By now most of us are aware that our online activities are not private. From the National Security Association (NSA) spying allegations to targeted ads, online activity including search history and private data isn’t always safe from prying eyes. Many internet users are still unaware that their online activity is being monitored or that often the data generated while browsing online is used by corporations to promote products and tailor online experiences.
Data is a hot commodity and data brokers specialize in using tracking technology to collect data about you and your online activities. Data brokers compile data and then sell that data to different groups including business clients, the general public, and even other data brokers. Business clients may use the data to market new products and services to you. Your data may also be used for search or references services such as genealogy. In some cases this data can be used with malicious intent.
In a recent post Mandi Woodruff of Yahoo Finance Today notes that “it’s nearly impossible for the average consumer to expect anonymity online or off.” Despite our best efforts the data tracking industry is always evolving and “there’s little we know about data tracking and the companies that do it.” The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will publish the results of an investigation into nine major data brokers later this year.
Luckily there are steps you can take to limit the tracking that occurs while you are online. The tools and tips outlined below may be useful when attempting to limit online tracking of your activity.
Many search engines track every search that is preformed. They use this data for various purposes including improving their search algorithm but they also share this data with websites listed in the search results page. When you click on a URL from a list of results in a search engine “that website will often get a blurb of data telling them which search terms led you to their site, along with a log of your computer location and IP address.” Websites may use this data to send more ads to you based on your search history and even your IP location. This same search history data could also be used to alert authorities to individuals with suspicious searches on topics that relate to public safety such as bomb making.
To prevent search engines from tracking your searches consider taking the following steps:
Make a habit of deleting your search history and cookies;
Enable the “Do Not Track” (DNT) feature
To initiate “DNT” on your browser, go into your browser preferences and look for the tab labeled “Privacy.”
Check the box to enable the DNT feature.
DNT is available on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Explorer, and Safari.
If you use a mobile device you will need to turn this feature on using the privacy settings on the mobile browser.
Use a search engine such as DuckDuckGo or Ixquick which report that they do not track searches
Browser plugins like Ghostery and Disconnect.me allow you access to the world of data brokers. These plugins will allow you to see the data tracking sites that may be watching you while you search. These plugins allow you to see if a site is tracking you for analytics, advertisements or social media requests and lets you decide which sites to block and which ones to allow. The plugins do not stop ads from appearing but they do keep sites from tracking our online behavior in order to tailor ads to you.
Always look to be sure the URL for your connections begins with “https”. If you are sharing credit card or personal information it is important to check for this secure encryption. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or all your online activity is another option to ensure your data is encrypted. Information sent over a VPN is encrypted and better protected from hackers and malware. Read the Why You Should Start Using a VPN post from Lifehacker for more information on VPNs including a list of VPN clients and apps.
While data brokers keep their work secrete the World Privacy Forums keeps a page of data broker opt out options. While it can be time consuming to go through the opt-out options on all the listed sites it is another step to take ensure you are not being tacked.
Don’t forget about the settings on your mobile devices. You will need to check your device and the apps that you use. Some apps, with access to your data, use your activity to tailor ads to you. You can adjust each app’s access to your data on the device. “The latest iPhone and Android updates also offer a new feature that stops apps from using ad tracking, but you’ll need to turn it on yourself.”
Each March Austin, Texas hosts thousands as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. The event which has grown in size over the years now hosts three distinct programs, Interactive, Film, and Music. Because Austin is known as an academic and technology hub the Interactive portion of SXSW (SXSWi) has been a big draw for those interested in technology focused start-up businesses and innovations. In recent years SXSWi has helped launched popular apps, games, and other emerging technologies. SXSWi also attracts leaders in design, business, healthcare, and industry, who speak about their experiences and look to the event as a way to promote their projects as well as connect with future innovators. SXSWi is also anchored by a large trade show which features technology products, apps, and services from around the globe. SXSWi is a large event, in 2012 it was estimated that 20,000 people attended the Interactive portion alone.
This was my second year attending SXSWi and I was able to find a number of informative sessions and speakers that provided information on topics related to health sciences, technology, and emerging trends.
