Law and Legal
Podcast – “The National Archives has been collecting records of the United States since 1934. It holds billions of documents, photographs, and objects that tell the story of our country and our Presidents. White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin talks to David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, about the importance of record-keeping, and how presidential libraries tell the story of a president’s time in the White House.”
Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University. 3 Practical Tools To Help Regulators Develop Better Laws And Policies a Policy Paper on Autonomous Vehicles, July 2018.
“Regulators and policymakers are driving efforts to deliver the benefits of automated vehicles (AVs) to the public as soon as possible, while minimizing their potential challenges. However, there are still many open questions regarding the best approach to achieving this objective. Key stakeholders—including regulators, policymakers, industry, citizens, and academia—have not yet reached a consensus on the approaches regulators should take in developing robust public policies for the governance of AVs. Understanding the types of regulatory challenges for AVs and using new practical tools or using traditional tools in a different way, would help with this problem of developing better AV policies and regulations. This policy paper analyzes several categories of regulatory challenges surrounding AVs and introduces three practical tools (Legal Interfaces, Law Labs, and Structured Dialogues) that can be utilized by policymakers and regulators in developing effective AV policies.”
14% of Americans have changed their mind about an issue because of something they saw on social media
“For most Americans, exposure to different content and ideas on social media has not caused them to change their opinions. But a small share of the public – 14% – say they have changed their views about a political or social issue in the past year because of something they saw on social media, according to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted May 29-June 11. Although it’s unclear what issues people changed their views about, within the past year a variety of social and political issues – from the #MeToo movement to #BlackLivesMatter and #MAGA – have been discussed on social media. Certain groups, particularly young men, are more likely than others to say they’ve modified their views because of social media. Around three-in-ten men ages 18 to 29 (29%) say their views on a political or social issue changed in the past year due to social media. This is roughly twice the share saying this among all Americans and more than double the shares among men and women ages 30 and older (12% and 11%, respectively). There are also differences by race and ethnicity, according to the new survey. Around one-in-five black (19%) and Hispanic (22%) Americans say their views changed due to social media, compared with 11% of whites. Social media prompted views to change more among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (17%) than among Republicans and Republican leaners (9%). Within these party groups, there are also some differences by gender, at least among Democrats. Men who are Democrats or lean Democratic (21%) are more likely than their female counterparts (14%) to say they’ve changed their minds. However, equal shares of Republican and Republican-leaning men and women say the same (9% each)…”
Swissinfo: “It has been 20 years since Swiss banks agreed to compensate Holocaust victims for assets lost during the Second World War. A documentary takes a look at the dormant Swiss bank account scandal. The conflict over Jewish assets in Swiss bank accounts culminated in the 1990s in what would become Switzerland’s largest foreign policy crisis since the Second World War.
The following report and embedded videos are from a Swiss documentary, The Meili Story external link.
Everything started with Greta Beer. She is 97 today and lives in Boston. Her father was a wealthy textile manufacturer in Germany before the Second World War with bank accounts in Switzerland. After the war, Beer and her mother’s search for their father’s money in Swiss banks was in vain. Her case became public in the 1990s and eventually led Republican Senator Alfonse D’Amato, Chairman of the Banking Commission, to invite her to a hearing in Washington. The Swiss government underestimated the brewing storm on the other side of the Atlantic. It was up to the then Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss, who is Jewish, to inform her cabinet colleagues of Switzerland’s actions during the Second World War..
…The report states that the Swiss National Bank was the recipient of large amounts of Nazi plunder from countries Germany had occupied, including gold from the teeth of concentration camp prisoners. The thesis was put forward that through such purchases Switzerland helped prolong the war. Switzerland had to come to terms with its past. The debate about the country’s wartime role was a central feature defining its identity: neutrality…” [h/t to the indefatigable Jacqueline Royce. Through Dr. Royce I met and listening to Greta Beer’s remarkable history, and am now grateful to see this inexorably and long overdue report and video. Greta Beer is a remarkable woman of courage, perspective and persistence. Her pursuit of justice has given voice to those who have long ago passed away – may their memory be a blessing.]
Knowledge@Wharton – interview transcript and podcast: “During the financial crisis of 2008, employment fell dramatically, as was expected. But in the economic recovery that followed, only certain jobs bounced back. A research paper by Wharton finance professor Nikolai Roussanov looks at this phenomenon and correlates it with technological adoption by companies during a down economy. The paper, whose co-authors are Cornell University professor Mathieu Taschereau-Dumouchel and Wharton doctoral student Alex Kopytov, is titled “Short-Run Pain, Long-Run Gain? Recessions and Technological Transformation.” Roussanov recently sat down with Knowledge@Wharton to explain the scope and goal of the research as well as what they found.” [h/t Marcus Zillman]
CNET: “Home DNA testing has gone from a curiosity to a competitive market in the past decade, with at least a dozen companies now competing with trailblazers such as Ancestry and 23andMe. But before we compare and contrast the available options, let’s take a look at exactly why you’d invest in a DNA testing service — including the upsides and the caveats. Services available – If you’re using a home DNA testing service, you’re likely looking for one of three things:
Ancestry and family history: The first big draw of a full DNA test is that you’ll get a detailed breakdown on ancestry and ethnicity, and the migration patterns of your ancestors. Spoiler alert: Your ethnic background may be radically different than you think it is.
