September 5, 2009
Staffing the Reference Desk Today?
God, I hope no one is stuck sitting at the reference desk today but if you are I bet you have plenty of time on your hands. Might as well take a quick look at a search engine list that comes from South Korea. It's a briefly annotated list organized under the following categories: All-Purpose Search Engines, Accounting, Bit Torrent, Blog, Business, Email, Enterprise, Forum, Games, Human Search, International, Jobs, Legal, Maps, Medical, MetaSearch, Multimedia, News, Open Source, People, Question & Answer, Real Estate, School, Shopping, Shopping, Source Code, Usenet and Visual Search Engines.
I thought folks gave up on compiling SE lists many years ago because they're largely efforts in futility. As Stephen Arnold notes on Beyond Search, the list omits Bing and Lucid Imagination, an enterprise level vendor of Apache Lucene/Solr open source search technology. [JH]
Should Anyone Be Characterizing a Person's Death, even Dick Cheney's, as a "Blessed Day"?
See Jim Lindgren's Volokh Conspiracy post, Michelle Goldberg argues against heated rhetoric while mentioning that she "hated Bush so much" and talks of the "blessed day" when Dick Cheney dies. Lindgren's post title says it all. Here's the link to the Bloggingheads.tv video. [JH]
September 4, 2009
The first "Internet addiction" center opens in the US
South Korea already has them. So does China and Taiwan. Now the US is going to get its own according to today's Washington Post. And how appropriate that it has opened outside Seattle, the same area that birthed Microsoft.
The center, called ReSTART, is somewhat ironically located near Redmond, headquarters of Microsoftand a world center of the computer industry. It opened in July and for $14,000 offers a 45-day program intended to help people wean themselves from pathological computer use, which can include obsessive use of video games, texting, Facebook, eBay, Twitter and any other time-killers brought courtesy of technology.
. . . .
Whether such programs work in the long run remains to be seen. For one thing, the Internet is so pervasive that it can be nearly impossible to resist, akin to placing an alcoholic in a bar. The effects of addiction are no joke. They range from loss of a job or marriage to car accidents for those who can't stop texting while driving. Some people have died after playing video games for days without a break, generally stemming from a blood clot associated with being sedentary.
You can read the rest of the story here.
How to make your Facebook page "tenure-ready"
Here's some advice from the Chronicle of Higher Ed about how to tweak your social networking presence to enhance your career. The author is clearly trying to help career-minded people and is undoubtedly correct in many of his observations but some of the advice - like creating an alter-ego to express your authentic self while showing a different side to colleagues as well as salting the web with positive references to yourself - seems a bit contrived for my tastes. But to each his own, I guess.
Anyhoo, here's a summary of the author's advice:
- Professionalize your Facebook page - although social networking is all about the fun of connecting with friends new and old, for the sake of your career you need to either tone down that part of your online presence or establish a second presence in connection with your social life. If you plan to really get your freak on in cyberspace, just make sure the personal site can't be traced back to you
- Chance are if you've been teaching for a while, someone, somewhere, has an axe to grind with you and may be honing it on the web as we speak. Attempts to remove this kind of stuff rarely succeed. An alternative is to insert professional items—opinion essays, blog posts, and interviews that deal with research or teaching—into the Web stream in the hope of having the good stuff outrank the bad in the Google queue.
- Proofread what you write.
- Weigh the difference between Facebooking and publishing.
- Use social-networking sites to collaborate with colleagues, conduct research and other tasks in connection with your scholarly interests.
- Inculcate your senior colleagues - for the assistant professor, the social-media gap is a golden opportunity to (a) show what a good colleague you are, (b) demonstrate the professional utility of new media to senior colleagues (such as those on the promotion-and-tenure committee!), and (c) be seen as a leader in the innovation of research and teaching.
- Marry new technology with old principles. What students think of you affects your morale, your sense of belonging in the profession, and your progress on the tenure track. Although universities and departments assert that student evaluations are not the sole measure of pedagogical worthiness, that 1 to 5 rating, especially weighed over six years, is an influential indicator of your teaching performance. Using social media in the classroom will not magically improve your skills or scores, but they may help you connect with students and enliven your material.
