Saturday, September 30, 2017

You and the Internet of Things

 This fall, the SU iSchool has begun to offer Graduate Immersion Milestone Seminars. The first one is on the topic of "You and the Internet of Things."  Graduate students across the iSchool's graduate programs are in attendance, including MSLIS students.  

From my perspective, the the pros, cons and pitfalls of Internet of Things (IoT) is not a topic that is widely discussed in library circles.  Yes, we recognize that devices are capturing information, but:
  • Do we think deeply about what data is being captured by or in the library? 
  • Have we thought about how the Internet of Things can make libraries better?  
  • Have we thought about how the collected data is being stored and secured in the cloud?  
  • Have we thought about what could happen if our data is hacked?
The speakers this morning were not focused on libraries, but that doesn't mean we can't apply their topics to our library environment.  Below you'll see I've inserted some "library thinking" into my notes.  Please add comments if you have information to add or questions to ask.
Megan Snyder - Internet of Things and Cyber Security

"Things" can live long, software does not.
  • New vulnerabilities are addressed with new software
  • While you might replace your phone, for example, every two years, it will receive several software updates during that period.  Of course, people might not apply all of the updates, which could leave a security gap.
  • Imagine people being able to hack into a car or other things, which could be used to do harm
Things with sensitive data are connected
  • While you immediately think of banks, there are low tech devices which can capture sensitive data
  • Securing sensitive data
    • proactive ethical data stewardship
    • end to end security processes
    • innovate with new technologies 
Things are making decisions
  • Think about smart locks, smart homes, and smart grids
    • need built-in monitoring and then identifying of risks
  • There have been attacks on infrastructure worldwide, which was done by attacking the software
The future of securing IoT
  • Both customers and businesses need to focus on this
  • Need to look at the entire supply chain
While Snyder did not talk about libraries, consider that libraries are using software which is stored in the cloud or software as a service (SaaS).  That software could be storing information on library users/patrons, including private information such as books borrowed.  A security breach could make that information public.  Or a security breach could be used o alter the user data or alter the information on the library's collection.

Is the personal data stored in libraries a vulnerability that needs more attention?
  • Imagine a child changing his/her personal information so the person can check out adult books.
  • Imagine someone hacking an library system and wiping out fines.
  • Imagine a library's collection information being altered or deleted.
  • Imagine the software being delivered as SaaS being altered at the source, rendering all of its implementations useless.
Snyder noted that the U.S. Is behind in passing laws which would cause non-for-profits to pay attention to their cyber security concerns.

Radhika Garg (@gargradhika) - Does privacy disappear with IoT?

Are the implications that we as consumers are not aware of, in terms of cyber security?

IoT is not a single technology,  it is a combination of sensors, devices, networks, and software that work together to unlock valuable, actionable data.  If you are interacting with any part of that ecosystem, you should be concerned with cyber security. 

Garg asked if people use Dropbox and then asked if people know where the data is actually stored.  We use Dropbox to store a variety of different data, but we have no idea where that data really is and how it is being secured.

Data in the cloud can be used by the cloud service to learn about you, and then use that data, for example, to send you advertisements.

IoT dilemma - the information collected by sensors can be used for services that benefit and simplify people's lives, or it can be used for data mining and other use cases that raise security and privacy concerns.

Imagine the habits that your sensors know about you.

Garg noted that a sensor may only collect data, but then transmit the data to the cloud where it can be analyzed, shared, used, and abused.  Once the data is in the cloud, you have no idea what third parties that data might be shared with.

Although we do anonymize data, data gathered on a person from different sources may contain enough information to de-anonymize all of the data.

Can we collect less data?  Is there a minimal amount of data that is needed for a specific function?

While Garg talked about sensors, it occurred to me that video cameras in our cities and buildings are collecting our images.  Software can be used to identify people in those videos and it can be done automatically.  Software can also then track where people are traveling and when.  Imagine combining that information with sensor data, which could disclose more about your state/health when you were traveling through and between locations.

Garg noted that companies assume that people do not read privacy policies.  She also asked how are we expected to read the privacy policy on sensors, if sensors do not have screens?

Both Garg and Snyder noted that the privacy rules in the EU are better than in the U.S. The EU rules do affect U.S. residents because of U.S. companies doing business in Europe and needing to comply with EU policies.

