Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lessons from Top 10 Government Websites

Peggy Garvin writes about usability lessons in an LLRX.com article entitled The Cream of the Federal Web Site Crop.

Garvin describes attending a World Usability Day panel in Washington organized by the Usability Professionals Association on the subject of "eGov Success Stories". Many of the panelists outlined efforts to improve the quality of U.S. federal government websites and address some of the many challenges they face, such as the need to use plain language, ensure accessibility for disabled people, and improve the readibility and usability of online forms.

Garvin writes that what many of the best sites have in common, such as FirstGov and the Treasury Department site, is that the organizations in charge employ usability specialists.

She concludes by writing: "I’ll close with one site that may restore your faith in government websites. Usability.gov from the Department of Health and Human Services is a 'resource for designing usable, useful, and accessible web sites and user interfaces.' The site began as a project of the National Cancer Institute to find evidence-based usability guidelines so that they could make cancer information easily available to the public. The product ... is available to the public as well as federal web developers. Several of the World Usability Day panelists remarked that a plus to working in government is that they can 'steal,' or adapt, the work of their federal colleagues for their own projects, and agencies actively share their solutions within the federal community. "

In the Canadian federal sector, we have the Treasury Board Secretariat "Government On-Line/Gouvernement en direct" initiative that incorporates various usability guidelines, best practices, methodologies, templates, handbooks, guides and standards. As well, when it comes to "stealing" ideas that have worked in other federal agencies or departments, there is the official Common Look and Feel policy - in fact, it is not stealing, you are supposed to implement the "CLF" standards.

The Supreme Court of Canada is in the process of redesigning the Court Intranet and CLF is the name of the game.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Are Law Bloggers a Bunch of Elitists?

Legal technology consultant Ross Kodner criticized some/many/most/all law bloggers for being elitist. Well, actually, he described their attitude as being "elitist, class-structured, narrow-minded and exclusionary".

Law Technology News Editor-in-Chief Monica Bay posted Kodner's essay on her Common Scold blog.

As can be expected, there was debate about how justified Kodner was in attacking blog "triumphalism".
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Trade Commission (U.S.) Releases Spam Filter Study

The Federal Trade Commission, an American government agency, just released a study that concludes that Internet providers are getting better at blocking junk messages so they can't reach users' inboxes.

From the overview:

"The study showed that the anti-spam filters utilized by two free web-based ISPs effectively blocked the vast majority of spam sent to harvested addresses. The implication of this finding is that ISP spam filtering technologies are substantially reducing the burden of spam on consumers. Nevertheless, spam sent to harvested addresses imposes costs on ISPs receiving the spam. "

"(...) the study measured the effectiveness of using 'masked' email addresses as a possible technique in preventing harvesting. The 'masking' of an email address involves altering the appearance of an email address so that it is understandable by a person who sees
the address, but less likely to be discernable by automated harvesting software. For example, to mask an unmasked email address such as 'johndoe@ftc.gov,' the words 'at' and 'dot' can be written out, and segments of the email address can be separated by spaces. The masked version of the address would appear as 'johndoe at ftc dot gov.' The study found that the 'masking' of an email address was very effective in thwarting harvesting."

From the conclusion:

"Notably, the fact that the vast majority of spam sent to harvested addresses in this study was never delivered to consumers’ inboxes demonstrates the relative effectiveness of the two ISPs’ spam filters. This encouraging result suggests that anti-spam technologies may be dramatically reducing the burden of spam on consumers."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Info for Library Internships / Workplace Experience Programs

The "Internships and Practicum Programs Working Group" of the Canadian Library Association President’s Council on the 8Rs has been identifying and listing practicum and professional experience programs in Canadian schools of library and information studies and in library technician programs.

The Council on the 8Rs is examining the future of library human resources. The 8Rs refer to recruitment, retention, remuneration, reaccreditation, repatriation, rejuvenation, retirement and restructuring.

If your library has an internship or workplace experience program for Masters or Diploma LIS students and/or recent graduates, please contact Pam Ryan, Assessment Librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 28, 2005

How to Find Tools to Collaborate, Share Research, Use RSS...

If you are the type of person who likes to experiment with interesting online tools and gadgets for sharing info, Phil Bradley has created the I Want To website and the I Want To blog.

"'I want to...' or 'I need to' or 'How do I?' These are all questions we all ask all the time. This is a small collection of resources that will help to answer those questions. It is not complete, nor will it ever be. I will be adding to this on a regular basis, so feel free to bookmark it and come back and visit. Now listing over 200 applications."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Special Libraries "Gadgets and Gizmos" Session at CLA 2006 Conference in Ottawa

The next Canadian Library Association (CLA) conference will be held in June 2006 in Ottawa and organizers are looking for programming suggestions.

According to the listserv of CASLIS, the CLA's special libraries division (Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services) , there will be a 60-minute panel session tentatively entitled "Gadgets and Gizmos", describing how special librarians use technology to improve their workplace.

This includes wireless computing, BlackBerries, iPods, docking stations, software such as link checkers and customizable toolbars, bookmark organizers or sharers like Furl, results visualizers like Kart00, advanced Adobe applications, screen grabbers like SnagIt, file sharers like eSnips, etc.

People willing to talk about any of their favourite work-related technotoys for 10-15 minutes in a panel session are invited to get in contact with Maggie Weaver or Ingrid Moisil.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Podcast About Legal Information Institutes

Jim Milles at the University of Buffalo Law School has been podcasting at Check this Out! for a few weeks now.

