opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, November 23, 2002
building a digital library
There are some interesting observations about archiving sites on the internet in an interview with Brewster Kahle (via current copyright readings), the inventor of the Wayback Machine. The site allows you to travel back in time as you search through their collection of pages culled from the taking of a snapshot of the web every 60 days since 1996.
copyright is a right
That's the message from John Bloom over at the National Review Online in a commentary called Right and Wrong. A nice, commonsense argument against copyright extensions.
holy big ben, batman
The dynamic duo apprehended teens involved in misappropriating alcoholic beverages in a store in the UK. (via Blogdex)
Friday, November 22, 2002
no filtering in delaware's county libraries
The county library system in Delaware is getting an updated computer system allowing its public access terminals to connect to the internet. The new system will be phased in over the course of the next week, terminal by terminal. The computers will be able to connect to the web, and parents are required to "sign authorization for their children's computer use and are responsible for monitoring what Web sites they visit."
Filtering software to block adult content will not be used on the libraries' computers. It might make accessing any information about one of Delaware's three counties difficult. Library spokesman Anthony Carter explained, "Sussex County does end in s-e-x."
service animals in places of business
There's some controversy going on in an Idaho city over a woman who is using a horse as a service guide animal to overcome her blindness and balance and hip problems. City officials are seriously concerned that the horse is getting too close to traffic, and may pose a health risk. They've invoked an old law that prohibits horse riding in the city. Does the law apply to an animal that may be a service guide under the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Guidehorse Foundation, which has a considerble amount of information about the use of miniature horses as guide animals, also has a section on Legal Access for Service Animals. There they describe a service animal as follows:
A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.The quote is from their Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals in Places of Business. If you are a shopkeeper, restauranteer, taxi driver, or run some other privately owned business that serves the public, the page is worth a visit.
revenge of the blog
Yale Law School hosted some high energy speaking and writing today about blogs and the law, and blogs and the media. Perhaps no one had as much energy as the Malcolm Sisters, over at The Kitchen Cabinet, who wrote about the event. The good folks at Law Meme were large and in charge from all accounts, and my attention was fully focused upon the Law and Blawgs Panel where blogging favorites Denise Howell, the Shifted Librarian Jenny Levine, Copyfight's Donna Wentworth, and Consensus at Lawyerpoint's Seth Schoen took center stage. Rory Perry from the West Virginia Supreme Court also made a cameo appearance. Some great responses to questions and other comments from the event are scattered across many of those web sites. It sounds like a fun time was had by all.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
total information awareness, part two
On Tuesday, I wrote a little bit about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) new project called Total Information Awareness (TIA). Evidentially, I wasn't the only one expressing concern over the project, and efforts under it to test the gathering of as much private information about people in the US as possible. After reading the transcript of a press conference (scroll about halfway down) from the Pentagon, in which some of those fears were probably meant to be claimed, I'm even more worried about DARPA's proposed new database system.
Some other interesting details about the project are beginning to come out. The New York Times (free registration required for Times' articles) writes about a discarded plan to make changes to the internet called eDNA:
The plan, known as eDNA, called for developing a new version of the Internet that would include enclaves where it would be impossible to be anonymous while using the network. The technology would have divided the Internet into secure "public network highways," where a computer user would have needed to be identified, and "private network alleyways," which would not have required identification.The Times originally started a wave of media attention on the project with an article on November 9th, followed up by a William Safire column called You are a suspect. This last Sunday, a Times editorial, A Snooper's Dream, called for the project to be shut down pending an investigation.
The New York Times isn't the only paper to criticise the government project. From an editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle:
The idea of the "Total Information Awareness" campaign is to draw from government and commercial records -- everything from your magazine subscriptions and credit-card purchases to your college transcripts and divorce papers -- to establish individual dossiers. The concept (cooked up by John Poindexter, a figure in the Iran-Contra scandal) is to not wait until an American is suspected of terrorism, or any wrongdoing for that matter, to compile this information. The idea is to have a file that tracks the life of everyone -- including you.Many other news organizations and advocacy groups have begun to question the project. Overblown hype? Paranoia? Reread the Pentagon transcript, and see if you feel a sense of reassurance that this project won't be that invasive. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has also compiled a great amount of information on the project on their Total Information Awareness page.
another solution to spam
A friend left me a copy of a Wall Street Journal review about a new add-on program for your email client called Matador. It's a Windows-based program that works with Outlook 2000, and Outlook 2002. A version that works with Outlook Express is expected to be out shortly. There is a fee for the program, but it has a free one month trial period. It may be worth trying out if it lives up to the description in the review. It is available from a Palo Alto company called Mail-Frontier. Looks interesting.
[later... I also wanted to point out Doc Searls latest entry on filtering email. His post, The Yam Solution is about the use of personal digital certificates from trusted third parties. If an email has a digital certificate authenticating who the sender is, it gets past a filter. I don't know if we're quite ready for this, but we have to start somewhere.
This testimony (pdf) from Jonathan Zittrain before Congress a couple of years ago also touches upon what digital certificates might mean to the internet. There's a certain freedom of anonymity that I appreciate about the web. But, it comes with a lawlessness about it. Chances are good that the internet will become more regulated in the future rather than less. Some questions surrounding that involve who does the regulating, and how much of a role the public will have in making that decision.]
posner on intellectual property
In a lecture on Tuesday, at the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies, Federal Judge Richard Posner spoke about the expansion of Intellectual Property Law, and gave a nod of support to the team that recently challenged the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act before the US Supreme Court. Overly broad business method patents also came under scrutiny in his speech.
oil spill in spain
A group of Delawareans may be headed off to Spain to help rescue some wildlife after an oil spill that has been called "twice as large" as the spill from the Exxon Valdez. A Christian Science Monitor interview about the prevention of oil spills notes that: "If you are in a major spill, if you can recover 15 percent of the spilled product, you've done a pretty good job." If the Tri-State Bird Research and Rescue recovery team does go, I wish them much luck and success.
