"On April 29, 2014 the Interim Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Chantal Bernier, revealed that Canadian telecommunications companies have disclosed enormous volumes of information to state agencies."
This lead sentence comes from Citizen Lab's recent post, Responding to the Crisis in Canadian Telecommunications. I heard about that post after listening to the most recent episode (#31) of Jesse Brown's Canadaland podcast, Your Telecom Provider is Selling your Information to the Government. Well worth the 32 minutes!
Using the template in the blog post above I have sent requests to Telus (mobile), Fido (mobile) and Shaw (Cable, Internet, VOIP) asking them to disclose the personal information it collects, retains, manages, and discloses about me, and I plan to post the information I receive here because CitizenLab makes such a compelling case and I want this information generally to be public:
Why Your Requests Matter
Beyond simply exercising your legal rights, these requests matter on both the personal and the national level. Personally, by filing these requests you will be empowered to think about whether you’re OK with the amount(s) of information that your telecommunications companies collect or record about you, the duration of time they record that information, and their willingness to explain who they share information with. In effect, you won’t be at the mercy of pundits and talking heads to explain whether the collection of data matters to your life, in the abstract, because you’ll have the data in hand to make your own decisions and reach your own conclusions.
Beyond self-empowerment, it’s important for Canadians generally to file these requests to telecommunications companies because the companies have so steadfastly refused to communicate with the experts, with government bodies, and with interested members of the press. Almost all of the ‘polite’ ways of figuring out what these companies are up to have been exhausted: it’s time, unfortunately, to compel these companies to explain why they collect data, how much of it they collect, and explain why they disclose the information. To be clear, telecommunications companies in the United States and Europe have already begun releasing ‘transparency reports’, or documents explaining how and why the companies share information with state agencies. Those reports are the result of American and European publics supporting their civil advocates and privacy officers, lending their incredibly powerful voices to the policy and legal efforts that had been ongoing for years. Canadians are amongst the most digitally connected populations on earth: now it’s time for us all to figure out who’s been monitoring, and disclosing, who we’ve been connecting to and whether existing practices need to be reined in.
Requests were sent via email to Shaw and Telus on May 7, 2014, and via snail mail to Fido on May 8, 2014. I received an automated email response from Telus in 24 minutes, and nothing of the sort from Shaw.
I'll be back in early June or sooner with an update.
Over the past couple of days I've run across a couple posts that will help you quickly manage the behaviour of LinkedIn's email alerts and endorsements.
Ahh, so much better!
From time to time I find myself wondering what module a given Drupal site uses to perform some nifty action or another. A while back I found a tool that helps with that spy work for WordPress called simply What WordPress Theme is that? And then I finally found Drupal X-Ray, which does the same thing for Drupal sites.
Oh, and if you're not sure which CMS (Content Management System) you're looking at, try http://whatcms.org/
Not a brand-new read, but *I* just finished reading the Educause annual paper, Top-Ten IT Issues, 2013: Welcome to the Connected Age (PDF). While libraries are only explicitly mentioned once or twice in the entire 19 pages, one of the panelists was a librarian, so there is that I guess. I only bother to mention that because while I read it I found myself checking off how almost each of the ten issues apply almost directly to my library, in addition to the institution as a whole.
Here's the list:
Each section concludes with a series of strategic questions to consider about each point. Well worth the read if you have anything to do with IT in your library. In addition to the paper itself, there's some supporting material on a companion website.
Yesterday a colleague passed on a link to a wonderfully thoughtful journal article: Knowledge Creation Platforms: The Next Step after Web-Scale Discovery, by Carl Grant, whom I am now following on Twitter.
In this piece, Carl brings us up to speed with a brief history of how technology has gotten us (libraries) to our current search boxes and strategies, and then suggests we've lost the war with Google, so we'd better start focusing on something better.
"How can we add such compelling value to the life of our users that they will reaach out to us first in some aspect of their daily work/life flows centering around knowledge?"
He then goes on to describe what he calls the Knowledge Creation Platform, and you should really go read the article yourself to learn what he has in mind.
My only beef is that the article seems to end a few pages early, without pointing out the final solution; what product do I install or buy that does this now?!? ;-)
I just finished reading a report called Working together: evolving value for academic libraries, and found it a good read.
Presenting the results of several surveys, the authors describe the areas in which academic libraries have traditionally attempted to demonstrate value (embedded teaching), and the areas in which they should probably start putting more focus (research support).
