Reid Goldsborough describe the algorithmic basis for Facebook’s news feed, writing “The ever-changing algorithm behind Facebook’s news feed, called EdgeRank, is … crucial in today’s social media-infused world. It determines what you see when you check Facebook,” … adding … “Facebook is largely mum about EdgeRank, keeping many things private for competitive reasons. But based on what is publicly known as well as EdgeRank’s behavior, Facebook uses EdgeRank to help create your news feed mostly through Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay.” Goldsborough proceeds by describing Affinity Score, Edge Weight, and Time Decay in layman’s terms. He also comments on the echo chamber effect of Facebook’s news feed in his Information Today article. Informative. — Joe
Category Archives: Products & Services
I must be getting old because when I read that AALL gave its annual product of the year award to Casetext’s CARA I didn’t know what it was. But Bob Ambrogi does. He reviewed the service last summer in New Casetext Feature Finds Relevant Cases For You, But Along With It Will Come New Pricing. CARA, which is short for Case Analysis Research Assistant, is a productivity enhancement tool for document review which automatically finds relevant cases to any document you upload into the system. Bob writes “[w]hat CARA is actually doing is comparing the cases in the uploaded document to the cases and articles in its database. For every case in the document, it is looking for other cases that are usually cited together with that case. It uses various indicators to weigh relevance, including how often two cases are cited together and how often they are discussed together in third-party articles contributed by Casetext users.” CARA’s output is a list of relevant cases not mentioned in the uploaded legal memorandum, brief, opinion letter or other document containing legal text.
Kudos to Casetext for creating what sounds like a useful tool. — Joe
“Low-cost can cost you” campaign: Does LexisNexis now acknowledge that Fastcase and Casemaker (and even Google Scholar) pose competitive threats?
On Lextalk, LexisNexis makes an obvious distinction: it offers resources low-cost search services do not provide. In a nutshell, Low-Cost Legal Research = Low-Value Results. LexisNexis Equips You with Much, Much More (March 18, 2017) claims that Lexis Advance is simply better because of its offerings (even if you don’t need the resources, tools and other value-add-ons). No metrics, no comparison of search engine performance, simply an unsubstantiated warning to lawyers that “cost savings usually equals case-law light,” meaning as displayed below, “low-cost can cost you.” See also Lextalk’s Low-Cost Legal Research: Go Cheap, Get Gaps. Go LexisNexis, Gain Confidence (Apr. 5, 2017).
In LexisNexis Comes Out Swinging Against Lower-Cost Legal Research Services, the Lawyerist’s Lisa Needham makes a perceptive observation: “What LexisNexis seems to overlook in their eagerness to go after everyone else is that it merely highlights how much they see things like Fastcase and Google Scholar as competition. If you’re scared enough to mount an entire campaign about how great you are and how terrible other services are, you’ve pretty much already acknowledged that they represent a legitimate threat. Fastcase and Casemaker should be nothing but proud to be highlighted in this fashion.”
Competition is definitely increasing in the small law market with Lexis, Westlaw and Fastcase in a virtual tie in the small law market and it does look like Lexis is mounting a campaign to acquire a larger install base in it. Lextalk recently published posts such as Texas Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, Massachusetts Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly and Illinois Legal Research: 4 Ways to Get It Done Quickly, Thoroughly, all of which were published on April 25, 2017. Each post offers a discount for Lexis Advance that is limited to any attorney in a law firm with 1 – 50 attorneys. So has Lexis been losing ground to Casemaker and Fastcase in the Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois small law market? — Joe
End note: Members of the state bars of Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois receive Fastcase access as a membership benefit.
