Weeknote 18, 2023

§1 My new Google Reader

Screen capture of the Reclaim Hosting cPanel option of selfoss

I’m not sure how for how long it will be stable with all the changes happening with python and cPanel, but for now, I’m very happy with using selfoss on Reclaim Hosting for my rss feed consumption. Selfoss doesn’t have much in terms of customization but this makes it feel more like a quiet app to me.

§2 Law Library of Congress Reports

Developed in collaboration with the Law Library of Congress, HeinOnline’s Law Library of Congress Reports is an exclusive database boasting a collection of more than 3,500 meticulously crafted reports on foreign, comparative, and international law—all in one easy-to-navigate database. This collection is included within our Foreign & International Law Resources Database, representing a newly added Part VIII. Additionally, it is included at no charge in U.S. and international Core packages!

I was going to complain about the exclusive nature of this agreement, but I then checked to see if these reports were readily available online on the LoC site, and it appears that they are, so they aren’t that kind of exclusive…

screencapture of the website of the Loc database of digitized works, including the Legal Reports of the Law Library of Congress.

§3 The Breach: “library workers are struggling to maintain a welcoming space in the face of policing solutions”

Among the last free community spaces which offer Internet, washrooms, entertainment and shelter, libraries are now a haven for people who are houseless, living with addiction, or in need of other support. 

But rather than get a boost in community services, libraries are increasingly beset by surveillance and security measures, much like has happened in other public spaces like subways.

The Breach: On frontlines of social crisis, librarians resist fortress mentality, May 10, 2023 by Cierra Bettens

§4 Google’s Project Tailwind

Essentially, it’s an AI notebook trained on your documents that you can query like a sort of personalized tutor or writing companion. Google framed it as a tool for students, but it could have a lot more potential for anyone who deals with a lot of text in their life.

“Like a real notebook, your notes and your sources power Tailwind,” said Josh Woodward, a senior director of product management at Google. “How it works is you can simply pick the files from Google Drive, and it effectively creates a personalized and private AI model that has expertise in the information you give it. We’ve been developing this idea with authors like Steven Johnson and testing it at universities.”

In an example demo Woodward showed onstage, Tailwind was fed a bunch of study notes and then picked out a number of details, including key topics and suggested questions. A text box allowed Woodward to dig down into this information, creating a glossary of terms for a specific topic, for example.

The Verge: Google teases Project Tailwind — a prototype AI notebook that learns from your documents, May 10 2023, By James Vincent

As someone who has over 20,000 bookmarks of cached tweets, websites and articles, I am guessing that Google’s proposed Project Tailwind is supposed to be for people like me: a person who has a personal library of documents that have exceeded one’s memory.

And yet, I’m skeptical of Project Tailwind as a study aid. In terms of effective study practices, re-reading and highlighting text doesn’t hold a candle to the learning that happens through the creation of notes that summarize a work, (which are then recalled by memory, on a periodic basis). Asking a computer to create a glossary for you doesn’t make you any smarter than having a book that comes with a glossary.

§5 How About Machine Learning Enhancing Theses?

The promise of using machine learning on your own notes to connect with external sources is not new. Andromeda Yelton’s HAMLET is six years old.

Screenshot of HAMLET
Hamlet is in alpha. Things may change, break, or not make sense yet. Please enjoy anyway - and check back for more fun stuff to come!
HAMLET How About Machine Learning Enhancing Theses?
Recommendation engine
Given a thesis, find out which other theses are most conceptually similar.
Uploaded file oracle
Upload a .txt or .docx file and find out which (if any) theses are conceptually similar.
Your literature review buddy

Upload a .txt or .docx file and find out what works have been cited by conceptually similar theses.

That's right: we do your lit review for you.

    Hamlet is a project by Andromeda Yelton.
    Code hosted with ♥ on GitHub.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *