Explorations with Information and Technology

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July 2019

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I had a conversation with a fellow law librarian recently about single source. It’s a common topic: at what point does it make sense for a law library to subscribe to only one of the [two] major commercial legal publishers? It always makes sense. But the road to that decision isn’t necessarily easy. Single sourced commercial legal content isn’t a new topic on this blog or in law libraries. The discussion happens in law libraries…
I have made some terrible choices over the past twenty+ years working on the web and with information. Questionable fonts. Weird logos and images. You live and you learn. I was playing around with an ebook project and decided it was time to make it look more … professional. It is incredibly easy to use Google Fonts for a more polished look. Don’t take it from me. Read Typography for Lawyers. This web site…
I was thinking about the diminution of skills the other day. Like the half-life of an isotope, our ability to do a thing well will fade over time as we do it less frequently. At the time, I was thinking about foreign language skills. But it applies just as well to legal research and legal information. I’ve picked up a smattering of languages over the years. Enough to be able to get by in…
Government web sites are not necessarily places that we expect to track us. There was a fascinating read over on The Markup on the high cost of free web sites. It looked at a number of sites – non-profits and government – and found trackers and browser fingerprinting. In some cases, old code had been left behind so the trackers weren’t being used by the web site owner. That didn’t stop the tracking, though.…
One of the perils of running on WordPress is that everyone knows where your login page is. I mean, this is true of any CMS that has a default login page. It makes your site susceptible to credential stuffing. There are a couple of ways to protect your login page. I’ll walk through what I tried and where I ended up. Plugins WordPress, like most modern content management systems, supports plugins that will obscure…
As far as I know, when a plane takes off, it eventually has to land. Sometimes managers forget that. I was struck by this [paywall] piece in the Globe and Mail. The article touches on visionary leadership, disruptive innovation and employee engagement. The impression I got is that the 30,000 foot initiative happens but the results never reach the employees on the ground. Now more than ever, it’s important that what managers do makes…
The web has transitioned in the past decade from somewhat to secure to much more secure. That is reflected in how many sites now support secure connections (https in your browser location bar). You could see the change as web searches like Google started to use SSL as a ranking signal. One of the big factors was the creation of Let’s Encrypt, a free certificate option that eliminates most of the friction in…
There are some maxims that I live by when it comes to libraries. One of them is this: a library is not a free-standing, self-sufficient entity. It’s operations are fixed by the funds made available to it and it is a rare library that can fund itself. That includes law libraries. Unfortunately, as can be seen with the New Zealand National Library, the library can end up between a rock and a hard place when…
School started last week and our youngest showed up for the first in-person session. The schools are mostly online but groups of a dozen or so come in every other day. This day, almost everyone had a Chromebook and the teacher made it clear there would be no handouts. Here’s how I took an old laptop and made a Chromebook over the weekend. There had been talk last year about a shift to all digital…
The word curation has become a bit precious in the last decade. Law libraries have been curating collections – making selections, choosing one thing and omitting another – forever. This recent post by the founder of Medium was very positive to see. He contrasts what he calls the relational and transactional approaches to consuming information. It’s important because the transactional – disintermediated, often algorithmic – approach treats all objects as equal. Faux curation. The post…