In the U.S., state and federal laws are not harmonized on what is personal data.  We need to harmonize our laws in the U.S. and then harmonize our laws with the EU.

Next steps for organization in IoT ecosystem include:
  • privacy by design
  • privacy notice and transparency 
Garg ended by talking about the right to be forgotten, which has been written into EU law.

Kim Rose - How hospitals are embracing IoT

Rose talked about privacy legislation related to healthcare, such as the HITECH Act.

Medical devices inside the hospital
  • vital sign monitor
  • surgical procedures
  • intelligent bed
  • medical imaging
Outside the hospital
  • home sleep study
  • CPAP machine
  • cardiac monitor
  • diabetes blood sugar monitor
IoT has changed how medicine is being practiced.

Rose didn't connect her talk to libraries, but I can imagine a patient opting in to having their medical data shared with the hospital's medical library.  That would allow the library to deliver information to a patient which relates to the person's reason for being in the hospitals. Yes, that would raise huge privacy concerns.  Would the benefits outweigh the risks?

The talks this morning have made we wonder about cyber security, the Internet of Things (IoT), and libraries. Is this an area that we're really talking about?  Who are the library leaders in this space?  What conferences are talking about this?

On Twitter (#IoTSUiSchool), Jason Griffey said he is writing a library tech report right now on sensors.  It should be available late 2017 or early 2018.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

So you don't want to be a manager...

Conductor, Manager, Leader
At the start of a new academic year, new MSLIS students begin to explore more about the profession, while also stating what attracts and repels them about librarianship.  One job which repels some students is being a manager.  This is not new. Every year there are students who state firmly that they do not want to manage other people or oversee budgets. I think this view of working in a library is shortsighted and self-limiting. Why?
  • Every librarian manages projects, processes, or events.  That includes digitization programs, summer reading programs, advocacy events, renovation projects, and more.  Some of those projects, processes and events may be small, and they still require someone to be in charge.  That person could be a seasoned librarian or someone who is a new professional.
  • Many library positions have management related responsibilities in their job descriptions, even lower level positions.
  • In smaller public libraries, a new librarian may be hired as the library director.  This tosses that person immediately into the position of being in charge and having to draw upon management-related training gained in graduate school or management-related experience gained in non-LIS positions.
  • If a librarian wants to have a positive impact on the community the person serves, that librarian will need to be involved in decision-making, planning, and implementation.  That person will need to take on responsibilities...and...yes...manage a project, a process or an event.
  • To earn more as a library and information professional, a person needs to take on more responsibility.  More responsibility means taking on managerial tasks.
Let's explore that last bullet point a bit more using the following scenario:
Three LIS graduates all begin similar library jobs at the same time. Two of the LIS graduates shun any work that seems related to "management."  The third person looks for opportunities to manage projects.

One year after their graduation, the graduate who has gained some management experience is promoted, receiving additional responsibilities and a pay increase to go with it.  The other two remain in their same original positions and only receive modest  cost of living pay increases.

Another year goes by.  One of the two LIS graduates, who had not wanted to do anything that seemed like "management," had decided to take on managing small projects.  That person receives more responsibilities and a pay increase to go with it.  This leaves one LIS graduate who is still shunning anything related to management.

A few more years go by. The one LIS graduate who received additional responsibilities after being in the profession for one year is now managing a branch library and being compensated appropriately.  That person has taken on very interesting projects at the branch, which has required being able to create project plans and project budgets. These projects have allowed the person to interact with a number of other librarians and has bolstered the person's reputation.

The LIS graduate who began taking on management responsibilities after a year in the profession has continued to take on more responsibilities.  This person has become known as an effective team leader, who leads without others feeling led.  This person is now looking to move to a different library, which would open up additional opportunities.

The third LIS graduate stayed true to the intent of not taking on any work that involving managing anything. This person did not manage any projects, programs, or events.  This person never handled a budget and was never in charge of any people.  This person never opened or closed the library, because that required managerial skills (and making decisions).  The person never served on any committees, because that could require being in charge at some point.  This person has received modest cost of living raises, but had not received any significant pay raises because the person had not taken on any responsibilities.  This person has watched the other two LIS graduates move into new positions, while this person stayed in the same position.

