Monday, October 31, 2005

World Usability Day November 3, 2005

Thursday is World Usability Day, which focuses on easy-to-use technology. As the organizers explain, it is for anyone who has ever asked "Why doesn’t this work right? What am I supposed to do with this now?"

Organized by the Usability Professionals' Association, "World Usability Day promotes the value of usability engineering, user-centered design,and every user's responsibility to ask for things that work better".

There are events planned in more than 30 countries, including Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

How to Fight Phishing

This is a follow-up to the OCt. 18, 2005 posting entitled The Fight Against Phishing Sites.

Last week, the O'Reilly Network published a very good overview on the subject, What Is Phishing (Or, How to Fight Phishing at the User-Interface Level).

Phishing describes Internet scams using emails designed to look like they come from legitimate institutions in order to con people into providing personal financial information or passwords.

The article describes how typical phishing attacks occur, the techniques used, defenses against them and concludes with a look ahead.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:16 pm 1 comments links to this post

SirsiDynix Blog

I used to be in a Dynix workplace and we will soon be a Sirsi shop here so this caught my attention.

As a follow-up to the merger in June 2005 of the 2 well-known library automation vendors Sirsi and Dynix, a new collaborative blog called The Gordian Knot was launched last week.

It describes itself as "an independent effort [...] to try to begin bringing those users together to make their voices heard at this important time of development of the new, merged company. It’s important for customers of Sirsi products and Dynix products to get to know each other — and to get to know each other’s products and ideas — so that the future direction of the merged company can really be about taking the best qualities of its products and moving them forward in response to the needs of libraries and their patrons."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tabling of the 2004-2005 Government of Canada Departmental Performance Reports

Reg Alcock, President of the Treasury Board of Canada, tabled the 2004-05 Departmental Performance Reports (or DPRs) for 90 Government of Canada departments and agencies in the House of Commons today.

According to the official announcement: "Departmental Performance Reports outline the accomplishments of individual departments and agencies against the commitments they made earlier in their respective Reports on Plans and Priorities. They play a key role in the cycle of planning, monitoring, evaluating and reporting of results through ministers to Parliament and by extension to Canadians".

Here is the DPR for the Supreme Court of Canada where I work.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:52 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Anti-Spyware Coalition Finalizes Spyware Definitions

CIPPIC, the University of Ottawa-based Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, reports that the Anti-Spyware Coalition released its finalized spyware definitions today.

The Coalition is an alliance composed of anti-spyware software companies, academics, and consumer groups.

It defines spyware technologies as those that "impair users’ control over material changes that affect their user experience, privacy, or system security; use of their system resources, including what programs are installed on their computers; or collection, use, and distribution of their personal or otherwise sensitive information."

It is hoped that a consensus over the definition of the phenomenon will speed up the development of regulations and technological countermeasures to combat the problem.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:21 pm 1 comments links to this post

"Forced Migration Online": An International Refugee Portal

Forced Migration Online describes itself as "a comprehensive web site that provides access to a diverse range of relevant information resources on forced migration". Forced migration refers to issues pertaining to political refugees and people displaced by natural or environmental disasters, famine, or development projects.

The site is built out of digital collections of the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford; the Feinstein International Famine Center, Tufts University, Boston; and the Program on Forced Migration, Columbia University, New York. It includes many other partners as well.

The subject coverage includes:
  • Causes of flight
  • Conditions in countries of origin (e.g., human rights violations, early warning, prevention, etc.)
  • Responses to forced migration situations (e.g., emergency assistance, relief programmes, legal protection/asylum, resettlement, international humanitarian law, compensation, etc.)
  • Experiences of forced migrants (e.g., adaptation, health, psychosocial issues, racism, etc.)
  • Special groups (e.g., gender issues, children, indigenous peoples, etc.)
  • Repatriation/return (e.g., post-war reconstruction, development/livelihood programmes, etc.)
  • Impact/consequences of forced migration (e.g., environmental, economic, social, etc.)
  • Organizations & actors (e.g., IGOs, NGOs, governments, aid workers, agents of persecution, etc.)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

November 2005 Issue of Info Career Trends

The newest issue of Info Career Trends is devoted to the "things we bring" to librarianship.

