Monday, November 16, 2009

Google Policy Fellowship 2010

Don't forget about Google's Policy Fellowship 2010...Yet another wonderful program to learn from some pretty heady groups involved with information policy.

Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme

Just wanted to get out the Oxford Internet Institute has announce the application process for the 2010 Doctoral Programme. Great opportunity to learn from a wonderful group of people.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies

The School of Information Studies (SOIS) at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is accepting applications for fall of 2010 for its PhD program in Information Studies.

Building on one of the largest and most varied MLIS programs in the United States, the PhD program prepares researchers, educators, and administrators with specializations in three major areas (with other areas also supported):

• Information Organization
• Information Policy
• Information Retrieval

The School’s international faculty are recognized for their research productivity, ranking in the top five nationally in per capita publications in a recent study among American schools of library and information science (Adkins & Budd, 2007). The School also has established agreements and collaborations with a number of institutions around the world that offer students international learning and research experiences. SOIS is home to the Center for Information Policy Research (CIPR), which facilitates information policy research through its lecture series and research paper series, outreach activities, and Information Ethics Fellows program. The School also supports an Information Organization Research Group (IOrg), Research Group for Information Retrieval (RGIR), as well as an Information Intelligence & Architecture Research Lab, which serves as a hub for research on information analysis, system design & evaluation, digital libraries, data mining, and usability.

Located in a residential neighborhood near Lake Michigan, UWM serves a diverse community of over 30,000 students, faculty and staff. The very livable city of Milwaukee offers the cultural amenities of a large metropolitan area with the conveniences of a smaller city.

Financial aid is available in the form of competitive graduate assistantships (full-time students), tuition scholarships, and adjunct teaching opportunities. Priority consideration for admission will be given to applications received by January 15, 2010.

Detailed information about the program is available on the SOIS website ( For additional information, please contact Dietmar Wolfram (

Thanks for the write-up Michael Zimmer

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Open Access Week 2009

This week UW-Milwaukee held an Open Access (OA) conference. Among the many topics of discussion was how to move faculty to publishing in OA journals. The ideas ranged from monetary bonuses to publishing in OA journals to mandating publication in OA journals.

The biggest hurdle to OA publication in my view, and others at this conference, is the culture of academia to underestimate the impact of OA journals. 'Impact' was purposefully chosen since as a future tenure seeking professor, publishing in higher impact journals is undoubtedly an important factor in the tenure attainment. It is all well and good for more established academics to champion OA publications, but those individuals already have jobs/tenure/reputation. For those of us that are new to academia, the prospect of publishing in OA journals is, at present, a choice between sharing our research in an effort to be socially responsible or putting our research in the traditional journals, non-OA, to gain reputation, hopefully a job, and eventually tenure.

Though research is still ongoing into the impact of OA journals, I don't think anyone can say that the impact of OA journals is comparable to traditional journals. Combine this uncertainty with the non-universal appreciation of OA publishing, new faculty members are apprehensive about OA publishing. At least in my view.

Friday, September 11, 2009

DMCA Takedown notice research

Lately I have been able to do some of my preliminary work on DMCA take-down notices on higher learning campuses. As part of the initial work I have chosen to conduct a pilot study on University of Wisconsin system schools,which include two year and four year institutions listed here, and the Wisconsin Technical College System, whose institutions are listed here.

To my surprise, which hopefully I can explore in more depth when the pilot study is concluded, I discovered that few of the technical colleges have designated agents. In addition, there is one designated agent for all the UW System two year institutions and that same person also has domain over several of the UW System four year institutions. Since this pilot is limited to Wisconsin, my curiosity has been peaked and I wonder if this is similar in other states. Only time, and hopefully the support of a grant, will allow me to explore this in further detail and across a larger population. Until then, it looks like this pilot study will be very useful to test out the methodology that I have devised, see what data pertaining to DMCA take-down notices institutions capture, and how the various University of Wisconsin system institutions and Wisconsin Technical Colleges handle take-down notices.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What is in a name?