You can read the full advice column here.
The Future of Libraries: No Books
At least public libraries, and according to CNN. [MG]
Friday Fun: No Food In/From The Library?
Ban on Word Stayed by Appellate Court
In an move that is hardly shocking or unexpected, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has stayed the lower court order forbidding sales of Word that violate the custom XML patent belonging to i4i. Microsoft's appeal is slated to be heard on September 23. If nothing else, the steady wheels of justice give Microsoft more time to rewrite the offending code in case they lose the appeal. More on this in Information Week. [MG]
BigLaw Attorneys May Have the Labor Day Weekend Off: Results of Above the Law's 2009 Billable Hours Poll
5,255 BigLaw attorneys had enough spare time to respond to ATL's billable hours poll asking for predicted hours for 2009. "Looks like 1600 minus billers are trending up and 2400 plus billers are trending down, writes ATL's Kashmir Hill. "We think our next survey might need 1400 and 1500 hour categories." Also note the substantial increase in the number of BigLaw attorneys who actually billed less than 1600 hours in 2008 compared to their 2008 predictions and how the 2009 responses in this category are almost six times higher than 2007. 2009 responses for 2200-2299 and 2300-2399 billable hours are two and three times less than the 2007 responses. [JH]
|1600 - 1699||2.58%||6%||5.75%||7.9%|
|1700 - 1799||3.99%||5.61%||7.36%||8.0%|
|1800 - 1899||8.45%||7.54%||9.37%||11.4%|
|1900 - 1999||11.5%||16.44%||13.6%||12.6%|
|2000 - 2099||22.54%||21.08%||18.11%||13.8%|
|2100 - 2199||12.68%||14.31%||11.11%||9.6%|
|2200 - 2299||11.03%||6.77%||7.98%||5.2%|
|2300 - 2399||12.44%||5.42%||4.64%||4.1%|
How "Fit" is Your Facebook Page? Florida Bar Examiners Single Out Suspected Stoners for Social Media Site Investigations as Part of Character and Fitness Review
On Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant reviews reports that the Florida Bar Examiners may search bar applicants' social media sites to hunt down evidence of suspected substance abuse. In particular the Florida Bar intends to single out the following applicants:
Applicants who are required to establish rehabilitation under Rule 3-13 “so as to ascertain whether they displayed any malice or ill feeling towards those who were compelled to bring about the proceeding leading to the need to establish rehabilitation;”
Applicants with a history of substance abuse/dependence “so as to ascertain whether they discussed or posted photographs of any recent substance abuse;”
Applicants with “significant candor concerns” including not telling the truth on employment applications or resumes;
Applicants with a history of unlicensed practice of law (UPL) allegations;
Applicants who have worked as a certified legal intern, reported self-employment in a legal field, or reported employment as an attorney pending admission “to ensure that these applicants are not holding themselves out as attorneys;”
Applicants who have positively responded to Item 27 of the bar application disclosing “involvement in an organization advocating the overthrow of a government in the United States to find out if they are still involved in any related activities.”
Might be time to adjust privacy settings. See Will Bar Associations Review Facebook for Applicants' Fitness? for Elefant's commentary ("Though I don't endorse examining Facebook at all, if the Bar is going to do it, then the policy should apply to all candidates and not just those who are already suspect.") [JH]
ABA Journal's Legal Rebels Project
Recently launched, the ABA Journal's Legal Rebels Project will be profiling 50 of the profession's leading innovators over the course of the next three months. You can nominate a "legal rebel" you think the project should profile here. [JH]
September 3, 2009
US Internet traffic peaks late at night as people stay up to surf
The Washington Post reports on a new study showing that the web surfing habits of Americans are changing. It used to be that most internet traffic occurred during the work day. But now researchers are seeing some of the heaviest traffic beginning 11:00 p.m. E.S.T. and continuing well past midnight as people check email, look at YouTube and watch pornography late into the evening. Video traffic peaks around midnight E.S.T..
According to this study, which looked at web traffic during 10 weekdays in July, Americans surf later into the evening than Europeans who generally log off around 9:00 p.m.