As the editor's intro note explains:

"None of us enters librarianship as a tabula rasa, and our diverse backgrounds help the profession thrive. Today's writers share their various paths to their profession, talking about the ways in which the skills and outlooks they bring from previous experience are essential to their success as information professionals. As you read on, think about how your own background affects your work - or about how you can use your previously-earned skills in unexpected ways".

People can subscribe online to the newsletter.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Canadian Access and Privacy Association 2005 Annual Conference in Ottawa

The 2005 Canadian Access and Privacy Association Annual Conference is taking place November 22 at the Civic Centre, Landsdowne Park, on Bank Street, in Ottawa.

The Association describes itself as a "national non-profit organization whose goals are to promote knowledge and understanding of access and privacy laws and experiences in Canada".

The Keynote Speaker will be the Honourable John Reid P.C., Information Commissioner of Canada. As well, members of the House Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, will be on hand to discuss their work.

Other items include an annual summary of important court decisions from the past year on access and privacy issues from Canada, the USA and around the world and panels on privacy versus security and on the exercise of discretion in access to information and privacy requests.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Current Awareness - Keeping Up With Legal Info

Ted Tjaden over at Slaw, the "co-operative weblog about Canadian legal research and IT", writes about his current awareness techniques for legal researchers.

He breaks things down into:
  • Emails/Listservs
  • Websites
  • Legal Newspapers/magazine/TOCs in print

I would add: reading the regular daily newspapers. I am amazed at how many major stories have a legal angle, are about the law, the courts, legislative proposals, the Charter of Rights, the constitution, etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Google Print Bibliography

Charles Bailey Jr. has published a bibliography on the Google Print controversy on his DigitalKoans site.

The bibliography includes "selected English-language electronic works about Google Print that are freely available on the Internet. It has a special focus on the legal issues associated with this project."

For more on the controversy, see my earlier postings:

In addition, for those of you who read French, there is an upcoming article in La documentation française by Université de Montréal LIS professor Jean-Michel Salaün entitled
Bibliothèques numériques et Google-Print (Digital Libraries and Google Print). The article provides a lot of the context surrounding large-scale digitization projects and outlines the sources of opposition to Google Print: Europe, publishers and authors.

Salaün writes that whichever side one takes, the controversy has had many positive effects.

Among other things, the Google Print debate has drawn the attention of investors, creators, cultural institutions and public authorities to the complex cultural and commercial challenges of digitizing print materials. As well, what was once a highly technical discussion for a select group of professional experts has suddenly become an international topic of discussion related to cultural promotion and industrial policy, expecially in Europe.

And, as Salaün points out, the discussion has rapidly grown beyond the digitization of just books - which is how things tend to get presented in the media - as European participants in the debate insist loudly on what they see as the much more pressing need to digitally preserve the world's audiovisual heritage whose technological supports are deteriorating.

Finally, of course, the entire Google Print controversy can be read as another instalment in the ongoing wars over control of intellectual property and the widening or narrowing of the public domain: are new technical platforms and projects simply an additional source of private profit for already massive conglomerates? Should the indexes that give access to the world's cultural patrimony be privatized? Or should digitization be subject to some form of democratic control? Salaün concludes: "Does the building of a library on a world scale favour a dominant culture that will be more represented and cited, or on the contrary does it favour minority cultures that never had such a promotional tool? Is it an instrument of conformism or a spur to curiosity?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 24, 2005

Annotated U.S. Constitution from the Library of Congress

Given all the recent discussions on the subject of U.S. Supreme Court nominations and how judges of the highest American court should interpret the Constitution of that neighbouring republic to the south of us, I thought this item mentioned in Resourceshelf.com last Friday would be of some interest: the Constitution of the United States: Browse, 2002 Edition & Supplements.

This PDF document was prepared by the Library of Congress and contains a historical analysis of the evolution of constitutional doctrine and a detailed discussion of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States that pertain to the American Constitution.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Libraries and Trade Liberalization Pathfinder

The Canadian Library Association recently published a GATS and Libraries Pathfinder. It focuses on public libraries but the discussion of international trade rules should be of interest to anyone involved in libraries.