How does government define the term 'broadband'? For years the term was defined solely quantitatively. Now that the FCC has asked for comments on defining and creating metrics to measure broadband, there are some proposals to include more than mere quantitative criteria such as:

Network neutral operation (no blocking legal material, no throttling of connections...)
Ability to watch streaming video, HD video, without noticeable lag
Ability to play games with low latency

There are numerous suggestions, which can be seen here. Defining the term broadband is important, and there is consensus on this point. However the number of stakeholders with a vested interest in defining broadband may not be able to reach an agreeable definition.

The process that the FCC has started does at least allow for input into the decision making process from any interested parties. For years many broadband access advocates decried the early definition of broadband as out of date and unrepresentative of the real world.

For my own part, I do wish broadband access was available for everyone, but realize many factors influence download and upload speeds that users experience during Internet usage. Yet it is my opinion that we should keep it simple and reach consensus on the following core points to define broadband.

1) Download and upload speeds as realized between the user and the ISP local office/node should be measured by the FCC. ISPs advertise certain speeds, but often cannot in reality deliver those speeds outside of the local area. Admittedly I am unaware of exactly what speeds are needed for popular activities such as watching streaming video and VOIP. I would suggest that the speed requirements for both functions be a basis to define broadband.

2)Data that can be legally accessed, to include websites and P2P networks, will not be blocked by ISPs.

3) Network management is acceptable. An ISP will manage its network as it deems prudent to maintain overall performance to end users and maintain compliance with points 1 and 2.

My recommendations are quite simple and will surely strike a wrong chord with some, but it is an attempt to bring the different stakeholders together on, what I feel, are three core issues that have emerged in the discussion to define broadband.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Municipal Networks

Monticello, Minnesota may soon begin building a fiber network to every home and business within its municipality soon. The Minnesota Supreme Court sided with Monticello after incumbent Bridgewater Telephone Co., a subsidiary of TDS Telecommunications of Madison WI, appealed two lower court rulings. (I would suggest the comments be read after the story as well).

Monticello passed, with a majority vote ~70%, to finance $26 million and build the fiber network within in the municipality. The Monticello network creates positive and negative consequences.

Fiber network in a town that has previously been bypassed
Connections to every home, not just business or "better neighborhoods"
Possible lower prices (speculation at this point)
A network that is more attentive to the people of the municipality

Financial obligation of the municipality towards the network
Overbuilding network, not every house or business may want services
As the article mentions, alienation of private investment in the municipality (speculation as well)
"Government" control over the network

Like any large investment there are negative and positive consequences. Burlington Telecom (Vermont) conducted a similar project several years ago. That entity seems to be doing well. However a quick glance at their Internet speeds/price structure is troublesome. Though it is hard to compare my cable ISP in Wisconsin to a fiber ISP in Vermont.

No matter the outcome of the Monticello fiber network, the project can provide further information for othre municipalities bypassed by incumbent service providers. The municipal model could even lead to such things as Internet service being moved into the utility sector, which I have advocated for quite some time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ireland, ISPs, and 3-strikes

The Irish Recorded Music Association is after ISPs in Ireland to utilize a 3-strikes policy for illegal file sharing in a legal action. If you recall the largest ISP in Ireland, Ericom, settled with the Association earlier this year by agreeing to implement a 3-strikes policy. The Association for its part was to pursue the implementation of the same 3-strikes policy at the other ISPs in Ireland.

This past week the Association filed paperwork against BT Ireland and UPC Communications Ireland.


Why only go after two of the ISPs? If Ericom is not fully supporting the 3-strike policy, why not take Ericom back to court as well. For that matter why not take on all ISPs in Ireland?

Why is the music industry acting alone? In the US it seems the RIAA and the MPAA are conjoined twins...As I know nothing of Irish law, I can only speculate and think the strategy that the Irish Recorded Music Association is undertaking is odd.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Copyright case ends

It appears that the hope that a new trial for Jammie Thomas-Rasset to lessen the fines for file sharing have been squashed. After the second trial, the jury fined Jammie Thomas-Rasset $1.92 million. Divide that among the 24 songs she shared and that is an astounding $80,000 a piece.

Unfortunately I have not had access to the trial or materials presented at the trial(s). However, there is already buzz that the fines are too harsh and a change in copyright law is needed. I am sure an appeal will be made in the near future. How does one, not wealthy already, come up with that sort of money?