His most recent broadcast from November 19 is from Vanuatu in the South Pacific, where he attended the 7th Annual Conference on Law via the Internet. The conference is about the various Legal Information Institutes around the world whose goal is to provide free Internet access to legal information (statutes, case law, etc.).

In the broadcast, Milles talks with representatives from various Legal Information Institutes such as Janine Miller, Project Manager at the Canadian Institute for Legal Information and Karl Charbonneau, from the University of Montreal's LexUM service that publishes Supreme Court of Canada decisions. He also interviews people from Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia, and New Zealand.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Henri Tranquille, 1916-2005 - Death of a Bookselling Pioneer

This is a belated posting. The Montreal bookseller Henri Tranquille died on November 21, age 89. But Tranquille, widely known as Mr. Book or "Monsieur Livre" (the title of a 2005 biography), was more than a bookseller, he is considered one of Quebec's pioneers of intellectual freedom.

After managing various bookstores, Tranquille founded his own store in 1948 on Ste-Catherine Street where the Place des Arts concert hall is now located.

It became my father's first regular bookstore after he emigrated from Belgium.

Tranquille served as a guide to a generation of young people growing up in Quebec before the modernist "Révolution tranquille" (Quiet Revolution) of the 1960s, a generation that was not allowed to read books listed on the Index of Prohibited Books of the Vatican (the Index was abolished only in 1966). He helped them discover the modern, free-thinking, avant-garde, edgy, often anti-clerical or agnostic literature of the 19th and 20th century, a literature whose teaching was forbidden in school.

His Ste-Catherine Street bookstore became the hangout for what was the cultural and artisitic "bohème" of the period.

Tranquille was an active participant in the social and cultural debates that percolated in postwar Quebec underneath the conservative surface of the authoritarian and clerical Duplessis regime. In 1948, a group of artists including such giants as Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas launched the famous anti-establishment manifesto Le Refus Global (Total Refusal) at Tranquille's bookstore. It was a virulent attack on the family, the Church, political authority, the past, pessimism and the dominant culture of submission, and the radical call for absolute individual freedom is regarded by historians as a seminal moment in Québécois intellectual history. Many of the signatories lost their teaching jobs and had to go into exile.

In 1950, the Tranquille bookstore was at the centre of another controversy, when it organized a celebration of the centenary of the death of French novelist Honoré de Balzac. Balzac was on the Index of the Catholic Church. For a practicing Catholic, reading his novels was a sin that meant possible damnation. Bricks were thrown through the windows of Tranquille's bookstore.

Many of the people who later became well-known figures of French-Canadian and Quebec literature got their first taste for great writing as well as encouragement at his store: internationally renowned playwright Michel Tremblay, Anne Hébert, Germaine Guèvremont, Hubert Aquin, Réjean Ducharme and many others.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 25, 2005

Guardian Unveils Top 20 Geek Novels

Yes, yes, I know, I know, lists of the best novels, best songs, best movies, best diners, best chip wagons, best bars to get drunk in with a member of the Hell's Angels etc. are totally arbitrary.

Still, I can't help thinking that the British newspaper The Guardian came up with what seems to be a great idea.

Jack Schofield, the Guardian technology blogger, saw that Time Magazine had produced a list of the "all-time 100 great novels" published in English since 1923 (when it started publishing).

Schofield thought it would be tempting to survey readers about the best geek novels (brain-challenging, with a futuristic or science-fiction twist) written in the same time period.

Number 1 on the list: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Most votes against a book: Dune, by Frank Herbert.

Of course, Schofield's blog being a technology blog, it accepts comments and the readers of geek novels being, well, very geeky, the comments flooded in fast and furious. The comments are as much fun as the list itself.

Two remarks:

1) based on the comments, this computer generation of ours reads books, lots and lots of books
2) I realized I read more than half of the geek novels on the list. I need to get out more.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Fifth International Plain Language Conference

I have had the pleasure of working as a volunteer with Sally McBeth, Manager of the consultancy business Clear Language and Design, and organizer of the 2002 Plain Language Association International (PLAIN) conference in Toronto.

She just got back from the latest PLAIN conference in Washington, D.C. and reports in her newsletter that "the people who came were even more diverse than they were in Toronto – in terms of professional background as well as country of origin. At the Toronto conference, representatives of eight countries attended. This time, 14 countries were represented." The movement for plain language is spreading. Anyone who has ever filled out a tax form, had to work their way through a contract, or search through a software manual can only applaud.

Sally highlights 2 of the many presentations and workshops: one by the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Investor Education and Assistance, and another on usability by the original designer of the nutrition labels we all know from the sides of our cereal boxes.

The PLAIN website has more conference information as well as details about plain language initiatives worldwide by government agencies, the legal profession, business, etc. It also offers news stories about plain language and links to many organizations in the field.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court Law Clerk Named One of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women

Roxanne Joyal, one of the law clerks at the Supreme Court of Canada, has been named one of the top 100 most powerful Canadian women. She is one of four young women selected for the Future Leaders category.

This is the third year that the top 100 list has been compiled by the Women's Executive Network, a leading association of Canadian women executives.

Ms. Joyal was nominated for her work with Free the Children, a group she helped found that aims to eliminate child exploitation around the world.

The Top 100 Awards Program recognizes exceptional Canadian women in seven categories: Corporate Executives, Entrepreneurs, Public Sector Leaders, Trailblazers, Professionals, Champions and Future Leaders.

According to the November 24 Globe and Mail article A new generation of powerful women [subscription may be required after 7 days], 2005 marks the first year that a Future Leaders category has been included. Pamela Jeffery, founder of the top 100 list, is quoted as saying "'The women who paved the way, they're usually the award winners ... and their attitude often is that they had to work very hard to get where they are. They had to work twice as hard as a man. They had to make some really hard choices.' Among younger women, there's a greater sense of optimism, she said. 'They believe that things are going to be better for them,' she said, 'so there's an attitude shift there'."