Comparing the health related sessions from 2013 and 2014 I noticed that the number of people interested in the same topics had more than doubled in size and the room where most of these health speaker panels took place was much larger than the year before. In addition, keynotes speakers such as 23andMe‘s Anne Wojcicki, who focused on health and technology attracted a large crowd.
The Future of Citizen Science, an emerging trend at SXSWi, supported by keynote speaker Adam Savage from the TV show Mythbusters, also received attention in health sessions. Jessica Richman, CEO of uBiome, provided an overview of resources and tools that are helping citizens become more involved with science. Tools discussed include SciStarter, “a service to find out about, take part in, and contribute to science through recreational activities and research projects,” Science Exchange, “a marketplace for scientific collaboration, where researchers can order experiments from the world’s best labs,” and many more.
Gregory Downing from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spoke about the emerging role of open health data with a focus on the website Healthdata.gov. Joining the panel was Beverley Bryant, Director of Strategic Systems & Technology, for the National Health Service (NHS) England who was interested doing more to digitize specialized health services at the NHS by using strategies used by HHS to encourage the development of new Electronic Health Record (EHR) tools through government backed data challenges.
In areas of outreach the collaboration between private and non-profit entities was another growth area. In the panel Mobile Technology Solutions for the Marginalized, a project aimed at creating a resource tool for a primarily homeless population in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood was realized only when a collaborative team made up of technology experts from a local technology company partnered with the non-profit Tenderloin Technology Lab as well as with professionals and social workers from the area. LinkSF provides a mobile interface with information not only for the homeless living in the area but also for social services and concerned citizens. The realization of this project serves as an example of the outreach efforts that can be created when technology and information come together to serve the specific needs of a special population.
Networking, an important part of SXSWi, allowed me to meet with some of the panel speakers as well as other entrepreneurs in the health start-up field. As one of the only medical librarians in attendance networking with these start-ups exposed them to the role of research librarians and health data. As healthcare and health data continue to evolve the need for information experts becomes obvious. In addition, many of those interested in the health start-up field do not have a medical or even research backgrounds. Many innovators have experience with programming, data, or design but not the resources that are available to assist with the projects they are developing. Again, the librarian can play a vital role in connecting these entrepreneurs with the information they need. For those interested in citizen science and even forming collaborative relationships to serve the needs of a community, the library is again another resource and community partner to be explored. Many libraries are now providing not only resources such as books or access to the internet, many are taking part in the marker movement, providing tools, special events, and even the space for individuals to learn and explore creative ideas.
Not surprising libraries and librarians make up a growing number of those in attendance at SXSWi. This year a section of SXSWi was devoted to maker spaces. Libraries had a presence in sessions speaking about the role of the library in the maker movement as well as in sessions devoted to data and privacy. Support for libraries was also seen on the trade show floor with the “Innovative Booth for Libraries” which was co-hosted by the Association of Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL), the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, EveryLibrary, the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), Urban Libraries Council (ULC), and Urban Librarians Unite (ULU) and supported by Innovative Interfaces. To learn more about libraries, archives, and museums and SXSWi visit the sxswLAM webpage.
Congratulations to Cheryl Rowan, NN/LM SCR Consumer Health Coordinator, and Emily Hurst, NN/LM SCR Technology Coordinator, both of whom were accepted to the 2014 TALL Texans Leadership Development Institute. The Institute provides advanced leadership and management education in service to all the libraries of Texas and the communities they serve. Participants study strategic planning, risk-taking, conflict negotiation, team building, coaching, ethics, advocacy, personal career planning, and more. This transformational program helps attendees learn and embrace their potential to take new initiative for their institutions, their profession, and their stakeholders.
25 years ago, on March 12, 1989, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for a “global hypertext system” which would lead to the development of what would become known as the World Wide Web. In 1990 the proposal took a more formalized shape and Berners-Lee finished the first known website in December of that year.
According to Berners-Lee “the Web is a powerful enabler of people, economic activity, and democracy…” The Web has clearly transformed the way we interact with one another was well as find and use information.