There is a new legal search service on the block and it intends to compete with Lexis Advance and Westlaw
Judicata is a legal search service still evolving into becoming a fully-fledged, professional grade one but it is getting very close to being ready. The search service already claims to be better than WEXIS. According to Judicata’s CEO Itai Gurari, “[w]e’ve focused on building a search engine that returns the best results the fastest, and at this point it mops the floor with Westlaw and Lexis.” Why? Because Judicata is mapping the law with extreme accuracy and granularity. Bob Ambrogi was given an opportunity to test drive Judicata yesterday and reports his findings today at After Five Years in Stealth Mode, Judicata Reveals Its Legal Research Service. Recommended. — Joe
How a network of bills become a law: What can be learned from GovTrack’s text incorporation analysis for legislative history research
A new analytical tool incorporated into GovTrack late last year reveals when provisions of bills are incorporated into other bills by way of text incorporation analysis. “Only about 3% of bills will be enacted through the signature of the President or a veto override. Another 1% are identical to those bills, so-called ‘companion bills,’ which are easily identified. Our new analysis reveals almost another 3% of bills which had substantial parts incorporated into an enacted bill in 2015–2016. To miss that last 3% is to be practically 100% wrong about how many bills are being enacted by Congress,” writes GovTrack. For details see GovTrack’s blog post and illustration of this new technique. — Joe
In How Google Cashes In on the Space Right Under the Search Bar (NYT, Apr. 23, 2017), Daisuke Wakabayashi wrote, “[w]hen Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reports earnings this week, the internet giant’s big profits are expected to demonstrate yet again that the billboard space accompanying Google queries is the web’s most valuable real estate for advertisements,” adding
In the 17 years since Google introduced text-based advertising above search results, the company has allocated more space to ads and created new forms of them. The ad creep on Google has pushed “organic” (unpaid) search results farther down the screen, an effect even more pronounced on the smaller displays of smartphones.
The changes are profound for retailers and brands that rely on leads from Google searches to drive online sales. With limited space available near the top of search results, not advertising on search terms associated with your brand or displaying images of your products is tantamount to telling potential customers to spend their money elsewhere.
COIN, short for Contract Intelligence, is JPMorgan’s in-house learning machine that parses financial deals, deals that once took lawyers thousands of hours to perform. In JPMorgan Software Does in Seconds What Took Lawyers 360,000 Hours, Bloomberg Markets’ Hugh Son provides a backgrounder on COIN. — Joe
Spurred by customer complaints about the difficulty they experienced navigating BLaw, Bloomberg Law has rolled out a streamlined user interface for conducting searches and finding specific types of content. For much more, see Bob Ambrogi’s In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface. — Joe
The Harvard Law Record published an opinion piece, The Blue Wars: A Report from the Front, by Carl Malamud about the ongoing dispute the Harvard Law Review Association is having with Malamud because of his activities in co-creating and hosting the open-source Baby Blue’s Manual of Legal Citation on Public.Resource.Org. See our earlier post, Is a uniform system of citation an open-source feature of our legal system’s infrastructure? Malamud’s Harvard Law Record article details the history of this dispute. Lawsuit forthcoming? — Joe
In Moneyball for Book Publishers: A Detailed Look at How We Read, New York Times, March 14, 2016, Alexandra Alter and Karl Russell report that Jellybooks, a reader analytics company, is providing statistical analysis of ebook reading behavior to seven unidentified trade publishers.
Here is how it works: the company gives free e-books to a group of readers, often before publication. Rather than asking readers to write a review, it tells them to click on a link embedded in the e-book that will upload all the information that the device has recorded. The information shows Jellybooks when people read and for how long, how far they get in a book and how quickly they read, among other details. It resembles how Amazon and Apple, by looking at data stored in e-reading devices and apps, can see how often books are opened and how far into a book readers get.
Alter and Russell also report that “[f]or the most part, the publishers who are working with Jellybooks are not using the data to radically reshape books to make them more enticing, though they might do that eventually. But some are using the findings to shape their marketing plans.”