The full Top 100 list can be found on the Women's Executive Network website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Innocence Project - Wrongful Conviction Website

The New York-based Innocence Project is a not-for-profit legal clinic run out of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that takes on cases of wrongfully convicted individuals whose innocence has been conclusively proven thanks to forensic DNA testing. The site has information on cases and causes of wrongful convictions, legislative trends, and DNA testing. The Project has been responsible for exonerating most of the one hundred and sixty men to be cleared through post-conviction testing.

In Canada, there is the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC). AIDWYC, either directly or through the work of member lawyers, has been involved in bringing to light many wrongful convictions in Canada, including those of Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Clayton Johnson, Peter Frumusa and Gregory Parsons.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm links to this post

New Website on Internet Scams and Fraud

This U.S.-based website with the totally cool name Looks Too Good To Be True offers background information and alerts about Internet identity theft, hacking, phishing, spam, spyware, job scams, pyramid schemes, sweepstakes and lotteries, and counterfeit payments. It is a joint project of federal law enforcement agencies in the United States and industry partners.

While a lot of the info is American, Canadians can benefit too.

On July 5, 2005, I posted an item that links to many Canadian resources on cybercrime prevention.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

60th Anniversary of the Opening of the Nuremberg Trials

The Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46 in front of the "International Military Tribunal" were an attempt to grapple with the unparalleled crimes of the Nazi regime and represented the largest undertaking of its kind ever. By the end of the proceedings, some 12 political leaders of the Third Reich had been sentenced to death.

The proceedings started on Nov. 20, 1945. The scene was the southern German city of Nuremberg, the site of some of the Nazi Party's largest pre-war rallies. The Trials laid the foundation for prosecuting war crimes and human rights violations in an international court of law.

There are quite a few digital collections on the topic:

  • A Look Back At Nuremberg (Court TV): introduction to the indictments and defendants, the creation of the tribunal, and selected transcripts from the trials
  • The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (Avalon Project, Yale School of Law): includes motions, orders of the International Military Tribunal, presentation of cases, testimony, documents on Nazi conspiracy and aggression, documents of the Post War Military Government, rules of procedure, subsequent war crimes cases against other Nazis, and many supporting documents
  • Famous World Trials: Nuremberg Trials (part of the Famous Trials collection at the University of Missouri in Kansas City Law School): includes a chronology, profiles of defendants, indictments and sentences, transcripts, images, overview of subsequent trials (doctors' trial, Nazi judges' trial etc.), bibliography
  • Nuremberg Trials Project - Digital Document Collection (Harvard Law School Library): Harvard has one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal and to the twelve subsequent trials of other accused war criminals. The documents include trial transcripts, briefs, document books, and evidence files. So, far, Harvard has made available to the public documents relating to the Doctors' Trial of 1946-1947 in which 2 dozen defendants were accused of participating in crimes against humanity in the form of medical experiments on civilians and prisoners of war
  • The Trial of German Major War Criminals (Nizkor Project): Nizkor, one of the world's major resource collections aimed at combatting Holocaust revisionism and Holocaust denial, has made available the record of the trials of 1945-46 (the trial transcripts published in Britain in 1946 by His Majesty's Stationery Office). Nizkor, in Hebrew, means "we will remember".
  • Web Genocide Documentation Centre - Resources on Genocide, War Crimes and Mass Killing (University of the West of England, Bristol): summaries of the Nuremberg Trials and other Nazi war crimes trials (execution squad commandos, murder of POWs, Belsen, Dachau, German High Command, manufacturers of Zyklon B gas used in the extermination camps)
  • Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (Oberlandsgericht Nürnberg - Higher Superior Court of Nuremberg, Department of Justice of Bavaria): description of the trials and indictments, along with links to other websites (see bottom of the page)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Stephen Abram-isms

Stephen Abram, former president of the Canadian Library Association, currently Vice President, Innovation for SirsiDynix, is a well-known and inspiring "mover and shaker" in the library and information field who must speak at hundreds of conferences and events every year.

One recent article on ALA TechSource described him by writing "If you’ve ever seen Stephen Abram speak and you like libraries (maybe even if you don’t) you’re likely to be fan. He has a profession-deprecating shtick—that helps librarians loosen up, laugh at themselves—and it seems to actually break through; Abram helps diminish the techno-phobia and/or the 'I’m-tired-of-technology' attitude that could influence whether or not the library institution remains viable in our increasingly information-oriented society."

Well, he's such a good talker and has so many intriguing turns of phrase that people such as the Shifted Librarian have started documenting his "Abram-isms".
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

World Digital Library Announced by Library of Congress - Law Materials Included

The Library of Congress announced the launch of a World Digital Library project and made known that its first $3 million in funding has already been promised by Google.

The project aims to digitize and make available on the Web important content from institutions worldwide. It appears that public domain legal materials will form part of the project.

The Library of Congress explained that the World Digital Library would be modeled after its American Memory Project which since 1994 has digitized and placed on the Web millions of items, including many valuable manuscripts from American history.

According to today's Washington Post article World Digital Library Planned - Library of Congress Envisions Collection To Bridge Cultures [may require free registration], "(T)his is the most ambitious international effort ever undertaken to put precious items of artistic, historical, and literary significance on the Internet so that people can learn about other cultures without traveling further than the nearest computer, according to James H. Billington, head of the Library of Congress."