GATS stands for the General Agreement on Trade in Services, one of the major World Trade Organization agreements that seeks to liberalize the international trade in services.

Overall, the association's pathfinder is opposed to GATS but it does an honest job of pointing to official resources, thus also giving the pro-WTO point of view a fair hearing.

According to the introduction, "the impact that these agreements could have on libraries is far from clear: optimists (typically government bodies) claim that the language in the agreements and accompanying commitments show that public libraries are safe from free trade rules. Cynics (including most librarians), however, are less certain; GATS rules could allow other countries to
challenge public funding for libraries. TRIPS [Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights] rules are already changing how we define intellectual property: the American Digital Millennium Copyright Act was drafted to make the United States TRIPS-compliant. For the purposes of this document, the focus is on the GATS... At present, Canada has made no commitment of library services to GATS rules – nor has it granted the sector any specific protection. The United States government, on the other hand, has chosen to commit libraries to GATS rules while reassuring the American Library Association that 'public' library services are safe."

The pathfinder includes print and web resources and is broken down into the following sections:
  • 1. Introduction to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
    1.1 History and Who’s Who
    1.2 Key WTO Agreements (and Links to Texts)
    1.3 Dispute Resolution Process
    1.4 How to Research and Assess Canada’s Sectoral Commitments to WTO
    Agreements
    1.5 Is this service covered? An un-nuanced guide to deciding on your own.
    1.6 The WTO and Culture, Environment, and Public Services
    1.7 WTO Criticism and Activism
  • 2. Introduction to the GATS
    2.1 GATS for Beginners
    2.2 Key Provisions: Most-Favoured-Nation, National Treatment, Market Access
    2.3 GATS and Municipal Governments
  • 3. GATS and libraries
    3.1 Introduction to the Impact of the GATS on Library Services
    3.2 Classification of Library Services
    3.3 In-Depth Analysis
    3.4 Library Association Response to the GATS
    3.4 (a) International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)
    3.4 (b) European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations
    (EBLIDA)
    3.4 (c) Canadian Library Association (CLA)
    3.4 (d) British Columbia Library Association (BCLA)
    3.4 (e) American Library Association (ALA)
    3.5 Public Education: A Close Relative to Public Libraries
  • 4. Introduction to the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
    (TRIPS) agreement
  • 5. Other International Trade Organizations

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Discussion of the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005

This is a follow-up to the October 6, 2005 posting entitled Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005. That posting dealt with usability specialist Jakob Nielsen's commentary on what web design elements most irked the readers of his well-regarded Alertbox newsletter.

His article sparked a discussion on Web4Lib, the discussion list on issues relating to the creation, management, and support of library-based World-Wide Web servers, services, and applications. In other words, it's where some of the geekier members of the LIS world stop to chat. You need to scroll down to "[Web4lib] Nielsen's Top 10 - 2005 version".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:11 pm 1 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Labour Law and Industrial Relations Resources

Resourceshelf recently highlighted workplace-related resources from the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Known as the IWS [Institute for Workplace Studies] Documented News Service, Resourceshelf explains that it provides links to the full-text documentation of government studies, reports, and statistics in "real time". Coverage of the industrial/labour relations scene is international in scope.

Other related material mentioned recently on Resourceshelf: the Working Time Database from the International Labour Organization. It is "a searchable database providing information on the working time laws of more than 100 countries around the world. It covers laws that protect the heath and well-being of workers; facilitate a balance between work and family life; ensure workers have adequate time to devote to their other responsibilities and interests; and prevent discrimination against part-time workers."

Among other topics, coverage of labour rights worldwide is provided on an ongoing basis by the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, a collaborative effort of Amnesty International and various business and academic institutes.

For a Canadian perspective, a number of free resources come to mind:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Enterprise Blogging Catching On As Knowledge-Sharing Tool

The Guidewire Group, which focuses on "emerging technologies and companies", has just published the results of a survey of readers of CMO magazine, a journal aimed at senior marketing executives.

