Category Archives: Technology

Fake News

fake-1903774_1280We live in a digital age of information. At the click of a button we have access to thousands, if not millions, of resources online. But can we trust all of this information? Unfortunately, no. For example, did you know the website MartinLutherKing.org is hosted by Stormfront, a white supremacist organization?

There has been an increase (perhaps explosion or pandemic) in recent years of fake news. But what is fake news? Fake news can be described as propaganda, a hoax, and/or misinformation that is purposely spread and published as real news – often using social media – with the intent to mislead for political or financial gains. Fake news will often utilize eye-catching headlines and images to increase sharing and views.

Fake news is different from satire news. Satire news, like content from The Onion, seeks to entertain rather than mislead like fake news.

Fake news is nothing new. It has been around for many years. A trip to your local grocery or convenience store’s checkout lane will reveal a plethora of tabloids containing fictional or less than reputable information, often about celebrities. These tabloids have been in publication for many years. A 2017 NPR article explains that long before fake news, there were staged photos. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, tall-tale postcards emerged in the early 1900s with larger-than-life images of crops and animals, thanks to clever photography and darkroom tricks. Yellow journalism was a term coined in the 1890s to describe sensational news that is not well-researched but instead strives to be eye-catching to sell more newspapers.

If fake news is nothing new, why is at the forefront of current issues plaguing society? Insert social media.

Social media usage has exploded in the last several years. It has become part of everyday life. In fact, a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center indicates that 62% of adults get their news from social media. This number is up from 49% in 2012. Social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., have become one stop shops for sharing content, interacting with others, and, you guessed it, getting news.

Sharing content on social media has never been easier. One or two clicks is all it takes. But did you take the time to read more than just the headline before you liked, commented, or shared? Is the source reputable? Unfortunately, fake news outlets use social media to their advantage because the before mentioned questions go unanswered, it is easy for them to share things too, they are able to reach a wide audience, and their headlines or images draw people in (also referred to as clickbait).

With so much information present on social media and the sharing of it, it can be easy to skim something and not realize it might be fake. People do not always take the time to fact check something before sharing or commenting.

However, there are a few quick and easy things you can look for to spot fake news. FactCheck.org has some great advice on how to spot fake news:

  • Consider the source
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Check the author
  • Check the supporting sources
  • Check the date
  • Is it a joke?
  • Check your biases
  • Ask the experts

It is easy to do a couple quick checks to identify fake or real news. But when in doubt, ask the experts – like librarians! Libraries are a trusted source of information. Utilizing librarians, library resources, and library databases is a great way of finding credible sources and information, and not to mention avoiding the possibility of running into fake news.

Many libraries across the country are already working to combat the fake news problem. For example, many libraries are creating guides and resources.

The Harvard Library has created a guide that lists 5 ways to spot fake news:

  • Consider the source
  • Check the URL
  • Look for visual clues
  • Get a second opinion
  • Put your browser to work

Universities and schools are also fighting back against fake news. Librarians have partnered with the University of Michigan to offer a class on fake news called “Fake News, Lies, and Propaganda: How to Sort Fact from Fiction.”

Other things to look for to spot fake news:

  • ALL CAPS
  • Advertisements: excessive pop-ups, banners, etc.
  • Assess grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Use a reverse image search (like TinEye)
  • If you’re not sure it’s true, then don’t share or comment!

There is a lot of information out there, and that is unlikely to change. As more things become accessible online, we have to remain vigilant of what is credible and what is not. It is up to us to be responsible enough to decipher what is real and what it fake. Take advantage of the simple advice, the easy credibility checks, and the many resources at your disposal to win the war on fake news.

Resources

Handouts:

Fact Checking Websites:

Identifying Fake News Sources:

LibGuides:

2016 ARSL Conference

arslOn October 26-29, I had the pleasure of attending the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) 2016 Conference in Fargo, North Dakota. This was my first national library conference, and what a conference it was! Each day was full of interesting speakers and great sessions.

Perhaps my favorite moment from the conference occurred during Will Weaver’s speech. Weaver is the author of Red Earth, White Earth, A Gravestone Made of Wheat and Other Stories, Saturday Night Dirt, and Striking Out. In his speech, Weaver talked about the importance of libraries and how they have influenced him over the years. He held up a book at one point, and confirmed with the crowd of librarians that it was indeed a library book. He admitted he has the tendency of accidentally stealing library books when he visits them for various engagements. As it turns out, a librarian from the library to which the book belonged was in attendance! As the audience roared with laughter, Weaver had the librarian come up to the front and he returned the book to her.

I thoroughly enjoyed each keynote speaker, and I don’t think there was one session I regretted attending. If anything, I regretted not being able to attend more sessions!