The Washington Post adds that "Google has digitized about 5,000 books from the Library of Congress as part of a pilot project to refine the techniques to make copies of fragile books without damaging them. In the next phase of the project, Billington said Google will digitize books and other materials from the Library of Congress Law Library."

The Library of Congress website contains the official press release announcing the World Digital Library.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Online Clearinghouse for Community Legal Education in Ontario

Community Legal Education Ontario just launched CLEONet, an online clearinghouse for community legal education in Ontario. It is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario, Legal Aid Ontario and Justice Canada.

Community legal education helps low-income and disadvantaged communities understand and exercise their legal rights. The materials are produced by organizations and legal clinics across Ontario.

Visitors to the site can search or browse by subject category (family law, housing law, criminal law, pensions and benefits, disabilities, criminal law, etc.).

"CLEONet is meant to be a tool for community organizations to see what others have produced. Hundreds of organizations across Ontario produce legal education materials for their local communities. Being able to find existing materials easily helps organizations get ideas for their own projects, and lets them link to the resources they find on CLEONet or ask permission to adapt or reproduce materials that they think would be useful for their community. Knowing what other organizations have done also helps prevent duplication of efforts."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts Now Free

EBSCO's Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts database is now available for free.

It is a bibliographic database on subjects such as librarianship, classification, cataloguing, online searching, and much more and covers some 600+ periodicals, research reports, and proceedings. Coverage goes back to the mid-1960s.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 21, 2005

Report on Internet Filtering in Tunisia

This is a follow-up to last week's post Repression Precedes UN-Sponsored Info Summit in Tunisia.

The Open Net Initiative (ONI), a partnership between the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and the Advanced Network Research Group at Cambridge University, recently published a study on Internet Filtering in Tunisia, host country of last week's World Summit on the Information Society.

The study outlines that country's "widespread censorship practices and Internet controls".

In its intro summary of the situation, ONI writes "Tunisia’s approach to the Internet comports with the strong limitations the state imposes on other media. Laws criminalizing defamation of public officials or spreading false news push journalists to censor their reporting, and the imprisonment of critics of the government makes plain that these laws have bite. The state also employs a mixture of economic controls, such as directing subsidies and advertising to friendly outlets, and informal pressures, such as violence against critics, to ensure that media stay within prescribed boundaries."

ONI has produced other country studies on Internet filtering and censorship:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Statistics Canada Digitization Initiative

Statistics Canada, Canada's official statistical agency, has recently received a grant from Canadian Heritage to digitize back issues of the Canada Year Book from 1867 to 1967.

First published in 1867, the Canada Year Book has become the premier reference resource on the social and economic life of Canada and its citizens. The Year Book includes essays and statistical data on the arts and cultural activities, economic conditions, economic growth, employment, ethnic origins, families, finance, industries, health care, the organization of justice as well as crime patterns, labour force developments, leisure time, social trends, transport, and demography.

Statistics Canada hopes that the project will provide online access to literally thousands of historical summary tables outlining key Canadian social and economic trends.

Project leaders are looking for surplus copies for scanning. They need copies of both English and French editions of the Canada Year Book from the 1867-1967 timeframe. Copies must be in excellent condition, with no highlighting, annotations or missing pages. All libraries that donate surplus copies will be acknowledged in the credits.

For information on how to donate surplus copies, please contact:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Digitization of Early Canadian Government Documents Continues

This came via the listserv of the Canadian Library Association's Access to Government Information Interest Group:.

The non-profit organization Canadiana.org has just received another grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canadian Culture Online program to help it complete its "Canada in the Making" digitization project.

According to the press release: "Canada in the Making, now in its sixth and final year, is a project focusing on the history of governance in Canada, with the goal of making 1.5 million pages of early official publications available by spring 2006. With this support from Canadian Heritage, Canadiana.org will be able to add a further 250,000 pages this year. These will include selected Acts, Debates and Sessional papers from the Colonial period to Confederation, and from 1867 to 1900."

The Canadiana.org website offers an overview of the early Canadiana digital collections that have been made available so far.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Special News Report on Returning the Net to Social Roots

Over the past week, CNET News.com has been publishing various instalments in its special report entitled Taking Back the Web: New generation, technologies return Net to social roots.

The series explores how the rise of technologies like blogs and tagging are "fulfilling some of the utopian objectives espoused in the early days of the Internet, when it was hoped that the Web would empower the individual and dismantle communication barriers across the globe. Many of those altruistic goals were vastly overshadowed by mass commercialization. But, in the years since the dot-com meltdown, they've been resurrected with a new generation of digerati who are developing and exploiting the social aspects of the medium. "

The series covers mass culture and entertainment, wikis, tagging, virtual maps and the emergence of the "millenial" generation.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Digital Collections on Constitutional History of U.S. and Canada

1) The Library of Congress American Memory Project recently updated one of its main digital collections entitled Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention.

The collection brings together documents related to the work of the Continental Congress, dating from 1774 to 1789. Most items are extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, treaties, and other congressional proceedings as well as early printed versions of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

2) I wanted to see if Canada had any equivalent "official" digital collections on our constitutional history. Three would qualify:
  • Industry Canada, through the SchoolNet Digital Collections program, funded the creation of the online collection Charlottetown Conference of 1864 about the major conference that led to Confederation in 1867
  • The National Archives ( now part of Library and Archives Canada), created Canada’s Constitutional Evolution , an exhibit that spans 4 centuries with a focus on constitutional documents from the "Édit de création du Conseil souverain de Québec" of 1663 to the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982
  • Library and Archives Canada offers the Canadian Confederation website which features much rare material from the institution's historical collections. It includes documents, articles, photographs and a major bibliography

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

U.S. Congressional Website Relaunched

The U.S. congressional information website THOMAS, available free from the Library of Congress, was given a new look this week.

