There has been a lot of news this past week regarding the manner in which Adobe Digital Editions was found to be openly transmitting reading records in plain text (re: sans encryption).
Many legitimate concerns exist regarding the privacy and intellectual freedom of the patrons for any library that is or has operated an ebook service reliant upon Adobe’s technology (and, in all fairness to Adobe, upon any DRM technology).
Here’s a roundup of this week’s news, rounded out with some related resources.
Updated 10/10/14 at 12:59 to include a link to the Hellman article.
Ever have trouble finding or recommending good young adult fiction? Pined for a tool that could guide your tech-focused teens to great reads and help them share the experience through Twitter and Facebook? Look no further than the Teen Book Finder app from the Young Adult Library Services Association.
The app combines several useful functions. It recommends three featured titles each day; provides the ability to search for books by author, title, award, genre, and more; uses the OCLC WorldCat Search API to locate nearby libraries that own a desired book; lets users mark their favorites and create booklists; and allows for easy social sharing through Twitter and Facebook integration.
As you may have guessed, this app won’t just be useful for your current (and potential) patrons. Library staff will be able to make use of it for collection development purposes, as it’s an easy way to find new, topical, and/or award-winning YA titles.
The app is free and is now available on both Android and iOS platforms (download links below).
iTunes App Store
No online space should be considered safe. Internet service and phone providers, media research firms, online stores, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, the NSA, are tracking your online activity. Websites sell data about its members to other companies. None of this is illegal because it is disclosed in the fine print of service agreements, which few of us ever read. Indiscriminate tracking is now a fact of online activity.
Before computers, it was time consuming and expensive to track individuals. Technology has made it simple, immediate, and cheap to keep records of various kinds on our lives. Small, powerful devices like smart phones and tablets combined with massive computing power and cheap storage has resulted in our personal data and our locations being indiscriminately tracked. Our online browsing is being watched by advertisers and data brokers.
Information is power. Those who have access to our personal data have power over us. Indiscriminate access to our data can embarrass us, rob us, and even accuse us of criminal behavior. Analysis of this glut of data is often conducted by mathematical algorithms, devoid of human editors. This can create a culture of fear and broken trust. We should all be concerned about privacy.
New technology has brought benefits and hazards. We can’t let the dangers of online activity prevent us from using technology. We need safe online spaces for ourselves and our children.
Source: Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin, Henry Holt and Company, 2014.
“Stories help people cope with complexity.” – Peter Schwartz, author
What is the most influential invention in history? Some might argue that it is paper, which affects every aspect of human activity from the arts to education to business to living. We even use it to clean up after ourselves.
The evolution of digital resources has many claiming that the printed book is obsolete. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, some for-profit colleges are moving exclusively to e-textbooks. However, a Pew study notes that college students continue to prefer printed textbooks to electronic ones by wide margins. Students prefer the “feel” of physical books, and printed books still account for almost ¾ of total books sales in the U.S.
A recent Norwegian study of high school students revealed that people comprehend print text far better than reading the same text on a computer screen. It seems that reading is a mind/body experience and handling the physical print book in some way increases comprehension. The physical experience is nearly absent when reading on a screen. According to this study, paper also seems to affect our emotions more than a computer screen does. Our brains do not work like computers; our minds perceive things, not symbols. Researchers are trying to understand how reading is a bodily activity.
There are some definite advantages to eBooks: portability, text searching, currency, links to other sources, cost, and no more heavy backpacks. But reading the printed book is a mind/body experience that will endure.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” –Albert Einstein
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has released a new app for iOS, which will facilitate mobile access to braille and talking books from NLS’s Braille and Audio Download (BARD) service.
With the mobile app, patrons registered with the North Dakota Talking Books library or another NLS cooperating braille and talking book library can play talking books from BARD on iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. With a Bluetooth-enabled device connected to a refreshable braille display, patrons can also read BARD’s collection of braille materials. BARD contains a total of nearly 50,000 books, magazines, and music scores in both audio and braille formats.
For more information in North Dakota, contact our Talking Book Service. They’ll explain program eligibility, help eligible North Dakotan’s get registered for the talking book service and BARD, and can help registered iOS users get started with the BARD app.
If you’re as attached to your tablet device as I am, you’ve likely grown accustomed to reading digital content on screen, rather than books, magazines, and newspapers in print. Not that print isn’t still great – there will always be comfort and joy to be found in reading a print picture book to a child, or in starting the day by perusing the daily newspaper over coffee and cereal. But tablet devices, like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and a host of others, are changing the way we interact with media, and their convenience, portability, and multi-functionality have led many readers to choose digital books and other media over their traditional print counterparts. If you’re a reader of magazines, you’ve had the option to purchase digital subscriptions to your favorite titles via Apple’s Newsstand, the Amazon store, Google Play store, and other outlets. But regardless of which device you use and which outlet you access content from, “Purchase” has always been the key word in this transaction. Continue reading
How Teachers are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms is a PEW Research Center survey of American middle and high school teachers. 95% of the teachers who participated in the survey teach in public schools.
The survey finds that digital devices are becoming essential in the learning process. 73% of the teachers say that they let students use smart phones in the classroom for assignments. However, these new technologies have also created new challenges for teachers, both in how they are used and who gets to use them.
The digital divide deprives many students and teachers of basic digital access to educational resources. There is disparity in access between lower and higher income students and school districts. There is also disparity in access from school versus access from home.
There are generational differences in how teachers experience digital technologies. It is not surprising that teachers under age 35 are more confident with using these devices than teachers age 55 and older.
Teachers expressed concern that students are losing basic research skills because of an overreliance on search engines. Students “equate research with Googling” and are less likely to use traditional resources. Few students browse the library stacks for research projects. Only 12% of teachers say their students will use printed books in a research assignment. View the survey for many more teacher insights on how technology fits into today’s classroom.
“My favorite librarian is one who gave me a conspiratorial wink when she caught me sneaking out of the children’s room and into the adult stacks at the grand age of eight.” — Dave Donelson, Author