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Weekly News Digest

December 23, 2010 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITI’s Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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First Springer API Challenge Announced

Springer announced the Springer API Challenge 1.0, a competition for original, noncommercial applications using Springer metadata and content APIs. The challenge is a bid to offer users new ways to find data from Springer’s content database. The increased call for opening up data to third parties in the interest of product development led Springer to create the Springer API Challenge.

The Challenge is open to all interested parties, with the best submitted applications to be featured on dev.springer.com. The applications will be made freely available to end users for at least one year after the Challenge concludes. Entries will be evaluated by a panel of judges and eligible first, second, and third place winners will be awarded cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 respectively.

Metadata for more than 4.8 million documents from Springer journals, books, and protocols will be made available to participants. Also available are full-text content, metadata, and images for approximately 80,000 open access articles from BioMed Central and SpringerOpen journals. Participants must register for a user account with Mashery, a provider of API management services, and apply to Springer for an API key. They are bound by the provisions of the official rules and the Springer API Terms of Use.

Participants must submit their completed application via email, including a brief description and contact information to support.api@springer.com. Entries can be submitted until May 31, 2011 and will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary panel of judges who will rank them on creativity and originality, user experience and design, and value and benefit. The winners will be announced in June 2011. For further information, official rules and the terms of use, please visit: http://dev.springer.com

Source: Springer

Science.gov Debuts Image Search

Science.gov now quickly finds science images, including animal and plant, weather and space, and earth and sun images and more. The information is free and no registration is required. Select the Image Search link under Special Collections.

Initially, three databases are being searched from one search box. More image databases will be added to Science.gov in the coming months. The current federated search includes the following:

  • The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Library of Images from the Environment (LIFE), a collection of high-quality photographs, illustrations, and graphics covering a wide range of topics, including images of plants, animals, fungi, microorganisms, habitats, wildlife management, environmental topics, and biological study/fieldwork. 
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Image eXchange (NIX), a search engine of NASA’s multimedia collections, including images of space flight wind tunnel, solar system, aircraft, and education initiatives.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Photo Library, a collection spanning centuries of time and much of the natural world from the center of the earth to the surface of the sun.

In addition to the image search, Science.gov has:

  • Undergone a significant software upgrade for quicker performance
  • Included both the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations in the basic search
  • Provided an author cluster on the results page
  • Upgraded the alerts service so you can manage your Science.gov alerts directly from your alerts email and get daily alerts rather than weekly
  • Added a Science.gov widget for download to your website or customized pages
  • Provided more citation download options

Science.gov is a gateway to more than 42 scientific databases and 200 million pages of science information with just one query, and is a gateway to more than 2,000 scientific websites from 18 organizations within 14 federal science agencies. These agencies represent 97% of the federal R&D budget.

Science.gov is the USA.gov portal to science and the U.S. contribution to WorldWideScience.org. Science.gov is hosted by the Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information, within the Office of Science, and is supported by CENDI, an interagency working group of senior scientific and technical information managers.

Source: Science.gov

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission announced that is has “acted to preserve the Internet as an open network enabling consumer choice, freedom of expression, user control, competition and the freedom to innovate.” Chairman Genachowski voted for the Order; Commissioner Copps concurred and Commissioner Clyburn approved in part and concurred in part. Commissioners McDowell and Baker dissented.

These rules were developed following a public rulemaking process that began in fall 2009 and included input from more than 100,000 individuals and organizations and several public workshops. The rules require all broadband providers to publicly disclose network management practices, restrict broadband providers from blocking internet content and applications, and bar fixed broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination in transmitting lawful network traffic. The FCC says that the rules ensure much-needed transparency and continued internet openness, while making clear that broadband providers can effectively manage their networks and respond to market demands

However, the FCC says that “Mobile broadband presents special considerations that suggest differences in how and when open Internet protections should apply. Mobile broadband is an earlier-stage platform than fixed broadband, and it is rapidly evolving.”

The rules are set to take effect early in 2011. However, most observers feel that the rules will be tested in the courts and Republicans in Congress plan to challenge the rules.

The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and EDUCAUSE say the FCC passage of its neutrality order is a first step toward restoring an open internet but does not go far enough to ensure community anchor institutions’ content and services can be equally accessed by the public. While the associations say the FCC’s clarification of the word “consumer” guarantees the rule will apply to libraries and other educational interests, additional provisions sought by the associations are needed to achieve “true” net neutrality. The order does not hold wireless to the same non-discriminatory standards as wireline access, despite the growing number of libraries and users that utilize wireless technology to access content and information. Additionally, the practice of paid-prioritization must be banned to protect libraries and educational interests from being charged more to provide the public with the same quality of access to their educational and non-profit content.

Source: FCC, ARL

Commerce Department Calls for 'Privacy Bill of Rights'

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report detailing initial policy recommendations aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation, and economic growth. The report outlines a dynamic framework to increase protection of consumers’ commercial data and support innovation and evolving technology. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the plan.

The report notes that the nation’s privacy framework must evolve to keep pace with changes in technology, online services, and internet usage. To keep the digital economy growing, consumers need more transparency and control when it comes to the use and protection of their personal information, and innovators need greater certainty in order to meet consumer privacy expectations and the array of regulatory requirements they face around the world.