Hopefully wiser minds will prevail and discover that the penalties prescribed by US copyright law are grossly out of proportion to the crime.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pew Internet Survey

The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released their 2009 Home Broadband Adoption Report. This is always an interesting report, especially that Pew has been conducting this research for multiple years. Overall broadband penetration to households has increased to 63%. Which falls in line with the results of a Strategy Analytics' report mentioned at ArsTechnica.

Important figures from the Pew report show those with lower incomes are continuing to adopt broadband Internet access. For household incomes of $20,000 or less the figures jumped from 25% in 2008 to 35% in 2009. For households with an income between $20,000 and $30,000 the number went from 42% in 2008 to 53% in 2009.

On another note, it appears that the cost of broadband Internet access has increased. Areas with little to no competition have higher prices than locations with multiple access providers. Additionally, the Pew report finds that subscribers are paying more for premium services, those services that offer higher speeds for extra money over the basic fee.

One last point, which is hard to do since there are many interesting pieces of information in these reports. It looks as though African-Americans are for a second year in a row behind in broadband Internet access adoption. It might be time to investigate the reasons for this slow adoption rate.

I would suggest anyone interested in broadband Internet access in the US to read these reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The reports are full of information and tidbits.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Broadband Internet Access as a Utility

In the past few days there was a renewed push to include broadband Internet access in the list of utilities. Included in most current lists are: electricity, water, sewer, telephone, steam, and natural gas. The perceived importance of broadband Internet access has been echoed by both politicians and academia for some time. (See Prof. Frieden) One need only look at the MuniWiFi projects around the US, or the efforts of local communities to develop fiber networks in their communities.

Recently British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made the comparison that Internet access is as important as access to other utilities (Thanks to Blandin for posting about this). The US included quite a bit of monetary support to increase broadband penetration and access in the US this past February in the stimulus bill. Many times President Obama has signaled that broadband Internet access is essential to the future of the US.

Why not make Internet access a necessity like other utilities? The rhetoric and the mentality are present in many individuals, groups, and communities across the country. Just as other services such as water, electricity, and telephone were included in the list of utilities, so should Internet access.

Of course there is a catch to providing Internet access. Devices are needed to utilize Internet access. Fortunately some relatively inexpensive computers have become available. In cases that these inexpensive computers are out of the means of citizens, a scheme similar to the DTV coupon program should be created.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

UWM-School of Information Studies Supports Intellectual Freedom

Today an interesting development occurred in regards to removal of gay-themed materials at the West Bend, WI public library. Perhaps other library programs will begin to follow suit in publicly taking a stand for the core values that librarians attempt to uphold every day in our communities. This is definitely an action that students and alumni can take pride from thanks to the efforts of the SOIS faculty.

UW-M School of Information Studies Statement of Support for the West Bend Library

April 14, 2009

In recent weeks, two citizens of West Bend, Wisconsin have petitioned the West Bend Community Memorial Library to remove gay-themed books from a section designated “Young Adults,” arguing the books should be reclassified and placed in a restricted area requiring parental approval prior to being released to a minor. They further demand that the books be labeled with a warning about their content, arguing that they are obscene and pornographic.

The books in question include:

* “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books, a division of Simon & Schuster)
* “The Geography Club” by Brent Hartinger (HarperTeen, a division of HarperCollins)
* “Deal With It! a whole new approach to your body, brain and life as a gURL” by Esther Drill (Pocket, a division of Simon & Schuster)

The books are from major publishers, sold in general bookstores, and are available in public and high school libraries throughout the state.

Throughout the history of the American public library, special interest groups have attempted to exert a disproportionate degree of influence on the development of a community wide resource. Whatever the intentions of any of these groups, the public library is required to maintain a standard of intellectual integrity within a sometimes-volatile situation.

The public library was developed to be the anchor of free inquiry in our democracy. We believe that mission is still relevant today. Over 15,000 public library branches throughout the United States maintain access to quality materials collected and arranged according to national standards developed by thoughtful and committed information professionals. The administration and staff of the West Bend Community Library are among those professionals and public scholars dedicated to principles of open access, inclusive collections, and community service. The education of these professionals is rigorous and expansive, demanding sophisticated skills in assessment, development and leadership; it ensures their preparedness to take the lead in developing and delivering information resources to their communities.

