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» Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable Clay Shirky

» Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable Clay Shirky
Back in 1993, the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain began investigating piracy of Dave Barry’s popular column, which was published by the Miami Herald and syndicated widely. In the course of tracking down the sources of unlicensed distribution, they found many things, including the copying of his column to alt.fan.dave_barry on usenet; a 2000-person strong mailing list also reading pirated versions; and a teenager in the Midwest who was doing some of the copying himself, because he loved Barry’s work so much he wanted everybody to be able to read it. One of the people I was hanging around with online back then was Gordy Thompson, who managed internet services at the New York Times. I remember Thompson saying something to the effect of “When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.” The problem newspapers face isn’t that they didn’t see the internet coming. Chaotic, as it turns out. Related:  News Media and Publishing

Why plagiarize when you can rip off a writer's thoughts? I could frame this piece about plagiarism by starting with a little verse about a renowned professor who won his fame by appropriating the work of another: Let no one else’s work evade your eyes Remember why the good Lord made your eyes So don’t shade your eyes But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize… Only be sure always to call it please ‘research.’ I might credit the author of those lines, the satirist and folk singer Tom Lehrer, but you’d likely think me less clever for merely quoting someone when I could have used an idea of my own. Perhaps I should start off with what put plagiarism back in journalism’s center court—a series of allegations against prominent writers such as CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, The New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell, and BuzzFeed’s Benny Johnson. Those last two sentences, I admit, are not mine. Both journalism and plagiarism have fallen into a murky new reality in which there’s no clear consensus about the old rules. But plagiarism is not that simple.

Lines on Plagiarism Blur for Students in the Digital Age “Now we have a whole generation of students who’ve grown up with information that just seems to be hanging out there in cyberspace and doesn’t seem to have an author,” said Teresa Fishman, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University. “It’s possible to believe this information is just out there for anyone to take.” Professors who have studied plagiarism do not try to excuse it — many are champions of academic honesty on their campuses — but rather try to understand why it is so widespread. In surveys from 2006 to 2010 by Donald L. McCabe, a co-founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and a business professor at Rutgers University, about 40 percent of 14,000 undergraduates admitted to copying a few sentences in written assignments. Perhaps more significant, the number who believed that copying from the Web constitutes “serious cheating” is declining — to 29 percent on average in recent surveys from 34 percent earlier in the decade. Ms. Photo Ms. In the view of Ms.

The high cost of not finding information By Susan Feldman On Sept 23, 1999, NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft disappeared. The spacecraft had flown nine-and-a-half months and 416 million miles flawlessly. Scientists were stumped at first about what had gone wrong. They had checked and rechecked the calculations. It turned out that unbeknownst to the metric-based NASA, its contractor had submitted acceleration data in pounds of force instead of the metric equivalent, newtons. In an increasingly information-based world, we turn out complex products that are less tangible than they are knowledge-based. Information disasters There are all kinds of information disasters. Missing or incomplete information plagues many projects. Finally, there is the increasing problem of too much information. Disasters of lesser or similar proportions happen every day to enterprises that are dependent on good information delivered in a timely manner to the people who need it. The costs of not finding information How successful are most searchers?

Facebook News Feed: Finally lets you choose which friends' posts to see first. Courtesy of Facebook The big complaint about Facebook* has always been that you can’t control what you see in your News Feed. That is finally beginning to change. Facebook announced a new set of options Thursday that will let you specify, among other things, which friends’ posts you’d like to see at the top of your feed when you open the app or website. Speaking of Salon, Facebook’s latest updates also make it much easier to unfollow friends and pages whose posts you’re not interested in anymore. Image courtesy of Facebook You can find the new options in a revamped “preferences” menu, starting Thursday on the iOS app and rolling out to Android and the Web in the next few weeks. Click “prioritize who to see first” and you’ll see the faces of people Facebook thinks you might want at the top of your feed, based on how you’ve interacted with their posts in the past. For years Facebook was convinced that algorithmic ranking was the best way to arrange its users’ News Feeds.