On the 25th anniversary of the Web’s conception Berners-Lee is asking users of the Internet to think about the following questions and help shape the future of the Web:
How do we make the Web truly globally available to all people?
How do we secure the web?
What does the Web need to be more useful in education, commerce, entertainment, and social interactions?
How do we build a universal web, accessible to all regardless of physical or cognitive capability?
Network Neutrality (often called Net Neutrality) has been in the news recently as the result of the January 14 ruling by the US Court of Appeals which struck down most of the Open Internet Order. But what is net neutrality and what does it have to do with libraries? According to the American Library Association (ALA) net neutrality “is the concept of online non-discrimination. It is the principle that consumers/citizens should be free to get access to – or to provide – the Internet content and services they wish, and that consumer access should not be regulated based on the nature or source of that content or service.” The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) uses the concept of “Open Internet” to reflect net neutrality.
The Open Internet Rules adopted by the FCC included the following:
Transparency. Broadband providers must disclose information regarding their network management practices, performance, and the commercial terms of their broadband services.
No blocking. Fixed broadband providers (such as DSL, cable modem, or fixed wireless providers) may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices. Mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.
No unreasonable discrimination. Fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic over a consumer’s broadband Internet access service. Unreasonable discrimination of network traffic could take the form of particular services or websites appearing slower or degraded in quality.
According to a recent post by ALA member Larra Clark, the recent ruling struck down most of the FCC’s Open Internet Rules and would in essence allow “commercial companies the legal authority to block Internet traffic, give preferential treatment to certain Internet services or applications, and steer users to or away from certain web sites based on their own commercial interests.” The court ruling did encourage the FCC to “act to preserve the free and open Internet.”
Net Neutrality is an important concept for libraries for several reasons. ALA presents the case that libraries are important access points for information for many people. The ALA itself advocates for “intellectual freedom, which is the ‘right of all peoples to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.'” The Internet is a tool which can be used to connect people and allows for the free flow of information and ideas. While many libraries are access points for the Internet, libraries are also looking at ways to leverage technology such as the Internet to better connect, inform, and inspire their users. In higher education unrestricted access to information on the Internet may lead to research and development which will have an impact on society. By allowing business and service providers to determine who has access to the Internet, what content can be viewed, or what type of quality of access a user can have the limitless possibilities of Internet connectivity and research which are supported by Net Neutrality and the principles of the Open Internet are restricted.
Organizations including ALA, EDUCAUSE, and ARL have released a joint letter to the FCC advocating for the preservation of the Open Internet.
Launched in 2009 this unique collection of blogs is a growing array of insightful perspectives on health and healthcare. The National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) Health and Medicine Blog Collection was conceived of and is managed by the NLM Web Collecting and Archiving Working Group. The nine-member multidisciplinary team was tasked with not only looking for online content to archive but with creating the collection criteria, quality control standards, and much more. Since this was as new project and the field of born digital archives was also new standards for metadata and copyright also needed to be explored as the project moved forward.
Began as a pilot project, the initial focus included only 12 blogs but the collection has since expanded to include 31 blogs. The project utilizes Internet Archive’s Archive-It service. Archive-It is a subscription web archiving service that helps organizations to harvest, build, and preserve collections of digital content and is used by over 275 organizations across the globe.
Blogs currently archived in the project include e-Patient Dave and The Adventures of an Ambulance Riding Librarian. Both healthcare professionals as well as patients use blogs for communications and this project attempts to archive blogs from both perspectives. Some of the blogs include first hand perspectives about living with illness.
Because online communications through blogs has become an important point of information exchange about the fast changing topics of health and medicine the NLM’s blog archive project continues to grow. In the future the NLM envisions collaborating with other groups to capture important but unpublished studies and other information including scientific news and content communicated during natural disasters and emergencies.