You can read the rest of the story here.
Hat tip to the BNA Internet Law News.
Constitution Day is Every Day!
Actually, it's September 17th, the day in 1787 the U.S. Constitution was signed. For those of us in federal courthouses, it's also the time of year when we see school groups come to visit and learn about the judiciary and cases. We all have these groups come to our workplaces throughout the year - maybe it's a high school class, or pre-law undergraduates, or the Take Our Kids to Work children. There are some great packaged lesson plans available to assist with programming. Check out the "Teaching Judicial History:Federal Trials and Great Debates in United States History" from the Federal Judicial Center. They've put together terrific classroom materials on notable trials including the Amistad case, the trial of Susan B. Anthony, and the one we never tire of in Chicago, the Chicago Seven Conspiracy Trial. For specific Constitution Day materials (maybe for that display case in the lobby?), the National Constitution Center has a wealth of materials. The U.S. Courts web site provides a video with Justices Scalia and Breyer on the Constitution along with classroom materials and handouts.
Start planning your Constitution Day party today! [gvd]
Free e-Books for Sony Reader at Heart of Deal Resulting in Google Chrome Becoming Default Browser on All New Sony PCs?
"Why would Sony preinstall Google's Chrome, which now has less than 3% of the browser market, when Firefox has nearly 23%?" asks the writer of Wharton's Knowledge Today's blog post, Google by Default. A comment to the post offers the following answer:
Sony is looking to Google for its revenue. As per their contract, Google will provide more than 1 million free books to the consumers of Sony's eBook readers for free download. The deal to preinstall Google's browser on Sony's computers is one step ahead in the relationship of the two giants.
Lexis or Westlaw No Longer a Blasphemous Question at BigLaw Firms
Librarians at 86 Am Law 200 firms completed American Lawyer's 2009 law library survey. Summary findings provided in Alan Cohen's Law Librarians Survey: No More Sacred Cows American Lawyer article include:
46% report budget cuts this year compared to 9% last year.
57% report staff cuts this year compared to 18% percent in 2008
31% report law firms have or intend to move to single vendor for online legal research this year compared to 12% last year
Legal Resources Spending Cuts. Law librarians report that firms are deadly serious about cutting legal resource spending this year. "In the past we had budget cuts, but we were given targets," says an unidentified head librarian at a blue-chip New York firm. "They'd tell us to cut it 10-15 percent, and we'd come in around 7 or 8. You got yelled at, but you didn't lose your job. Now they are serious. It's no longer a target." Robert Oaks, chief library and records officer at Latham & Watkins adds "we've been able to cut our print budget a bit over 12 percent and our electronic budget a little less than 10 percent."
Cohen reports that librarians have become tougher negotiators when it comes to renewing contracts with publishers—thanks in no small part to the metrics they get from new tracking software. "One library director who uses advanced tracking software says that he has not paid any increases in subscription costs this year. Pointing to the metrics, he told vendors that their products don't provide enough bang for the buck," writes Cohen who adds by way of recapping the survey's findings about law firm library collection development:
Put it all together—the cost-cutting, the metrics, and the idea that everything is open to review--and it's no shock that more firms are starting to ask a question that, up until now, seemed almost blasphemous: Lexis or Westlaw? Last year just 12 percent of firms said they intended to move to a single-vendor strategy. This year, 31 percent did. "In good times, we could all have Coke and Pepsi," says a library chief. "Now management is more willing to say that we'll make do with one."
One Bright Spot. "If there is one unqualified bright spot in this year's survey," writes Cohen, "it's the success--finally--that firms are having using technology to filter and organize vast amount of electronic content: documents, e-mail newsletters, blog feeds, and so on." [JH]
Friday Fun on Thursday: YouTube Hidden Features!