The survey was about the adoption of "social media tools" in the entreprise setting, such as blogs.

Among the findings:
  • the pace at which tools like blogs are being adopted is accelerating in the workplace across all economic sectors
  • the main barriers to deployment have little to do with the technology; one of the main obstacles has to do with worries about how to maintain enthusiasm once a blog is launched
  • the major uses for internal blogs include knowledge-sharing, project management, event logging and team management. Benefits include improved communications between employees and the replacement of e-mail
  • external blogs are used mainly for marketing communications and for demonstrating "thought leadership" and the main benefits are seen as improved brand recognition and external communications and better public feedback

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Top 10 Blog Design Mistakes

From Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox newsletter comes another "Top 10 ... Mistakes" article. This article deals with common blog design flaws:

  • Author Biographies
  • No Author Photo (I should get around to this)
  • Nondescript Posting Titles
  • Links Don't Say Where They Go
  • Classic Hits are Buried (Nielsen suggests linking from the home page to pieces of lasting value - I don't do that, but he also advocates linking to earlier pieces in newer postings, which I have found useful)
  • The Calendar is the Only Navigation (he argues for categorizing or tagging posts, but this is unfortunately not easy to do with tools like Blogger)
  • Irregular Publishing Frequency
  • Mixing Topics (covering too many topics)
  • Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
  • Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Directories of French Law-Related Blogs

Droit francophone, the international law portal created by the Francophonie in colloboration with the Université de Montréal's LexUM (a major CANLII partner) has started compiling a list of French-language blawgs covering France, Canada/Québec, North Africa, Luxemburg etc.

As well, another site, Juridiconline, has started a directory of French blawgs.

There is quite a bit of overlap. A quick scan of the listings shows a large contingent of academic bloggers with a more theoretical take on things ("la doctrine") as well as a number of bloggers commenting on legal news ("actualité juridique").

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:55 pm 4 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Internet Librarian International 2005 Presentations Available Online

Presentations are now available from last week's Internet Librarian International 2005 conference in London, UK.

There are presentations on:
  • Web Design
  • Google Print
  • Blogs, Wikis, and Collaboration Tools
  • E-Learning and Training
  • Folksonomies/Taxonomies
  • Managing Digital Libraries and Resources
  • Exploring Web Research Skills
  • Open Standards and Open Source
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

BlawgThink 2005 - Conference on Law Blogs

LexThink!, an American conference organizer, is hosting a 2-day law-related blogging event in Chicago on Nov. 11 and 12.

The event is called BlawgThink 2005.

Sessions run from the basic (how to create a blog) to the advanced (content strategies, ethics, tools).

And of course, there is a blog full of info about the event.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

The Fight Against Phishing Sites

CNET News.com reported a few days ago that a new study suggests that the fight against "phishing" attacks may be growing more successful.

As the article explains, phishing involves sending e-mail to "lure victims to malicious Web sites, where they are duped into disclosing log-ins and usernames for Web sites and other sensitive information (...) . The messages are typically spoofed to look like they come from a bank or other trusted company."

Phishing opponents, according to the article, are now able to take down the fake websites in an average of 5.5 days, down from 5.9 days in July.

For more on phishing, see my July 5, 2005 post on Phishing Resources.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 16, 2005

New Cites & Insights Issue

Walt Crawford's November 2005 issue of Cites & Insights has just come out and includes comments on quite a number of blogging essays and papers (on such topics as citizen journalism, copyright ownership in blogs, why many blogs are boring, ethics in blogging, what tools people use to read blogs), as well as a few notes on Meredith Farkas' recent demographic survey of the biblioblogosphere.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Complete Guide to E-mail

Inc. Magazine has just published its Complete Guide to E-mail, a "guide to the biggest e-mail concerns, particularly security, compliance, and archiving"

As the intro says, "Every time you use your e-mail system, (...) you put your reputation, your financial assets, and your company's future at risk."

Some of the topics covered include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Judicial Council Recommends Limited Net Access to Court Records

This announcement did not seem to attract a lot of attention.

Last week, the Globe and Mail wrote an article entitled "Panel wants most court files kept off Web" (Oct. 6, p. A8, no longer available from the newspaper's website to non-subscribers).

