A Short History of Scientific Information Services

A Short History of Scientific Information ServicesIn the following videos, the producer traces the history of scientific communication from verbal/in-person, to letters, and then to printed journals. The producer describes the work of ISI and the company’s founder, Eugene Garfield. Journals grew from a handful to thousands. This led to classification and indexing in order to find relevant journal articles via print. In the early 1960s, ISI digitized this indexing and classification system in order to aid in finding the required material. Only a small portion of literature is actually important enough to be cited often, thus, citation indexing was born.

(For those of you who are unfamiliar with citation indexing, and may be wondering why it is important — among many reasons…the founders of Google applied citation indexing to web links to create PageRank. They were not the first to apply citation indexing to web links, but they were among the first to figure out an entire business model around it by mining and selling the user generated data.)

This is one video that has been split into three parts for ease of viewing online. I found them interesting to watch. The videos were made, as far as I can tell, in the early 1970s, and they are infomercials for ISI. I have embedded the three parts below. I found the first one to be more fun to watch then the latter two. Those, however, are interesting from a recent-information-services-history perspective.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Thanks, L.S. for the links.

Bruce Schneier on “Security, Privacy, and the Generation Gap”

Bruce SchneierBruce Schneier gave a great talk on privacy at the recent CACR Higher Education Security Summit. Basically, he argues that privacy isn’t dead and we should aim for more privacy laws. It is a thought-provoking talk that is worth watching. I also enjoyed hearing the questions from attendees, and his thoughtful responses to them.

His talk runs the gamut from the differences between generational views of privacy, the different types of data we have online, the data trail we leave behind us constantly, and, of that, what we do and don’t control. In addition, he makes the point that we are the product — our data, is the product — that social networking sites are selling. He points out that these companies, like Google with Buzz, and Facebook, can change our privacy settings at any time and there is little we can do about it. He argues that we should not let corporations define the privacy defaults, because those defaults will be in the favor of the corporations and not of the citizens. (I agree.) He believes the lack of data protection now equals the lack of environmental protections in the early 20th century.