It now shares the look and feel of the Library of Congress website, offers direct links to "Bills, Resolutions", the Congressional Record and "Government Resources", breadcrumb navigation, the ability to browse legislation by sponsor from the home page and to search multiple Congresses, and much much more.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 18, 2005

377 Canadian Government Databases Available Via the Web

A November 15, 2005 supplement to the Weekly Checklist lists 377 databases publicly accessible on Government of Canada Web sites.

There is everything here from a database of national historic sites to First Nation land registry data to court decisions to war photo archives to "ManureNet" (everything you always wanted to know about you know what from our good friends over at the department of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).

The Weekly Checklist is a weekly catalogue of titles released by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada. It is produced by the Depository Services Program.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Top French National Award Given to Legal Documentation Specialist

It's nice to see people from the field receive official recognition.

This is a news item from ServiceDoc Info, a law blog and information site from France.

On Monday, November 14, Mme. Marie-Aleth Trapet, an auditor with the "Cour de cassation", France's highest judicial court , was awarded the Ordre national du mérite by President Jacques Chirac.

Mme. Trapet was instrumental in developing the "Tables analytiques des arrêts de la Cour de cassation" which make available case digests according to an arborescent indexing structure that can be compared in spirit to that used by the Canadian Abridgment.

The Ordre national du mérite is the second highest award of the French Republic, after the Légion d'Honneur. It was created by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963.

This is not the first time that an individual from the field of legal documentation has been elevated to the Ordre national du mérite. As ServiceDoc Info points out, in May 2005, Jérôme Rabenou, one of the pioneers in France and Europe in the use of the Internet for the dissemination of legal information, was similarly honoured. Rabenou is an Internet/Intranet manager at the "Conseil constitutionnel". The Conseil reviews the constitutionality of French statutes.

I wonder whether a law librarian, or any librarian or documentation expert, would ever be considered important enough to be elevated to the Order of Canada for contributions to the field of legal information.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

November 2005 Issue of Marketing Treasures Available

The most recent edition of the library newsletter Marketing Treasures is available online.

In this issue:
  • Tips For Holding Brainstorming Sessions: "Brainstorming sessions are frequently used by marketeers to generate names, taglines, product innovation, promotion themes as well as addressing product and service issues where ideas are needed to solve a particular problem."
  • Promotion Gems - Pollak Library Advertising Slide Show: "Rachael Clemens, Distance Education Librarian at the Pollak Library, California State University ... got the idea from commercial advertisements that you might see projected onto large buildings in placea like downtown Los Angeles and Times Square in New York City... Rachael explains that she 'adapted the idea ... by developing a long, continuously looping PowerPoint slide show that displays on a very large wall over the library's Reference Desk area. This is a high-traffic area in our library and adjacent to a large computer lab'."
  • Blueprint For Your Library Marketing Plan: "Hot off the ALA press is a book that has earned a spot on our recommended reading list. This is a hands-on book that not only outlines marketing concepts in the context of library settings, but goes the extra mile of providing worksheets, diagrams, and activities which help readers put marketing concepts to work. And we're not talking about a couple of anemic forms. This book is packed with thoughtful worksheets designed to get you thinking and to put your marketing plans on track. Here's a sampling of the contents the authors walk the reader through: Strategic plans, data mining, target markets, assessing the current marketing situation, positioning, competitor audit, and more."
  • Marketing SOS Lifesavers: "Kari Martin at Eastern Kentucky University Libraries was looking for ideas for a Centennial celebration that fit within a $3,000-$,4000 budget. Here are some ideas submitted by colleagues via the PRTalk Listserv - a creative and imaginative group!"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:09 pm 0 comments links to this post

PubSub Law List - Top Law Blogs

PubSub, a self-described content "matching" system, has launched 4 Community Lists that supposedly track the most influential sites in various areas including law. The other lists cover blogs on PR, fashion and libraries.

The lists are updated everyday based on "LinkRank" scores. As PubSub explains: "LinkRanks are our way of measuring the strength, persistence, and vitality of links appearing in sites that syndicate their content... By generating a list of all the URLs contained in entries of each feed, it's possible to determine a site's relevance just from the number of incoming links it has. LinkRank goes one step further and calculates a score for each linking site. Sites are then scored based on the score of the sites that link to them."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

UN Info Summit Reaches Compromise on Internet Governance

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post on the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia.

CNET News.com is reporting that delegates reached a last-minute compromise over the issue of who controls the Internet domain name system. Under the deal, the U.S. government will not have to relinquish influence over the master list of top-level domain names -- such as .com, .org, and country codes. However, everyone agreed to set up a new Internet Governance Forum. That forum will start meeting in 2006 under United Nations auspices to discuss issues ranging from online crime to spam.

The European Union did vow that it will keep pushing for more international control of the domain-name system in post-summit meetings. The U.S. has argued that such control would create an international bureaucracy that would stifle innovation and create uncertainty. As the New York Times explains: "The United States maintained that diluting the authority of the body that now manages the Internet address structure, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann, could jeopardize the stability and security of the global network. Icann is a California-based nonprofit group that is answerable to the Commerce Department."

The head of the International Telecommunications Union, the U.N. body sponsoring the summit, did comment that the increased attention to the issue of Internet governance would create pressure on the United States to manage the domain-name system more responsibly.