Click to enlarge above image to view an example of Jellybooks’ reader analytics. — Joe
Commercializing AI: TR’s Watson Initiative to launch global financial regulation product by year’s end
Among several other product announcements, Thomson Reuters Legal recently disclosed that it will release in beta the first legal product using Watson’s cognitive computing technologies by year’s end. On Dewey B Strategic, Jean O’Grady writes
Ever since TR announced their collaboration with IBM Watson last October, the legal community has been impatient to learn how this alliance will manifest in a legal product. We still don’t know but TR did promise that they will be the first company for built a legal product using Watson technology. The alliance will combine IBM’s cognitive computing with TR’s deep domain expertise. A panel of executives from TR and Watson revealed that there will be a beta product available by the end of 2016. Their first collaboration will focus on taming the complexities of global financial regulation.
Bob Ambrogi adds “The product will help users untangle the sometimes-confusing web of global legal and regulatory requirements and will be targeted at customers in corporate legal, corporate compliance and law firms. Initially, it will focus on financial services, [Erik Laughlin, managing director, Legal Managed Services and Corporate Segment, and head of the Watson Initiative] suggested, but will also address other domains important to corporations.”
Very interesting. Wouldn’t it be something if TR was prepared to demonstrate how this product will work at
AALL ALI AALL in Chicago this year? — Joe
Lex Machina issued a report last Tuesday that analyzes copyright litigation trends over the last five years. The report is impressive for the level of detail in the statistical analysis and charts presented in the 37 page document. The report is designed to highlight legal analytics in copyright litigation. The target audience appears to be plaintiffs with a heavy interest in protecting their media assets, firms that are considering taking on copyright cases, and those with an interest in the mechanics of copyright litigation. As the report indicates, it is the first survey of its kind. I’ve followed file sharing and other IP cases which I have reported on in this forum from time to time. I found the report interesting for its snapshot of how litigation progresses through the courts.
Highlights from the press release include:
- Top plaintiffs include music (Broadcast Music, Sony/ATV Songs, Songs of Universal, UMG Records, EMI, and more), software (Microsoft), fashion (Coach), and textile patterns (Star Fabrics) industries.
- Top defendants include retailers (Ross Stores, TJX (TJ Maxx), Amazon, Burlington Coat Factory, Rainbow USA, J.C. Penny, Sears, Forever 21, Wal-mart, and Nordstroms), music labels (Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings), & publishing / education, (Pearson Education and John Wiley and Sons).
- Doniger Burroughs, a California fashion, art, and entertainment boutique leads among plaintiffs firms with 741 cases, more than double the next firm.
- Copyright litigation is heavily concentrated in the Central District of California (2,496 cases, 26.2% of all since 2009) and the Southern District of New York (1,061 cases, 11.1%).
- Fair use is usually decided on summary judgment.
- The majority of infringement findings happen as a result of default, and almost all default findings are for infringement.
- Top parties winning damages include companies in movies and entertainment (Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal, Paramount Pictures, and more), software (Quantlab, Foundry Networks), and music (UMG Recording).
- In file sharing cases, about 90% of cases settle. Top plaintiffs include movie production companies. And an erotic website leads the list of Internet file-sharing plaintiffs with 4,238 cases – about 15 times as many cases as the next most litigious plaintiff.
The report registration and download link is here.
I should mention that there is a Windows 10 upgrade scam going on. There is an email going around that offers an upgrade but instead encrypts a hard drive for ransom. The details are at ZDNet.
I installed Windows 10 as an upgrade to my Windows 7 machine over the weekend. I wasn’t expecting to do that. Even though I had not reserved a copy, I discovered Windows Update began downloading the program, all three Gbs of it. This was one of several contradictions to stories I had read up to now. Microsoft was sending out copies in waves in that people who had reserved a copy would get the free download at different times. Oh well.
The upgrade went smoothly. The new operating system booted for the first time and allowed me to custom configure how Windows would perform. Customizing the system is not recommended as Microsoft has designed Windows to be as cloud centric as possible. I think I should take a moment here and state that while I appreciate the value and convenience of cloud computing I would like to have as much control over it as possible. In other words, I prefer managing the experience instead of allowing Microsoft to do it for me. In that regard, I encountered several more contradictions.
