Posts tagged ‘online content’

The Truth Is Out There–We Are Not Alone!

In today’s New York Times, Michelle Slatalla writes about turning to the Internet for advice for dealing with ‘life’s little insoluble conundrums’–in her case, a smoke detector going off in the night. In the article, she talks about services like Wiki.Answers, Amazon’s Askville, Funadvice.com, Askmehelpdesk.com, Help.com, and Yahoo Answers to ease the helplessness we all feel when life throws us a bizarre curveball.

I immediately thought of the new NJLA and New Jersey State Library new marketing campaign called Solving Life’s Little Problems. This is exactly what Ms. Slatalla was talking about–I have tried everything I know, now what? Hers was not a huge problem, but it was annoying and a big deal to her. Yet despite noting that at times the answers on these sites is often wrong and noting ‘the answers don’t go through fact checkers’, the article never mentions professional library services such as QandANJ.org.

I wanted to scream! Why are we being ignored? Why aren’t you writing about us? How can you know the information can be bad, but still extol the virtues of such services? People have questions. Libraries have answers–even 24 hour Internet Access to answers!

We need a new marketing campaign. These services are getting the word out better. The article states that Help.com has had a 73% year-over-year increase in traffic to 316,000 visitors per month! That is huge. Compare it to the very successful QandANJ.org service that gets around 4,500 users a month (keeping in mind it is live and it is branded in one state vs. Help.com being a worldwide post and wait service so it is not an apples to apples comparison, but still…). I am in the process of writing Ms. Slatalla (slatalla@nytimes.com) to let her know The Truth Is Out There! We are ready and able to ‘Solve Life’s Little Problems’, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Still, the article serves as a wake-up call for me–We Are Not Alone! I think we need to understand what these competing services offer users and learn from them. For example, lurking–you can sit and read volumes of previous posts on a topic without the need to ‘come out’ to a live librarian. I know of no similar service offered by Libraries. We provide pathfinders to resources, but what about answers FAQs?

Likewise, some of the questions asked are real stumpers that I am not sure how well they would be answered by librarians. For example, in the article, one question listed is ‘When you make out with a boy or girl, what do you do with your tongue?’ Honestly, I have no idea how I would answer that (but you can bet I will go out and look at what was posted and hope to learn something new in the process!). How would you answer this?

This isn’t the first time library services have been ignored by Ms. Slatalla. In January she wrote about Tutor.com (here is the article). Again, she never mentions that this service and many other homework help services are available, for free, from many public libraries. In fact, there are many times when her Cyberfamilias column talks up services we provide without mentioning us as a reliable on-line service provider. She is not alone. There are many other examples of the media reporting about on-line information sources that never mention libraries.

This needs to change. I call on Librarians and Information Professionals to write to Ms. Slatalla (slatalla@nytimes.com) as I am. Let her know about what your library can do for her and her readers. Then don’t stop there–tell everyone you know about on-line services that are available 24/7 and then tell everyone you do not know. Tell every in library patron what they can use when the library is closed. Let people know–The Truth Is Out There! It can be found at your library!

August 28, 2008 at 9:02 am 3 comments

Detecting and Protecting your Digital Footprint: ID Theft and You–Yes, You!

Back in December, I blogged about Making–and Protecting–your Digital Footprint: Do you Care? Even a Little Bit??, noting that even though I am online quite a bit, I still consider myself one of “The Concerned and Careful” type, especially concerning personal information available about myself and my family online and take steps to proactively limit and/or keep a watchful eye of our online data. As a previous victim of identity fraud, I must say that it changes your perspectives somewhat. Anyway, according to the very interesting and earlier-mentioned Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report from last December, one in five online adults (21%) fall into this “Concerned and Careful” category, so I know that I am not standing alone.

Well, I said in my earlier post that I would return to this topic, and I do so today because of two reasons: one, I just read my fellow Library Garden blogger and friend Amy Kearns’ funny and enlightening Facebook post yesterday about our “digital” and “real” lives colliding, and about me stalking her in Princeton (OK, she was only joking about the stalking part–no really, she was joking). I have to say that, because since showing a journalist during an interview how easy I could find info on her, she quoted me in her US1 article when I jokingly said, “Now I can stalk you.” (note that the link to my Feb. 2008 website on this topic is included, but the article accidentally hyperlinked a period at the end of the sentence, so remove the period from the URL — it should be http://www.kn.sbc.com/wired/fil/pages/liststudentpe3.html (Personal Profiles and Other Publicly Available Information: An Internet Hotlist on Detecting and Protecting Your Digital Footprint)

