email inbox – ironic because this mimics a denial of service attack which is a commonly deployed illicit tactic. Further irony exists I think between the supposed reason for this measure – the prevention of cyber terrorism acts – and the fact that it creates a target for illicit groups in search of the information being retained for criminal reasons.
I have always considered The Internet Archive to be a very interesting space on the web having first encountered it in the late 90s as an intrepid web exploring youth. This effort at Cornell which adapts their collections into a backed up and usable tool intrigued me because it is a prime example of what I think is a main concern with digital content. Digital content is quite easily produced, anyone at a computer terminal can create content in a matter of minutes. With such a low barrier to the creation of content the amount of content created is of course exponential. Essentially the problem becomes one of control – the content amasses so rapidly that there is scant time to provide proper curation and control, due to the sheer volume and also the various types, contexts, and topics which they span. An effort such as this at Cornell utilizes the aggregation and archival that The Internet Archive and its affiliates have established over the past nearly two decades of operation. I see this as a natural partnership for large scale cataloging of publicly created material. One entity to collect it in an organized manner and another entity to refine it into a usable resource that can be utilized beneficially. Without any order The Internet Archive is essentially a snapshot with no context, a piece of data with no metadata, which renders it almost worthless as a tool for study or research.