Facial Recognition

Continuing on a similar thread from the past few posts this year – let’s chat quickly about facial recognition.

It’s pretty freaky when you upload a photo to social media and the image is automatically tagged with the people in it. Very accurately too. According to the article ‘Is Facebook’s Facial-Scanning Technology Invading Your Privacy Rights?‘ Facebook’s DeepFace recognition software has “an accuracy rate of 97.35 percent compared with 97.5 percent for humans”


I don’t ever remember being given a notification or option to ‘opt out’ of having my face recognised by this technology, and thus this is another example of our privacy potentially being invaded without us even thinking about it. Think how useful this type of information could be to an identity thief. Because you cannot change your face (unless you are willing to go super sci-fi and try out a ‘Face Off’ style scenario) this type of ‘biometric identifier’ can be used to link all sorts of information about you.

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Internet of Things

To continue with the discussion of online privacy from a post earlier this year, I wanted to briefly mention the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT basically just means where everyday items have internet connectivity, so they can send and receive data. So we have ‘smart watches’ and ‘smart rings‘, fridges with the internet to do grocery shopping on and so forth. You can read more about this trend on the Center for the Future of Libraries webpage.

While these advances are exciting, few people seem to stop and think about how these products can affect our privacy.

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Predatory Publishers and Fake Academia

Many Information Professionals are probably very well aware of this issue. However it is so important that I feel compelled to share this New York Times article (above) despite the fact I may only be repeating some well known facts.

In a nutshell, these ‘publishers’ exploit the fact that academics rely on publishing their work to further their careers (known as the “publish or perish” system of professional advancement). While the conferences and journals may appear respectable, in the end they are fraudulent, usually scam money out of unsuspecting academics and pump out worthless articles.

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Online Privacy

Let’s start the new year with a topic I’ve been keen to write about for a while now; online privacy.

First, online privacy matters. Yes, even if “you have nothing to hide”. Because really, you do have something to hide in a sense, otherwise you wouldn’t have curtains or wear clothes (as Christopher Soghoian discusses in the TED talk/article). Amnesty International even goes so far as to label encryption as a human rights issue to protect and promote free expression (see Electronic Frontier Foundation).


According to Collier in Vocativ, “Plenty of people across Europe and the United States agree on the importance of keeping their data private. But according to a new survey, far fewer are willing to do anything to protect it.” Another article in Vocativ explains that many Americans are willing to give up their online privacy for more convenience in their online behaviour. Though these views seem to alter by age, and type of situation. For example younger people, especially when using social media, were more willing to accept the sharing of their personal information (for example to receive personalised ads).

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Finishing up for 2016!

Well the year surely has flown by as usual! And what a year it has been – I’ve presented at my first conference, gained another wonderful mentor, grown more confident in my skills and developed a huge amount of knowledge. Though I must say I am looking forward to a well deserved break! 🙂

I will be completing my Masters part-time while I work in 2017, so I’m sure there will be many new ideas from my learning to post about (though with these extra time commitments my posting may become less frequent). I’m excited to finish the last 4 subjects and learn more about html coding, project management, marketing and more! It’s a great way to continue my professional development as well as add to my qualifications. What new year resolutions have you made?


Source: https://www.tumblr.com/search/koalafication

Wishing all my readers a very happy holiday and a great New Year.

Signing off,

Michelle De Aizpurua

More Emojis!

Loyal readers,

I have written about emojis (or emoticons) before, and the implications they have for linguistics. Needless to say, as a language convention I find them quite fascinating.

So what’s new in the world of the emoji? There’s been a lot happening recently around the creation of new, more representative and inclusive emojis.


By Sk5893 (Screenshot of phone) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Movie written by algorithm!

I stumbled across this fantastic piece of cinema a little while ago and just had to share it here. This short science fiction film entitled Sunspring was written entirely by artificial intelligence (AI).

Basically some really clever guys ‘fed’ this robot heaps of Sci-Fi scripts, the AI (known as Benjamin) analysed patterns within the text to produce an original screenplay by imitating structures and predicting common patterns. It. Is. Amazing.

It even did pretty well in a Sci-Fi London film contest. Before you watch the short film, I definitely recommend reading a bit more detail about its background to truly enjoy the experience (in this great article by ArsTechnica). At least, read the first section of the article which details how the actors managed to put it all together. It adds an extra hilarious and interesting level to watching the short film.

Interestingly, the article also discusses how the script is really a “mirror of our culture” since the AI only analyses existing content and produces the most common patterns into a new screenplay. The detail of how the creators built ‘Benjamin’, and whether he can be considered an ‘author’ are also well worth a read.

And so , without further ado, here is the film – enjoy! 🙂

The WayBack Machine as legal evidence

For those who haven’t heard of it, the WayBack Machine is an excellent service (offered by the Internet Archive) which lets you see exactly what a website looked like at a particular point in the past.

Have a play around, it’s free to use and offers around 487 billion saved webpages.

wayback machine

So what could this massive archive be used for? Historical analysis perhaps, cultural interpretations… Yes, but also – it’s been held as useful and accurate evidence in a US Court of Law.

So, for example, if a company states something misleading on their website (which you rely on to some detriment) and then they delete it and try to claim they never said such a thing – you can show the court an old version of the website which as been neatly stored away for you on the WayBack Machine! It’s also useful in areas of intellectual property and copyright law.

A great analysis of the case, and how it fits within the Australian context, has been written by Adrian Chang on the Allen’s IP blog.

As a law librarian, I love seeing archives and records being used in a legal context. As technology keeps advancing the law will rely more and more on resources like this I’m sure. The internet is so fluid and easily changeable, and inherently unreliable, as well as unfathomably vast, that having the ability to  look back into webpages like this is incredibly useful.

Student Engagement and Success across the United States and Australia

I am pleased to inform you that an article of mine has recently been published in the Global Postcards column of the International Information and Library Review!

Based on theories from Professor George D. Kuh’s keynote presentation at Monash University in 2015, the article discusses the similar challenges that the United States and Australia face in student engagement and success, as well as the differences between these two contexts. For example, the difference in numbers of students living on-campus, and the ensuing effect on student engagement, is quite substantial.
I consider the use of ‘High Impact Practices’ as a means to achieve student engagement and success, and how Monash Law Library has been utilising this concept in their teaching.

If your institution  has access to Taylor and Francis publications login and have read.


Designing Book Covers

This blog post by the National Library of Australia provides a really interesting look into the process of designing book covers. With my interest in art this was a fun connection between two of my passions (the other being books of course!)

It’s so fascinating to compare the different images and read about the reasons behind those covers being rejected (or accepted), there is much more than first meets the eye! Although we should never choose a book by its cover, I must say I often fall for an interesting cover – to get me to the next step of reading the blurb and borrowing the book!

book cover

Image from the National Library of Australia’s blog post.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal describes how many publishers are now pushing for bright and bold covers to attract shoppers – with yellow and neon being the new popular choices. While some are gaudy, they do catch the eye.

I personally love the Roald Dahl covers (and illustrations) done by Quentin Blake, and the covers of many of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series (I believe the artist was Josh Kirby.)

Roald Dahl stamps


What are some of your favourite book covers? Do you choose a book by its cover?