Good list on Mashable: “5 Free Android Apps for Web Developers.” If you do any web development on your phone (even just making changes to your website’s stylesheet or adding content), take a look at the list.
For anyone who speaks, presents, or consults for work–be it to a small group or a huge auditorium: “The TED Commandments – rules every speaker needs to know.” (For those of you unfamiliar, TED Talks are a huge collection of video recorded talks from rather influential & well-known folks on their areas of expertise, on just about any subject imaginable. I have the Android App that lets me view TED Talks on my phone quite easily, which I use to better myself when standing in line at the post office or pharmacy counter.)
My favorite has to be #1: “Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.” I am so tired of hearing the same library speakers talk, and give the same presentation they gave 5 years ago, on the same topic with the same slides and the same stupid jokes. New content = king. I never give the same presentation twice. Every time the slides change, the entire outline changes, or the recommended resources change…preferably all three.
via @librarianbyday on Twitter
Great article about 4-year trends in the use of a large public library’s online catalog at the State Library of Victoria in Australia: “Accessing the Collection of a Large Public Library: An Analysis of OPAC Use” (27 pg PDF) by Dr Vivienne Waller.
From the abstract:
Despite widespread use of Internet search engines, the online catalogue is still the main pathway to the collection of a particular library. The use of Internet search engines does, however, have implications for user expectations around the online catalogue, and search strategies when using the online catalogue. There is much research on online catalogue use that predates search engine use, and there is a need for more up-to-date research, particularly on the use of online catalogues in public libraries. This paper reports on an analysis of transaction logs of end users of the online catalogue of a large public library in Australia, the State Library of Victoria. It compares searches over four years, taking into account the search settings and search strategies and looking at search success, including the reasons for search failure. The paper also introduces the concept of abandonment rates to online catalogue search, defining a metric that adds to the useful information that can be determined from transaction logs. The paper uses the findings as the basis for its concluding recommendations for how public library users can be assisted to find what they are looking for on the library catalogue.
A Washington State Supreme Court decided yesterday in a 6-3 decision that public library internet filtering is not censorship, because filtering is “collection development.” You can read more in Library Journal, on ReadWriteWeb, or read the actual court decision and the majority and dissenting opinions.
My reaction is simple, as someone who has fought, and won, an internet filtering challenge in my own library. Our communities’ intellectual freedom is at risk. This is a huge step backward for intellectual freedom. And if we follow the logic in this case, the Library is leaving their internet collection development up to an automated software system and some untrained minimum-wage lackeys at the filtering company. Filters are not collection development and filters don’t work. My frustration at the decision-makers’ lack of education about these issues is immeasurable.
I posted comments on the LJ & RWW sites. Those comments are duplicated below. If you want to know more about filters, read on.
This is a gigantic issue for public libraries and I have serious fear about what this means for our communities’ future of information access.
ReadWriteWeb’s coverage brought up the ethical argument against filtering. Just because someone is using a library computer, does that mean that he or she automatically has less access to information? It shouldn’t, and libraries are fighting for information access rights every day.
Besides the ethical argument against filtering there are plenty of practical arguments. Namely, filters don’t work, they cost a lot of money, and take a lot of time to operate.
I’m the Digital Futures Manager for the San Jose Public Library. A couple of years ago, a filtering challenge was brought by one of our city council members to the library. We were told to filter, we said no, and we embarked upon an extensive study about the effectiveness of filters, which you can find at: http://www.sjlibrary.org/about/sjpl/commission/agen0208_report.pdf. The overall results? Internet filtering software **does not work**.
Looking at our own library’s study as well as all of the published studies done in the last decade [**see the end of this post for a complete table**], it’s consistently found that 15-20% of the time, content is over-blocked (e.g. benign sites that are blocked incorrectly). And 15-20% of the time, content is under-blocked (e.g. sites deemed “bad” gets through anyway). This means that out of 100 interactions (website views, searches), 15-20 of them will be incorrectly allowed through and 15-20 of them will be incorrectly blocked. We found that overall, filters have only about a 60-70% accuracy rate for traditional text content. Looking at all surveys of filtering accuracy from 2001-2008 (no studies have been done in 2009 or 2010 that I’m aware of), the average accuracy of all the tests combined from 2001-2008 was 78.347%, and that is measuring only text content with only one study looking at images. If we think “well, filters get better over time, right?” and only look at studies from 2007-2008, we see a nominally higher accuracy percentage: 83.316%. So, while filters may be getting a little better…they’re still wrong 17% of the time for text content, and over half the time for image, video, and other non-text content. If you think about what that means practically speaking for your browsing experience, you may think: “We’re spending money and time on these systems why again?”
Filters simply do not work on multimedia content, which is usually what people think the filters are for (naughty videos and photos). The accuracy in filtering images, audio, video, RSS feeds, and social networking content is embarrassingly low: about 40%. That means that *over half the time*, the filter makes the wrong decision about blocking a photo or video. Again, why would we foist these failed systems willingly upon our communities?