What’s next on the horizon for technology and education? The 2014 Horizon Report from New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative provides researched insights what to expect over the next several years for technology trends in higher education. The Horizon Report has been produced annually since 2002 and amazingly many of the trends and rates of adoption continue to be accurate. With the ability work with leaders in higher education IT the creators of the Horizon Report provide an honest and accurate assessment of some of the trends to watch and adopt.
To provide a frame of reference for how fast these new technologies will impact education the Horizon report places important developments in educational technology into “time-to-adoption horizons.” This year’s six trends to watch include:
Time-to-Adoption: One Year or Less Flipped Classrooms – “In the flipped classroom model, valuable class time is devoted to more active, project-based learning where students work together to solve local or global challenges — or other real-world applications — to gain a deeper
understanding of the subject.
Learning Analytics – “Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data,” a branch of statistical analysis that was originally developed as a way for businesses to analyze commercial activities, identify spending trends, and predict consumer behavior.”
Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years 3D Printing – “Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from three dimensional(3D) digital content such as 3D modeling software, computer-aided design (CAD) tools, computer-aided tomography (CAT), and X-ray crystallography.”
Games and Gratification – “Gameplay has long since moved on from solely being recreational and has found considerable traction in the military, business and industry, and increasingly, education as a useful training and motivation tool. While a growing number of educational institutions and programs are experimenting with game-play, there has also been increased attention surrounding gamification — the integration of gaming elements, mechanics, and frameworks into non-game situations and scenarios.”
Time-to-Adoption: Four to Five Years Quantified Self – “Quantified self describes the phenomenon of consumers being able to closely track data that is relevant to their daily activities through the use of technology. The emergence of wearable devices on the market such as watches, wristbands, and necklaces that are designed to automatically collect data are helping people manage their fitness, sleep cycles, and eating habits. Mobile apps also share a central role in this idea by providing easy-to-read dashboards for consumers to view and analyze their personal metrics. Empowered by these insights, many individuals now rely on these technologies to improve their lifestyle and health.”
Virtual Assistants – “Virtual assistants are a credible extension of work being done with natural userinterfaces (NUIs), and the first examples are already in the marketplace. The concept builds on developments in interfaces across the spectrum of engineering,
computer science, and biometrics. The Apple iPhone’s Siri and Android’s Jelly Bean are recent mobile-based examples, and allow users to control all the functions of the phone, participate in lifelike conversations with the virtual assistant, and more.”
The 2014 Horizon Report provides some other areas of insight that are new to the reporting format. For instance the report also includes information on key trends that are accelerating technology adoption as well as significant challenges impeding technology adoption in higher education. Both of these factors are important for educators and IT professionals be aware of as they will greatly impact how a trend can be adopted by a user group.
Watch the video below for a brief overview of the report:
In a recent medical librarians Twitter chat the subject of the Horizon Report and it’s impact on medical librarians was addressed. Many questions and ideas came from the chat, the transcript is available for review.
Looking for ways to connect to others interested in public health? Try Twitter! Tweet chats are a great way to interact with individuals and organizations involved in public health topics across the spectrum. Typically held on a regular basis, these chats are usually lively discussions between people approaching the subject from different perspectives. If you aren’t familiar with the topic or are hesitant to participate, simply following the hashtag makes it easy to lurk or monitor the chat.
#abcDrBchat – Chat with ABC News Chief Health/Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.
#hchlitss – Discussing health, health communication, health care, health and social media, health care disparities and social determinants of health. Every Thursday at 8pm EST. Moderators: @drkdhoffman @rv_rikard
#medlibs – The Medlibs Twitter chat occurs weekly on Thursday evenings at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern times. Topics are selected and published at the #medlibs chat blog, http://medlibschat.blogspot.com/ Inaugural chat held June 21, 2012. Coordinated by @eagledawg
#mladisparities – The Health Disparities SIG of the Medical Library Association’s monthly twitter chat about ways for medical libraries to be involved with raising awareness of healthcare disparities. Healthcare providers, librarians and others welcome.
#pubHT – The purpose of this chat is to establish a platform where public health professionals can have the opportunity to share their experiences and resources, while also learning and networking. All are invited to join the conversation, yet the target audience includes public health professionals from NGOs, government, academia, etc. Add @PubHealthTalks or follow #PubHT for updates and or visit www.pubht.com. Established August 2012 and co-founded by @NinaJTweets and @SaraRubin.
#RWJF1stFri – Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s First Friday Google+ Hangouts are broadcast live the first Friday of every month at 12 pm ET. Moderated by Susan Dentzer, senior policy adviser, this initiative keeps friends of the Foundation up to speed on its activities.
#sm4ph – #sm4ph is a Twitter hashtag dedicated to exploring aspects of social media use and how it affects public health, including Public Health the field and the public’s health at large. Moderated by Jim Garrow, the #sm4ph chat is held every Wednesday evening at 9pm Eastern Time, and is open to anyone interested in public health or social media. @phsocmed
#smem – Social media for emergency management is a live Twitter chat on Fridays at 12:30 PM Eastern Time. It begin and persists as a regular hashtag.
For a full list of healthcare tweet chats, descriptions, and transcripts visit the Healthcare Tweet Chats page via Simplur.
Digital Preservation and Access (DiPA) Award
The purpose of the Digital Preservation and Access (DiPA) Award is to increase accessibility to historically significant and unique items in the South Central Region by providing funding for Network members to digitize portions of their collections. Collections considered for digital preservation under this award should increase accessibility of health/medical collections. These digital collections will then be made freely available online.
Amount of funding: $20,000
Disaster Preparedness Award
The purpose of the Disaster Preparedness Award is to help libraries prepare for disasters so that they can assist their communities with health information and other recovery needs after an emergency. Approaches can include, but are not limited to, activities that will integrate the library into their community’s emergency preparedness, response and recovery plan; equipment that will allow the library to have more flexibility in responding to the Internet needs of the community; and partnerships with city emergency planning groups, hospitals, public health organizations to enhance health information access in library settings.
Amount of funding: $8,000
Electronic Consumer Health Outreach Award
The purpose of the Electronic Consumer Health Outreach Award is to connect health professionals, their patients and the general public to the health information resources from the National Library of Medicine. This solicitation will focus on projects designed to improve access to electronic health information for such groups and organizations as consumers, the underserved and minority health care professionals, public health workers, public libraries, and community-based and faith-based organizations.
Amount of funding: $25,000
Emerging Leaders Award
The NN/LM SCR is partnering with the South Central Academic Medical Libraries Consortium (SCAMeL) to offer the Emerging Leaders Award. The purpose of this award is to motivate and prepare a junior librarian (2-5 years of experience) for a position of leadership in an academic health sciences library. The award will pair a librarian with an academic health sciences library director who will serve as his or her mentor. The award will include visits to the mentor’s library, the SCAMeL meeting at SCC/MLA, and the NN/LM SCR office.
Amount of funding: $3,500
Express Outreach Award
The purpose of the Express Outreach Award is to support a wide range of outreach projects aimed at improving access to and use of the National Library of Medicine’s databases to improve access to health information.
Amount of funding: Multiple awards up to $5,000 each
Health Disparities Information Outreach Award
The purpose of the Health Disparities Information Outreach Award is to support a wide range of outreach projects aimed at improving access to and use of the National Library of Medicine’s databases by populations which experience significant health disparities, including, but not limited to minority, rural and other medically underserved populations.
Amount of funding: $5,000
Health Information Literacy Award
Health information literacy refers to the ability to read and understand health information and use it effectively. The purpose of the Health Information Literacy Award is to support Network member projects, particularly those from community-based organizations (CBOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs) and other organizations that serve minority populations, to develop innovative and creative ways to promote health literacy to these target populations.
Amount of funding: $5,000
Health Information Needs Assessment Award
The purpose of the Health Information Needs Assessment Award is to improve health information outreach through increased knowledge of community needs. Thorough needs assessments serve to analyze community needs in depth, with respect to the community’s cultural, social, economic and physical situations. This award is designed to give organizations an opportunity to study a community in detail and to subsequently design strategies that promote the National Library of Medicine’s databases.
