Public Works Blog Launched by University of Virginia School of Law
The Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center has launched Public Works, a blog that aims to increase public service awareness at the University of Virginia School of Law. The blog features posts on events, fellowships, and job and pro bono opportunities, as well as links to employment resources, the latest public service news, tips on financing public service, and clerkship and public service announcements. [JH]
Bloglines Beta - Now Open to the Public
"Blogliners we're proud to introduce a beta of our latest redesign of Bloglines. Our About Beta overview outlines the key features a personalizable home page, 3 reading-views and drag-and-drop foldering in an Ajax interface. We're inviting you, the Bloglines fans, to the new Bloglines beta in the redesign cycle to provide us feedback. We look forward meeting you in the forums or at conferences to brainstorm on ways to make Bloglines an even better feed reader.
The current Beta is available for Firefox and IE 7 browsers. Of course, the full-featured original Bloglines will still be available during the Beta period." Check it out! [RJ]
Where should judges, lawyers and court personnel draw the line when it comes to blogging and other communications on the Web? Check out what Heather Singer has to say in Bench Blogging, published in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of the National Judicial College's Case in Point.
Hat tip to Ian Best. [JH]
See Who's Editing Wikipedia (Diebold, CIA) Using Wikipedia Scanner
Interesting article from Wired:
"On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.
In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.
Wikipedia Scanner -- the brainchild of Cal Tech computation and neural-systems graduate student Virgil Griffith -- offers users a searchable database that ties millions of anonymous Wikipedia edits to organizations where those edits apparently originated, by cross-referencing the edits with data on who owns the associated block of internet IP addresses." [RJ]
"Inspired by news last year that Congress members' offices had been editing their own entries, Griffith says he got curious, and wanted to know whether big companies and other organizations were doing things in a similarly self-interested vein.
"Everything's better if you do it on a huge scale, and automate it," he says with a grin.
This database is possible thanks to a combination of Wikipedia policies and (mostly) publicly available information.
The online encyclopedia allows anyone to make edits, but keeps detailed logs of all these changes. Users who are logged in are tracked only by their user name, but anonymous changes leave a public record of their IP address.
Share Your Sleuthing!
Cornered any companies polishing up their Wikipedia entries? Spotted any government spooks rewriting history? Try Virgil Griffith's Wikipedia Scanner yourself, then submit your finds and vote on other readers' discoveries here.
The organization also allows downloads of the complete Wikipedia, including records of all these changes.
Griffith thus downloaded the entire encyclopedia, isolating the XML-based records of anonymous changes and IP addresses. He then correlated those IP addresses with public net-address lookup services such as ARIN, as well as private domain-name data provided by IP2Location.com.
The result: A database of 34.4 million edits, performed by 2.6 million organizations or individuals ranging from the CIA to Microsoft to Congressional offices, now linked to the edits they or someone at their organization's net address has made.
Some of this appears to be transparently self-interested, either adding positive, press release-like material to entries, or deleting whole swaths of critical material."
In Why We Twitter: Understanding Microblogging, Akshay Java and Tim Finin of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Xiaodan Song and Belle Tseng of NEC Laboratories America analyze user intentions associated with Twittering. From the introduction:
Microblogging is a new form of communication in which users can describe their current status in short posts distributed by instant messages, mobile phones, email or the Web. Twitter, a popular microblogging tool has seen a lot of growth since it launched in October, 2006. In this paper, we present our observations of the microblogging phenomena by studying the topological and geographical properties of Twitter’s social network.
See also Deconstructing Twitter. [JH]