I had read that Microsoft would override defaults on the target system forcing users to reconfigure their machines after the fact. Mozilla chief Chris Beard had written an angry letter to Microsoft for making the new Edge browser the system default despite the pre-upgrade settings. I don’t use Firefox and have Google Chrome as my default. It was acknowledged and accepted as the Windows 10 default browser without any hassle. Several other programs I used for media remained the defaults despite modern apps from Microsoft that managed this material. I could still use the venerable MS Media Player to play back WMV/A files by default. The player, by the way, is now nothing more than that – a player. The libraries for media are now managed by the photo, movie, and music apps. These will scan the local drive and automatically add what they find.
It does not appear possible to stop this collection unless one manipulates the search locations in the app settings to a location where there is no media. Media in the app library can be removed, though unlike the old Media Player library, it is also removed from the drive to the recycle bin. There doesn’t appear to be an option to delete content from the app lists only. It’s also possible to remove the apps from the start menu by right clicking on the tile and selecting the appropriate option. Built in apps cannot be deleted from the system, only disabled.
Logging into Windows 10 is easy. There are multiple options. My default in Windows 7 was a simple boot to the desktop with no password. I’m the only one who uses the machine in any event and I find that convenient for my use. Windows 10 can preserve that though it really does not want to. Anyone who logs into the Microsoft store with a Microsoft account will find that Windows will require that account to log into the system. That can be changed back to a local account by digging into the system settings and changing it back. Microsoft even then will want to associate a local account with a password with no apparent option to change that. There is a way to eliminate the password requirement by running a command line entry. The instructions are here if anyone wants to do that.
Search in Windows 10 is a bit different. Microsoft has brought the Cortana personal assistant to the desktop. Cortana can be disabled through settings accessed from the Start Page. I did this as I do not have a camera or microphone attached to my desktop. It’s possible to use Cortana by typing in the search box located in the taskbar. There are a few settings worth mentioning. Cortana is designed to improve by learning about an individual over time. That information is stored in the Cloud which is one reason why a Microsoft account is preferred. There are options settings that can clear that information and stop the collection if one wants to do that. Microsoft will tell you that this is not recommended for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, these settings can be changed.
Cortana as well as system search and built in apps is powered by Bing. The default here is to search the machine and the web simultaneously. Using Bing cannot be changed, but as with other settings, it can be turned off. There are options in settings to turn off web search when doing a system search. Microsoft prefers that you not do that.
One pleasant feature of the upgrade is that all of my desktop shortcuts were preserved. That was nice as I like to go straight to the desktop and click on an icon and start working. I know this makes me sound as if I haven’t progressed since XP was released. Far from it. I can appreciate what Microsoft is doing. It’s a connected world out there where people stay in touch with each other and share news, photos, video and the like, all in real time. I think that’s great. I’m not into it at all, but that’s me. What I appreciate the most about Windows 10 is that I can still configure it so I don’t have to use these features. It may be a little bit of work to do that as Microsoft really really wants everyone to be online and constantly connected and tracked to make Windows customized for a better computing experience. I’ll turn all of those features back on if I ever needed that kind of connectivity.
One last thought, Solitaire on Windows 10 is terrible. It’s bare bones as local game. Similar features to the game in Windows 7 are only unlocked through a Microsoft account:
“Sign in with a Microsoft account to get achievements, leaderboards, and have your progress stored in the cloud!”
Oh yay. Not everything needs to be social. I guess I’ll be sticking with the game as it appears on my Android tablet.