Relative identification: With your permission, some DNA services will let you connect with relatives you never knew you had — other folks with matching DNA who have used the service and likewise given their permission to connect to possible relations.
Health and disease info: DNA testing can also indicate which conditions for which you may have a preponderance. It’s a controversial feature, to be sure. Knowing that you have a genetic predisposition to a certain form of cancer may make you more vigilant for testing, but it may also lead to increased stress — worrying about a potential condition that may never develop, even if you’re “genetically susceptible” to it. The possibility of false positives and false negatives abound — any such information should be discussed with your doctor before you act upon it…”
WASHINGTON, August 8, 2018 — “Earlier this week, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) held its first forum to discuss management of digital records [via YouTube] moving into the 21st century. As of December, 31, 2022, the agency will no longer accept records in analog or text form. So NARA is proactively providing guidance now on how Federal agencies can best meet the new electronic records management (ERM) requirements of the future…The aim is to have the records in good order when they are eventually transferred to NARA. FERMI, which launched in October 2015, strives to help agencies navigate the vendor marketplace and procure electronic records management tools and services to meet NARA requirements as well as their specific needs. Laurence Brewer, Chief Records Officer of the United States, stands at the podium with a panel discussing management of electronic records….Next, vendors will be working the GSA to provide their solutions to problems in scenarios in so-called “use cases” developed by NARA that present problems agencies will encounter in managing electronic records. For now, the “use cases” focus on electronic messaging. Future “use cases” will focus on social media, websites, databases, and desktop applications. NARA has been preparing for the transition to electronic recordkeeping and management for decades since it created the Electronic Records Archives (ERA). The ERA will hold the most important electronic records created by Federal agencies…”
Just how much personal information are your apps gathering? “And do they really need so much? The average smartphone user these days has between 60 and 90 apps on their device. Most of these apps request some sort of information about you and the device you are using. They may want to know your name, your email address, or your real-world address. But because smartphones are so powerful, they can also get quite a bit more than that, such as your exact location. Some apps will even request access to the device’s camera or microphone. While all of this is done with the user’s consent, you may be surprised at the level of access some apps have to personal data. Did you know that 45 percent of the most popular Android apps and 25 percent of the most popular iOS apps request location tracking, for example? Or that 46 percent of popular Android apps and 25 percent of popular iOS apps request permission to access your device’s camera? Some Android apps even ask you to give them access to your SMS messages and phone call logs. Under the microscope – In order to find out what kind of data your apps may be looking for, we decided to put the most popular to the test. We downloaded and analyzed the top 100 free apps as listed on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store on May 3, 2018. For each app, we tried to find out two main things: how much personal information was the user sharing with the app and which smartphone features the app accessed?…”
Can Microsoft Academic help to assess the citation impact of academic books? Kayvan Kousha, Mike Thelwall (Submitted on 4 Aug 2018) arXiv:1808.01474 [cs.DL] (or arXiv:1808.01474v1 [cs.DL] for this version)
“Despite recent evidence that Microsoft Academic is an extensive source of citation counts for journal articles, it is not known if the same is true for academic books. This paper fills this gap by comparing citations to 16,463 books from 2013-2016 in the Book Citation Index (BKCI) against automatically extracted citations from Microsoft Academic and Google Books in 17 fields. About 60% of the BKCI books had records in Microsoft Academic, varying by year and field. Citation counts from Microsoft Academic were 1.5 to 3.6 times higher than from BKCI in nine subject areas across all years for books indexed by both. Microsoft Academic found more citations than BKCI because it indexes more scholarly publications and combines citations to different editions and chapters. In contrast, BKCI only found more citations than Microsoft Academic for books in three fields from 2013-2014. Microsoft Academic also found more citations than Google Books in six fields for all years. Thus, Microsoft Academic may be a useful source for the impact assessment of books when comprehensive coverage is not essential.”