We, the faculty and teaching academic staff at the School of Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, along with the SOIS Graduate Student Organization, commend the West Bend Community Memorial Library Board of Trustees, administration, and staff for their support of the principle of intellectual freedom in the face of pressure to abandon their professional and communal commitments.

Press Release

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"3 Strikes", your diconnected

Over the past few months the implementation of the "3 Strike Scheme" for disconnecting Internet users for alleged copyright infringement has circled the globe. One key point is that they are only allegations of copyright infringement until a court of law finds the Internet user in breach of copyright. However, the "3 Strike Scheme" forgoes a finding of guilt and imposes punishment almost immediately; from short periods of Internet disconnection to permanent disconnection. Those against such a system in Ireland and New Zealand have caused many to contemplate the scheme again.

I do want to rebroadcast, if you will, that the "3 Strike Scheme" is actually in place on American university and college campuses now. In short universities acting as ISPs must respond expeditiously to remove or disable access to infringing materials (17 USC 512(c)(1)(C)) in order to avoid liability. Again this is just for notifications of alleged copyright infringement, not for proven copyright infringement.

Which brings up another important point of contestation, the definition of a 'strike'. Is it a strike per item infringed? Does the strike represent the totallity of infringements for a specified period of time regardless of the number of items infringed? This is a fundamental issue that still needs to be addressed.

The development of the "3 Strike Scheme" is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is based on the system California imposed years ago, but in the California system allegations were not enough to impose punishment. In most of the "3 Strike Schemes" I have read, it appears they all end up with the same punishment, banishment from campus network access. As a student in the modern era, how can a student be expected to participate fully in the educational system without access to the campus network or Internet? Not to mention wholly online students, what are they to do? The last time I looked in my campus library, the only way to find materials was by using a networked computer to access the OPAC (that is card catalog for non-librarians).

So, as we support or decry the employment of the "3 Strike Scheme" across the globe, let us remember that the system is already in place on American university and college campuses and perhaps it is time we revisit its implications there as well.




Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Chicago cameras?

ArsTechnica had an interesting article today, the SunTimes also reported this story-slightly differently here. What I did find amusing is that the 'red light cameras' are not used to stop (no pun intended) people from running red lights, but instead as a source of revenue. By using the cameras to gather data about an automobile's insurance, the cameras and the system behind it, will query insurance agencies and write appropriate citations. However the SunTimes article also mentioned use of other surveillance cameras around the city to tie into the same system.

Really the reason I bring this story to light is that it ties into the spread of surveillance cameras throughout Chicago, and other major urban areas, and that it seems to be twisting a punishment into a revenue source. Spurred on by a few colleagues I have started to research into public surveillance networks and their effects on privacy. Unfortunately, the US is rather behind in the times in studying this convergence, save a few excellent authors. Possibly because the systems are not as pervasive. Yet camera systems seem to be popping up more frequently in American cities without a real debate or examination these systems have on privacy or concepts of privacy.

It is one thing to expect little privacy in public, but quite another for someone to watch and archive any and every move you make in public then protecting that data from abuse.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Eyes of Chicago are on YOU

Mayor Daley of Chicago and Ray Orozco, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, announced that he would like to see CCTV cover the city.

What might come as a surprise, is my support of this plan. However, I have grave concerns over who has access to the system and retention of video.

As of now it appears only 911 dispatch operators have access to the network currently in place. As the system grows to cover the city, my concern is that other divisions will be granted access to the system and abuses will follow without strict legislation defining limits.

My next concern, peeked by a Facebook posting between Dr. Zimmer and Dr. Walker, both of UW-Milwaukee, relates to saved video. Will video of the system be archived or recorded. I am sure there is already in place an option to record video feeds to assist as evidence in court and review for further clues, if need be. However, will all video feeds be recorded? If so how long will the video remain archived?

In addition will the video be made available through Freedom of Information Act requests, it is after all a publicly created 'document' and as Illinois law says, "…it is declared to be the public policy of the State of Illinois that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government […] Such access is necessary to enable the people to fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest." (5 ILCS 140/1)

It has been many years since Katz v. United States where the "reasonable expectation" of privacy was born. But it is my opinion that an individual, even in public, has an expectation to not be monitored and recorded for their time in public spaces. Simply, I can agree that an expectation of privacy in public is non-existent. This is based partially on the thought that no one would follow all the actions of an individual, but the ability for the State to record the actions of anyone in public from the time they enter the public space until they leave amounts to nothing more than stalking.