Finally, law professor Michael Geist from the University of Ottawa suggests that "the deal may not be as great for the U.S. as the current spin suggests".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Repression Precedes UN-Sponsored Info Summit in Tunisia

Tunisia is hosting this week's World Summit on the Information Society whose agenda includes issues such as privacy, Internet governance, the global digital divide and freedom of expression.

But before things even got off the ground, human rights watchdogs reported that Tunisian and foreign reporters had been harassed and beaten. Tunisia is considered by activists to be one of the world's worst Internet censors.

More on the Summit:
  • Net Dust Storm Blows Into Tunis, Wired News: "Conceived as a vehicle to bring technology to developing nations, the WSIS has been overtaken by the contentious issue of 'internet governance' -- in particular, the question of who runs the highest levels of the domain name system, the technology that maps name like 'wired.com' into the numeric IP addresses the internet uses under the hood. As the conference opens, the United States is battling back efforts by most of the rest of the world to internationalize control of the DNS, which is currently administered by the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned names and Numbers, or ICANN, an organization established by the Clinton administration in 1998, which is loosely supervised by the U.S. Commerce Department".
  • Tunisia: Internet Repression Casts Pall on Web Summit, Human Rights Watch: "As the World Summit on the Information Society opens today in Tunis, Tunisia continues to jail individuals for expressing their opinions on the Internet and suppress Web sites critical of the government..."
  • Seven Questions: Battling for Control of the Internet, Foreign Policy: "Should the United Nations control the Internet? That’s the subject of a heated debate slated to take place at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis later this month. The European Union is pressing for a U.N. role in governing the Internet, which is currently in the hands of a U.S. nonprofit."
  • IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group, International Freedom of Expression eXchange network: "The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) has launched a protest against Tunisia's hosting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in the wake of attacks on journalists and human rights activists in Tunis in the past few days. The coalition has cancelled plans to hold a WSIS side event today, saying a series of incidents, including the stabbing of a French reporter, show how unfit Tunisia is to host a conference on freedom of expression and the Internet."
  • IFLA World Summit on the Information Society portal, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions: statements and background documents on Internet governance and the international digital divide.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Éducaloi Launches English Version of Legal Information Website

The November 2005 issue of Le Journal du Barreau, the Quebec Bar Association monthly, reports on the recent launch of the English version of Éducaloi, a Quebec non-profit Internet portal whose mission is to provide legal information in everyday language.

The English version of the site was created by a team of between 6 and 8 people. Some were volunteers with a legal background, others were law students, but each word was carefully weighed to make sure the message about people's rights and obligations was clear.

General director Nathalie Roy added that the project also helped build relationships with Quebec's anglophone minority. Meetings were held with community groups to find out about any particular legal information needs. In the past, Éducaloi has produced print and Internet material in the Attikamek and Montagnais native tongues.

The website offers lots of basic information about the law including explanations of court procedure, information sheets on many topics such as family law, consumer rights and housing, and a Public Forum that explains the legal concepts underlying current events.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 14, 2005

BBC Series "Bleak House" Is Smash Hit

Can't wait for this to cross the ocean in DVD format.

The BBC has been broadcasting a new drama series based on the Charles Dickens classic "Bleak House".

The 1853 novel revolves around a case lost in endless litigation at the Court of Chancery in London, England. The story about a convoluted lawsuit over an inheritance is considered to be a scathing portrayal of a moribund system permeated with greed, deception, delusion and corruption. Canadians who closely follow politics should feel right at home!

The TV screenplay has been written by writer Andrew Davies, who wrote the BBC's popular adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice.

More on the series from the BBC.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Online Information 2005 Conference Blog

Another conference, another blog for those unable to attend.

Online Information bills itself as "the world’s leading event for online content and information management solutions". The 2005 edition will take place from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 in London, UK and organizers have launched a conference blog.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 11, 2005

Virtual Reference Desk Blog

Another conference I won't be attending. Another conference with a blog so I can follow what I missed. Hurray for conference blogs!

Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) is hosting its 7th annual reference conference on November 14-15, 2005 in San Francisco.

A few years ago, I worked as a Web producer at workopolis.com, Canada's largest bilingual Internet job site. We were inspired by the online resources created by VRD to launch an "Ask a Career Advisor" e-mail service that proved to be extremely popular with Canadian job hunters.

For those who want to see what kind of issues are discussed, proceedings for earlier VRD conferences are available online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Yale Law Journal "Pocket Part"

The Pocket Part is a blog-like companion or supplement to the Yale Law Journal (the full-text of articles is available in PDF format on the Journal website).

Blog-like because the site provides a forum for discussion and up-to-date additional information on articles. An interesting concept that one hopes many other law journals will emulate.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Calendar of Law Library Events

The listserv of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries had an item yesterday about the international calendar of events of IALL (International Association of Law Libraries).
Lyonette Louis-Jacques, the Foreign and International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law at the D’Angelo Law Library at the University of Chicago Law School explains that people can easily submit information about upcoming events to the calendar.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

ALA Government Documents Round Table Looks for "Notable Documents"

GODORT, the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association, is asking people to to nominate federal, state, local, or international (that would include Canadian) titles that represent the very best in government publication and information dissemination.

The nomination period for this annual contest ends Dec. 31, 2005. The documents that are chosen will be featured in the annual "Notable Documents" Library Journal article that will be distributed at the ALA Annual Conference in June of next year. The first Notable Documents List appeared in RQ in the 1984. Since 1986, it has been published in the May 15 issue of Library Journal.

Here are last year's best govdocs.

2 Canadian resources made the list:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 07, 2005

U.S. Government for Torture

Now, let me get this straight. We in the West are the good guys, right? Because we stand up for human rights and democracy and the rule of law. Right? They, over there, in all those lawless dictatorships like Iran and Saddam Hussein's Irak, are the bad guys, because they don't respect human rights, they torture, and they violate the fundamental international legal principles of open, fair trials. Right?