UPDATE: Windows Media Player does indeed have a library associated with it. I was wrong about that. I discovered it last night after I played a video with Media Player. It doesn’t appear to sync up with the other media apps in one shared library. That may be because Microsoft really wants people to use a Microsoft account to sync up their media libraries. It’s either that or I managed to turn off all known syncing options (finally!). I even managed to delete OneDrive out of the File Explorer windows. I want to say again that I’m not paranoid about being tracked online. I do have a Google account after all, and Google is the Supreme Emperor of tracking. My goal is to have as much control of my system as possible. If you want paranoia, especially healthy paranoia, this article from RPS puts Microsoft’s tracking of consumers via Windows 10 into perspective.
Windows 10 is available for download today. If anyone had noticed, there is a link in the notification tray for systems running Windows 7 and 8/8.1 offering a free upgrade that’s valid for a year. I wasn’t part of the Windows Insider Program though I followed the news on developments. A modified version of the Start Menu is back that combines search, applications, and the Start Page from Windows 8. Aside from the deeper integration to OneDrive, Windows 10 gets Cortana, a virtual personal assistant that learns more detail about a user over time in order to be more helpful. Personal assistants are all the rage these days with Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Amazon Echo. As John Lennon sang in I Am The Walrus, “Ompa Ompa Everybody’s got one.”
I’m not personally a fan talking to a computer though I can see the utility in integrating this technology into operating systems, especially mobile. I’m a desktop guy through and through. I have an Android tablet that I use to play solitaire when I’m on the train. Other than that, all my real work is on the desktop. It’s nice that Microsoft doesn’t force this kind of interactivity on people as it is possible to turn Cortana off and/or clear the accumulated information. My biggest question about this data is how secure it will be? Hackers might find it interesting. I’m going to wait for that story to break.
Windows 10 has had favorable reviews given the reception to the radical change Windows 8 brought to computing. A lot of people felt that the changes were forced on them with no regard as to how they actually used Windows. The Windows blog entries by former head of Windows development, Steve Sinofsky basically stated that features and design were driven by telemetry from people who used Windows 7 and the test versions of Windows 8. He left the company shortly after Windows 8 went public. I wonder why.
This version of Windows, suggested to be the last, took into account tester comments as well as a more detailed look as to how people used the system. Thus there are a lot of familiar features with new that are for the most part customizable. I can appreciate that. My desktop in Windows 7 looks an awful like XP even down to the bland task bar and desktop shortcuts. What can I say, I’m a sentimentalist.
I plan to upgrade my two desktop computers, though not immediately. I just want to make sure that the mass upgrade process goes smoothly. Any bugs or annoyances should work themselves out in the next month or so. I’m looking forward to the upgrades in any event. I’ll report more on the experience once I get the software on my machines. A guide to Windows 10, features, and the upgrade process is available here from Microsoft.
Your smart TV may be spying on you if it’s manufactured by Vizio. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the brand. I’m on my second set, a 65 inch E Series. That doesn’t mean I like the creepy fact that the set apparently sends back details of what I’m watching regardless of source. That little tidbit came in a story in Fortune about Vizio’s upcoming IPO:
Vizio uses technology integrated into its televisions to determine what a user is watching, regardless of the source. In other words, Vizio knows what you’re watching even if it’s a DVD being played on a gaming console or show being watched via cable TV.
Vizio offers what it calls “smart interactivity.” It’s all in the name of customization that alleges to cater to the individual customer. Fortunately, there is a way to turn it off. Vizio instructions to that effect are here. I can understand (although not approve of) a cable or satellite provider tracking its shows, but DVDs and other delivery mechanisms?
It reminds me of the story about Samsung smart TVs actually listening in on conversations through a digital assistant. Anyway, I’ll be disconnecting my set later on this evening. Any libraries or organizations that use Vizio TVs as displays should take note.
There is an interesting article from the CBC called Academic publishers reap huge profits as libraries go broke. The sub-title is “5 companies publish more than 70 per cent of research papers, study finds.” There is a constant cry from academic libraries in the United States, and I assume Canada, over the cost increases in scientific, medical, and social science journals. Harvard University in fact joined that chorus three years ago in encouraging its scholars to publish in open source publications. Academic libraries in some situations dropped Elsevier subscriptions in protest. Others joined in as well.
