I want to thank all the readers of old LLB for making our last month on the Law Professor Blogs Network such a smash hit. Not counting our We’re Moving post, Mark and I published only 2 posts on old LLB in September (because I forgot that I had scheduled them) while traffic reached record-breaking heights — 59,947 page views with 57,395 visits as measured by SiteMeter.

Wait a minute, that’s virtually a 1 to 1 ratio of views per visits. Ditto for August. Normally old LLB’s ratio was 1.4 page views per visit as logged by SiteMeter.  I need to amend my early statement:

Thank you robots for making the last two months so special for old LLB.

Typically about 50% of traffic to a web destination is generated by robots. The above 1:1.4 stat for old LLB included such robot traffic. Then there are botnets designed to mess with web traffic stats. See Christopher Steward and Suzanne Vranica’s Phony Web Traffic Tricks Digital Ads (WSJ).

In the case of old LLB’s August-September traffic increase, I think another acknowledgement must be sent out into the uncensored blogosphere:

Thanks Blog Emperor Caron for your tech crew’s “robust testing” before launching the Law Professor Blogs Network’s make-over in August.

Initially I thought googlebot was hitting “LPBN 2.0” just because of the implementation of the redesign generally. Perhaps not. No chance that robots hit old LLB during its last two months so frequently because of the sloppy implementation of robo-ads on Network blogs, right?

I don’t know about current Network authors but I’m thinking this is “bad for business”.  As illustrated by LLB’s SiteMeter stats, below, some but not all Network blogs have  experienced a similar — purely coincidental, right? — traffic pattern change starting in August. Oops.

And then there is the traffic log for one of two SiteMeters for Blog Emperor Caron’s own blog. Over one million page views in September and 2 million page views since August as of last evening.  See  the below screen capture. — Joe

Old LLB Traffic StatsTaxProf Blog SiteMeter Log

I assume everyone is sitting on pins and needles over whether the government will be pushed into default by Congress’ seeming inability to fund the government and/or raise the debt limit.  I admit that I’ve probably spent more than a few minutes over the past few days wandering the chattering class web sites while nervously thumbing my latest TIAA/CREF quarterly statement.  I’m not going to take a stand on how this is going to (or ought to) turn out.  The latest news is that the Senate leadership has reached a funding agreement with House Speaker John Boehner going along with allowing a House vote.  Perhaps my and more than a few others’ retirement balances are safe for a few more months.  I’ll be happy when the legislation is signed into law.

One of the casualties of the shutdown has been government web sites.  Sites have either been down or available with messages saying they are not being updated due to the shutdown.  The Federal Trade Commission site still features a stark page stating the site is not available.  Sites that are available but with messages stating they are not being updated at present include the White House, the Department of Justice, and other major cabinet departments.  I’m happy to report that the Library of Congress web site appears to be functioning though it has a message saying it is not being updated.  Earlier reports indicated that the LOC was one of the first sites to become totally unavailable.  Thomas and FDSys are working as well, though the latter says it is processing congressional material in any event, even if it’s not posted immediately. The Federal Register is kept current to some extent.  Thomas, by the way, is not going to be with us much longer.  A message on that site says the Thomas web address will redirect to FDSys starting in November.

The Supreme Court is still going despite the shutdown.  The latest message on the Court’s web site says everything will continue, including public access to its building at least until the 17th of October.  We’ll see how normal everything becomes once the appropriations are made.

 

Mark

Google and Facebook are getting to be more and more like each other when it comes to taking advantage of user information.  Google announced today that it will show a +1 and picture of the friend who gave the recommendation in ads and searches.  These are called “shared endorsements.”  Google does offer a mechanism to opt out.  There is a check box in Google Account settings that reads “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”  The box is checked by default.  Unchecking it prevents sharing.  Press reports on the new setting are in PC Magazine and ZDNet.  The new setting goes into effect on November 11.

Facebook is making a change to privacy settings on the social network as well.  It is removing the ability for an individual to hide their timeline from search by name.  Facebook had eliminated the setting a while back for those who had not selected it.  This action now removes the opt-out for the less than 1% of accounts that selected it, calling it “and old search setting.”  The site suggests using other privacy settings to limit information that can be seen by others.  I can image there are indignant individuals who use Facebook but resent the lack of control over privacy.  Then there are individuals who have genuine privacy concerns, such as hiding from stalkers or abusive ex-’s.   The report in Ars Technica has the details.

Mark

Launched in 1992, the line-mode browser “was the first web browser with a cross-platform codebase so it could be installed on many different kinds of computers. It was a relatively simple piece of software with a very basic interface, but in the early days of the web, it was instrumental in demonstrating the power of this new medium.” You can revisit the very first universally accessible web browser by clicking on the “Launch Line Mode Brower” button here.

Hat tip to Nat Torkington’s Four short links: 7 October 2013 (O’Reilly Radar) for this gem.  — Joe

Connie Crosby asks an interesting question on the SLAW blog:  Where Are the MOOCs for Law Librarians?  She’s really channeling Katie Thomas in posing the question.  Thomas identifies programs for librarians, though these are aimed broadly at information science.  There really aren’t any that mix law and librarianship as related concepts.  I can think of a couple of reasons why there aren’t any specific MOOC offerings for law librarians.