The article discussed a new "model policy" developed by the Canadian Judicial Council on electronic access to court information.

The proposed policy suggests that judgments and docket information be made available on the Internet but with significant restrictions. Specifically:
  • personal information should be deleted from publicly accessible documents (phone numbers, addresses and social insurance numbers, etc.);
  • court filings should not be universally available (affidavits, motion records, pleadings);
  • case files should be available via the Net only to individuals and lawyers directly involved in the case, and;
  • access by the media should be by special request
The overall idea is that access to open courts needs to be balanced with protection of parties from potential abuses and misuses of personal information, including the fear that personal data in court files could be exploited for identity theft. As well, many allegations, not yet proven in trial, are made in court filings, and these could cause serious damage to innocent people if they fell into unscrupulous hands.

Oddly, given the seriousness of the issues, there seem to have been very few reactions.

The only 2 comments in major publications appear to be from the Globe and Mail itself and from the Montreal Gazette.

In an October 11 editorial entitled "Sensible restrictions on freedom", the Gazette wrote approvingly of the proposed restrictions. Referring to family law rulings specifically, the Montreal daily noted that:

"(...) motions, exhibits, affidavits, and physician reports, many of which include intensely personal (not to say extraneous) information, should remain at the courthouse, available only to those who take the trouble to apply. However this might smack of censorship - ... - the rationale is compelling. Lawsuit claims and divorce motions often include false and defamatory allegations... Judges have already reacted to runaway Internet chatter by sealing more documents and imposing more publication bans. To open the floodgates would only provoke more draconian case-by-case controls from the bench. Free-speech advocates will frown at any restrictions at all. But the middle way might well be the best way, in a democracy that values both access and privacy."

The Globe and Mail reacted with open hostility to the proposed idea in an October 8th comment entitled "The judges are building an Internet roadblock".

Writing of the more open U.S. experience with public access to court documentation, the paper remarked that personal information such as social insurance numbers and the names of children are deleted from American files too and that users must register and provide credit-card or debit-card information and pay a small charge for each page viewed. But, "(T)here have been no reports of resulting anarchy".

It then went on to wonder about "the disabled, the elderly, wage workers, parents of small children, people living in small towns" who can't make it to the local courthouse. "Don't the courts belong to them, too?" And it questioned the many other barriers to even physical access to court files for those people who do bother to show up at the courthouse counter, including high fees for ordering and photocopying documents, and searching computer systems it described as user-hostile.

But the Globe's main complaint had to do with what it considered to be the official Canadian culture of secrecy, something the paper explained was documented earlier this year when as part of a Canadian Newspaper Association project on freedom of information, reporters from 45 member newspapers simultaneously visited government offices across Canada asking for access to information on topics such as class size, police suspensions and restaurant inspections: "many [reporters] were turned away empty-handed. None of your business, they were told."

The Globe concluded that the Judicial Council recommendations can be read as fitting into an "infuriating and outdated approach" to information.

A crucial debate about the appropriate limits to access to information and openness of the courts in Canadian society, which seems to have attracted very little attention so far.

For background reading, last spring, the Council approved the report entitled Use of Personal Information in Judgments and Recommended Protocol. This focused on judgments containing sensitive personal information or information subject to publication bans.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:16 pm 1 comments links to this post

New Irwin Law Book on Canadian Copyright Available For Free

This is a follow-up to the post from September 20 called New Book Out This Week: Future of Canadian Copyright Law.

Someone left me a comment that the book, published by Irwin Law and edited by Ottawa U. law prof Michael Geist, is available for download for free. Simply click on any chapter title in the table of contents and you will be taken to a page for downloading the corresponding text in PDF format.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 10, 2005

World Day Against the Death Penalty

October 10 is World Day Against the Death Penalty, organized by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The Coalition includes Amnesty International, Ensemble contre la peine de mort (France), FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights League), the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (USA) as well as many other law and human rights groups.

The focus this year is Africa.

Numerous signs show that abolition is making progress in Africa and the Coalition wants to support this movement and back up the actions of abolitionists in Africa.