Recently, there has been a huge debate in the U.S. over the authorization of torture in the "war against terrorism" [got to pinch myself, this is being seriously discussed in the year 2005, in the democratic West, right?]

Last Friday, U.S. Senators confirmed their support for an anti-torture amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain (Arizona Republican, himself a Vietnam War vet who was captured and tortured by the North Vietnamese) and attached to the 2006 defense spending bill. American President Bush has threatened to veto the defense budget if it contains the anti-torture amendment. McCain has stood his ground and specifically ruled out any plans to accept a Bush-demanded exemption that would allow the Central Intelligence Agency to use torture. U.S. V-P Dick Cheney has been the main proponent of this policy behind the scenes:

Some resources on international law and torture:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Audio Files from Access 2005 Conference

The organizers of the Access 2005 library conference held last month in Edmonton, Alberta have an interesting way of making the presentations available: they are all in MP3 (audio) format.

Some of the presentations also come with traditional slides.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Move Toward Plain Language in Canadian Court Decisions

Saturday's Globe and Mail contains an article by Richard Blackwell entitled "Doing the write thing: Judges used to put out decisions that were incomprehensible. Now they are sometimes even eloquent. The writing lessons didn't hurt". [article for subscribers only on the newspaper website]

The article comments on the clarity of the prose in Mr. Justice John Gomery's 1,000-page report on the Liberal sponsorship scandal released last week and in the 1,100-page report Madam Justice Denise Bellamy of the Ontario Superior Court wrote earlier this year on Toronto's computer-leasing scandal.

"The move toward plain language in court judgments has been gaining momentum for a couple of decades. In part, it has been driven by the Supreme Court of Canada, which makes many decisions that have a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of people who have nothing to do with the legal system."

As the article explains, the Supreme Court has been removing Latin words from its rulings and altering the format to make them easier to follow for people reading electronic versions on a website.

The clear language push is also being promoted in Canada by such organizations as the National Judicial Institute and the Montreal-based Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, where new judges have their writing critiqued by English professors.

Mr. Justice John Laskin, an Ontario Court of Appeal judge who helps to organize the Institute's week-long seminar is quoted as saying: "It's a really widespread movement ... Let's face it, it's the bread and butter of what we do. We hear cases and decide them and try to explain them to the parties and the public."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Recent Law Librarianship Literature

From Spectrum (American Association of Law Libraries):

From Legal Reference Services Quarterly, v. 24, Issue 3/4:

  • "Creating and Maintaining Legal History Collections" (pp. 1-65): outlines four different areas that law libraries should consider in order to fully support scholarly interest in legal history research: collection analysis, collection development, collection formats, and rare book collecting

From Legal Information Management (British and Irish Association of Law Librarians), v.5, issue 2, Sept. 2005:

  • "New and Improved Training Programmes at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library"
  • "EISIL: A Gateway to International Legal Information on the Internet": paper given at the BIALL Pre-Conference Seminar on Treaties and International Law, June 9, 2005. EISIL is the Electronic Information System for International Law, launched in September 2004 as a project of the American Society of International Law. It is designed to assist researchers who are looking for information on international law
  • "Sarbanes-Oxley Act Resources: Print and Electronic, Free and Fee": the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has established a new reason for legal publishers to bring out books and loose-leaf services

From Law Library Journal, v. 97, no. 4, Fall 2005:

  • Persistent Identification of Electronic Documents and the Future of Footnotes: "Over the past decade, the use of Internet citations in the footnotes of law review articles has grown from a trickle to a flood. But it is well documented that Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) experience link rot, that is, over time the URL is more and more likely to become a dead link, making the footnote citation worthless or nearly so."
  • The Death of the Digest and the Pitfalls of Electronic Research: What Is the Modern Legal Researcher to Do?: "Unfortunately, tomorrow’s lawyers are unaware of some common shortcomings of electronic research and do not possess the strategies to compensate for them. The blame for this situation does not lie with the vendors who trained them, the college librarians who failed to teach them information literacy skills, or the databases that are not easy enough to use. The blame must be placed squarely upon law librarians who have not recognized the needs of their patrons and who must do more to make them excellent legal researchers in the electronic environment."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Departmental Performance Report for Library and Archives Canada

The latest annual Departmental Performance Report for Library and Archives Canada is available online on the Treasury Board Secretariat website.

As part of the annual federal budgetary cycle, the Canadian government prepares Estimates in support of its request to Parliament for authority to spend public monies.

The so-called Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) prepared by each department and agency provide additional detail. At the end of each year, the Departmental Performance Reports outline accomplishments achieved against the performance expectations and commitments set out in the RPPs.

This is a follow-up to last week's posting Tabling of the 2004-2005 Government of Canada Departmental Performance Reports.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

New England Law Library Consortium Talk at the Supreme Court

The Council of Federal Libraries Consortium and the Supreme Court of Canada hosted a talk on Friday, November 4th by Tracy Thompson, Executive Director of NELLCO, the New England Law Library Consortium.

NELLCO was founded in 1983 and is one of the oldest library consortia in continuous operation in the United States, and one of only two which focus on law libraries.

It has a very broad range of interest groups, product trials, e-resource licenses, and cooperative resource sharing initiatives, and is therfore seen as a model for successful cooperative networks.

Thompson spoke to Consortium members about governance structures that work, consortia licensing practices, and cost savings. NELLCO has recently decided to expand its "affiliate membership" to non-American law libraries.