The following are key recommendations in the preliminary report, Commercial Data Privacy and Innovation in the Internet Economy: A Dynamic Policy Framework.

Consider Establishing Fair Information Practice Principles comparable to a “Privacy Bill of Rights” for Online Consumers: The report recommends considering a clear set of principles concerning how online companies collect and use personal information for commercial purposes. These principles would be recognized by the U.S. government and serve as a foundation for online consumer data privacy. They would build on existing Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) that are widely accepted among privacy experts as core obligations.

The adoption of baseline FIPPs, akin to a “Privacy Bill of Rights. Should prompt companies to be more transparent about their use of consumer information; to provide greater detail about why data is collected and how it is used; to put clearer limits on the use of data; and to increase their use of audits and other ways to bolster accountability.

Consider Developing Enforceable Privacy Codes of Conduct in Specific Sectors with Stakeholders; Create a Privacy Policy Office in the Department of Commerce: In considering new policies for commercial privacy, the government should enlist the expertise of industry, consumer groups, privacy advocates, and other stakeholders. In particular, the report recommends establishing a privacy policy office in the Department of Commerce that would work with the FTC, the Executive Office of the President, and other Federal entities, to examine commercial uses of personal information and evaluate whether uncertainty or gaps in privacy protections exist. The new office would convene stakeholder dialogues, and, with respect to specific areas of concern, help develop enforceable privacy codes of conduct.

Encourage Global Interoperability to Spur Innovation and Trade: Reducing regulatory barriers to trade is a high priority for the Obama administration. Currently, disparate privacy laws have a growing impact on global competition. The report recommends that the U.S. government work together with its trading partners to find practical means of bridging differences in our privacy frameworks. Collaborations with other privacy authorities around the world can reduce the significant business compliance costs. This global engagement could play a key role in a new dynamic privacy framework.

Consider How to Harmonize Disparate Security Breach Notification Rules: As an initial step towards consideration of a new privacy framework, the report recommends looking at ways in which to harmonize the rules that set standards for businesses to notify customers about commercial data security breaches. This comprehensive national approach to commercial data breaches would provide clarity to consumers, streamline industry compliance, and allow businesses to develop a strong, nationwide data management strategy.

This national approach, enacted through Federal law, could help to reconcile inconsistent state laws, authorize enforcement by the FTC, and preserve state authorities’ existing enforcement power. This recommendation is not aimed at preempting federal security breach notification laws for specific sectors, such as healthcare.

Review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act for the Cloud Computing Environment: The report recommends that the Obama Administration review the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to address privacy protection in cloud computing and location-based services. A goal of this effort should be to ensure that, as technology and market conditions change, ECPA continues to appropriately protect individuals’ privacy expectations and punish unlawful access and disclosure of consumer data.

The report was issued 2 weeks after the FTC released its privacy report, “Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers.”.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

New Visualization Tool—Google Books Ngram Viewer

Google announced a new visualization tool called the Google Books Ngram Viewer, available on Google Labs. It is also making the datasets backing the Ngram Viewer, produced by Matthew Gray and intern Yuan K. Shen, freely downloadable so that scholars will be able to create replicable experiments in the style of traditional scientific discovery. These datasets were the basis of a research project led by Harvard University’s Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden published in Science and coauthored by several Googlers.

Since 2004, Google has digitized more than 15 million books worldwide. The datasets it is making available to further humanities research are based on a subset of that corpus, weighing in at 500 billion words from 5.2 million books in Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. The datasets contain phrases of up to five words with counts of how often they occurred in each year.

The Ngram Viewer lets you graph and compare phrases from these datasets over time, showing how their usage has waxed and waned over the years. One of the advantages of having data online is that it lowers the barrier to serendipity: you can stumble across something in these 500 billion words and be the first person ever to make that discovery.

Source: Google Research Blog

Wiley-Blackwell Launches Mobile Applications for Select Health Publications

Wiley-Blackwell, the scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., is launching new mobile applications for selected health science journals, accessible via iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Symbian, PalmOS, and WAP devices. The apps are aimed at physicians utilizing mobile devices to enhance patient care.

The applications, which will be freely available, will allow for the mobile delivery of title and abstract listings of articles with a feature that will enable users to create a “reading list” of desired full-text articles, available from the user’s desktop computer through Wiley Online Library. The apps will provide the full-text of a selection of articles, and mobile content will be pushed to the mobile application as it is added to Wiley Online Library. Additional features include listings of upcoming events, society news, and publication information. Easily navigable, the applications present an optimized reading experience from various mobile devices.

The apps will deliver content for a variety of health science subjects including academic emergency medicine, cancer, cardiology, epilepsy, transplantation, rheumatology, sexual medicine, and hospital medicine. The first application to be launched is for the American Journal of Transplantation (AJT), delivering fast, high quality content in organ and tissue transplantation and the related sciences. Download the app for any mobile device by visting http://amjtrans.mwap.at/.

A variety of Wiley content—from test preparation to laboratory protocols—is now accessible on mobile devices. Consumers and professionals on the move can now easily find answers to challenging questions from their iPhone, IPod Touch, Android, Blackberry, or other smartphones.

Source: Wiley-Blackwell



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