And how do filters work? There are automated little spiders crawling the web, looking for naughty content — usually there’s a formula (which the companies will never tell you) that looks for some combination of trigger keywords, trigger URLs, if there are too many images on the site, a weird combination of letters & numbers in the URL, etc. If the spider determines something fits in the “naughty” category, then there it goes. If the company is particularly vigilant (often not the case), they will have some minimum-wage untrained lackey spot-checking results from the spider. So if a filter constitutes collection development, we have left our online collection development in the hands of an automated software system and untrained non-library staff. Worse yet, the company won’t even tell us why or how they choose to categorize items. You usually do have the ability to add things to the white list (OK stuff) or black list (naughty stuff). But as subjectivity is key in issues of content, even among library staff, who gets to decide what is bad and what isn’t?
Also concerning is that library customers report usually not being willing to ask for something to be unblocked for them as they are embarrassed as the library has automatically put them in the position of looking at something “naughty” even if it isn’t. So how many of our library customers walk away without the information they need? And whose fault is that? Ours!
Beyond that, the time that it takes for staff to unblock sites and handle the administrative paperwork to do so is incredible — many libraries estimate it at 60 minutes of staff time per request. The return on investment of dollar and time investment is negative. You lose when you install a filter.
And that’s the bottom line. Filters make the library lose money and time. Filters make the customers lose access, time, and confidence in the library’s use and relevance.
People who want to install filters in libraries have the best intentions (usually). They think that it will “protect the children” or “filter out pictures of penises.” Sadly, the technology has not caught up with our expectations for how it should work. People truly believe that filters work, but only because they haven’t looked at the research or tried one out themselves. If there were filters that didn’t overblock or underblock, I’d be the first in line to take a look at them. But the software is fallible. And turning over an entire community’s freedom of information access to a known-failed software system is just about the most foolish thing any library could choose to do.
Filtering Studies and Their Findings, 2001=2008 (no studies found in 2009 or 2010)
Average accuracy 2001-2008: 78.347%
Average accuracy 2007-2008: 83.316%
(someone made an argument that if we only count recent survey results, the accuracy will be significantly higher, but it’s less than 5% higher, within the margin of error cited in all of these surveys)
|2008||Protecting Children on the Net with Content Filtering||EU Safer Internet||
|2008||Closed Environment Testing of ISP-level Internet Content Filtering||Australian Communications and Media Authority||
|2008||Deep Throat Fight Club Open Testing of Porn Filters||Untangle||
|2008||Expert Report||Dr. Paul Resnick (for North Central Regional Library District)||
|2007||Report on the Accuracy Rate of FortiGuard||Bennet Haselton (for the ACLU)||
|2006||Expert Report||Philip B. Stark (for the DOJ)||
|2006||Websense: Web Filtering Effectiveness Study||Veritest (for Websense)||
|2004||Report on the evaluation of the final version of the NetProtect Product||Net-Protect.org||
|2003||Internet Blocking in Public Schools||Online Policy Group||
|2002||Corporate Content Filtering Performance and Effectiveness Testing Websense Enterprise v4.3||eTesting Labs (for Websense)||
|2002||No Evil: How Internet Filters Affect the Search for Health Information||Kaiser Family Foundation||
|2001||Expert report of Dr. Joseph Janes||Dr. Joseph Janes (for the ACLU)||
|2001||Internet Filtering Accuracy Review||Cory Finnell for the Certus Consulting Group (for the DOJ)||
|2001||Updated Web Content Software Filtering Comparison Study||eTesting Labs (for the DOJ)||
|2001||Digital Chaperones for Kids||Consumer Reports||
|2001||Effectiveness of Internet Filtering Software Products||Paul Greenfield, Peter Rickwood, and Huu Cuong Tran (for the Australian
|2001||Report for the European
Commission: Review of Currently Available COTS Filtering Tools
|Sylvie Brunessaux et al.||
Confused about all the hullabaloo about Facebook privacy settings? Gina Trapani wrote a fabulous article on Fast Company: “Time to Audit Your Facebook Privacy Settings, Here’s How.”
Aaron Tay did a survey of over 40 mobile library sites/apps, and tracked some patterns and trends in what he saw. If your library hasn’t braved the mobile landscape yet (and you really, really need to), his post is a good place to start to get a sense of what’s being done already. Mobile is a moving target because of the rapidly changing devices, operating systems, and platforms. But get in now, get in simple with a small mobile version of your library website. Doing a mobile site is more important than an app, so if you have to choose, start with the site.
via @aarontay on Twitter
Want to follow all of ALA easily on Twitter? Check out the “Everything ALA” Twitter list that includes all of the various ALA Twitter accounts, as well as accounts from the different sections like PLA and LITA. Just follow the list and you’re done in one fell swoop! Nice!
via @alalibraryval on Twitter
“How to Listen to the User and Hear the Experience” by Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain on UsabilityPost.
via @ghardin on Twitter