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July 31, 2008

Wired Campus--Sick Celebrities/Seasons Influence Health Searching

July 31, 2008

Sick Celebrities and Seasons Influence Internet Searches for Health News

With a tool from Google that tracks searches, researchers from Ball State University have uncovered a few patterns in the way that consumers search for health information.

The report, released yesterday and available free from the university, shows that the time of year and the health problems of the rich and famous influence what health topics people research on the Internet, according to the investigators from the university’s Center for Media Design.

The researchers used Google Trends, a tool that tracks public searches and holds data going back to 2004.

Information on diet and exercise peaked around New Year’s Day, says Peter Ellery, one of the researchers. That’s not shocking: it’s New Year’s resolution time.

The researchers also learned that illnesses reported by celebrities led to more searches about such diseases. People in the public eye have always been able to draw attention, and their health problems draw attention as well.

Barron Lerner, a medical historian and physician at Columbia University, has chronicled this pattern in his book, When Illness Goes Public. I asked him, a few years ago, why sick celebrities are so important to other people. “There’s a sense that celebrities have access to the best care and that you’d be wise to do what they did,” Dr. Lerner told me. “Would that work for me, people wonder? Lance Armstrong says that people write to him asking about everything he did and ate while fighting testicular cancer.

Posted by schnitzr at 05:10 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2008

Disease-Tracking Web Site

A Web site that tracks outbreaks of infectious diseases worldwide is sometimes proving faster than the Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization at detecting outbreaks, according to an article last week from Discovery News. The Web site called HealthMap was developed by Harvard Medical School employees John Brownstein, an assistant professor of pediatrics, and Clark Friefeld, a software developer. Mr. Brownstein says the Web site took off after Google.org, the technology company's philanthropic arm, pumped money into the project nine months ago. HealthMap trolls through large amounts of data on the Internet to pinpoint the locations of diseases. The developers are planning to include detailed information on HealthMap about each outbreak.--Andrea L. Foster
Wired Campus July 21, 2008

Posted by schnitzr at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2008

Wired Campus--ALA Copyright Advice

July 17, 2008
American Library Association Unveils Slide Rule for Copyright Advice

For those who doubt the complexity of U.S. copyright law take a look at this online slide-rule from the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy. It’s designed to help librarians and others figure out if a creative work is copyright protected. The exceptions to the law, and the exceptions to the exceptions, are reminiscent of the nerve-wracking U.S. tax code.

For example, say you have a book that was created before 1979 and published before January 1, 2003. Is permission needed to reuse the book? According to the slide-rule, maybe. Generally speaking, the book is copyright protected through 2047. Then again, the protection could last longer.—Andrea L. Foster

Posted by schnitzr at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)

July 11, 2008

More about Google and Librarians

Google Reaches Out to Librarians

Google released an update today to its Librarian Central blog, heeding the complaints of some librarians that the company has been ignoring them. The blog announcement? Google is closing the blog but will communicate with librarians via a newsletter that it will send out “every few months.” The update provided a link to the issue released today. It includes an article on organizing medical records with Google and Google Book Search, its massive book digitization project.

“We want to keep this dialog open, so please stay in touch with us,” the post reads.—Andrea L. Foster

Posted on Friday July 11, 2008 | Permalink |

Posted by schnitzr at 04:59 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2008

Google, Librarians, and a whole lotta nothing

So, I just logged in to Google Reader to, you know, catch up on the internets, and I came across one, two, three interesting (and semi-heated) librarian posts about the Google/Library relationship (or digitizationship?). All this talk seems to have come about because Google didn't display at ALA and hasn't updated their Google Librarian blog in a year.

From Library Stuff:

So, Google will continue to use librarians, scan their books, profit from it, and then leave us in the information dust to rot like an old microfilm machine.

It’s sad really. But then again, we fell for it. Well, not me. I know when I’m being used. Do you?

From Walt Crawford in the Library Stuff comments:

I’ll have to disagree, at least in part. The University of Michigan wasn’t used. I don’t believe any of the libraries that are part of the Google Library Project were (or are) used. .... More access to public domain books. Full-text searching for books that only libraries can provide. How exactly does this “leave us in the information dust”?

From Information Wants to be Free:

So, there are all these libraries with awesome collections that aren’t being digitized. Google comes in and says “hey, we’ll digitize your books for free and let you have the digital copies for your students.” Google was not doing this for the good of those libraries; they were doing it for the good of Google. But clearly the Universities also saw how this project was in their best interests or their lawyers wouldn’t have signed off on it. These Universities now have tons of their books in digital format that students, faculty and staff can enjoy from anywhere. University of Michigan makes them available in their catalog. It’s awesome. Maybe I’m naive, but none of this really gets me up in arms.

Posted by markmac at 09:36 PM | Comments (1)

July 07, 2008

Wrong-site Surgery

Just stumbled across this very intriguing piece about a wrong-site surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The linked to blog is written by the hospital's President and CEO, Paul Levy, and also includes this follow-up post. You have to appreciate the openness in which they have handled the situation.

(via Kevin MD)

Posted by markmac at 06:11 PM | Comments (0)