12 of the 53 African countries have already abolished the death penalty. Only three held executions in 2004: Sudan, Somalia, Egypt. 20 countries have not executed death-row prisoners for more than 10 years (unofficial moratorium), or have an official moratorium.

There have been some recent advances. Senegal abolished the death penalty on December 10, 2004. The Ugandan Constitutional Court ordered the revision of the trials of a large majority of death-row prisoners, prohibiting the automatic application of capital punishment and considering that prolonged detention on death row constitutes a treatment that is cruel, inhuman, and degrading. In Morocco, a national coalition against the death penalty has helped to create conditions for an open debate in Moroccan society in view of abolishing this punishment.

The Coalition is now formally calling on all the heads of African states through a petition to abolish capital punishment.

According to Amnesty International research, 97 per cent of all known executions in 2004 took place in either China, Iran, Viet Nam or the United States.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:33 pm 1 comments links to this post

More on Blogs as Presentation Tools

This a follow-up to the Sept. 28 posting called Blogs as PowerPoint Alternatives.

"Rachel" from the North Dakota Library Association has written about using blogs instead of PowerPoint as a conference presentation tool.

Quote:

"Blogs as presentation media are visually interesting, communicative, and allow session attendees to take away a synopsis of the presenter's information without lugging around a half pound of paper slide printouts. Also, if the presenter continues to update the blog, the learning process can be extended far beyond the confines of conference time limits."

Other examples:
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Canadian Privacy Commissioner Releases Annual Reports

Canada's federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released two annual reports towards the end of the week focusing on public and private sector privacy laws.

The report about the federal Privacy Act draws attention to a number of areas of concern, among them "security and the voracious appetite for personal information and surveillance that has sprung up in the post-9/11 environment, and the sharing of information and outsourcing of data operations across borders".

Stoddart also underlines the gaps in the current legislation, such as the fact that many federal institutions are not subject to the Act, and that only those present in Canada have the right to seek access to their personal information, a situation that excludes immigration applicants and other foreigners with information in Canadian government files from correcting erroneous information or knowing how their personal data is being used.

Stoddart also released a separate report on PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, covering the collection and use of information in the private sector. A brief description of that report is found in the accompanying news release.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Legislative Histories for American States

I'm sure most of us Canadian law librarians can compile legislative histories for federal, provincial and teritorial statutes in our sleep. But U.S. materials would no doubt stump many of us.

The Indiana University School of Law Library – Bloomington has compiled a very impressive list of links to resources on how to do legislative histories for almost all American states.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Background on Harriet Miers, U.S. Supreme Court Nominee

The University of Michigan Law Library has put together information about U.S. President George W. Bush's most recent nominee for his country's Supreme Court. The resources include biographical information about Harriet Miers, cases involving her as counsel, articles she has authored as well as news articles about her.

More information is available on the Jurist legal news site (University of Pittsburgh School of Law).
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fifth Colloquium on the Legal Profession

The 5th annual colloquium of the Chief Justice of Ontario's Advisory Committee on Professionalism will take place in Kingston next weekend.

The theme of the event is honour and integrity in the legal profession.

The keynote speaker will be Diane Brady, senior editor of Business Week who will speak about "The Strange Case of Martha Stewart". A panel of journalists and media lawyers will also present perspectives on how the profession is viewed by the media and the public.

The papers from the previous colloquia are available online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Librarians Take to the Airwaves

The School of Information Science & Learning Technologies at the University of Missouri has started LISRadio, featuring a series of live audio webcasts with "movers, shakers, and the odd gadfly or two in libraryland".

LISRadio offers 4 programs:


  • First Tuesday: interviews of "national interest" with major players from the world of libraries and information agencies
  • On the Job: interviews with school alumni and students about their past and present careers and experiences
  • ShowMe Libraries: talks with local Missouri librarians who are doing innovative things at their library
  • LiS ClassCast: professors at the school will be using LISRadio as part of their library classes

Other LIS-related radio shows:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on the Google Print Copyright Controversy

In the Oct. 2 edition of the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, Peter Suber tackles the recent lawsuit launched against the Google Print library digitization project by the U.S.-based Authors Guild.