I attended two sessions on programming. One was on teen programs and the other was on how to utilize your community for library programs. The session on teen programs, presented by the librarians at the North Loan City Library in Utah, offered some great ideas: Nerf gun events, teens volunteering at the library to earn points, forming a teen advisory board, and creating an email list just for teens so they can stay up-to-date on what teen-related things are happening at the library.

The mining your community session, presented by the librarian of the Stanley Community Library in Idaho, was just as beneficial. Every community has its gems so utilize them! For example, if someone in your community knits as a hobby, ask this person if he/she would come to the library and host a program on kitting; or if someone is a toy collector, set up a display or have the person come in for a lecture on their history. Some of the great program topics from this session included knitting, adult coloring, lectures, writing classes, music, car maintenance, photography, and cooking.

Librarians are often seen as the people who know everything. As a result, we are likely to receive technology questions that we may not know the answer to, or perhaps the patron is not being receptive. One session on patron technology training tips addressed this. Some of the tips from this session included identify yourself as a technology trainer and do the best you can, create a plan, take deep breaths, narrate your process to the patron, focus on quality, create teachable moments, and implement a resource guide.

Another session, presented by California librarian/ trainer Crystal Schimpf, covered the basics of digital storytelling for libraries and how it can be used for advocacy. Technology is ubiquitous in today’s world so it makes sense for libraries to use it to promote themselves and reach patrons. Libraries can make videos that highlight a database, give a virtual tour, or provide a crash course on services. The sky is the limit! The session stressed that videos should be short but fun. When creating videos you will want to create goals, pick your video platform, write scripts, log your shots, and get the necessary equipment and software (which can be done at a relatively low cost). Once the videos are done, share them on social media and get them out there as much as you can.

One of the more entertaining sessions was presented by Harmony Higbie, director of the Underwood Public Library in Underwood, ND. The session was on Kahoot, a modern twist on trivia. Kahoot can be played for free on your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Kahoot can be used in the library for trivia, book clubs, and more! For more information on Kahoot, visit their website: https://getkahoot.com/

In addition to the before mentioned sessions, I attended two sessions relating to digital preservation. If you would like more information on this area, review the services offered by the Internet Archive. You can also contact the State Library’s Digital Initiatives coordinator.

There were around 500 librarians from across the country at the ARSL conference, and I was lucky to meet some of them and hear their stories. One of the librarians I met was from beautiful St. George, Utah, which is where the ARSL conference will be in 2017. The librarian will be the co-chair for the 2017 conference, and he had some great things to say about the St. George area (he even showed me a picture of the view from his backyard to prove his point).

If you are interested in attending the ARSL conference, I would highly encourage you to do so. You can learn more about ARSL and the annual conference at their website: http://arsl.info/

If you have any questions or would like more information on the ideas and conference sessions I shared, feel free to contact me.

Transforming Lives through 3D Printing at the Library

unleash-creativity[1]In September, I attended the NDLA annual conference in Jamestown. One of the sessions I attended was “3D Printing @ Your Library” presented by Greta Guck, the director of the Leach Public Library in Wahpeton. I thought it would be an interesting session, but it turned out to be considerably more inspiring than I expected!

Greta talked about how she was inspired to acquire a 3D printer after hearing Mick Ebeling speak at the ALA 2015 Midwinter conference. The founder of Not Impossible Labs and author of Not Impossible: The Art and the Joy of Doing What Couldn’t Be Done, Mick has used 3D printers to create prosthetic limbs for people in Sudan who have lost their arms due to violence in the area.

After the conference, I did some research and one of the articles I found about “Project Daniel” makes an excellent point: “To many people 3D printing can seem trivial or a bit silly, but for some this technology has the potential to transform lives.” Many people probably do think of 3D printing as something neat and cool, without stopping to think about the life-changing applications of the technology. Continue reading

A New Session

State Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection (1-28-46-1)

State Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection (1-28-46-1)

The governor will present his budget to the legislature today. One of the popular topics that has come up in recent years is oil revenue. This isn’t something new as demonstrated in the above photo from 1952. A Williston  City Commissioner, Neuman Ditsworth, leads a protest against legislative action on a oil tax bill. You can read more about it on Digital Horizons.

Take a few minutes to explore the new Digital Horizons website and our new content! The North Dakota Memories collection has new items from the Pembina County Historical Society and the North Dakota County and Town Histories collection has a number of new books for your searching ease.

Affordable VR for Fun and Library Programming

dodoVR

The promise of Virtual Reality (VR) has never really panned out the way pundits expected it would, but it remains an intriguing niche technology that often totters precariously close to mainstream acceptance. The Oculus Rift is the latest headline-grabber, but, it remains overpriced and (in my opinion) underwhelming.

