Professors file petition against Google Books settlement

From UC Berkeley to Cornell, more than 80 professors have signed a petition against a pending settlement agreement between Google Inc. and authors and publishers, reports the Daily Californian. The petition calls into question provisions within the settlement that its signers say will give Google a “de facto monopoly” over books scanned in a digital library project. According to the petition, co-written by Pamela Samuelson, a UC Berkeley professor of law and information, two of the main concerns that professors have with the settlement are the amount of compensation authors will receive for the past scanning of books, and insufficient privacy protections. Jan. 28 is the last day for authors to reject the terms of the settlement, as well as to file objections to the settlement for the presiding judge to review. In a Jan. 27 campus memo in response to Samuelson’s petition, UC Berkeley professor of economics, business, and information Hal Varian said he sees the benefits the settlement would bring. “The agreement is not perfect, but I believe it to be a huge improvement over the status quo for authors, publishers, scholars, and the general public,” Varian said in the memo. “In my view, it deserves the enthusiastic support of all Berkeley faculty.”

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Google expands its social search test

Google’s Social Search service, which includes public content from users’ social networks in search results, is getting promoted to Google.com from the company’s Labs site, meaning it is no longer considered an early prototype, PC World reports. In the coming days, Google will let English-language users of its search engine see relevant links to items their social-networking contacts have posted publicly on the web. Social Search results also will appear in the Google Images engine, the company said in a Jan. 27 blog post. To use Social Search, users have to be signed in to their Google account. Google also recommends that people create a Google Profile, which they can populate with addresses to their blogs, social networks, photo-sharing accounts, and so on. Google can then harvest the contacts and connections in those sites, as well as in Google services such as Gmail and Google Reader, and index publicly available, relevant content for these users’ Social Search query results. Besides the Social Search effort, Google also is indexing public posts from social networks and returning links to them in its search results, even for users who aren’t signed in to their Google account…

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Has Google developed the next wave of online education?

Google Wave has a spell checker that uses context to correct misused words.
Google Wave marks the next step in collaboration capabilities for group projects, some in education say.

Combining text, audio, and video chat with features like drag-and-drop documents and interactive polls, Google Wave is a free web program that could add unprecedented depth to student interaction, many educators say.

Programmers who designed Google Wave, a tool still in development and only available through limited invites, started with a question: What would eMail look like if it were invented today?

The answer is a format that merges social networking with multimedia in an online meeting space where students and instructors can see each other type in real time, conduct private conversations, and edit documents simultaneously.…Read More

Free web tools can save time and effort for teachers

Worcester offered tech tips all educators can use.
Worcester offered tech tips all educators can use.

While technology can be a powerful educational tool, many teachers still worry that with the time it takes to learn how to use technology, and then implement it in the classroom, it’s just not worth the effort. But thanks to Tammy Worcester, one of the Jan. 14 keynote speakers at the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) in Orlando, technology just got an “easy” button.

Worcester, an instructional technology specialist for the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK) and author of many resource guides for educators, has become a hit with teachers looking to learn more about technology integration, thanks to her web site “Tammy’s Technology Tips for Teachers.”

“I like to find unique and creative ways to use traditional computer tools in the classroom,” said Worcester. “Many times I’m running around doing so many things, it just makes sense to know what little tips can save me time and what free online resources can help me save time, too. I’m here today to help you discover what’s helped me [from] day to day.”…Read More

Chinese spy agency behind Google cyber attack, report claims

Information Week reports that in a blog post heard around the world, though muffled in China’s state-controlled media, Google said on Tuesday that it and at least 20 other companies in the the internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors had been targeted in a sophisticated cyber attack in December.  Due to this attack, which resulted in the theft of unspecified intellectual property, and a hostile business climate, Google said it would stop censoring Google.cn, a decision which could lead to the closure of the company’s Chinese search service. Whether that happens will depend on how the Chinese government reacts.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday expressed concern about Google’s claims and asked the Chinese government for an explanation. She said she intended to give a speech next week “on the centrality of Internet freedom in the 21st century.”  A report issued on Tuesday by iDefense, a computer security company owned by Verisign, states that 33 other companies were targeted in the attack. It also says that those responsible were working either directly on on behalf of official intelligence entities of the People’s Republic of China.  “Two independent, anonymous iDefense sources in the defense contracting and intelligence consulting community confirmed that both the source IPs and drop server of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof,” the report says…

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France plans its own rival to Google Books

France’s culture minister on Jan. 12 unveiled a plan to develop what he hopes will prove a uniquely Gallic competitor to Google Books, reports the Associated Press. Frederic Mitterrand didn’t rule out cooperating with the ubiquitous, U.S.-based search engine and said France was prepared to share files with Google under certain conditions. But he made clear that the company would have to play by France’s rules. Mitterrand said an existing French database of scanned documents, called Gallica, would serve as the foundation for a vast, new internet portal for French letters. Run by France’s national library, Gallica has fewer than a million items in its database and is mainly accessed by professionals, not the public. France aims to build up Gallica’s collection by cooperating with French publishers and private companies–including, perhaps, Google–on the onerous task of scanning and cataloging books. The Google Books project already has scanned and cataloged more that 10 million books as part of its project to create an online library accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Copyright issues have proved a thorn in Google Books’ side, however, with many authors and publishers worldwide contending its digital library violates copyrights. On the French site, publishers would be able to decide how much of books under copyright would be accessible online, and links would send users to online retailers. Deals eventually could be struck to swap books in French that have already been scanned by Google Books for books scanned in France, creators of the plan said…

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Google Maps inspire creativity

A new technology from internet search behemoth Google Inc. is making innovators out of some educators, who have begun envisioning practical uses for the company’s new Google Maps feature to make previously unavailable graphic representations of everything from school district bus routes to geography lessons.

Educators aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the technology. Others also have discovered how to tinker with the search engine’s mapping service to graphically illustrate vital information that might otherwise be ignored, overlooked, or not perceived as clearly.

“This is pretty interesting for organizations, such as school districts, that have maps that provide boundary information and such,” wrote Tim Lauer, principal of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Ore., and a frequent contributor to eSchool News Online’s Ed-Tech Insider, a blog for educators and technology advocates. “Imagine a district map that showed bus stops combined with Google content. Families could punch in their home address and easily find the closest stop.” …Read More