Libraries and Google Journal

The journal, Library Philosophy and Practice has published a special issue devoted to Libraries and Google. Looks like an informative publication, which I have added to my virtual “to read” stack. 🙂


Facebook & Privacy?

Sarah Steiner, Learning Commons Librarian at Georgia State University, posted a link to the following video Does what happens in the Facebook stay in the Facebook?. The video makes interesting and disturbing claims about privacy concerns regarding the site Facebook. It quotes from the terms of service posted on Facebook, which I have to admit, I’ve never read. Here’s a quote.

“When you post User Content to the Site, you authorize and direct us to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.” Facebook. 25.May.2007

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the validity of the claims presented in the video, so of course I googled the author. The video was created by Georgia web designer Vishal Agarwala ( When I searched for his name, I ran across another post by Fred Stutzman on his blog, Unit Structures (here) that references this video. Stutzman points out seemingly contradictory statements in the Facebook Developer section of the site (which I couldn’t actually find myself). Some of the comments to Stutzman’s post include good counter arguments, especially refuting the allegations in the video about Facebook ties to the CIA and Department of Defense, which were provocative, but not well grounded in fact.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, it sounds like Facebook users grant Facebook the right to redistribute their user generated content, and Facebook promises to be ethical in its use of this content. Also, it requests that Facebook developers likewise respect user privacy. It sounds like Google’s “Do no harm” mantra. I suspect that most users, who like myself haven’t even read the terms of service, will only really become concerned about the possible privacy violations that could occur when they do occur. Until then, we’ll just keep posting with a refreshingly naive and trusting attitude. Be gentle with us Google and Facebook!

If you want to talk about this, sit with Ivan Gaetz (Dean of Libraries at Regis University) at lunch at the CALC Summit on June 1st. He will be facilitating a table talk regarding Privacy!

Master Plan – About the power of Google

In his blog, Unit Structures, Fred Stutzman pointed to this site. It is a documentary, a la Googlezon, created by a team of undergraduates from the University of Ulm, Germany. It paints a sinister picture of Google’s intentions and its ability to compromise individual privacy rights. I think it would be a great discussion piece in a classroom setting. Not only is the content interesting and engagingly presented, but it is entirely undocumented. Not a single citation. Therefore, after discussing the allegations the authors make and their truth or falsehood, it would be a logical next step to evaluate the site’s accuracy and reliabilty. Double whammy!

Master Plan – About the power of Google

The Long Tail in Action

On the way to work this morning, I heard an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition that illustrates how the Long Tail works in a real business. The interviewee, Mitch Koulouris is the founder of an online music company called DMGI. On the premise that every song, no matter how far from the mainstream, would appeal to someone, he bought up a large amount of music catalogs for his business. His instincts were right on. On average, each song in his catalogs sells at least five times per month. Of course, technology makes this phenomenon possible because he can archive his song inventory for relatively little money compared to what it would cost a record store to physically warehouse every CD, tape, and record (for those of you under a certain age, those were black plastic discs we used to listen to by placing them on a record player ;)) .

I read a lot about libraries and the Long Tail, but this story made me think about it in a more practical light. We are in the midst of a weeding project. It needed to be done. The average age of our collection is somewhere around 1970. Conventional wisdom in libraries has usually been to save physical space by weeding out volumes that are in poor condition, have very low circulation, or are otherwise not thought to be relevant. How could technology allow us to follow Mitch’s strategy? And would we want to? Is every book valuable just because it made it into print? The Long Tail philosophy would be that every book is of value to someone and if we had the space to keep them all, eventually someone would read each of them. Should Google be applying selection criteria in choosing titles for their digitization project or should they just scan every title? Should we be archiving every Web site posted? The thought is mind boggling. I think I need a cup of coffee!

NPR : Music Downloads Drive a Back-Catalog Business Opportunity
Mitch Koulouris once worked as a manager for the now-defunct Tower Records retail chain. Five years ago he realized digital music distribution was the wave of the future. Now his company, Digital Music Group, Inc., is buying up old song catalogs and selling them online. Posts Video on YouTube by Google

Exactly my point!

From the

YouTube may add to Google’s copyright worries | CNET

As you’ve probably heard, Google announced yesterday that it has plans to buy video sharing power house, YouTube. I’m not sure what to think. I love Google and I love YouTube. So this should be a good thing, right? Well, with the spectre of Googlezon hovering just underneath the surface, even I find this a bit creepy. Is Google trying to take over the world? What next? Google buys Harvard?

Also, I am concerned about the impact on YouTube’s format and content. Analysts are speculating that Google will now face an onslaught of lawsuits over YouTube’s copyrighted content. Likely, Google will need to impose some changes in policy at YouTube that make it more difficult to post copyrighted material. I believe that would be unfortunate. If the copyright policy is clearly stated and users choose to ignore it and post copyrighted materials, they should be held personally liable for their own actions. The alternative, more stringent oversight and even censorship on the part of video or music hosting sites, will inhibit the flow of creative and legal content.

Lonelygirl15, you got out just in time!

YouTube may add to Google’s copyright worries | CNET

Most reliable search tool could be your librarian | CNET

I must admit it’s gratifying to get a nod of support from, the expert on searching. The article below discusses some of the ways in which librarians still add value to the research process. I do agree with the author of this article and would surely encourage everyone at the University engaged in more than a cursory search to talk to the Reference Faculty. However, having said that, I would like to point out that there may be some issues with the example used in this article.

The site used as evidence for Google’s unreliability is a white supremacist site on Martin Luther King, Jr. This site looks quite informative and authentic and comes up high in the Google rankings. Therefore, librarians use it often as a teaching tool for students about why evaluation is necessary. Ironically, the fact that many library guides link to the page probably contributes to its prominent positioning in Google search results. If you want to see it for yourself, you’ll have to Google it, I’m not going to link to it here. 🙂 To learn more about how Google and other search engines work, take a look at

Most reliable search tool could be your librarian | CNET
Your child wants to learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. You might consider consulting a librarian instead of Google, AOL or Microsoft search engines.