A little Friday Fun on Thursday for those of us who are extending the 3-day Labor Day weekend to four days by taking tomorrow off. Check out the YouTube Hidden Features video from College Humor Labs' "completely accurate" tech series of video aids. Hat tip to LLB contributing editor Ron Jones. See also College Humor Lab's Google Search video. Sorry, couldn't get the provided embed coding to work. [JH]
Over $730,000 Spent by Law Libraries in PACER Fees Last Year
Stanford Law Library Deputy Director Erika Wayne reports on a survey she conducted on law library PACER expenses in 2008. Apparently the survey was limited to law firm and academic law libraries but the findings still show that over $730,000 was spent on PACER fees. Summary stats are provided below.
|2008 Law Library PACER Expenses|
|Type of Law Library||Average Spending||Total Expenses||No. of Survey Responses|
|Law Firm Libraries||$13,068.48||$692,629.30||58|
|Academic Law Libraries||$656.74||$38,090.92||66|
Wayne observes that there is a substantial difference in PACER expenses for public and private academic law libraries: "The public law school libraries spent almost half as much as the private law school libraries." From the findings:
|2008 Academic Law Library PACER Expenses|
|Type of Academic Law Library||Average Spending||No. of Survey Responses|
See Wayne's Legal Research Plus blog for an excellent analysis of the survey findings. By the way, the Improve PACER Petition, she and others launched only needs about 150 more signatures to reach its 1,000 goal. Have you signed it? There are 730,000-plus good reasons to do so. [JH]
Souter Bans Access to Papers for 50 Years
Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter has placed a 50-year ban on public access to his personal and professional papers. In The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times, Tony Mauro writes
The unusually severe bar on access is surprising in one sense, but very Souter-esque in another. Souter is an avid historian... He knows well the "call of history," the obligation of historical figures and public officials to help flesh out the how and why of important events.
But Souter is also an intensely private person, especially protective of the Supreme Court on which he served for 19 years. He was a lifelong diarist and may have decided that his files were too sensitive to be made public while any of his colleagues or many of his law clerks are still alive. Other justices have solved similar issues by making some segments of their papers available earlier, others later.
The New Hampshire Historical Society beat out of Library of Congress and Souter's alma mater Harvard College for the archive. Mauro writes that neither LC nor Harvard objected to Souter's 50-year restriction. [JH]
Is There an e-Book Reader in Your Future?
Forrester Research forecasts the US e-Reader market to grow from 1 million units to 12 million by 2012 but an e-Book reader is not in my future. I'm liking the mini-laptop as an alternative to largely tethered, single purpose gizmos. If the purchase of an e-Book reader is in your future, for yourself or as a Christmas stocking stuffer, you might want to check out Publishers Weekly's comparison chart of popular and forthcoming devices. Do note that Publishers Weekly includes the Acer Netbook in Digital Publishing: E-Reader Scorecard. [JH]
Reminder: Today's Law Librarian Talk Show on Research Services and Products Law Firms Use
Today's Law Librarian Blog Talk Radio program, What's Real in the Real World?, will feature a discussion about what resources are being used in law firms with a group of firm librarians at 3:00 PM ET. Should be very interesting; West, LexisNexis and other legal publishers take notes. [JH]
September 2, 2009
Facebook quizzes pose privacy threat according to the ACLU
You know those oh-so-popular Facebook quizzes that tell you what European country or Sopranos' character you're most like? Or how your I.Q. compares to others on Facebook? Admit it - you've taken at least one or two. Well, before you take another one, consider this warning from the ACLU that these quizzes potentially provide their authors with a lot of very personal data about you including everything from your sexual preferences to your political affiliation. Worried? You should be:
It is difficult to know how third-party app developers use the data, which can be collected and sold for marketing and advertising campaigns, [an ACLU representative] said. Private investigators and political entities are known to create dossiers using technologies that automatically scour the Web. An individual bombarded by spam, for example, may have been targeted because of an affiliation posted on Facebook. "There is no way to know" [the ACLU] said.
To warn the public about the privacy threats inherent in Facebook quizzes, the ACLU created its own called "What Do Facebook Quizzes Know About You?" [you need to be logged onto Facebook to access it].
It delivers its answer by opening a window that scrolls biographical data, attributed comments and photos. More than 8,000 participants have taken the ACLU's quiz since it was quietly released a few days ago, the ACLU said Wednesday. The group hopes to prompt Facebook to upgrade its privacy default settings for its users, now numbering more than 250 million.
Hat tip to the BNA Internet Law News