Perhaps video surveillance, open to the public, covering all governmental offices is in order. (Slight joke)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving forward

Several times on this blog I have stated that I wanted to investigate DMCA take-down notices. The idea originated with Dr. Tomas Lipinski during various conversations and lectures. Today, with Dr. Lipinski's support, my colleague Su-Yu Lin has agreed to collaborate on the research. The initial stage is development and design of a research methodology.

The initial stage will be done in a few months. Followed, hopefully, by the investigation of the topic. If there is a particular point of data that people would like to be included in the methodology, we are more than welcome to entertain suggestions.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Further legislation for a US Broadband map

After reading through and hearing some reports that the stimulus plan was including a broadband provision I was, of course, curious to see what that provision contained. Unfortunately the reports that I had heard were only saying that the broadband provision was to spread broadband service to unserved areas of America (not very helpful reports). Which I completely support. However how are 'they' to know who is unserved? Several states have taken upon themselves to conduct a broadband service map. Yet the federal government had not until late last year decided a map was important (see P.L. 110-385 Broadband Data Improvement Act).

In the latest version of the stimulus package available to me, February 10, 2009, there is a provision that again calls for the creation of a US Broadband Map (Title II-Section 201(l)(9 and 10)). This is in conjunction with the Broadband Data Improvement Act passed last year (P.L. 110-385). Granted P.L. 110-385 has not had enough time to full implements. I am rather happy that there is a definite timetable within the stimulus package for release of a broadband map of the United States. Except the time tables do not really match up for funding broadband expansion and release of the map. The stimulus plans says that all funds for the Broadband Technology Opportunities provision are to be dispensed by 2010. However the map has to be release no later than 2 years after the passage of the stimulus plan.

Maybe we are putting the cart before the horse on this one. Perhaps it would be better, or would have been better if the language is not changed, to complete the map first.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Intellectual Property and the American Individual

So much of my studies this semester have centered on copyright and, in a sense, the American individual. To simplify, which may pose issues later, copyright is a property right held by an individual or a single entity to control their creative works. It is more or less a concept that individuals have control over those works. However, the explosion of creative works based on existing works, YouTube etc..., endless copyright battles, and the issue of 'pirating' have made me wonder if a new generation of Americans has begun to change the notion that intellectual property is owned by society and not the individual.

I cannot say for certain, but I very much doubt many cases of copyright infringement are done out of hate for copyright, the idea that intellectual property is overvalued (I don't want to pay for the latest hit song), completely misunderstanding or lack of education on the subject of intellectual property (colleges are stressing copyright at orientations for first years), or the simple rebellious nature of youth. (Those are certainly possibilities on my mind.)

Instead, I am interested to know if there is a fundamental shift that the newest American individual is treating intellectual property as a common good/commodity freely available for use. This would constitute a very marked shift in the American individual which has historically valued their private property and acted to protect said property by instituting such legal protections as copyright.

*Just a loose idea that struck me after being up for almost 36 hours. Also please ignore spelling, grammatical errors. Thank you! *

Friday, January 23, 2009


As I was joining groups on Facebook, I went through and searched for schools of library science.

I am surprised that there are still several schools without a Facebook page. *I don't like MySpace much, so I did not search there*

So we are confronted with library science programs striving to stress the importance of Web 2.0 technologies, yet not embracing them....makes me ponder a bit.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Online Safety for Children

I stumbled on this good report that focuses on technological measures that could be used to help protect children in the online environment. Though I hate to see any sort of solution affect all Internet users, most of the measures appear to work at a local end user level.

It is also refreshing to see that the report identifies and states that technologies cannot provide a complete solution. (No 'Magic Bullet' I am afraid) Rather technologies used in conjunction with many other things, such as a parent's involvement in their child's online usage would provide the best chances of mitigating online dangers.

Really the best portion of the report, is the literature review, the rest is pretty mundane. It would be a great piece to 'bread crumb' from if anyone is starting a paper this semester on online safety for children.


The report is from the Internet Safety Technical Task Force-which includes some very heavy hitters in the realm of online communications.