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University of Michigan School of Information


UMSI Fun Size for 10/17/2018: Is Banned Book Week obsolete?

20 Years with Google
Our go-to search engine has been chugging along for two decades now, and in celebration, Google has compiled an interactive and entertaining timeline  that shows the top searches over 20 years in many categories. Most searched dog breed since 2005? Most searched food? Space object?* Visit and see for yourself.

No more URLs!
Google’s Chrome browser turned 10 in September and Wired explores one of Chrome’s most radical pursuits: how to replace URLs with something easier and safer. URLs (uniform resource locators, aka web addresses) have grown long, confusing and a boon for cybercriminals who build malicious sites with legit-seeming urls. Chrome engineers seek a better way to navigate the web.

Who has your Facebook logins?
Admit it; we can be lazy. On a new site, with the option of creating an account or clicking “Log in with Facebook,” we’re apt to opt for the latter. But with Facebook’s most recent security breach, you may wonder just how many sites now have your login info. has clear instructions  on how to find out how many apps you’ve logged into using Facebook – and why it matters.

Girls who STEM
GE, IBM, Google and other tech giants have collaborated on a new ad campaign that premiered last month, aimed at attracting girls aged 11-15 into STEM fields. The Ad Council’s PSAs feature women role models from each company, with the tagline “She can STEM – So can you,” the New York Times reports

Future Tech, Present Lack
In two years, 77% of all jobs will require some tech skills, but according to a survey by PwC reported in TechRepublic, most K-12 educators feel students aren’t being taught the digital skills they’ll need. Reasons include lack of tech ed courses, lack of hands-on experience, or lack of internet access at home. 

The Avenging Librarian
UMSI has our own superhero librarian, Nancy Pearl, and now so does The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, according to ScreenRant. In the latest issue (#36) of the Marvel Comics featuring the bright eyed, bushy tailed Avenger, S.G. encounters Ms. Chloe, a ghost librarian, and recruits her for peacekeeping and silencing noisy villains. 

Starry, starry night
What do you get when you combine a 1980s knitting machine, a map of the heavens and a 21st century algorithm that converts pixels to stitches? A software engineer in Australia reached for the stars to produce a fluffy but accurate map of the cosmos, a Makers masterpiece featured in Atlas Obscura.

DataViz for World Pop
World maps are fine for showing land masses and borders, but to visualize population you need a cartogram, say scientists at Our World in Data. Their maps  show the world by people count and density, making Canada much smaller than Japan, for example. An interactive map on how population density changed from 1961-2016 is also worth a look.

The New York Times has another revealing series of maps that show social media connections in America are still more influenced by proximity and history than by like-mindedness. 

A day in the life of a library
Public libraries are one of society’s most democratic institutions, and this picture gallery  of a day at a library on Manhattan’s Lower East Side shows how one “palace for the people” offers everything from crafts to karaoke, with a generous side helping of dignity.

Who needs Banned Books Week?
Washington Post  columnist Ron Charles finds the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week (Sept. 24-29 in 2018) “shrill and inaccurate…largely confined to our oppressive past.” James LaRue, from the Office of Intellectual Freedom at the ALA, sets him straight: Freedom of expression goes beyond books, he says.

News from UMSI
As UMSI awaits final approval for its first-ever online master’s degree (expected later this week), this is a good time to remind alumni that the University of Michigan is making all its current online courses on Coursera and edX free for alumni. While this won’t include the new Master’s of Applied Data Science, it does include certificate programs like the MicroMasters in User Experience and Research and Design and Public Library Management. Read more.

*bulldog, pizza, sun