Amount of funding: $5,000
Hospital Library Promotion Award
The purpose of the Hospital Library Promotion Award is to support projects that promote the value of the hospital library to the hospital administrators and staff. As hospitals expand their services and programs, hospital librarians can play a significant role in areas such as: education and training to address knowledge management, clinical information systems, patient safety programs, electronic health records, health literacy, or patient education.
Amount of funding: $5,000
Library Student Outreach Award
The purpose of the Library Student Outreach Award is to promote the value of outreach to library school students interested in health sciences librarianship.The award provides funding for students to attend the Quint Chapter Medical Library Association Meeting in October 12-16, 2014 in Denver CO and participate in meetings, conference sessions and other activities designed for them to learn about the importance of health information outreach and services conducted by librarians in the South Central Region.
Amount of funding $1,800 per student
Mobile Applications Project (MAP) Award
The purpose of the Mobile Applications Project (MAP) Award is to provide an opportunity for Network members to provide outreach and increase access to health information utilizing mobile technologies. Projects may target health professionals, public librarians, public health workers, consumers, or the general public. Recipients are encouraged to promote awareness and utilization of mobile sites and services from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mobile/). Potential applicants may consider using free Application Program Interface (API) from the National Library of Medicine for the creation or development of mobile applications (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/api/).
Amount of funding: $5,000
Outreach to Healthcare Providers Award
The purpose of the Outreach to Healthcare Providers Award is to ensure improved access to health information and Health Information Technology for those health providers without adequate access to library and information services. This solicitation will focus on projects designed to improve access to electronic health information for such groups and organizations as: unaffiliated healthcare providers located in rural, inner city, and Medically Underserved Areas (MUA), public health workers, minority health practitioners, and those who serve minority populations.
Amount of funding: $8,000
Professional Development Award (PDA)
The purpose of the Professional Development Award (PDA) is to enable individuals at NN/LM SCR Network member institutions to expand professional knowledge and experience to provide improved health information access to healthcare providers and consumers.
Amount of funding: Multiple awards up to $1,500 each
According to a recent study by the advertising agency WPP’s Kantar Media 28% of physicians use tablets and 21% percent use smartphones to to read articles in medical journals. These numbers are low compared to 74 % that use a desktop or laptop computer and the 55% still reading paper journals. The survey results were the result of a questionnaire sent to physicians in 2013.
According to the results, about 51% of physicians told Kantar they use a tablet device for professional purposes. While only 19% reported the use of a tablet device for personal use only. With 78% of those surveyed reporting the use of a smartphone for professional and personal tasks, and less than 1% reporting use for personal tasks only, the results show that the adoption rate was higher for smartphones.
The study also showed that reading medical journals is one of the few tasks for which doctors are more likely to employ tablets than smartphones. Overall Kantar found that doctors are still more likely to use a smartphone than a tablet for professional tasks, including researching specific clinical situations and getting professional news updates.
Kantar also investigated application (app) use among physicians surveyed. Kantar found a significantly different list for smartphones than for tablets. For smartphone apps, 56% of doctors reported the use of diagnostic or clinical reference tools, 51% report the use of drug coding or reference apps, 37% reported the use of apps for medical journal, magazine, or newspaper access, and 31%t reported the use of workflow tools. In terms of tablet apps, though, 37% used medical journal, newspaper, or magazine apps, 30% of doctors used diagnostic or clinical reference apps, 27% used electronic medical record apps and 22% used drug and coding reference apps. Accessing the Internet and checking email, however, were still the top use cases for both tablets and smartphones.
Additionally, Kantar found that survey participants had downloaded an average of seven apps for professional or personal purposes in the past six months. Twenty-four percent had downloaded at least 10 apps in that time. Additional data analysis can be accessed in the original mobiehealthnews post on this survey.
Overall, these survey results provide a look into the use of mobile devices by physicians. It is clear that device adoption and app use continues to be import to those in the healthcare industry. As medical librarians look for ways to connect with physicians to better provide information services it is useful to consider how physicians are actually using the devices they have access to.