Chronicle of Higher Education: “Scholarly reading is a craft — one that academics are expected to figure out on our own. After all, it’s just reading. We all know how to do that, right? Yes and no. Scholarly reading remains an obscure, self-taught process of assembling, absorbing, and strategically deploying the writing of others. Digital technology has transformed the research process, making it faster and easier to find sources and to record and retrieve information. Like it or not, we’ve moved beyond card catalogs, stacks of annotated books and articles, and piles of 3×5 cards. What hasn’t changed, however, is the basic way we go about reading scholarly work. In graduate school, we are told to “do the reading” and “know the literature,” in order to understand our field and master a particular corner of it. We do our best to absorb key sources and orient ourselves to the discipline so that we can demonstrate our mastery in preliminary exams, dissertation proposals, and literature reviews. Throughout our academic careers, that remains our mandate: Find the relevant literature, make sense of it, and then use it in our own scholarly work. But how, exactly? Rookie scholars and established ones alike could benefit from a clearer, more detailed understanding of how to read effectively. For me, the craft of scholarly reading proceeds in three phases, each with goals and pitfalls…”
Sherwin, Richard K., Visual Literacy for the Legal Profession (January 15, 2018). Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3212819
“Digital technology has transformed the way we communicate in society. Swept along on a digital tide, words, sounds, and images easily, and often, flow together. This state of affairs has radically affected not only our commercial and political practices in society, but also the way we practice law. Unfortunately, legal education and legal theory have not kept up. Inconsistencies and unpredictability in the way courts ascertain the admissibility of various kinds of visual evidence and visual argumentation, lapses in the cross examination of visual evidence at trial, and inadequately theorized notions of visual meaning and the epistemology of affect tell us that the status quo in legal education is untenable. Law teachers today have an obligation to provide their students with the rudiments of visual literacy.”
NLM – “MedPix® is a free open-access online database of medical images, teaching cases, and clinical topics, integrating images and textual metadata including over 12,000 patient case scenarios, 9,000 topics, and nearly 59,000 images. Our primary target audience includes physicians and nurses, allied health professionals, medical students, nursing students and others interested in medical knowledge. The content material is organized by disease location (organ system); pathology category; patient profiles; and, by image classification and image captions. The collection is searchable by patient symptoms and signs, diagnosis, organ system, image modality and image description, keywords, contributing authors, and many other search options. In addition to searching and browsing images and cases, the MedPix® website provides free AMA Category 1 CME credits online. Earn up to 30 minutes of CME with each completed case. We are actively seeking new case contributions – which become your digital publication on MedPix® at the National Library of Medicine. Please join us in supporting one of the world’s largest Open-Access healthcare Teaching Files...”
Yale Environment 360: “…In Chile, as in other places, we have come to this point because the traditional Western view of rivers — and of nature generally — has failed us. Western legal systems and governments traditionally viewed water and water rights as property, leading to overuse and contamination. One criticism levied by environmental groups is that in countries like Chile and the United States, corporations are granted the same rights as people while the living ecosystems upon which we depend for survival are not. Chile’s Water Code was established during the Pinochet dictatorship, and still treats water as a replenishable (rather than increasingly scarce) natural resource. Under the code, companies may trade water rights to the highest bidder. Water is not a universal right in Chile, but a corporate one. This has inevitably led to the degradation of many rivers and the ecosystems they support, as well as to ongoing conflicts among users. In figuring out how countries can reverse this environmental degradation and reduce conflicts, a lot can be learned from the indigenous view of rivers. Legal innovations that successfully incorporate this outlook could better protect rivers, essentially by giving them the same basic rights as people…”
PCWorld – These online classes will have you coding in no time at – “If you’re looking to learn coding or want to pick up another programming language, Python is a good choice. One of the terrific things about Python is how closely it resembles the English language, so you’ll often see words like “not,” “in,” and “or” in its scripts. Because of its readability, Python is commonly the first programming language schools teach. It’s a great launchpad for an aspiring coder…”
“Social media has fundamentally changed the way new information is disseminated in everyday life. Compared with conventional channels such as TV, newspapers or magazines, social media outlets truly leveled the playing field by giving all content owners equal access to a publishing service that is essentially free, instant and global. In this paper, we explain how clients can make use of a Bloomberg-curated Twitter feed to make smarter investment decisions.” [email reg. req’d]
Knight Foundation report: “Major internet companies such as Google®, Yahoo® and Facebook® have millions of users who visit their websites or apps frequently to find information or connect with others. In addition to those basic tasks that popularized the sites, they now provide news to their users, typically by linking to news articles reported by outside news organizations. Given the reach of major internet companies, the content they show people can have a profound impact on the public’s views of the U.S. and the world. As part of its ongoing Trust, Media and Democracy initiative, the John S. and James L.Knight Foundation partnered with Gallup to ask a representative sample of U.S. adults for their views on the news editorial functions played by major internet companies. From a broad perspective, Americans credit major internet companies for connecting people and helping them become better-informed. At the same time, they are concerned about their role in spreading misinformation and in potentially limiting exposure to different viewpoints. They are more negative (54%) than positive (45%) about the idea of major internet companies tailoring information to individual users based on their interests, their internet search activity and their web browsing history. Americans seem even more concerned when the approach of tailored content is extended to news coverage…”
Google Transparency Report – “This searchable database features political ads that have appeared on Google and partner properties. It is updated once a week. Find ads about federal candidates or current elected federal officeholders, and see who paid for them…
Introducing a new transparency report for political ads. We first launched our Transparency Report in 2010 with the goal of fostering important conversations about the relationship between governments, companies, and the free flow of information on the internet. Over the years, we’ve evolved the report, adding sections about content removed from Google Search due to European privacy laws, adoption of encryption on websites (HTTPS), and more. And today, we’re adding another new section to our Transparency Report: Political Advertising on Google. Earlier this year, we took important steps to increase transparency in political advertising. We implemented new requirements for any advertiser purchasing election ads on Google in the U.S.—these advertisers now have to provide a government-issued ID and other key information that confirms they are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, as required by law. We also required that election ads incorporate a clear “paid for by” disclosure. Now, we’re continuing to roll out new transparency features with the addition of the political advertising report as well as a new political Ad Library.”