The CBC article documents a study of publishers by Vincent Larivière and others from the University of Montreal’s School of Library and Information Science. He found that the top five journal publishers held 53% of the academic journal market and had a 40% profit margin. This sentence explains why that is possible.
“The quality control is free, the raw material is free, and then you charge very, very high amounts – of course you come up with very high profit margins.”
Indeed. There is a link to the full paper within the article. Here’s the abstract:
The consolidation of the scientific publishing industry has been the topic of much debate within and outside the scientific community, especially in relation to major publishers’ high profit margins. However, the share of scientific output published in the journals of these major publishers, as well as its evolution over time and across various disciplines, has not yet been analyzed. This paper provides such analysis, based on 45 million documents indexed in the Web of Science over the period 1973-2013. It shows that in both natural and medical sciences (NMS) and social sciences and humanities (SSH), Reed-Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, and Taylor & Francis increased their share of the published output, especially since the advent of the digital era (mid-1990s). Combined, the top five most prolific publishers account for more than 50% of all papers published in 2013. Disciplines of the social sciences have the highest level of concentration (70% of papers from the top five publishers), while the humanities have remained relatively independent (20% from top five publishers). NMS disciplines are in between, mainly because of the strength of their scientific societies, such as the ACS in chemistry or APS in physics. The paper also examines the migration of journals between small and big publishing houses and explores the effect of publisher change on citation impact. It concludes with a discussion on the economics of scholarly publishing.
It’s published in PLOS ONE, which is an open source journal.
There is an interesting discussion going on at my library. As others may be doing, we are considering the proper mix between print and online resources. ABA law school accreditation Standard 606 now allows for “a core collection of essential materials through ownership or reliable access.” It’s that last part, “reliable access,” that triggers deep soul searching of what to buy in print or what to buy as an electronic subscription. Tempering the rule are other qualifications that state the core collection should support faculty scholarship and the curriculum, and that a collection that consists of a single format may violate Standard 606.
In this context I’ve recommended that we drop the National Reporter System, ALRs, CJS, multiple state codes, and selected treatises that are online. This may sound radical to some. I know that law schools and libraries are experiencing budget cuts due to lower enrollment. That drives part of the analysis. Another factor that bears thought is what we teach these days. The legal writing program at DePaul started teaching all electronic research. We experienced a drop in library visits as a consequence. No more treasure hunts, no answering the same questions over and over at the reference desk.
I can remember how far we’ve come in electronic access. We used to teach print resources because that’s what the legal market had out there. Now electronic access to case law and other primary sources is ubiquitous. At one time it was viable to teach print because the databases were based on print. Understand the organization of print and the online version would make more sense. That’s not so true anymore. Online database providers no longer think in terms of echoing print other than citation and star paging. Certainly there was a time when case law on Westlaw was organized by reporter. Not anymore. It’s all jurisdictional, and that seems natural now compared to looking for a database containing the Northeastern Reporter.
Look at how citators have changed. There was a time when Shepards online would be no more current than the latest print update. Even the CD-ROM product mirrored print. Now everything is dynamic. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to subscribe to the print edition at this point. We cancelled our print copies years ago. If anything was made easier by online access, Shepards, KeyCite, and citators in general are it. They are more complete, can be filtered, and everything is spelled out instead of interpreting symbols attached to citations.
Then there are law reviews. I have to say how much I like Hein Online when it comes to law reviews. Everything back to day one is there in PDF format more or less. We still get paper copies of law reviews but discard them once they appear on Hein. No more binding these books for the collection. Google Scholar works as a handy index to Hein content as well as other scholarly databases.
So now the next question is what is the proper mix for print and online? I know that some libraries have already dropped major primary resources such as reporters. In one sense, we are behind the curve on making that set of decisions. Never in my career had I thought I would be part of this kind of decision. Times change. I find that I’m not very sentimental about physical materials that no one uses at my library.