How to choose your news - Damon Brown How the media landscape has changed Media visionary Clay Shirky gave a TED Talk on how the media landscape has changed. “The moment we’re living through, the moment our historical generation is living through, is the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.” In other words, the amount of information we are capable of capturing is unprecedented. Watch Clay Shirky’s fascinating media discussion on TED-Ed. Understanding social media The TED Book “Our Virtual Shadow: Why We Are Obsessed with Documenting Our Lives Online” discusses the challenges of social media turning every day folks into journalists. You can read an excerpt of Our Virtual Shadow on the TED blog. Journalism can be much more than reporting. In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald's coffee in her lap and later sued the company, attracting a flood of negative attention.

The Internet's Dark Ages The web, as it appears at any one moment, is a phantasmagoria. It’s not a place in any reliable sense of the word. It is not a repository. You can't count on the web, okay? Digital information itself has all kinds of advantages. There are exceptions. It is not just access to knowledge, but the knowledge itself that’s at stake. The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. Before the Internet, if you wanted to look up an old newspaper article, you usually had to find it in an archive. “I was spinning my way through December,” Vaughan said, “and I stopped and I saw this headline that said 20 children had been killed in bus-train collision. After college, Vaughan became a reporter himself. By this time it was 1992. Fifteen years, to be exact. The collision had new resonance for a community still aching from the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, a shooting in which 12 students and 1 teacher were murdered. It was worth the effort.

Infographic Shows Fair Use’s Importance in a Day in the Life of a College Student In conjunction with Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week 2016, ARL is releasing an infographic that shows how a college student relies on fair use numerous times in a typical day. Fair use and fair dealing are vitally important rights for everybody, everywhere—students, faculty, librarians, journalists, and all users of copyrighted material. These doctrines provide balance to the copyright system by allowing the use of copyrighted resources without permission from the rightholder under certain circumstances, thereby promoting creative progress and accommodating freedom of expression. The “Fair Use in a Day in the Life of a College Student” infographic is freely available as a PDF to embed on blogs and websites and to print and hand out at events. Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week is an annual, community celebration coordinated by the Association of Research Libraries to promote the opportunities presented by fair use and fair dealing, highlight successful stories, and explain these doctrines.

Essay on Wikipedia's fifteenth anniversary Wikipedia came into the world 15 years ago today -- and, man, what an ugly baby. The first snapshot of it in the Internet Archive is from late March of 2001, when Wikipedia was already 10 weeks old. At that point, it claimed to have more than 3,000 pages, with an expressed hope of reaching 10,000 by the end of summer and 100,000 at some point in the not unimaginably distant future. The first entries were aspirational, at best. By November -- with Wikipedia at 10 months old -- the entry on Plato was longer, if not more enlightening: you would have learned more from a good children’s encyclopedia. The aspirations started to look more serious. Yet it is also indicative of where the site was heading that before long some volunteer stepped in to unclog that passage's syntactical plumbing. The site hit its initial target of 100,000 pages in early 2003 -- at which point it began to blow up like a financial bubble. I draw these figures from Dariusz Jemielniak’s Common Knowledge?

The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia for Pay On January 11, 2013, James Heilman, an emergency-room physician and one of Wikipedia’s most prolific medical editors, was standing watch over the online encyclopedia’s entry for a back procedure called a kyphoplasty. The page originally suggested that the procedure’s effectiveness was “controversial,” and an unidentified Wikipedia user had proposed changing the text to “well documented and studied”—a characterization that Heilman thought wasn’t supported by existing research. He rejected the change. Kyphoplasty, along with vertebroplasty, the procedure it shares a Wikipedia page with, is a common treatment when someone’s spine breaks—a frequent occurrence in people with osteoporosis, which makes bones brittle—and then doesn’t heal naturally. The procedure grew popular in the ‘90s, despite the fact that its effectiveness wasn’t backed up by definitively convincing research. Some are concerned about the money being spent on a procedure that’s controversial and sometimes risky.

“Self-literacy” in the information age By Mary Madden Our “Digital Footprints” research found that many Americans are jumping into the participatory Web without considering all the implications. If nothing really bad has happened to someone, they continue to neither worry about their personal information nor take steps to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online. But “self-literacy,” or knowing what information is available about you online, is becoming a critical component of digital literacy in the information age. Over time, as more of us stumble (or crash) into our own personal data leftovers gone bad, we may change the way we think about the persistence of the information we share in public and semi-public spaces. As a society, we may become more forgiving of teenagers and college students who aren’t always in control of what information (good or bad) gets posted about them online.

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