Recommendation via Joe Hodnicki: Data-Driven Law: Data Analytics and the New Legal Services, edited by Ed Walters “helps legal professionals meet the challenges posed by a data-driven approach to delivering legal services. Its chapters are written by leading experts who cover such topics as:
- Mining legal data
- Computational law
- Uncovering bias through the use of Big Data
- Quantifying the quality of legal services
- Data mining and decision-making
- Contract analytics and contract standards
“In addition to providing clients with data-based insight, legal firms can track a matter with data from beginning to end, from the marketing spend through to the type of matter, hours spent, billed, and collected, including metrics on profitability and success. Firms can organize and collect documents after a matter and even automate them for reuse. Data on marketing related to a matter can be an amazing source of insight about which practice areas are most profitable. “Data-driven decision-making requires firms to think differently about their workflow. Most firms warehouse their files, never to be seen again after the matter closes. Running a data-driven firm requires lawyers and their teams to treat information about the work as part of the service, and to collect, standardize, and analyze matter data from cradle to grave. More than anything, using data in a law practice requires a different mindset about the value of this information. This book helps legal professionals to develop this data-driven mindset.”
“Public archives represent a democratic vision where all are welcome, ideas circulate, and information is analyzed and diffused for educational purposes. There has been a lot of noise recently about information distortion and its effects on democracy. So what better time to raise the importance of historical literacy and public archives? In gathering and promoting primary source material, archives play an essential role in modelling literacy skills and critical thinking. In analyzing this material and producing modest, reasonable conclusions, researchers aim to understand complex issues and to engage the public in the discussion. These skills are crucial tools in a democracy. For too long archives have been hidden and archivists overlooked. All sorts of unflattering stories have circulated about archives, as if to keep the general public out. Witness the way popular culture has painted the picture: dust, disorder and darkness.
Historical thinking – Archives are considerably more nuanced than most people realize. The researchers who use public archives, as well as the staff, have a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Diversity is valued for the fresh ideas it fosters. Pluralism brings new perspectives and new questions to the sources. Working with archives is an exercise in historical thinking where questions about sources, context and cause are central. (Consider the work of the Historical Thinking Project, an educational initiative organized around the questions historians pose of primary sources, aimed at promoting media and information literacy.) Solid archival research requires sources to be validated, corroborated and referenced, so that peers can follow the line of reasoning and further the arguments. As critical thinkers engaged in creating interrelated information pathways, archivists are allergic to binary thinking. They worry about gaps in collections and how to mitigate bias, both historical and contemporary. Behind the scenes, archivists query one another on acquisitions, evaluations and descriptions of archival collections to ensure that the documentary heritage preserved today will enable future generations to understand their own past…”
Circulating Now – NIH – “In this Revealing Data series we explore data in historical medical collections, and how preserving this data helps to ensure that generations of researchers can reexamine it, reveal new stories, and make new discoveries. Future researchers will likely want to examine the data of the web archive collections, collected and preserved by libraries, archives, and others, using a wide range of approaches, to document unfolding events. Today Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Alexander Nwala (@acnwala), writing on his research using NLM web archive collections to compare different methods of selecting web content, and some of the difficulties encountered in generating seeds automatically.”
I am a Computer Science PhD student and member of the Web Science and Digital Libraries research group at Old Dominion University, Norfolk Virginia. For the past three years, I have been researching generating collections for stories and events under the supervision of Dr. Michael Nelson and Dr. Michele Weigle. There is a shortage of curators to build web archive collections in a world of rapidly unfolding events. A primary objective of my research is investigating how to automatically generate seeds (in the absence of domain knowledge) to create or augment web archive collections…”