NELLCO seems to be way more advanced than Canadian library consortia in negotiating collective licenses for electronic subscriptions.

The Council here in Canada is currently examining how to expand collective procurement and I have been told that it is interested in establishing topic-specific groups such as law libraries, science, libraries etc. that would go out and represent government libraries in those areas when dealing with vendors.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 04, 2005

Two Canadian Internet Studies Released This Week

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission released a report on the state of competition in the Canadian telecommunications market this week. The report highlights the very impressive growth rate of Internet connectivity in the country as well as the expansion of broadband access: 59 percent of Canadian households now subscribe to the Internet, and those with high speed broadband connections are nearly three times as numerous than the households with dial-up.

And the Canadian Internet Project blew gaping holes in the myth that Internet users read less. The study, one of the most comprehensive ever conducted on Internet users in Canada, found that those who go online for their news are more likely to pick up a newspaper, or read a book than non-users of the Internet. More than 3,000 Canadians were interviewed between May and June 2004 in a rrpresentative phone survey.

Books were important for 55 percent of Web users vs. 38 percent of non-users.

Among other findings:
  • The majority of Canadians are heavy Internet users with 56 percent saying they are online seven or more hours per week;
  • Canadians are much more likely to see the Internet as important for information than for entertainment;
  • E-mail is the principal activity of all Internet users – 91 per cent of online Canadians use e-mail;
  • Canadian users average 13.5 hour per week online;
  • A majority of Canadian Internet users have made purchases on the Internet;
  • A high proportion of both users and non-users expressed concern about releasing personal information on the Internet; and
  • A majority of Canadians in lower income families reported having access to the Internet, indicating that cost is not a major deterrent to Internet use. Less than 10 per cent of non-users cited cost as a reason for not being online.
However, most Canadians are unaware of Canadian content on the Internet. Francophones are more likely to access Canadian culture content than English Canadians.

The Project is an ongoing research initiative led by a consortium of universities with support from provincial, federal and private-sector partners. It is affiliated with the World Internet Project, a research group involving 25 countries that seeks to compare data about Internet use around the world based on standardized surveys.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Montreal Firm Target in Battle Against Spyware

As a follow-up to the Oct. 27, 2005 posting Anti-Spyware Coalition Finalizes Spyware Definitions, it was reported today that consumer watchdog groups in Canada and the United States have filed simultaneous complaints in both countries against a Montreal firm accused of distributing spyware.

According to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), the U.S. Center for Democracy & Technology and CIPPIC have asked the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Canadian Competition Bureau to investigate the business practices of Montreal-based software distributor Integrated Search Technologies and several of its business partners. "The filing marks the first time that the Bureau has been asked to investigate a spyware company, and the first time that the FTC has been asked to investigate the practices of a Canadian spyware vendor". On the CIPPIC website, one can find links to the joint press release as well as the texts of the applications to the FTC and the Competition Bureau.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Background on U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Samuel Alito

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Harriet Miers may have bombed out as a nominee for the top court of our Southern neighbours so they are now getting a look at another candidate for the position, the conservative Samuel Alito.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Podcasts for Law Firms

A recent article in the Canadian Bar Association's PracticeLink discusses the spread of podcasting in the legal field.

It sees the distribution of audio files like MP3s via the Internet as ideal for continuing legal education (CLE) materials.

It also suggests that podcasting may serve as an alternative to newsletters: "maybe instead of slaving away on newsletters or even e-news bulletins for your clients, you can record a podcast of the latest developments in their area or industry, post it on your Website, and allow your clients to download the file at their convenience".

Right now, the article reports that the firm of Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP has starting offering podcasts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Internet Librarian 2005 Conference Audio Files

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

2005 - Year of the Data Breach

The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy group in San Diego, has counted 80 data breaches since February, involving threats to the personal information of more than 50 million people. The organization defines data breaches as the theft or leak of personal information such as account numbers and driver's license numbers that could be useful to identity thieves.

Previous posts on the issue:
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Gomery Report Resources

"The public trust in the system of government was subverted and betrayed, and Canadians were outraged, not only be cause public funds were wasted and misappropriated, but also because no one was held responsible or punished for his misconduct." [quote from the Phase 1 report of the Gomery Commission into the federal Liberal sponsorship scandal]

Justice Gomery's report into the sponsorship mess was released this morning. Here are resources relating to the commission and its findings.

For some interesting background on the sponsorship scandal and how it has widened the political rift between Quebecers and the rest of Canada, I would recommend the article Showing the Flag - The Origins and Consequences of the Sponsorship Scandal by Antonia Maioni, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada. It was published in the June 2005 issue of Policy Options, the journal of the Institute of Research on Public Policy.

According to Maioni, "(M)ost important, the sponsorship scandal is eroding the public’s confidence in Canada’s democratic processes and political leadership and, equally serious, rebuilding the wall between Quebecers, in particular francophone Quebecers, and Canadians outside of Quebec. The first reactions to the whiff of scandal showed the rift: Many Canadians outside of Quebec either saw sponsorship as another indication of pandering to Quebec or as a worthy strategy to keep Quebec in Canada. Most Quebecers, on the other hand, were disgusted with the premise of being 'sold' Canada through sponsorships and flag-waving. Initial public opinion polls confirmed these sentiments, showing that most Canadians figured that political patronage was more prevalent in Quebec; while most Quebecers were outraged at the slander on their democratic values". It is highly doubtful things have changed since the summer.

And for a short yet informative history of the political corruption that has been prevalent throughout Canadian history since the beginning of Confederation, no one can beat historian Desmond Morton.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm 0 comments links to this post