Recently, there a new market emerged in open source cardboard enclosures that combine your smartphone and a pair of biconvex lenses to produce the first truly entry-level and easily accessible VR set. The best in class (if that term is even appropriate for something made of cardboard you wear on your face) seems to be the Dodocase.

There was a large of stack of these for sale when I was in Barnes and Noble last night, and they run about $25/each (you may be able to find some cheaper online). It’s worth noting that at this point there are only a handful of VR apps in either the Android or iPhone market, but all the ones I’ve found are free and fun to play around with. If you’re feeling ambitious, there’s Developer Documentation on the Google Cardboard site, to assist in programming your own Android apps.

A few caveats before you get started: a little DIY hacking is in order if you wish your raw cardboard headset to remain sturdy and hospitable and approximate the comfortable accommodation of human heads. Using some electrical tape, felt pads, or Sugru to shield contact points is a great idea, not just for comfort, but also because cardboard is easily besmirched in gross unsightly ways by our sweat exuding noggins.

That being said, you will not find an easier, cheaper, or more user-friendly approach to VR on the market, and I could definitely see patrons coming in to try it out if presented with the opportunity. Good luck and if you do try it out, I’d love to hear about your experiences with it!

New Digital Horizons Website

DH

Digital Horizons launched its new website last week! It now supports enhanced viewing and searching capabilities. For objects with many pages, you can switch to the Page Flip View and view it like an actual book rather than clicking on each individual page. You can browse all the collections or choose one collection and browse. There is also a handy feature that will send you updates on the collections that you choose to follow.

CountyTownsnip

This is the County and Town Histories landing page. You can see recent additions on the right and subscribe to update.

In our collection of County and Town Histories, you can conduct an advanced search using counties or towns as your search term. There is also faceted searching on the left side of your results screen that will allow you to narrow your results. It is limited as it will only show you the top 10 items in each facet for the collection.

facets

This is a screenshot of the faceted searching box that will appear on the left side of your screen beneath the collection boxes.

This is just a broad overview of some of the enhancements seen with the new Digital Horizons website. Please contact me-Stephanie Kom at sbaltzer@nd.gov or 701-328-4629 if you have any questions or comments. Happy hunting!

eReader Privacy Concern Roundup

Unaltered image by SLOWKING used under the CC BY-NC

Unaltered image by SLOWKING used under CC BY-NC license.

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.

DPLA apps

FindDPLA WikiDPLA

I recently noticed that some new apps have been added to the DPLA site. This reminded me of a DPLA app that I had been meaning to try out that works with Wikipedia. I found not one but two apps available that pull relevant DPLA content into your Wikipedia searches.

FindDPLA pulls content that is directly related to your search and seems to be compatible with Windows Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.  FindDPLA is easy to setup. You just have to follow the directions by clicking through. They are working on a fix for the step where you have to click the shield in your URL box in order to run the script successfully. It doesn’t appear that you need to perform that step in Explorer. You will see the results of your DPLA connection at the top of your Wikipedia page as seen below.findDPLAim

WikipeDPLA is a Google Chrome extension that pulls up similar topics to the one that you searched on in the form of links to DPLA. You just follow the links on the app library and may have to sign into you Google account for the extension. The results of the DPLA connections using this app are seen below:

st valen

You can read more about these two apps in the DPLA App Library. There are a number of other apps available as well including one that tweets out images of historical cats—Who doesn’t need an app that sends out historical cat images?

Digital Horizons

DH

As you may or may not be aware–the North Dakota State Library (NDSL) began participating in Digital Horizons about a year ago.  The previous link will take you to our current website where you can read up on the consortium if you aren’t familiar with the local institutions that are currently participating. NDSL is currently scanning county and town history books so that they are available online and are keyword searchable.

If you are a user of Digital Horizons, be on the lookout for some changes in the upcoming weeks. We will launch a new website that will be using the most up to date CONTENTdm software. This will make searches and viewing easier. There is also new content. We are hoping for an early October launch and I will keep you informed as changes occur.

Permission to digitize

EU flag

So I was scanning my news feed and came across an article entitled, “Libraries may digitize books without permission and immediately began clicking the link. As the page came up, I realized that I had neglected to finish reading the title which further stated, “EU top court rules

So European libraries may digitize books and make them available at electronic reading points without first gaining consent of the copyright holder. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) made the ruling last week. The CJEU just clarified the scope of the copyright directive and its decision does not finalize the dispute. It is for the national court to decide the case in accordance with the CJEU’s decision, which is binding on other national courts before which a similar issue is raised.

While there are some expected setbacks in the ruling itself—like restricting them to reading points within the library and no downloading or printing of the books—it is a huge benefit to libraries and their attempts to keep up with the digital movement. I can’t say what this will mean in American courts but it opens the theoretical door.