Visualizing a Web of Sites

February 6, 2017

While the World Wide Web is clearly a web, it has not traditionally been presented visually as such. Digital Trends published an article centered around a new visualization of Wikipedia, Race through the Wikiverse for your next internet search. This web-based interactive 3D visualization of the open source encyclopedia is at Wikiverse.io. It was created by Owen Cornec, a Harvard data visualization engineer. It pulls about 250,000 articles from Wikipedia and makes connections between articles based on overlapping content. The write-up tells us,

Of course it would be unreasonable to expect all of Wikipedia’s articles to be on Wikiverse, but Cornec made sure to include top categories, super-domains, and the top 25 articles of the week.

Upon a visit to the site, users are greeted with three options, each of course having different CPU and load-time implications for your computer: “Light,” with 50,000 articles, 1 percent of Wikipedia, “Medium,” 100,000 articles, 2 percent of Wikipedia, and “Complete,” 250,000 articles, 5 percent of Wikipedia.

Will this pave the way for web-visualized search? Or, as the article suggests, become an even more exciting playing field for The Wikipedia Game? Regardless, this advance makes it clear the importance of semantic search. Oh, right — perhaps this would be a better link to locate semantic search (it made the 1 percent “Light” cut).

Megan Feil, February 6, 2017

Little New Hampshire Public Library Takes on Homeland Security over Right to Tor

February 3, 2017

The article on AP titled Browse Free or Die? New Hampshire Library Is at Privacy Fore relates the ongoing battle between The Kilton Public Library of Lebanon, New Hampshire and Homeland Security. This fierce little library was the first in the nation to use Tor, the location and identity scrambling software with a seriously bad rap. It is true, Tor can be used by criminals, and has been used by terrorists. As this battle unfolds in the USA, France is also scrutinizing Tor. But for librarians, the case is simple,

Tor can protect shoppers, victims of domestic violence, whistleblowers, dissidents, undercover agents — and criminals — alike. A recent routine internet search using Tor on one of Kilton’s computers was routed through Ukraine, Germany and the Netherlands. “Libraries are bastions of freedom,” said Shari Steele, executive director of the Tor Project, a nonprofit started in 2004 to promote the use of Tor worldwide. “They are a great natural ally.”… “Kilton’s really committed as a library to the values of intellectual privacy.

To illustrate a history of action by libraries on behalf of patron privacy, the article briefly lists events surrounding the Cold War, the Patriot Act, and the Edward Snowden leak. It is difficult to argue with librarians. For many of us, they were amongst the first authority figures, they are extremely well read, and they are clearly arguing passionately about an issue that few people fully understand. One of the library patrons spoke about how he is comforted by the ability to use Tor for innocent research that might get him flagged by the NSA all the same. Libraries might become the haven of democracy in what has increasingly become a state of constant surveillance. One argument might go along these lines: if we let Homeland Security take over the Internet and give up intellectual freedom, don’t the terrorists win anyway?

Chelsea Kerwin, February 3, 2017