One is that there is a lot of background technical work that goes into making a MOOC work successfully.  Universities that offer MOOC’s will partner with entities such as Coursera rather than building the necessary infrastructure from scratch.  Another is that LIS programs tend not to offer more than one or two courses that focus directly on law librarianship.  I would think that any MOOCs they present would reflect that limited specialization within their courses.

That leaves the professional organizations as a possible sponsor of MOOCs aimed at law librarians.  There is certainly no lack of educational opportunities at the AALL annual meeting.  The regional chapters put on educational programs at least once per year.  Could they possibly present these as a MOOC?  I don’t know.  I think the professional organizations are the most likely organizers of content aimed at law librarians.

AALL offers webinars from time to time.  The next one is The Law of E-books scheduled for October 24th.  The description notes “This program is sponsored by AALL/Bloomberg Continuing Education Grants Program.”  Maybe it’s time to explore partnerships with vendors to underwrite a law librarian MOOC.  I’ll say from the outset that I’m not addressing the politics of vendor partnerships.  There is a model and a precedent, however, for the idea that a vendor can help underwrite a CLE program.  Why not in the form of a MOOC?  I would hope that AALL and the regional chapters consider the idea.  Maybe then we’ll see an answer to Connie and Katie’s question.  Hat tip to Judy Gaskell for the link to SLAW.

Mark

A seven-month investigation by KrebsOnSecurity revealed that more than 1,300 customers of SSNDOB, an ID theft service, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars looking up SSNs, birthdates, and driver license records and unauthorized credit and background reports obtained by hacking into LexisNexis, D&B and other major data brokers. The finding is based on a copy of the SSNDOB database that became available after the ID theft service was itself hacked.

According to the SSNDOB’s online dashboard, the hackers had access to LN’s internal networks as far back as April 10, 2013 and D&B’s at least as far back as March 27, 2013. For details, see KrebsOnSecurity’s Data Broker Giants Hacked by ID Theft Service. See also Dan Goodin’s How LexisNexis and others may have unwittingly aided identity thieves (Ars Technica).

Joe

It’s nice to be back after what I will call a “vacation” from the blog.  As a way of getting back in the swing of things, let’s see what developments have taken place in the down time.  These are the kinds of things I covered at our former blog.

The Apple e-book trial ended in early summer with a finding of liability for attempting to fix e-book prices.  Apple continues to deny the finding by Judge Denise Cote and plans to appeal.  The Court issued an injunction specifying remedies on September 6th.  These include forbidding Apple from entering into publisher contracts containing MFN clauses for five years; retailers having the right to discount e-books for two years; staggered windows for negotiations with the settling publishers, in settlement order; and requiring an external compliance monitor who would make sure Apple complies with the terms of the Court’s order.  The one remedy denied to the Justice Department was its request to allow in-app purchases on iDevices without having vendors pay the standard 30% commission to Apple.  The Justice Department would further expand that requirement to other media besides books.  The Judge declined the request stating essentially that she did not want to regulate Apple’s overall business model.  More details, including a copy of the Court’s order, are at paidContent.

The ABA Taskforce on the Future of Legal Education issued its latest draft report on September 20th.  The key conclusions include the fact that a student with lower LSAT scores and GPA will not get a greater return on investment as they are less likely eligible for student aid.  The better students will get aid regardless of need.  “These practices are in need of serious re-engineering.”  I can hear a dean somewhere asking “but what about the rankings?”

The twin components of accreditation and innovation are addressed by noting how current accreditation standards are worthy of the profession up to now.  The problem is that they standardize much of legal education in a way that stifles innovation.  Regulation should allow for flexibility and experimentation in constructing a law program that prepares a student to deliver legal services.  “The Task Force thus recommends that a number of the Standards be repealed or dramatically liberalized.”  Here’s another conclusion that will not be popular with the faculty:  “The balance between doctrinal instruction and focused preparation for the delivery of legal services needs to shift still further toward developing the competencies required by people who will deliver services to clients.”  Legal Writing programs just became a little more important.

The Report additionally calls for expanding the number of people who can deliver common legal services through training and certification that is short of the full J.D. program.  The cost of legal services to the general public is skyrocketing because of the cost of training lawyers.  Something along these lines would make legal services more affordable.  The ABA Journal has additional details.

Regular readers of our old site know that I covered Supreme Court cases for the last several years.  I intend to continue that practice as the new term begins next Monday.  I’ll continue to add significant cases from the lower courts.  You may remember a case out of Virginia last year where a federal judge found that a Facebook “like” was not protected speech.  The Fourth Circuit recently decided otherwise.  I’ll also be covering significant technology developments.  The public update to Windows 8/8.1 is just a few short weeks away, and there’s the Surface 2 as well.  Yahoo has a new logo, and Google is still in trouble with the European Union and member states.  There will be commentary on educational technology as always. There will also be book reviews of new Oxford University Press items and other publishers.  Everyone take note that I am a slow reader when it comes to long form.  Law school (reading too many doctrinal cases lo those many years ago) lowered my desire to pick up a book, and if that desire ever re-awakened, well the pace of the Internet turned it into consumption of zombie short form.  Lots of it.

And I just may review the occasional media item.  I just picked up Simon Schama’s History of Britain (BBC Special Edition DVD set).  I highly recommend it.  If you’re interested in Scooby-Doo, well I’ve got something to say.  Beyond that, welcome to the new Law Librarian blog.  Thank you for reading.

Mark