May 14, 2010, 2:00 pm
“We’ve heard,” says Google’s official blog today, that “college students, in particular, really appreciate getting their voice mail sent to their e-mail, sending free text messages, and reading voice-mail transcriptions, rather than listening to messages (especially handy while in class).”
And not-so-coincidentally, Google has a service that does just that. Google Voice for Students gives a person all this for nothing—as long as that person has an e-mail address that ends in “.edu.” The rest of us, well, just have to know someone well-connected to get an invite.
Actually, it’s a nice service. You get a new phone number, and can forward all your other phones to that, and get all your mail in one place. And once you stop being amused by the way the transcription feature sometimes turns your friends’ words into things they didn’t really say, you will find it to be useful. Maybe on your new …
April 7, 2010, 12:34 am
In another potential setback for the vast digital library planned by Google, several groups representing photographers and other visual artists plan to file a federal lawsuit against the company on Wednesday, alleging that its efforts to digitize millions of library books amounts to a large-scale infringement of their copyrights, The New York Times reported.
Google has reached a potential settlement with authors and publishers who sued on similar grounds in 2005, but a federal judge has not yet signed off on it. Possibly prolonging the lengthy proceedings, the U.S. Department of Justice has recently filed court papers saying the settlement still needs work.
The photographers’ groups in the new lawsuit had sought to intervene in the settlement with authors and publishers, but were rejected. The pending settlement agreement largely excludes photographs and other visual works.
March 31, 2010, 4:05 pm
Even as a lawsuit over Google’s book-digitization project remains up in the air, the search giant has quietly started reaching out to universities in search of humanities scholars who are ready to roll up their sleeves and hit the virtual stacks.
The company is creating a “collaborative research program to explore the digital humanities using the Google Books corpus,” according to a call for proposals obtained by The Chronicle. Some of Google’s academic partners say the grant program marks the company’s first formal foray into supporting humanities text-mining research.
The call went out to a select group of scholars, offering up to $50,000 for one year. Google says it may choose to renew the grants for a second year. It is not clear whether anybody can apply for the money, or just the group that got the solicitation.
The effort seems largely focused on building tools to comb and improve…
February 24, 2010, 9:15 pm
San Diego–“We may already be in the red in terms of our ability to store information,” said Christopher L. Greer last week to an interested, and vaguely intimidated, audience of scientists and other academics. Gene sequences, distant pulsar signals, YouTube videos, e-mail — it’s all too much to keep track of.
Or perhaps not. Mr. Greer, who works on networking policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was addressing a session called “Managing the Exaflood” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It was actually an optimistic gathering, where researchers presented ideas for getting a handle on all this data — an exabyte is one billion billion bytes — and using it productively.
Larry Smarr, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, demonstrated a method of coupling genetic sequences from ocean bacteria -…
October 22, 2009, 3:00 pm
A $12.2-million federal stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health will finance a network some are calling a Facebook for scientists.
Several universities, including Cornell University and the University of Florida, will develop the network over the next two years in the hopes of helping scientists find other academics to work with.
If a researcher is looking for someone else in a very specialized field, he or she would usually think of all the people he has met or simply scan recent scientific journals for names, said Michael Conlon, interim director of biomedical informatics at the College of Medicine at the University of Florida and the principal investigator on the grant. Mr. Conlon calls those methods “haphazard.”
People using the network will be able to enter targeted inquiries into a search box. The results will show scholars in very specialized fields. The site will…
October 20, 2009, 11:45 am
The Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group, has created a system for helping people find digital books on the Internet. The service, called BookServer, collects information on digital books that are available online, either free or for a fee. Those in charge of the project say they hope it will make it easier for people to use digital material online.
Authors, publishers, libraries, and book sellers — in other words, anyone who offers free or paid books online — can index their materials so they appear when people conduct a search on BookServer.
“This is a mechanism by which we can expose the books that are available for lending,” said Peter Brantley, director of the BookServer project at the Internet Archive. “We’re trying to get books into the hands of readers as many different ways as possible.”
BookServer will benefit anyone who creates or distributes books, Mr….
October 1, 2009, 12:00 pm
Catalogs are the problem!
Librarians are the problem!
Students are the problem!
A new Chronicle article on trends in library catalog software has touched off an online reader debate about who’s to blame for patrons’ search frustrations and how to fix the situation. The article discussed how libraries are trying to out-Google Google with easy-to-use, online catalog-search software, while “pockets of resistance” in library circles feel the new products dumb down the research process.
That resistance was on display in reader gripes like this:
“Unfortunately, instead of teaching students how to conduct a precise search with few relevant results, faculty and librarians have found an easy way out — googlize everything.”
“Today it seems that just because our students come in knowing how to perform a Google search that that is all they need. Library databases are ‘tools.’ Knowing how…
September 16, 2009, 2:00 pm
Search giant Google Inc. announced today that it has purchased reCaptcha, a company that began as a research project at Carnegie Mellon University. ReCaptcha develops online word puzzles to serve both as Web-site security and to help digitize printed text, and Google says it will use it in projects like Google Books and Google News Archive Search.
The Carnegie Mellon researchers began their reCaptcha project in 2007 in the hope of killing two birds with one stone. The method takes the distorted word puzzles aimed at keeping hackers and spambots from logging into Web pages, and turns them into micro-archiving machines.
The project works with the understanding that one thing humans can still do better than computers is recognize text. Luis von Ahn, the computer scientist who created the technique along with his colleagues, realized this when he first invented the original Captcha…
September 10, 2009, 1:00 pm
Google is touting its growing influence in the area of college e-mail systems. To celebrate the start of a new academic year, the company unveiled a Web site that makes it clear just how widespread its presence is in higher education.
The site features a map that looks like a big game of Risk in which Google owns all the pieces. It shows the 145 colleges that have signed up to have Google Apps Education Edition as their official campus e-mail service.
The Official Google Blog announced the site in honor of the now five million students who have “gone Google” and agreed to use the platform. According to the blog, the number of students who have registered for the service has risen by 400 percent since last year.
As for Google’s major competition, Microsoft’s Live@edu, a spokeswoman for that company would not specify how many college accounts it has.
September 3, 2009, 3:00 pm
Joel Tenenbaum, a graduate student at Boston University, may have lost his historic court case with the Recording Industry Association of America this summer, but he has become a cult hero on several pirate Web sites. And now the RIAA charges that Mr. Tennenbaum is encouraging illegal music downloading by egging on his fans via Twitter.
In July, a federal jury ordered Mr. Tenenbaum to pay $675,000 to record labels for downloading and distributing 30 songs by several artists, including Nirvana, Eminem, and the Beastie Boys. Now, it says Mr. Tenenbaum is encouraging others to illegally download music as well. On Tuesday, it filed for injunctive relief in a federal court in Massachusetts.
In August, a person upset about the court’s decision posted the list of the songs named in the case on The Pirate Bay, a Swedish file-sharing Web site, encouraging others to download them in protest. A…