How people find books

 

I can’t tell you how many times a faculty member has sent me a reference from Amazon asking if we could get a certain book.  Often we already have the book in our collection, but the go-to source for many for finding books is Amazon, not the OPAC.  This new NBER Working Paper talks about the online tools consumers use to find books of interest.

Searching for Physical and Digital Media: The Evolution of
Platforms for Finding Books
by Michael R. Baye, Babur De los Santos, Matthijs R. Wildenbeest – #19519 (IO PR)

Abstract:

This paper provides a data-driven overview of the different online
platforms that consumers use to search for books and booksellers, and
documents how the use of these platforms is shifting over time. Our
data suggest that, as a result of digitization, consumers are
increasingly conducting searches for books at retailer sites and
closed systems (e.g., the Kindle and Nook) rather than at general
search engines (e.g., Google or Bing). We also highlight a number of
challenges that will make it difficult for researchers to accurately
measure internet-based search behavior in the years to come.
Finally, we highlight a number of open agenda items related to the
pricing of books and other digital media, as well as consumer search
behavior.

Google Fresh

Announced today on the Official Google Blog: Google is bringing you ‘fresher’ search results.

Based on changes in their ranking algorithm, approximately 35 percent of searches will be impacted (or made ‘fresher’).  The motivation behind this change is to give searchers more recent results for current and regularly occurring events.

According to the post, the changes will impact searches for:

  • “Recent events or hot topics. For recent events or hot topics that begin trending on the web, you want to find the latest information immediately. Now when you search for current events like [occupy oakland protest], or for the latest news about the [nba lockout], you’ll see more high-quality pages that might only be minutes old.”
  • “Regularly recurring events. Some events take place on a regularly recurring basis, such as annual conferences like [ICALP] or an event like the [presidential election]. Without specifying with your keywords, it’s implied that you expect to see the most recent event, and not one from 50 years ago. There are also things that recur more frequently, so now when you’re searching for the latest [NFL scores], [dancing with the stars] results or [exxon earnings], you’ll see the latest information.”
  • “Frequent updates. There are also searches for information that changes often, but isn’t really a hot topic or a recurring event. For example, if you’re researching the [best slr cameras], or you’re in the market for a new car and want [subaru impreza reviews], you probably want the most up to date information. “
Google recently eliminated (or ‘subtracted’) the power search “Plus” operator.   With all of these changes, it might be time for a bit of a re’fresher’ for some of us…..

Online Translation: Passing Switzerland, Spain is now in the hands of the video and suture

Somewhat pessimistic take on the future of machine translation from an editor at Forbes.

Computers Will They Ever Learn?

Lee Gomes

Forbes, Vol.186 #2, p.44 (August 9, 2010)

http://www.forbes.com/global/2010/0809/columnists-lee-gomes-digital-tools-computers-will-they-learn.html

Ask most computer programmers what would happen if, suddenly, their computers got a thousand times faster. Most would rhapsodize about being able to immediately put that extra power to good use.

Ask Franz Josef Och the same question, though, and he says that even with a machine a thousand times more powerful than today’s his program wouldn’t run significantly better than it does right now, as far as most people could tell. Which is quite an admission, because Och is responsible for one of the most amazing computer programs in the world: He is head of the division at Google that runs Google Translate.

 

 

Two Million Dollar Gift for Law.Gov

Today, Google announced the winners of their Project 10^100 , giving 10 million dollars in total to ideas that will help change the world.  (Short video of the winning ideas here.)

Law.Gov is one of the winners.  As the Google posting states:

Public.Resource.Org is a non-profit organization focused on enabling online access to public government documents in the United States. We are providing $2 million to Public.Resource.Org to support the Law.Gov initiative, which aims to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to all.

What great news!

Carl Malamud writes on the O”Reilly Radar today: “This grant is going to help Public.Resource.Org continue our work on Law.Gov and Video.Gov. For Law.Gov, this is going to mean a shift into real production, building on the very solid consensus that was reached earlier this year on the Core Law.Gov Principles.

Carl Malamud also shared a status update for Law.gov efforts in that post.  Beyond the amazing gift from Google, the big updates include:

  1. Before the Law.Gov Report can be finished, video from the 15 Law.Gov workshops needs cleaning up and cataloging. ” Point.B Studio and Foolish Tree Films have been hard at work creating a 15-DVD set of workshop proceedings with approximately 70 pieces of video. The video will all get released as a final mix on the net as well as on DVDs printed at Lulu, and this core will form the basis for the next steps of the report.”
  2. To help further the National Inventory of Legal Materials,  there will soon be a “bug tracker where people can enter their survey results, in particular creating trouble tickets for jurisdictions that violate the Law.Gov Core Principles.”
  3. Carl Malamud is close to “a final agreement with UC Hastings and the Internet Archive to scan 3 million pages of 9th Circuit briefs.”  And, Malamud has sent California’s Title 24 out to be “double-keyed, turning it from PDF scans into valid marked up hypertext.”   Carl Malamud is also working on an effort to make fully available online the local codes of his surrounding North Bay Area communities.

More developments are coming up.

Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content

A recent study published in the International Journal of Communication (IJOC) would appear to indicate that digital natives do not have much, if any, understanding of Web searching — placing their trust unquestioningly, it seems, in Google or other brand-name search engines or websites:

Trust Online: Young Adults’ Evaluation of Web Content

Abstract:

Little of the work on online credibility assessment has considered how the information-seeking process figures into the final evaluation of content people encounter. Using unique data about how a diverse group of young adults looks for and evaluates Web content, our paper makes contributions to existing literature by highlighting factors beyond site features in how users assess credibility. We find that the process by which users arrive at a site is an important component of how they judge the final destination. In particular, search context, branding and routines, and a reliance on those in one’s networks play important roles in online information-seeking and evaluation. We also discuss that users differ considerably in their skills when it comes to judging online content credibility.

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.com.

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, Westlaw — New, Improved

From today’s New York Times:

The New York Times, Monday, January 25, 2010, p. B5

Technology

Legal Sites Plan Revamps As Rivals Undercut Price

By Ashlee Vance

Westlaw and LexisNexis, the dominant services in the market for computerized legal research, will undergo sweeping changes in a bid to make it easier and faster for lawyers to find the documents they need.

And in the February issue of the ABA Journal:

Legal Technology
Exclusive: Inside the New Westlaw, Lexis & Bloomberg Platforms
By Jill Schachner Chanen

After decades of Westlaw and Lexis rolling out incremental improvements, real innovation has become the watchword in online legal research. At stake: billions in revenue and a big piece of your computer desktop.

The ABA Journal article quotes yours truly.   A point I was trying to make, but it didn’t make the article, was how useful I find added features such as Westlaw’s ResultsPlus and Lexis’s Related Content.  These features steer students to what could be very valuable secondary source material that they wouldn’t necessarily think to search since many have the inclination to jump feet first into the case law databases.

French Government Report: Creativity and the Internet

The French government has published a report (Creation et Internet) on the future regulation of the Internet. The report discusses intellectual property and proposals to tax search engines, such as Google. Patrick Zelnik, Jacques Tubon, and Guillaume Cerutti authored the report on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.  Text available in French. 

Creation et Internet (January 2010)

http://www.culture.gouv.fr/mcc/Espace-Presse/Dossiers-de-presse/Rapport-Creation-et-Internet

E-books, on the cusp of their “iPod moment”?

Full page Analysis piece in today’s Financial Times:

Brought to book

Publishing Amid rapid growth in the number of digital titles and devices to read them on, an industry barely changed isnce Gutenberg is confronting upheaval, write Ben Fenton and Salamander Davoudi

Financial Times, Friday, October 16, 2009, p. 7

From the story:

. . .

At the Frankfurt Book Fair this week, the talk has been all about the impact of the e-book, with scores of sessions and seminars devoted to discussing the implications of devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader. Another hot topic is Google’s digitisation of, so far, 10m books including about 9m still protected by copyright.

The Google Books project, arguably the first attempt to collect the planet’s collective knowledge in one (cyber) space since the Library of Alexandria was founded in the third century BC, also includes plans to allow people to buy out-of-print books from Espresso printing and binding machines.

. . .

Overall, industry executives and analysts expect digital books to reach about 20-25 per cent of the market over the next decade as publishers await their “iPod moment”, the appearance of a piece of hardware that gives the digital incarnation of the written word the same volcanic momentum that transformed the consumption, and the business, of music.

E-books going mainstream? Getting “Napsterized?” and “Advantage Google”

Really eye-opening (to me, anyway) article in the Sunday Business section of today’s New York Times:

DIGITAL DOMAIN
Will Books Be Napsterized?
By RANDALL STROSS
As the hardware for electronic books moves closer to the
mainstream, publishers wonder whether their industry can be
spared the potential problems of piracy.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/business/04digi.html?th&emc=th

From the story:

Free file-sharing of e-books will most likely come to be associated with RapidShare, a file-hosting company based in Switzerland. It says its customers have uploaded onto its servers more than 10 petabytes of files — that’s more than 10 million gigabytes — and can handle up to three million users simultaneously. Anyone can upload, and anyone can download; for light users, the service is free. RapidShare does not list the files — a user must know the impossible-to-guess U.R.L. in order to download one.

This has significance, according to Mr. Stross, because e-books are going mainstream:

. . . E-book hardware is on the verge of going mainstream. More dedicated e-readers are coming, with ever larger screens. So, too, are computer tablets that can serve as giant e-readers, and hardware that will not be very hard at all: a thin display flexible enough to roll up into a tube.

And be sure to read Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society fellow Lewis Hyde’s essay in the New York Times Book Review today, “Advantage Google.”

Nothing in the history of copyright permits the treatment of ‘orphan’ works spelled out in the proposed settlement.

E-book advocates highlight content evolution

Story in today’s Financial Times:

E-book advocates highlight conent evolution

By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson

From the story:

But the technology and pricing of e-readers is changing fast, as devices from Interead, Hearst and Plastic Logic, backed by retailer Barnes & Noble, join Amazon and Sony’s brands.  Forrester Research expects the US e-reader market to grow from 1m units to 12m by 2012 as new devices offer wireless connections, touch screens and, in time, colour displays.

Changing fast, but not fast enough.  Today classes begin for 1Ls here at Stanford, and already one professor is reporting that the bookstore does not have sufficient copies of the casebook available.

There’s also a related front-page story from today’s paper:  “French book publisher warns of Google-Amazon pricing threat.  Deep cuts being forced,” says Hachette chief.  By Ben Hall in Paris.

For more www.ft.com/mediachallenge