This is a follow-up to the post "Authors Sue Google Over Digitization Project" from Sept. 23.

Suber summarizes the arguments of both camps very well.

In the case of the Guild:

"(1) Google's opt-out policy for publishers reverses the usual burden on those who want to copy material under copyright... (2) Even though Google plans to display only snippets of copyrighted books, it will display a snippet for every search. Systematic searchers could patch together significant portions of a book. (3) To index the text and produce snippets, Google will have to copy the full-text. Fair use is traditionally limited to much smaller excerpts. (4) Google will profit from its copying and indexing... This is a commercial use."

And Google's possible counter-arguments:

"(1) Google indexing will help sell books... It goes directly to the statutory test of fair use, one of whose elements is "the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work" (17 USC 107). (2) ...It's true that different fair-use snippets could be patched together, but that's true of every kind of fair use. If users really wanted free access to full-text, it would be much easier to visit a public library than to find and assemble all the right snippets.(3) ... every ISP makes full-text copies without prior permission when passing along browser requests, and every browser makes full-text copies without prior permission when displaying a page of an online document... (4) Opt-out is the accepted standard for indexing web content ... opt-out search crawling is allowed even for copyrighted content. (5) The four arguments above are reasons to think that the Google Library copying is protected as fair use... If the copying is fair use, then no prior permission is needed. If no prior permission is needed, then opt-out is perfectly acceptable. (6) It's true that Google will profit from its copying... Morever, selling ads next to fair-use snippets is very different from selling copies of the texts themselves, something Google has no intention of doing. Journals and magazines may quote fair-use snippets and sell ads on the same pages without violating the law."

While the article is fairly balanced, overall Suber is more supportive of Google, with some reservations, and he finds many of the Guild's arguments "deceptive".

One great component of the article: the links to dozens of legal analyses and comments on the case, from pro- and anti-Google perspectives.

As well, Suber reports that the Authors Guild tried unsuccessfully to stop Amazon from selling used books in 2000 and then again in 2002 and protested against Amazon's Search Inside the Book service in 2003. Suber implies the Guild is very old-school and "maximalist" when it comes to owners' rights.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005

Well-known usability specialist Jakob Nielsen asked the readers of his Alertbox newsletter to nominate the usability problems that irked them most.

On the list are:
  • Legibility Problems
  • Non-Standard Links
  • Flash
  • Content That's Not Written for the Web
  • Bad Search
  • Browser Incompatibility
  • Cumbersome Forms
  • No Contact Information or Other Company Info
  • Frozen Layouts with Fixed Page Widths
  • Inadequate Photo Enlargement
Nielsen concludes:

"(...) users don't care about technology and don't especially want new features. They just want quality improvements in the basics: text they can read; content that answers their questions;
navigation and search that help them find what they want; short and simple forms (streamlined registration, checkout, and other workflow); and no bugs, typos, or corrupted data; no linkrot; no outdated content. "

"Anytime you feel tempted to add a new feature or advanced technology to your site, first consider whether you would get a higher ROI by spending the resources on polishing the quality of what you already have. Most companies, e-commerce sites, government agencies, and non-profit organizations would contribute more to their website's business goals with better headlines than with any new technology (aside from a better search engine, of course)."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Information Industry Outlook 2006

In a new report that came out a few weeks ago, the California-based research firm Outsell Inc. is forecasting single digit growth for the worldwide information industry. The 30-page report can be downloaded free of charge.

The report offers overall projections for the industry as a whole as well as a breakdown for specific segments.

The legal market is expected to have $14.1 billion (U.S. dollars) in revenues in 2005, increasing by 5.6% in 2006 to $14.9 billion. As the report states, "Growth in this mature segment will be slow and unspectacular. Drivers having a positive effect on growth include investment in the small-firm market; strong national security, risk management, and regulatory compliance concerns; a generational preference for online products among younger lawyers; and an increase in 'share of day' products such as billing, e-discovery, practice management, and marketing that go beyond users’ core legal research activities. A growth inhibitor is the continuing commoditization and outsourcing of legal practice – replaced by technology and temporary agencies – and the corresponding price pressures on firms".