Second reason to return to this topic: Rider University’s Center for Business Forensics hosted a free seminar focusing on the major issues surrounding identity theft and fraud, offering to the public insight into the widespread, varying, and serious nature of identity theft. It was well attended and there were a lot of questions, especially since the expert panel consisted of detectives, a VP in banking, and professor in health information management, and my good friend–and Rider’s very own web expert, blogger, and manager of information technology–John LeMasney, who, incidentally, already placed his April Google Docs presentation online for us (another detective also joined the panel not originally listed on the website advertisement, Detective Tracy McKeown, and Investigator Bethany Schussler was unable to make it). This seminar was led by Dr. J. Drew Procaccino, Associate Professor of Computer Information Systems, who has researched identity theft, biometrics and smart card technologies and co-authored an extensive survey of smart-card technologies published by Elsevier/Academic Press in 2004 (see Drew’s directory page above).

I could tell from the many questions asked of the excellent presenters that there is a lot of misinformation out there on the different types of identity theft, the scope of people who commit this type of theft, the trends, and what we can do about better detecting and preventing this theft. Three blogs mentioned in their handout to help us keep up with the latest and greatest scams, schemes, and trends related to ID theft are:

FightIdentityTheft Bloghttp://fightidentitytheft.com/blog
Schneier On Securityhttp://schneier.com/blog
Identity Theft Blog by Trustonhttp://www.mytruston.com/blog

I would like to add three of my favorite sites (also briefly mentioned in their handout) that I regularly use and direct interested people to for great information, found on my previously mentioned workshop website along with other related information, such as notable social networking sites, personal information search engines, and other online identity and privacy info sites:

Privacy Rights Clearinghousehttp://www.privacyrights.org/
Fighting Back Against Identity Thefthttp://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/
Identity Theft Resource Centerhttp://www.idtheftcenter.org/

OK, still not sure if you should care, or if the whole thing is even worth considering? If that is true, then my guess is that you did not look at any of the blogs or sites mentioned above, yet. At least try doing this–take the ID theft test and/or the PC info safety quiz from the Identity Theft Resource Center.

If you are not happy with your scores, then, reread this post and follow the links when you have some time to do something to help yourself and others. You will be glad that you did!

Remember, just as the experts will tell you, following your digital footprint and obtaining your personal info is easy to do if you are not aware, so easy even a caveman….well, you get the picture! ;)

-Robert Lackie

Technorati Tags: digital footprint, identity theft, online content, privacy conundrum, Library Garden

April 3, 2008 at 11:09 am 3 comments

Free Web Based Conferences—Perfect for poor library studies students everywhere…

As a library science student, I hear about all kinds of great conferences, but I can not afford them. Some recent grads have told me that now that they can afford more conferences, they have far less time to attend them. I recently found out there are a number of online ‘conferences’ that are free of charge.

Yes free—really and truly free!

I thought I should take one for a test drive. The Library of Congress offers a free web conference orientation to their website each month. Despite this being a regular source of note in a variety of my reference classes, I have always found the site too big to search well and much better suited to browsing. Maybe this orientation would be the key to making http://www.loc.gov/ a regular go-to source for me. To be honest, I didn’t hold out much hope, it was after all FREE…

I am not sure where I heard about this conference—an email to be sure, but I don’t remember who sent it. I clicked a link, picked a date and waited. Within 24 hours, I had received an e-mail conformation from Judith Graves, Digital Project Coordinator—not an automated response, but an e-mail that actually included useful information, including contact information!

On my originally scheduled date, I had no cable, which meant I had no internet. I later sent a note to Judith who kindly and happily rescheduled me immediately—no need to re-register or do any additional work. How rare and handy is that!

Last week, I finally participated in the one-hour orientation. It was fun, information and interactive. Participants could ask questions in real-time using a chat function. I learned some interesting things: Did you know LOC was using Flickr? (find out more on the LOC Blog). Like the initial customer service, it was a positive and helpful experience. I would recommend anyone with an hour to spare look into the orientation—it is offered each month. I still feel the site is better suited to browsing, but with practice, I can see some good public library applications and uses.

But wait, there’s more!
One of the best outcomes from this event is that I found out about Online Programming for All Libraries—a listing of on-line library events taking place which are free. While I am sure many librarians already know about this, it is new to me. I asked around at Rutgers and most of the students did not know about it either, so I thought it worth noting.