I had highlights throughout, but thought I'd mention their recommended skills for individual librarians (there are also recommendations for library management and the wider institution):
Some references to follow up (some from this report, some from my own to-read list):
CALL FOR PAPERS
Workshop on Digital Surfaces in
We invite you to join DSL, a venue for collaboration and discussion on the successes and pitfalls encountered in working in with interactive surfaces in library spaces by bringing together researchers, designers, practitioners, and librarians. This full day workshop is held in conjunction with Interactive Tables and Surfaces (ITS) 2013 in St Andrews, UK on October 6, 2013.
Libraries have embraced the recent explosion of digital content and no longer are simply warehouses of physical books. Today's libraries are gathering places that are challenged with enabling collaboration, accessing and exposing physical and digital collections, and supporting the creation and integration of new forms of knowledge.
Interactive surfaces in libraries support moving away from text-dominated search interfaces; the nature of direct interaction encourages the integration of graphics, spatial interaction with information, and the possibility adding input to the system. Additionally, surface technology enables the interactive presentation of information to individuals or groups.
The goal of DSL is to cross-fertilize insights from different disciplines, to establish a more general understanding of interactive displays in library contexts, and to develop an agenda for future research directions in this area. Rather than focusing on paper presentations, this workshop aims to trigger active and dynamic group discussions as well as future collaboration.
We accept 2 page work in progress or position papers that provides an overview of your current research or research interests in the area of interactive surfaces in library spaces.
The papers should be prepared in the SIGCHI extended abstract format. You can download Word and LaTeX templates from the SIGCHI website: http://www.sigchi.org/publications/chipubform.
Papers must be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. A receipt will be sent upon successful submission. They will be published on the workshop web site http://libraryworkshop.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/ prior to the event.
Potential topics for discussion include but are not limited to the following questions:
* What is the potential of
interactive surfaces in library spaces?
* What are potentially useful and attractive application areas, even beyond information exploration?
* How can we design large surface interfaces to help the exploration and analysis of library collections?
* How can interactive surface technology promote collaborative scenarios in library environments?
* What tools are available to support social experiences and collaboration?
* Stories of failure: What are the pitfalls of interactive surfaces in library spaces and what can we learn from them?
* What might be guidelines and best practices for deployment and uses of interactive surfaces?
* How can partnerships between researchers and libraries & archives be established to achieve successful collaborations for all parties?
* What is the future of interactive surfaces in library spaces and how can they be combined with other (novel) technologies and existing exploration practices?
Submission deadline: August 26, 2013
Notification of acceptance: August 30, 2013
ITS early registration deadline: September 6, 2013
Workshop date: October 6, 2013
John Brosz – University of Calgary, Canada
Uta Hinrichs – University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
Renee Reaume – University of Calgary, Canada
For any questions regarding the workshop, contact email@example.com
My quest continues. I didn't think it was all the way back in January that I last posted about this dream, but it was! Postifier is a little gizmo intended to be put inside a mailbox that will alert you when there's actually something placed inside:
The device lives on the inner roof of your postbox, attached with adhesive. It has a sensor that detects changes in infrared light when new mail arrives. When it detects mail, it activates the Bluetooth module and waits for the Postifier/smartphone reunion, at which point it will connect with your paired device and tell you the news.
So it's not quite the reporting structure I imagine, but the technology would be perfect to detect whether there's a pair of legs under a given study table, no?
Postifier doesn't actually exist yet, as it's looking for funding on Indiegogo. Waffling about whether to throw in some money just for testing. At $20-$25 each, it's still not an economical way to cover a couple hundred seats :-(
I should also point out this project at Oregon State that Cathrine linked to in the comments of my earlier post: http://beaversource.oregonstate.edu/projects/44x201213. Can anyone tell if these design files are enough to manufacture? I had been in touch with the students involved in the project, but haven't heard anything from them lately...
Oh, and there's this too: Wimoto.
Back in November I posted about my desire for some way to reliably monitor and report available study seats within the library. I recently heard about Pinoccio, an Indiegogo project, and suspect it might do the trick! It's a very small Arduino board with an optional WiFi board. If one plugged a motion sensor, or used the included temperature sensor, it'd probably be able to report whether there was a body sitting at a given location. Small enough to work, WiFi and a long-life(?) battery. Ooh, even better, you don't need the WiFi bridge for each unit, only one for a given area, so that brings down the cost and complexity.
Pricing in bulk seems reasonable - they have a $999 package that would get you 20 monitors and a WiFi shield. Unfortunately we still have a couple hundred seats I'd like to be able to monitor, so realistically we probably still have to get the cost down. That's the primary reason I haven't given more thought to a more finished product like Twine... I think I'll drop the founders a note asking if they think this whole thing would work, and if so, go ahead and pick up a starter kit for testing.