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March 2019
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B2B Website Redesigns and Voice Search: What You Need to Know

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By Patty Parobek More than ever before, customers are doing the work salespeople once did. They search, they seek information they research on their own. Too often, companies make their customers work too hard to find the information they need. Despite the constant chatter about user-friendly content, many websites still aren't set up with […]The post B2B Website Redesigns and Voice Search: What You Need to Know appeared first on Adotas.

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Mar-2019
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Big Win For Open Access, As University Of California Cancels All Elsevier Subscriptions, Worth $11 Million Dollars A Year

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As Techdirt has reported over the years, the move to open access, whereby anyone can read academic papers for free, is proving a long, hard journey. However, the victories are starting to build up, and here's another one that could have important wider ramifications for open access, especially in the US:

As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC's key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.In negotiating with Elsevier, UC aimed to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery by ensuring that research produced by UC's 10 campuses -- which accounts for nearly 10 percent of all U.S. publishing output -- would be immediately available to the world, without cost to the reader. Under Elsevier's proposed terms, the publisher would have charged UC authors large publishing fees on top of the university's multi-million dollar subscription, resulting in much greater cost to the university and much higher profits for Elsevier.
The problems faced by the University of California (UC) are the usual ones. The publishing giant Elsevier was willing to move to an open access model -- but only if the University of California paid even more on top of what were already "rapidly escalating costs". To its credit, the institution instead decided to walk, depriving Elsevier of around $11 million a year (pdf).But that's not the most important aspect of this move. After all, $11 million is small change for a company whose operating profit is over a billion dollars per year. What will worry Elsevier more is that the University of California is effectively saying that the company's journals are not so indispensable that it will sign up to a bad deal. It's the academic publishing equivalent of pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.The University of California is not the first academic institution to come to this realization. National library consortiums in Germany, Hungary and Sweden have all made the same decision to cancel their subscriptions with Elsevier. Those were all important moves. But the University of California's high-profile refusal to capitulate to Elsevier is likely to be noted and emulated by other US universities now that the approach has been validated by such a large and influential institution.As to where researchers at the University of California (and in Germany, Hungary and Sweden) will obtain copies of articles published in Elsevier titles that are no longer available to them through subscriptions -- UC retains access to older ones -- there are many other options. For example, preprints are increasingly popular, and circulate freely. Contacting the authors directly usually results in copies being made available, since academics naturally want their papers read as widely as possible.And then, of course, there is Sci-Hub, which now claims to provide access to 70 million articles. Researchers that end up at Sci-Hub in search of a hard-to-find item may well discover how much more convenient it is than the traditional subscription services that impose strict controls on access to publications. The risk for Elsevier is that once researchers get a taste of quick, seamless access to everything, they may never want go back to the old system, however much the company slashes its prices to win back business.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Mar-2019
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Chicago Tried To Justify Not Informing ACLU Of Social Media Monitoring Partner By Saying ACLU Is Really Mean

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My home city of Chicago has built quite a reputation for itself to date. It wouldn't be entirely unfair to suggest that the city's government is run by very silly people who think its citizens are quite stupid, while also managing to build something of a kleptocracy centered around professional corruption. With any such hilariously corrupt institutions, the corruption itself is only half the frustration. The other half is the way the Chicago government thumbs its nose at virtually everyone, so secure is it in its knowledge that its corruption will never result in any serious penalty.An example of this can be found in the way the city government responded to an ACLU FOIA request to disclose the vendor Chicago is using to monitor the social media accounts of its own citizens. If you're thinking that such a program sounds dystopian, welcome to Chicago. If you're thinking there's no way that the city should be able to hide that information from its citizens and that it was obviously disclosed publicly somewhere, welcome to Chicago. And if you thought that a FOIA request must surely be all that it would take to get this information to the public, well, you know the rest.

The ACLU of Illinois today called for an end to an invasive program that allows Chicago police to monitor the social media accounts of the City’s residents. The call comes after the City finally released records Wednesday revealing the name of the spying software that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has used to covertly monitor Chicagoans’ social media profiles. The release was through litigation filed by the ACLU last June in Cook County Circuit Court seeking to force the City to produce documents in response to a January 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The ACLU was represented by Louis A. Klapp at Quarles & Brady LLP in this request. Previously, CPD acknowledged that it spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on social media monitoring software, but refused to provide the name of the software company.
Now, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a platform to monitor the social media activity of its own citizens is bad enough on its own. After all, this isn't the first go around with Chicago doing this very thing. In 2014, Chicago contracted with a different company, Geofeedia, to do exactly this sort of social media monitoring. After the ACLU learned of that relationship and disclosed that Geofeedia marketing materials targeted "activists" and "unions" as "overt threats" for which its platform should be used for monitoring, the reaction of the public was severe enough that many social media sites simply disallowed Geofeedia access from their platforms, rendering them useless to Chicago government.In fact, it was that very occurrence that Chicago used to justify hiding its vendor relationship from the ACLU currently.
Social media sites then subsequently cut off Geofeedia’s access to their users’ data. The City claimed that this public reaction justified hiding future vendors from public view.
What the ACLU was able to get out of the city is that it used another company, Dunami, for surveillance through 2018. The ACLU has filed another FOIA request to get any information on a current contract, if one exists. Meanwhile, the above reasoning -- that Chicago should shield the vendor it uses to monitor the social media habits of its own citizens because the last time the ACLU got that info people didn't like it -- is the kind of reasoning only the most brazenly corrupt regimes could possibly make.

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Mar-2019
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