Here is a sample of the LOC online series of programs:
Mar 12 – Early scrapbooks and the women who created them
April 9 – Poetry
May 14 – Jefferson’s Library
June 11 – All History Is Local in a Digital World

There is plenty more including book discussion groups, lectures and chat sessions with library professionals, and multi-part presentation series. A diverse group of libraries and librarians contribute content to OPAL. You can find it all on their schedule. Be sure to check out the archives as well—I am looking forward to finding the time to look at the ‘Six Weeks to a Social Library’ series.

Let me know what you think of these freebies….

February 19, 2008 at 9:12 am 2 comments

Making–and Protecting–your Digital Footprint: Do you Care? Even a Little Bit??

This weekend, the blogosphere and listservs were batting around two interesting reports: The Pew Internet & American Life Project’s “Digital Footprints” report, which was published this Sunday, and the New Media Consortium’s/EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s co-published future 2008 “Horizon Report,” which will be published in late January 2008 (a lot of people, though, are commenting on the report based on their wiki that they use to review, report, and refine their research oriented efforts, which is available now. Although I like skimming this wiki and seeing their Table of Contents and some details, I will wait for the published report–if interested, you can read about and browse the 2004-2007 Horizon Reports on this page.

For now, though, I decided to concentrate on the “Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency” report, which did surprise me a bit with some of its findings. Here is a portion of their published summary on their site:

“Internet users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago. However, few monitor their online presence with great regularity. Just 3% of self-searchers report that they make a regular habit of it and 74% have checked up on their digital footprints only once or twice.

Indeed, most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information. Fully 60% of internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online. Similarly, the majority of online adults (61%) do not feel compelled to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online.” [bold/emphasis is mine]

What surprised me was the section in the summary and report that stated that “Most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information.” According to the “Summary of Findings” from the entire 50-page freely available PDF report, many of us (Internet users) are not concerned about online information on us—see my bolded statements above, which are also found on page ii, as well as four classified categories of online adults concerning this subject: “Confident Creatives (17%)” “Concerned and Careful (21%),” “Worried by the Wayside (18%),” and “Unfazed and Inactive (43%).” Interesting titles and descriptions, by the way–so I read on.

It is just that, ever since I starting doing seminars for school districts and libraries on social networking sites and personal information search engines, a great deal of interest seemed to be generated on not only finding out what was “out there” on them and their “kids” but also on what they could do to protect themselves and others. I constantly get asked about this topic, at just about any type of Internet workshop that I host or present. Maybe many who do ask about it do fall into the “Concerned and Careful,” but that would not seem correct to me, given the concern that I have witnessed concerning the protection of minors and the prevalence of identity theft articles. Remember, the report states that “Just 38% say they have taken steps to limit the amount of online information that is available about them.”

Although this does not seem right to me, I have to remember that they are only talking about “online adults,” and not my mother, for instance. I also do believe that the Pew Internet & American Life Project crew do a wonderful job of collecting their information and putting together their reports, but I am still curious…. We have a few thousand people who regularly visit us here at the Library Garden; How would you classify yourself using their four categories and their descriptions (see below). I would say that I fall into the “Confident Creatives”–the smallest of the groups (although my son would point out that I definitely don’t match the description of a “young adult”—those who most likely fall into this category, according to Pew / Internet).

Taken directly from page 30-31 of the report, see the four categories of online adults based on online footprint concern:

1) “Confident Creatives are the smallest of the four groups, comprising 17% of online adults. They say they do not worry about the availability of their online data, and actively upload content, but still take steps to limit their personal information. Young adults are most likely to fall into this group.
2) The Concerned and Careful fret about the personal information available about them online and take steps to proactively limit their own online data. One in five online adults (21%) fall into this category.
3) Despite being anxious about how much information is available about them, members of the Worried by the Wayside group do not actively limit their online information. This group contains 18% of online adults.
4) The Unfazed and Inactive group is the largest of the four groups—43% of online adults fall into this category. They neither worry about their personal information nor take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found out about them online.”

So, Library Gardeners and readers—what category best fits you, and what do you think about these findings? I guess I just think people online are more concerned with the making of and protection of their digital footprints, but it won’t be the first time that my experience differs with the results of a study or survey.

-Robert

Technorati Tags: digital footprint, online content, personal information, Pew Internet, privacy conundrum, Library Garden

December 17, 2007 at 11:29 am 4 comments


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