December 7th is being touted as the day to celebrate the First State's history, in recognition of the state's leaders decision to ratify the US Constitution on that date back in 1787. A series of lectures through out the state will lead up to the 7th, and the Wilmington News Journal has a list of all the events.
I guess that background music would be out of place in a courtroom. At least, not on TV. Like the laughtracks that accompany many television sitcoms, music helps fill some of the silent spaces to create a certain ambiance. An article called TV's mood music provides an interesting look at choices made involving which music is played when upon the small screen. I'll be paying a little more attention now, after reading it.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
total information awareness
Is it healthy to apply skepticism to an article making the claim that Uncle Sam wants your data, and seriously appears to mean "all" of your data, including everything that might be stored electronically about you? I thought so, at least till I visited the pages of the Information Awareness Office. Their stated mission is:
The DARPA Information Awareness Office (IAO) will imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness useful for preemption; national security warning; and national security decision making.Just what is "total information awareness?" Wired write a little more on this subject back in August.
i love libraries
I updated my membership at the University of Delaware's Library today. I usually try to do that as a birthday present to myself, but it's been many months since my last birthday. You don't have to be a student or faculty, or staff member to use the University's library, though there is a charge. It's $25 for Delaware residents and $60 for out-of-staters. The school has such a wide variety of books that I feel it's money well spent. They also updated their cataloging system, Delcat, in July, so that you can search for books at home over the net.
I also want to add here how much I appreciate blogging librarians. Here are three that I like to visit on the web: The Shifted Librarian, and librarian.net, and explodedlibrary.info. The owners of these sites have a real passion for what they do, which is protecting and preserving people's chances to share ideas.
We've written before about the scooter Segway and the lobby effort that they've been sustaining. While the "Human Transport" device arrived with a lot of hype, the most amazing thing about it seems to be the speed at which around 30 states have adopted laws allowing the vehicle to be ridden on sidewalks. As always, for updates on the Segway, I turn to the Segway News blog.
blogging in the USA
Australian paper The Age is running an article called Blogging comes of age in US online politics, and the WSJ has an article today named ...Find a Blog. If you're relatively new to the world of blogs, there are some great links in the WSJ article for more on the subject.
Monday, November 18, 2002
offerings from the cia
Whatever your paranoia quotient, there's always some interesting reading over on the pages of the cia.gov magazine Studies in Intelligence. Some snippets from a couple of the articles to be found there this month. From a review of a book that looks at censorship during wartime, specifically World War Two:
On 17 August 1942, a nationally syndicated columnist wrote that she had received ?a very stern letter? about her remarks on the weather, ?? and so from now on I shall not tell you whether it rains or whether the sun shines where I happen to be.? The columnist was Eleanor Roosevelt and she was referring to an article in which she had described weather conditions during one of her official visits around the country with her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during World War II. That the First Lady would receive such a reprimand reveals much about the nature, scope, and effectiveness of censorship in wartime America. How and why such information restrictions succeeded are the subjects of Michael Sweeney?s history of the Office of Censorship, Secrets of Victory.The author of the review writes of the relevance of the book's material today with it's attempt to "give the reader a taste of the problem of finding a proper balance between wartime secrecy and the public?s right to know."
I also found an article on gender discrimination and glass ceilings within the CIA to be compelling reading when framed within the struggle of One Woman's Contribution to Social Change at CIA:
When I returned from an overseas assignment in 1981, I found the Directorate much changed from two years earlier. As chief of a DO budget and finance branch, I noted that we had a stream of new officers in training or headed overseas. That in itself was not new. What was different was that the trainees were no longer all white males. Sizeable numbers of female officers were coming through, although it was not until the 1990s that we began to see more minorities. I wondered what had prompted the change in the DO. A chance hall conversation with Harritte Thompson led me, years later, to pursue her story and look into the legislation that enabled her success.I'm not quite sure what to make of an online magazine in which the first word to appear over the table of contents is "Unclassified," but many of the other articles are worth looking over. Filter them as you will.
you just never know...
In 1942, one futurist predicted that cars would be replaced almost completely by helocopters in 1955. A September, 1942, article from the Atlantic Monthy called The Coming Air Age makes this proposition sound almost reasonable. Actually, it makes it sound quite reasonable.
space showers tonight
When we were growing up, my brother and I camped out a couple of nights around his birthday in mid-August to watch meteor storms. I once counted 17 shooting stars in a half-hour period. I remember being amazed. From what I'm reading in the newspaper, that's not much of a light show. Make sure that you peek your head outside tonight to watch the Leonid meteor storm. It's estimated that viewers in parts of North America may be able to see 3,000 to 6,000 bits of space-faring dust lighting up the sky per hour. It may be possible to see more in the early morning tomorrow, too. This particular storm isn't expected to swing by again until 2098.
at the beach
I don't think that it's a cosmic conspiracy, but I'm beginning to wonder. Why is it that every time I go to the beach, it rains? I've visited the ocean before without the clouds pouring forth torrents of nor'eastern proportions. But not the last five or six times I went. This last weekend was no exception. Rain, followed by more rain, chased by even more.
Didn't let it dampen my spirits however, though the weather probably played a large part in limiting the attendance at Fritz Schranck's Beach Blogger Weekend at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, this last weekend. Good food, great beer, and interesting conversation ranging across a wide variety of subjects. I'm very glad I attended. Thanks to Fritz and his family for their wonderful hospitality.