Outsell forecasts that the information industry overall will grow by 7.8 percent in 2005, to $283 billion (U.S. dollars). It will increase by 8 percent in both 2006 and 2007 to reach $331 billion in 2007, and will grow another 8.3 percent to become a $358 billion industry in 2008. Leading sectors will be search/aggregation and market research reports and services, with the slowest growth in news/trade and Yellow Pages/directories. Other industry segments are: company, credit and financial; scientific, technical and medical; education and training; and IT research and reports.

Outsell gathers "details of over 4,000 industry firms that create and aggregate information and make it commercially available online or offline; data on the total universe of knowledge workers (by role and industry); industry market size by vertical segment; six years of user buying and usage statistics, including interviews with over 40,000 users since 1998; and enterprise information management benchmarks and best practices for staffing, budgets, content spending, content vendor portfolios, functional roles, and priorities".

Outsell notices some potentially positive trends for information professionals and librarians which have to do with the end of users' infatuation with the open Web. The firm's research is showing an "increasing preference for turning to corporate intranets, colleagues, or a library when searching for work-related information. Intranets are improving and meeting needs
better, and more centralized content purchasing means they are more likely to contain content that users might otherwise have purchased individually". Users are showing a greater willingness to pay for information because they are recognizing the added value from fee-based services as well as the professional help provided by their organizations via Intranets and other tools.

The report also outlines the changing users needs that are driving the tranformation in the industry and describes 7 scenarios for the future. The scenarios all seem to have to do with open source, collaboration (blogs, wikis, etc.), new publishing models and the like. Well worth downloading.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court Center Beta Site

Justia, a Silicon Valley legal website and online marketing firm, in conjunction with Oyez, a U.S. Supreme Court multimedia archive and US Court Forms, recently unveiled the U.S. Supreme Court Center.

You can search all U.S. Supreme Court opinions from 1791 up through the 2004 term using a superfast free search engine, and link to all manner of Supreme Court and constitutional law-related blogs as well as to other U.S. Supreme Court research guides and resources.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Yahoo! To Launch Digitization Project to Rival Google's

Yahoo! announced it will launch a library-digitization project known as the Open Content Alliance in cooperation with the Internet Archive, the University of California, the University of Toronto and others. The idea is to digitize books in archives around the world and make them searchable through any Web search engine and downloadable for free.

Unlike Google's controversial and much challenged digitization efforts, Yahoo! claims that it will scan and digitize only texts in the public domain, except where the copyright holder has expressly given permission.

Other articles on the subject:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

World Experts Blog the Trial of Saddam Hussein

The Case Western Reserve School of Law (Cleveland) has created a blog devoted to the upcoming trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The blog is called the Grotian Moment Blog.

According to the promo blurb, a Grotian moment is "a legal development that is so significant that it can create new customary international law or radically transform the interpretation of treaty-based law".

The blog features key documents related to the Iraqi Special Tribunal, answers to frequently asked questions, and expert commentary.

Among the international specialists participating in the discussions are M. Cherif Bassiouni, Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law and Chairman of the Security Council's Commission to Investigate War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (1992-94); David M. Crane, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law ay Syracuse University College of Law and former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone; Leila Sadat, Professor of Law at the Washington University School of Law and chair of the International Law Association committee on the International Criminal Court in 1995; and William A. Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland and one of three international commissioners of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2002-04).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Latest Issue of Free Pint - Enterprise Search

The most recent issue of the British information industry newsletter Free Pint has an article on the key success factors in designing and implementing enterprise search. Those factors are:
  • Excellent project management
  • Knowing what there is to be searched
  • Rigorous testing
  • Understanding user requirements
  • Understanding the technology of search
  • Anticipating scalability and extensibility issues
  • Assessing integration issues
  • Testing for usability
  • Meeting changing user requirements
  • Appreciating that 'trust' is the best metric of search performance

The article links to free web resources on the topic of enterprise search as well as to a Free Pint report (for purchase) entitled Enterprise Search Guidebook.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:17 pm 0 comments links to this post