Do you want to be that last librarian? Why?  Why not?

{Thanks to Susan Mitchell, executive director for the Onondaga County Public Library. for prompting this scenario.}

If you are interested in being a manager or a leader, great! We need you!  If you are not interested in managing or leading, please take a moment and think about what that will mean for your career.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The 1.5 Factor

FractionsWhen we place content online, either through digitization or the creation of new digital works, we have no idea how people will use it.  Yes, we know how we want them to use it, but we don't always know how people really use it. 

Do they consume the content in the order we expect?

Do they listen, watch or read the entire piece?

Do they follow the links or resources which we provide?

This summer, I recorded all of the video lectures which will be used in my class this fall.  After the lectures were created, I had to then watch them all in order to check their quality.  And I did what I frequently do when I listen to podcasts, I changed the speed to 1.5 or 2x normal.  Yes, even I am understandable if you listen to me at twice my normal speaking speed!

Everyone who creates content makes an assumption about its use.  While my assumption in recording the lectures was that students would watch them at their normal speed, I proved to myself that my assumption didn't need to be true. 

I actually don't like hour long podcasts, but what it I realized that I'm going to listen to it in half the time?  I have yet to ingrain my 1.5 reality into how I select what to listen to.  If I did, I'd recognize that those long podcasts really aren't that long and I would begin to consume a broader range of content.

What are your assumptions as you create digital content?  As a consumer of content, what are you doing which might alter your assumptions? Could altering your assumptions expand your horizons?

Monday, September 11, 2017

Article: The ‘time machine’ reconstructing ancient Venice’s social networks

Through this article in Nature, about an extensive program in Venice (Italy), we can see a wonderful use of digitization and machine learning.
[Frédéric Kaplan] has an ambition to capture well over 1,000 years of records in dynamic digital form, encompassing the glorious era of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. The project, which he calls the Venice Time Machine, will scan documents including maps, monographs, manuscripts and sheet music. It promises not only to open up reams of hidden history to scholars, but also to enable the researchers to search and cross-reference the information, thanks to advances in machine-learning technologies.
If you're not interested in reading the article, then watch this short video (2.5 minutes).

Thanks to both Chad Harper and David Vampola for sharing this article with me.  

Friday, September 01, 2017

Are you digtizing what is true?

1940 Census publicity photo
1940 Census publicity photo
We - the global we - are digitizing our history, including birth, death, marriage, census and other records for a vast number of people. looks at these records and uses OCR and algorithms to make sense of them.  However, there are problems.  Records from the late 1800s and early 1900s are handwritten, which can make them difficult to interpret.  Using the information about the age of the person at the census leads to a guess about the year that person was born, and the guess has a 50% chance of being correct.  Then there is the problem of names and if the name is correct. 100 years ago, people knew who each other were and didn't care if the name was misspelled, or if the name was just wrong.  However, now all of these potential errors are causing problems.

We cannot go through every line of data that is being digitized, compare it to other data, and then correct it.  While the data would be more accurate, the process would be too time-consuming and costly. (and I'm sure other sites) allow people to compile information and make corrections on their "copy."  This is a wonderful solution, if the person knows the data is wrong, but what if the person has no idea?

This topic came to mind because I'm researching my family tree and the data isn't always close to being accurate. Thankfully, I know enough about the family tree to be able to make intelligence decisions about the data I'm using (or so I hope).  But I cannot go in and correct what I know is blatantly wrong and that is frustrating.

If you are digitizing material today and making it available, or even archiving born digital materials:
  • How do you know that the information is accurate?  
  • What do you need to tell people about the data, which might help them understand its potential lack of accuracy?  
  • Can you build-in a feedback mechanism that would allow people to provide corrections?
Site of Steinway Hall, W. 57th (LOC)
Site of Steinway Hall, W. 57th
Yes, I know people are thinking about this.  I also know that people are creating systems that do allow for user-generated comments, descriptions, and tagging.  People are also doing this on the Internet in places like Flickr.  You see this, for example, with the historic photos that have been uploaded by the Library of Congress.  If you check the photo on the right, you'll see interesting and useful comments. Can we do more of this?